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Central Asia Explorer

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

4.9 out of 5 based on 32 reviews submitted.
Explorer
From
GBP £2,278
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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
Start
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Finish
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Theme
Explorer
Destinations
Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan
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
Style
Original
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 - Max 12
Trip code
KFSR
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.

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2023 to 31 December 2023.

View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2024 - 31 December 2024

Map of Central Asia Explorer including Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan

Inclusions

Meals

16 breakfasts, 5 lunches, 7 dinners

Transport

Private Bus, Metro, High Speed Train, local train

Accommodation

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

Activities
  • 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 - Khast Imom Complex & Moyie Mubarek Library Museum
  • Tashkent - History Museum of the People of Uzbekistan
  • 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

Reviews

4.9 out of 5 based on 32 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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Hannah · Traveled October 2023
I booked this last minute after other travel plans fell through and wasn't sure what to expect but the entire itinerary blew me away. I absolutely fell in love with this part of the world thanks in huge part to our incredible guide, Anastasia. This trip really feels like a 2-for-1 since Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are so different. We got a great mix of nature and history/city. Not to mention all the incredible food- this is a great options for foodies as well! Highly recommend.
Review submitted 14 Nov 2023

Benjamin · Traveled October 2023
This trip exceeded every expectation I had and then some! Such a unique, beautiful, welcoming and interesting part of the world. Kyrgyzstan in particular feels so far off the tourist trail the experiences you have are so authentic and genuine. Highly recommend going now before words gets out about these two countries. It’s like booking two trips for the price of one as both countries are so different! Please book, you won’t regret it!
Review submitted 14 Nov 2023

Jakob · Traveled September 2023
This trip was a fantastic experience that I would highly recommend. The variety and contrast of the dramatic mountains and lakes of Kyrgyzstan compared with the fascinating historical cities and monuments in Uzbekistan was very memorable. The itinerary was well-planned and our guide Erkaim could not have been better.
Review submitted 12 Oct 2023

Audrey · Traveled September 2023
This trip was an excellent introduction to Central Asia. Kyrgystan and Uzbekistan offer two different types of experiences -- the former is all about the spectacular scenery and mountains, and Uzbekistan is more of a cultural, artistic experience. I found the mix very satisfactory, and the trip inspired me to learn more about the region when I returned home. Our guide Sergei had excellent knowledge about the area, and graciously accommodated our requests (coffee stops every morning!) every time. I highly recommend this trip to anyone curious about this part of the world.
Review submitted 10 Oct 2023

Matt · Traveled September 2023
A really incredible itinerary! Drawn to Central Asia from reading about Uzbekistan but the Kyrgyz side of the trip was stunning and Anastasia was a fantastic and knowledgeable guide as well. The eagle hunting display will stay with me forever, some great food, yurt stays in surreal settings and the sites in Uzbekistan are jaw dropping. Travelled in late September which was ideal weather in both (a little chilly in Kyrgyz mountains) and 25-30° in Uzbekistan. Small tour size which made everything feel just that bit more tailored. Prepare to take a lot of photos, these two countries are stunning and for very different reasons! Would thoroughly recommend (and have already told so many friends to do this trip)
Review submitted 22 Oct 2023
Central Asia Explorer
From
GBP £2,278