The Huns ethno village is an ideal place for those willing to relive the nomadic past of ethnic Kazakhs. The village, about 35 kilometres from Almaty in the Talgar district, is also a great way to escape to the mountains for a breath of fresh air, horseback riding and adventure.
Built from the outside as a tiny fort, the Huns offers vast views of the mountains and a mix of traditional Kazakh yurts and Soviet-looking hubs.
“They recommend pre-arranging a local show with the administrators of the village, as local actors and staff will happily demonstrate all the traditions and customs of the Kazakhs along the given scenario,” Khalid Jamal, a guest from Jordan who recently visited the Huns with his friends, told The Astana Times.
“My friends arrived for EXPO 2017. I am from Astana and I wanted to show them the rest of Kazakhstan and we wanted to travel the country and ended up in the mountains of Almaty,” he explained.
“They welcomed guests atop horses in the traditional armour of nomads and spears and showed us around the village. They started with the tradition called shashu – showering guests with candy like Kazakhs do at weddings. Then the candy is picked up and kept for good luck. Kazakhs believe these sweets then bring luck,” he added.
As the guests proceed, they witness other traditions such as tusau kesu, which is meant to bless the child, barely starting to walk, and progressing into the next stage of life. The youngster’s feet are tied with a black and white silk rope – the symbol of inconsistency and challenges in life – and the honoured guest of the event must cut and burn it.
Visitors are also shown felt craftsmanship and get the chance to closely study the yurts. They witness horse games like kyz kuu – chasing a girl to kiss her on horseback and, if the man fails to, she whips him, and atpen audaryspak – wrestling horseback.
The tours are followed by dances, traditional music and a meal. Prices range from $15-20 per person.
Those willing to spend some time with nature can request special horseback riding tours into the mountains with or without guides, depending on experience and the wish of the guests. Such walks take about an hour and a-half and cost approximately $3 per person.
The Huns can simultaneously accommodate up to 60 guests with overnight stays or up to 600 per day, according to the administrators. The cost per night at the cottages starts from $40-$55 and the large felt yurt costs $75-$80 for up to 10 people.
“We were offered the option to stay in cottages for up to four persons. They looked like yurts,” said Jamal.