Best of Central Asia Tour

Travel Central Asia

Discover cultural and natural highlights of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan.

Days

24

Price

€5360

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12

Countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Route:

  • Bishkek
  • Almaty
  • Tashkent
  • Dushanbe
  • Samarkand
  • Ashgabat

Themes: Cultural Tours

Kalpak Travel’s Best of Central Asia Tour combines the cultural highlights and natural beauty of five different countries in one epic journey. In each of the Central Asian republics you’ll visit the modern and historic capitals, and see firsthand the cultural treasures and traditions of both the nomadic people who have crossed this region for centuries, and also the people who have settled in its cities. The eclectic contemporary architecture of Nur-Sultan and Ashgabat contrasts with the sprawling Soviet-styled cities of Almaty, Bishkek, and Dushanbe, and nothing can prepare you for the impact of the great Silk Road cities, where flourishing Islamic culture and the medieval Timurid Empire left a lasting architectural legacy. Travel across the five ‘Stans with us to experience the very best of Central Asian hospitality on an unforgettable adventure.

highlights

  • Combine the cultural highlights and natural beauty of Central Asia in a single tour
  • Visit the diverse capitals of all five Central Asian republics
  • Gaze upon the turquoise alpine lakes of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
  • Sleep in traditional yurts and experience Kyrgyz nomadic culture firsthand
  • Marvel at Registan Square and other architectural wonders of ancient Samarkand
  • Wander the bustling streets of UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Khiva and Bukhara
  • Shop in authentic oriental bazaars for everything from hand-woven silks to spices
  • Feast on a barbeque next to Turkmenistan’s burning gas crater known as “the Gate of Hell”

 

 

ITINERARY & MAP

Pamir Highway tour ends in Bishkek

Welcome to Kyrgyzstan! Most flights arrive very early in the morning. You will transfer to the hotel and check in at the hotel with time to rest after your long flight, take a shower, and have breakfast.

In the afternoon, we will have a walking city tour in Bishkek. Bishkek, the charming capital of Kyrgyzstan, is relatively young. It started as a Russian garrison named “Pishpek” in the late 19th century, and it was only during the Soviet period that it grew into a city. It is a very green place, with tree-lined boulevards and many parks. Our sightseeing program in Bishkek includes Oak Park, the Ala Too Square with a visit to the National Museum, and Victory Square.

Welcome dinner with folklore show in ethno-complex Supara.

Hotel Plaza 4* or similar

Burana Turm von der Seidenstrassezeiten in Kirgisistan

After breakfast, we will transfer to Ala Archa National Park, 30km outside Bishkek. We will walk in the park, appreciate the mountain views, and inhale the wonderfully fresh, clean air. After this interlude, we will return to Bishkek and continue driving on the main road leading toward lake Issyk Kul. Our first stop will be Burana Tower near the town of Tokmok, 80km east of Bishkek. Burana’s 11th-century minaret is the only remaining building from the ancient city of Balasagun, once the capital of the mighty Karakhanid empire. You can walk up the winding staircase and enjoy a wide view of the scenic Chuy Valley. There is also a small open-air museum of balbals, carved stone figures often found around ancient burial mounds.

In June, July, August & September: Kochkor

From Burana we will continue driving about two hours to the mountain village of Kochkor, where we will arrive just in time for dinner. After dinner, you can see a demonstration of how shyrdak, traditional felt carpets, are made. Kochkor is located at an altitude of almost 1,800 meters, and you can get some acclimatization for the ascent to lake Song Kul on the following day.

Overnight in hotel Nomad Lodge or similar

In May & October: Chon Kemin

From Burana, we will drive further on into the mountains to our guesthouse in the beautiful Chon Kemin Valley. After less than two hours’ ride we will arrive just in time for dinner. Dinner and overnight at the guesthouse.

Kemin Guesthouse (single/twin room with private bathroom)

Song Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan with yurts

In the summer months we will drive up to lake Song Kul. In May and October Song Kul is not accessible due to snow and it is replaced with the mountain valley of Chon Kemin. See below the different itineraries for today, depending on your selected departure.

In June, July, August & September: Kochkor – Song-Kul

In the morning we learn how boorsok (deep fried bread, a speciality of Kyrgyzstan) is made and will taste it for breakfast. After breakfast, we start our ascent towards mountain lake Song Kul. The lake is not very far from Kochkor, but due to bad road conditions, it will still be a quite long and bumpy ride to the lake (c. 3 hours). Lake Song Kul is a mountainous lake on the altitude of 3016 meters above the sea level. The nomads pass their summer on the “jailoo” (summer pasture) with their animals. We will arrive in time for lunch, which will be served in the yurt camp. Free time in the afternoon to go on a walk to the shore or horse ride and observe nomadic life. The yurt camp is located about 3 kilometers from the shore of the lake. We will also watch a match of Kok Boru – a traditional spectacle of horsemanship.

Overnight in a yurt (2 people in a yurt, shared western toilets outside, simple shower)

In May & October: Chon Kemin – Kochkor

In the morning we learn how boorsok (deep fried bread, a speciality of Kyrgyzstan) is made and will taste it for breakfast. After breakfast, you can walk into the village, observe the life of the local people; or opt for a short horse ride into the surrounding hills. We will also have a chance to watch a match of Kok Boru – a traditional spectacle of horsemanship. After lunch, we drive about two hours through the mountains to the village of Kochkor.  Before dinner, you can see a demonstration of how shyrdak, traditional felt carpets, are made. Dinner in a family guesthouse and overnight in a simple hotel.

Overnight in hotel Nomad Lodge or similar

Eagle hunting man in Central Asia

After breakfast, we will drive to Issyk Kul, “the pearl of Kyrgyzstan” and the second-largest mountain lake in the world. At an altitude of 1,600 meters, it is warm enough in summer for swimming and a popular beach destination for the Kyrgyz and Kazakh people. The way down to Kochkor is the same road again. It’s only a short distance on from Kochkor to Issyk Kul, but we will have several interesting stops along the way. Our first stop is in the village of Kyzyl Tuu, where we will meet a yurt maker and learn more about this traditional nomadic dwelling. Many people in this village are involved in yurt making business. Near Bokonbayevo, we will meet an eagle hunter, who will show us his eagle and give a short demonstration for us. At Skazka (Fairytale) Canyon, which derives its name from its bizarre landscape made of fabulous rock formations, we will walk for around one hour. From here, it is then just half an hour to reach our destination, a yurt camp near the shore of Issyk Kul. Dinner and overnight in the yurt camp.

Overnight in yurt (2 people in a yurt, shared bathroom facilities)

Karakol wooden mosque in Kyrgyzstan

Today we will drive further east along Issyk Kul’s southern shore towards the town of Karakol. En route we will take a diversion into the side valley of Jety Oguz, famous for its two red rock formations called “Seven Bulls” and “The Broken Heart”. You will see these rocks and our guide will tell you the legends behind their interesting names.

In Karakol, we will have lunch with a local Uighur family, and a short sightseeing tour of the town’s most interesting sights. These include the Dungan Mosque, built in 1904; and the wooden Russian Orthodox Church, which has been standing since 1869. From Karakol, it is another 30km drive north to the village of Tepke, where we will spend the night in the welcoming guesthouse of a family who breed Kyrgyz horses.

Overnight at Reina Kench Guesthouse (single/twin room with shower and toilet in the room)

 

Central Asia Kazakhstan Charyn Canyon

It is time to leave Kyrgyzstan behind and cross the mountains into Kazakhstan, driving to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s former capital and its largest city. It is a very long ride and partly on bad roads. About half way between Karakol and Almaty, we will stop for a picnic lunch at one of the most famous natural sights in Kazakhstan, Charyn Canyon. The canyon is often compared to the Grand Canyon, although it is much smaller in size with a total length of 80-90km. The part of the canyon you will visit is known as the Valley of Castles for its unusual rock formations. It is 3km long and 100m deep. We will walk these 3km down to the river, and have our lunch in a scenic spot there. We will arrive in Almaty in time for dinner.

Overnight in Hotel Kazzhol Park 4* or similar

Almaty Zenkov cathedral

Almaty was Kazakhstan’s capital until 1997 and it remains the country’s business and educational center. The roads are wide and tree-lined, and there are good views of the Zailisky Ala-Tau Mountains which form a backdrop to the city. The name Almaty means “the place with apples” and it is believed that this is where apples originated from. In Almaty we will visit Panfilov Park to see the city’s most famous sight, Zenkov Cathedral. In the same park is the impressive Soviet Glory Memorial, a tribute to 28 men who, as the story goes, repelled 50 German tanks from the outskirts of Moscow during World War II. At Green Bazaar, you will get the  chance to explore local Kazakh culture as you shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. There will be some free time in the afternoon to explore the city on your own, or to relax at the hotel. Your guide will be available to help and happy to suggest places to go and things to see or do. In the evening, we will meet again in the hotel lobby and take the cable car to Kok Tobe, a hill overlooking the city from which there are panoramic views. We will then have dinner together before returning to the hotel.

Overnight in Hotel Kazzhol Park 4* or similar

Medeu ice skating rink in Kazakhstan

After breakfast, we are heading to the mountains just outside of Almaty. We will take a cable car to reach one of the main landmarks of Almaty, the Shymbulak ski resort, where you will enjoy wonderful views of the Ili Alatau Mountains from the top at 3,200 meters altitude. On the way to the ski resort you will pass the legendary Medeo skating rink. It is located in the picturesque Medeo Gorge at an altitude of 1,600 m and it is one of the largest and highest ice rinks in the world. After lunch, transfer to the airport to catch the domestic flight to the Kazakh capital Nursultan (4 PM – 6 PM). Dinner on the way to the hotel. Check-in at the hotel.

Overnight in Hilton Garden Inn 4* or similar

Central Asia Kazakhstan, Nursultan

Nur-Sultan is Central Asia’s youngest capital and a showpiece for 21st century Kazakhstan. We will visit the National Museum of Kazakhstan, walk to Independence Square, and in the afternoon enjoy the panoramic city view from the top of Baiterek Tower. We will walk along Nurzhol Boulevard, designed by celebrity architect Kisho Kurokawa, to the Khan Shatyr, the giant, tent-like shopping center designed by the equally famous Norman Foster. We will also have a chance to see the center of the “old” part of Nusultan and have a walk along Ishim river.

Overnight in Hilton Garden Inn 4* or similar

The Future Energy Museum

After breakfast, check-out from the hotel. On the way to the airport we will visit the futuristic Expo 2017 complex which boasts the biggest spherical building in the world, the Nur Alem Museum of the Energy. It was originally the Kazakh Pavilion. From there we will continue to the airport to catch the flight to the Uzbek capital Tashkent (2:10 PM – 3:10 PM, Air Astana).

From Tashkent airport we transfer to the hotel in the city center and have Uzbek welcome dinner in a local restaurant.

Overnight in Hotel Inspira-S 4* or similar

tashkent earthquake soviet monument

With a population of over 3 million people, Tashkent is the largest city in Central Asia. Its history dates back to the first century BC when an urban settlement grew up around a major caravan crossroad on the Silk Road. Much of what you see today, however, dates from the late 20th or 21st centuries, as a devastating earthquake in 1966 destroyed much of the older city. Rebuilding Tashkent was a major Soviet infrastructure project, with laborers coming to work here from across the Soviet Union.

We will start the day’s sightseeing at the Monument of Courage, which remembers the victims of the earthquake. We will then walk to Independence Square, a symbol of freedom for Uzbekistan’s citizens, who declared their independence when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991. At Amir Timur square you will see the statue of the great conqueror. Next, we drive to Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent’s green-domed market, with its acres of spices, fresh produce, and traditional crafts. We will also visit the Old City to find the Khast Imom complex, which houses the historic holy Quran of Caliph Osman. Today’s city tour will end with the Museum of Applied Arts, an ornate, rainbow-colored building that was previously the official residence of the Russian Ambassador.

Overnight in Hotel Inspira-S 4* or similar

Buddha from Ajina Tepe in Dushanbe Antiquities museum

Today we need to get up very early in the morning to catch the flight to the Tajik capital Dushanbe (8:00 AM – 9:00 AM).

Originally, Dushanbe was a small village centered on a market which took place every Monday. The Persian word Dushanbe means “Monday”, so this is how the city got its name. It was during the Soviet Union that Dushanbe became the industrial center of Tajikistan and the capital city it is today.

Arriving in Dushanbe you will meet your Tajik guide and start the city tour. We will visit the Museum of Antiquities with its 13m-long Sleeping Buddha, then tour the marvellous modern Navruz Palace. Together we will visit the Ismail Samani statue. This large gold and marble monument commemorates the 1,100th anniversary of the Samanid State, a Golden Age of the Tajik nation, when science and arts flourished.  From there we will walk across to Rudaki Park, dedicated to great Persian poet Rudaki, who lived under the Samanids during the 10th century. By then it’ll be time for a delicious dinner in a Tajik restaurant.

Overnight in hotel Atlas 4* or similar

Iskanderkul oder Alexandersee in Tadschkistan

Today we will drive to Iskander Kul, a mountain lake named after Alexander the Great. Triangular in shape, it is considered one of the most exquisitely beautiful lakes in all the former Soviet Union nations, It is nestled in the Fann Mountains at an altitude of 2,200m. The route is a delightful one, through rugged mountains scenery. On the shore of the lake we will have lunch, then take a short hike to a nearby waterfall. It is then a four-hour drive on to reach the town of Penjikent, where we arrive just in time for dinner and will stay for overnight in a hotel.

Overnight in Hotel Panjakent Plaza 3* or similar

Tajikistan one of the seven lakes in the Fan mountains

Our day trip will start with a bumpy ride into the mountains to explore the area of the Seven Lakes. This mountain valley is not far from Penjikent, but due to the terrible road conditions, this trip takes a full day. Near the fourth lake, there is a guesthouse. If you want to, you can stay there after lunch and relax, otherwise we will drive further up the valley to the sixth lake. It is then a short and easy hike of about two hours (both ways) to the seventh and highest lake, Hazorchashma. There will be time to enjoy the scenery and wander along the lake shore before hiking back down to the sixth lake and returning by road to Penjikent.

Overnight in Hotel Umarion 3* or similar

Samarkand in Uzbekistan

Leaving Penjikent behind this morning, we head west and make for the border and our forth country, Uzbekistan. Before crossing we stop off at the UNESCO site of Sarazm, dating back to the 4th century BC and bearing evidence of one of the first settlements in Tajikistan, possibly even Central Asia. Continuing onto the border, we cross on foot before picking up our Uzbek bus and making the short drive onto the much-fabled city of Samarkand, where we arrive in the late morning.

Sublime Samarkand was the capital of the Timurid Empire; Timur was one of history’s greatest conquerors. His vast empire rivaled any, stretching across the Eurasian steppe. He ruled his kingdom with an iron fist, whilst at the same time patronizing the arts and literature. Much of the architectural heritage from this period has been preserved, allowing us to see how the city might have been at the peak of Timur’s power.

We will start the city tour with a visit to the Gur-e-Amir, the gilded mausoleum where Timur is buried. We will hear stories from his life and how he began the construction of Samarkand. Then, we will go to the Registan, the most famous landmark in all of Uzbekistan. This square was the focal point of medieval Samarkand and is framed by three beautiful madrassas (religious schools), Ulugbek, Sherdor, and Tillya Kori. After lunch, we will stroll through the spacious courtyard of the Bibi-Khanum Mosque, a structure that legend says was gifted to Timur by one of his wives. We will have time to explore the Siyob Bazaar before checking in at the hotel and having dinner in the city center.

Overnight in Hotel Rabat 3* or similar

shahi zinda samarkand

After breakfast we continue to explore the fairytale city of Samarkand. We go first to the Shah-i Zinda, a magnificent tiled necropolis; and then visit Ulgubek’s Observatory, which was once the biggest research center in Central Asia. Ulugbek was decades ahead of the West with his observations of the solar system and the Earth, and we will learn more about his story in this prestigious setting. Our next stop will be the Konigil Paper Mill. Here you will see the process of making paper from mulberry tree bark, just as it was done in 8th century Samarkand.  We will enjoy lunch together, after which those who wish to do so can visit Afrasiyab Museum to learn about the ancient city of Samarkand – then known as Afrasiyab – which was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century.

Overnight in Hotel Rabat 3* or similar

Bukhara markets with its clay domes in Uzbekistan

After breakfast, we will transfer to the train station to catch the high-speed train to Bukhara (9:50 AM – 11:20 AM). Check-in at the hotel in Bukhara and have lunch. After lunch, we have a walking tour of Bukhara, one of the most important trading hubs on the Great Silk Road, as well as a respected center of religious learning. The Old City has been well preserved and is crammed full of minarets, mosques, and madrassas. Its once notorious canals and pools, the source of many an epidemic, have now been drained, but the most famous, Lyabi-Hauz, is still there, an oasis shaded by mulberry trees in the heart of the city. Your guide will show you the city’s unmissable sights, and you can soak up the atmosphere wandering through Bukhara’s labyrinthine alleyways. Key sites on today’s tour itinerary include the 10th century Samanid  Mausoleum, Poi Kalon, Ark Fortress, Bolo Hauz Mosque, and the historic trading domes, which still house market stalls. Dinner will be in the city center.
Overnight in Hotel Safiya 3* or similar

Uzbekistan tour in Bukhara

Today morning we continue our city tour in the old town of Bukhara. In the afternoon, you can choose to spend some free time in the city or to visit a couple more sights near Bukhara. First, you may visit the Mausoleum of Naqshbandi, 15 km outside the city center. There are many orders in Sufism, all of which have been represented  at different times in what is now Uzbekistan. The Naqshbandiyya order has a great and long-lasting influence, and the memorial place is still a popular place of pilgrimage for Sufis. From here, we will visit the summer residence of the last Emir of Bukhara. In Persian it is called Sitorai Mokhi Hossa, “the place where the moon meets the stars”. Dinner in Bukhara.

Overnight in Hotel Safiya 3* or similar

Khiva city walls in Uzbekistan

After leisurely breakfast, check-out from the hotel by around 11:00 AM and transfer to the train station to catch the fast train to Khiva (12:15 PM – 6:30 PM) It is a long train ride through the Kyzylkum Desert. At the end of the day, we will be rewarded with the magnificence of Khiva. We will arrive in the evening, just in time for dinner in the Old City, and check in at the hotel for the night.

Overnight in Hotel Zarafshan 3* or similar

Khiva is a classic silk road city in Uzbekistan

Our walking tour of Khiva will begin after breakfast. Khiva is bursting with historical sites and today you will get a chance to see them all. We will visit the walled inner-city section of Khiva called the Ichan-Kala. This old section of the city contains more than 50 historic monuments and hundreds of centuries-old houses. The entire citadel is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you walk through the enormous city gates, you will be confronted by a glistening beacon of Islamic design, the Kalta Minor. Our tour delves deep into all of Khiva’s sites, and ends with panoramic views from the top of the Kunya-Ark Citadel. During dinner tonight there will be a performance by local dancers and singers, immersing you in Khorezmian culture.

Overnight in Hotel Zarafshan 3* or similar

darvaza turkmenistan

In the morning we will drive to the Shavat-Dashoguz border post to enter Turkmenistan (60km, 1 h.). We plan to be at the check point at 9:00 AM when it opens and will pass through formalities on both sides, as well as the  1.5km of no man’s land (minibus available for c. $1). With your invitation letter you will be able to get your Turkmenistan visa on arrival, for which you will need to pay around $100 USD per person in cash.

In Turkmenistan you will meet your Turkmen guide and driver and transfer to Kunya Urgench (100 km, 2 h.). Here you will visit the most important mausoleums and see the Kutlug Timur Minaret. In the afternoon, we will drive on to the Darwaza Gas Crater, located in the middle of the Karakum Desert (270km, 4-5 h.). Together we’ll enjoy a delicious fire-cooked meal for dinner, then sleep overnight at the yurt camp.

Please note: On the September and October departures we will skip Kunya Urgench and drive directly to Darvaza, to be there before sunset. This reduces the driving time by 1-2 hours.

Overnight in Yurt Camp (2 people per yurt, shared bathroom facilities)

Central Asia Turkmenistan Ashgabat

After a light breakfast at the yurt camp we will drive to Ashgabat via the water crater and the Erbent desert community. Arrival in Ashgabat will be around noon, so we will check in and have lunch at the hotel.

In the afternoon, we will have a short sightseeing tour of Ashgabat. The capital of Turkmenistan has experienced a boom of marble architecture in the 30 years since independence. The tour includes visits to the National Museum of History, the Arch of Neutrality, and the newly-built Independence Park. The tour will end with dinner at Terrace, a restaurant on the seventh floor, with views of Independence Park and the surrounding buildings. Our after-dinner drive through the New City area of Ashgabat will enable you to see the city’s nighttime illuminations.

Overnight in Hotel Diwan 5* or similar

Turkmen horse Akhal Teke

Today we have another busy day. After breakfast, we will drive to Old Nisa Fortress (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), the earliest of the Parthian Empire’s capitals. It is located atop a hill at the foot of the Kopet-Dag Mountains. 14 hectares in size, the fort incorporates two semi-excavated complexes from the Parthian period (III c. BC – III c. AD), which have been identified as a royal residence and a temple complex. From Nisa, we will continue to the Spiritual Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in Central Asia, and then drive back to Ashgabat, stopping en route at the Halk Hakydasy national memorial complex with its WWII and earthquake memorials. Lunch will be served at a local restaurant.

In the afternoon we will visit a farm in Goekdepe, about 50km west of Ashgabat. Here you will see Turkmenistan’s famous  Akhal Teke horses. Then we will drive back to Ashgabat to share a farewell dinner together at the hotel.

Overnight in Hotel Diwan 5* or similar

departure passport with stamps

Transfer to Ashgabat Airport for your flight back home, or to begin a private extension trip.

Inclusions

Transport
Metro, Minibus, Train, Airplane, Foot, Minivan, Jeep
Meals
24 breakfasts, 23 lunches, 23 dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (20 nights), Yurt (3 nights), Guesthouse (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bishkek – city tour
  • Almaty – city tour
  • Dushanbe – city tour
  • Tashkent – city tour
  • Samarkand – city tour
  • Bukhara – city tour
  • Khiva – walking tour
  • Darvaza – camping
  • Ashgabat – city tour
Download PDF

dates & price

You can choose to join a small group on a guaranteed departure or book a private tour on the date of your choice
*
*
*
Total trip price

€5360

Euro

24

Days

Single supplement available for €900

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
1 Oct 2022
24 Oct 2022
+ Available
29 Apr 2023
22 May 2023
+ Available
6 May 2023
29 May 2023
+ Available
13 May 2023
5 Jun 2023
+ Available
10 Jun 2023
3 Jul 2023
+ Available
15 Jul 2023
7 Aug 2023
+ Available
29 Jul 2023
21 Aug 2023
+ Available
19 Aug 2023
11 Sep 2023
+ Available
26 Aug 2023
18 Sep 2023
+ Available
2 Sep 2023
25 Sep 2023
+ Available
9 Sep 2023
2 Oct 2023
+ Available
30 Sep 2023
23 Oct 2023
+ Available
Price includes
  • All transfers, including airport pick-up and drop-off
  • Accommodation based on two people sharing a double/twin room; breakfasts included
  • Full board (all lunches and dinners)
  • English-speaking local tour leader accompanying the group for the whole time
  • All entry fees as per the itinerary
  • Train tickets Samarkand-Bukhara, Bukhara-Khiva
  • Economy class flight tickets Almaty-Nursultan, Nursultan-Tashkent, Tashkent-Dushanbe
  • Visa support letters for the Turkmenistan tourist visa
Price does not include
  • International air fares to and from Central Asia
  • Hotel charges for additional services
  • Consular fees for tourist visas
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Personal expenses (e.g. souvenirs)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tips for guides and drivers (optional)

Important notes

  • All listed departures are guaranteed
  • You can also opt to book the whole itinerary as a private tour. We can arrange extra nights before or after the trip, and suggest private tour extensions.
  • We can advise and take care of all visas for you. For Turkmenistan you can get a visa on arrival with a letter of invitation pre-arranged by us. Other countries are visa-free for most nationalities.
  • A €500 per person deposit is required at the time of booking, and the balance is due 15 days prior to departure. Terms & Conditions: https://kalpak-travel.com/terms-and-conditions/
  • Travel insurance is required
  • We are happy to suggest flights to get to Central Asia and back home: please contact us
  • See our books recommendation on Central Asia & the Silk Road
  • Read more about food in Central Asia

KYRGYZSTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Kyrgyz currency is called the Som (KGS). In the capital Bishkek there are many ATMs that you can find in shopping centers, supermarkets or on the main streets. All of them accept Visa cards and some, like Kyrgyz Kommerts Bank, Demir Bank and Uni Credit accept other cards such as MasterCard or Maestro card. Outside of Bishkek, we don’t recommend relying on ATMs as there are so few of them. We also recommend that you bring some cash in new USD banknotes of denominations of at least 20 USD. There are many exchange offices, some working 24/7. Small and old-looking bank notes are harder to exchange. Paying directly with a credit card is still not possible at most places, except for high-end restaurants, hotels and a small number of international stores. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Kyrgyzstan is the most liberal and democratic country in the Central Asian region. For the last seven years, the political situation in the country has been calm and there is nothing to suggest that this situation might change. Guests and locals are treated with respect and the whole country can be regarded as very safe destination for travelers. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, avoid dark streets at night and only use official taxis. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Kyrgyz partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of most Western countries do not need a visa for a stay of up to 60 days in Kyrgyzstan. To be sure whether you need a visa or not you can check on www.thevisamachine.com. Any special permits that you might need for access to places that will be visited during your tour, we will provide to you free of charge.
As soon as we receive your deposit payment, we will confirm your booking and send you an email with important pre-departure information. Please read it carefully as it contains important information on customs regulations for Kyrgyzstan.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Kyrgyzstan is continental and dry in the majority of the country, including the largest cities. In the Ferghana Valley in the south and in capital Bishkek, summers are very hot with day temperatures between 30° and 40° Celsius. However, most of the country is situated more than 1500 meters above the sea level, where temperatures are in the mid-20s during summer. At high altitudes of 3000 meters or more it may even snow overnight during the summer, so make sure you bring some warm clothes. The best season to visit for activity or jeep tours would be in summer and winter for skiing tours. Please note, weather in some mountain areas may be very changeable.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Kyrgyzstan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Kyrgyzstan are basic at best.

TAJIKISTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Tajik currency is called the Somoni (TJS). In the capital Dushanbe there are a few ATMs that you’ll find in shopping malls, supermarkets, or on the main streets, but most of them accept only Visa cards. Outside of Dushanbe, we don’t recommend relying on ATMs as there are only a few of them and they may run out of money.
We recommend bringing cash in new USD banknotes of denominations of at least 20 USD. There are many exchange offices, some working 24/7. Small and old-looking bank notes are harder to exchange. Paying directly with a credit card is still not possible in most places, except for a few high-end restaurants and hotels. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

The political situation in the country has been calm in recent years and there are no indications of upcoming tensions. The border area with Afghanistan is safe as well, but we do not recommend crossing the border for a trip into Afghanistan. Guests and locals are treated with respect and Tajikistan can be regarded as a safe destination for travelers. That being said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, avoid dark streets at night and only take official taxi rides. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Tajik partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of almost every country can obtain an electronic visa for stays of up to 45 days in Tajikistan. All you need to do is enter the requested information then pay a fee of 50 USD by credit card and you will receive after 2-3 days the eVisa by email. You can print it out and use it just like an ordinary visa to enter the country. Please note, if you are planning to visit Pamir region, you need a GBAO permit, which you can purchase online, together with the eVisa, for an additional fee of USD 20. If you book a tour with us, we can get the visa for you.
As soon as we receive the deposit payment for your tour, we will confirm your booking and send you an email with important pre-departure information. Please read it carefully as it contains important information on customs regulations for Tajikistan.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Tajikistan is continental and dry across most of the country, including the largest cities. In regions situated at relatively low altitudes, such as the capital Dushanbe, the south of Tajikistan around Kulob and the Khujand region, summers are very hot with day temperatures between 30° and 40° Celsius. However, most of the country is situated at high altitudes, where temperatures are in the mid-20s or less during the summer. If you visit the Fann or Pamir Mountains, make sure to bring some warm clothes, as it can get very cold at night at elevations of more than 3000 meters. The best season to visit Tajikistan is during summer when it's possible to go to the mountains.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered, or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Tajikistan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Tajikistan are basic at best. Please note: there is a small risk of malaria in the south of Tajikistan by the borders with Uzbekistan and Afghanistan. None of our tours visit this region.

KAZAKHSTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Kazakh currency is called the Tenge (KZT). The banking system in Kazakhstan is the most developed in Central Asia and in big cities there are many places to exchange money and to withdraw cash from ATMs using a variety of cards. We recommend bringing some cash in new USD bank notes of denominations of at least 20 USD. Small and old-looking bank notes are harder to exchange. Paying directly with a credit card is still not possible at most places, except for high-end restaurants, hotels and international stores like Zara, Mango, McDonalds or Starbucks. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Kazakhstan is a multi-ethnic country with a long history of tolerance. Guests and locals are treated with respect and the whole country can be regarded as a very safe destination for travelers. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, avoid dark streets at night and take only official taxis. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Kazakh partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of most Western countries do not need a visa for a stay of up to 15 days in Kazakhstan. To be sure whether you need visa or not you can check on the website of The Visa Machine. Any permits you might need for access to places that will be visited during your tour, we will provide for you free of charge.
As soon as we receive the deposit payment for your tour, we will confirm your booking and send you an email with important pre-departure information. Please read it carefully as it contains important information on customs regulations for Kazakhstan.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Kazakhstan is continental and dry in the majority of the country, including the largest cities. Summers are very hot with day temperatures between 30° and 40° Celsius and winters extremely cold with strong winds. In the mountains, however, the weather is quite changeable. If you are planning to visit the mountains the best season is summer. Be aware, however, at high altitudes of 3000 meters or more it may even snow overnight during the summer. For cultural sightseeing tours, spring and autumn are the best seasons. Autumn is also the time when the country goes to harvest, meaning markets are full of fresh fruit and vegetables.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveller’s diarrhoea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Kazakhstan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Kazakhstan are basic at best.

TURKMENISTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Turkmen currency is called the Manat. In Ashgabat, you may find ATMs that accept international payment cards. VneshEkonomBank for example accepts Visa credit cards. However, most ATMs accept only local cards issued by Turkmen banks. Credit cards may be accepted in a few high-end hotels, but most stores and restaurants do not accept any cards. We recommend bringing all money in cash, in new USD banknotes of denominations of at least 20 USD. They will be easy to exchange. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Turkmenistan is a safe country and most trips are trouble-free. There is a visible police presence and most citizens are law-abiding. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, steer clear of dark streets at night and avoid taking rides in unofficial taxis alone. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Turkmen partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of every country in the world need a visa to enter Turkmenistan. As soon as you book a tour, we will ask you to provide some additional information to apply on your behalf for a letter of invitation. If the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approves your application, we will send you a letter of invitation. With this letter, you will be able to purchase the visa on arrival at Ashgabat Airport. Please note: your application for a letter of invitation may be rejected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan. Please do not book any flights or other non-refundable travel services prior to checking with us. Depending on your nationality, and circumstances we can advise you on your chances of getting the visa letter approved for Turkmenistan.
As soon as we receive the deposit payment for your tour, we will confirm your booking and send you an email with important pre-departure information. Please read it carefully as it contains important information on customs regulations for Turkmenistan.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Turkmenistan is continental and dry and the best seasons to visit are Spring and Autumn, from mid-April until early June and then again from September until early November. Autumn is drier than Spring, but even in Spring chances are high you can enjoy the bluest sky you have ever seen. Autumn is also the time when the country goes to harvest, meaning markets are full of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you don’t mind dry heat of 40° Celsius, sometimes more, summer is the best time to go. There are few tourists and the sun is shining every single day. If you are considering visiting Turkmenistan in winter you will practically have the country all to yourself. We recommend you go in November or December when daytime temperatures are still around 10° Celsius and the often chilly winds of January & February have not yet begun to make their presence felt.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Turkmenistan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Turkmenistan are basic at best.

UZBEKISTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Uzbek currency is called the Som (UZS). There are few ATMs in Uzbekistan and even then, most do not accept any card other than Visa. Stores and restaurants typically do not accept credit cards. We recommend you bring all money in cash, preferably carrying new USD bank notes of different denominations. They will be easy to exchange – for the best rates ask your guide – and you will be able to pay directly with USD for some souvenirs. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Uzbekistan is a safe country and most trips are trouble-free. There is a visible police presence and most citizens are law-abiding. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, steer clear of dark streets at night and avoid taking rides in unofficial taxis alone. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Uzbek partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of most countries do no longer need a visa to visit Uzbekistan for a period of up to 30 days. A notable exception is the United States - US citizens need to apply for an electronic visa to visit Uzbekistan. You can get the visa yourself through the official government website for 20 USD per person: https://e-visa.gov.uz/. If you book a trip to Uzbekistan with us we will get the visa for you.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Uzbekistan is continental and dry. The best season to visit is during spring and autumn, from mid-March until early June and then again from September until early November. Autumn is drier than spring, but even in spring chances are high you can enjoy the bluest sky you have ever seen. Autumn is also the time when the country goes to harvest, meaning markets are full of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you don’t mind the dry heat of 40°+ Celsius, summer is the best time to go. There are few tourists and the sky is blue every single day. If you consider visiting Uzbekistan in winter, having the country all to yourself, we recommend going in December, when day temperature is still around 10° Celsius and the chill wind that characterizes January & February has not yet reared its ugly head.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use it for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for travelers to Uzbekistan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Uzbekistan are basic at best.
As soon as we receive your deposit, we will confirm your booking and send you additional pre-departure information.

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