East Kazakhstan, Kazakhstan

East Kazakhstan is a province of Kazakhstan. Vast tracts of uninhabited steppe and arid terrain dominate the landscape and cover an area roughly the size of western, central, and eastern Europe combined. This set of east Kazakhstan photos covers a 2-month long and 1,100km journey on horseback across the region with Jamie Maddison. Any fairy-tale ideas about the beauty of undertaking a long equestrian journey were crushed early on when we were faced with scorching heat, unsettlingly long stretches without water, and a couple of wrong turns early on in mosquito-infested mountains. It was a gritty experience and a wonderfully bleak one too. We slept each night under our horse’s sweat-soaked blankets and, on some days, nibbled on dried noodles garnished with salt for breakfast, followed by gasoline-soaked biscuits for lunch after our container leaked over our food. Aside from the austerity, it was our endless encounters with people that made the trip worthwhile — ranging from herder’s curious children stopping by to say hi, kind folk providing grain to see our horses through stretches of poor grazing, and being invited in for tea at random farmsteads.

For historical east Kazakhstan photos, including other parts of the country, check out Baribar.kz’s photo collection. Their album includes photos by late-19th and early-20th century photographers in the area such as Samuel Martinovich Dudin, Mikhail Silvestrovich Weishle, Konstantin Nikolaevich de Lazari, Alexander Lavrentyevich Melkov, Pavel Leibin Solomonovich and Elena Makhova. You can find more historical images of Central Asia by searching on the website of Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera) at http://collection.kunstkamera.ru/.

Travelling to east Kazakhstan province is possible via road from Almaty or the provincial capital, Ust-Kamenogorsk. Highlights of the area include Lake Zaysan, the former nuclear testing site Semipalatinsk, the Altai Mountains near the Russian border and the Alakol Biosphere Reserve.

My photography has been published in the following outlets: