Central Asia lies at the heart of the Silk Road. The ancient route connects the West to the East. The tales and stories of the Silk Road, along with its deep history has left a legacy stretching over 5000 kilometres. The plethora of UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore is extensive. From Kazakhstan to the most interesting places in Krygzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajkistan be prepared to experience the 5-Stans over 22 days.
|Start||Nur-Sultan – Kazakhstan|
|Finish||Dushanbe – Tajkistan|
|Group size||Min 4, Max 12|
Features in Main Tour price
Arrival in Nur-Sultan (Astana)
Transfer to the hotel for check in at 14:00 pm. Free time to rest and have the rest of the night to yourself.
Your guide and other group members will meet you in the hotel lobby at 9:00 am to start a 4-5 hours sightseeing tour of Kazakhstan capital.. Highlights of this morning tour will include visiting the
“Old Centre”, where the merchants used to haggle in town. Take a walk along the Millennium Axis line named by Kisho Kurokawa, the chief architect and designer of Nur-Sultan’s layout. Visit the Opera building, Round Square with its numerous fountains, Independence Square with 91-meter high snow-white steel Kazakh Eli, Khazret Sultan Mosque, and Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. Keep continuing to Nurzhol boulevard which is one of the main attractions of the city and the national boulevard of Kazakhstan. The architecture of the skyscrapers along this route are admiring. Enjoy a panoramic view of this city from the observation deck at the top of the iconic Baiterek tower. Finally, visit a major shopping centre, Khan-Shatyr and enjoy a delicious welcome lunch.
Shuttle Transfer for your flight to Almaty after breakfast. Enjoy 5-6 hours of uninterrupted sightseeing tour of Almaty. Highlights of this morning will include Panfilov Park, Zenkov Cathedral, Republic Square, and the Central State Museum. A a short drive (25 km) will take you to Chimbulak. Here, visit the ski resort and ride the cable car to enjoy the amazing views of the snowy peaks of the Tian Shan Mountains. Our final activity is to checkout the Sunkar Falcon Farm to watch an authentic hunting show with specially trained hawks. Back at the hotel by 18:00.
Meet your tour guide/driver at 08:00 am in the hotel lobby. Leaving Almaty to Charyn Canyon (220 km, 3-4 h road trip). This 154m-long canyon in eastern Kazakhstan is part of the Charyn National Park. The unforgettable views of the enormous canyon with its multi-coloured natural formations are very impressive. At the National Park you get to see an old ash-tree grove, the Castle Valley. A picnic lunch is served upon arrival at the canyon. Enjoy the view before getting transferred to the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border post at Kegen (116 km). Meet your Kyrgyz driver/guide and head to Karakol via the Karkara Valley (110 km).
We are having dinner with an Uigur family followed by a Kyrgyz folkloric show of national music and songs. Overnight at the hotel in Karakol.
After breakfast, visit the Wooden Orthodox Church and the intriguing Chinese inspired Dungan Mosque. We are then heading to the Jety-Oguz Gorge for a short hike and then drive along the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. On the way, we are stopping in Bokonbaevo to watch an eagle hunting show. We get back on the road towards Kochkor. The drive gives one of the best views of Lake Issyk-Kul. Both lunch and dinner are provided. We are having dinner and spending the night with a Kyrgyz family.
We are heading to Son-Kul, one of the highest alpine lakes in Kyrgyzstan which is 120 kilometres away. Son-Kul is a remote mountain lake surrounded by wide meadows that have been long used by nomadic herders for their animals. With no electricity and running water, here you can experience the life of Kyrgyz nomads. You will have the chance to ride a horse and see camels, yaks, and golden eagles. Watch how local women make the Kyrgyz national drink, Krygz from mare’s milk). Dinner is served and we are staying in the yurt camp overnight.
After breakfast we head to Bishkek (400 km). We are joining a traditional felt carpet weaving workshop in Kochkor. After lunch, we are continuing our drive to Bishkek. We will stop at the UNESCO World Heritage site of Burana Tower. Burana Tower was part of the ancient city of Balasagun from 11th to the 13th century.
Today we begin a 3 hours sightseeing tour of Bishkek. Some of the highlights of this morning tour include visiting Oak Park, Ala-Too Square, the Philharmonic Hall, the Statue of Manas, Victory Square, the Oriental market (Osh Bazaar) and new mosque named after Mahmud Kashgari. After lunch, enjoy some free time in the city. Transfer to Bishkek Airport for the evening flight HY780 to Tashkent at 18:10. Arrive in Tashkent at 18:30 and get transferred to the hotel for overnight stay.
Join us to explore the Tashkent Old city tour at 9:00 am. The 4-5 hours sightseeing tour takes you to the Khast-Imam Complex which is famous for displaying one of the earliest copies of the Quran, the Holy Book of Islam. Immerse yourself in the ambience of the Silk Road by paying a visit to the Chorsu Bazaar, where you can haggle for spices, dried fruit and nuts. The tour will continue to the city centre where you can check out Amir Timur Square, Independence Square and the Museum of Applied Art. Shuttle transfer shall take us to our hotel for an overnight rest and relax.
Departing at 05:30 am, to the domestic airport for our morning flight HY051 to Urgench (1093 km, 1 h 30 min). Arrival in Urgench at 08:55, transfer to the hotel in Khiva (30 km, 35 min) to drop off the luggages. Then, we shall commence our 5 hours of guided walking sightseeing tour. Forst stop is the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Ichan-Kala Fortress. Other highlights of the morning walking tour include the Mukhammad Amin Khan Madrasa, Mukhammad Rahimkhan Madrasa, Kalta Minor, Kunya-Ark, Juma Mosque, Tash-Khovli Palace, Pakhlavan Makhmud Mausoleum, and Minaret of Islom Khodja.
Today, we have some free time to ourselves till the afternoon. We then drive to the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan border crossing at Shavat-Dashoguz (60 km, 1 h). After completing the border formalities on both sides, we cross the 1.5 km neutral zone (please note that transportation may not be available). A Turkmen guide/drive is awaiting to take us to the Darvaza gas crater, located in the middle of the Karakum Desert (270 km, 4 h). We set up camp for the night and enjoy a delicious fire-cooked camp-style dinner near the burning gas crater. Overnight stay in tents.
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 (which include a shower with hot water) are outside.
After a camp-style breakfast, we drive to Ashgabat (280 km, 3 h 30 min). On our way, we make stops at water and mud craters. Arrive in Ashgabat and visit the National Museum of History. Check in at the hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day.
Today we go on a sightseeing 6 hours tour of Ashgabat. Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, has recently been recognised by the Guinness Book of World Records as having more white marble buildings than any other city in the world. We get to explore the archaeological site of Old Nissa and Spiritual Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in Central Asia. Other historical sightseeings include visiting the National Museum of History, the Monument of Neutrality, Ertugrul Gazi Mosque and the recently-built Independence Park. Both lunch and dinner are provided for the day. We are catching a flight to Mary at 18:50. Once arrived, recharge and overnight stay.
After breakfast, we drive to Merv (40 km, 30 min), an ancient city that was a major centre of international trade and crafts on the Silk Road. Discover the UNESCO World Heritage Site of “Ancient Merv”. Our 4-5 hours of sightseeing tour including the Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum, Large and Small Gyz Gala, Erk Gala, Gyaur Gala, Keshk Fortress, and other sights. In the afternoon, we drive to the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border point, Farap-Alat (290 km, 5 h 30 min). After completing the border formalities at both checkpoints, meet your local driver on the Uzbekistan side and continue to Bukhara (100 km, 1 h 30 min). Arrive in Bukhara and check-in to the hotel. Lunch is provided.
Exploring the Old City of Bukhara is on the itinerary. Highlights of this walking tour will include the Lyabi Hauz Ensemble, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Chor-Minor Madrasa, Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque, Miri-Arab Madrasa, Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan Madrasas, Ark Fortress, Bolo-Khauz Mosque, Ismail Samani, Chashma-Ayub Mausoleums and various trading domes. To end our day, we attend a national folklore show at Nadir Divan-begi Madrasa.
After breakfast we continue the guided 2-3 hours of sightseeing tour around Bukhara. We drive out of the city to visit Chor-Minor Madrassah and Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa which is the summer residence of Bukhara’s last emir. Finally visit the Mausoleum of Bakhouddin Naqshbandi. At 15:00, we have transfer scheduled to take us to the railway station for our train to Samarkand at 15:50. Arrive in Samarkand and transfer to the hotel. Free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Today we have 6-7 hours of sightseeing city tour of Samarkand. Visiting the spectacular Registan Square, followed by the Gur Emir Mausoleum, the remains of Bibi Khanum Mosque and finally the Shakhi-Zinda Necropolis.
A short drive will take us to Konigil village. Here, you can learn about the traditional technique which was used to make the famous Samarkand paper from mulberry bark.
In the morning, transfer to the Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border crossing point at Jartepa (50 km, 1 h). Complete the border formalities at both checkpoints, meet your Tajik local guide and driver, and drive towards the ancient city of Penjikent (20 km, 20 min).
Penjikent is the old centre of the Sogdian empire in the 5th century, which got abandoned by Arabs in the 8th century. The remains of the city bazaar are still visible in the excavated ruins. We start a 3-4 hours guided sightseeing tour of Penjikent. We head to the modern part of Penjikent to 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).
We then continue to the Seven Lakes (80 km). We stop at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sarazm. Sarazm 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. As part of our itinerary you will visit four lakes of Mijgon, Soya, Hushyor and Nophin (2,139m above sea level). Both lunch and dinner are provided followed but an overnight stay at the guest house.
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.
After breakfast, we drive to the other three lakes of Khurdak, Marguzor and Hazorchashma. Get ready for a picnic at Hazorchashma Lake. We then hit the road towards Iskanderkul Lake (270 km, 4-5 h) via the picturesque Anzob Pass. Both lunch and dinner are provided.
After breakfast we start exploring the surroundings of Iskanderkul Lake. History has it that this lake was named after Alexander the Great (who was known as Iskander in the East). It is believed that Alexander the Great travelled from India to Central Asia via this lake.
We then visit Zmeinoe (Snake) Lake and walk to a 38m-high waterfall called “Fan Niagara”. After lunch, drive to Dushanbe (130 km, 2-3 h). Check in to your hotel.
Meet your guide/driver at the hotel lobby to start a 4-5 hours city tour of Dushanbe. Highlights of today’s tour include the Hissar Fortress, Madrassah Kuhna, Mosque of Hoji Yakub, National Museum of Tajikistan, Gurminj Musical Instruments Museum, Statue of Ismail Samani and Rudaki Park. We have arranged a lovely farewell dinner for all.
After breakfast, Check-out and enjoy some spare time until your transfer to Dushanbe International Airport. End of the tour. We hope you enjoyed this exotic tour of the ancient Silk Road.