The Heart of The Silk Road, May 2020
A Journey through the Heart of Central Asia
including Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan
Visits: Almaty, Karakol, Altyn Arashan, Tamga, Jety Ogyz, Lake Issyk-kul, Bishkek, Tashkent, Samarkand, Shakhrisabz, Bukhara, Chardjou, Merv, Mary, Ashgabat, Kov-Ata, Tashauz, Dashoguz, Urgench & Khiva
Itinerary (2019 Preview) :
Day 1 (Friday) – Seoul/Almaty
Arrival into ALMATY ex SEOUL via ASIANA Airlines flight OZ577 18:10-21:55. On arrival Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan, meet and greet by the local guide after entry formalities and transfer to downtown hotel. Assistance with check-in and then time to retire for the evening. Overnight in Almaty.
Day 2 (Saturday) – Almaty
Today we start our city sightseeing of Almaty – visit Panfilov Park, Zenkov wooden-constructed Cathedral, St.Nicholas Cathedral, National Musical Instruments Museum, National Archeological Museum, Central State Museum, Almaty’s Green Bazaar. Lunch and dinner at local restaurant. Overnight at hotel in Almaty.
Day 3 (Sunday) – Almaty/Karakol
Early start – drive to Karakol via Karkara from Almaty. Today we will cross the border and enter into Kyrgyzstan. After Customs and Immigration, drive ahead to Karakol, enjoy the magnificent landscapes on the way. Lunch enroute and dinner at local restaurant. Overnight at Guest House.
Day 4 (Monday) – Karakol
Today we will travel in 4WD’s and drive to Altyn Arashan (3014mt), one of the most beautiful gorges in Kyrgyzstan, full of fir trees and huge Alpine meadows. On arrival to the top of gorge you have time for free bath at hot springs, or easy hiking at the gorge then back to Karakol to start city sightseeing of Karakol, visit the Dungan Mosque, the Russian Orthodox Church (made without a single nail), and the local Bazaar. Dinner and overnight at Guest House.
Day 5 (Tuesday) – Karakol/Tamga
After breakfast get ready for drive to “Jety Ogyz”, the Gorge of the Broken Heart and the Gorge of “Seven Red Bulls”; as it appears from a distance. The gorge is full of fir trees, and Alpine meadows. Then drive ahead to Barskoon gorge, visit the waterfalls, then drive to Tamga for dinner and overnight at Guest House.
Day 6, (Wednesday) – Tamga/Bishkek
Drive to Bishkek along the south shore of the lake Issyk-Kul (the world’s second biggest mountain lake), enroute visit the Burana Tower XII BC, which was once the capital of Karakhanid’s dynasty. See the Balbals here lying under the open sky with different faces. On arrival to Bishkek start city sightseeing of Bishkek, visit the Museum, the bazaar, the Park Panfilov, dinner at local restaurant. Overnight in Bishkek.
Day 7, (Thursday) – Bishkek/Tashkent
Morning transfer to airport for flight to Tashkent. Upon arrival and settlement at the hotel, city tour in Tashkent, old and modern sights. Dinner and overnight.
Day 8, (Friday) – Tashkent/Samarkand
Drive to Samarkand. After arrival, lunch. Check-in to the hotel. Visit Ulugbek Observatory, Afrosiyab. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 9, (Saturday) – Samarkand
The trip to the magnificent monuments of the Medieval Architecture of the Timurid’s Epoch: The Registan Square, the Gur-Emir mausoleum, the Shakhi-Zinda Necropolis, the Bibi Khanum mosque. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 10, (Sunday) – Samarkand/Shakhrisabz/Bukhara
Drive to Samarkand via Shakhrisabz (320 km, 4hrs). Tour of Shakhrisabz: Visit Ak-Saray Palace, Kuk- Gumbaz, Gumbazi Saidon, Khazrati Imam Mosque, Mausoleum of Jakhangir (Tamerlane’s son). Lunch. Continue drive to Samarkand. Check-in to the hotel for overnight.
Day 11, (Monday) – Bukhara
Full day in Bukhara: visit Kalyan Minaret and Poi Kalyan Mosque, Miri Arab madrassah, Toki Zargaron Dome, Ulugbek and Abdullazizkhan madrassah, Toki Telpak Furushon Dome, Magoki Attory mosque, Toki Sarafon Dome, Lyabi Hauz complex. Continue sightseeing in Bukhara: Ark fortress including visit to Zindan (prison), Bolo House Mosque, Ismail Samoni Mausoleum, Chashma Ayub Mausoleum and bazaar. Overnight.
Day 12, (Tuesday) – Bukhara/Mary (Turkmenistan)
Drive to Farab border. After border crossing formalities meet your Turkmen guide and driver; drive to Turkmenabad (formerly Chardjou; 45 km/about 1 hr) for lunch at local restaurants. Afterwards continue drive to Mary (ab.260 km). Couple of stops en-route to see the Karakum desert. Transfer to hotel on arrival. Accommodation at “Mary” hotel overnight.
Day 13, (Wednesday) – Mary – Merv – Mary – Ashgabat (flight)
After breakfast in hotel, drive to Merv (32 km/ab. 1 hr; UNESCO World Heritage site). Sightseeing on arrival, visiting the Erk Kala, Gyaur Kala, Sultan Kala, Bayram Khan Kala, Abdulla khan Kala, Sultan Sanjar and Ibn Zeid Mausoleums, Ruins of Muslim Mosque (Beni-Makhan), Buddhist Temple (subject to change, due to bad road conditions), Grand “Little” Kyz Kalas. After sightseeing drive to Mary. Lunch at local restaurant. PM visit Mary History Museum (Regional United Museum), Mary City center, Russian Orthodox church (one of the oldest in Turkmenistan) and local Central bazaar (if open). In the evening, take a flight to Ashgabat (40 min with Boeing 737). Transfer to hotel on arrival. Overnight in hotel in Ashgabat.
Day 14, (Thursday) – Ashgabat Tour – Darvaza – Ashgabat
After breakfast at hotel, start City tour of Ashgabat visiting the Independence period parks and monuments; with stops at Independence Park, Neutrality square, Ertogrul Gazi Mosque and some others. Tour today also includes, visits to Old Nissa fortress (UNESCO World Heritage site; the residence of Parthian Kings, III century B C – III cent. AD) and Turkmenbashi Ruhy mosque in Kipchak (the largest mosque of Turkmenistan). PM drive to Darvaza fire crater, located in the center of Karakum desert, en-route stops to see two other gas craters one with water and other one with bubbling sulfur mud. On arrival to burning gas crater, we spend there 1.5-2 hrs. and then drive back to Ashgabat. Arrival time around midnight. Overnight in hotel.
Day 15, (Friday) – Ashgabat – Tashauz (flight)
In the morning drive to Geokdepe to visit local stud farm where we can see famous Akhalteke thoroughbred horses. En-route to the farm we will stop at Geokdepe mosque built in the middle of former Teke stronghold, where was the battle between Russians and Turkmens in 1881 – the largest resistance to the Russians in 19c in Central Asia. After visiting all sites, drive back to Ashgabat for lunch at local restaurant. PM visit National Museum of Turkmenistan (closed on Tuesday!); the largest museum of Turkmenistan, where you can see unique findings from all historical and archeological sites of Turkmenistan, such as Ivory-Rhytons of Nissa, golden, silver artefacts of Merv and many others. In the late afternoon/evening, take a flight to Dashoguz. Transfer to local hotel on arrival. Dinner and overnight in hotel Dashoguz
Day 16, (Saturday) – Dashoguz– Kunya-Urgench – Dashoguz—Khiva
After breakfast in hotel drive to Kunya-Urgench (100 km/2 hrs. one-way) for excursion; visiting the Kunya-Urgench – Capital of Khorezm: Mausoleums of Turabek Khanym, II Arslan, Tekesh, Najmeddin Kubra, Sultan Ali Minaret of Kutluk Timur, also the remains of second minaret. Caravan Saray Kunya Urgench Museum (if time permits). Then drive to Dashoguz border (100 km/2 hrs). Lunch in local restaurant in Kunya Urgench or Dashoguz. Border crossing. Drive to Khiva. Hotel accommodation overnight.
Day 17 (Sunday) – Khiva
Full day tour in Khiva: Ota Darvaza, Kalta Minor, Mukhammad Amin Khan Madrassah, Kunya Ark (with panoramic view of Khiva), Mukhammad Rahim Khan Madrassah, Pahlavan Makhmud Mausoleum, Islam Khodja Minaret and Madrassah, Juma Mosque, Tosh-Hovli (Harem). Overnight.
Day 18 (Monday) – Khiva-Nukus- Khiva
Breakfast in hotel. Today we take a day trip to the capital of , the autonomous Republic within Uzbekistan (approx. 200km/3hrs one-way). We are going to visit the museum of Russian avant- garde artist Igor Savitsky, who had spent big part of his life living and creating in the territory of Karakalpakstan. The museum exhibitions consist of the Ancient Art, the Applied Folk Arts of Karakalpak, the Uzbek and the Russian paintings of the 1920-1930s, as well as the contemporary art of Karakalpakstan. On the way back, we can view the monument of Karakalpak poet Berdakh, city view of Nukus, scattered across the desert ancient defense fortresses like Ayaz Qala and Tupraq Qala. Overnight in Khiva.
Day 19, (Tuesday) – Khiva – Urgench – Tashkent
Morning flight to according to time-schedule to Tashkent. Today we going to visit Amir Temur museum and Amir Temur square, visit Independence square, the Monument of Courage, Applied Arts museum and Abul Kasim Madrassa, the handicraft workshops of local artists. Overnight in Tashkent.
Day 20, (Wednesday) – Tashkent/Seoul
Breakfast in morning. Free and easy till noon, check out from hotel and we continue exploring Tashkent. We visit Central Asian Palov center, to witness how the tradition of Palov cooking being followed nowadays. Visit the monument of repression, view Tashkent TV tower, visit Khasti Imam Complex, Kukeldash Madrasah and Chor-Su Bazar, the largest one in Tashkent. Time for dinner and transfer to airport at 19:30 for international flight on to Seoul, OZ574 22:20- 08:55+
(2019 Price – to be used as a guideline until the 2020 rates are released)
From AU$5650 Per Person Share Twin, Land Only
Single Supplement AU$1102
2020 Deviation: Please note that in 2020 our itinerary will be deviating from the above with a few changes to include Charyn Canyon enroute to Karakol (and possibly Lake Kaindy), and we are looking to visit the Aral Sea Ecological Disaster Area whilst at Nukus including a visit to Lake Sudochie and the now deserted fishing City of Moynaq. As a result the duration will probably increase by 2 days and prices are likely to rise. 2020 Rates should be available by late May 2019.
- Accommodation in Twin or double rooms (for Hotel Previews please download our Central Asia Indtroduction Document Here)
- Air Conditioned Coach for duration f the programme
- All transfers to and from airports
- Excursions as per programme with Entrance tickets to sites and monuments
- GAZ-66 or Vahktova Transport for Alyn-Arashan Excursion (non air-conditioned former military vehicles)
- English Speaking Guide / Tour Escort
- Breakfast daily in hotels
- 1 litre mineral water per day
- Ecological fee in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan
- Regional Airfares (See notes)
- Visa Support Letters, Entry Travel Passes & Government Registrations
- International Airfares inclusive of taxes and surcharges
- Drinks including alcohol, soft drinks and juices
- Visas & Visa costs
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
- Personal expenses for souvenirs, laundry, phone calls etc
- Tips & Gratuities
- No early arrivals and late departures are included. Additional supplements could be offered depending to the international flight tourist used.
- If a place of visit is closed to visitors, it will be replaces with an alternative. During major events, accommodation may be changed and replaced with a similar category
- Sequence of itinerary and hotels given are subject to availability and change without prior notice.
- Hotel usage is subject to availability. No reservations made before confirmation received from client. If mentioned hotels are not available, we will substitute them with other hotels of same class.
- Domestic and regional flights if any flights, as well as train departures are subject to change in timing and availability. If mentioned flights and trains are not available, they will be changed to convenient one, depending on tour program
- Domestic flights have been priced on current airfares and include some loading but are subject to change
- This programme has been based on 2018 rates and is subject to change based on the release of 2019 rates.
- Domestic flights include Mary to Ashgabat, Ashgabat to Dashgouz and Urgench to Tashkent and may alter total cost at time tickets become available for ticketing
- Australian Citizens entering Kyrgyzstan no longer need to acquire a visa
- Australian Citizens entering Kazakhstan no longer need to acquire a visa
- Australian Citizens entering Uzbekistan require a tourist visa, we will organise closer to the Date, Uzbek visas are now available to do online
- Australian Citizens entering Turkmenistan require a tourist visa (and Migration card), we will organise this as a group, cost TBA
Please note that : Hotels mentioned are the foreseen properties but are subject to change at the Tour Operators Discretion Please note that : these hotels cover a wide range of categories from local 5 star to guest houses, properties have been chosen to give the best overall experience on the tour
Important Note From Your Tour Escort:
This is a small group journey that will run with no more than between 8 to 16 travellers, and will journey through some of the most incredible regions of Central Asia as it journeys through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
This will cover the natural, historical and cultural highlights of these zones including Lake Issyk-Kul, Altyn Ashran, the Gate of Hell, Buhkara, Khiva, Registan Square and more. We will also visit some of the most significant cities of the region including Almaty, Bishkek, Tashkent and Ashgabat.
This is not a 5 star luxury tour, whilst all the accommodation has been specifically chosen for flavor and experience – I have noted most as a lower category than official sites do, specifically so I do not raise expectations. We will be staying in a range of 3 star boutique hotels, a guest house, and what are officially listed as 5 star hotels but with their faded soviet glory would more appropriately be called a comfortable 4 star (on occasion).
The package price is based Almaty to Tashkent and covers most expenses barring visas, tipping and most of the meals outside of breakfast. With the best food available outside local hotels I elected not to include meals so that we can get the best culinary experience whilst travelling.
The package price does not include the main international airfares, I do recommend using the Asiana Options when they become available but have left it open in case people decide to extend or visit other regions while on the road.
This is a unique hand-crafted programme designed to take in the best of the region in relative comfort, and I would love to have you join us when we head there
If you would like to sign up, or have any questions or queries please do not hesitate to get in touch with me (Daniel) on the below details!
For more details or to book aboard contact us now by calling (02) 4421 5577 or email email@example.com