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Central Asia Explorer

Explore the wonders of the Silk Road

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Trip code: DTCA

Duration: 15 days

3 countries
Off the beaten track tour
Lots of activities included

Travel in the footsteps of ancient silk traders with this expertly designed group tour of Central Asia. Featuring three fascinating and lesser known countries – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan, this is a real off-the-beaten track once in a lifetime tour with limited dates available! Camp under the stars in a spectacular canyon, explore ancient Silk Road cities, hike through unspoilt valleys, swim in crystal-clear lakes surrounded by snowy peaks, stay in a traditional yurt, watch regional sports like horseback wrestling and learn all about the nomadic way of life from local tribes. It’s a trip like no other!

Trip highlights

  • Go white water rafting and camp under the stars in Charyn Canyon, Kazakhstan
  • Explore the turquoise waters and snow-capped peaks of the Kolsai Lakes, Kazakhstan
  • Hike through the stunning Valley of Flowers, Kyrgyzstan
  • Enjoy a delicious Kyrgyz dinner with a Dungan family
  • Stay in a traditional yurt on the shores of Lake Issyk Kul, Kyrgyzstan
  • Explore Silk Road cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, Uzbekistan
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What's included
  • 14 nights’ accommodation
  • Local English-speaking guides
  • All train, boat and bus tickets
  • Kok Tobe cable car
  • Arasan baths
  • Micro-brew tour
  • Whitewater rafting in Charyn Canyon
  • Kolsai Lakes
  • Karakol foodie tour
  • Billiards tournament
  • Valley of the Flowers hike
  • Karkya Banya
  • Dungan family meal
  • Barskoon Waterfall
  • Yurt-making class
  • Sunset boat ride
  • Nomadic games experience
  • Kyrgyz nomadic meal
  • Eagle experience
  • Bishkek bar crawl
  • Bishek cooking class
  • Bishek amusement park entrance
  • Wrestling lesson
  • Tashkent TV Tower
  • Samarkand monuments
  • Bukhara monuments
  • Bukhara teahouse
  • Bukhara hammann
  • Farewell dinner
  • 24 hour emergency support
What's not included
  • Flights
  • Visas
  • Insurance
  • Airport transfers
  • Meals and drinks
  • Horse riding around Lake Issyk Kul
  • Mountain biking around Lake Issyk Kul
  • Central Asian Plov Centre
  • Massages in saunas
Further trip information

Days 1 - 2: Almaty, Kazakhstan. Welcome to Kazakhstan! Meet your group and guide in the evening of day 1 and enjoy a sundowner on Almaty’s Kok Tobe viewpoint. On day 2 we’ll show you the best of the city, with a walking tour including a stop at a traditional sauna and a local micro-brewery.

Day 3: Charyn Canyon. Head into the country today with a trip to the spectacular Charyn Canyon. We’ll go rafting and swim in the rushing rapids at the heart of the ravines before hiking into the Canyon where we’ll camp in the most epic setting.

Day 4: Kolsai Lakes. Head deeper into the countryside today towards the Kolsai Lakes. Explore the beautiful area with its turquoise water, emerald green pine forest and snowy mountains. Enjoy a traditional Kazakh dinner tonight.

Day 5: Karakol, Kyrgyzstan. Cross the border into Kyrgyzstan today. Our first stop here is the pretty town of Karakol. Tonight, we’ll take sample some of the local cuisine on a foodie tour, before a billiards tournament with the group!

Day 6: Karakol/Jeti Oguz. Hike through the Valley of Flowers today, marvelling at the natural beauty of the area. Pay a visit to a local banya (bathhouse) after your trek before learning about the local culture from a Dungan family who will also prepare a delicious Kyrgyz dinner.

Days 7 - 8: Lake Issyk Kul. Make a stop at Barskoon Waterfall on day 7, before arriving at the lakeside camp at Issyk Kul, where you’ll enjoy a sunset boat ride, learn about yurt-making, and stay in a yurt yourself. On day 8, experience traditional sports, including Kobbari (horseback polo) and horseback wrestling! Then enjoy a Kyrgyz nomadic meal at your yurt.

Days 9 - 10: Bishkek. On day 9, meet a traditional eagle hunter and hear about his work with these magnificent birds of prey. Then travel on to lively Bishek, where we’ve laid on a bar crawl. On day 10, visit the bustling Osh Bazaar, take a Kyrgyz cooking class with a local chef and take a walking tour of the city before boarding the overnight bus to Uzbekistan!

Day 11: Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Arrive in Tashkent and visit the Central Asian Plov Centre to sampled the national dish for lunch. This afternoon we’ll take a lesson in the art of kurash wrestling before scaling the TV tower for incredible views across the city.

Day 12: Samarkand. Take the high-speed rail to Samarkand. Explore the architectural wonders of the ancient city, including the legendary Registan and the ‘noblest square in the world’.

Day 13: Samarkand / Bukhara. Enjoy a free morning exploring the stunning city, before learning all about the art of carpet-making. Then travel on to Bukhara. Take a tour of the highlights, before visiting a local teahouse and learning some traditional Uzbek dances.  

Days 14 - 15: Bukhara. On day 14, spend the morning marvelling at the city’s monuments, then freshen up at a local hamman before coming together for a farewell dinner.  Your amazing trip comes to an end on day 15. Either head home or continue your adventures in Central Asia!

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Arrival information

Arrive into Almaty International Airport (ALA) in Kazakhstan on day 1 or earlier, and make your way to your first accommodation. It is easy to catch an airport taxi, or we can help you arrange a prebooked transfer for extra cost. Meet your guide and group this evening for a briefing and your first shared activity.

Your trip ends on day 15 in Bukhara, Uzbekistan. Check out of your accommodation and either take the train to Tashkent International Airport (TAS) or grab a flight from Bukhara International Airport (BHK).  The train takes around 4.5 hours, so you may want to book flights home for the following day. If you need any extra nights of accommodation, your travel adviser can help you arrange this at an extra cost.

Accommodation & meals

Accommodation                  

14 nights’ accommodation are included in a mixture of hostels, guesthouses and yurts in shared rooms. Rooms are a mix of mixed and single sex. Dorm sizes are 6-10 people per room. You’ll also spend one-night camping in Charyn Canyon!

Meals

Meals are not included in this package. Instead you’ve got the freedom to eat wherever you like, and to explore the delicious local cuisine.

Minimum age & eligibility

You’ll need to be a minimum of 18 years old to participate in this trip. A moderate level of fitness is required for some of the hiking days.

You’ll need a visa to enter Kazakhstan. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of three months beyond the expiry date of your visa. It should also have at least one blank page for your visa.

The Kyrgyz Republic gives free entry to British citizens upon entry, for up to 60 days. Your passport must be valid for a minimum of 6 months from your entry to Kyrgyzstan

If you have a British passport you can enter Uzbekistan as a visitor for stays of up to 30 days without a visa.

Visa and passport restrictions can be subject to change. Always check foreign travel advice before your trip.

Covid safety

This trip is designed with your safety and wellbeing in mind. As a result of Covid-19, many of our suppliers and partners around the world are introducing new policies and procedures surrounding health and safety in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. As the state of travel is evolving these new safety measures will adapt over time, and will be different for each trip. Here are some of the changes you may see on your trip:

Arrival safety meetings
Most trips have an arrival meeting on the first day where the guide or local team will run through the trip, the safety protocols, and to answer any questions you may have. Now more than ever it is important you arrive in time for these meetings.

Updated hygiene and safety procedures
Our suppliers and partners have health and safety procedures in place on all of our trips. These protocols will be updated and adapted as a response to the Coronavirus outbreak, dependent on local restrictions and laws.

Transport and accommodation choices
Our suppliers and partners choose the accommodation and transport on our trips very carefully, and you may see a change to what would normally be used as a response to the outbreak. This may involve such changes as enhanced use of private transport or quieter accommodation.

Trained and knowledgeable staff
Our staff in the UK are trained to help you with your trip before you depart and answer any questions you may have. In addition, the local team and guides on our trips are there to help with any health and safety concerns and to ensure our trips run safely and smoothly.

Reduced group sizes
Some trips will run with reduced group sizes to start with. You may find that trips are more intimate and chilled, whilst still being packed with fun and adventure.

Healthcare
Your guide or the local team will be on hand to help you seek medical attention should you require it during your trip. As medical facilities and standards can vary around the world, you should ensure you have adequate travel insurance in place before you depart to cover you for any medical emergencies.

24/7 emergency support
We operate an emergency phone line for our travellers abroad. This is operated by a UK based member of staff 24/7 if you have a genuine emergency or urgent matter that you need attending.

It is important that you take measures to make travelling safer for yourself and others around you. Ensure you frequently wash your hands, cover your face when you sneeze and cough, bring and use your own hand sanitiser and facial coverings/masks, and enable social distancing where necessary. You should also ensure you listen to the instructions and guidance of the local team at all times, and follow all local laws and restrictions.

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