Kyrgyzstan – Uzbekistan Tour

Best of Kyrgyzstan & Uzbekistan in 2 Weeks

Follow the footsteps of the Kyrgyz Nomads and ancient Silk Road traders

Days

15

Price

€2790

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12

Countries: Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan

Route:

  • Bishkek
  • Issyk Kul & Song Kul
  • Fergana
  • Khiva
  • Bukhara
  • Samarkand
  • Tashkent

Themes: Cultural Tours

Explore the nomadic way of life in Kyrgyzstan, witness how people live hand in hand with nature continuing customs that have been passed down the generations for centuries in Central Asia. Explore the ancient city of Osh with its 3000 years old Silk Road history, and sleep in traditional Kyrgyz yurts.

For well over a thousand years, merchants carried their wares over remote mountain passes, along verdant river valleys of Fergana Valley and through the Great Silk Road cities of Uzbekistan.  These nomads, conquerors, and settlers left behind an architectural legacy that draws on forgotten empires and ancient religions.  Uzbekistan has been awarded UNESCO World Heritage status for its age-old cities: Bukhara, Khiva, and Samarkand, arguably the jewel in the country’s dazzling crown. Central Asian mosques, madrassas, fortresses, and bazaars combine to create a timeless atmosphere, while out in the countryside, the country’s incredible landscapes will, we promise, capture both your imagination and your heart.

highlights

  • Enjoy the quaint charm and hospitality of Kyrgyzstan.
  • Visit the ‘Pearl of Kyrgyzstan’ – Issyk Kul Lake
  • Experience nomadic life at the alpine lake Song Kul, and sleep in a yurt
  • Climb up Suleiman mountain in southern capital of Kyrgyzstan, Osh
  • Modern Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan and the largest city of Central Asia
  • Charming old city of Bukhara, UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Visit a Gijduvan pottery and create your own souvenir
  • Visit the architectural wonders of ancient Samarkand
  • Explore on foot remarkably well-preserved Silk Road city of Khiva
  • Experience the hustle and bustle of oriental bazaars

ITINERARY & MAP

Bishkek City Tour, Kyrgyzstan

Welcome to Central Asia! Transfer to the hotel and early check in at the hotel. You can have a rest after your long flight, take a shower and have breakfast.

Transfer to Ala Archa National Park, in the mountains, just 30km outside of Bishkek. We will have a walk in the Park, enjoying the nice views and fresh air. Transfer back to Bishkek for lunch in the city center. In the afternoon we will have a city tour in Bishkek. The tour includes Osh Bazaar, Panfilov Park, Ala-Too Square with the National History Museum, and monuments to national hero Manas, writer Chingiz Aitmatov and another Kyrgyz hero Kozhomkul. Dinner in a nice local restaurant.

Hotel Plaza or similar

Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Tour, Burana Tower,

After breakfast we depart from Bishkek. First stop is Burana Tower near the town of Tokmok, 60km east of Bishkek. The minaret from the 11th century is the only remaining building from the ancient town of Balasagun, once capital of the mighty Karakhanid empire. You can walk up the winding staircase and enjoy a nice view of the Chuy valley. There is also a small open-air museum with “balbals”, carved stone figures used as monuments. We then continue driving to lake Issyk Kul. 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. Some evidence suggests that ruins of an old trade center from 2nd century BC can be found under the water. At the beginning of the lake, on the southern shore we visit the village of Kyzyl-Tuu. Most people in this village are engaged in the manufacturing of yurts and it is the perfect place to learn more about the Kyrgyz yurt and how they are made. We then continue driving along the picturesque southern shore of the lake to our yurt camp near the village of Tosor. Upon arrival at the yurt camp there is some time to go swimming in the lake before dinner.

Overnight in yurt – 2-4 people in a yurt, facilities are outside (Western toilet, shower with heated water)

Kyrgyzstan Tour, Skazka Canyon

After breakfast drive along the southern shore of the lake back westwards towards the village of Kochkor. On the way we make a first stop at the canyon “Skazka” translated as “Fairytale” due to its bizarre rocky landscape, which for many years has been transformed by wind into fabulous sculptures and formations. We go for a short hike at the canyon. In the village of Bokonbaevo we will make the next stop to meet an Eagle hunter, who will make a demonstration for us. Finally, we arrive in Kochkor, where we visit a workshop where local women produce carpets from felt. You can even try to make your own. Dinner and overnight in a local guesthouse in Kochkor.

Adamkaly Guesthouse, with shared western toilet and shower

Kyrgyzstan Uzbekistan Tour, Song-Kul

After breakfast we depart towards another mountain lake – Song Kul. The lake is not very far from Kochkor, but due to bad road condition it will still be a quite long and bumpy ascent to the lake. 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. You can see herds of horses and sheep grazing on meadows full of Edelweiss. If you like, you may go for a short horse ride. Accommodation and dinner will be in a traditional Kyrgyz yurt. You can taste “kymyz” (mare’s milk) and observe the shepherd’s wife preparing bread and cheese. At night, gaze at the skies like an astronomer – the nearness of the stars will take your breath away.

Overnight in yurt – 4 people in a yurt, facilities are outside (Western toilet, shower with heated water)

Kyrgyzstan tour, Song Kul to Osh road

After breakfast transfer to Bishkek. The way to Kochkor is the same as we came up. In Kochkor we will stop again for lunch. We then drive directly to Bishkek airport to catch the evening flight to Kyrgyzstan’s second largest city, Osh (1 hour). Upon arrival in Osh transfer to hotel and dinner.

Sun Rise 2 Hotel or similar

Kyrgyzstan-Uzbekistan Tour, UNESCO site - Sulaiman Too

After breakfast short city tour in Osh with visiting the Suleiman Mountain – UNESCO World Heritage Site. Nicknamed Kichi-Mecca (Little Mecca), Suleiman Too sacred mountain is a major place of Muslim and pre-Muslim pilgrimage. It was said that prophet Sulaiman was buried here, but even before it was a place of pilgrimage for local people. On top of the mountain is a stone shelter known as Babur’s House, named after the 15-16th century Muslim leader who founded the Mughal Dynasty in India and performed his 40 days fast for meditation here.

Then we transfer to the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border. After border formalities meet your Uzbek guide and driver and start the Uzbekistan journey in the Fergana valley. Surrounded by the Tien Shan mountain range and watered by tributaries of the Syr Darya River, this is the most fertile part of Central Asia. Since the time of Alexander the Great and throughout the time of the Great Silk Road it was a rich oasis. Our first stop is Andijan, the birth place of Babur, where we will have lunch. In the afternoon we drive further to the town of Fergana, a relatively young settlement, established as a Russian garrison town at the end of the 19th century. We have a short city tour, including a stroll in Akmed al Fergani Park.

Hotel Asia or similar

Uzbekistan Tour, Silk production, Ikat

We have one more day to explore the Fergana valley. Nowadays the region is famous in Uzbekistan not only for agriculture, but also for its artisans and markets. Our first destination today is Margilan, just 20km from Fergana. In Margilan we visit the Yodgorlik silk workshop, where you can observe the silk-making process. Learn more about the traditional “ikat” pattern which is very distinctive to Uzbek silk fabrics. The next town we visit is called Rishtan and very famous all over Uzbekistan for its ceramics. It is no coincidence that pottery became so prominent exactly at this place, because the red clay and pigments available here are of excellent quality. We have the chance to visit the studio of a pottery master and learn more about his job and passion that has been passed down from generation to generation. From Rishtan we then drive further to Kokand, another town with rich history as a trading and religious center. In the 19th century it was the capital of the Kokand Khanate, that stretched all the way until the southern Kazakh steppe. We will have a short sightseeing tour, which includes remains of Khudayar Khan’s Palace as well the impressive Jami Mosque.

Finally, we catch the 17:30 train from Kokand to Tashkent. We arrive in the Uzbek capital at 21:20. Transfer to the hotel.

Hotel Itchan Qala or similar

Tashkent City Tour, Uzbekistan

Tashkent is the biggest city in Central Asia and one of the oldest. Unfortunately, in an earthquake in 1966 most of its historic buildings were destroyed. Nevertheless, a few buildings notably at the Khast Imom Complex have survived and this is where we are heading first on today’s city tour of Tashkent. The complex contains ancient Quran book of Caliph Uthman (from 7th century!) and the mausoleum of the Islamic saint, Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi. We then join traders at Chorsu Bazaar before taking a ride on the Tashkent Metro and visiting the Amir Temur & Independence Squares. We complete the city tour of Tashkent with a visit to the State History Museum.

Transfer to the airport for domestic flight to Urgench departing 18:40. Upon arrival at 20:20 transfer to Khiva (40 min) for overnight.

Asia Khiva or similar

Panorama of Khiva with three minarets during Central Asia Tour

After breakfast starts 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 early dinner we will get the chance to watch exotic folklore show of local musicians and dancers from Khorezm region.

Transfer to Urgench to take flight back to Tashkent, departing 21:00. Upon arrival at 22:45 at Tashkent airport, transfer to hotel.

Hotel Ichan Qala or similar

Bukhara, Lyabi Hauz, Best of Uzbekistan Tour

After early breakfast transfer to train station to catch high-speed Afrosiyob train to Bukhara. The modern and comfortable train departs at 07:30 and arrives in Bukhara at 11:20. Check in at hotel in Bukhara and lunch in the Old Town. In the afternoon we start the sightseeing tour of the Old Town of Bukhara.

The second of our UNESCO World Heritage stops – even the very name Bukhara conjures up images of the exotic Orient.  Today, as for centuries, it is an important trading post and you have numerous opportunities to see traditional Uzbek products being bought and sold.  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.

Hotel Komil Boutique or similar

Bukhara City Tour, Uzbekistan

After breakfast we depart to the village Gijduvan, just 50km outside of Bukhara to visit a famous pottery workshop of Narzullaev family. Uzbek ceramics are rich and diverse. Different regions in Uzbekistan have their own schools and traditions – the most interesting ceramics is produced in Gijduvan. From all around Uzbekistan masters come here to study the art of pottery. You will not become a master today, but you will learn from a master about his passion and the meaning of the different patterns depicted. You will get the chance to make your own masterpiece. It will then be burnt and at the end of the tour it will be ready for you to take home. Gijduvan is also the birthplace of one of the brightest representatives of Sufism – Abdulkhalik Gijduvani – who lived and worked in the 12th century. We visit the madrasah built on his burial place. Some people claim Gijduvan also has the best shashlyk shish kebabs. We will try them for lunch and you can tell us if you agree.

Upon arrival back in Bukhara we will see a few more sights we missed yesterday and then we make sure you have some free time to explore the city on your own or go shopping in the trading domes, just like the ancient merchants on the silk road.

We will have traditional Uzbek dish Plov in the family house of a Suzani embroidery master. You can see how the Plov dish is prepared and during dinner, he will tell you a bit more about Suzanis. Rest assured, there will be no pressure at all, to buy anything.

Hotel Komil Boutique or similar

Uzbekistan tour, Bukhara city

Today morning we visit two of Bukhara’s rather unusual sights. The first is madrasah Chor-Minor, translated as “four minarets”, because of the four small minarets crowned with blue domes on each site of the rectangular building. Next, we visit the summer palace of the last Emir of Bukhara. It is a unique site combining Oriental and Russian architecture and located not far outside of the city. Back in Bukhara we will have lunch and then head to the train station to catch the high-speed train departing to Samarkand. Upon arrival in Samarkand at 15:50, transfer to hotel for check in and dinner in the city.

Hotel Platan or similar

Uzbekistan Tour, Samarkand

Sublime Samarkand evokes an almost mythical past full of romance and intrigue.  This was the domain of Timur, one of history’s great conquerors.  His vast empire rivalled any, stretching across the Eurasian steppe, who ruled his kingdom with an iron fist while at the same time patronizing the arts and literature.  Much of his architectural heritage has been preserved, allowing us to see how the city might have been at the peak of his power.

Today, 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 will also visit Gur-Emir mausoleum, where Timur is buried. 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. After lunch we visit the impressive Bibi Khanum Mosque, before delving into the world of dried fruits and other local delicacies at nearby Siyob Bazaar. Free time.

Hotel Platan or similar

Uzbekistan Tour, Samarkand

Today, we’ve included a second day at this incredible UNESCO-listed city as we know there’s just too much to take in during a single day.  We begin the city tour today just outside the city in the village Koni Ghil to explore the traditional way of making Samarkand paper from mulberry. After, we’ll pay a visit to the Afrasiab Museum and the Tomb of Saint Daniel. In Samarkand we meet a baker, who will show us how the typical Uzbek bread is made.

In the late afternoon, we will take the high-speed train back to Tashkent. Check in at the hotel and Uzbek farewell dinner.

Hotel Ichan Qala or similar

Uzbekistan tour, Souvenirs

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, Minivan
Meals
15 breakfasts, 14 lunches, 14 dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (13 nights, incl. early check in on day 1), Yurt (2 nights)
Included Activities
  • Bishkek – City Tour & Ala Archa National Park
  • Hike in Skazka Canyon
  • Swimming in Issyk Kul Lake
  • Horse Riding at Song Kul Lake
  • Sleeping in Yurts
  • Meeting eagle hunter & yurt maker
  • Climb sacred Suleiman Too mountain in Osh
  • Visit silk factory & pottery workshop in Fergana valley of Uzbekistan
  • Tashkent – city tour
  • Samarkand – city tour & Samarkand paper workshop
  • Gijduvan pottery workshop
  • Plov dinner at family house of Suzani master
  • Uzbek bakery visit in Samarkand
  • Bukhara – walking tour
  • Watch traditional Khorezm folklore show in Khiva
  • Khiva – walking tour

dates & price

Total trip price

€2790

Euro

15

Days

Single supplement available for €500

Deposit: €250

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
24 Jun 2018
8 Jul 2018
+ Available
9 Sep 2018
23 Sep 2018
+ 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
  • Economy class tickets for flight Bishkek-Osh & Tashkent-Urgench
  • Business class ticket for trains Kokand-Tashkent, Bukhara-Samarkand, Samarkand-Tashkent
  • Visa support letters for tourist visa
Price does not include
  • International airfares 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

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

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.

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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