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Central Asia Immersion Journey

22 days
21 nights

Rates

Dates

Rates:

USD
EUR

PER PERSON:

$ 4,890.00 (double occupancy)
$ 5,040.00 (single occupancy)

Dates:

Jun 08, 2023 - Jun 29, 2023 
Jul 20, 2023 - Aug 10, 2023 
Aug 10, 2023 - Aug 31, 2023 
Sep 07, 2023 - Sep 28, 2023 

Hotels:

Nur-Sultan - 2 nights: Kazzhol or similar
Almaty - 1 night: Novotel, Mercure or similar
Karakol - 1 night: Green Yard, Karagat or similar
Kochkor - 1 night: Guest house
Son-Kul - 1 night: Yurt (2 people in one yurt)
Bishkek - 1 night: Plaza, Park, Ambassador or similar
Tashkent - 2 nights:Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace or similar
Khiva - 1 night: Malika Kheivak, Orient Star, Qosha Darvoza or similar
Darvaza - 1 night: Tents (optional alternative: yurt shared with other group members)
Ashgabat - 1 night: Archabil
Mary - 1 night: Mary
Bukhara - 2 nights: As-Salom, Fatima, Volida or similar
Samarkand - 2 nights: Sultan, Platan or similar
Seven Lakes - 1 night: Homestay with a local family (bedrooms shared with other group members)
Iskanderkul - 1 night: Guest house
Dushanbe - 2 nights: Hilton Dushanbe or similar

Included:

  • Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included;
  • Sightseeing tour program in each country with local English-speaking guides;
  • Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
  • Economy-class tickets for flights: Nur-Sultan – Almaty, Bishkek-Tashkent-Urgench, Ashgabat-Mary;
  • Economy-class tickets for trains: Bukhara-Samarkand;
  • E-visa to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan;
  • Visa support letter for Turkmenistan tourist visa;
  • Meals as per itinerary;
  • Tour leader(s) to accompany the group for the whole tour - only for groups of 6 or more travellers (please note: usually one tour leader will cover Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and another will cover Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan).

Itinerary:

Day 1  : Arriva in Nur-Sultan

Arrival in Nur-Sultan (Astana), transfer to the hotel and check in. Time to relax. Overnight in Nur-Sultan.

Day 2  : Nur-Sultan (Kazakhstan)

Nur-Sultan sightseeing 4-5 hours

After breakfst, meet your guide and other group members in the hotel lobby at 9:00 am to start a sightseeing tour of Kazakhstan’s capital.

Visit the "Old Centre," which was once merchants' home. Walk along the Millennium Axis line, which was named after Kisho Kurokawa, the chief designer and architect of Nur-general Sultan. Visit the Opera House and the Round Square with its many fountains. Tour the Independence Square, including a 91-meter-high snow-white stela Kazakh Eli, the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, and the Khazret Sultan Mosque. Continue to Green Water and Nurzhol boulevards lined by stunning skyscrapers with distinctive architecture. Ascend by lift up to the observation deck of the Bayterek monument and enjoy a breathtaking panoramic view.

The tour ends with a visit to Khan-Shatyr shopping and entertainment center and welcome lunch. Overnight in Nur-Sultan (B, L)

Day 3  : Nur-Sultan – Almaty (Kazakhstan)

Almaty sightseeing 5-6 hours

Breakfast. Transfer to the airport and take a flight to Almaty.

Begin your sightseeing tour of Almaty upon arrival. This morning's highlights include Panfilov Park, Zenkov Cathedral, Republic Square, and the Central State Museum. Chimbulak is only a 25-kilometer drive away. Visit the ski resort and ride the cable car to enjoy the breathtaking views of the Tian Shan Mountains' snowy peaks.

Our final stop of the day will be the Sunkar Falcon Farm, where you'll be treated to a spectacular show with specially trained hawks - hunting with these magnificent birds is a distinctive feature of Kazakh culture. By 18:00, return to the hotel. Time to relax. Overnight in Almaty (B)

Day 4  : Almaty – Charyn Canyon – Karakol (Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan)

Breakfast at the hotel. Meet your guide and driver in the hotel lobby at 08:00. Drive from Almaty to Charyn Canyon (220 km, 3-4 h). The Charyn National Park in eastern Kazakhstan is home to a spectacular 154-meter-long canyon with its multi-colored tower formations. The National Park provides access to the Castle Valley, an old ash-tree grove. The beauty of the canyon makes the long drive from Almaty worthwhile, and you will remember this jewel of Kazakh nature for a long time. After arriving at the canyon, we stop for a picnic and some rest. After that, take a walk along the canyon and take in the scenery. Then proceed to Kegen, the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border post (116 km). Meet your Kyrgyz driver and guide and continue to Karakol via the Karkara Valley (110km). Dinner with an Uygur family will include a Kyrgyz folklore show, national songs and music. Overnight in Karakol at a hotel. (B, L, D)

Day 5  : Karakol – Jety Oguz – Kochkor (Kyrgyzstan)

After breakfast, we visit the Wooden Orthodox Church and the intriguing Dungan Mosque built in Chinese style. Then we proceed to the Jety-Oguz Gorge. After a short hike in the gorge, we drive along the southern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. We stop in Bokonbaevo to see an eagle hunting show. Continue driving to Kochkor. This drive provides one of the best views of Lake Issyk-Kul. Have dinner and spend the night with a Kyrgyz family (B, D).

Day 6  : Kochkor – Son-Kul (Kyrgyzstan)

Drive 120 kilometers to Son-Kul, a remote mountain lake, one of Kyrgyzstan's highest (3,016 meters above sea level), via the Kalmak Ashu pass (3,400 m above sea level). The lake is located on a treeless, high-mountain plateau where shepherds bring their livestock in the summer and set up yurt camps. You can expect to see hundreds of herds of livestock and numerous yurts, as well as edelweiss flowers and camels, in this magnificent location. You'll learn about the traditional life of Kyrgyz nomads while watching local women make the Kyrgyz national drink, kymyz (mare's milk). You'll will be invited to sample kymyz, as well as traditional bread, dairy products, and home-made jam. You will also have the opportunity to ride a horse (optional, at extra cost). Dinner and an overnight stay in a yurt camp (B, L, D)

Day 7  : Son-Kul – Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)

After breakfast, at 9:00 am, we transfer to Bishkek (400 km). En route, we join a workshop in Kochkor to see the production of traditional Kyrgyz felt carpets. After lunch, we continue to drive to Bishkek via Burana Tower, listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site. The tower was part of the ancient city of Balasagun (11th to 13th centuries). Overnight in Bishkek (B, L, D)

Day 8  : Bishkek – Tashkent (Kyrgyzstan/Uzbekistan)

Sightseeing 3 hours

Breakfast. Begin your sightseeing tour of Bishkek at 9:00 a.m. Visit Oak Park, Ala-Too Square, the Philharmonic Hall, the Manas Statue, Victory Square, the Oriental market (Osh Bazaar), and the Mahmud Kashgari Mosque. After lunch, spend some time exploring the city on your own. Transfer to Bishkek Airport for the 18:10 flight to Tashkent. Arrive in Tashkent at 18:30 and transfer to your hotel for the night.  Overnight in Tashkent (B)

Day 9  : Tashkent (Uzbekistan)

Tashkent sightseeing 4-5 hours

Breakfast. Begin your tour of Tashkent at 9:00 a.m. by visiting the Old City, which includes the Khast-Imam Complex and Chorsu Bazaar. Then take the Tashkent Metro to the city center to visit the Applied Arts Museum and walk through Navoi Theater to Amir Timur Square, where your Tashkent city tour will conclude. Time to relax. Overnight in Tashkent (B)

Day 10  : Tashkent – Urgench – Khiva (Uzbekistan)

Khiva sightseeing 5 hours

Early morning transfer to the domestic airport to catch the morning flight to Urgench at 07:25. (1093 km, 1 h 30 min). Arrival in Urgench at 08:55, transfer to the hotel in Khiva (30 km, 35 minutes). After we leave our luggage at the hotel, we begin a guided walking sightseeing tour. We spend the day visiting the UNESCO World Heritage site Ichan-Kala Fortress, Mukhammad Amin Khan Madrassah, Mukhammad Rahimkhan Madrassah, Kalta Minor, Juma Mosque, Toshkhovli Palace, Pakhlavan Makhmud Mausoleum, and the Minaret of Islom Khodja. Free afternoon. Overnight at the hotel (B)

Day 11  : Khiva – Darvaza Gas Crater (Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan)

Sightseeing 2 hours

Breakfast. Free time in the morning. We then drive to the Uzbekistan-Turkmenistan border crossing at Shavat-Dashoguz in the afternoon (60 km, 1 h). Cross the 1.5 km neutral zone and complete the border formalities on both sides (please note that transportation may not be available). Meet your Turkmen guide and drive to the Darvaza gas crater in the heart of the Karakum Desert (270 km, 4 h). Set up camp for the night and dine on a delicious fire-cooked dinner near the raging gas crater. Tents are used for sleeping. (B, D)
You will be provided with sleeping bags, pillows, and 1- or 2-person tents at Darvaza camp. There is also the option of sharing a yurt with 3-5 other members of the group. Toilets and basic washing facilities are available outside in both cases.

Day 12  : Darvaza Gas Crater – Ashgabat (Turkmenistan)

After a camp-style breakfast, we drive to Ashgabat (280 km, 3 h 30 min). En route, we stop at water and mud craters. Upon arrival in Ashgabat, we visit the National Museum of History. Check in at the hotel and free time to explore on your own. Overnight in Ashgabat (B).

Day 13  : Ashgabat – Mary (Turkmenistan)

Ashgabat sightseeing 6 hours

Breakfast. A sightseeing tour of Turkmenistan's fascinating capital. Ashgabat holds the Guinness World Record for having the world's highest density of white marble buildings. During the city tour, visit the UNESCO World Heritage site of Old Nisa and the Spiritual Mosque, one of the largest mosques in Central Asia. Visit the Neutrality Monument, Ertugrul Gazi Mosque, the newly built Independence Park, and the Ahalteke horse stables. Transfer to the airport for your 18:50 flight to Mary (370 km, 40 min). Transfer to the hotel upon arrival at 19:30. Time to relax. Overnight in Mary (B, L, D)

Day 14  : Mary – Merv – Bukhara (Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan)

Sightseeing 4-5 hours

After breakfast, we drive to Merv (40 km; 30 minutes), a once-thriving Silk Road trading post and cultural hub. Visit the Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum, the Large and Small Gyz Gala, the Erk Gala, the Gyaur Gala, the Keshk Fortress, and more at the Historical and Cultural Park of "Ancient Merv," which is listed on the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Head to the Farap-Alat crossing between Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan in the afternoon (290 km, 5 h 30 min). Pass the 1.5 kilometer neutral zone and complete border formalities at both checkpoints (please note that transportation may not be available).

The trip to Bukhara will continue when you meet your driver in Uzbekistan (100 km, 1 h 30 min). Overnight in Bukhara (B, L)

Day 15  : Bukhara (Uzbekistan)

Bukhara sightseeing 6-7 hours

In the morning we explore the historic district of Bukhara with the Lyabi Hauz Ensemble, the Magoki-Attori Mosque, the trading domes, the Kalyan Minaret, the Kalyan Mosque, and the Miri-Arab Madrassah, the Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan madrassahs, the Ark Fortress, the Bolo-Khauz Mosque, and the Ismail Samani and Chashma-Ayub mausole. We visit the Nadir Divan-Begi Madrassah for a performance of national folklore. Overnight in Bukhara (B)

Day 16  : Bukhara – Samarkand (Uzbekistan)

Bukhara sightseeing 2-3 hours

After breakfast, we will continue our guided tour of Bukhara. Drive outside of town to see the Chor-Minor Madrassah and Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa, the former summer palace of Bukhara's last emir. See the tomb of Bakhouddin Naqshbandi. We will get to the train station by 15:00 so that you can board the 15:50 departure to Samarkand. After landing in Samarkand, you'll be taken directly to your hotel. Free time to rest. Overnight in Bukhara (B)

Day 17  : Samarkand (Uzbekistan)

Samarkand sightseeing 6-7 hours

Breakfast at the hotel. Begin your Samarkand city tour at 9:00 am. See the impressive Registan Square, the mausoleum of Tamerlane known as Gur Emir, the ruins of the Bibi Khanum Mosque, and the Shakhi-Zinda Necropolis. The next stop is the village of Koni Ghil, where you will learn about the ancient process of making Samarkand paper from the mulberry tree bark. Evening at leisure. Overnight in Samarkand (B)

Day 18  : Samarkand – Penjikent – Seven Lakes (Uzbekistan/Tajikistan)

Sightseeing stops 3-4 hours

In  the morning, we transfer to Jartepa, the Uzbekistan side of the Tajik-Uzbek border (50 km, 1 h). Follow the instructions at each border crossing, then meet your local guide and driver in Tajikistan and head to Penjikent (20 km, 20 min). Explore Penjikent with a local guide and stop by the Rudaki Museum (Penjikent is the birthplace of Abu Abdallah Rudaki, considered by many to be the father of Persian poetry). The Sogdians established the town of Penjikent in the 5th century, and by the 8th century, the Arabs had left the ruins deserted. The excavated ruins reveal house foundations, a citadel with two Zoroastrian fire temples, and the city bazaar. Continue onward to the Seven Lakes (80 km). Sarazm is a must-see, as it is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, dating back 5,500 years. Sarazm was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2010. Haf Kul is a collection of seven lakes in the mountains of Tajikistan, each with of a different hue. This day trip takes you to four different lakes: Mijgon, Soya, Hushyor, and Nophin are the top four (2,139m above sea level). Overnight at the guesthouse (B, L, D)

Please keep in mind that the homestay with a local family where you will be staying tonight will have very basic amenities. Though it is not uncommon to find yourself without hot water, it is not always guaranteed. A communal outhouse and shower facility are available. During peak times, it is common to have to share a room with other guests, though men and women have their own sleeping quarters. In exchange, the host family will welcome you into their home, feed you traditional Tajik meals, and show you around their neighborhood, giving you a rare glimpse into everyday life in Tajikistan.

Day 19  : Seven Lakes – Iskanderkul (Tajikistan)

In the morning, we proceed to the remaining 3 lakes: Khurdak, Marguzor, and Hazorchashma  (2,400m above sea level). Gathering for a picnic by Lake Hazorchashma. Then we drive along the scenic route over the Anzob Pass and arrive at Iskanderkul Lake (270 km, 4-5 h) (3,300m above sea level). Overnight at the guesthouse (B, L, D)

Day 20  : Iskanderkul – Dushanbe (Tajikistan)

After breakfast, we explore  the area around Iskanderkul Lake. Alexander the Great, as the legend goes, gave his name to this lake (who was known as Iskander in the East). It is believed that Alexander the Great crossed this lake on his way from India to Central Asia. Walk to the "Fan Niagara" waterfall at Zmeinoe (Snake) Lake, which is 38 meters high. Drive to Dushanbe after lunch (130 km, 2-3 h). Overnight in Dushanbe (B, L)

Day 21  : Dushanbe (Tajkistan)

Dushanbe sightseeing 4-5 hours

Breakfast. Start your Dushanbe sightseeing adventure by meeting your guide and driver at the hotel lobby. Travelers will stop by Rudaki Park, the Statue of Ismail Samani, the National Museum of Tajikistan, the Gurminj Musical Instruments Museum, the Hissar Fortress, and the Madrassah Kuhna and Mosque of Hoji Yakub. In the adternoon, time to explore on your own. In the evening, a farewell dinned. Overnight in Dushanbe (B, D)

Day 22  : Dushanbe – Departure (Tajkistan)

Breakfast. Leave the hotel by noon. You will have some free time before your transfer to the airport in Dushanbe. Departure. The tour has come to an end (B).