Central Asia Explorer

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

4.9 out of 5 based on 39 reviews submitted.
Explorer
From
USD $2,828
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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

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 With Local Guide
  • Shamsy Valley - Burana tower
  • Tokmak - Kyrgyz 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
  • Bukhara - Sitorai Mohi Hosa Palace
  • Bukhara - Ismail Samani Mausoleum
  • Bukhara - Kalon Mosque
  • Bukhara - Ark Fortress
  • Samarkand - Leader-led orientation walk
  • Samarkand - Bibi-Khanym Mosque
  • Samarkand - Registan
  • Samarkand - Shakh-I-Zinda
  • Samarkand - Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum
  • Samarkand - Plov cooking demonstration & family visit
Add on activities
  • Bishkek - State Historical Museum - KGS150
  • Osh - Bazaar - Free
  • Samarkand - Afrosiab Museum - UZS30000
  • Samarkand - Ulugbek's Observatory - 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 39 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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Elisabeth · Traveled April 2024
I had planned to take this trip in 2019 but the Pandemic and family obligations got in the way so this year I seized the opportunity and was not disappointed. It was an amazing trip. The scenery in Kyrgyzstan is breathtaking - huge snow covered mountains, grassy plains, colourful rock landscapes. We travelled through small villages and got a good feeling of rural life in this fairly under-developed country. Uzbekistan has the stunning Islamic architecture of the 14th Century . The trip is quite demanding physically with long travel days and always on the move but well worth it to see these extraordinary countries.
Review submitted 12 May 2024

Nanette · Traveled April 2024
This is an amazing trip. The scenery in Kyrgyzstan with large snow capped mountains to fast flowing rivers. The food was great particularly the meals shared with families. Uzbekistan was a contrast with its history, culture and buildings, including blue mosques and mausoleums. Our knowledgeable and friendly tour leader Miko really made our adventure memorable. I highly recommend this tour.
Review submitted 07 May 2024

Ronelle · Traveled April 2024
Meerbek introduced us to an unknown world with so much natural beauty and foreign customs! I am so grateful for this life changing experience. I will absolutely encourage my friends to do this tour! AND i hope Meerbek is their guide too!
Review submitted 21 Apr 2024

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

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
Central Asia Explorer
From
USD $2,828