Small Group Tour in Central Asia 2020-2021

Central Asia in 2 Weeks14 Days | Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan

Central Asia in 2 Weeks

Discover the historical, cultural, and scenic highlights of the five Stans as you journey from Kazakhstan’s cosmopolitan city of Almaty, to Kyrgyzstan’s fascinating nomadic culture, Tajikistan’s sparkling Seven Lakes, Uzbekistan’s stunning turquoise mausoleums, and the fiery deserts of Turkmenistan. Following our bestselling 2-week Central Asia itinerary, this private tour showcases the region’s major sights while giving you more flexibility and the ability to take things at your own pace.

Central Asia in 2 Weeks

Tour itinerary:

Day 1: Almaty – arrival (Kazakhstan)
 
Arrive in Almaty, meet your driver and transfer to the hotel (check-in is possible from 14:00). Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Meals: None
Day 2: Almaty (Kazakhstan)
 
The first item on your 2-week Central Asia itinerary is a sightseeing tour of Almaty, Kazakhstan’s cosmopolitan commercial capital. Highlights of the tour, which starts at 09:00, include Panfilov Park, Zenkov Cathedral, Republic Square, and the Central State Museum (closed on Tuesdays). In the afternoon, a short drive (25 km) will take you to Shymbulak. Here, visit the ski resort and ride the cable car to enjoy amazing views of the snowy peaks of the Tian Shan Mountains. The last stop for the day will be the Sunkar Falcon Farm (closed on Mondays), where you’ll watch 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 city. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration: 10 hours, including 6 hours of sightseeing
Meals: Breakfast/-/-
Day 3: Almaty – Bishkek (Kazakhstan / Kyrgyzstan)
 
Transfer to Almaty Airport at 08:00 to take the 10:30 flight to Bishkek. Upon arrival in Bishkek at 11:25, transfer to the hotel for check-in. An afternoon sightseeing tour will follow, featuring Oak Park, Ala Too Square, the Statue of Manas, the National Museum of Fine Arts, the Philharmonic Hall, and the Victory Monument – all impressive examples of Soviet urban design and architecture. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration: 8-9 hours, including 3-4 hours of sightseeing
Meals: Breakfast/-/-
Day 4: Bishkek – Burana – Don Aryk – Bishkek – Tashkent (Kyrgyzstan / Uzbekistan)
 
Depart Bishkek at 09:00 and drive to Burana Tower, which was part of the ancient (11th to 13th century) city of Balasagun and is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Then transfer to Don Aryk village and have lunch at the home of a local Kyrgyz family. After lunch, watch a demonstration of a yurt (traditional nomadic dwelling) being constructed, taking part if you wish. Local women will explain the meaning and use of each part of the yurt. Transfer to Bishkek airport (110 km, ~1h 30 min) to take flight HY780 to Tashkent, which departs at 18:10 and arrives at 18:30 (1h 20 min). Transfer to the hotel for overnight.
Duration: 11 hours, including 4-5 hours of sightseeing
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/-
Day 5: Tashkent – Samarkand (Uzbekistan)
 
Start your Tashkent sightseeing tour at 10:00 with a visit to the Old City. This area encompasses the Khast-Imam Complex (famous for displaying one of the earliest copies of the Qur’an, the Holy Book of Islam), and Chorsu Bazaar, where you can haggle for spices, dried fruit, and nuts. Continue to the city centre to see Amir Timur Square and Independence Square, and explore the Museum of Applied Art. After the city tour, enjoy some free time. At 18:00, transfer to the railway station. Take the high-speed Afrosiyob train that departs Tashkent at 18:50 and arrives in Samarkand at 21:00 (300 km, 2h 10 min). Transfer to the hotel for overnight.
Duration: 11 hours 30 min, including 4-5 hours of sightseeing
Meals: Breakfast/-/-
Day 6: Samarkand – Seven Lakes (Uzbekistan / Tajikistan)
 
At 09:00, transfer to the Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border crossing point at Jartepa (50 km, 1 h). Go through customs and passport control on both sides and then meet your Tajik guide and driver. Drive to the Seven Lakes of Marguzor (80 km, ~2 h) in the western Fann Mountains. Have lunch at the guest house next to the 4th lake, and then explore the lakes – each of which has its own colour, varying from calming turquoise to mesmerizing purple. If road conditions are suitable, drive from the fourth lake to the seventh lake. Otherwise, you may need to walk between the fifth and seventh lakes (about 3 hours return). Dinner and overnight at the guest house.
Duration: 8 hours (depending on border crossing)
Meals: Breakfast/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 7: Seven Lakes – Penjikent – Samarkand (Tajikistan / Uzbekistan)
 
Leave the hotel at 09:00 to drive to ancient Penjikent (80 km, ~1 h 30 min), 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. In the newer part of Penjikent, visit a local bazaar, a mosque, and the Rudaki Museum (Penjikent is the birthplace of Abu Abdallah Rudaki, considered by many to be the father of Persian poetry). After lunch in Penjikent, drive to the Jartepa border crossing point (30 km, 40 min) and complete the border formalities. On the Uzbek side, meet your driver and transfer to your hotel in Samarkand, arriving at 17:00-18:00. Free time (please note that the car and driver will not be available). Overnight at the hotel.
Duration: 8-9 hours (depending on border crossing), including 2-3 hours of sightseeing
Meals: Breakfast/Lunch/-
Day 8: Samarkand – Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
 
At 09:00, start exploring the ancient Silk Road City of Samarkand by visiting the spectacular Registan Square and the Gur Emir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the Turco-Mongol emperor, Timur. See the ruins of the Bibi Khanum Mosque, discover the Shakhi-Zinda Necropolis, and then take a short drive to Konigil village to learn about the traditional techniques used to make the famous Samarkand paper from mulberry bark. Free time (with a car and driver at your disposal). At 20:00, transfer to the railway station to take the high-speed Afrosiyob train to Bukhara, which leaves Samarkand at 21:00 and arrives in Bukhara at 22:35 (270 km, 1 h 35 min). Transfer to your hotel for overnight.
Duration: 14 hours, including 6-7 hours of sightseeing
Meals: Breakfast/-/-
Day 9: Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
 
At 09:00, start exploring the Old City of Bukhara. Highlights of the walking tour will include: the Lyabi Hauz Ensemble, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Chor-Minor Madrassah, Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque, Miri-Arab Madrassah, Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan Madrassahs, Ark Fortress, Bolo-Khauz Mosque, Ismail Samani and Chashma-Ayub Mausoleums, and various trading domes. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration: 6-7 hours of sightseeing
Meals: Breakfast/-/-
Day 10: Bukhara – Mary – Merv – Ashgabat (Uzbekistan / Turkmenistan)
 
Leave the hotel at 06:30 to drive to Farap-Alat on the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan border (100 km, 1 h 30 min). Complete the border formalities on both sides, crossing the 1.5 km neutral zone (transportation may not be available). Meet your Turkmen guide and continue to Merv (300 km, 5 h 30 min), an ancient city that was a major centre of international trade and crafts on the Silk Road. Merv is home to a historical park for you to discover, with sights such as the Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum, Major and Minor Kyz-Kala, Erk-Kala, Gyaur-Kala, and Keshk Fortress. Transfer to Mary Airport (40 km, 30 min) and then fly to Ashgabat. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for overnight.
Duration: 14 hours, including 2 hours of sightseeing
Meals: Breakfast/-/-
Day 11: Ashgabat – Darvaza Gas Crater (Turkmenistan)
 
At 09:00, start a sightseeing tour of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. Ashgabat is recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as having more white marble buildings than any other city in the world. During the tour, explore the archaeological site of Old Nissa (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Spiritual Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in Central Asia. Visit the National Museum of History, the Monument of Neutrality, Ertugrul Gazi Mosque, and Independence Park. In the afternoon, drive through the Karakum Desert to the famous Darvaza Gas Crater (280 km, 4 h). Free time to set up camp for the night, explore and photograph the area, and watch the sunset. Then enjoy a delicious fire-cooked dinner near the burning crater. Overnight in tents.
Duration: 10 hours, including 6 hours of sightseeing
Meals: Breakfast/-/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 are outside.
Day 12: Darvaza Gas Crater – Khiva (Turkmenistan / Uzbekistan)
 
Leave the camp at 09:00, driving through the Karakum Desert to the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border crossing point at Dashoguz-Shavat (270 km, 4 h). After completing the border formalities on both sides, including crossing the 1.5 km neutral zone (transportation may not be available), meet your Uzbek driver to transfer to Khiva (60 km, 1 h). Upon arrival, check in to the hotel. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration: 7-8 hours
Meals: Breakfast/-/-
Day 13: Khiva – Urgench – Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
 
Check out of the hotel (which will store your luggage safely for the day). At 10:00, meet your guide to start exploring the Itchan-Kala Fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Highlights of the morning walking tour include the Mukhammad Amin Khan Madrassah, Mukhammad Rahimkhan Madrassah, Kalta Minor, Kunya-Ark, Juma Mosque, Tash-Khovli Palace, Pakhlavan Makhmud Mausoleum, and Minaret of Islom Khodja. Free time in the afternoon. In the evening, transfer to Urgench Airport (30 km, 35 min) to take the 21:10 flight to Tashkent. Upon arrival at 22:30, transfer to the hotel for overnight.
Duration: 13 hours, including 5 hours of sightseeing
Meals: Breakfast/-/-
Day 14: Tashkent – departure
 
Hotel check-out (by 12:00), followed by free time until your transfer to Tashkent International Airport. Departure. End of the tour.
Meals: Breakfast/-/-
  • All transfers: 1-2 pax in sedan type car, 3-8 pax in minivan/van;
  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included;
  • Sightseeing tour programme with local, English speaking guides in each country;
  • Entrance fees to sights as per itinerary;
  • Demonstration of yurt construction in Kyrgyzstan;
  • Meals – lunches on days 4, 6, and 7, dinners on days 6 and 11;
  • Economy class tickets for flights: Almaty–Bishkek–Tashkent, Mary–Ashgabat, Urgench–Tashkent;
  • Train tickets: Tashkent–Samarkand–Bukhara (on rare occasions when the high-speed train is unavailable, we will replace this with the most-comfortable class of regular train);
  • Visa support for Uzbekistan triple entry tourist visaand Turkmenistan tourist visa.
  • Tour leader to accompany the travellers for the whole period of the tour (except for groups of 6 or more);
  • Full board (lunches and dinners, unless otherwise specified);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Visa support for Turkmenistan (invitation letter, registration, travel pass)*;
  • Visa support and visa fees for Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan tourist visas;
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • Tips/gratuities for drivers and guides (although these would be appreciated).

* Please note that the Turkmenistan tourist visa costs from US$55+4 per person (subject to change), the migration tax is US$10+4 per person, to be paid at any border (subject to change), and the tourist fee is US$2 per person per night.

Accommodation:

Economy Option
Comfort Option
Almaty - 2 nights
NovotelRixos Almaty
Bishkek - 1 night
Plaza, Park Hotel, Ambassador or similarOrion
Tashkent - 2 nights
Navruz, Praga, Sharq, Grand Capital, BekWyndham Tashkent, Miran, Grand Mir, City Palace
Samarkand - 2 nights
Platan, Meros, Orient Star, Malika Prime, Rabat, CityDilimah, Sultan, Grand Samarkand Superior A, Grand Samarkand Superior B, Platan, Alexander, Minor, Malika Prime, Asia Samarkand
Seven Lakes - 1 night
Home stay (B&B)Home stay (B&B)
Bukhara - 2 nights
Amulet, Minzifa, As-Salom, Shohrud, Fatima, Bibikhanum, Volida, Kukeldash, K.Komil, BasilicOmar Khayam, Minorai-Kalon , Devon-Begi, Zargaron Plaza, Asia Bukhara
Ashgabat - 1 night
Sport, Ak-Altyn, Grand TurkmenOguzkent, Nusay
Darvaza - 1 night
Tents (optional alternative: yurt shared with other group members)Tents (optional alternative: yurt shared with other group members)
Khiva - 1 night
Malika Kheivak, Orient Star, Muso Tura, Malika Khiva, Polvon Qori, Qosha DarvozaErkin Palace, Asia Khiva, Bek Khiva, Lokomotiv

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