Home #WHERETONEXT Asia & Pacific Wild things: a comprehensive guide to Kazakhstan’s wildlife

Wild things: a comprehensive guide to Kazakhstan’s wildlife

While Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world by landmass, with a much lower-than-average population density of just seven people per square kilometer, the nation’s real pull factor is its incredible wildlife.

Roughly 60% of Kazakhstan is comprised of deserts and steppes, but diverse wildlife can be found in the country’s forests, rivers and mountain ranges. From steppe eagles and falcons, to antelopes, camels, and even a flamingo migration, Kazakhstan has got wildlife to rival that of the Serengeti, not to mention its competitive prices which are nowhere near that of the standard safari.

Below, Air Astana, the flag carrier of Kazakhstan, rounds up some of the country’s most notable creatures that can be discovered when visiting:

Eagles and falcons

Eagles and falcons are national symbols of Kazakhstan and falconry has a long tradition in nomadic Kazakh culture. On Chokpak Pass, travelers can see magnificent flocks of steppe eagles scattered across the skies, and the best time to see this occur is in October, the peak of their migration.

To get up close and personal with the birds, the Sunkar Falconry Centre in Almaty, established to conserve Kazakhstan’s avian population, is home to hundreds of birds, from eagles and falcons, and various species of owl, vultures, and even lammergeyers.

The centre puts on a daily show in the summer at 5pm during which the resident bird trainer performs elements of falconry and eagle hunting. Travel companies such as Steppe & Sky offer bird-themed tours, such as a tour of Big Almaty Lake following by a visit to Sunkar to see the daily show.

Other birds which can be seen in the Tien Shan Mountains are the golden eagle, demoiselle crane, relict gull, saker falcon, steppe merlin and Mongolian finch.

Greater Flamingo

In 2020, drone footage of a flock of flamingos flying over went viral on Lake Karakol near Aktau. The flamingo’s annual migration often goes via Aktau, after which they fly south to Turkmenistan or further to Iran.

Flamboyances of flamingos often flock at the Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve in Kazakhstan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and over 35,000 were counted on the wetlands in just one year.

Nomadic Travel Kazakhstan offers a visit to the reserve where visitors will not only see flamingos but other bird life too, such as the whooper swan, great egret, grey heron, red-billed shelduck, Dalmatian pelicans, and more.

The tour’s price includes all domestic transport, driver and English-speaking guide, accommodation in guesthouses in Korgalzhyn village, three meals a day, a visit to the visitor’s centre, entrance to the reserve and local ranger escort.

Saiga antelope

The saiga is a critically endangered antelope native to the Carpathian Mountains and Caucasus, and they inhabit the Ural, Ustiurt, and Betpak-Dala deserts in Kazakhstan.

Recent conservation efforts prompted by the sudden mass death of over 200,00 saiga has caused the saiga population in Kazakhstan to skyrocket and as of 2022 reached a peak of 1.32 million.

Nomadic Travel Kazakhstan offers a six-day Saiga Photo Safari in the wetlands and steppes of Korgalzhyn near Kazakhstan’s capital, Astana. In addition to spotting the sand-coloured saiga, guests on the tour will get the chance to observe flamingos, gulls, and waders in and around Tengiz Lake.


An old Central Asian proverb goes “rich is the one who has a camel”, referring to the utility of the animal in nomadic life.

There are two key species of camel in Kazakhstan, the one-humped Nar camel and the two-humped Bactrian. While the Nar camel is adapted to living in hot climates, the Bactrian is able to tolerate the biting cold of winter.

Camel milk is a highly-prized delicacy and is said to have healing properties; sold in supermarkets in major Kazakh cities and in the Green Bazaar in Almaty, arguably the most famous market in Kazakhstan.

The Senek Sand Dunes in the Mangystau region stretch for several kilometers and some even exceed 25 metres in height. A drive through the Mangystau province is a great way to spot camels grazing and roaming free.

With up to five weekly flights from London Heathrow to Kazakhstan, with Air Astana it’s easy to access Almaty, Aktau and the Mangystau region to discover the country’s magnificent birds and mammals.