In October/November 2014 I visited Central Asia and the Caucasus. The tour was organized by Original World. The organization was flawless. Before I left, I was a bit apprehensive about the many border crossings and changes of tour guides, but everything worked like clockwork. The current guide in the country I was leaving brought me to the border, and the new guide would pick me up after crossing the two borders. The border crossings in Central Asia took some time (45 min - 1 hour), but were no problem. In the Caucasus the crossings were faster, they took only a few minutes. I had all the necessary visa arranged in advance. In each new country the new guide was already waiting for me. I was very pleased with the organization of the trip and can really recommend Original World.
In Central Asia I visited Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan, in the Caucasus I visited Armenia, Georgia, and Azerbaijan. It was a very interesting trip, with almost 6 weeks the longest I have done so far.
We drove from the Kyrgyzstan-Kazakhstan border to Almaty. In Almaty I visited a museum, a very nice mosque, and a very nice cathedral. Early the next morning we drove to the airport for my flight to Yerevan, Armenia in the Caucasus.
I didn't see much of Kazakhstan on this short visit, but just like the other countries on this trip, Kazakhstan was not what I had expected. I expected drab Soviet style cities, dilapidated cars, and depressed people. It was quite the opposite, at least in Almaty, modern, busy, and people hanging on cell phones like everywhere else in the world. There were some areas that were not renovated, where you could still see the older Soviet style buildings. The villages lag behind the capital, but altogether the short visit still gave me a good impression of Kazakhstan. The only somewhat negative aspect was the police controls. It felt as if the police is somewhat oppressive on the roads.
Like Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan has oil and gas reserves and therefore some money to improve its cities.
Almaty is somewhat expensive as far as food and beer is concerned. My guide knew a local fast food restaurant that served very good food and had decent prices. The beer in the hotel however was somewhat expensive.
I didn't have any time to meet any local people on this brief visit.
It was a very short visit to Kazakhstan. This country is one of the VERY few candidates for a re-visit. I would like to see more of the vast steppes of this country and some of the historic sites.