Travel the central Silk Road from Kyrgyzstan to Turkmenistan

Follow the central Silk Road through Turkmenistan’s harshly beautiful deserts, Uzbekistan’s soaring minarets and Kyrgyzstan’s sublime lakes. Travel to a land once home to brutal, yet sophisticated, khans and sultans, as well as the furthest reaches of the USSR. Offering the bold traveller a startling vision of Central Asian culture - from the relaxed charm of Bishkek to the futuristic Ashgabat - your central Silk Road journey is an enlightening experience full of memories to last a lifetime.

Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Min 18
Group size
Min 4 Max 21
Carbon offset
1 271kg pp per trip


  • Eat mutton dressed up as itself in a Bishkek restaurant
  • Visit the wilds of Chong Kemin National Park
  • Practice your echoes in the canyons of Jeti-Oghuz
  • Watch local shepherds playing goat polo
  • Experience the romance of the central Silk Road in Samarkand
  • Uncover Soviet memorabilia in Chorsu Bazaar
  • Be amazed by the ferocity of the Darvaza Gas Crater
  • Walk the lively streets of Ashgabat


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2014 to 31 December 2016. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Border Information: Welcome to Bishkek: If joining in Bishkek, enter Kyrgyzstan at Bishkek Airport.

Trip meeting at 10:00hrs in our hotel in Bishkek.

The rest of the day is free for you to explore this relaxed and atmospheric city. Overnight in comfortable Bishkek hotel with good facilities.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Asia Mountains

Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!

Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.

During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
The next 2 days will need to be fairly flexible. Most of the group will apply for Uzbekistan visas in Bishkek. However, the Uzbek Embassy opening times will often vary and therefore our itinerary will need to remain flexible over the next 2 days to accommodate this.

As a guide we will most likely spend our first night camping in Ala Archa National Park (or the surrounding area). We will then return to Bishkek in order to submit our visa applications. Once this is process is complete we will continue to Chong Kemin National Park where activities such as white water rafting will be available if time allows.

We will be camping for 2 nights.

Please note that trips running in May to mid-June, October and November will not camp in the Chong Kemin Valley if temperatures are too low. Instead we will stay in a small village called Semyenovka and overnight in yurts. We will need to remain flexible with these itineraries as temperatures can vary.
Early start as you set off for your drive around the Northen shore of Lake Issyk-Kul to the Russian-style town of Karakol. You will visit the Petroglyphs near Cholpon-Ata en route. Overnight in a local hotel.
Today you'll drive to the alpine trekking region of Jeti-Oghuz. You spend 2 nights here to give you time for valley and canyon hikes. You will camp overnight.

Please note that trips running in May to mid-June, October and November will not camp if temperatures are too low. Instead we will stay for 1 night in Jeti-Oghuz in a local hotel and then spend the second night in Altyn Arashan, a hot spring development enroute to Karakol again in a local hotel. We will need to remain flexible with these itineraries as temperatures can vary.
Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor where we stay in local homes and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality. Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned.

Accommodation is in home stays, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home.
Morning drive to Song-Kul Lake where you spend the next two nights. The afternoon and tomorrow is free to explore the area; Options include hiking, riding on horses or watching a game of goat polo! Tonight we stay in felt yurts.

Please note that trips running in May to mid-June, October and November will not visit Song-Kul Lake as temperatures will be below freezing. Instead we will stay in yurts on the Southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. We will need to remain flexible with these itineraries as temperatures can vary.
You'll spend the next 3 days overlanding through the stunning Kyrgyz Fergana Valley camping en route.

Please note that trips running in May to mid-June, October and November will not camp if temperatures are too low. Instead we will stay in local guesthouses along the route. We will need to remain flexible with these itineraries as temperatures can vary.
Today we drive to Arslanbob in Kyrgyzstan's Ferghana valley. There are many opportunities for hiking in this area.

We stay overnight in a local guesthouse.
Border information: Exit Kyrgyzstan at Dustlik, Enter Uzbekistan at Andijon.

This morning youn will cross the border and enter Uzbekistan. Site-seeing this afternoon in Kokand and visit Kokand's Khan's Palace and Mosque.

Overnight in a hotel.
Today we travel in cars to Uzbekistan's capital, Tashkent.

Overnight in a hotel

Free time in Tashkent.

Hotel for the night: Grand Orzu Hotel
This morning we drive to Samarkand where we will be staying for the next 3 nights. Whilst in Samarkand we stay in a small friendly hotel.

Today we will explore Samarkand in the truck, exploring the majestic buildings, monuments and bazaars of this romantic silk route city. Second night in small friendly hotel.

Second full day in Samarkand. Free time for you to explore the great sultanate of Timur as you please. Third night in small friendly hotel.
Morning drive to Nurata in the Kyzylkhum Desert. After lunch there is the option of taking a swim in Lake Ajdar Kul or going for a local camel ride. Overnight homestay with local Uzbek families in their desert yurt camp amongst the dunes.
Morning free to explore more of Nurata. In the afternoon we drive on to the fascinating city of Bukhara. We spend the next 3 nights here, staying in a comfortable local hotel.

Today we will explore Bukhara and the surrounding area, including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison and Ark Fortress. Second night in a comfortable local hotel.

Today is free for you to explore more of Bukhara and the surrounding area, or to just kick-back and take it easy for the day. Third night in comfortable local hotel.
Most of today will be spent travelling as we drive from Bukhara to Khiva. We stay in Khiva for 2 nights in a friendly, rustic hotel.

This morning we have a guided tour of this ancient city. The afternoon is free to explore this wonderfully preserved Khanate town. Second night in friendly, rustic hotel.
Border Information: Exit Uzbekistan at Nijazov, enter Turkmenistan at Shovot.

Morning drive from Khiva to the border, crossing into Turkmenistan around lunchtime. Afternoon visit to Kunye Urgench ruins. Wildcamping overnight.
We drive across the Karakum Desert. If tme allows we will make a side trip to see the amazing Darwasa Gas Crater. Second night wildcamping.
Morning drive to Ashgabat, normally arriving mid-afternoon. Whilst in Ashgabat we stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Morning visit to Ashgabat's famous Sunday market. Afternoon free to explore Ashgabat as you choose. Second night in comfortable hotel.

Border Information: If finishing in Ashgabat, exit Turkmenistan at Ashgabat Airport.

Free time in Ashgabat.

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
View trip notes to read full itinerary


Overland vehicle
Bush camp (no facilities) (9 nights), Guesthouse (1 night), Homestay (1 night), Hotel (15 nights), Yurt (3 nights)


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Important notes

1. This trip visits multiple countries for which visas can be difficult and time consuming to obtain. Please ensure that you have enough time to apply for all visas you require before booking this trip.
2. Some destinations visited on this trip do not have consulates in Australia and New Zealand. We recommend that travellers from these countries book the WESTBOUND itinerary of this trip where some visas can be obtained en route.
3. Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.
4. Combination trip. Please see Trip Notes (Important Notes) for more details.

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes