Map loading...

Trip Extensions

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

Anticipated itinerary; actual route may vary.

Day 1: arrive ashgabat, turkmenistan

White marble is the signature of Ashgabat's cityscapeWhite marble is the signature of Ashgabat's cityscape

Fly into Ashgabat, where you'll be met and assisted with the transfer to your hotel. This is the starting point for your five-country adventure.

Meals
None
Lodging
Grand Turkmen or Akaltyn Hotel (4*) or similar

Day 2: ashgabat exploration

Ertugrul Gazi Mosque stands out in Ashgabat's skylineErtugrul Gazi Mosque stands out in Ashgabat's skyline

After breakfast, visit the ruins of Old Nisa Fortress, thought to have been founded by Arsaces I (250-211 BC) and the royal necropolis of the Parthian Kings. Although this theory hasn't been confirmed, excavations have found some mausoleums, shrines, inscribed documents, Hellenistic artwork and coins.

Then, visit the National Museum of History and Ethnography, exhibiting exclusive ancient artifacts from different sites throughout Turkmenistan. This afternoon, a city tour will include the Monument and Park of Independence where you can see the monument that serves as a symbolic image of a traditional Turkmeni yurt (a round, felt tent used by nomads). The park provides an excellent place to take a walk and enjoy the marble walkways, flower beds, and fountains. Before returning to your hotel, visit the Ertugrul Gazi Mosque, an impressive mosque commemorating Ertugrul, the father of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire. It is reminiscent of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Grand Turkmen or Akaltyn Hotel (4*) or similar

Day 3: drive to derweze

The Gaz Crater is also known as the "Door to Hell"The Gaz Crater is also known as the "Door to Hell"

Set out into the desert today in 4WD vehicles as you begin your traverse of Turkmenistan. You'll have a long drive (6 hrs/250 mi) to Derweze. Along the way, you'll stop and visit the Tolkuchka National Bazaar. Also stop for a traditional lunch at the Turkmen village of Kekirdek, a nomadic settlement. During your visit, surrounded by sand dunes, learn about local customs and traditions including cooking, making felt carpets, and milking the camels. Then continue on to Derweze, a village in the middle of the Karakum Desert. Dinner is a barbecue dinner near the Gaz Crater, a natural gas field that has been burning continuously since it set fire in 1971. Overnight in a traditional Yurt, a portable, round tent covered with felt, typically used by nomads. The base of the structure consists of an expanding lattice-wood circular frame covered by felt made from sheep's wool. The floor of the yurts are made of felt carpets and each yurt contains two or three mattresses with blankets and pillows. They are usually heated by a wood stove, with a separate dining yurt and lavatory yurt.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Yurt

Day 4: konye-urgench to dashoguz

Konye-Urgench is home to some of Turkmenistan's oldest buildings (Photo by Dan Lundberg)Konye-Urgench is home to some of Turkmenistan's oldest buildings (Photo by Dan Lundberg)

Your journey today takes you to Konye-Urgench, once the capital of the medieval Khorezmshah Empire and home to several ruins that are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its inhabitants deserted the town over 300 years ago to build a new settlement. Some of the most significant and scenic sites including Kutlug Timur Minaret, once the tallest minaret in Central Asia, and Kyrk-Mollah Mound, a sacred mound where Konye-Urgench's inhabitants held their last stand against the Mongols. Ceramics dating back as early as the 5th century BCE have been excavated here. Continue on to Dashoguz, near the border with Uzbekistan.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Dashoguz Hotel (4*) or similar

Day 5: khiva, uzbekistan

Experience the Ichan-Kala fortressExperience the Ichan-Kala fortress

After breakfast, you'll drive to the Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan border at Shawat. After border crossing formalities, you'll continue the short drive on to Khiva for the night. Khiva is 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 2,500 years ago when he discovered a well in the middle of the desert and shouted, "Khi-wa!" which means, "sweet water." Your charming guesthouse is located with the walls of the Ichan-Kala, the walled inner city of Khiva. 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Meros Guesthouse (basic)

Day 6: khiva & itchan-kala

Islam Khodja Minaret viewed from below (Photo from Journeys On Quest)Islam Khodja Minaret viewed from below (Photo from Journeys On Quest)

Today your guide will lead your exploration of Itchan-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, and Pakhlayan Mahmoud Mausoleum, the most popular pilgrimage sites in Uzbekistan and the holiest place in Khiva. Islam Khodja Complex, built in the early 20th century, is the most prominent of the Itchan-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 Guesthouse (basic)

Day 7: drive to bukhara

Turquoise-colored caps top minarets and domes on Islamic buildings throughout UzbekistanTurquoise-colored caps top minarets and domes on Islamic buildings throughout Uzbekistan

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 Kyzl 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 8: bukhara

You will see finely detailed mosaics distinguishing the Islamic architecture throughout your journeyYou will see finely detailed mosaics distinguishing the Islamic architecture throughout your journey

On your first 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. Visit Ismail Samanid and Chashma Ayub Mausoleums; the Kosh Madrasah, which includes the Modari-Khan and Abdullakhan Madrasahs (Kosh means "double");  Bolo Khauz, an unusually designed mosque built in 1712 for the mother of Ashtarkhanid ruler, Abul Fayud Khan; the fifth century Ark Citadel and fortress that housed many of Bukhara's rulers; and Chor Minor, an Indian style Madrasah with four minarets. 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Helene Oasis or similar

Day 9: bukhara

The trading center of silk road days still houses a colorful marketplace (Photo by Robert Wilson)The trading center of silk road days still houses a colorful marketplace (Photo by Robert Wilson)

Your second 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. Next, visit 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. Continue on to the Naqshbandi complex, mausoleum of Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari, founder of one of the largest Sufi Muslim orders, the Naqshbandi. You'll also visit other various mosques, including Ulugbek, Abdulazizkhan, Mir Arab, Kalon, and Labi-havz before returning to your guesthouse in Bukhara.

 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Helene Oasis or similar

Day 10: nurata & aydarkul

Aydar Kul Lake lies at the foot of the Nuratau Mountains in the Kyzul Kum Desert (Photo from Journeys On Quest)Aydar Kul Lake lies at the foot of the Nuratau Mountains in the Kyzul Kum Desert (Photo from Journeys On Quest)

Today you make the drive out to Aydarkul Lake (120 mi), stopping in Nurata, a town founded as Nur in 327 BC by Alexander the Great. Alexander built a fortress, which is now in ruins, but some of the structure remains. Nurata is a famous Muslim pilgrimage site and Chashma Springs is one of the most significant religious centers for Islam in the region. There is also an underground water pipeline system constructed under the orders of Alexander the Great that is still in use today. Spend the night near the shore of Aydarkul, a turquoise lake in the middle of the Kyzyl Kum Desert. This lake was created in 1969 when flood waters spilled out of Syrdarya Lake via the Chardara reservoir. Very few people live in the area, allowing it to be abundant in birds and fish. Enjoy a traditional dinner at your yurt accommodations followed by a Kazak folklore concert around a bonfire.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Yurt

Day 11: sentyab village

A mother and son welcome you to SentyabA mother and son welcome you to Sentyab

Today's drive takes you to Sentyab (approx. 20 mi), a small village nestled between the Nuratau Mountains and Kyzylkum Desert in a fertile, green river valley. This traditional village, where donkeys are still the main mode of transportation, will make you feel as if you've taken a step back in time. The homes are made out of rocks and surrounded by fruit and nut trees that have been cultivated for centuries. You'll be sure to enjoy the fresh air, natural scenery, and friendly people. Overnight at a basic guesthouse.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Basic guesthouse

Day 12: samarkand

The ornate embroidery and ceramics are very impressiveThe ornate embroidery and ceramics are very impressive

After a leisurely breakfast, you'll be driven to Samarkand (approx. 2 hrs), one of the oldest inhabited cities in Uzbekistan. It was the capital of the Tamerlane’s Empire (Timur) in the 14th century and many of the landmarks date back to this era.  This is best place on your journey to learn about traditional crafts including embroidery, silk weaving, copper engraving, ceramics, carving and painting on wood, which all still flourish today. This afternoon, enjoy a city tour including the 15th century Observatory, built by a Timurid astronomer and considered to have been one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world. Also see the Shah-i-Zinda Mausoleum, one of Samarkand's most sacred sites, and the St. Daniel Mausoleum, thought to be the burial site of the biblical prophet, Daniel. Legend has it that Tamerlane had Daniel's remains brought here from Iran. End the day at the Afrosiab Museum, which leads you through 1500 years of history of Samarkand. Overnight at a charming B & B with modern comforts located in the heart of ancient Samarkand city. This is a great place for those wishing to experience the traditions of Uzbekistan but with all the comforts of a hotel.

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

Day 13: samarkand

The people-watching in Samarkand is excellent (Photo by Robert Wilson)The people-watching in Samarkand is excellent (Photo by Robert Wilson)

There's a lot more to see today in this historical city, where many ancient sites have been well-preserved or restored to their former glory. Imagine yourself in the days of Tamerlane as you visit sites significant during his rule. 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 from Tamerlane's reign; Registan Square where people once gathered to hear royal proclamations and view public executions; and the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, built in the early 15th century to commemorate Tamerlane's wife. Afterwards, you'll have some free time to do as you like. The lively, bustling city bazaar is a great place to bargain for the famous crafts of the region or to people-watch. 

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

Day 14: shakhrisabz excursion

A monument to Tamerlane stands near the ruins of his Ak Saray Palace (Photo by Allan Grey)A monument to Tamerlane stands near the ruins of his Ak Saray Palace (Photo by Allan Grey)

Today you'll make the drive to Shakhrisabz, birthplace of the Great Timur. Founded more than 2,700 years ago, Shakhrisabz is one of the oldest sites in Central Asia. Here, you'll visit Ak Saray Palace (White Palace), built in 1380 after Timur's overthrow of Konye Urgench. Artists from Khorezm were brought here to work on the palace, but only portions of the exterior remain today. Next, you'll visit Dorut-Tilovat, erected during the reign of Ulugbek containing the graves of Timur's father, Taragay and his spiritual tutor, Sheikh Shamsaddin Kulyal. Before returning to Samarkand, visit the remaining portion of Dorus Siadat Complex (Repository of Power), the burial place for the family of Timur. Return to Samarkand for overnight.

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

Day 15: khudjand, tajikistan

After breakfast, you'll make your way to the Tajikistan border at Oybek and meet up with your Tajik guide. After border formalities, make the drive northeast to Khudjand. Located on the Syr Darya River at the mouth of the Ferghana Valley, Khudjand is the second largest city in Tajikistan. This afternoon, visit the Cultural Palace of Khudjand, originally built in the sixth century, BCE. During the peak of the Great Silk Route, this fortress was rebuilt and considered one of the most inaccessible fortresses in Central Asia. In the early 1200's AD, the fortress was captured by Genghis Khan's army and completely destroyed, but rebuilt in the 15th century. You'll also visit the Sheikh Massal ad-Din complex, which includes the Mausoleum of Sheikh Massal ad-Din and the 20th century mosque. A newly built minaret is attached to a traditional style brick mosque. Overnight in Khudjand at one of the best hotels available.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Sugd Hotel (3*) or similar

Day 16: ancient penjikent

The Sogdian ruins at Penjikent lie at the foot of the Fann Mountains (Photo by Stefan Krasowski)The Sogdian ruins at Penjikent lie at the foot of the Fann Mountains (Photo by Stefan Krasowski)

After breakfast, head out to Penjikent via the Shahriston Pass (11,080 ft). Penjikent is known for its ancient archeological ruins of a major Sogdian town, which was at one time one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the Silk Road. It was considered by some as the "Central Asian Pompeii" with its palaces, temples, markets, wealthy dwellings and ancient god statues. Here you'll have a chance to see the remains of these dwellings, the citadel within the palace, and even a fire worshipers' church. A statue of Devastich, the last Sogdian leader in the region, sits in the middle of the roundabout on the west side of town. You'll overnight in a traditional style homestay. You won't have all the amenities of a modern hotel, but you will have the chance to experience traditional Tajikistan.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Homestay

Day 17: seven lakes

Hike the shores of the Marguzor Lakes in the Fann Mountains (Photo by Oleg Brovko)Hike the shores of the Marguzor Lakes in the Fann Mountains (Photo by Oleg Brovko)

Today's drive takes you out to the Fannsky Gory (Fann Mountains), which are part of the Pamir-Alay Mountain Range. They are often referred to as the "Gem of Pamirs" due to their emerald green and turquoise lakes surrounded by juniper trees and beautiful snow-capped mountains. The range is home to snow leopards, bears, and mountain goats as well as a large variety of birds including mountain geese, eagles, gryphons, and hawks. Within the Fann Mountain Range are the Seven Lakes (Marguzor Lakes), which are filled by the melted waters from the glaciers in the upper reaches of the valley. These beautiful cascading lakes appear in different shades of blue. You'll spend time hiking along the lakes as much as you like before driving back to Khujand for the night.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Sugd Hotel (3*) or similar

Day 18: osh, kyrgyzstan

 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)

Today you'll say good-bye to your Tajiki 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. Afterwards, take a walk through the Osh Bazaar, selling items for locals such as fruit, household items, hats, blankets, etc. Overnight at a local B & B style hotel in Osh.

Meals
Breakfasat, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Sunrise B & B or similar

Day 19: 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)

In the morning, transfer to the airport for the flight to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. This is a fairly new city with few historical sites, but worth checking out its interesting czar-influenced design featuring wide boulevards bordered by irrigation canals, large trees, Soviet-style apartments and marble buildings. See Ala-Too Square, the site of frequent political demonstrations and festivals. Also visit the State Historical Museum, which contains a large statue of Lenin and exhibits of stone petroglyphs and archeological excavations from early nomads dating back to the first century. Finally, wander Bishkek's Osh Bazaar, where you'll find local food stalls selling "shashlik," a type of Kyrgyz snack, dried fruits, fresh vegetables, locally fresh-baked bread, and other oddities such as sheep heads. This is also a great place to do some souvenir shopping for local Kyrgyzstani products or musical instruments. Overnight at one of the best hotels in the city, located in a quiet section of Bishkek.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Grand Hotel (3*) or similar

Day 20: chon kemin gorge

Today you'll have the opportunity to drive along the Chon-Kemin gorge and valley, one of the most picturesque scenes in Kyrgyzstan. Along the way, you'll stop and visit the Burana Tower, an 11th century minaret that was once a part of the ancient city of Balasagun, established by the Karakhanids at the end of the ninth century. It is possible to climb to the top of the tower. In addition to the Burana tower, you'll visit the open-air museum of Balbans, which includes mausoleums, castle foundations and artifacts found at the site. You'll enjoy a traditional Kyrgyzstani lunch with a local family followed by three hours of horseback riding. Your route takes you high into the mountains and through forests. From the top of the mountains, you'll have incredible panoramic views of the gorge. Overnight at a local home stay. 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Homestay

Day 21: issyk-kul lake & karakol

Scenic Lake Issyk-Kul was historically considered sacred by locals (Photo by Thomas Depenbusch)Scenic Lake Issyk-Kul was historically considered sacred by locals (Photo by Thomas Depenbusch)

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 lovely guesthouse in Karakol, located near the eastern tip of Lake Issyk-Kul.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Green Yard Guesthouse or similar

Day 22: jeti oguz and kochkor

The red sandstone formation called the Seven Bulls stands over Jeti Orguz (Photo by Dan Lundberg)The red sandstone formation called the Seven Bulls stands over Jeti Orguz (Photo by Dan Lundberg)

Today's adventure takes you on a drive to Jeti Oguz Gorge, famous for its red rock formations, known as "Seven Bulls." If you like, you can take a 20-minute hike to the top of a mountain for excellent panoramic views of the gorge. You'll continue the drive to Kochkor, stopping at Bokonbaeva Village to meet a local eagle-hunter, who hunts hares and foxes using the traditional nomadic hunting involving eagles as scouts. Overnight in a local homestay in Kochkor.

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Homestay

Day 23: kochkor and bishkek

Hand-made felt rugs are typical crafts of Kyrgyzstan (Photo by Patrick Barry)Hand-made felt rugs are typical crafts of Kyrgyzstan (Photo by Patrick Barry)

Before departing Kochkor, you'll meet with a local family to learn how Kyrgyzstani felt carpets are made. You can even try the art of felt-making yourself! You'll also visit a charming handicraft museum containing many examples of silver decorations, wolf-skin coats, saddle decorations, carpets and more. Overnight in Bishkek. 

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lodging
Grand Hotel (3*) or similar

Day 24: almaty, kazakhstan

Ascend Kok Tobe for a sunset view of Almaty (Photo by Alexander Fisher)Ascend Kok Tobe for a sunset view of Almaty (Photo by Alexander Fisher)

This morning cross the border in Kazakhstan, and drive to Almaty city (4 hrs). Almaty is the largest as well as the most culturally diverse city in Kazakhstan. Spend the afternoon getting yourself acquainted with Almaty's history on a city tour beginning with the Ascension Cathedral, the second highest 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, or 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, but were all killed in action on November 16, 1941, after destroying 18 German tanks. After the collapse of the USSR, it turned out the story was not true and six of the soldiers were even still alive. You'll also visit the Museum of Musical Instruments to learn about the different types of 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 (4*) or similar

Day 25: depart central asia or extend

You'll make friends all along your Silk Road journey (Photo by Christopher Michel)You'll make friends all along your Silk Road journey (Photo by Christopher Michel)

After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight or add on a few more days to further explore Kazakhstan.

A visit to Astana makes an easy extension. Considered by some to be one of the strangest cities in the world, Astana combines an interesting mix of old Soviet architecture with modern structures designed by Norman Foster and other popular architects. Though the tourist infrastructure is still a work in progress, this city has its own unique style. A few sights worth visiting are: Baiterek Tower, a great example of futuristic architecture offering excellent views of the city; Khan Shatyr, a large transparent tent containing a park, shopping area, a river, mini-golf, and indoor beach; and The President's Museum of Kazakhstan, which is built in the shape of a yurt with a mosque-like dome. This museum contains exhibits about the history of Kazakhstan and features a replica of the Golden Man costume, a warrior's suit found in a tomb east of Almaty. Also stop at Atameken Map of Kazakhstan, an outdoor museum offering an overview of the entire country in a miniature version featuring Kazakh cities and historical monuments. For other ideas for extensions throughout the country, just ask!

Meals
Breakfast
Lodging
None

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
$6,500
Includes Osh to Bishkek flight
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
Aug 27-Sep 20, 2018

Need to Know

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware that the tourism infrastructure is not up to Western standards. Therefore, most accommodations, even 4*, will not be the same as what we are used to here in the U.S.. Also, keep in mind that road conditions and travel can sometimes be rough, and vehicles are more prone to break-downs. We will do our best to ensure a pleasant experience, and you will have some of the best cultural encounters and scenery possible, but please try to have an open mind as you embark on this adventure.

The price includes Visa support in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan; Visas are not required in Kyrgyzstan for US citizens and no visa is required in Kazakhstan up to 15 days of travel.

Duration:
25 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 guesthouses, typically with private bath. Note that two nights will be spent in a basic yurt with separate toilet facilities.
Activity Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
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 will lead two linked Silk Road tours for Journeys International: Tracing the Ancient Silk Route (…

Tamerlane's Tomb is just one example of Samarkand's stunning architecture (Photo from Journeys On Quest)
Tamerlane's Tomb is just one example of Samarkand's stunning architecture (Photo from Journeys On Quest)
Experience the Ichan kala fortress.
Experience the Ichan kala fortress.
This Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Karakol is made of wood (Photo by Dan Lundberg)
This Russian Orthodox Cathedral in Karakol is made of wood (Photo by Dan Lundberg)
The art of spinning silk starts with boiling silkworm cocoons to loosen the fibers (Photo from Journeys On Quest)
The art of spinning silk starts with boiling silkworm cocoons to loosen the fibers (Photo from Journeys On Quest)
A Tajik grandfather and his beloved grandson in the mountain village of Kirionte (Photo from Journeys On Quest)
A Tajik grandfather and his beloved grandson in the mountain village of Kirionte (Photo from Journeys On Quest)
Sleep in yurts beneath the stars on the Silk Road
Sleep in yurts beneath the stars on the Silk Road
Friendly faces in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Friendly faces in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Silk Road through the Stans

Trace the paths of past and present through Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan

overview

Discover the wonders, intrigue and cultures of the 3,000-year-old Silk Route linking Asia to Europe and Africa. Retrace historic caravan paths that will take you through stunning desert landscapes, into alpine mountains, past sparkling lakes, and into the midst of urban, village, and nomadic communities. Historically one of the world's most traveled regions, today few travelers venture here. If you can take the time to experience this full journey, you will gain a unique perspective on an important region with multi-layered beauty to uncover.  Knowledgeable local guides facilitate your border crossings, handle the details of accommodations in guesthouses and superior hotels, and lead in-depth sightseeing throughout the trip.

Long time Journeys client, Coco Rae will be joining this departure. Coco is a veteran traveler to nearly two dozen countries and 4 continents. She has taught world history and literature for 15 years and has taken her students on numerous trips around the world. She will be taking a sabbatical in 2018 and plans to lead trips for Journeys. She lives in New Mexico with her husband and enjoys an active lifestyle. 

*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

Discover the wonders, intrigue and cultures of the 3,000-year-old Silk Route linking Asia to Europe and Africa. Retrace historic caravan paths that will take you through stunning desert landscapes, into alpine mountains, past sparkling lakes, and into the midst of urban, village, and nomadic communities. Historically one of the world's most traveled regions, today few travelers venture here. If you can take the time to experience this full journey, you will gain a unique perspective on an important region with multi-layered beauty to uncover.  Knowledgeable local guides facilitate your border crossings, handle the details of accommodations in guesthouses and superior hotels, and lead in-depth sightseeing throughout the trip.

Long time Journeys client, Coco Rae will be joining this departure. Coco is a veteran traveler to nearly two dozen countries and 4 continents. She has taught world history and literature for 15 years and has taken her students on numerous trips around the world. She will be taking a sabbatical in 2018 and plans to lead trips for Journeys. She lives in New Mexico with her husband and enjoys an active lifestyle. 

*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: arrive ashgabat, turkmenistan
    White marble is the signature of Ashgabat's cityscapeWhite marble is the signature of Ashgabat's cityscape

    Fly into Ashgabat, where you'll be met and assisted with the transfer to your hotel. This is the starting point for your five-country adventure.

    Meals
    None
    Lodging
    Grand Turkmen or Akaltyn Hotel (4*) or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 2: ashgabat exploration
    Ertugrul Gazi Mosque stands out in Ashgabat's skylineErtugrul Gazi Mosque stands out in Ashgabat's skyline

    After breakfast, visit the ruins of Old Nisa Fortress, thought to have been founded by Arsaces I (250-211 BC) and the royal necropolis of the Parthian Kings. Although this theory hasn't been confirmed, excavations have found some mausoleums, shrines, inscribed documents, Hellenistic artwork and coins.

    Then, visit the National Museum of History and Ethnography, exhibiting exclusive ancient artifacts from different sites throughout Turkmenistan. This afternoon, a city tour will include the Monument and Park of Independence where you can see the monument that serves as a symbolic image of a traditional Turkmeni yurt (a round, felt tent used by nomads). The park provides an excellent place to take a walk and enjoy the marble walkways, flower beds, and fountains. Before returning to your hotel, visit the Ertugrul Gazi Mosque, an impressive mosque commemorating Ertugrul, the father of Osman I, founder of the Ottoman Empire. It is reminiscent of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Grand Turkmen or Akaltyn Hotel (4*) or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 3: drive to derweze
    The Gaz Crater is also known as the "Door to Hell"The Gaz Crater is also known as the "Door to Hell"

    Set out into the desert today in 4WD vehicles as you begin your traverse of Turkmenistan. You'll have a long drive (6 hrs/250 mi) to Derweze. Along the way, you'll stop and visit the Tolkuchka National Bazaar. Also stop for a traditional lunch at the Turkmen village of Kekirdek, a nomadic settlement. During your visit, surrounded by sand dunes, learn about local customs and traditions including cooking, making felt carpets, and milking the camels. Then continue on to Derweze, a village in the middle of the Karakum Desert. Dinner is a barbecue dinner near the Gaz Crater, a natural gas field that has been burning continuously since it set fire in 1971. Overnight in a traditional Yurt, a portable, round tent covered with felt, typically used by nomads. The base of the structure consists of an expanding lattice-wood circular frame covered by felt made from sheep's wool. The floor of the yurts are made of felt carpets and each yurt contains two or three mattresses with blankets and pillows. They are usually heated by a wood stove, with a separate dining yurt and lavatory yurt.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Yurt
    Show on a map
  • Day 4: konye-urgench to dashoguz
    Konye-Urgench is home to some of Turkmenistan's oldest buildings (Photo by Dan Lundberg)Konye-Urgench is home to some of Turkmenistan's oldest buildings (Photo by Dan Lundberg)

    Your journey today takes you to Konye-Urgench, once the capital of the medieval Khorezmshah Empire and home to several ruins that are listed as UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Its inhabitants deserted the town over 300 years ago to build a new settlement. Some of the most significant and scenic sites including Kutlug Timur Minaret, once the tallest minaret in Central Asia, and Kyrk-Mollah Mound, a sacred mound where Konye-Urgench's inhabitants held their last stand against the Mongols. Ceramics dating back as early as the 5th century BCE have been excavated here. Continue on to Dashoguz, near the border with Uzbekistan.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Dashoguz Hotel (4*) or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 5: khiva, uzbekistan
    Experience the Ichan-Kala fortressExperience the Ichan-Kala fortress

    After breakfast, you'll drive to the Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan border at Shawat. After border crossing formalities, you'll continue the short drive on to Khiva for the night. Khiva is 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 2,500 years ago when he discovered a well in the middle of the desert and shouted, "Khi-wa!" which means, "sweet water." Your charming guesthouse is located with the walls of the Ichan-Kala, the walled inner city of Khiva. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Meros Guesthouse (basic)
    Show on a map
  • Day 6: khiva & itchan-kala
    Islam Khodja Minaret viewed from below (Photo from Journeys On Quest)Islam Khodja Minaret viewed from below (Photo from Journeys On Quest)

    Today your guide will lead your exploration of Itchan-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, and Pakhlayan Mahmoud Mausoleum, the most popular pilgrimage sites in Uzbekistan and the holiest place in Khiva. Islam Khodja Complex, built in the early 20th century, is the most prominent of the Itchan-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 Guesthouse (basic)
    Show on a map
  • Day 7: drive to bukhara
    Turquoise-colored caps top minarets and domes on Islamic buildings throughout UzbekistanTurquoise-colored caps top minarets and domes on Islamic buildings throughout Uzbekistan

    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 Kyzl 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 8: bukhara
    You will see finely detailed mosaics distinguishing the Islamic architecture throughout your journeyYou will see finely detailed mosaics distinguishing the Islamic architecture throughout your journey

    On your first 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. Visit Ismail Samanid and Chashma Ayub Mausoleums; the Kosh Madrasah, which includes the Modari-Khan and Abdullakhan Madrasahs (Kosh means "double");  Bolo Khauz, an unusually designed mosque built in 1712 for the mother of Ashtarkhanid ruler, Abul Fayud Khan; the fifth century Ark Citadel and fortress that housed many of Bukhara's rulers; and Chor Minor, an Indian style Madrasah with four minarets. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Helene Oasis or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 9: bukhara
    The trading center of silk road days still houses a colorful marketplace (Photo by Robert Wilson)The trading center of silk road days still houses a colorful marketplace (Photo by Robert Wilson)

    Your second 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. Next, visit 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. Continue on to the Naqshbandi complex, mausoleum of Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari, founder of one of the largest Sufi Muslim orders, the Naqshbandi. You'll also visit other various mosques, including Ulugbek, Abdulazizkhan, Mir Arab, Kalon, and Labi-havz before returning to your guesthouse in Bukhara.

     

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Helene Oasis or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 10: nurata & aydarkul
    Aydar Kul Lake lies at the foot of the Nuratau Mountains in the Kyzul Kum Desert (Photo from Journeys On Quest)Aydar Kul Lake lies at the foot of the Nuratau Mountains in the Kyzul Kum Desert (Photo from Journeys On Quest)

    Today you make the drive out to Aydarkul Lake (120 mi), stopping in Nurata, a town founded as Nur in 327 BC by Alexander the Great. Alexander built a fortress, which is now in ruins, but some of the structure remains. Nurata is a famous Muslim pilgrimage site and Chashma Springs is one of the most significant religious centers for Islam in the region. There is also an underground water pipeline system constructed under the orders of Alexander the Great that is still in use today. Spend the night near the shore of Aydarkul, a turquoise lake in the middle of the Kyzyl Kum Desert. This lake was created in 1969 when flood waters spilled out of Syrdarya Lake via the Chardara reservoir. Very few people live in the area, allowing it to be abundant in birds and fish. Enjoy a traditional dinner at your yurt accommodations followed by a Kazak folklore concert around a bonfire.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Yurt
    Show on a map
  • Day 11: sentyab village
    A mother and son welcome you to SentyabA mother and son welcome you to Sentyab

    Today's drive takes you to Sentyab (approx. 20 mi), a small village nestled between the Nuratau Mountains and Kyzylkum Desert in a fertile, green river valley. This traditional village, where donkeys are still the main mode of transportation, will make you feel as if you've taken a step back in time. The homes are made out of rocks and surrounded by fruit and nut trees that have been cultivated for centuries. You'll be sure to enjoy the fresh air, natural scenery, and friendly people. Overnight at a basic guesthouse.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Basic guesthouse
    Show on a map
  • Day 12: samarkand
    The ornate embroidery and ceramics are very impressiveThe ornate embroidery and ceramics are very impressive

    After a leisurely breakfast, you'll be driven to Samarkand (approx. 2 hrs), one of the oldest inhabited cities in Uzbekistan. It was the capital of the Tamerlane’s Empire (Timur) in the 14th century and many of the landmarks date back to this era.  This is best place on your journey to learn about traditional crafts including embroidery, silk weaving, copper engraving, ceramics, carving and painting on wood, which all still flourish today. This afternoon, enjoy a city tour including the 15th century Observatory, built by a Timurid astronomer and considered to have been one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world. Also see the Shah-i-Zinda Mausoleum, one of Samarkand's most sacred sites, and the St. Daniel Mausoleum, thought to be the burial site of the biblical prophet, Daniel. Legend has it that Tamerlane had Daniel's remains brought here from Iran. End the day at the Afrosiab Museum, which leads you through 1500 years of history of Samarkand. Overnight at a charming B & B with modern comforts located in the heart of ancient Samarkand city. This is a great place for those wishing to experience the traditions of Uzbekistan but with all the comforts of a hotel.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Jahongir B & B or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 13: samarkand
    The people-watching in Samarkand is excellent (Photo by Robert Wilson)The people-watching in Samarkand is excellent (Photo by Robert Wilson)

    There's a lot more to see today in this historical city, where many ancient sites have been well-preserved or restored to their former glory. Imagine yourself in the days of Tamerlane as you visit sites significant during his rule. 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 from Tamerlane's reign; Registan Square where people once gathered to hear royal proclamations and view public executions; and the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, built in the early 15th century to commemorate Tamerlane's wife. Afterwards, you'll have some free time to do as you like. The lively, bustling city bazaar is a great place to bargain for the famous crafts of the region or to people-watch. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Jahongir B & B or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 14: shakhrisabz excursion
    A monument to Tamerlane stands near the ruins of his Ak Saray Palace (Photo by Allan Grey)A monument to Tamerlane stands near the ruins of his Ak Saray Palace (Photo by Allan Grey)

    Today you'll make the drive to Shakhrisabz, birthplace of the Great Timur. Founded more than 2,700 years ago, Shakhrisabz is one of the oldest sites in Central Asia. Here, you'll visit Ak Saray Palace (White Palace), built in 1380 after Timur's overthrow of Konye Urgench. Artists from Khorezm were brought here to work on the palace, but only portions of the exterior remain today. Next, you'll visit Dorut-Tilovat, erected during the reign of Ulugbek containing the graves of Timur's father, Taragay and his spiritual tutor, Sheikh Shamsaddin Kulyal. Before returning to Samarkand, visit the remaining portion of Dorus Siadat Complex (Repository of Power), the burial place for the family of Timur. Return to Samarkand for overnight.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Jahongir B & B or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 15: khudjand, tajikistan

    After breakfast, you'll make your way to the Tajikistan border at Oybek and meet up with your Tajik guide. After border formalities, make the drive northeast to Khudjand. Located on the Syr Darya River at the mouth of the Ferghana Valley, Khudjand is the second largest city in Tajikistan. This afternoon, visit the Cultural Palace of Khudjand, originally built in the sixth century, BCE. During the peak of the Great Silk Route, this fortress was rebuilt and considered one of the most inaccessible fortresses in Central Asia. In the early 1200's AD, the fortress was captured by Genghis Khan's army and completely destroyed, but rebuilt in the 15th century. You'll also visit the Sheikh Massal ad-Din complex, which includes the Mausoleum of Sheikh Massal ad-Din and the 20th century mosque. A newly built minaret is attached to a traditional style brick mosque. Overnight in Khudjand at one of the best hotels available.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Sugd Hotel (3*) or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 16: ancient penjikent
    The Sogdian ruins at Penjikent lie at the foot of the Fann Mountains (Photo by Stefan Krasowski)The Sogdian ruins at Penjikent lie at the foot of the Fann Mountains (Photo by Stefan Krasowski)

    After breakfast, head out to Penjikent via the Shahriston Pass (11,080 ft). Penjikent is known for its ancient archeological ruins of a major Sogdian town, which was at one time one of the most cosmopolitan cities on the Silk Road. It was considered by some as the "Central Asian Pompeii" with its palaces, temples, markets, wealthy dwellings and ancient god statues. Here you'll have a chance to see the remains of these dwellings, the citadel within the palace, and even a fire worshipers' church. A statue of Devastich, the last Sogdian leader in the region, sits in the middle of the roundabout on the west side of town. You'll overnight in a traditional style homestay. You won't have all the amenities of a modern hotel, but you will have the chance to experience traditional Tajikistan.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Homestay
    Show on a map
  • Day 17: seven lakes
    Hike the shores of the Marguzor Lakes in the Fann Mountains (Photo by Oleg Brovko)Hike the shores of the Marguzor Lakes in the Fann Mountains (Photo by Oleg Brovko)

    Today's drive takes you out to the Fannsky Gory (Fann Mountains), which are part of the Pamir-Alay Mountain Range. They are often referred to as the "Gem of Pamirs" due to their emerald green and turquoise lakes surrounded by juniper trees and beautiful snow-capped mountains. The range is home to snow leopards, bears, and mountain goats as well as a large variety of birds including mountain geese, eagles, gryphons, and hawks. Within the Fann Mountain Range are the Seven Lakes (Marguzor Lakes), which are filled by the melted waters from the glaciers in the upper reaches of the valley. These beautiful cascading lakes appear in different shades of blue. You'll spend time hiking along the lakes as much as you like before driving back to Khujand for the night.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Sugd Hotel (3*) or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 18: osh, kyrgyzstan
     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)

    Today you'll say good-bye to your Tajiki 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. Afterwards, take a walk through the Osh Bazaar, selling items for locals such as fruit, household items, hats, blankets, etc. Overnight at a local B & B style hotel in Osh.

    Meals
    Breakfasat, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Sunrise B & B or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 19: 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)

    In the morning, transfer to the airport for the flight to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. This is a fairly new city with few historical sites, but worth checking out its interesting czar-influenced design featuring wide boulevards bordered by irrigation canals, large trees, Soviet-style apartments and marble buildings. See Ala-Too Square, the site of frequent political demonstrations and festivals. Also visit the State Historical Museum, which contains a large statue of Lenin and exhibits of stone petroglyphs and archeological excavations from early nomads dating back to the first century. Finally, wander Bishkek's Osh Bazaar, where you'll find local food stalls selling "shashlik," a type of Kyrgyz snack, dried fruits, fresh vegetables, locally fresh-baked bread, and other oddities such as sheep heads. This is also a great place to do some souvenir shopping for local Kyrgyzstani products or musical instruments. Overnight at one of the best hotels in the city, located in a quiet section of Bishkek.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Grand Hotel (3*) or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 20: chon kemin gorge

    Today you'll have the opportunity to drive along the Chon-Kemin gorge and valley, one of the most picturesque scenes in Kyrgyzstan. Along the way, you'll stop and visit the Burana Tower, an 11th century minaret that was once a part of the ancient city of Balasagun, established by the Karakhanids at the end of the ninth century. It is possible to climb to the top of the tower. In addition to the Burana tower, you'll visit the open-air museum of Balbans, which includes mausoleums, castle foundations and artifacts found at the site. You'll enjoy a traditional Kyrgyzstani lunch with a local family followed by three hours of horseback riding. Your route takes you high into the mountains and through forests. From the top of the mountains, you'll have incredible panoramic views of the gorge. Overnight at a local home stay. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Homestay
    Show on a map
  • Day 21: issyk-kul lake & karakol
    Scenic Lake Issyk-Kul was historically considered sacred by locals (Photo by Thomas Depenbusch)Scenic Lake Issyk-Kul was historically considered sacred by locals (Photo by Thomas Depenbusch)

    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 lovely guesthouse in Karakol, located near the eastern tip of Lake Issyk-Kul.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Green Yard Guesthouse or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 22: jeti oguz and kochkor
    The red sandstone formation called the Seven Bulls stands over Jeti Orguz (Photo by Dan Lundberg)The red sandstone formation called the Seven Bulls stands over Jeti Orguz (Photo by Dan Lundberg)

    Today's adventure takes you on a drive to Jeti Oguz Gorge, famous for its red rock formations, known as "Seven Bulls." If you like, you can take a 20-minute hike to the top of a mountain for excellent panoramic views of the gorge. You'll continue the drive to Kochkor, stopping at Bokonbaeva Village to meet a local eagle-hunter, who hunts hares and foxes using the traditional nomadic hunting involving eagles as scouts. Overnight in a local homestay in Kochkor.

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Homestay
    Show on a map
  • Day 23: kochkor and bishkek
    Hand-made felt rugs are typical crafts of Kyrgyzstan (Photo by Patrick Barry)Hand-made felt rugs are typical crafts of Kyrgyzstan (Photo by Patrick Barry)

    Before departing Kochkor, you'll meet with a local family to learn how Kyrgyzstani felt carpets are made. You can even try the art of felt-making yourself! You'll also visit a charming handicraft museum containing many examples of silver decorations, wolf-skin coats, saddle decorations, carpets and more. Overnight in Bishkek. 

    Meals
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Lodging
    Grand Hotel (3*) or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 24: almaty, kazakhstan
    Ascend Kok Tobe for a sunset view of Almaty (Photo by Alexander Fisher)Ascend Kok Tobe for a sunset view of Almaty (Photo by Alexander Fisher)

    This morning cross the border in Kazakhstan, and drive to Almaty city (4 hrs). Almaty is the largest as well as the most culturally diverse city in Kazakhstan. Spend the afternoon getting yourself acquainted with Almaty's history on a city tour beginning with the Ascension Cathedral, the second highest 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, or 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, but were all killed in action on November 16, 1941, after destroying 18 German tanks. After the collapse of the USSR, it turned out the story was not true and six of the soldiers were even still alive. You'll also visit the Museum of Musical Instruments to learn about the different types of 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 (4*) or similar
    Show on a map
  • Day 25: depart central asia or extend
    You'll make friends all along your Silk Road journey (Photo by Christopher Michel)You'll make friends all along your Silk Road journey (Photo by Christopher Michel)

    After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight or add on a few more days to further explore Kazakhstan.

    A visit to Astana makes an easy extension. Considered by some to be one of the strangest cities in the world, Astana combines an interesting mix of old Soviet architecture with modern structures designed by Norman Foster and other popular architects. Though the tourist infrastructure is still a work in progress, this city has its own unique style. A few sights worth visiting are: Baiterek Tower, a great example of futuristic architecture offering excellent views of the city; Khan Shatyr, a large transparent tent containing a park, shopping area, a river, mini-golf, and indoor beach; and The President's Museum of Kazakhstan, which is built in the shape of a yurt with a mosque-like dome. This museum contains exhibits about the history of Kazakhstan and features a replica of the Golden Man costume, a warrior's suit found in a tomb east of Almaty. Also stop at Atameken Map of Kazakhstan, an outdoor museum offering an overview of the entire country in a miniature version featuring Kazakh cities and historical monuments. For other ideas for extensions throughout the country, just ask!

    Meals
    Breakfast
    Lodging
    None
    Show on a map

Price and Date Details

Land Cost:
$6,500
Includes Osh to Bishkek flight
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
Aug 27-Sep 20, 2018

Need to Know

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please be aware that the tourism infrastructure is not up to Western standards. Therefore, most accommodations, even 4*, will not be the same as what we are used to here in the U.S.. Also, keep in mind that road conditions and travel can sometimes be rough, and vehicles are more prone to break-downs. We will do our best to ensure a pleasant experience, and you will have some of the best cultural encounters and scenery possible, but please try to have an open mind as you embark on this adventure.

The price includes Visa support in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan; Visas are not required in Kyrgyzstan for US citizens and no visa is required in Kazakhstan up to 15 days of travel.

Duration:
25 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 guesthouses, typically with private bath. Note that two nights will be spent in a basic yurt with separate toilet facilities.
Activity Level:
●●○○○
(see full descriptions)
Group Size:
2-12
The stated range indicates minimum required for guaranteed departure and maximum accepted on the scheduled dates. Exceptions can often be made for private departures.
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

There are currently no suggested extensions for this itinerary. Please ask the Destination Specialist if you'd like to customize one.

×

Download Trip Itinerary

Subscribe me to The Bird's Nest (the Journeys blog)
Please tell us specifically the name of the website, publication or friend, or 'other' place where you heard about us.
× 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.
Share