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

€3160

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 goods over remote mountain passes in Kyrgyzstan, along verdant river valleys of the 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

Bishkek victory square in 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 (please note: If you prefer to have a rest you can skip this excursion and join the group for lunch). 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, and monuments to national heroes. Dinner in a nice local restaurant with a live folklore show.

Hotel Plaza 4* or similar

Burana in Kyrgyzstan tour

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 the 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 Tamga. Upon arrival at the yurt camp there is some time to go swimming in the lake before dinner.

Overnight in yurt (2 people in a yurt, shared toilet and shower)

Kyrgyzstan Skazka canyon

After breakfast, drive along the southern shore of the lake back westwards towards the village of Kochkor. On the way, we make the 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 walk 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 in a local family-run guesthouse and overnight in a small hotel.

Nomad Lodge Hotel 3* or similar

Kyrgyzstan tour

After breakfast, we depart towards another 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 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. The yurt camp is located about 3 kilometers from the shore of the lake.

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

departure kyrgyzstan

After breakfast, transfer to Bishkek. The way to Kochkor is the same as we came up. Lunch on the way in the restaurant “Hawaii”. We then drive directly to Bishkek airport to catch the evening flight to Kyrgyzstan’s second-largest city, Osh (6:45 pm – 7:35 pm, subject to change). Upon arrival in Osh late dinner and transfer to the hotel.

Sun Rise 2 Hotel 3* or similar

Sulaiman mountain in Osh in Kyrgyzstan

After breakfast, a 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. 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.

After lunch, 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. Just before reaching Fergana we stop in Margilan – the famous Silk Road stop. The economic life of the town is still dominated by Silk Textile production. To get to know the town better, we will visit the Margilan Yodgrolik Silk Factory. Yodgorlik uses natural dyes to produce stunning pieces using traditional Uzbek ikat designs. Silkworms are raised here on mulberry leaves and the cocoons are unraveled to yield the raw material. Several different classes of fabric are produced, from the pure silk “khon atlas” to cotton/silk blends called “adras”. We can see the process of production. After sightseeing, we arrive in Fergana. Check-in and dinner at the hotel. Fergana is a relatively young settlement, established as a Russian garrison town at the end of the 19th century.

Hotel Asia 3* or similar

Kokand city tour of the palace of Khudoyar khan in Fergana, Uzbekistan

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. After visiting the local market in Fergana we will drive ca. one hour to Rishtan. The town is 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 a 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 the remains of Khudayar Khan’s Palace as well as the impressive Jami Mosque.

Finally, we catch the 5:30 pm train from Kokand to Tashkent. We arrive in the Uzbek capital at 9:20 pm. Transfer to the hotel.

Hotel Wyndham 4* or similar

Tashkent Amir Timur statue on the main square

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.

Hotel Wyndham 4* or similar

Silk Road city in Uzbekistan-Khiva

Today very early in the morning we will transfer to the domestic airport to catch the flight departing 7:25 am to Urgench. Upon arrival in Urgench at 8:55 am, 40 minutes transfer to Khiva.

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 3* or similar

Ayaz Kala ruins in ancient Khorezm, region in Uzbekistan

Today you are free to spend a day on your own in Khiva or you can decide to join the half-day trip to Ayaz Kala & Toprak Kala ruins in the desert (requires some steep ascents by foot). After breakfast, we depart towards Toprak & Ayaz Kala, clay ruins of ancient Khorezm in the desert. First, we drive 2 hours to Toprak Kala, the ancient capital city of Khorezm around 2nd century AD). From there it is another shaky one hour drive to Ayaz Kala. According to archeological excavations, the Ayaz Kala fortress dates from the 2nd century BC. It was part of a system of border fortresses that stretched as a chain from east to west and which defended the Khiva oasis from the desert side. Return back to Khiva where we will have lunch and free time in the afternoon. Late check-out from the hotel by 6:00 pm. After dinner we take flight to Bukhara, departing at 9:10 pm. Upon arrival at 10:05 pm at Bukhara airport, transfer to the hotel.

Hotel Safiya 3* or similar

Vacations in Bukhara

The second of our UNESCO World Heritage stops – even the very name Bukhara conjures up images of the exotic Orient. For centuries, it was an important trading post and an 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: Minorai Kalon complex, Ark Fortress, Bolo Hauz Mosque, Chiobs Mausoleum, and spring, Mausoleum of the Samanids. The guided tour ends in the early afternoon and you have some free time before dinner. Dinner in the city.

Hotel Safiya 3* or similar

chorminor in Buchara

Check out from the hotel and depart to visit the Mausoleum of Naqshbandiy, 15km outside of the city center. There are many orders in Sufism and representatives of all the orders were present at different times in what is Uzbekistan today. The Sufi order Naqshbandiyya had the greatest and longest-lasting influence and the memorial place is still well visited by pilgrims. Next, we visit the summer residence of the last Emir of Bukhara – Sitorai Mokhi Hossa. «The place where the moon meets the stars» is what the name of the palace means in Persian. On the way back to Bukhara we see Chor Minor madrasa, whose four minarets (chor – four) and the style remind one of India’s building style.  Lunch in the city. At 3:52 pm we take the high-speed train Afrosiob to Samarkand. Upon arrival in Samarkand at 5:20 pm transfer to the hotel for check-in and dinner in the city.

Hotel Rabat 3* or similar

Registan with three madrasahs and mosque, the central square in 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 rivaled 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.

We start the day with the visit of Gur-Emir mausoleum, where Timur is buried. We will hear the stories from his life and how did he start the construction of Samarkand. Then, we go to Registan Square – Samarkand’s and arguably Uzbekistan’s most famous landmark. The focal point of ancient Samarkand is framed by three beautiful madrassas (religious schools) – Ulugbek, Sherdor, and Tillya Kori. After lunch, we will have time to explore the Siab Bazaar, where fruit and vegetables grown from the rich soil of the Zarafshan Valley are sold in a colorful market. You may explore the city on your own during your free time this evening.

Hotel Rabat 3* or similar

Shahizinda mausoleum photographed by tourists in Samarkand

After breakfast, we visit Konigil Paper Mill. At the paper mill, you may see the process of paper production from mulberry tree bark – just like in 8th century Samarkand. We then go to Shahi Zinda, to the tile-rich street of turquoise and blue domes. After lunch, you can have free time or visit Ulugbek’s Observatory and Afrasiyab Museum. At the museum 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. We will catch our train to Tashkent later in the afternoon to go to Tashkent. Train leaves at 5:30 pm. Arrive in Tashkent at 7:40 pm and enjoy dinner in a local restaurant before the hotel check-in.

Hotel Wyndham 4* or similar

departure passport with stamps

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

Inclusions

Transport
Train, Airplane, 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
  • Walk in Skazka Canyon
  • Swimming in Issyk Kul Lake
  • Observe nomadic life 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
  • 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
*
*
*
Total trip price

€3160

Euro

15

Days

Single supplement available for €750

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
13 Jun 2021
27 Jun 2021
+ Available
5 Sep 2021
19 Sep 2021
+ Available
Price includes
  • All transfers, incl. airport transfers
  • 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
  • Train tickets Kokand-Tashkent, Bukhara-Samarkand, Samarkand-Tashkent
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.
  • All departures for this tour are guaranteed
  • Maximum group size 12 people
  • Citizens of most countries do not need a visa to visit Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (US citizens do need an electronic visa for Uzbekistan, which costs 20 USD per person and we can get it for you).

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 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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