Best of Central Asia Tour

Travel Central Asia

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

Days

22

Price

€3970

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12

Countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

Route:

  • Astana
  • Bishkek
  • Almaty
  • Dushanbe
  • Tashkent
  • Ashgabat

Themes: Cultural Tours

Best of Central Asia Tour combines cultural highlights and natural beauty of five countries in one epic journey. Travel through the modern and historic capitals of five Central Asian states. Explore the cultural treasures and traditions of the nomadic people who have crossed the region throughout centuries, and of the people who have settled in its cities. Discover the modern marvel and architectural glory of Astana as well as “city of love” – Ashgabat. Travel the sprawling Soviet-styled cities of Almaty, Bishkek, and Dushanbe. Visit the architectural legacies of a flourishing Islamic culture and the medieval Timurid Empire.  Traveling through Central Asia you will experience centuries of change and development of the “Five Stan countries”.

highlights

  • Combine cultural highlights and natural beauty of Central Asia in one tour
  • Visit diverse capitals of all Central Asian countries
  • Enjoy the view at turquoise lakes of Tajikistan and alpine lakes of Kyrgyzstan
  • Sleep in yurts and get to know the nomadic culture in Kyrgyzstan
  • Marvel at Registan Square and other wonders of the ancient Samarkand
  • Witness history brought to life at the UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Khiva and Bukhara
  • Shop in oriental bazaars
  • Camp beside the burning gas crater the “Gate of Hell” at Darvaza

 

 

ITINERARY & MAP

Central Asia Tour in Astana

Welcome to Central Asia! We will meet you at the airport and transfer to the hotel, where you can make an early check-in. Most Central Asia flights arrive early in the morning, so you can have a rest after the long flight, take a shower and have breakfast. Meet your fellow travelers and your guide at 9:30 AM in the hotel lobby to start the city tour.

Astana is Central Asia’s youngest capital and a showpiece for the 21st century Kazakhstan. Talented architects have made major contributions to this futuristic city with its almost surreal skyline. But before exploring the modern city we drive 40km to the Memorial Museum Alzhir to learn more about the dark history of Kazakhstan. Alzhir was the biggest concentration camp in USSR for wives of “betrayers of the homeland”. There you will get an understanding of how people lived, worked and survived in Soviet concentration camps, the infamous “Gulags”. Back in Astana, we will have lunch. In the afternoon, we enjoy nice city view from the top of Baiterek Tower, which has become the symbol of Astana. Its shape represents a poplar tree with a golden egg laid by a magic bird from Kazakh folk tales. We will as well visit Hazrat Sultan Mosque, the National History Museum of Kazakhstan and have a walk on the Nurzhol Boulevard. Along the boulevard, which was designed by Kisho Kurokawa, most of Astana’s modern buildings are placed. We will end the walk at Khan Shatyr, giant tent-like shopping center designed by architect Norman Foster.

Overnight in hotel Hilton Garden Inn 4* or similar

This morning we need to get up early to catch our flight to Bishkek departing 08:00 with Air Astana. Upon arrival at 09:45 in the Kyrgyz capital, your Kyrgyz guide will meet you and transfer to the hotel, where you can leave your luggage. You will have lunch and we will do some light touring in the charming capital of Kyrgyzstan, the greenest city in Central Asia. Our sightseeing program in Bishkek includes stops at the Oak Park, Central Square Ala Too the Philharmonic Hall, and the Victory Square.

Overnight in hotel Plaza or similar

Central Asia tour in Kyrgyzstan, at Burana tower

We depart from Bishkek at 8 AM and the first stop after 80 km is at Burana Tower. The minaret was built in the 11th century in the medieval town of Balasagun, capital of the mighty Karakhanid empire. You can climb up the winding staircase to enjoy a nice view of the Chuy Valley. There is also an open-air museum featuring a collection of ancient balbals, carved stone figures used as monuments.

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

We then continue driving to the village of Kochkor, where we stop for lunch. From Kochkor it’s another 4-5 hours mostly on dirt road driving up to lake Song Kul and driving along its southern shore to the yurt camp. The lake is situated on around 3000m altitude and only accessible in summer.

Overnight in traditional Kyrgyz Yurt (one yurt for 2-4 of you, shared bathroom facilities)

In May & October: Chon Kemin

After visiting the Burana tower, we continue driving further into the mountains to a guesthouse in the beautiful Chon-Kemin Valley. Upon arrival, we have lunch at the guesthouse. In the afternoon you can have a walk in the village, observe the life of the local people, or optionally go for a short horse riding tour into the surrounding hills. Dinner and overnight in the guesthouse.

Ashu Guesthouse (single/ twin room with private bathroom)

Central Asia nomads and yurt tour

After breakfast, it is time to leave Song Kul and drive to Issyk Kul – the “Pearl of Kyrgyzstan”. On the way, we stop in Kochkor to see a presentation of how traditional felt carpets are made and you can even try to make your own. Shortly after Kochkor we arrive at Issyk Kul and drive along the southern shore to the “Skazka” or “Fairytale” canyon. The canyon derived its name from its bizarre landscape with fabulous formations from rocks. From there it is just a few more minutes’ drive to our overnight stay – a nice yurt camp about 200 meters from the beach of lake Issyk Kul. Usually, in summer the hot weather is inviting to take a swim.

Lake Issyk Kul is the second-largest mountain lake in the world, after Titicaca. Located at an altitude of 1600m, it is a slightly saline lake with no outlet, surrounded completely by the Tien Shan Mountains.

Overnight in yurt – 2-4 people in a yurt, shared bathroom facilities

After breakfast, we drive further eastwards along the southern shore of Issyk Kul towards the town of Karakol. On the way to Karakol, we drive 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 your guide will tell you the legend behind their interesting names.

In Karakol, we will have lunch and have a short sightseeing tour of the town’s most interesting sights. The tour includes the Dungan Mosque, built in 1904 with no metal nails and the wooden Russian Orthodox Church which has been standing since 1869. We will also visit the small historical Museum of Karakol. We will have lunch in Karakol in an Uighur family. From Karakol, it is another 30km driving north to the village of Tepke where we will spend the night in a nice guesthouse of farmers who breed Kyrgyz horses. You can see their horses and learn how “Boorsok” (deep fried bread, typical for Kyrgyzstan) is made.

Overnight & dinner in guesthouse “Reina Kench” – Twin/ Single rooms with shower and toilet in the room

Today we cross the mountains into Kazakhstan and drive to Almaty, former capital and biggest city of Kazakhstan. It is a very long ride and partly on a bad road. About half-way between Karakol and Almaty, we will stop for lunch (picnic) at one of the most famous natural sights of Kazakhstan – Charyn Canyon. The canyon is often compared to the Grand Canyon, although it is much smaller in size with a total length of 80-90 kilometers. The part of the canyon you will visit is known as “Valley of Castles” for its unusual rock formations. It is 3 kilometers long and 100 meters deep. We will walk these 3 kilometers down to the river, where we will have a picnic. In the evening, we arrive in Almaty on time for dinner. The hotel in Almaty is located in the city center right next to Panfilov Park and Green Bazaar.

Overnight in hotel Kazzhol or similar

Almaty is the largest city of Central Asia’s richest country, Kazakhstan. Until 1997 it was the country’s capital and it remains today the country’s business and educational center. Roads are wide and tree-lined and there are good views of the Zailisky Ala-Too mountains that 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.

We will visit Panfilov Park to see the most famous sight of Almaty, Zenkov Cathedral. It was built in 1904 without a single metal nail and is one of the world’s tallest wooden buildings. In the same Park is the impressive Soviet Glory Memorial, a tribute to 28 men who, as the narrative goes, repulsed 50 German tanks from the outskirts of Moscow during World War II. Adjacent to the park is the Museum of Musical Instruments. On display are many traditional instruments from the region. At the Green Bazaar, you get a chance to explore local Kazakh culture as you shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. In the afternoon, we drive half an hour up to Medeo ice skating rink and take a cable car to enjoy a nice view at the top of Shymbulak skiing area. It will be quite chilly and windy on top at 3200m altitude, so make sure to bring a sweatshirt or light jacket.

Overnight in hotel Kazzhol or similar

Central Asia Tour in Dushanbe

After breakfast transfer to Almaty Airport to catch Air Astana flight to Dushanbe, departing at 11:10. At 12:00 arrive in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. Originally, Dushanbe was a small village around a market that took place every Monday. The word Dushanbe translated from Persian means Monday. It was during the Soviet Union that it became the industrial center of Tajikistan.

Meet your Tajik guide, transfer to hotel for check in and have lunch in the city. In the afternoon, we will have a walk in the shade of the trees in the Botanical Garden. We will then visit Ismail Samani statue. The large monument commemorates the 1100th anniversary of the Samanid State, the heyday of the Tajik nation when science and arts flourished.  From there we walk up to Rudaki park, dedicated to great Persian poet Rudaki, who also lived during Samanid time in the 9th century. You will also climb the highest building of Dushanbe – Dushanbe Plaza to enjoy a nice 360” city view.

Overnight in hotel Sheraton 5*

Today after an early breakfast we drive to Iskanderkul Lake, named after Alexander the Great. Triangular in shape, it is considered one of the most exquisite lakes in all of the former Soviet Union nations, nestled in the Fan Mountains on 2,200m altitude. The route is a delightful one, past rugged mountains scenery. At the shore of the lake we will have lunch and you can go for a swim if you like. We then take a short hike to a nearby waterfall, also called the Niagara Falls of the Fan Mountains.

We then continue driving for another 4 hours 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 Umaryon 2*

Today we take a bumpy ride into the mountains, to explore the area of the “Seven Lakes”. The mountain valley is not far from Penjikent, but due to the terrible road condition this trip takes a full day. Near the fourth lake, there is a guesthouse. Those who like can stay there after lunch and relax and who wants can drive further up the valley until the sixth lake. From there it’s a short and easy hike of about 2 hours (both ways) to the seventh and highest lake Hazorchashma. Enjoy the scenery and go on a short hike along the lake’s shore if you like, before hiking back down to the 6th lake and driving back down to Penjikent.

Overnight in hotel Umariyon 2* (simple hotel, but a private bathroom in each room)

From Penjikent we drive up North to Istarafshan first and finally to Khujand. The road to Istaravshan is very scenic, crossing Shahriston Pass. Istarafshan was founded by Cyrus the Great in the 6th century BC and recently celebrated its 2500th anniversary. The Timurids of the 14th century then called Istaravshan Ura-Tube and the city’s artisans were highly regarded in Central Asia. Today, Istarafshan is well known in Tajikistan for its blacksmiths, hand-crafting knives of high quality. We will visit the workshops of the blacksmiths near the entrance of the market.

From Istarafshan it is another one and a half hours driving to Khujand. Check in at the hotel and have dinner in the second largest city of Tajikistan. . Have a walk in the evening in the park named
after Kamoli Khujandi.

Overnight in Grand Hotel 3*

Central Asia tour visiting Khujand

Khujand is situated in the Fergana Valley on the Syr Darya river. It is another ancient city with history dating back to Cyrus the Great of Persia and Alexander the Great. Today it is the second largest city in Tajikistan with Tajikistan’s biggest market – Panjshanbe Bazaar. City tour of Khujand includes the bazaar and the adjacent Maslihaddin Mosque, the historical Museum of Khujand, and Arbob palace

Overnight in Khujand Grand Hotel

Central Asia tour in Tashkent

Depart from Khujand around 8:30 AM and cross Oybek border point on foot between Khujand and Tashkent at 9:30 AM. Meet your Uzbek driver and bus on the other side and drive ca. 2 hours to reach Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan and largest city in Central Asia. Check in at hotel Wyndham and have lunch in the city center. Then it’s time to start the city tour. Visit the Old City area of Tashkent where you will find the Khast Imom Complex which contains ancient holy Quran of Caliph Osman. Experience the bustling crowds of traders at Chor-Su Bazaar before taking a ride on the city’s famous Soviet-era metro system which like Moscow’s features some of the most ornately decorated stations in the world. Exit at Amir Temur Square Station to view the statue of the great conqueror and next to it, the grand Independence Square. We complete the city tour of Tashkent with a visit to the Applied Arts Museum.

Overnight in hotel Sharq or similar

After early breakfast at 7:00 AM transfer to the railway station to take high-speed Afrosiyob train to Samarkand. Departure 8:00 AM and arrival in Samarkand 10:08 AM. Transfer to hotel and check-in. At 12:00 transfer to city center for lunch. In the afternoon we begin our exploration of this fascinating city and former capital of Timurid Empire. We start the city tour with a visit of Siyob Bazaar and the impressive Bibi Khanum Mosque right next to it. Then, finally you get to see Samarkand’s and arguably Uzbekistan’s most famous landmark, spectacular Registan Square. The focal point of ancient Samarkand is framed by three beautiful madrassas – Ulugbek, Sherdor and Tillya Kori. We finish the sightseeing today with a visit of Gur-Emir mausoleum, where Timur is buried. Dinner in the city center.

Overnight in hotel Platan 3*

Uzbekistan tour in Samarkand

We begin the city tour on our second day in Samarkand just outside the city in the village Koni Ghil to explore the traditional way of making Samarkand paper from mulberry. Back in the city we then visit Ulgubek’s observatory, once the biggest research center of 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 is Shah-i-Zinda, the necropolis where family members of Timur are buried. In the afternoon visit of Afrasiyab Museum, where you can learn more about the ancient city of Samarkand – then known as Afrasiyab – that was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century. Free time. Dinner in the city center. After dinner transfer to the train station to catch Afrosiyob high-speed train to Bukhara, departing 9 PM and arriving 10:40 PM in Bukhara. Transfer to the hotel and check-in.

Overnight in hotel Asia 3*

After breakfast at 8:00 AM, when it’s not too hot, start walking tour of Bukhara. Even the very name Bukhara conjures up images of the exotic Orient. For centuries, it was an important trading post and academic center. The Old Town 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 at 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. Sights that you will see on today’s walking tour in the Old Town of Bukhara: Kalon Complex, Ark Fortress, Bolo Hauz Mosque, Chiobs Mausoleum with the spring, local market, Museum of the Samanids and in the evening the Synagogue and the puppet workshop. Dinner in the city center.

Overnight in hotel Asia 3*

Central Asia tour in Uzbekistan, Khiva

After breakfast check out from hotel and depart around 9:00 AM to Khiva. It is a long ride through the Kyzylkum desert. On the way we stop for lunch in a small restaurant. In the evening arrival in Khiva. It is a long day on shaky roads, so prepare yourself with plenty of snacks and charge up your devices so the music does not run out.  At the end of this arduous drive, the reward will be Khiva, where we will arrive in the evening, just in time for dinner. Check-in at the hotel and dinner in the Old Town.

Overnight in hotel Asia 3*

Central Asia Tour in Khiva, Uzbekistan

After breakfast start walking tour of the city. 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 Ichan Kala. This old section of town preserves more than fifty historic monuments and hundreds of old houses dating back hundreds of years. The entire citadel is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you walk through the enormous city gates, you are confronted by the glistening Islamic beacon, the Kalta-minor Minaret. Delve deep into the town on a guided tour that embraces all of the city sites, and includes an ascent of the Islam Khodja Minaret, the highest minaret in Khiva. Enjoy broad views of Old Khiva atop the Kunya-Ark Citadel. During dinner there
will be a small performance of local dancers and singers.

Overnight in hotel Asia 3*

Central Asia overland to Darvaza gas crater

In the morning drive to Turkmenistan border point Shavat-Dashoguz (60 km, 1 h.). Be at the border at 9:00 AM when it opens and go through formalities on both checkpoints. Cross 1.5 km neutral zone (minibus available for ca. 1 USD). With your invitation letter you will be able to get your Turkmenistan visas at the border. You will need to pay around 100 USD per person in cash (banknotes should be in nice condition, not wrinkled or torn, to be accepted).

Please note: Depending on the number of people waiting to cross the border you will need to wait up to one or two hours, also be prepared to be thoroughly searched. On the Turkmenistan side of the border, meet your Turkmen guide and driver and transfer to Kunya Urgench (100 km, 2 h.). Visit mausoleums of Turebek Khanym, Sultan Tekesh, Sultan Il Arslan, Najmad-din-Kubra, Sultan Ali. Discover the Kutlug Timur
Minaret and Kyrk Molla hill. In the afternoon drive to Darwaza gas crater located in the middle of Karakym desert (270 km, 4-5 h.). Set up the camp. Enjoy a delicious fire-cooked meal for dinner near the burning gas crater. Overnight in tents.

Central Asia tour in Ashgabat

After camp style breakfast drive to Ashgabat via water crater and Erbent desert community. Arrival in Ashgabat around noon. Have lunch, check in at the hotel and have some rest during the midday heat and after the long and shaky ride of the past couple days.

In the afternoon have a short sightseeing tour in Ashgabat – the capital of Turkmenistan which has experienced a boom of “Marble Architecture” for the past 25 years. Tour includes visit of the Spiritual Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in Central Asia, the National Museum of History, the Arch of Neutrality, Presidential Square, Ertogrul Ghazy Mosque, and the newly built Independence Park.

Overnight at Nusay 4*

Central Asia tour in Turkmensitan, kov Ata underground lake

Today we have another busy day. After breakfast we drive to a farm nearby Ashgabat, where you can see the famous Turkmen horses called Akhal Teke. If you like, you can take the unique chance to ride on such a beautiful horse. Our next destination is Kov Ata underground lake, located about 90km to the West of Ashgabat. The Turkmen word “Kov Ata” translates as “father of the caves”. The water has a constant temperature of 33-37° Celsius. Swimming in the lake apparently is good for your health, so we suggest you go ahead and give it a try! After a picnic for lunch we continue driving a bit further West to the village Nokhur. The village is in the valleys of the Kopet-Dag mountains and unique Turkmen traditions have survived there. The villagers claim to be direct descendants of Alexander the Great. In fact you can find there fair-skinned people with blue eyes and red hair. Testimony of the unique culture in the village is the cemetery with hundreds of overgrown graves, each one equipped with impressive horns of mountain goats. In the evening we drive back to Ashgabat for our farewell dinner.

Overnight at hotel Nusay 4*

Transfer to Airport for departure flight back home. We hope you enjoyed your trip to Central Asia and will return soon to discover more places in this beautiful part of the world!

Inclusions

Transport
Metro, Train, Airplane, Horse, Foot, Minivan, Jeep
Meals
22 breakfasts, 21 lunches, 21 dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (18 nights), Yurt (2 nights), Guesthouse (1 night), Tent (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Astana – city tour
  • 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

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

€3970

Euro

22

Days

Single supplement available for €750

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
19 Aug 2018
9 Sep 2018
+ Available
5 May 2019
26 May 2019
+ Available
9 Jun 2019
30 Jun 2019
+ Available
30 Jun 2019
21 Jul 2019
+ Available
21 Jul 2019
11 Aug 2019
+ Available
11 Aug 2019
1 Sep 2019
+ Available
1 Sep 2019
22 Sep 2019
+ Available
6 Oct 2019
27 Oct 2019
+ Available
Price includes
  • All transfers, pick – ups and drop-offs
  • Accommodation based on two people sharing a double/twin room; breakfasts included
  • Full board (all lunches & dinners)
  • English speaking local guide accompanying the group in each country
  • All entry fees as per itinerary
  • Afrosiyob train tickets Tashkent-Samarkand, Samarkand-Bukhara
  • Flights economy class: Astana-Bishkek, Almaty-Dushanbe
  • Visa support letters for a 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 policy
  • Personal expenses (e.g. souvenirs etc)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tips for guides and drivers

Important notes

  • Departure for this tour is guaranteed
  • Travel insurance is required. Upon arrival, please provide your insurance details to the tour guide. Which insurance you choose is up to you. We recommend for example Worldnomads

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 centres, 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 bank notes 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 credit card is still not possible at most places, except for 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 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 e-Visa online 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 almost immediately 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.
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 altitude, 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 metres. The best season to visit is during summer.

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 few high-end hotels, but most stores and restaurants do not accept any cards. We recommend bringing all money in cash, in new USD bank notes 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 the 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 before your letter of invitation is approved.
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 traveller’s diarrhoea. 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 need a visa. For citizens of Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Malaysia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand and the United Kingdom a facilitated visa regime applies, meaning if you are from one of these countries you do not need an invitation letter. Everybody else needs an invitation letter to apply for a visa. Please note: If you book a tour with us we provide invitation letter free of charge and assist you with getting your visa.
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 Uzbekistan.

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 characterises 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. There you will find the full list of medicine that it is prohibited to import into Uzbekistan and also medicine which you can import only with doctor’s prescription.

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