If you're not a fan of endless semi-arid steppe and decaying industrial cities, Kazakstan may seem bleak, but those who enjoy remoteness, wide open spaces, lunar landscapes, long hypnotic train rides and horse sausage will definitely be in their element.
The chief exceptions to this relentless desolation are the cosmopolitan city of Almaty, and the spectacular spurs of the Tian Shan and Altai mountains on the country's southern and eastern borders. And any country which uses a headless goat's carcass as a polo puck obviously has chutzpah.
If it sometimes looks like the landscape has suffered from hundreds of nuclear explosions, well, parts of it have - ever since Russian rocket scientists started using Kazakstan as a sandpit in the late 1940s.
Facts for the traveller
Money & Costs
Off the beaten track