More than 100 people crowded into the Royal Geographical Society on 2 November to hear three speakers, myself included, talk about ‘Unknown Kazakhstan’. Development consultant Sophie Ibbotson gave a broad outline that explained to newcomers the size of the country and the ease of travel. Dr Gai Jorayev, an archaeologist from UCL, spoke about his travels in the country and the exciting archaeological research that is taking place. I spoke mainly about the Zhetysu/Semirechye region where Thomas and Lucy Atkinson spent so much time and which I have now visited three times.
The large turnout and obvious interest from the audience suggests that Kazakhstan – largely unknown to all but the most determined travellers – may be in the process of becoming a more popular destination. One of the ideas that came out of this summer’s visit by the Atkinson relatives is to establish an ‘Atkinson Trail’ and discussions are now going on to make that a reality. The idea is to create an itinerary that travellers can either follow themselves or join a group. I will post more of this as it develops.