Hit the five Stans on a fascinating Central Asian exploration.
Beginning in the futuristic cityscapes of Nur-Sultan (until recently, Astana), join your small group on an epic exploration from Kazakhstan, through mountainous Kyrgyzstan, the remote lands of Tajikistan, Islam-influenced Uzbekistan, all the way to grand Ashgabat in Turkmenistan. For those counting, that’s five Stans. These vast lands are still oft bypassed, despite offering outstanding beauty and fascinating sights. The allure lies in the heritage of the Silk Road, where ideas, culture and people flowed from East to West, and in the soaring mountain landscapes that still play host to a traditional nomadic lifestyle. Journey through cities featuring reminders of Soviet occupation and out into the stunning wilderness, where ancient history and welcoming hospitality will illuminate a region often left out of the tourist light. Central Asia doesn’t get much more comprehensive than this.
Unveil the mysteries of space explorations in Baikonur, where the Russian Cosmodrome is located and launches to the International Space Station take off.
Surround yourself with the surreal landscapes of the Altyn-Emel National Park, including the mysterious singing sand dunes, and visit the Grand Canyon's 'little brother' – Charyn Canyon.
Skirting the border with Afghanistan, get glimpses of the other side, from the hair-raising Afghan-built footbridges (ovrings) to the exotic imports on display in Khorog's local bazaar.
Steeped in Silk Road history and immortalised in many great tales, the UNESCO-protected town of Khiva is as photogenic as it is legendary.
Witness the eternal flames of the Darvaza Crater, or the 'Door to Hell', as you camp nearby – one of the strangest, most mesmerising geological oddities on earth.
This trip takes you way off the tourist trail to explore just some of the remoteness in Central Asia. If you want to be far, far away from everywhere – and from anything you've experienced before – this trip is for you.
In true adventure style, the trip involves some long travel days by private vehicle and trains. The road may be bumpy and dusty, but the experience and the journey will be rewarding. This is a great opportunity to sit back, unwind and let the sweeping views roll by. Daily drives range from 3 to 10 hours in duration. Depending on traveller numbers, the group may be split into two vehicles. Though the longer travel days and single night overnight stays can be tiring, you'll be in a private vehicle, and much of the scenery in this part of the world is simply stunning.
You’ll experience varying temperatures in the desert and out on the steppe or in the mountains from below zero to over 40 ºC, so check the weather forecast online before you visit and pack accordingly.
This trip visits places as high as 5000 metres above sea level, which can cause altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more important information on this. Please note that medical facilities can be as far away as 2-3 days' drive at times, as some locations are very remote. During this journey the group will spend time in remote areas without home comforts or easy access to medical facilities. You will need to have excellent physical health to join this trip.
Part of travelling with Intrepid means respecting local cultures and sensibilities. That way you get the most out of your interactions with local people and environments. For women, we recommend bringing a scarf to cover your head and shoulders while on visits to mosques and mausoleums.
Tourism is strictly controlled in Turkmenistan, with Letters of Invitation needed in advance in order to apply for your visa (which you can then get on arrival) and guides tending to be protective of what tourists see and fiercely proud of their nation and its leaders. Those used to more freedom of exploration and tour guides with a more global perspective may find their experience here different from in other destinations. Please see the ‘Passport and visas’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details.
Be prepared to experience the full legacy of the Soviet era – not just in the sights and history, but also in the standards of accommodation and service! A range of different accommodations are used on this trip, including yurt camp, home stay, guesthouse, hotels and camping. The conditions at the yurt camp and the homestays are very basic with shared facilities. This could be the whole group sleeping on mattresses on the floor in a large room and the bathroom facilities are outside the house. You won't be able to take a shower every day on this trip. In other words, while you’ll be comfortable, but don’t expect luxury.
In the Pamirs, you'll stay in local homestays, with the whole group often sleeping in one large room on mattresses on the floor. Bathroom facilities are outdoors, and it won't be possible to take a shower every night of the trip.
There is one night of basic camping included on this trip in the Karakum Desert. Sleeping bags, mattresses and tents are all provided, but there are no bathing or permanent toilet facilities at the campsite.
1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available, excluding overnight train, guesthouses/homestays and camping nights.
2. Please note that you'll need to send us a scanned, color copy of your passport info page and the application form for us to purchase the permits for Baikonur, no later than 60 days before departure. This permit is date specific and non-refundable. Please request the application form with your agent.
3. As the schedule is subject to frequent changes and cancellations, this trip is not scheduled to coincide with any space launches from Baikonur.
4. Due to the demands of travelling at high altitudes a Passenger Self Assessment Form is required for this trip.
5. This is a multi-country trip. Please read the visa section of the Essential Trip Information carefully for the visa requirement. Please note that you will need to obtain your Tajikistan e-visa & GBAO permit before travelling on this trip and that visa for Turkmenistan requires a Letter of Invitation in advance.
6. As this is a combination of 3 popular Central Asian trips, your group as well as your leader may change in Bishkek and Tashkent Your leader will also change at the Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan border.
7. Independent travel is not allowed in Turkmenistan. If you have post trip accommodation booked with us, you will also need to arrange tours to further explore Ashgabat. You may consult your Turkmen leader on what to book and what to do for your post tour days at an additional expense. Otherwise, you won't be allowed to leave your hotel without a guide in Ashgabat.
8. As Central Asian immigration and customs officials are notoriously strict, please make sure you keep all forms for when you exit the country. A lost customs or immigration form could result in a fine or being detained at the border. You must also declare ALL currency when entering and exiting the country; keep all currency exchange slips or ATM receipts.
Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides 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 Essential Trip Information