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Trip Extensions

Turkmenistan Extension

Duration: 5 days

The sovereign state of Turkmenistan has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries and was an important stop along the great Silk Road. Surprisingly, the country contains the world's sixth largest reserves of natural gas resources and is m... read more

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.

Day 1: welcome to tashkent, uzbekistan

Your guides will meet you at the airport.Your guides will meet you at the airport.

Arrive in Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, and meet your local guide. After checking-in at your hotel, enjoy some free time to walk around or just relax after the long flight. Tashkent is an ancient city on the Great Silk Road, but today, many modern structures have taken over historical sites. The Old Town, which has retained much of its old charm, is worth wandering. Here you'll find adobe homes lined along narrow, winding streets and many ancient mosques. The 2,000-year-old Chorsu Bazaar, located in the heart of the Old Town, is the most interesting market in Tashkent. Here you'll find spices, dried fruits, nuts, and artisan workshops. The Amir Timur Park is a lovely park with a statue of Tamerlane sitting on his horse. 

Meals
None
Lodging
Shodlik Palace or similar

Day 2: urgench & khiva

Tonight transfer to Khiva.Tonight transfer to Khiva.

In the morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Urgench (ETD 11:00 am/ETA 12:40 pm) and continue on with the drive to Khiva, a sleepy town that was the last resting place of caravans before crossing the desert into Persia. It is said that Khiva was founded by Shem, son of Noah, around 2500 years ago when he discovered a well in the middle of the desert and shouted, "Khi-wa!" which means "sweet water."

This afternoon, spend some time exploring the sights as time permits, including Ichan-Kala, the walled inner city of Khiva. This World Heritage Site contains many ancient monuments and houses that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. This "city inside a city" contained the Khan's mosque, residence, harem, kitchens, stables, and a number of other structures. Also see Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrasah, where many executions took place during the Khan's rule. Islam Khodja Complex, built in the early 20th century, is the most prominent of the Ichan-Kala sites. Though a more modern structure, it was built in the traditional standards of 14th century architecture. Return to your guesthouse in Khiva for the night.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Meros B & B or similar

Day 3: khiva city

Experience the Ichan kala fortress.Experience the Ichan kala fortress.

Today you visit some of the sights you didn't have time to visit yesterday as well as Pakhlayan Mahmoud Mausoleum, the most popular pilgrimage sites in Uzbekistan and the holiest place in Khiva. You'll also spend time exploring the different palaces of governors that ruled Khiva. Afterwards, you'll have some free time to do some shopping at the market.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Meros B & B or similar

Day 4: drive to bukhara

Drive through the Kyzyl Kum DesertDrive through the Kyzyl Kum Desert

After breakfast, make the estimated seven to eight hour drive to Bukhara. It's a long drive, but with interesting sites along the way. The drive takes you through the Kyzyl Kum Desert, which means "Red Sand" in Turkish. Covered mostly by sand dunes and clay, it is the 16th largest desert in the world and runs through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. There are some agricultural settlements along the rivers and oases. You'll stop for lunch in the desert. 

End the day in Bukhara. Now a location of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Bukhara was once an important city on the Silk Route known for scholarship, trade, culture and religion. It was considered the intellectual center of the Islamic world, and today many of its monuments, mosques and mausoleums dating back as far back as the ninth century still remain intact. Stay in a guesthouse restored in traditional Bukhara style and operated as a bed & breakfast.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Helene Oasis or similar

Day 5: bukhara city tour

Bukhara is known for its domes and archesBukhara is known for its domes and arches

Your first full day in Bukhara includes sights in the old section of Bukhara beginning with some shopping at the 16th century trading domes of Toki Telpak Frushon, Toki Sarrafon, and Toki Zargaron (tok means "arch"). This is a great place to bargain for local items such as skullcaps, ceramic dishes, jewelry, or carpets. You'll also visit other various mosques, including Ulugbek, the first Madrasah built by Ulugbek in 1417; Abdulazizkhan, a beautiful madrasah decorated in rich patterns using colorful carved tiles and mosaics; Mir Arab, which features two large blue domes and perhaps one of the most interesting monuments in Bukhara; Kalon, another outstanding monument built in the early 16th century; and Labi-havz, situated in the center of the old city.

Return to your guesthouse and in the evening, attend a dinner while enjoying a traditional musical show.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Helene Oasis or similar

Day 6: bukhara city tour

The ancient architecture is great for photo ops.The ancient architecture is great for photo ops.

On your second full day tour of Bukhara, you will find extraordinarily inspiring examples of ancient architecture and markets with the chance to talk, shop and visit with local people whose small shops and enterprises are integrated in the historic areas. Begin with a visit to Ismail Samanid and Chashma Ayub Mausoleums. The Ismail Samanid was built during the regin of Ismail Samani, who ruled Bukhara from 892 until 907. It is the oldest Muslim monument in Bukhara. Chashma Ayub Mausoleum (Museum of Water Supply) features a Harezm-style conical dome, which is uncommon in Bukhara. According to legend, the Prophet Job struck the ground with his staff and created a well with clean and healing water. Next, visit Bolo Khauz, an unusually designed mosque built in 1712 for the mother of Ashtarkhanid ruler, Abul Fayud Khan followed by the fifth century Ark Citadel and fortress that housed many of Bukhara's rulers. Continue your tour with a visit to the Sitorai Mokhi Khosa Palace, the summer palace of Bukhara's Emirs. Today it houses the Arts and Crafts Museum and exhibits palace furniture, jewelry and Russian porcelain.

You'll have some free time available this afternoon for shopping or relaxing.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Helene Oasis or similar

Day 7: drive to samarkand

The ornate embroidery is very impressive.The ornate embroidery is very impressive.

Your day begins with a drive to Samarkand (approx. 3 hrs / 175 mi), one of the oldest inhabited cities in Uzbekistan, located on the crossroads of the Silk Route. It was the capital of the Tamerlane’s Empire (Timur) in the 14th century and many of the landmarks date back to this era.  Many traditional crafts from Tamerlane's time, including embroidery, silk weaving, copper engraving, ceramics, carving, and painting on wood still flourish today.

This afternoon, enjoy a city tour including the 15th-century Observatory built by Timurid astronomer Ulugh Beg, considered to have been one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world; the Shah-i-Zinda Mausoleum, one of Samarkand's most sacred sites; and the St. Daniel Mausoleum, thought by some to be the burial site of the biblical prophet Daniel. Legend claims that Tamerlane had Daniel's remains brought here from Iran. Also tour the Afrosiab Museum, which leads you through 1500 years of history of Samarkand.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Jahongir Hotel or similar

Day 8: samarkand exploration

You can't just have one helping of the national dish, plov.You can't just have one helping of the national dish, plov.

There's a lot to see in this historical city, whose many ancient sites have been well-preserved or restored to approach former glory. Continue your exploration with visits to the Gur-e Amir, mausoleum of the Asian conqueror, Tamerlane (Timur); Rukhabad Mausoleum, one of the earliest surviving buildings in Samarkand from Tamerlane's reign; Registan Square where people once gathered to hear royal proclamations and a place of public executions; Bibi-Khanym Mosque, built in the early 15th century to commemorate Tamerlane's wife; and the lively, bustling city bazaar where you will have a chance to bargain for the famous crafts of the region. 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Jahongir Hotel or similar

Day 9: train to tashkent

Amir Temur SquareAmir Temur Square

After breakfast, drive to the train station for the scenic ride to Tashkent (approx. 2 hr 15 min ride). Upon arrival, visit the Khast Imam, the religious center of Tashkent to see the old 12th century Koran. You'll have some time to explore the Chorsu Bazaar as well as Independence and Amir Temur's Squares.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Shodlik Palace or similar

Day 10: kokand & ferghana

Silk craftswomen at work.Silk craftswomen at work.

In the morning, drive to historic Kokand, “The city of Winds”, located at the crossroads of the ancient trade routes in the Ferghana Valley. Here you'll visit the 19th century Khudayar Khan Palace, known as the "Pearl of Kokan." It was the palace of the last ruler of Kokand and perhaps once the most opulent palace in Central Asia. Other sites you'll see are the Dakhmai Shokon Complex (Grave of Kings) to see the 19th century tomb of Umar Khan and other family members; Modari Khan Mausoleum (Mother of Khan), built for Umar's mother under the orders his wife, Nadira, a famous Uzbek poetess; the Juma Mosque, built in 1812 by Umar Khan in rural Ferghana style; and Norbutaby Madrasah, the largest religious school in Kokan, closed in 1799, but reopened again in the years of independence.

Continue on to Ferghana where you stop to visit Yodgorlik Silk Weaving Factory in Marghilan. Overnight in Ferghana. Total travel time: approximately 250 mi / 6 hrs.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Asia Ferghana or similar

Day 11: drive to osh, kyrgystan

 Sulaiman-Too is the legendary burial place of the prophet Solomon Photo by Dave Proffer) Sulaiman-Too is the legendary burial place of the prophet Solomon Photo by Dave Proffer)

You'll say good-bye to your Uzbekistani guide and meet your Kyrgyzstani guide at the border and continue on to Osh City, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. Osh is the oldest city in the country, thought to be around 3,000 years old. This afternoon, you'll visit Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain, a five peaked rocky crag that overlooks the city. It has been a Muslim pilgrimage site for hundreds of years and there are many ancient sites of worship scattered about the mountain. According to legend, the biblical prophet Solomon (Sulaiman in the Koran) was buried at the foot of the mountain. Overnight in Osh.

 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Classic Hotel or similar

Day 12: flight to bishkek

Snacks and spices abound in Bishkek's Osh Bazaar (Photo by Thomas Depenbusch)Snacks and spices abound in Bishkek's Osh Bazaar (Photo by Thomas Depenbusch)

After breakfast, you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight to Bishkek. On arrival, meet your local guide and transfer only 30 minutes to Bishkek for a city tour. Bishkek is the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic in the Tien Shan Mountain range in the Chui Valley. This relatively new city is an interesting example of a czarist planned city; laid on a grid with wide boulevards flanked by irrigation canals and large trees, buildings with marble façades, and Soviet apartment complexes. 

Spend the afternoon on a guided tour visiting Ala-Too Square - the main city square formerly known as Lenin square; Duboviy (Oak) Park; Pobeda (Victory) Square; the History Museum, which contains a huge statue of Lenin that was moved from the north side of the building after the Soviet Era; and the National Philharmonic.

Afterwards, take a walk through Bishkek's Osh Bazaar, one of Central Asia's largest markets selling local items such as fruit, household items, hats, blankets, etc. Enjoy a traditional dinner this evening.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Smart Hotel or similar

Day 13: drive to chon kemin

Burana Tower offers views of the surrounding region.Burana Tower offers views of the surrounding region.

Your day begins with a drive to Chon Kemin Gorge (approximately 95 mi / 2 hrs), stopping enroute at Burana Tower. This large minaret, in addition to some grave markers, and remnants of a castle and three mausoleums are all that remain of the ancient city of Balasagun, established by the Karakhanids at the end of the ninth century. You can climb the staircase to the top of the tower for really good views.

Continue on to Chon Kemin Gorge and enjoy a homestay and dinner with a Kyrgyz Family.

Meals
Breakfasat, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Homestay

Day 14: issyk-kul lake

Enjoy beautiful Lake Issyk-KulEnjoy beautiful Lake Issyk-Kul

In the morning, head to Issyk-Kul, the world's second largest alpine lake in the world, only after Lake Titicaca in South America. You'll drive along the entire north shore to Karakol town, stopping to visit an extensive field of glacial boulders that are full of petroglyphs, some that date back to the late Bronze Age. Saka priests used this sacred site for sacrifices and other rites to the sun god, while living in the settlements that are currently underwater in the Cholpon-Ata Bay. Overnight at a yurt camp. Facilities are very basic and do not have private toilet facilities. Total driving distance is about 200 miles (4 hr drive).

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Yurt Camp

Day 15: drive to bishkek

Witness the tradition of eagle hunting.Witness the tradition of eagle hunting.

In the morning, continue the journey to Bishkek, stopping along the way at Bokonbaeva Village to meet a local eagle hunter and see how a traditional nomadic way of hunting is done with the help of his eagle. You'll also have a chance to do some hiking at Konorchek Labyrinths. On arrival in Bishkek, you'll have some free time to explore or do some shopping. Estimated driving distance: 115 mi.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Smart Hotel or similar

Day 16: almaty, kazakhstan

View of Almaty from Kok TobeView of Almaty from Kok Tobe

Today you'll make the estimated four-hour drive to Almaty, the former capital of independent Kazakhstan. Spend the afternoon getting yourself acquainted with Almaty's history on a city tour beginning with the Ascension Cathedral, the second tallest wooden building in the world. This early 20th-century Russian Orthodox Church was built without the use of nails! Next, visit the Square of 28 Panfilov Heroes, commonly referred to as "Panfilov's Men." National myth surrounds these soldiers from the Red Army's 316th Rifle division who took part in defending Moscow during WWII, who were all said to be killed in action on November 16, 1941, after destroying 18 German tanks. After the collapse of the USSR, it turned out the story wasn't true and six of the soldiers were still alive. You'll also visit the Museum of Musical Instruments to learn about traditional Kazakhi instruments, including wooden harps, horns, bagpipes, dompra, and kobyz. Before returning to your hotel for the night, drive out to Kok Tobe (Green Hill), the highest point in Almaty (3600 ft), for a panoramic view of the city.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Kazzhol Hotel or similar

Day 17: almaty city tour

Big Almaty Lake. Photo by Martin de Lusenet.Big Almaty Lake. Photo by Martin de Lusenet.

Today you'll visit Alma-Arasan, or "Valley of the Toikhanas," where you will enjoy lunch at an ancient Kazakh home. You'll experience their culture and traditions, taste traditional Kazakh food, drink "kumis" and "shubat" (horse & camel milk), and dance a traditional Kazakh dance with the family. Continue on to the Big Almaty Gorge at Big Almaty Lake, one of the most picturesque lakes in Trans-Ili Alatau. This natural alpine reservoir is located at around 8,233 feet above sea level, just a short drive from Almaty (approx. 1 hr). The lake's high location in the high mountains keeps the area at a cool temperature year round, and depending on the time of year, the lake changes colors ranging from light green to turquoise blue. You'll have a chance to enjoy an amazing panorama of the pine-covered mountains and the lake before returning to Almaty. On the way back, stop to visit a falcon farm for a spectacular show using specially-trained hawks that hunt for their owners – a unique feature of the Kazakh way of life.

Overnight in Almaty.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Kazzhol Hotel or similar

Day 18: depart central asia

So long!So long!

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Journeys services end.

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
None

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
From
$3,950
Group size 2: $4500 Group size 3+: $3950 Includes local flights
Single Supplement:
$550
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Custom & private on your dates

Need to Know

Duration:
18 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Comfortable and especially personal. Small to mid-sized lodges, typically with private bath. Note that one night will be spent in a basic yurt with separate toilet facilities.
Activity Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Long drives, rough roads, and possible walks over uneven paths
Group Size:
Most custom trips can accommodate groups of any size, from one person to as large of a group as you'd like. Some exceptions apply; ask your Adventure Specialist for details.
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Below is a summary of our complete Trip Terms & Conditions, which explains each of the items below in more detail. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Pricing and Payment

For most group departures, the booking deposit is $500 per person per trip, though for some trips it may be more, as noted in the trip description. The minimum booking deposit requirement for custom trips is $800 per person, and this deposit is non-refundable. A trip-planning fee of $250 per itinerary is also charged to cover costs of preparing itinerary proposals for custom trips. This fee is credited to the cost of the trip, but is nonrefundable if you do not take the trip. Custom travel during holiday seasons may require a deposit prior to trip confirmation.

For both group departures and custom trips, a second deposit of $1,000 per person is due 120 days prior to departure or at the time of booking for reservations made fewer than 120 days before departure. The balance as shown on your invoice is due 60 days prior to departure regardless of whether extensions or other arrangements are pending. Late payments may jeopardize confirmation of your itinerary and in some cases may result in additional fees. If we have not received final payment 30 days prior to departure your reservation may be canceled and subject to our Cancellation & Refund Policy stated in the complete Terms & Conditions.

We accept payments by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or check drawn on a U.S. bank account. Payment for airfare is required at the time of ticketing. Discounts that may be available for some trips are not available toward bookings made through travel agencies.​

Airfare

We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

From the Bird's Word Blog

Tracing History on Silk Road Tours

In September and October 2017, world history teacher and avid traveler Coco Rae led two Silk Road tours for Journeys International: Tracing the Ancient Silk Route (China) and …

The ornate embroidery is very impressive.
The ornate embroidery is very impressive.
Experience the Ichan kala fortress.
Experience the Ichan kala fortress.
The old city of Khiva is alluring at twilight
The old city of Khiva is alluring at twilight
Tonight transfer to Khiva.
Tonight transfer to Khiva.
So long!
So long!
Ascension Cathedral in Almaty
Ascension Cathedral in Almaty
Karakol Cathedral is a beautiful wooden structure. Photo by Dan Lundberg.
Karakol Cathedral is a beautiful wooden structure. Photo by Dan Lundberg.

Journey to the Heart of Central Asia

Dazzling bazaars, ancient architecture, a complex history, and genuinely hospitable people in 3 countries

overview

Find yourself at the heart of the Silk Route linking Asia to Europe and Africa. While many diverging land and sea paths connected Central Asia through the Middle East to Europe over the centuries, the most famous and probably the most frequently trod routes pass through the Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. As you penetrate more than 3,000 years of history, the ancient heritage of past centuries will still inspire you with great monuments, colorful markets, vast plains, vivid legends and welcoming traditional communities. Knowledgeable local country specialist guides facilitate your border crossings and handle all the details of accommodations in guesthouses and superior hotels, travel formalities and in depth sightseeing through out the trip.

*Note - on this adventure, expect long drives, poor road conditions, delays at the border, and very basic and rustic accommodations.

itinerary

See Trip Extensions
View Map

overview

Find yourself at the heart of the Silk Route linking Asia to Europe and Africa. While many diverging land and sea paths connected Central Asia through the Middle East to Europe over the centuries, the most famous and probably the most frequently trod routes pass through the Central Asian countries of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. As you penetrate more than 3,000 years of history, the ancient heritage of past centuries will still inspire you with great monuments, colorful markets, vast plains, vivid legends and welcoming traditional communities. Knowledgeable local country specialist guides facilitate your border crossings and handle all the details of accommodations in guesthouses and superior hotels, travel formalities and in depth sightseeing through out the trip.

*Note - on this adventure, expect long drives, poor road conditions, delays at the border, and very basic and rustic accommodations.

Continue to detailed itinerary...

itinerary

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.
  • Day 1: welcome to tashkent, uzbekistan
    Your guides will meet you at the airport.Your guides will meet you at the airport.

    Arrive in Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, and meet your local guide. After checking-in at your hotel, enjoy some free time to walk around or just relax after the long flight. Tashkent is an ancient city on the Great Silk Road, but today, many modern structures have taken over historical sites. The Old Town, which has retained much of its old charm, is worth wandering. Here you'll find adobe homes lined along narrow, winding streets and many ancient mosques. The 2,000-year-old Chorsu Bazaar, located in the heart of the Old Town, is the most interesting market in Tashkent. Here you'll find spices, dried fruits, nuts, and artisan workshops. The Amir Timur Park is a lovely park with a statue of Tamerlane sitting on his horse. 

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Shodlik Palace or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: urgench & khiva
    Tonight transfer to Khiva.Tonight transfer to Khiva.

    In the morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Urgench (ETD 11:00 am/ETA 12:40 pm) and continue on with the drive to Khiva, a sleepy town that was the last resting place of caravans before crossing the desert into Persia. It is said that Khiva was founded by Shem, son of Noah, around 2500 years ago when he discovered a well in the middle of the desert and shouted, "Khi-wa!" which means "sweet water."

    This afternoon, spend some time exploring the sights as time permits, including Ichan-Kala, the walled inner city of Khiva. This World Heritage Site contains many ancient monuments and houses that date back to the 18th and 19th centuries. This "city inside a city" contained the Khan's mosque, residence, harem, kitchens, stables, and a number of other structures. Also see Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrasah, where many executions took place during the Khan's rule. Islam Khodja Complex, built in the early 20th century, is the most prominent of the Ichan-Kala sites. Though a more modern structure, it was built in the traditional standards of 14th century architecture. Return to your guesthouse in Khiva for the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Meros B & B or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: khiva city
    Experience the Ichan kala fortress.Experience the Ichan kala fortress.

    Today you visit some of the sights you didn't have time to visit yesterday as well as Pakhlayan Mahmoud Mausoleum, the most popular pilgrimage sites in Uzbekistan and the holiest place in Khiva. You'll also spend time exploring the different palaces of governors that ruled Khiva. Afterwards, you'll have some free time to do some shopping at the market.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Meros B & B or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: drive to bukhara
    Drive through the Kyzyl Kum DesertDrive through the Kyzyl Kum Desert

    After breakfast, make the estimated seven to eight hour drive to Bukhara. It's a long drive, but with interesting sites along the way. The drive takes you through the Kyzyl Kum Desert, which means "Red Sand" in Turkish. Covered mostly by sand dunes and clay, it is the 16th largest desert in the world and runs through Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. There are some agricultural settlements along the rivers and oases. You'll stop for lunch in the desert. 

    End the day in Bukhara. Now a location of many UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Bukhara was once an important city on the Silk Route known for scholarship, trade, culture and religion. It was considered the intellectual center of the Islamic world, and today many of its monuments, mosques and mausoleums dating back as far back as the ninth century still remain intact. Stay in a guesthouse restored in traditional Bukhara style and operated as a bed & breakfast.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Helene Oasis or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: bukhara city tour
    Bukhara is known for its domes and archesBukhara is known for its domes and arches

    Your first full day in Bukhara includes sights in the old section of Bukhara beginning with some shopping at the 16th century trading domes of Toki Telpak Frushon, Toki Sarrafon, and Toki Zargaron (tok means "arch"). This is a great place to bargain for local items such as skullcaps, ceramic dishes, jewelry, or carpets. You'll also visit other various mosques, including Ulugbek, the first Madrasah built by Ulugbek in 1417; Abdulazizkhan, a beautiful madrasah decorated in rich patterns using colorful carved tiles and mosaics; Mir Arab, which features two large blue domes and perhaps one of the most interesting monuments in Bukhara; Kalon, another outstanding monument built in the early 16th century; and Labi-havz, situated in the center of the old city.

    Return to your guesthouse and in the evening, attend a dinner while enjoying a traditional musical show.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Helene Oasis or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: bukhara city tour
    The ancient architecture is great for photo ops.The ancient architecture is great for photo ops.

    On your second full day tour of Bukhara, you will find extraordinarily inspiring examples of ancient architecture and markets with the chance to talk, shop and visit with local people whose small shops and enterprises are integrated in the historic areas. Begin with a visit to Ismail Samanid and Chashma Ayub Mausoleums. The Ismail Samanid was built during the regin of Ismail Samani, who ruled Bukhara from 892 until 907. It is the oldest Muslim monument in Bukhara. Chashma Ayub Mausoleum (Museum of Water Supply) features a Harezm-style conical dome, which is uncommon in Bukhara. According to legend, the Prophet Job struck the ground with his staff and created a well with clean and healing water. Next, visit Bolo Khauz, an unusually designed mosque built in 1712 for the mother of Ashtarkhanid ruler, Abul Fayud Khan followed by the fifth century Ark Citadel and fortress that housed many of Bukhara's rulers. Continue your tour with a visit to the Sitorai Mokhi Khosa Palace, the summer palace of Bukhara's Emirs. Today it houses the Arts and Crafts Museum and exhibits palace furniture, jewelry and Russian porcelain.

    You'll have some free time available this afternoon for shopping or relaxing.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Helene Oasis or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: drive to samarkand
    The ornate embroidery is very impressive.The ornate embroidery is very impressive.

    Your day begins with a drive to Samarkand (approx. 3 hrs / 175 mi), one of the oldest inhabited cities in Uzbekistan, located on the crossroads of the Silk Route. It was the capital of the Tamerlane’s Empire (Timur) in the 14th century and many of the landmarks date back to this era.  Many traditional crafts from Tamerlane's time, including embroidery, silk weaving, copper engraving, ceramics, carving, and painting on wood still flourish today.

    This afternoon, enjoy a city tour including the 15th-century Observatory built by Timurid astronomer Ulugh Beg, considered to have been one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world; the Shah-i-Zinda Mausoleum, one of Samarkand's most sacred sites; and the St. Daniel Mausoleum, thought by some to be the burial site of the biblical prophet Daniel. Legend claims that Tamerlane had Daniel's remains brought here from Iran. Also tour the Afrosiab Museum, which leads you through 1500 years of history of Samarkand.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Jahongir Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 8: samarkand exploration
    You can't just have one helping of the national dish, plov.You can't just have one helping of the national dish, plov.

    There's a lot to see in this historical city, whose many ancient sites have been well-preserved or restored to approach former glory. Continue your exploration with visits to the Gur-e Amir, mausoleum of the Asian conqueror, Tamerlane (Timur); Rukhabad Mausoleum, one of the earliest surviving buildings in Samarkand from Tamerlane's reign; Registan Square where people once gathered to hear royal proclamations and a place of public executions; Bibi-Khanym Mosque, built in the early 15th century to commemorate Tamerlane's wife; and the lively, bustling city bazaar where you will have a chance to bargain for the famous crafts of the region. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Jahongir Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: train to tashkent
    Amir Temur SquareAmir Temur Square

    After breakfast, drive to the train station for the scenic ride to Tashkent (approx. 2 hr 15 min ride). Upon arrival, visit the Khast Imam, the religious center of Tashkent to see the old 12th century Koran. You'll have some time to explore the Chorsu Bazaar as well as Independence and Amir Temur's Squares.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Shodlik Palace or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: kokand & ferghana
    Silk craftswomen at work.Silk craftswomen at work.

    In the morning, drive to historic Kokand, “The city of Winds”, located at the crossroads of the ancient trade routes in the Ferghana Valley. Here you'll visit the 19th century Khudayar Khan Palace, known as the "Pearl of Kokan." It was the palace of the last ruler of Kokand and perhaps once the most opulent palace in Central Asia. Other sites you'll see are the Dakhmai Shokon Complex (Grave of Kings) to see the 19th century tomb of Umar Khan and other family members; Modari Khan Mausoleum (Mother of Khan), built for Umar's mother under the orders his wife, Nadira, a famous Uzbek poetess; the Juma Mosque, built in 1812 by Umar Khan in rural Ferghana style; and Norbutaby Madrasah, the largest religious school in Kokan, closed in 1799, but reopened again in the years of independence.

    Continue on to Ferghana where you stop to visit Yodgorlik Silk Weaving Factory in Marghilan. Overnight in Ferghana. Total travel time: approximately 250 mi / 6 hrs.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Asia Ferghana or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: drive to osh, kyrgystan
     Sulaiman-Too is the legendary burial place of the prophet Solomon Photo by Dave Proffer) Sulaiman-Too is the legendary burial place of the prophet Solomon Photo by Dave Proffer)

    You'll say good-bye to your Uzbekistani guide and meet your Kyrgyzstani guide at the border and continue on to Osh City, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. Osh is the oldest city in the country, thought to be around 3,000 years old. This afternoon, you'll visit Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain, a five peaked rocky crag that overlooks the city. It has been a Muslim pilgrimage site for hundreds of years and there are many ancient sites of worship scattered about the mountain. According to legend, the biblical prophet Solomon (Sulaiman in the Koran) was buried at the foot of the mountain. Overnight in Osh.

     

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Classic Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 12: flight to bishkek
    Snacks and spices abound in Bishkek's Osh Bazaar (Photo by Thomas Depenbusch)Snacks and spices abound in Bishkek's Osh Bazaar (Photo by Thomas Depenbusch)

    After breakfast, you'll be transferred to the airport for your flight to Bishkek. On arrival, meet your local guide and transfer only 30 minutes to Bishkek for a city tour. Bishkek is the capital of the Kyrgyz Republic in the Tien Shan Mountain range in the Chui Valley. This relatively new city is an interesting example of a czarist planned city; laid on a grid with wide boulevards flanked by irrigation canals and large trees, buildings with marble façades, and Soviet apartment complexes. 

    Spend the afternoon on a guided tour visiting Ala-Too Square - the main city square formerly known as Lenin square; Duboviy (Oak) Park; Pobeda (Victory) Square; the History Museum, which contains a huge statue of Lenin that was moved from the north side of the building after the Soviet Era; and the National Philharmonic.

    Afterwards, take a walk through Bishkek's Osh Bazaar, one of Central Asia's largest markets selling local items such as fruit, household items, hats, blankets, etc. Enjoy a traditional dinner this evening.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Smart Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 13: drive to chon kemin
    Burana Tower offers views of the surrounding region.Burana Tower offers views of the surrounding region.

    Your day begins with a drive to Chon Kemin Gorge (approximately 95 mi / 2 hrs), stopping enroute at Burana Tower. This large minaret, in addition to some grave markers, and remnants of a castle and three mausoleums are all that remain of the ancient city of Balasagun, established by the Karakhanids at the end of the ninth century. You can climb the staircase to the top of the tower for really good views.

    Continue on to Chon Kemin Gorge and enjoy a homestay and dinner with a Kyrgyz Family.

    Meals
    Breakfasat, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Homestay
    Show on a map
  • Day 14: issyk-kul lake
    Enjoy beautiful Lake Issyk-KulEnjoy beautiful Lake Issyk-Kul

    In the morning, head to Issyk-Kul, the world's second largest alpine lake in the world, only after Lake Titicaca in South America. You'll drive along the entire north shore to Karakol town, stopping to visit an extensive field of glacial boulders that are full of petroglyphs, some that date back to the late Bronze Age. Saka priests used this sacred site for sacrifices and other rites to the sun god, while living in the settlements that are currently underwater in the Cholpon-Ata Bay. Overnight at a yurt camp. Facilities are very basic and do not have private toilet facilities. Total driving distance is about 200 miles (4 hr drive).

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Yurt Camp
    Show on a map
  • Day 15: drive to bishkek
    Witness the tradition of eagle hunting.Witness the tradition of eagle hunting.

    In the morning, continue the journey to Bishkek, stopping along the way at Bokonbaeva Village to meet a local eagle hunter and see how a traditional nomadic way of hunting is done with the help of his eagle. You'll also have a chance to do some hiking at Konorchek Labyrinths. On arrival in Bishkek, you'll have some free time to explore or do some shopping. Estimated driving distance: 115 mi.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Smart Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 16: almaty, kazakhstan
    View of Almaty from Kok TobeView of Almaty from Kok Tobe

    Today you'll make the estimated four-hour drive to Almaty, the former capital of independent Kazakhstan. Spend the afternoon getting yourself acquainted with Almaty's history on a city tour beginning with the Ascension Cathedral, the second tallest wooden building in the world. This early 20th-century Russian Orthodox Church was built without the use of nails! Next, visit the Square of 28 Panfilov Heroes, commonly referred to as "Panfilov's Men." National myth surrounds these soldiers from the Red Army's 316th Rifle division who took part in defending Moscow during WWII, who were all said to be killed in action on November 16, 1941, after destroying 18 German tanks. After the collapse of the USSR, it turned out the story wasn't true and six of the soldiers were still alive. You'll also visit the Museum of Musical Instruments to learn about traditional Kazakhi instruments, including wooden harps, horns, bagpipes, dompra, and kobyz. Before returning to your hotel for the night, drive out to Kok Tobe (Green Hill), the highest point in Almaty (3600 ft), for a panoramic view of the city.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Kazzhol Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 17: almaty city tour
    Big Almaty Lake. Photo by Martin de Lusenet.Big Almaty Lake. Photo by Martin de Lusenet.

    Today you'll visit Alma-Arasan, or "Valley of the Toikhanas," where you will enjoy lunch at an ancient Kazakh home. You'll experience their culture and traditions, taste traditional Kazakh food, drink "kumis" and "shubat" (horse & camel milk), and dance a traditional Kazakh dance with the family. Continue on to the Big Almaty Gorge at Big Almaty Lake, one of the most picturesque lakes in Trans-Ili Alatau. This natural alpine reservoir is located at around 8,233 feet above sea level, just a short drive from Almaty (approx. 1 hr). The lake's high location in the high mountains keeps the area at a cool temperature year round, and depending on the time of year, the lake changes colors ranging from light green to turquoise blue. You'll have a chance to enjoy an amazing panorama of the pine-covered mountains and the lake before returning to Almaty. On the way back, stop to visit a falcon farm for a spectacular show using specially-trained hawks that hunt for their owners – a unique feature of the Kazakh way of life.

    Overnight in Almaty.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Kazzhol Hotel or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 18: depart central asia
    So long!So long!

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight. Journeys services end.

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    None
    Show on a map

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
From
$3,950
Group size 2: $4500 Group size 3+: $3950 Includes local flights
Single Supplement:
$550
The single supplement is applicable if a roommate is not available or if single accommodation is specifically requested. While single accommodation is not available on all trips, we will try and honor this request whenever possible.
Custom & private on your dates

Need to Know

Duration:
18 days
The number of days, or duration, in a destination corresponds with the itinerary as published. This is the time period covered by the land cost.
Comfort Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Comfortable and especially personal. Small to mid-sized lodges, typically with private bath. Note that one night will be spent in a basic yurt with separate toilet facilities.
Activity Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Long drives, rough roads, and possible walks over uneven paths
Group Size:
Most custom trips can accommodate groups of any size, from one person to as large of a group as you'd like. Some exceptions apply; ask your Adventure Specialist for details.
Terms & Conditions: 

Standard

Below is a summary of our complete Trip Terms & Conditions, which explains each of the items below in more detail. 

Expenses covered

Normally, our stated land costs include the cost of all guides, leaders, permits obtained after arrival, lodging accommodations, food and entry fees as specified, and all surface transportation associated with the planned itinerary. We do our best to avoid increasing prices after receipt of your deposit, but, rarely, factors beyond our control might require us to change our prices without prior notice, even after you have signed up. 

Expenses not covered

Costs not included in the price may include: meals not indicated as included in itineraries; meals prior to arrival in starting cities; transfers, if not arriving or departing on the scheduled group flights; soft drinks, bottled water, and alcoholic beverages; medical expenses, costs of hospitalization, or evacuation from remote areas; laundry; airport departure taxes not included on your airline ticket; accommodations en route to starting cities; visas; airfares; gratuities; and insurance. 

Pricing and Payment

For most group departures, the booking deposit is $500 per person per trip, though for some trips it may be more, as noted in the trip description. The minimum booking deposit requirement for custom trips is $800 per person, and this deposit is non-refundable. A trip-planning fee of $250 per itinerary is also charged to cover costs of preparing itinerary proposals for custom trips. This fee is credited to the cost of the trip, but is nonrefundable if you do not take the trip. Custom travel during holiday seasons may require a deposit prior to trip confirmation.

For both group departures and custom trips, a second deposit of $1,000 per person is due 120 days prior to departure or at the time of booking for reservations made fewer than 120 days before departure. The balance as shown on your invoice is due 60 days prior to departure regardless of whether extensions or other arrangements are pending. Late payments may jeopardize confirmation of your itinerary and in some cases may result in additional fees. If we have not received final payment 30 days prior to departure your reservation may be canceled and subject to our Cancellation & Refund Policy stated in the complete Terms & Conditions.

We accept payments by Visa, MasterCard, American Express, or check drawn on a U.S. bank account. Payment for airfare is required at the time of ticketing. Discounts that may be available for some trips are not available toward bookings made through travel agencies.​

Airfare

We can help you secure air travel arrangements to correspond with land travel booked through Journeys International. We work with an airfare consolidator to assist in booking the flights that suit your needs. If you decide to make your own flight arrangements, you must provide Journeys International with a complete copy of your itinerary showing departure and arrival flights and times. You should plan to arrange your own air travel if you are using mileage credit or originating outside North America, but please be in touch with our office before you finalize ticketing so that we can help you to coordinate the correct arrival and departure dates and times.

Insurance

When you make your application, we strongly recommend the purchase of comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergency situations. Please contact us for a recommended policy.

Itinerary Change Fee

There will be a $40 fee for changes once an itinerary has been confirmed and approved. Additional cancellation penalties or change fees may apply as per our terms and conditions. The passenger is responsible for such fees.

Trip Extensions

Turkmenistan Extension

Duration: 5 days

The sovereign state of Turkmenistan has been at the crossroads of civilizations for centuries and was an important stop along the great Silk Road. Surprisingly, the country contains the world's sixth largest reserves of natural gas resources and is m... read more

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× comfort level
Choose accommodations and amenities that fit your personal style
●○○○○ Simple
Our most natural accommodations. Bath facilities often shared, sometimes rustic.
●●○○○ Delightful
Comfortable and especially personal. Small to mid-sized lodges, typically with private bath.
●●●○○ Superior
Lodges and hotels with additional amenities, refined artistry, or extra-special settings.
●●●●○ Deluxe
Exclusive or luxury lodges, hotels, or safari camps with fine dining options.
●●●●● Uncommon
The most indulgent accommodations arranged specially for private trips.
× activity level
Match the trip’s intensity to your ability and motivation.
●○○○○ Gentle
Easy walking, with opportunities for low-key physical activity.
●●○○○ Active
Energetic exploration with optional day hikes, leisurely cycling, or light canoeing.
●●●○○ Vigorous
Day-long active excursions and options for demanding activity in varied environments.
●●●●○ Challenging
Strenuous hiking or other intense activity that may be at high altitude or over rough terrain.
●●●●● Demanding
Multi-day trekking and other activities requiring endurance or strength. Steep trails. No technical expertise necessary.
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