My name is Ruslan; I was born in 1982 in Karakol, Kyrgyzstan. Since 2006, I have been working for the Kazakhstan travel organization Khan Tengri as a summer travel coordinator.
What was your first encounter with Ryce Travel like?
I met Peter in 2015; he came to explore the region with friends at the time. The south of Kazakhstan has many opportunities for winter tourism, and I showed them the most beautiful places. Meanwhile, I feel like I’ve known Peter for a long time. We immediately started organizing adventure winter sports trips. During the trips, I found that Peter is a great winter sports specialist.
How did you feel about organizing winter sports trips with Ryce Travel?
I liked this opportunity tremendously because ski trips are not developed in Kazakhstan. The southern mountains are incredibly suitable for winter sports trips but are less well-known to Europeans. At first, I was under the impression that Europeans wanted to stay in a luxury chalet so they could have easy access to the ski area. But Peter made me realize that many Europeans actually want to experience the culture. So not just the ski resort but all the unique facets of Kazakhstan. That does make me proud as a native of Kazakhstan.
What did you do for work before joining Ryce Travel?
I still work as a coordinator at the Khan Tengri travel organization. We organize treks and expeditions in southern Kazakhstan. We also offer bird-watching, fishing and mountain biking trips. Winter is a quiet time for me, so the job at Ryce Travel came at the right time.
Why is Kazakhstan unique for travelers?
Kazakhstan is unique because of its natural and geographical location. Much of the country consists of the steppe, but huge mountains rise in the south. You will find deserts, lakes and mountains in Kazakhstan. In addition, there is a contrast between the cities and the countryside. The cities are very modern and European, but in the countryside, nomads still live in yurts. We are trying to make those two cultures live side by side in Kazakhstan.
What is the state of tourism in Kazakhstan?
Tourism in Kazakhstan is still developing. We learn a lot from countries that have been developing tourism for many years. Since the visa requirement expired in 2016, many Western tourists have arrived. Wizzair also has connections to our country these days. I feel like a lot is happening. In 2017, Almaty hosted the Winter Olympics for students, and the city has already bid twice at the actual winter games. Asphalt roads are being built for tourist hot spots, and the roads from China, Russia and Kyrgyzstan are also improving. Kazakhstan’s goal is to become a hub between Europe and China.
How can Ryce Travel contribute to tourism development?
Ryce Travel has already helped develop ski tourism. Peter shared his international experience organizing winter sports trips. In addition, Ryce Travel donated equipment and taught me how to freeride. Peter often stays with my family, and they benefit thereby learning English (and soccer, haha).
What moment with Ryce Travel has stayed with you the most?
Almost every trip with Peter is unique, and always very interesting. People work hard in the mountains and have fun during “aprés ski”? I like that Peter is always coming up with something new for the trips. This year we added paragliding as an optional activity. We always try to be flexible to provide travellers with a unique experience.
What dream do you have for Kazakhstan?
I hope more people get to know Kazakhstan and more tourists visit.