: David H. | Rating
: 53 July 2019
From New Zeland
Date of experience: 30 May, 2019
When looking at an itinerary you wonder what it really entails. Recently I returned from a 21 day Advantour company tour of the 5 Stans. Where is that you may ask? Simply, the 5 ex Soviet Republics in Central Asia between Afghanistan/Iran and Russia. And the tour? Exceeded the itinerary bigtime and would recommend before the tourists wakeup. Accommodation ranged from 5*, to homestays in remote alpine villages, to Yurts in the desert and amongst the steppe nomad herders with their flocks of sheep, goats, horses, cattle and Yaks.
Diversity – whow. This is where East meets West and so history plays an important role. From visiting a live 5000 year old archaeological site, to seeing the aftermath of Alexander the Great, Mongol, Arab (who brought Islam), Amir Timur etc invasions to the recent Silk Road historical cities to the Soviet era. Post Soviet has seen enormous change no more so than two capitals where in the last 15-20 years Astana (recently renamed Nur-Sultan) and Ashgabat have been totally transformed into modern cities of 1.2m, the former with the 3km Millennium Axis of parks, fountains etc incorporating and flanked by stunning international architecture, the latter with all buildings (mainly high risers) being clad in stunning white marble that when lit with multiple colours at night is a sight to behold.
Then there was the desert visit to the “red gas crater” (seen from space), a laser show with a C15 backing, goat track of roads to reach those remote areas, local food and friendly people who generally only speak their own dialect, very knowledgeable English speaking guides etc. Add to this the amazing topography, photographic and tramping opportunities from visiting the sand deserts, high alpine grazing areas and glacial lakes to the snow alps, remote rural villages and Soviet towns. One of my most memorable tours, thanks to Advantour.