Experience a Central Asian Odyssey on this epic 26 day journey exploring the ancient lands and medieval cities of the fabled Silk Route
Day 1 - London / Almaty
Day 2 - Almaty
Day 3 - Almaty / Kolsai Lakes
Day 4 - Kolsai Lakes / Almaty
Day 5 - Almaty / Bishkek
Day 6 - Bishkek / Issyk-Kul Lake
Day 7 - Kajlsay / Karakol
Day 8 - Karakol
Day 9 - Karakol / Bishkek
Day 10 - Bishkek / Osh / Fergana Valley
Day 11 - Fergana Valley
Day 12 - Fergana Valley / Tashkent
Day 13 - Tashkent / Khujand
Day 14 - Khujand / Iskanderkul
Day 15 - Iskanderkul / Samarkand
Day 16 - Samarkand
Day 17 - Samarkand / Bukhara
Day 18 - Bukhara
Day 19 - Bukhara / Mary
Day 20 - Mary / Merv / Ashgabat
Day 21 - Ashgabat
Day 22 - Ashgabat / Dashoguz / Khiva
Day 23 - Khiva
Day 24 - Khiva / Khorezm / Nukus
Day 25 - Nukus / Tashkent
Day 26 - Return Flight
Explore the Legends and Empires that are the Five ‘Stans’ of Central Asia. The backdrop to our tour is one of incredible diversity, both scenic and cultural, experience incredible history, fabulous local hospitality aswell as the cosmopolitan cities of today.
Tucked between India, Russia and China and comprised of mountains, steppe grassland and desert, they were once a mix of feudal khanates and nomadic people and later formed republics under Stalin's rule. Amongst this varied landscape are traditional villages and ancient towns reflecting the glories of the passing Greek and Persian armies, the marauding Mongolian hordes, the traders who would sell their wares along the Silk Road, and the philosophers and astronomers that trod these roads in bygone times. Perhaps amongst some of the world’s least visited and least well-known destinations, making this trip a true journey of discovery.
Discover the architectural wonders of Uzbekistan’s Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. Travel into the countryside of Kazakhstan where tulips stretch across the steppe and edge clear blue lakes. Explore Kyrgyzstan’s stunning mountains and discover its nomadic horse-riding culture. Step into mountainous Tajikistan filled with wild flowers with its wonderfully simple way of life, and finally Turkmenistan’s breath-taking sights, including Merv, a desert city stacked by Genghis Khan, the sandy Kopet Dag mountains and the famed Akhal-Teke horses.
Chauffeur Driven Transfers*
Most Meals Included
Jules Verne Representative
Local Expert Guides
Day 1 Fly via Istanbul to Almaty.
Day 2 Transfer to the Ritz Carlton for an overnight stay. In the late afternoon, transfer to the local Eagle centre in the city suburbs and learn about the falcon hunting secrets. Then enjoy a welcome dinner on site, with a true Kazakh yurt ambience and local artists playing national instruments. (D)
Day 3 Drive to Charyn Canyon, a unique natural wonder formed 12 million years ago. Discover unspoiled nature and breathtaking vistas. Picnic lunch before continuing to the Kolsai Lakes, check-in at the Saty Village guesthouse for an overnight stay. (B, L, D)
Day 4 Drive to stunningly beautiful Kaindy Lake. Explore and enjoy lunch before our return to Almaty and the Ritz Carlton. (B, L, D)
Day 5 Explore the leafy city of Almaty with its backdrop of the snowcapped Zailiysky Alatau. Visits include Panfilovtzev Park, Zenkov Cathedral, the Monument of Independence, Republic Square and Central Mosque, Evening flight to Bishkek, overnight at the Hyatt Regency. (B, L, D)
Day 6 Drive to Kajissay on the south of Issyk-Kul Lake, stopping en route for a stroll to “Eol Castles”. Overnight Al-Khayat hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 7 Visit Djeti-Oguz gorge to enjoy a waterfall walk and lunch at the yurt camp. Continue to Karakol and the hotel Karagat. (B, L, D)
Day 8 Explore Karakol on foot, a shady grid of tree-lined streets with a backdrop of snowy peaks. Later drive to Altyn-Arashan gorge to visit the thermal wells. (B, L, D)
Day 9 Drive along the northern bank of Issyk-Kul to Bishkek, visiting Ruh-Ordo historic centre in Cholpon-Ata en route. Overnight at the Hyatt Regency. (B, L, D)
Day 10 Morning flight to Osh for a short visit. Cross into Uzbekistan and drive to Fergana Valley, overnight at the Asia Fergana. (B, L, D)
Day 11 Full day tour of Fergana, the garden city, known for its exceptional crafts and artisans and its kaleidoscopic bazaars. Visit General Skobelev House, the Russian Army Assembly Hall and History Museum with a stop at the silk weaver’s workshops in Margilan. (B, L, D)
Day 12 Drive to Tashkent across the Kamchik Pass, stopping at Rishtan, famous for its brilliant blue glazed pottery. Continue to Kokand, one of Uzbekistan’s most ancient towns and once an important trade centre on the Silk Road. City tour before we continue to the Lotte City Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 13 Drive to the Uzbek-Tajik border and to Khujand. Visit the museum and the city’s 7th-century fortification, explore Payshanba oriental bazaar, the biggest in Central Asia. Overnight at the Khujand Delux. (B, L, D)
Day 14 Drive to Iskanderkul via Istaravshan. Visit Mug Tepa, in Ura-Tube, one of the ancient settlements of Tajikistan. Explore the Khazrati Shoh complex and continue to Iskanderk Lake, named, according to legend, after Alexander the Great. Enjoy a “Dilovar” lunch and explore the five springs, Zmeinoe lake (Snake lake), and the waterfalls, “Fan Niagara“. Overnight, at Iskanderkul Cottage. (B, L, D)
Day 15 Depart for Penjikent, the birthplace of Abu Abdallah Rudaki, the father of Persian Poetry. Visit the Museum of Rudak and the excavated remains at Penjikent. Proceed to Samarkand. Overnight at the Samarkand Dilimah (or similar). (B, L, D)
Day 16 Explore the glorious city of Samarkand; Ulugh Beg Observatory, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis and Bibi Khanym Mosque, one of the largest in Central Asia built by Tamerlane. After a traditional Pilov lunch, visit the famous mausoleum of Tamberlane and Registan Square, the most spectacular architectural ensemble in Central Asia. (B, L, D)
Day 17 Day at leisure to explore the city of Samarkand, or take an optional excursion to the fabled city of Shakhrisabz. Timur’s home, across the Aman-Kutan mountain that once rivalled Samarkand (£75). Evening high-speed train to Bukhara, transfer to the Zargaron Plaza. (B, L, D)
Day 18 The magical city of Bukhara is over 2,000 years old and is the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia. Explore the city, enjoy lunch at Lyabi-Haus square and later visit the Minaret Kalan Complex and the Summer Palace. (B, L, D)
Day 19 Drive to the border at Farab and continue to Mary, an oasis city in the Karakum Desert. Overnight at the Mary Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 20 Transfer to Merv, one of the main cities of the ancient Silk Road and, reputedly, once the largest city in the world. At this World Heritage site, the beautiful monuments bear witness to the city’s glorious days passed. Return to Mary, visit the museum before an evening flight to Ashgabat and two nights at the Oguzkent Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 21 Visit the beautiful, World Heritage fortress of Old Nisa, at the foot of the Kopet Dag Mountains, the earliest of the Parthian Empire capitals. Visit Arkadash stud farm, home of the famous AkhalTekke horses, one of the oldest breeds in existence. Return to Ashgabat, visit the Russian market and see the rare collection of hand-made Turkmen carpets at the National Museum. (B, L, D)
Day 22 Morning flight to Dashoguz. Drive to Kunya Urgench, the ancient capital of Khorezm, which was part of the Achaemenid Empire. Visit the mosque, the gates of the caravanserai, the fortress, mausoleum and minaret. Lunch in Dashoguz before we cross the Uzbek border for Khiva and two nights at the Asia Khiva Hotel. (B, L, D)
Day 23 Full day exploration of the beautifully preserved, medieval town of Khiva. As you enter the city gates and wander the fabled Ichon-Qala (inner walled city) it’s hard not to feel transported to another era. Explore Kunya Ark (old citadel), the Emir’s Palace, the magnificent Juma Mosque with its 200 individually carved wooden pillars, and the Caravanserai. Enjoy the sunset from the old city walls, when the moonlit silhouettes of tilting minarets and medressas are quite magical. (B,L,D)
Day 24 Travel to the ancient fortress of Ayaz-Kala, one of the largest surviving castle fortresses of the Khorezm region. Visit Toprak-Kala before travelling to Nukus. Visit the Igor Savitsky Museum, with the world’s second largest collection of Russian avant-garde art. Overnight at the hotel Jipek Joli. (B, L, D)
Day 25 Morning flights to Tashkent. Explore Uzbekistan’s 2,000-year-old capital. A city of fascinating contradictions, with Soviet-style architecture and traditional mud-walled houses, and rich in museums, mosques and impressive monuments. Visit the Khast-Imam Islamic complex, the Museum of Applied Arts, the History Museum and Amir Timur Square. Later explore the Tashkent metro, where each station is uniquely decorated. Check in at the Lotte City Hotel. This evening visit the famous Navoi Theatre to enjoy a performance followed by a farewell dinner in the city. (B, D)
Day 26 Transfer to the airport for the return flight, via Istanbul to London. Alternately stop for a few nights in Istanbul. (B)
Hotels in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are simple and unpretentious but well-located with a restaurant, bar and air-conditioned rooms with private facilities and satellite TV. There may be water and electricity shortages and, on occasion, alternative hotels may be used. WiFi (free) is available at all tour hotels although it can be intermittent. Food is nutritious, based on fresh local produce but can be repetitive and the provision of special dietary requirements may be limited.
Travel between the cities by road, whilst being the classic way to experience the country, involves some long journeys, some on uneven roads with only limited opportunities for comfort breaks.
Porters are unavailable at some hotels and during border crossings.
The order of sightseeing may vary in accordance with local conditions.
Beautifully designed and impeccably located, The Ritz-Carlton, Almaty the enduring culture of an ancient Silk Road city with a modern facilities.
A home stay type local guest house in stunning surroundings of Altym Emel National Park. Basic accommodation with private facilities.
A homestay style local guest house near Kolsai Lakes surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Basic accommodation with private facilities.
A luxury hotel with inspiring views over the Tien-Shan Mountain range and the ancient trading route The Silk Road, located in Bishkek’s cultural area.
Family run Art Hotel Al Hayat is located on the southern shore of Issyk Kul Lake. Simple guest rooms with private facilities.
A quirky hotel with attentive staff in an ideal location just a short walk to the city center.
A charming and unusual hotel, spread over several buildings, joined by a shared garden, it is just a few steps from the town center.
Built in 1958 and designated as a cultural heritage site, centrally located, it is a charming hotel with a classic appearance.
A modern and elegant hotel, located in a quiet area of Khujand, with amazing views of the Syr Darya River.
Simple accommodation on the shores of vivid blue Iskanderkul Lake. A collection of simple cabins with private facilities and views of the pristine waters and the surrounding Hissar mountains.
This modern and elegant hotel, in the heart of Samarkand close to the old town.
Ideally located just 5-minutes from the historical center of Bukhara and close to historic Lyab-i Khauz Square.
A comfortable hotel, conveniently located in the heart of the city of Mary.
In close proximity to Ertugrul Gazi Mosque one of Ashgabat’s most popular landmarks. The hotel has an interesting facade of mirror, glass and white marble
A quiet 3-star hotel well-located in the old town just outside the city walls. Restaurant, bar, outdoor swimming pool and WiFi (free). 129 air-conditioned rooms with hairdryer, mini-bar and satellite TV.
This small hotel in Nukus, decorated in Karakalpak national style, with local features throughout is located close to the Savitsky museum.
Explore the Christian and Ottoman heritage of Istanbul. Enjoy a Bosphorus cruise and visits to palaces, mosques, churches and bazaars. Byzantine walls and magnificent mosaics contrast with Ottoman inspiration which has enriched our culture in many ways from coffee, croissants, and carpets to tents harems and the language of flowers.
Day 1 Fly to Istanbul, transfer to the Crowne Plaza for a three night stay. (B).
Day 2 Visit St. Sophia, the Hippodrome, Basilica Cistern and Egyptian Bazaar. Cruise along the Bosphorus. (B)
Day 3 Visit the Suleyman and Blue mosques, Topkapi Palace including the harem and Treasury, ending with the Grand Bazaar. Drink at Pera Palas. Rooftop dinner. (B, D)
Day 4 Return flight. (B)
This 5-star hotel in a historic building is close to Grand Bazaar. Restaurant, bar, café, shops, indoor pool, Turkish bath and WiFi (free). 265 rooms with tea/coffee making facilities.
per person in a twin room
Turkish Airlines from Heathrow
Supplements per person
Single supplement £1950
Turkish Airlines Business class - On request
Regional Airport Available - nil
Tour of Shakhrisabz £75
Extension - Istanbul
3 nights in a twin room £850
Single supplement £350
Air travel and taxes, transfers, 24 nights' accommodation, breakfast daily, 22 lunches and 24 dinners, itinerary as described, services of a UK Tour Manager and expert local guides and representatives. VIP Chauffeur Driven Transfers.* If our specially negotiated airfares are unavailable at the time of booking, a supplement may apply.
Travel insurance, optional excursions, tipping, any government taxes or compulsory charges introduced after publication.
* On all of our Great Journeys, we provide a VIP chauffeur driven transfer for passengers living within a 70-mile radius of the point of departure. For those passengers that live outside of this 70- mile radius, we will provide the most competitive quotation for the additional mileage.
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