Small Group Tour in Central Asia 2019-2020

Central Asia Solo-friendly Group Tour 201920 Days | Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan

This culture-focused small group tour is designed to give you a comprehensive overview of Central Asia’s tourist sights, while providing deeper insights into local culture and traditions. Visit the major cities and the scenic and historic sites of the five Stans, including UNESCO World Heritage Sites. See how local people live: on the mountain pastures, in the cities, on the steppes, and in the desert. Better yet, get a first-hand appreciation of local traditions and culture by participating in cooking, pottery, felt carpet workshops; watching traditional dances and nomadic sports; and staying in a yurt in a high-mountain pasture, surrounded by livestock. With this ‘no single supplement’ group tour, you can have the best of both worlds: your own space, and the chance to share your adventures (and the costs) with like-minded travellers from across the world.

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, August 14, We: Ashgabat – Arrival (Turkmenistan)
 
Arrive in Ashgabat. Transfer to the hotel and check-in from 14:00. Free time.
Day 2, August 15, Th: Ashgabat city tour – Darvaza (Turkmenistan)
 
Breakfast. Take a sightseeing tour of fascinating Ashgabat, 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 archaeological site of Old Nissa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the Turkmenbashi mosque-mausoleum; the National Museum of History; and Akhalteke horse stables. Have lunch in a local restaurant, accompanied by a folkloric show. In the afternoon, drive to the Darvaza Gas Crater, located in the middle of the Karakum Desert (280km, 4h). Visit the Water Crater on the way. Set up camp for the night and enjoy a delicious fire-cooked dinner near the burning gas crater. Overnight in tents.
Meals: lunch, camp style dinner
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6 hours
Day 3, August 16, Fr: Darvaza – Khiva (Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan)
 
After a camp-style early breakfast, drive to the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border crossing at Dashoguz- Shavat through the Karakum Desert (270km, 4 h). Complete the border formalities on both sides, crossing the 1.5km neutral zone (please note that transportation may not be available). Meet your Uzbek driver and continue to Khiva (60km, 1 h). Check-in to the hotel and enjoy free time at Ichan-Kala Fortress. Overnight at the hotel.
Optional activity in the evening:
Master-class on cooking tukhumbarak (traditional Khiva-style egg dumplings) at National House. Dinner.
Day 4, August 17, Sa: Khiva (Uzbekistan)
 
After breakfast, start a guided sightseeing tour of this ancient city on foot. Visit the Ichan-Kala Fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Mukhammad Amin Khan Madrasah, Mukhammad Rahimkhan Madrasah, Kalta Minor, Kunya-Ark, Juma Mosque, Tash-Khovli Palace, Pakhlavan Makhmud Mausoleum, and the Minaret of Islom Khodja. Enjoy some free time in the afternoon. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 5 hours
Day 5, August 18, Su: Khiva – Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
 
In the morning, drive to Bukhara (480km, 7-8 h*), following the route of the Great Silk Road (which passed through the Kyzylkum Desert on the way between Khiva and Bukhara). Stop on the way to enjoy views of the Amudarya River and the desert. Have a delicious lunch of freshly-cooked fish from the river (optional). Continue to Bukhara, arriving in the late-afternoon. Check-in to the hotel and rest. Overnight at the hotel.
* depending on road condition (some parts of the road are currently being renovated).
Day 6, August 19, Mo: Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
 
After breakfast, enjoy a guided walking tour of Bukhara’s Old City. Visit the Lyabi Hauz Ensemble, Magoki-Attori Mosque, trading domes, Chor-Minor Madrasah, Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque and Miri-Arab Madrasah, Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan Madrasahs, Ark Fortress, Bolo-Khauz Mosque, and Ismail Samani and Chashma-Ayub mausoleums. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Optional activity in the evening:
National folklore show at Nodira Devon Begi Madrasah
Day 7, August 20, Tu: Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
 
Free day. Overnight at the hotel.
Optional activity: trip to Nayman village
At 09:00 take a trip to Nayman village in Babkent district (45 min). In the village, meet a local family and see their house and orchard. Take a master-class on cooking local cuisine and baking traditional bread. Enjoy some free time to explore the village. Lunch. Return to Bukhara.
Day 8, August 21, We: Bukhara – Gijduvan – Samarkand (Uzbekistan)
 
After breakfast, drive to Samarkand (230km, 4 h). On the way, stop in Gijduvan to visit a pottery master’s workshop and take a master-class on traditional pottery. After lunch, continue to Samarkand and check-in to the hotel.
Day 9, August 22, Th: 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 10, August 23, Fr: Samarkand – Penjikent – Seven Lakes (Uzbekistan/Tajikistan)
 
In the early morning, transfer to the Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border crossing point at Jartepa (50km, 1 h). Complete the border formalities at both checkpoints,, meet your Tajik local guide and driver, and drive to Penjikent (20km, 20 min). Take a guided sightseeing 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 (80km). On the way, stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sarazm, which is one of the oldest settlements in Central Asia and has 5,500 years of history. Visit Haf Kul, seven different-coloured lakes situated in the mountains of Tajikistan. Today you’ll visit four lakes: 1. Mijgon, 2. Soya, 3. Hushyor, and 4. Nophin (2,139m above sea level). Overnight at the guest house.
Meals: lunch, dinner
Duration of sightseeing tour: 3-4 hours
Day 11, August 24, Sa: Seven Lakes – Iskanderkul (Tajikistan)
 
After breakfast, drive to the other three lakes: 5. Khurdak, 6. Marguzor, and 7. Hazorchashma lakes (2,400m above sea level). Picnic at Hazorchashma Lake. Then take the mountain road to Iskanderkul Lake (270km, 4-5 h) via the picturesque Anzob Pass (3,300m above sea level). Overnight at the guest house.
Meals: lunch, dinner
Day 12, August 25, Su: 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 he 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 (130km, 2-3 h). Check-in to your hotel.
Meals: lunch
Day 13, August 26, Mo: Dushanbe – Bishkek (Tajikistan/Kyrgyzstan)
 
Breakfast. Transfer to Dushanbe International Airport. Check-in for the flight to Bishkek, which departs at 10:45. Arrive at Manas Airport at 13:15 local time and meet your Kyrgyz guide and driver. Transfer to Bishkek city. After lunch, take a sightseeing tour. Visit Ala Too Square, the Kurmanzhan Datka Monument, the main governmental buildings, Old Square with Parliament House and the Lenin Monument, and the Oriental Market (Osh Bazaar), finishing at Victory Square. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 14, August 27, Tu: Bishkek – Son-Kul (Kyrgyzstan)
 
After breakfast, drive to Tokmok town 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. Here you can climb the tower to see the view, visit a small museum with exhibits found during excavations of the site, and see a collection of balbals (Turkic grave markers). Have lunch at the home of a local family in Tokmok. Next, visit Don Aryk village, where local residents will demonstrate parts of the traditional horse games, Ulak-tartysh (kok-boru), Tyiyin enmei, and Kyz-kuumai. After lunch, continue to Son-Kul, one of the highest lakes in Kyrgyzstan (3,016m above sea level). On the way, cross Boom Gorge and Kalmal Ashu Pass (3,447m). 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. Dinner. Overnight in the yurt camp.
Meals: dinner
Day 15, August 28, We: Son-Kul – Kochkor (Kyrgyzstan)
 
After breakfast, drive to Kochkor village via 33 Parrots Pass. The route passes through amazing scenery, including stunning views of snow-capped mountain ranges, vast valleys, awesome gorges with fast mountain rivers, alpine lakes and nomads living in yurts, and shepherds driving their flocks of sheep and herds of horses and cows up to the mountains in spring and bringing them down to the valleys in autumn. In Kochkor, visit a local women’s cooperative where felt and felt carpets (shyrdaks) are produced. Shyrdaks are traditional carpets used by nomads to warm and decorate their homes. The process used to make them (which is on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage) is fascinating and involves various colours, patterns, and production techniques. If you’re interested, try this ancient handicraft for yourself! Dinner and overnight with a local family.
Meals: lunch, dinner
Day 16, August 29, Th: Kochkor – Jety Oguz – Karakol (Kyrgyzstan)
 
Breakfast. Drive to the second-largest mountain lake in the world, Issyk-Kul. On the way, stop at Kyzil Tuu village to watch a demonstration of yurt construction and even take part if you wish. A local Kyrgyz woman will explain the meaning and use of each part of the yurt. Drive to Jety-Oguz Gorge, 35km southwest of the city of Karakol. After a short walk in the gorge, continue to Karakol. Visit the Wooden Orthodox Church and the intriguing Dungan mosque, which was built in Chinese style and looks like a Buddhist temple. The Dungans, Chinese Muslims, settled here in 1883 and built the mosque entirely out of wood and without a single nail. Overnight at the hotel.
Meals: lunch, dinner
Day 17, August 30, Fr: Karakol – Charyn – Almaty (Kyrgyzstan/Kazakhstan)
 
After breakfast, drive to the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border post at Kegen. Meet your Kazakh driver and guide and transfer to Charyn Canyon. 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 (Castle Valley), the National Park offers the opportunity to see an ancient ash tree grove. Hike along the top of the canyon or go down and walk along the Charyn River to the famous ash trees. Enjoy a packed lunch next to the canyon. Drive to Almaty (220km, 3-4 h). Overnight at the hotel.
Meals: packed lunch
Day 18, August 31, Sa: Almaty – Chimbulak – Sunkar – Almaty (Kazakhstan)
 
After breakfast, visit the State History Museum and the Golden Man Statue at Republic Square. We use Medeo's world-famous ice rink and high mountain dam to protect the valley from the slope of the mountain landscape near the city. On the way, hear about the park’s flora and fauna, and the Tien Shan (Alatau) mountains. To enjoy the views of the North Tien Shan Mountains and the Medeo Valley, walk to the top of the dam. Then take the cable car to Chimbulak Ski Resort, at 2,230m above sea level, and enjoy the mountain views. Later, visit the Sunkar Falcon Farm where you’ll learn about one of the most distinguishing features of the traditional Kazakh way of life: hunting with birds. Enjoy a spectacular show with specially-trained hawks and then return to the hotel. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 19, September 1, Su: Almaty – Tamgaly Petroglyphs – Almaty (Kazakhstan)
 
Breakfast. Meet your guide and driver in the hotel lobby and drive to the and driver will meet you at the hotel lobby. Depart Almaty and drive to Tamgaly Gorge (170km, 2-3h), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. On the way, enjoy the beautiful natural landscapes. After arriving in Tamgaly, take some time for a picnic and a rest. Then walk around the gorge to see the famous petroglyphs. Later in the afternoon, return to Almaty and visit the Rahat Factory Shop to buy sweet souvenirs for your friends and family. Farewell dinner. Transfer to the hotel.
Meals: lunch-box, dinner
Day 20, September 2, Mo: Almaty – Departure (Kazakhstan)
 
Breakfast. Check-out of the hotel by noon. Free time until your transfer to Almaty International Airport. Departure. End of the tour.
  • All transfers: 3-7 pax by minivan/van, 8-16 pax by 20-seat bus;
  • Accommodation based on single room, breakfasts included;
  • Meals as per itinerary;
  • Sightseeing tour program with local English-speaking guides;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Economy class tickets for flight: Dushanbe - Bishkek;
  • Visa support for Turkmenistan tourist visa;
  • E-visas to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan.
  • Full board (lunches and dinners, unless otherwise stated);
  • Hotel charges for additional services;
  • Personal travel insurance;
  • Extra optional activities;
  • Consular fees for tourist visas and Turkmenistan migration tax (14 USD);
  • Visa support for Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan tourist visas;
  • International flight tickets before and after the tour.

Accommodation:

Ashgabat - 1 night
Ak Altyn, Grand Turkmen
Darvaza - 1 night
Camping
Khiva - 2 nights
Malika Kheivak, Orient Star or similar
Bukhara - 3 nights
As-Salom, K.Komil, Volida or similar
Samarkand - 2 nights
City, Sultan, Platan or similar
Seven Lakes - 1 night
Guest house
Iskanderkul - 1 night
Guest house
Dushanbe - 1 night
Hilton Dushanbe or similar
Bishkek - 1 night
Plaza, Park, Ambassador or similar
Son-Kul - 1 night
Yurt (4-5 people in one yurt)
Kochkor - 1 night
Family run accommodation (B&B)
Karakol - 1 night
Green Yard, Karagat or similar
Almaty - 3 nights
Kazzhol or similar

Upcoming Tour Dates

Status Days Price, USD
13
May
Central Asia Group Tour
Start in Almaty | End in Tashkent
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan
Available 14 3790
24
May
Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan-Tajikistan Group Tour
Start in Bishkek | End in Dushanbe
Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan
Available 18 3250
24
May
Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Group Tour
Start in Bishkek | End in Tashkent
Bishkek, Cholpon-Ata, Karakol, Kochkor, Son-Kul, Tashkent, Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand
Available 15 2720

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