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Complete 'Stans of Central Asia

Tailor Made Itinerary

24 Days From C$10,833

Overview

Stretching from the Caspian Sea to the borders of western China, the ‘Stans’ of Central Asia encompass a vast expanse of land, cultures and history. Lying at the crossroads of an intricate web of trading routes, this region has witnessed the movement of goods, people and ideas between Europe and Asia for centuries.

This incredible odyssey takes you from Turkmenistan and across the Asian steppes to the mountains of Kazakhstan, passing through the homelands of the Uzbeks, the ...

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TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

  • Experience the nomadic life whilst sleeping in a yurt camp by Son Kul Lake
  • Learn how the Silk Road shaped Central Asia in Bukhara and Samarkand
  • Hike the mountains and lakes of Tajikistan
  • Discover the rich history of Turkmenistan’s ruined cities in Merv
  • Explore the famed Tien Shan Mountains in Kazakhstan
  • Take advantage of bountiful shopping opportunities at traditional Uzbek and Kyrgyz bazaars

ITINERARY

This is a suggested itinerary. Our experts have all travelled widely in the region and will be happy to tailor any of our itineraries to suit your tastes, or build a trip from scratch.

EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
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DAY 1: ARRIVE ASHGABAT (TURKMENISTAN): CITY TOUR

DAY 1: ARRIVE ASHGABAT (TURKMENISTAN): CITY TOUR

Arrive in Ashgabat early this morning and transfer to your hotel for check in and rest. This morning, discover the Turkmen capital with your guide. You will be able to visit the National Museum, statue of Lenin, Independence Park, Arch of Neutrality and the beautiful Ottoman-style mosque of Ertoghrul Gazie. Later, visit the ancient city of Old Nisa, the 3rd Century BC capital of the Parthians and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Many of the fine Hellenistic objects in the National Museum originate from this site. Return to Ashgabat after the tour.

Nusay Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 2: ASHGABAT - ANAU - MARY

DAY 2: ASHGABAT - ANAU - MARY

Today drive to Mary, the nearest town to the immensely important, historical site of Merv. On the way you will stop to visit the archaeological excavations at Anau, a Bronze Age settlement which includes the remnants of the city wall and a ditch where the ancient remains of children’s skeletons, camels and painted ceramics were found. Continue overland passing through small villages to Mary, located in a large oasis basin of the Kara Kum desert in southeast Turkmenistan.

Mary Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 3: MARY: MERV EXCURSION

DAY 3: MARY: MERV EXCURSION

Located at the crossroads of various trade routes and civilisations, Merv came under Persian, Greek, Sassanian and Moslem rule and from the 11th century was the capital of the Seljuk Turks. In the 13th century, Merv was destroyed by the Mongols leaving only the ruins of these numerous civilisations. On your guided tour, see the History Museum, Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum and Kys Kala, an unusual windowless castle nicknamed "The House of Maidens Tears."

Mary Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 4: MARY - BUKHARA (UZBEKISTAN)

DAY 4: MARY - BUKHARA (UZBEKISTAN)

You head for your first border crossing today as you drive through the desert into Uzbekistan and continue straight onto the ancient Silk Road city of Bukhara. The rest of the day is at leisure.

Komil Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 5: BUKHARA: CITY TOUR

DAY 5: BUKHARA: CITY TOUR

Surrounded by the vast expanses of the Kyzyl-Kum desert, Bukhara still retains the atmosphere of an ancient Silk Road city. With your guide, visit the Ark Citadel, the Zindan prison, the 10th century Ismael Samani Mausoleum and the magnificent Kalyan Minaret, from the top of which the town's criminals used to be thrown. You may also stop for a bit of a shop at the 11th trading domes which are now home to handicraft sellers.

Komil Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 6: BUKHARA - SAMARKAND

DAY 6: BUKHARA - SAMARKAND

After a morning at leisure, you will be picked up and taken to visit the Kagan White Palace, borne during the expansion of the Russian Empire at the beginning of the 19th century, before boarding your one-and-a-half-hour train to Samarkand. The rest of the evening will be free to get a first introductory look at this historic city.

Rabat Boutique Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 7: SAMARKAND: CITY TOUR

DAY 7: SAMARKAND: CITY TOUR

With a history dating back 2,700 years, Samarkand became famous as the capital of the vast state created by Tamerlane and later ruled by his grandson Ulugbek in the 14th-15th centuries. Enjoy a full day tour of Samarkand including the star-attraction that is Registan Square, surrounded on three sides by breathtaking blue tiled madrassahs; the nearby Bibi Khanum Mosque, built in honour of Tamerlaine's wife; and Tamerlaine’s tomb. After lunch, continue to explore the city’s history with a tour of the Shah-i-Zinada necropolis and then driving to Ulugbek's observatory to conclude the day’s sightseeing.

Rabat Boutique Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 8: SAMARKAND: LEISURE DAY

DAY 8: SAMARKAND: LEISURE DAY

Today is left free for your own exploration of the city. There are still plenty of places to visit and things to do. For those that prefer to keep busy, further experiences, such as a silk paper making workshop, can be arranged in advance.

Rabat Boutique Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 9: SAMARKAND - TERMEZ

DAY 9: SAMARKAND - TERMEZ

Today you will drive to the southern city of Termez, sitting close to the border with Afghanistan. A late afternoon orientation will take you around the little-visited city’s Islamic and Buddhist architectural highlights including the Sultan Saodat Ensemble, the Fayaz Tepe Buddhist Monastery, the Mausoleum of Hakim Termezi and Zurmala Tower.

Meridian Hotel Termez
Breakfast

DAY 10: TERMEZ - DUSHANBE (TAJIKISTAN)

DAY 10: TERMEZ - DUSHANBE (TAJIKISTAN)

Continue the adventure into Tajikistan this morning. After crossing the border, you will then drive to the capital city of Dushanbe where you have the rest of the day at leisure following the four to five-hour land journey today.

Vatan Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 11: DUSHANBE: CITY TOUR

DAY 11: DUSHANBE: CITY TOUR

During your tour of Dushanbe this morning, visit the Museum of Archaeology which holds the largest Buddha now in Central Asia and the blue-domed mosque and madrassa complex of Mawlana Yakubi Charki, still a popular pilgrimage site. Tour Hisor Fort in the afternoon, a 19th century Bukharan stronghold. Although the fort itself was destroyed by the Red Army in 1924, the site contains two madrassahs, one of which is now an ethnographic museum.

Vatan Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 12: DUSHANBE - ANZOB PASS - LAKE ISKANDAR KOL

DAY 12: DUSHANBE - ANZOB PASS - LAKE ISKANDAR KOL

Some of Central Asia's most beautiful countryside and the world's highest peaks can be found in Tajikistan and the landscapes are totally unspoilt. Leaving Dushanbe, cross the Anzob Pass (3,372m) before arriving at Lake Iskandar Kol (Alexander's Lake). Enjoy a walk by the lake to the spectacular waterfall before arriving at your guesthouse.

Shahboz Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: LAKE ISKANDAR KOL - ISTARAFSHAN - KHOJAND

DAY 13: LAKE ISKANDAR KOL - ISTARAFSHAN - KHOJAND

Driving north over high passes and through gorges today you will reach Istarafshan, where you can have a gander round the old city, famous for its wood cutting and handicrafts and home to some impressive mosques. Then, continue on to Khojand, Tajikistan's second city.

Firuz Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 14: KHOJAND - FERGHANA (UZBEKISTAN)

DAY 14: KHOJAND - FERGHANA (UZBEKISTAN)

See the remains of Khojand's citadel built in the early Middle Ages and used until the early 20th century. As well as the largest Buddha statue in Central Asia, Tajikistan also hosts the largest statue of Lenin in Central Asia found right here in Khojand. Saying goodbye to this fascinating country, the journey then begins east into the Uzbek town of Ferghana.

Asia Ferghana Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 15: FERGANA: MARGILAN AND ANDIJAN EXCURSION

DAY 15: FERGANA: MARGILAN AND ANDIJAN EXCURSION

Before exploring the villages around Ferghana Valley, take some time this morning to walk around the city’s Russian colonial architecture. From here, the nearby town of Margilan and its beautiful Khonakhah Mosque are most certainly worth a look, exquisitely carved and painted in delicate shades of blue, yellow, pink and green. There will also be time for a wander through the bazaar and the silk factory. Lastly, head further out into the remote valley scenery to reach Andijan, the birthplace of Babur who founded the Moghul dynasty in India, before returning to Ferghana for the evening.

Asia Ferghana Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 16: FERGANA - KOKAND - TASHKENT

DAY 16: FERGANA - KOKAND - TASHKENT

On to the capital of Tashkent this morning to conclude our time in historical Uzbekistan. The drive takes us via Kokand which was the capital of the notorious Kokand Khanate in the 18th and 19th centuries and a significant Silk Road city. The palace has seven courtyards and 113 rooms and, at present, houses the Museum of History.

Navruz Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 17: TASHKENT: CITY TOUR

DAY 17: TASHKENT: CITY TOUR

Spend the day in Tashkent visiting the Chorsu Bazaar, the old city and the museum of applied arts. Navigating the capital’s streets using the eye-catching metro system is the best way to admire the madrassahs, mausoleums and mosques which date back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

Navruz Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 18: TASHKENT - BISHKEK (KYRGYZSTAN)

DAY 18: TASHKENT - BISHKEK (KYRGYZSTAN)

Board an early morning flight to Bishkek and after some time to settle into your new hotel, enjoy a guided sightseeing tour of the capital city later on. Focal points of the tour include Ala Too (formerly Lenin Square) with its grand statue of Manas and Chingiz Aitmatov; the Frunze Museum which was opened in 1925 in honour of Mikhail Frunze, the commander of the Red Army during the Russian Civil War; and the colourful Osh Bazaar.

Navat Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 19: BISHKEK - BURANA TOWER - SON KUL

DAY 19: BISHKEK - BURANA TOWER - SON KUL

Leaving Bishkek drive south to Son Kul via the Burana Tower and the petroglyphs said to date from between 500 BC to 100 AD. This evening will be spent in a yurt camp by the lake surrounded by the fresh mountain scenery and air.

Son Kul Lake Yurt Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 20: SON KUL EXCURSION

DAY 20: SON KUL EXCURSION

From your cosy yurt you'll be able to explore the striking nature around the lake via horseback or on foot. The meadows are dotted with other nomadic yurts and you will learn about traditional life in the Kyrgyz summer pastures. During your stay you are bound to be offered kumyz, the Kyrgyz national drink made from fermented mares' milk.

Son Kul Lake Yurt Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 21: SON KUL - ALA ARCHA NATIONAL PARK - BISHKEK

DAY 21: SON KUL - ALA ARCHA NATIONAL PARK - BISHKEK

In the morning drive from Son Kul to Ala Archa Canyon, part of the Ala Archa National Park about an hour south of the capital. This provides the opportunity to hike up into the mountains for amazing views over the park. Afterwards return to Bishkek.

Navat Hotel
Breakfast

DAY 22: BISHKEK - ALMATY (KAZAKHSTAN)

DAY 22: BISHKEK - ALMATY (KAZAKHSTAN)

The last leg of the trip sees you leaving Kyrgyzstan for its neighbour Kazakhstan as you head to Almaty, the country’s most important city. As well as having a similar geography and culture, the neighbouring countries also share similarities in their history which you can learn more about during an afternoon city tour. Important sites that will be visited are Republic Square and the former Presidential Palace and Independence Monument; Panfilov Park; Zenkov Russian Cathedral, built entirely of wood in 1904 without the use of any nails; and the teal St Nicholas's Cathedral.

Kazzhol Hotel Almaty
Breakfast

DAY 23: ALMATY: BIG ALMATY LAKE EXCURSION

DAY 23: ALMATY: BIG ALMATY LAKE EXCURSION

Go out with a bang on this full day excursion into the spectacular Tien Shan mountains around Almaty. Hiking through the region, there is no shortage of breathtaking photo opportunities, but the show-stopper may just be Big Almaty Lake, which can only be described as a shining mirror surrounded on all sides by magnificent peaks whose colours change with the seasons from pale green to turquoise blue.

Kazzhol Hotel Almaty
Breakfast

DAY 24: DEPART ALMATY

DAY 24: DEPART ALMATY

Depending on your flight time, you may have an extra morning at leisure for some last-minute shopping or relaxation, before being transferred to the international airport in time for your onward flight where the adventure comes to a close.

Breakfast

SUGGESTED ACCOMMODATION

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Simple

No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Superior

No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Superior

No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Superior

No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Simple

No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Superior

No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Superior

No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Accommodation listed here is intended as a guide only, to give you a taste of what we can do. Our experts can tailor any aspect of this itinerary and accommodation to suit your budget and tastes.

GUIDELINE PRICE & WHAT’S INCLUDED

COMPLETE 'STANS OF CENTRAL ASIA (24 DAYS) C$10,833

MEALS

As specified in the itinerary, sampling some of the country's finest cuisine.

TRANSPORT

Private air-conditioned vehicles with experienced, dedicated drivers.

ENTRANCE FEES

Tours and admission fees, including tickets specified in the itinerary.

EXPERT TEAM

Licensed English-speaking guides and a support team available 24/7.

ACCOMMODATION

As specified in the itinerary, using some of our favourite local properties.

ACCOMMODATION

Ultra - The best of the best, the ultimate indulgence
Luxury - Outstanding service and facilities, giving you the 5* experience
Premium - Excellent standards offering a higher-end experience
Superior - Good quality service and overall comfort
Simple - No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

If you book international flights through Wild Frontiers.

This itinerary is aimed to give you an idea of what we can offer. The price shown above is based on two people travelling outside of peak periods. As this itinerary is only a suggestion and can be tailor-made to suit your interests and budget, your final price may differ.

START PLANNING YOUR TRIP

Our team of experts have a wealth of knowledge and experience to help you plan your adventure of a lifetime.

WHEN TO GO

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

Meet the expert, Natalie

Natalie is our Central Asia expert, who has travelled extensively in the region.

Speak to Natalie by calling
+44 (0)20 3944 6258

Lake Kaindy is a must if venturing to the southeast, remote and well-hidden but all part of the adventure. The nearby Kolsai Lakes allow you to make the journey extra worthwhile with some great hiking routes.

OTHER ITINERARIES IN KAZAKHSTAN