Almaty and Astana will be tourism cluster centers in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan has something for every kind of tourist. A rich history and diverse ethnic heritage have left scores of diverse sights of interest for the sightseer; the natural environment offers innumerable opportunities in eco- and sports tourism, the latter including trekking, mountaineering - Kazakhstan being particularly well provided for as far as mountains are concerned - fishing and hunting, the latter already popular with an established clientele who value the diversity of species available and the relatively low cost of such trips. The wealth of religious sites, mostly, but not all, connected with Islam, attract a steady and growing number of visitors.

Mountainous areas, most of which are of course perfectly suited to ecotourism, are equally popular among trekkers. The Tien Shan, the Altai, the Kazakh Melkosopochnik and the Mangystau mountains all offer excellent trekking opportunities, but the most popular location is the northern Tien Shan, especially the Zailyiskii Alatau and the Kunghei Alatoo, where hikes are of various levels of difficulty from category I to V. There are more than 100 mountain passes in the area, varying in the degree of challenge they present from non-categorized to level 3B. These treks usually begin in Almaty. In the Jungar Alatau there are hiking routes of categories I to IV. Passes vary in difficulty from class 1A to 2B. Trekking is also popular in the western Tien Shan and the Talas range, the latter on the border with Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. East Kazakhstan's Altai mountains are another popular trekking destination. Trekking in Kazakhstan usually entails overnight stays in tents: hotels are not available in the mountains. Although pitching a tent does not usually attract a fee, there may be special restrictions in protected areas. Restrictions may also apply to fires for cooking. Trekking usually takes place between May and September, but the best time for hiking in the mountains is in high summer, the second half of July and the first two weeks of August.