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

For well over a thousand years, merchants carried their wares over remote mountain passes in Kyrgyzstan, 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
  • Visit Suleiman mountain in Osh
  • Modern Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan and the largest city of Central Asia
  • Explore on foot remarkably well-preserved Silk Road city of Khiva
  • Visit ancient Khorezm with ruins of Ayaz Kala and Toprak Kala in the desert
  • Charming old city of Bukhara, UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Visit the architectural wonders of ancient Samarkand

ITINERARY & MAP

Central Asia tour in Bishkek

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 heros. Dinner in a nice local restaurant.

Hotel Plaza or similar

Central Asia Tour in Kyrgyzstan, the view of 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. 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)

World Nomad Games

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

World Nomad Games

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. If you like, you may go for a short horse ride.

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

World Nomad Games

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 Osh city

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 birthplace 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 al Fergani Park.

Hotel Asia or similar

Central Asia tour silk in markets

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 Sharq or similar

Central Asia Tour in Tashkent city

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.

Hotel Sharq or similar

Central Asia vacations in Khiva

Today very early in the morning we will transfer to the domestic airport to catch the flight departing 7:15 to Urgench. Upon arrival in Urgench at 08:55, 40 minutes transfer by bus to Khiva. Check-in at the hotel and start city tour.

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, we will get the chance to watch exotic folklore show of local musicians and dancers from the Khorezm region.

Hotel Asia Khiva or similar

Uzbekistan Ayaz Kala fortress

Ancient Khorezm is a real gem for archaeologists with ruins in the desert dating back to the 3rd Century AD. We will make a day trip into the Kyzylkum desert (“red sand”) (150km, ca. 2h driving) to explore the archaeological monuments of ancient Khorezm: We will visit Toprak-Kala, the capital of the kingdom of Khorezm in the 3d Century AD. Toprak-Kala is also called “the museum of fine arts of Ancient Khorezm” since it is the only archaeological site in ancient Khorezm which was completely dug out. Finally we will visit one of the largest architectural monuments in Ancient Khorezm – ancient fortress Ayaz-Kala, a showcase of the prosperity of the Kushan empire in the 2nd Century AD. Next to the ruins of Ayaz-Kala we will have lunch in a yurt camp before heading back to Khiva. Free time in the afternoon.

In the evening transfer to Urgench to catch the flight to Bukhara, departing 21:00. Upon arrival in Bukhara at 22:00, transfer to hotel.

Hotel Komil Boutique or similar

Central Asia cultural tour

The second of our UNESCO World Heritage stop is Bukhara. 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. Your guide will show you the city’s unmissable sights and you can soak up the atmosphere wandering through Bukhara.

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

Central Asian journey in Bukhara

Today morning we visit a few 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 side 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 Malika Prime or similar

Registan square at Central Asia Trip

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. 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.

Hotel Mallika Prime or similar

Uzbekistan tour and trying bread

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 farewell dinner.

Hotel Sharq or similar

Central Asia visa and departure

Transfer to airport for departure. We hope you enjoyed your trip to Central Asia!

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
  • 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

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

€2790

Euro

15

Days

Single supplement available for €500

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
16 Jun 2019
30 Jun 2019
+ Available
8 Sep 2019
22 Sep 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
  • 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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