eyecatcher - there were wild horses everywhere. This is a picture from a hike in the mountains around Almaty, you can see some horses grazing in the middle right of the frame. In the desert park we saw herds of wild donkeys, goats and some antelope. Unfortunately I didn't have a telephoto lens so could not capture them at all but was still really cool.
57 - the really interesting thing about this area was the close proximity of so many various geological features. In the US you could be standing in the Badlands but would need to travel another 500+ miles to the Rockies to find high mountain peaks. In this area of Kaz, you could have pancakes, bacon and a great coffee at a trendy cafe for breakfast in Almaty, then 40 mins later be 10k feet up in snow covered mountains. Then 60 miles away as the crow flies (couple hours drive on bad roads) is Altyn Emel, with its deserts and mountains. There's nothing quite like it in the US but I would love to see the badlands.
Packershrine - Don't knock typical Caribbean vacations! I like those just fine, in fact I feel like I need one of those to recover from this one
Not long, 4 months maybe. We were initially planning to go on a road trip to Wisconsin for a Packer game and some brewery stops for vacation, or also considered Islamorada in the FL keys, but my friend who lives over there had been asking us to visit for a long time and wife and I decided to go. He knew a lot of stuff to do, we really just had to buy plane tickets and learn a few words of Russian.