Central Asia Explorer

17 Days | Unspool history on the Silk Road, from mountain yurts to minarets

5 out of 5 based on 23 reviews submitted.
EUR €3,125
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Be entranced by the beauty of Kyrgyzstan and historical wonders of Uzbekistan on this 17-day tour. Traverse landscapes of alpine lakes and mountains interrupted only by dots of yurts, feel the divine artistic power of the detailed mosaics and towering minarets of ancient cities, and be welcomed into homes and family-run businesses by locals. A mix of ancient nomadic cultures, various iterations of both conservative and progressive Islam, Soviet influence and post-independence nationalism mean Central Asia is home to unique traditions. Travels here will leave you raving about the region for years to come and planning your next trip back as soon as you get home.

Trip overview

Map of Central Asia Explorer including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan
Physical rating
Indicates how physically exerting a trip is, and how fit you will need to be to enjoy it. More info on physical ratings
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 - Max 12
Trip code
We’re in the process of figuring out how much CO2-e this trip generates. In the meantime, find out more about our climate commitments and carbon reduction target.

Why you'll love this trip
  • Get to know the locals as you meet a local eagle trainer (or Berkutchi), learn how to build a yurt in a local workshop, test your taste buds with a dinner of home-cooked plov (Uzbekistan's signature dish) and rub shoulders with the locals in the bustling bazaars
  • Travel along the Chychkan River beneath the towering peaks of Kyrgyzstan’s Tien Shan range, mountains even more spectacular for emptiness of the valleys below them.
  • Enjoy authentic experiences like sleeping in traditional yurts on the banks of Lake Issykul, staying in local villages and making yourself at home in a boutique hotel that used to be an old Jewish house in Bukhara
  • Wander through the grand square Registan in Samarkand, admiring the imposing architecture from afar and the detailed craftmanship on the tiling up close.
  • Spend time in World Heritage-listed Bukhara, a 6th-century-BC city that's drenched in history and home to the formidable Ark of Bukhara.

Is this trip right for you?
  • Central Asia is a remote destination, perfect for Intrepid travellers! You will venture well away from cities, right off the beaten track and be able to immerse yourself in local food, life and culture. Accommodation may on occasion be more basic than what you are used to, especially in local homes, guesthouses and at the yurt. Shower and toilet facilities will be limited in some places and non-existent in others. While the comfort level won't always be high, the rewards of living in true local style in this far-out part of the world are immeasurable.
  • This is an overland journey, so there will be some very long days of travelling and driving, often over rough terrain. This can be tiring and require patience. The vehicle we use is small enough to access places where the general road condition doesn't allow for buses, but this means it can be a cosy journey when the group is almost full. We find this is a great way for the group to bond and share an amazing journey together and there will be stops along the way to take photos and stretch your legs.
  • What Kyrgyzstan lacks in historical sights (compared to the Silk Road monuments and Old Towns of Uzbekistan) it makes up for in incredible natural landscapes and plenty of opportunities for interaction with local families in small villages.
  • This trip spends 1 night at high altitude at Song-kol Lake (over 3000 meters) and as a result some people can suffer from altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. We recommend not partaking in any strenuous activity until you have time to gauge your reaction to the high altitude. See the ‘Health’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details.


This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2024 to 31 December 2024.

View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2023 - 31 December 2023

Map of Central Asia Explorer including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan



16 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 7 dinners


Private Bus, Metro, High Speed Train, local train


Guesthouse/Homestay (2 night), Hotel (11 nights), Tourist Yurt Camps (3 night)

  • Bishkek - City Tour
  • Shamsy Valley - Burana tower
  • Tokmak - Dungan family visit and home-cooked lunch
  • Issyk-Kul Lake - Yurt workshop
  • Issyk-Kul Lake - Eagle Hunter Visit
  • Uzgen - Uzgen Minaret & Complex
  • Osh - Sulaiman-Too Mountain
  • Osh - National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex
  • Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar
  • Tashkent - Amir Timur Square
  • Samarkand - Plov cooking demonstration & family visit
  • Samarkand - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Samarkand - Bibi-Khanym Mosque
  • Samarkand - Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum
  • Samarkand - Registan
  • Samarkand - Shakh-I-Zinda
  • Bukhara - Sitorai Mohi Hosa Palace
  • Bukhara - Chor-Bakr Necropolis
  • Bukhara - Ismail Samani Mausoleum
  • Bukhara - Kalon Mosque
  • Bukhara - Ark Fortress
Add on activities
  • Bishkek - State Historical Museum - KGS150
  • Osh - Bazaar - Free
  • Samarkand - Ulugbek's Observatory - UZS30000
  • Samarkand - Afrosiab Museum - UZS30000

Dates and availability

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Days 3 to Day 7 where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. We'll need your passport details no later than 45 days before departure in order to purchase train tickets on this trip. Delay in providing these details or providing incorrect details may result in extra fee in change or being unable to secure services.

Essential Trip Information

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.

Read Essential Trip Information


5 out of 5 based on 23 reviews submitted.
Reviews are from travellers who have completed their trip and want to share their experience. We show all reviews, but may remove any that include profanity or inappropriate content, are unrelated to the trip or reveal personal details.

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Christine · Traveled August 2023
Central Asia Explorer was a trip of a lifetime! What an adventure! Our leader, Echo, was wonderful! She added in a lot of extra stops so we could get to know the locals - an eagle hunter, a yurt builder, herders selling mare's milk! Etc.... Her enthusiasm for Central Asia and Kyrgystan, in particular, was amazing! Don't put off this trip!
Review submitted 16 Sep 2023

Stephen · Traveled August 2023
An excellent varied trip of two halves. Kyrgyzstan was my favourite because we explored out of the way places set in marvellous rugged mountain landscapes. Train travel in Uzbekistan was fun and we got to see fantastic Islamic sights. Our guide Erkaim and driver Sergai were superb in every respect throughout.
Review submitted 17 Sep 2023

Sally · Traveled August 2023
Having umed and ahed about whether to book this trip for a while I am so glad I did. It is certainly one of the best (if not the best) trips I have ever done (and I have done a few!). With each country offering a very different perspective of life in Central Asia it has something to offer most travellers regardless of what one is interested in. Whilst some of the travelling days are definitely long, the scenery is spectacular and ever changing which makes it never boring. The people are very friendly, the history interesting and the cultures in each country quite distinct. This all contributed to making it feel longer than 17 days. A truely memorable experience made even more special by our exceptional guide Nastia. I wish I could go back and do it all again.
Review submitted 20 Aug 2023

Sarah · Traveled August 2023
I knew how travelers could be amazed at Ouzbekistan, now I also can say that I already miss the exceptional nature I discovered in Kirghizistan! Thanks to our tour leader Nastasia, we have known a lot about the culture, history social and political situation of this small country mainly occupied by mountains! The combination of nature and history in the programme is perfect for the curious minds and earths’ lovers!
Review submitted 18 Aug 2023

Natasha · Traveled June 2023
A unique opportunity to see a fairly inaccessible and awe-inspiring part of the world. There was an incredible contrast between the epic landscapes and nomadic yurt camps of Kyrgyzstan and the mystical minarets and mosques of Uzbekistan. Our guide, Sergei, took very good care of us and really made the fun dynamic of our group as we travelled thousands of miles by road and train!
Review submitted 21 Jul 2023
Central Asia Explorer
EUR €3,125