Small Group Tour in Central Asia 2020

Central Asia Immersion Group Tour 202022 Days | Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan

If you’re looking to take full advantage of your time abroad and would like to experience the full range of all that Central Asia has to offer, why not consider visiting multiple countries at once? Our Central Asia Immersion Group Tour will help you make the most of your time in the region by providing an expansive introduction to the best of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Join us for 22 days as we explore the major historical, scenic, and cultural highlights of Central Asia, taking advantage of excellent weather in May and September in order to experience places at their best.

Participants need to be in good health, be able to walk for 4-6 hours every day at moderate speed, climb stairs and hills, and be able to carry their own luggage for up to 1 km across borders.

Tour map

Tour itinerary:

Day 1, Th: Nur-Sultan – Arrival (Kazakhstan)
 
Arrive in Nur-Sultan (Astana). Transfer to the hotel and check-in at 14:00. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2, Fr: Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan)
 
Breakfast. At 09:00 meet your guide and other group members in the hotel lobby to start a sightseeing tour of Kazakhstan’s capital. Visit the “Old Centre”, previously the home of merchants. Walk along the Millennium Axis line named by Kisho Kurokawa, the chief architect and designer of Nur-Sultan’s general layout. Visit the Opera building and the Round Square with its numerous fountains. Touring on Independence Square with 91 meter high snow-white stele Kazakh Eli, Khazret Sultan Mosque, and Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. Continue to Nurzhol and Green Water boulevards to see stunning skyscrapers with their unique architecture. Take the lift up the Bayterek monument and enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view from the observation deck. Conclude the morning city tour with a visit to Khan-Shatyr, a major shopping and entertainment center. Go for a tasty welcome lunch. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Meals: lunch
Day 3, Sa: Nur-Sultan – Almaty (Kazakhstan)
 
Breakfast. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Almaty. Upon arrival, start a sightseeing tour of Almaty. Highlights of this morning will include Panfilov Park, Zenkov Cathedral, Republic Square, and the Central State Museum. A a short drive (25 km) will take you to Chimbulak. Here, visit the ski resort and ride the cable car to enjoy the amazing views of the snowy peaks of the Tian Shan Mountains. Our last stop of the day will be the Sunkar Falcon Farm, where you’ll enjoy a spectacular show with specially trained hawks – hunting with these magnificent birds is a distinguishing feature of the Kazakh way of life. Return to the hotel by 18:00. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5-6 hours
Day 4, Su: Almaty – Charyn Canyon – Karakol (Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan)
 
Breakfast. At 08:00 meet your guide and driver in the hotel lobby. Leave Almaty and drive to Charyn Canyon (220 km, 3-4 h). This 154m-long canyon is in eastern Kazakhstan, part of the Charyn National Park. In addition to unforgettable views of the enormous canyon with its multi-coloured tower formations, the National Park offers the opportunity to see an old ash-tree grove, the Castle Valley. The canyon’s beauty makes you forget the long drive from Almaty, and you will remember this highlight of Kazakh nature for a long time. After arriving at the canyon, take some time for a picnic and a rest. After that, walk along the canyon and enjoy the views. Then transfer to the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border post at Kegen (116 km). Meet your Kyrgyz driver and guide and transfer to Karakol via the Karkara Valley (110 km). Enjoy dinner with an Uigur family, including a Kyrgyz folkloric show, national music and songs. Overnight at the hotel in Karakol.
Meals: picnic lunch, dinner
Day 5, Mo: Karakol – Jety Oguz – Kochkor (Kyrgyzstan)
 
After breakfast, visit the Wooden Orthodox Church and the intriguing Dungan Mosque (which was built in Chinese style). Then transfer to the Jety-Oguz Gorge. Take a short hike in the gorge and then drive along the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. On the way, stop in Bokonbaevo to see an eagle hunting show. Continue driving to Kochkor. This drive guarantees you one of the best views of Lake Issyk-Kul. Have dinner and spend the overnight with a Kyrgyz family.
Meals: lunch, dinner
Day 6, Tu: Kochkor – Son-Kul (Kyrgyzstan)
 
After breakfast, transfer to Son-Kul (120 km), one of the highest lakes in Kyrgyzstan via Kalmak Ashu pass (3,400 m above sea level). Here you can experience the life of Kyrgyz nomads. You will have the chance to ride a horse; see edelweiss flowers, camels, yaks, and golden eagles; and watch how local women make the Kyrgyz national drink, Kymyz (mare’s milk). Son-Kul is a remote mountain lake situated on a treeless, high-mountain plateau to which shepherds bring their livestock in summer and establish yurt camps where they will live. In this magnificent place you can expect to see hundreds of herds of livestock and numerous yurts (3,016 m above sea level). Dinner. Overnight in the yurt camp.
Meals: lunch, dinner
Day 7, We: Son-Kul – Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
 
Breakfast. At 09:00 transfer to Bishkek (400 km). On the way, join a workshop in Kochkor to see how traditional Kyrgyz felt carpets are made. After lunch continue driving to Bishkek, via Burana Tower. This tower was part of the ancient city of Balasagun (11th to 13th centuries) and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Arrive in Bishkek. Overnight at the hotel.
Meals: lunch, dinner
Day 8, Th: Bishkek – Tashkent (Kyrgyzstan/Uzbekistan)
 
Breakfast. At 09:00 begin a sightseeing tour of Bishkek. Visit Oak Park, Ala-Too Square, the Philharmonic Hall, the Statue of Manas, Victory Square, and the Oriental market (Osh Bazaar) and new mosque named after Mahmud Kashgari. After lunch, enjoy some free time in the city. Transfer to Bishkek Airport for the evening flight HY780 to Tashkent at 18:10. Arrive in Tashkent at 18:30 and transfer to the hotel for overnight.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 3 hours
Day 9, Fr: Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
 
Breakfast. At 09:00 start a tour of Tashkent by visiting the Old City, which includes the Khast-Imam Complex and Chorsu Bazaar. Continue to the city centre to walk around Amir Timur Square and Independence Square and explore the State Museum of Applied Art. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Day 10, Sa: Tashkent – Urgench – Khiva (Uzbekistan)
 
At 05:30 transfer to the domestic airport to get the morning flight HY051 to Urgench at 07:25 (1093 km, 1 h 30 min). Arrival in Urgench at 08:55, transfer to the hotel in Khiva (30 km, 35 min) to leave the luggage.
Start guided walking sightseeing tour. Spend a day in UNESCO World Heritage site Ichan-Kala Fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage site), Mukhammad Amin Khan Madrassah, Mukhammad Rahimkhan Madrassah, Kalta Minor, Kunya-Ark, Juma Mosque, Toshkhovli Palace, Pakhlavan Makhmud Mausoleum, and the Minaret of Islom Khodja. Free time in the afternoon. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5 hours
Day 11, Su: Khiva – Darvaza Gas Crater (Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan)
 
Breakfast. Free time. In the afternoon drive to the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan border crossing at Shavat-Dashoguz (60 km, 1 h). Complete the border formalities on both sides, crossing the 1.5 km neutral zone (please note that transportation may not be available). Meet your Turkmen guide and drive to the Darvaza gas crater, located in the middle of the Karakum Desert (270 km, 4 h). Set up camp for the night and enjoy a delicious fire-cooked dinner near the burning gas crater. Overnight in tents.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 2 hours
Meals: camp style dinner
Note: At Darvaza camp you will be provided with sleeping bags, pillows, and 1- or 2-person tents. There is also an option to share a yurt with 3-5 other group members. In both cases, toilets and basic washing facilities (which include a shower with hot water) are outside.
Day 12, Mo: Darvaza Gas Crater – Ashgabat (Turkmenistan)
 
After a camp-style breakfast, drive to Ashgabat (280 km, 3 h 30 min). On the way, stop at water and mud craters. Arrive in Ashgabat and visit the National Museum of History. Check in the hotel. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 13, Tu: Ashgabat – Mary (Turkmenistan)
 
Breakfast. Sightseeing tour of this fascinating city, the capital of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat holds the Guinness World Record as the city with the highest density of white marble buildings in the world. During the city tour, explore the archeological site of Old Nisa, a UNESCO World Heritage site; and Spiritual Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in Central Asia. Visit the Monument of Neutrality, Presidential Square, Ertugrul Gazi Mosque, the recently-built Independence Park, and Ahalteke horse stables. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Mary at 18:50 (370 km, 40 min). Upon arrival at 19:30 transfer to the hotel. Free time.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6 hours
Meals: lunch, dinner
Day 14, We: Mary – Merv – Bukhara (Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan)
 
Breakfast, drive to Merv (40 km, 30 min), an ancient city that was a major centre of international trade and crafts on the Silk Road. Discover the Historical and Cultural Park of “Ancient Merv” (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), including the Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum, Large and Small Gyz Gala, Erk Gala, Gyaur Gala, Keshk Fortress, and other sights. In the afternoon, drive to the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border point, Farap-Alat (290 km, 5 h 30 min). Complete the border formalities at both checkpoints and cross the 1.5 km neutral zone (please note that transportation may not be available). Meet your driver on the Uzbekistan side and continue to Bukhara (100 km, 1 h 30 min). Arrive in Bukhara and check-in to the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Meals: lunch
Day 15, Th: Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
 
After breakfast, enjoy a guided walking tour of Bukhara’s Old City. Visit the Lyabi Hauz Ensemble, Magoki-Attori Mosque, trading domes, Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque and Miri-Arab Madrassah, Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan madrassahs, Ark Fortress, Bolo-Khauz Mosque, and Ismail Samani and Chashma-Ayub mausoleums. Attend a national folklore show at Nadir Divan-Begi Madrassah. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Day 16, Fr: Bukhara – Samarkand (Uzbekistan)
 
Breakfast. Continue the guided sightseeing tour around Bukhara. Drive out of the city to visit Chor-Minor Madrassah and Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa, the summer residence of Bukhara’s last emir. Visit the Mausoleum of Bakhouddin Naqshbandi. At 15:00, transfer to the railway station to take the train to Samarkand at 15:50. Arrive in Samarkand and transfer to the hotel. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 2-3 hours
Day 17, Sa: Samarkand (Uzbekistan)
 
Breakfast. At 09:00 start a city tour of Samarkand. Visit the spectacular Registan Square, the Gur Emir (Tamerlane’s mausoleum), the remains of Bibi Khanum Mosque, and the Shakhi-Zinda Necropolis. Then drive to Koni Ghil village to explore the traditional way of making Samarkand paper from the bark of the mulberry tree. Free evening. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Day 18, Su: Samarkand – Penjikent – Seven Lakes (Uzbekistan/Tajikistan)
 
In the morning, transfer to the Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border crossing point at Jartepa (50 km, 1 h). Complete the border formalities at both checkpoints, meet your Tajik local guide and driver, and drive to Penjikent (20 km, 20 min). Take a guided sightseeing tour of Penjikent, including the Rudaki Museum (Penjikent is the birthplace of Abu Abdallah Rudaki, considered by many to be the father of Persian poetry). Visit ancient Penjikent, the ruins of a town founded by the Sogdians in the 5th century and abandoned by Arabs in the 8th century. The foundations of houses, a citadel with a couple of Zoroastrian fire temples, and the remains of the city bazaar are visible in the excavated ruins. Continue to the Seven Lakes (80 km). Stop at Sarazm, which is one of the oldest settlements in Central Asia and has 5,500 years of history. In 2010, Sarazm was added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites. Visit Haf Kul, seven different-coloured lakes situated in the mountains of Tajikistan. Today you will visit four lakes: 1. Mijgon, 2. Soya, 3. Hushyor, and 4. Nophin (2,139m above sea level). Overnight at the guest house.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 3-4 hours
Meals: lunch, dinner

Note: Today's accommodation, a homestay with a local family, will have quite basic facilities. Hot water, while normally available, is not 100% reliable. The toilet and showers are outside and shared. You may need to share a room with others in your group (especially during high season), with separate bedrooms for men and women. In return, you'll have a unique opportunity to learn about the Tajik culture and the area from the locals' perspective as you share the family's traditional meals and experience their day-to-day life.
Day 19, Mo: Seven Lakes – Iskanderkul (Tajikistan)
 
After breakfast, drive to the other three lakes: 5. Khurdak, 6. Marguzor, and 7. Hazorchashma (2,400m above sea level). Picnic at Hazorchashma Lake. Then take the mountain road to Iskanderkul Lake (270 km, 4-5 h) via the picturesque Anzob Pass (3,300m above sea level). Overnight at the guest house.
Meals: lunch, dinner
Day 20, Tu: Iskanderkul – Dushanbe (Tajikistan)
 
Breakfast. Explore the surroundings of Iskanderkul Lake. According to legend, this lake was named after Alexander the Great (who was known as Iskander in the East). People say that Alexander the Great travelled via this lake from India to Central Asia. Visit Zmeinoe (Snake) Lake and walk to a 38m-high waterfall called “Fan Niagara”. After lunch, drive to Dushanbe (130 km, 2-3 h). Check in to your hotel.
Meals: lunch
Day 21, We: Dushanbe (Tajkistan)
 
Breakfast. Meet your guide and driver in the hotel lobby to start a city tour of Dushanbe. Visit the Hissar Fortress, Madrassah Kuhna, Mosque of Hoji Yakub, National Museum of Tajikistan, Gurminj Musical Instruments Museum, Statue of Ismail Samani, and Rudaki Park. Free time. Farewell dinner. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 4-5 hours
Meals: dinner
Day 22, Th: Dushanbe – Departure (Tajkistan)
 
Breakfast. Check-out from the hotel at noon. Free time until your transfer to Dushanbe International Airport. Departure. End of the tour.
  • All transfers: 1-2 on Sedan type car, 3-7 pax on minivan/van, 8-16 pax by 30 seat bus;
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included;
  • Sightseeing tour program in each country with local English-speaking guides;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Economy-class tickets for flights: Astana – Almaty, Bishkek-Tashkent-Urgench, Ashgabat-Mary;
  • Economy-class tickets for trains: Bukhara-Samarkand;
  • E-visa to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan;
  • Visa support letter for Turkmenistan tourist visa;
  • Meals as per itinerary;
  • Tour leader(s) to accompany the group for the whole tour - only for groups of 6 or more travellers (please note: usually one tour leader will cover Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and another will cover Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan).
  • Full board (lunches and dinners);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • Consular fees for Turkmenistan tourist visa (80 USD) and Turkmenistan migration tax (12 USD);
  • Visa support for Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan tourist visas (60 USD);
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour.

 

Accommodation:

Nur-Sultan - 2 nights
Kazzhol or similar
Almaty - 1 night
Kazzhol or similar
Karakol - 1 night
Green Yard, Karagat or similar
Kochkor - 1 night
Family run accommodation (B&B)
Son-Kul - 1 night
Yurt (4-5 people in one yurt)
Bishkek - 1 night
Plaza, Park, Ambassador or similar
Tashkent - 2 nights
Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace or similar
Khiva - 1 night
Malika Kheivak, Orient Star or similar
Darvaza - 1 night
Tents (optional alternative: yurt shared with other group members)
Ashgabat - 1 night
Archabil
Mary - 1 night
Mary
Bukhara - 2 nights
As-Salom, K.Komil, Volida or similar
Samarkand - 2 nights
Sultan, Platan or similar
Seven Lakes - 1 night
Homestay with a local family (bedrooms shared with other group members)
Iskanderkul - 1 night
Guest house
Dushanbe - 2 nights
Hilton Dushanbe or similar

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