GREAT CENTRAL ASIA TOUR

22 Days

An adventure tour through four Stan countries of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. The favourable geographical position of Central Asia is what made it the centre of the Great Silk Road, and the emergence of the oldest trading network in the world made a distinctive contribution to the development of its culture, traditions and in particular its architecture. You will discover the diversified culture of the Central Asian peoples on this trip.

Trip info

Trip overview

An adventure tour through four Stan countries of Central Asia – Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan. The favourable geographical position of Central Asia is what made it the centre of the Great Silk Road, and the emergence of the oldest trading network in the world made a distinctive contribution to the development of its culture, traditions and in particular its architecture. You will discover the diversified culture of the Central Asian peoples on this trip.

Itinerary

On arrival in Nur-Sultan, you will be welcomed at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Rest time.

Meals: Dinner.

Day 2 :
Nur-Sultan

Today’s tour begins with a visit to the historical centre of Astana. You will see Independence Square where the President of Kazakhstan, N.A.Nazarbayev, announced the decision that the capital of the country would in future be Astana and no longer Almaty. In the historical museum you can see the golden statue of a man who is not only known in the Kazakhstan steppes but all over Central Asia. After lunch, you will cross the Ishym river and arrive at Kazakh-Eli-Square. There you will visit an architectural project of the famous Norman Foster: The Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. You will also notice the exceptional beauty of the Khazret Sultan Mosque. The last place on the tour is the Palace of Independence where you can examine the extensive plans for developing Astana in the hall "Layout Astana by 2030". In this way, you can follow the path from the past to the future via the present and understand this inimitable town: the pride of modern Kazakhstan.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Ibis in Nur-Sultan

Day 3 :
Nur-Sultan

It is a well-known fact that getting to know the culture and traditions of a country starts with getting to know its cuisine. This also applies to Kazakhstan: There is no better way to understand Kazakhstan traditional culture than to taste the traditional dishes and discover the secrets of their cooking skills and this you will do during the tour. You also have a unique opportunity to participate in the production process of a very old Kazakhstan musical instrument, an authentic legacy of the Great Steppe: „Sazsyrnay“. And of course one cannot imagine the history of the great Kazakh steppes and the nomads without the yurts – the traditional dwelling of the nomads. The methods and secrets handed down through the ages of constructing a yurt require special abilities and knowledge which was passed from generation to generation. During our programme you can see the building process of the "Kerege" wooden walls, the traditional lifting of the Shanyrak dome as well as the strengthening of the wooden masts 'uyk' and touch the parts. At the end of the programme you will be able to try Kazakhstan national clothing and take part in the "Kara zhorga" national dance.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Ibis in Nur-Sultan

Journey to the airport early morning. Flight to Almaty. The tour begins with sightseeing in the centre of Almaty. You will visit a popular place for the locals, the green bazaar, where buying is irresistible. It is a good opportunity to experience the atmosphere of an authentic Eastern market with its colours, smells and masses. You can also buy the famous Oriental sweets. The tour continues in one of the oldest Almaty Parks, the Panfilov Park, where there is one of the most beautiful wooden buildings of the world, the Zenkov cathedral. You will also visit the Monument of Glory and the Eternal Flame which is dedicated to the memory of those who fought and died for freedom and independence. Our next stop is at the Kok Tobe Hill, where there is one of the highest television towers in the world and from which one can see the entire town. In the Kok Tobe Park, you can stroll around the winding paths, admire the panorama of the town from the viewing platform and visit the souvenir shops. The excursion ends with a short journey from the top of the hill to the town centre with the famous Almaty cable car.
Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Kazakhstan in Almaty

Trip to the Charyn Canyon, one of Kazakhstan’s unique natural monuments. The canyon is about 12 million years old and is full of surprises with its vertical cliffs, reminding one of old castles created through wind, sun and rain. It takes about three hours to reach the canyon. En route you will hear about the history and nature of the area, the country, the people and their traditions. Once you arrive at the canyon, you will forget the long journey, you will be so impressed by the beauty and magnificence of the gorge. You can admire the panorama and stroll through the labyrinth of the valley with its inaccessible walls.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Kazakhstan in Almaty

Early morning transfer to the airport. Flight with Air Astana to Bishkek. On arrival, drive to Issyk Kul, one of the deepest inland seas of the world with a depth of 700m where you can enjoy the sea and the sun. On the way you will visit Burana Tower, a historical object from the 11th entry which lies 80 km east of Bishkek. Beside the tower there is a large nomads’ cemetery with many ‘balbals’ (gravestones with human faces).

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Raduga in Issyk Kul

Trip to the wonderful place called Karakul in the mountains (main town of the Issyk Kul area). On the way we will visit the Prijivalski Museum which has many interesting exhibits. Then on to Karakul, visit to the Dungan Mosque, a historical wooden building. The Russian Orthodox cathedral next to it is operational and there are many church services.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Green Yard in Karakul

Today we visit a hot spring called Altyn Arashan («Golden Source»), 10 km east of Karakul. There you find the Arashan River where the water is over 50 degrees. After a five-minute walk we reach the first glacier called Palatka, one of the landmarks of the area. There we can visit further glaciers and waterfalls if so desired.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Green Yard in Karakul

Visit to the Horse Bazaar in Karakul (only early on Sunday morning)). Karakul and Tamga are small towns but on market days there is an amazing number of people and animals. Then on to the Jeti Oguz Gorge. On the way, we visit The „broken heart“ rock.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Guesthouse

On to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. On arrival, a tour in the afternoon in the modern part of the town. There is still considerable Soviet influence, but the department stores and new buildings are very modern. The Lenin Monument is still in the centre of the town.
Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Asia Mountains in Bishkek

Early morning flight to Tashkent. In the old town we will visit the historical complex of Khast Imam. On the large square you will see The Tilla Sheykh Mosque, The Barakkhan Madrasa, The Kaffal Shashi mausoleum and the library, in which the oldest Koran in the world is kept. Then we go to the Chorsu Bazaar which was already well known in the Middle Ages and stood at the crossing of the caravan processions of the Great Silk Road. In the afternoon, we will walk through the modern town and visit Independence Square and Amir Timur Park.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel City Palace in Tashkent

Early morning trip by the fast train "Afrosiyob" to Samarkand. On arrival, visit to one of the visiting cards of Uzbekistan, the famous Registan Square with its three unique madrasas Ulugbek, Sherdor and Tilla Kori. On the programme, there is also a visit to the Guri Emir Mausoleum, the grave of the ruler Timur, then on to Bibi Khanym, the largest mosque in Central Asia, and the Siyob Bazaar which is next to the mosque.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Ideal in Samarkand

Day 13 :
Samarkand

Today you go to the paper factory in Samarkand, which has been producing silk paper since 751 AD. Then on to the largest mosque in Central Asia, Bibi Khanym, and then to the Siyob Bazaar which is just next to the mosque. The variety of dried fruits alone is remarkable. Then we go to the Ulugbeks Observatory, once the largest research centre in Central Asia, and Shakhi Zinda, or the burial ground «living king», where today Timur’s family members are buried.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Ideal in Samarkand

Journey from Samarkand to Shakhrisabz – hometown of Amir Timur. Visit to the ruins of the summer palace Ak Saray, the mosques Khazrati Imam and Kok Gumbaz and the Dar-us-Saodat complex. Samarkand was the capital of Timur’s empire, but Shakhrisabz was his place of birth. Still today one can image the former might of the ruler. The ruins of the summer palace are still simply monumental and illustrate the size of Timur’s empire. Then on to Bukhara, arrival late afternoon.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Komil Boutique in Bukhara

Day 15 :
Bukhara

We start with Ismail Samani’s mausoleum and then visit the gravesite of Chashmai Ayub. Afterwards, we walk through the Old Town on foot. You will feel transported to the fairy-tale world of One Thousand and One Nights. It is amazing that teaching and learning is still carried out in the mosques and madrasas just as it was hundreds of years ago, for instance in the Miri Arab madrasa. You can admire the «classic» architectural complexes of Lyabi Khauz with trading domes and several mosques, madrasas and the dervish monastery Khanaka in the town centre, and will understand the title of «noble town».

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Komil Boutique in Bukhara

Today we make a long, impressive trip through the vegetated Kyzylkum Desert («Red Sand»-Desert) and the vast steppes to Khiva (480 km). On the way, we stop at an Uzbek «guesthouse» resp. tea-room for lunch. We reach Khiva in the evening and check in to the hotel. Then you will have time to explore the Old Town by yourselves.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Bek Khiva in Khiva

Day 17 :
Khiva

Visit to Ichan Kala, the inner town citadel of Khiva. It looks back on a rich history and today still look as historical as it did centuries ago. It is one of the few preserved places in Central Asia where one can imagine life as it was in the time of Khan. The famous buildings of Central Asia which have long become landmarks are to be found in Ichan Kala (World Heritage).

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Bek Khiva in Khiva

Trip to the Shavat border of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. There you will be received by the Turkmenian travel guide. After the border formalities, you travel on to Kunya Urgench. After lunch, trip to the Darwaza gas crater in the midst of the blazing heat of the Karakum Desert („black sand desert “) (270 km.). Arrival in the late afternoon, set up camp. Darwaza literally means "gateway". The whole Darwaza area is rich in natural Gas. When drilling in 1971, geologists found by chance an underground cave filled with it. The earth under the drills caved in, leaving a hole with a diameter of 60 to 100m and a depth of 20m. In order to avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided to burn off the gas. Geologists hoped this would be finished in a few days, but it still burns today. Locals call the gas crater "the gateway to hell". The sight of the gas crater in the night is breath-taking and camping out in tents is a unique opportunity to admire this miracle of nature.
Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Tent

Journey to Ashgabat. Photo opportunity of the Karakum Desert on the way. In Ashgabat visit to a horse farm where you will see beautiful Turkmenian horses. The history of Turkmenian Akhalteke horses goes back over 5000 years. This unique breed has not been mixed with other breeds. The famous ruler Alexander the Great and Darius once dreamed of owning these horses.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Oguzkent in Ashgabat

After breakfast, transfer to Ashgabat for the flight to Turkmenbashi. On arrival, journey to the Yangikala Gorge, one of nature’s wonders in Turkmenistan. The Yangikala Gorge is 160 km east of Turkmenbashi. The word "Yangi kala" means "fire fort" in Turkmenistan. And the place is called "place with fire forts". Indeed, the steep cliffs with white, yellow, ochre, violet and red colours look like stone forts. It is best to visit this miracle of nature at sunset when the whole area is bathed in a fiery red colour. The lower part of the gorge was the seabed of an ancient sea. And today you can walk there as if you are in a park of sculptures made of compressed earth.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Tent

Breakfast picnic outside, then journey to Gozli Ata. He was one of the revered Sufis in Central Asia and lived in the first half of the 14th century. His mausoleum is a brick building with two white domes in an old cemetery with many beautifully engraved gravestones. Transfer to Turkmenbashi Airport for the flight to Ashgabat.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Oguzkent in Ashgabat

Flight home.

Meals: Breakfast.

COST

Includes

  • Included in the standard price :
  • * Long haul flights Europe – Nur-Sultan; Almaty – Bishkek; Bishkek – Tashkent; Ashgabat – home.
  • * Inland flights Nur-Sultan – Almaty; Ashgabat – Turkmenbashi; Tukmenbashi – Ashgabat.
  • * Fast train “Afrosiyob”.
  • * Overnight stays in Hotels according to Standard (local category).
  • * Meals according to travel programme (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
  • * Travel and transfers in Uzbekistan.
  • * Sightseeing, tours and events programme incl. entrance fees
  • * English-speaking DOCA TOURS travel guide throughout.

Excludes

  • Not included in the standard price:
  • * Photo/Video-fees
  • * Tips for travel guide and driver
  • * Personal expenses
  • * Visa costs

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GREAT CENTRAL ASIA TOUR
From $2,000
/ Adult
From $1,000
/ Child

Trip info