If Ghenghis Khan were alive today he’d be riding on 220cc! The most fun you can have with your clothes on, bouncing around on a dune buggy is an unforgettable way to see today's Silk Road. Only 40 minutes west of Almaty, along the busy Tashkent–Bishkek–Almaty Highway, the Dune Buggy Centre offers visitors the once-in-a-lifetime chance to make like a Mad Max-style warlord for the day.
The 'Centre' – a liberated shipping container set among the rolling foothills of the Alatau Mountains – was established by two Kazakh guys into big dirt bikes and dune buggies. They've built a rough dirt track with plenty of chicanes to build your confidence and test your mettle; then, when you feel ready for the rigours of the open steppe, it's pedal to the metal and all systems go!
The boys can show you a number of circuits, taking in farmland, rivers, wild gorges, open countryside and the some seriously phenomenal scenery. Nowhere is off limits: simply decide how long you want to spend exploring this amazing countryside and it's yours for the taking. Spotting eagles, fording streams and waving to nomads as you go…this is Kazakhstan at its wildest (literally and figuratively).
Keep your eyes open for the camels at the busy Shubat (Camels Milk) Restaurant. Coming from Almaty, you'll see the buggies ahead of the restaurant on the left of the highway. The dirt track taking you to the shipping container runs through the field just before the restaurant.
Iain Shearer travelled to Kazakhstan on assignment for Lonely Planet. You can follow his adventures on Lonely Planet: Roads Less Travelled, screening internationally on National Geographic.