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The Stans of Central Asia

Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan

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Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Blue mosaic tiles on the side of a building

Group Size: Max 20

Trip code: AYBA

Duration: 9, 14, 23 or 26 days

Off the tourist trail travel
Cities of the old Silk Road
Choose from 4 trip lengths

Venture off the well-beaten path and explore the 'Stans in Central Asia and tick 5 new countries off your bucket list. These under-explored destinations offer a glimpse at nomadic life, ancient Silk Road sites and fiery craters on this once-in-a-lifetime journey. Experience snow-capped peaks, sunken forests, vast deserts, bustling modern cities and more as you travel through Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan. Perfect for the intrepid traveller who is looking to take the route less travelled - this is definitely not your usual travelling experience!

Trip Highlights

  • Explore the ancient Silk Road cities, including Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva 
  • Experience traditional culture, staying with local families and in traditional yurts 
  • Hike through the picturesque Fann Mountains in Tajikistan
  • Discover natural wonders such as Kaindy Lake’s sunken forest and Charyn Canyon 
  • Visit the "Gateway to Hell" in the Darvaza Crater in Turkmenistan
Gap 360 Trip Notes

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What's included

All tours:

  • Accommodation
  • Meals
  • Transport between destinations and to/from included activities
  • 24 hours emergency assistance
  • Overnight in a yurt (Song Kul)
  • Tamga village stay (Tamga)
  • Tour leader
  • Half-day Bishkek city tour
  • Bishkek Burana Tower visit
  • Przhevalsky Museum visit 
  • Felt-making workshop visit
  • Yurt building demonstration
  • Saty village stay
  • Kaindy Lake and sunken forest exploration
  • Almaty City tour 
  • Charyn Canyon Visit

14 day tour - all of the above, plus:

  • Kuli Iskandarkul community homestay
  • Dushanbe City tour 
  • Kŭli Iskandarkŭl waterfall hike
  • Mug Teppe visit
  • Khujand city tour 
  • Khujand market visit
  • City tour Tashkent
  • Hikes and picnic lunch
  • Internal flight

23 day tour - all of the above, plus:

  • Samarkand city tour 
  • Bukhara walking tour 
  • Chashma Complex and Holy Spring Visit in Nurata
  • Fortress of Alexander the Great visit in Nurata
  • Khiva Ancient City tour

26 day tour - all of the above, plus:

  • Darvaza gas crater ("Door to Hell") visit
  • Erbent visit
  • Ashgabat city tour 
What's not included
  • Flights 
  • Insurance
  • Some meals, snacks and drinks 
  • Visas
  • Airport transfers 
  • Optional activities
Further trip information

Day 1: Bishkek. Arrive in the capital city of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, at any time today. There will be a welcome meeting in the evening where you can get to know your group and guide. 

Day 2: Bishkek to Chong-Kemin. We’ll leave Bishkek this morning and travel to Chong-Kemin Valley, stopping off at one of Krygyzstan’s oldest sights, Burana Tower. We’ll enjoy a delicious traditional dinner tonight, surrounded by stunning scenery, and sleep in a guest house. 

Day 3: Chong-Kemin to Song Kul. You may choose to embark on a morning hike in the mountains. Once we arrive at Song Kul Lake, soak up the breathtaking landscape as we explore 3,016 metres above sea level. Get a real experience of Kyrgyz culture as we spend the night in a traditional yurt. 

Day 4: Song Kul to Tamga. Spend the morning at the lake before heading off to Kochkor, where we will hear from local artisans about the significance of felt-making in Kyrgyz culture and have a go at the craft yourself. Meet the local community in Tamga village this evening. 

Day 5: Tamga to Karakol. Visit the important Ak-Orgo workshop, providing employment opportunities in Barksoon, and learn how traditional yurts are created. We’ll then travel to Karakol, Kyrgyzstan’s 4th largest city, and visit the Przhevalsky Museum. 

Day 6: Karakol. This morning, we’ll take a picture-perfect hike at Jeti-Oguz Gorge, spotting unique red rock formations and cascading waterfalls. Enjoy free time in the city of Karakol this afternoon. 

Day 7: Karakol to Saty Village. It’s time to tick off our second Stan of the trip! As we journey into Kazakhstan, we’ll ride in a 4x4 to Kaindy Lake. Trek through the sunken forest, a unique experience like no other! 

Day 8: Saty Village to Almaty. Explore the unbelievable Charyn Canyon before arriving in Almaty. Tour historic sights and check out local cafes and markets. 

Day 9: Almaty to Dushanbe. Catch a flight to Dushanbe, the capital of our next Stan, Tajikistan! (If you have picked the 9 day trip, your tour ends in Almaty) 

Day 10: Dushanbe to Gazza Village. There’s no better way to start the day than with a scenic drive through out-of-this-world valleys and mountains. Stay in a Community Guest house in Gazza Village, meeting the locals on a relaxing walk. 

Day 11: Gazza Village. Journey to one of the oldest villages of the Fann Mountains as you hike along the flowing Voru River. Enjoy some free time this afternoon, breathing in the fresh mountain air. 

Day 12: Gazza Village to Khujand. Stop off in Istaravshan to pay a visit to a local mosque and Mug Teppe, brimming with history. Arrive at Khujand and explore on a city tour. 

Day 13: Khujand to Tashkent. Grab a souvenir in Tajikistan’s largest market before we tick the next Stan off the list, Uzbekistan! Marvel at the unique city of Tashkent. 

Day 14. Tashkent. Explore the lively city of Tashket today, visiting historic museums and taking in city-wide views from Tashkent Tower. If you have picked the 14 day trip, your adventure of the Stans ends here in Tashkent. 

Day 15: Tashkent to Samarkand. Travel to a central location along the Silk Road, Samarkand, one of the oldest cities in the world filled with grandiose madrassas as we cross into Uzbekistan.

Day 16: Samarkand. Begin your day with a city tour of Samarkand, exploring the top sights such as the impressive Shaki Zinda complex and the majestic Bibi Khanum mosque. You will have some free time this afternoon. 

Day 17: Samarkand to Aydar Kǔl Camp. Venture into the desert as we embark on a journey to the Chashma Complex. We’ll then take a dip in tranquil Aidarkul Lake and stay in a local yurt camp for the night. 

Day 18: Aydar Kǔl Camp to Bukhara. Get to know the city of Bukhara on an enchanting orientation walk. 

Day 19: Bukhara. There is so much to explore in Bukhara, We will spend half the day on a guided walking tour, learning the wonderful history of the city. 

Day 20: Bukhara to Khiva. Soak up desert views as we drive to UNESCO-listed Khiva. We’ll arrive late afternoon, ready for a sunset orientation walk. 

Day 21: Khiva. Discover the maze of ancient alleys, learning about the ways of local life on a guided tour. 

Day 22: Khiva to Dashoguz. Cross over the Uzbek-Turkmen border, we are arriving in our fifth and final Stan, Turkmenistan! Explore Dashoguz and grab some fresh, local food at the Bai Bazaar. (For those of you who have chosen our 23 day trip, instead of travelling to Dashoguz, you will fly back to Tashkent. You will then spend your evening exploring the city and your tour will end on day 23 in Tashkent).

Day 23: Dashoguz to Darvaza. Discover a town lost in history, untouched since the 1700s, as we explore the UNESCO World Heritage site Kunya Urgench. We’ll enjoy lunch and a journey onto the Kara-Kum desert. Settle in under the starry night sky at a yurt camp. 

Day 24: Darvaza to Ashgabat. Wander Erbent’s breathtaking sand dunes before we arrive in the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat!

Day 25: Ashgabat. Start the day by seeing the highlights of the city, including the Monument of Independence and the Arch of Neutrality. You may then opt to visit Ashgabat Hippodrome or explore Ertugrul Gazi Mosque. 

Day 26: Ashgabat. Say your goodbyes today, you’ve travelled 5 amazing countries and made new friends! 

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Booking options

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Online booking isn't currently available but if you'd like to enquire please use the form below. Alternatively if you'd like to discuss alternate trips or if you have any other questions please don't hesitate to contact us.
Call us on: 01892 527392
Email us at: [email protected]
Arrival information

You can arrive on Day 1 of your itinerary at any time. The easiest way to get to the starting hotel from Bishkek International Airport (Manas International Airport) is by taxi. You can arrange an official taxi service at the information desk on the ground floor of the airport. 

A welcome note will be left in reception with information regarding your welcome meeting. This meeting is usually between 5pm and 7pm and is a great change for you to meet your tour leader and fellow travellers and find out information about the trip. If you arrive after the meeting, a note will be left regarding arrangements for the morning. 

There are 4 different trip options. All trip options start at the same location. 

The 9 day option ends in Almaty, Kazakhstan

The 14 day option ends in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

The 23 day option ends in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

The 26 day option ends in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Accommodation & meals

25 nights of accommodation are included in this tour. You will spend 19 nights in standard hotels/ guesthouses, 3 nights in traditional yurts, 2 nights in local homestays and 1 night in a tented camp. The rooms will be twin or multi-share with someone of the same sex. Below is a list of accomodation you may stay on during your trip. Please note all accomodation is subject to change. 

  • Grand Hotel Bishkek 
  • Kemin Guesthouse
  • Yurts Song Kul 
  • Anyutaika Guesthouse 
  • Caravan Hotel Karakol 
  • Saty Village Guesthouse
  • Hotel KAZZHOL Almaty 
  • Atlas Hotel 
  • Homestay Ghazza Village 
  • Sugdiyon Hotel 
  • Alpha Plaza Hotel and SPA 
  • Zarina Hotel 
  • Yurt Camp Stay Aidarkul 
  • Hotel As-Salam 
  • Hotel Grand Vizir 
  • Hotel Dashoguz 
  • Darwaza Camping 

Meals

This tour includes 25 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 9 dinners. You will have to buy the remainder of the meals yourself, which is a great opportunity for you to taste delicious local food and explore the places we visit.

Minimum age & eligibility

You must be at least 18 years old to book on this tour with Gap 360. This fantastic trip is an open-aged experience that caters for a mix of younger and older travellers. This means that you may travel with people who are outside your own age group. Such a mix of ages creates a great group dynamic and enhances the travel experience, as you get to know a range of people with different stories to tell!

Visas

You must have a valid passport with a minimum of 6 months validity for all countries visited on the tour.

Visas are the responsibility of the traveller and you must ensure you check the most up to date information and obtain all necessary visas prior to travel. Visa requirements in this part of the world are subject to change regularly.

At the time of writing, UK citizens do not require a visa for visits to Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan.

A visa is required for UK visitors travelling to Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The Turkmenistan visa requires a letter of invitation (LOI). Upon receiving your booking confirmation you will also be told how to submit your details in order for us to send you a LOI. This must be done a minimum of 40 days before your tour starts. The Turkmenistan visa takes a long time to process so we recommend not leaving it until the last minute!

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