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Silk Road Odyssey

Group Tour

23 Days From £4,295

Overview

This unique Wild Frontiers tour takes you on an epic cultural journey along the Old Silk Road through some of Central Asia’s most spectacular mountains, lively bazaars and ancient towns.

Our aim is to stick as closely as possible to the ancient trade routes even though modern borders and some rough roads do not always make this an easy thing to do! Traversing parts of Kyrgyzstan, China, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, the route offers adventure and culture in equal measure. Riding horses ...

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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

22 x Breakfasts
21 x Lunches
19 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use minibuses in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, and coasters/ buses in China and Uzbekistan. We will also take an internal flight and train in Uzbekistan.

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

All accommodation as outlined in the itinerary

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. 

On this particular trip when in Kyrgyzstan, outside of the capital, we will mostly stay in traditional yurts and homestays with communal (often long-drop) toilets and limited washing facilities. The yurts have beds, but both here and in the homestays it is often necessary to share rooms with up to 6 people. In Tajikistan we also stay in multi-share rooms in homestays with local families. In Kashgar, we stay in a good quality hotel and once we reach Uzbekistan, the hotels we stay in are again more comfortable and often characterful. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.
 

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Low / Moderate

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-5hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

MODERATE/HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-6 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

VERY HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 4-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Silk Road Odyssey
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN BISHKEK (KYRGYZSTAN)

DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN BISHKEK (KYRGYZSTAN)

The tour will begin this evening at our hotel. We'll head out to enjoy dinner tonight with our fellow travellers.

Ramada By Wyndham Bishkek Centre Hotel or similar
Dinner

DAY 2: IN BISHKEK

DAY 2: IN BISHKEK

Today we’ll have a look around this small city, one of the world’s more relaxed capitals, visiting the excellent museum and taking a wander around the bustling Osh Bazaar.

Ramada By Wyndham Bishkek Centre Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: BISHKEK - SON KUL

DAY 3: BISHKEK - SON KUL

Our journey starts in earnest this morning as we begin a full day’s drive along the fertile Chuy Valley and then up through the mountains to the beautiful Son Kul. Here we will stay in a yurt camp on the side of this spectacular 3,000m glacial lake and have a chance to venture out and meet the local nomads who spend their summers here. Tonight we will have a traditional Kyrgyz nomad’s dinner replete with vodka toasts!

Communal Yurts
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: IN SON KUL

DAY 4: IN SON KUL

Today we’ll be free to explore this beautiful region, either on foot or on horseback (optional and payable locally). Anyone wanting to can hang out around the camp, watching the nomads go about their traditional life or watch the extraordinarily varied bird life on the lake. There might even be a game of Kok Baru (Buzkashi) to watch in the afternoon.

Communal Yurts
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: SON KUL - TASH RABAT

DAY 5: SON KUL - TASH RABAT

Leaving early this morning, we will spend the day driving towards the famous Silk Road caravanserai of Tash Rabat through one of the most spectacular regions of the Tien Shan, the Mountains of Heaven. On arrival, we’ll settle into our cosy yurts for the evening.

Communal Yurts
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: IN TASH RABAT

DAY 6: IN TASH RABAT

After exploring the 11th century caravanserai today there will be a chance to either walk or ride (optional and payable locally) through these beautiful mountains. Being so peaceful and seemingly remote, it is sometimes hard to imagine that these were once major thoroughfares for Silk Road caravans. Those wanting a more laid back day can simply walk around the lush, green valley - home to horses, yaks, sheep and, of course, nomads. Tonight we’ll have another traditional dinner in the home of our hosts.

Communal Yurts
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: TASH RABAT - KASHGAR (CHINA)

DAY 7: TASH RABAT - KASHGAR (CHINA)

The distance we travel today is not so far, but expect a long day as we navigate our way through the first of the trip’s land border crossings, over the Torugart Pass into China’s western-most province – the autonomous Xinjiang region. Here we will say goodbye to our Kyrgyz team and transfer to a smart coaster bus for the journey on to Kashgar. After four nights in the mountains, this vibrant Uighur city provides a complete contrast to the Kyrgyz grasslands, and our comfortable hotel also provides a welcome shower!

Qinibagh Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: IN KASHGAR

DAY 8: IN KASHGAR

There will be ample time for personal exploration in this Silk Road city which sits today, as it has done for centuries, at a major crossroads of trade routes. We will of course see the (controversial) statue of Chairman Mao in the city centre as well as visiting the green-tiled Aba Khoja tomb in the quiet suburbs. After a traditional Uighur lunch we will have a break before heading into the old town. We will end the day by having tea on the second floor balcony of one of the old chaikhanas, watching the street market below us.

Qinibagh Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 9: IN KASHGAR

DAY 9: IN KASHGAR

Today we will have the chance to experience the famous Yakshambe Bazaar - the Sunday Market. In the morning we will first visit the famous animal market. Here we will spend time watching the locals trade everything from woodwork and ironware to sheep, donkeys, cattle, horses and camels before progressing onto the covered bazaar, believed to be the biggest in Central Asia. The afternoon will be free for you to spend at your leisure, before meeting up for a farewell dinner with our Kashgar guide.

Qinibagh Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: KASHGAR - SARY TASH (KYRGYZSTAN)

DAY 10: KASHGAR - SARY TASH (KYRGYZSTAN)

An early start sees us drive out of Kashgar due west along the main artery of the Old Silk Road to the Irkishtam Pass. This is a stunning drive through an area of outstanding natural beauty, with multi-coloured sedimentary sandstone flanking our route. At the Pass we will cross back into Kyrgyzstan where our Kyrgyz team will be waiting to meet us. We will then continue on towards Sary Tash along another staggering road, this time with the High Pamirs rising to the south, and stay the night with a local family either in their yurt or in their cosy house.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: SARY TASH - OSH

DAY 11: SARY TASH - OSH

Weather permitting we will be able to see stunning views of snowy Lenin Peak this morning, which at 7134m is the second highest mountain in the Pamirs. After breakfast we will drive on another extraordinary road over the 3554m Tol Dek Pass (though by this stage you might be suffering from beauty fatigue!) and on into the Fergana Valley to the ancient Silk Road town of Osh. Reputed to be over 3000 years old, Osh is a place steeped in history and dominated by Solomon’s Throne which looms over the town. Again, we will be fortunate enough to share this experience with a local family.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: OSH - KOKAND (UZBEKISTAN)

DAY 12: OSH - KOKAND (UZBEKISTAN)

After breakfast we say a final goodbye to our Kyrgyz team and cross the border into Uzbekistan, where we drive through the Fergana Valley. This incredibly fertile region was the breadbasket of the Central Asian USSR and is still one of the wealthiest parts of the whole region. Our first stop today will be in the town of Margilon, centre of the still thriving silk trade in the area. Here we hope to see the entire silk weaving process from cocoon to end product. Time permitting, we will also visit nearby Rishton, renowned for its blue and green ceramics. We continue to Kokand to spend the night.

Silk Road Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: KOKAND - KHODJENT (TAJIKISTAN)

DAY 13: KOKAND - KHODJENT (TAJIKISTAN)

Most traffic these days now leaves the Fergana Valley via a new route to Tashkent. However, we plan to stick as close as possible to the original Silk Road route by following the famous Syr Darya River into Tajikistan. We continue to the Silk Road town of Khodjent, which once played host to Alexander the Great’s armies. After checking into our homestay, we enjoy an alfresco dinner, prepared by our hospitable host.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 14: KHODJENT - FANN MOUNTAINS

DAY 14: KHODJENT - FANN MOUNTAINS

After a look around Khodjent we will continue our journey as we drive up to 2800m and through the 6km-long Shakristan tunnel to arrive in the Fann Mountains. This is an area of outstanding natural beauty lying south of the Zarafshan River and the legendary Iskandar Kul (the lake of Alexander the Great, 2200m). Tonight we’ll stay at a guesthouse in the beautiful village of Saratog (2400m), where the scenery is totally unspoilt.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 15: IN FANN MOUNTAINS

DAY 15: IN FANN MOUNTAINS

We’ll have a full day to explore the famed alpine scenery of this rarely visited part of Central Asia. Abounding in deep blue lakes and inhabited in the summer months by Tajik pastoralists, the area is still relatively undiscovered and allows for a fascinating insight into this gem of a country.

Homestay
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 16: FANN MOUNTAINS - PANJIKENT - SAMARKAND (UZBEKISTAN)

DAY 16: FANN MOUNTAINS - PANJIKENT - SAMARKAND (UZBEKISTAN)

Leaving the Fann Mountains this morning, we head for the ancient town of Panjikent where we will visit the 2,000-year-old ruins. While not in the same league as the Uzbek sites just across this border, for sheer location alone this place is one of our favourites. This Sogdian town was once home to 20,000 people during the early days of the Silk Road and in its onsite museum we can see some of the frescoes that once adorned the walls of the city’s better homes. This afternoon we make our final border crossing of the trip as we head once more into Uzbekistan and drive on to the most famous of all Silk Road cities, Samarkand. Time permitting, we will pay a visit to the world-famous Registan Square on arrival, one of Central Asia’s most iconic sights.

Malika Classic Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 17: IN SAMARKAND

DAY 17: IN SAMARKAND

We have all day to discover this amazing town, wandering through the gargantuan sights and visiting Guri Amir (Tamerlane’s tomb), Bibi Khanym Mosque, Shah-i-Zindar – the street of the dead, and the town’s excellent bazaar. There’ll also be some free time to explore more of the city at your leisure. Dinner will be out at a local restaurant and afterwards we will take a drive to see many of the sights spectacularly floodlit at night.

Malika Classic Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 18: SAMARKAND - BUKHARA

DAY 18: SAMARKAND - BUKHARA

Today we’ll drive along the Royal Road to Bukhara, stopping during the 4-hour journey to look at the remains of an old caravanserai and to enjoy lunch. On arrival in Bukhara, we will familiarise ourselves with the town’s mellow streets and alleyways. There will be some free time before dinner by the Labi Hauz, a 17th century pool and eating area.

Sasha & Sons Guesthouse or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 19: IN BUKHARA

DAY 19: IN BUKHARA

We have all morning for sightseeing today. Starting with the Ismaili Samani mausoleum, we will continue via the Jama Majid (or the mosque of forty pillars) to the Ark where Connolly and Stoddard – two luckless British officers – met their deaths while playing the Great Game. From here we will visit the historically important Zindan, followed by the Kolan Minaret and beautiful mosques and madrassas that lie beneath it. En route there is silk weaving, knife making and metal engraving. Lunch will form part of a cooking demo with a local family. We will have the remainder of the day free for shopping and generally relaxing in this most characterful of the old Silk Road towns.

Sasha & Sons Guesthouse or similar
Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 20: BUKHARA - KHIVA

DAY 20: BUKHARA - KHIVA

After a morning in Bukhara, we will take an afternoon train to Khiva - checking into our hotel in the heart of this UNESCO protected old town. This evening there will be time to take a first wander around the quiet streets of this wonderfully preserved Silk Road city.

Orient Star Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 21: IN KHIVA

DAY 21: IN KHIVA

There’ll be ample time to soak up the atmosphere of Khiva today. We’ll visit some of the most colourful and sumptuous sites, including the Kukhna Arc, the Mohammed Khan Madrassa, and the Alloquli Khan Madrassa, bazaar and caravanserai. In addition, we will see the Kalta Minor Minaret, and Jama Majid Mosque with its amazing wooden pillars, before enjoying some free time to explore further at your leisure.

Orient Star Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 22: KHIVA - TASHKENT

DAY 22: KHIVA - TASHKENT

Taking a morning flight to the Uzbek capital, we then have the rest of the day to look around some of the main sights of Tashkent. We’ll take in the Khast Imam Complex which houses a 7th century Koran, as well as Independence Square and Chorsu Bazaar. We will also visit the Museum of Applied Arts to give an insight into the regional decorative styles and cultures. Tonight we’ll enjoy a farewell dinner and a chance to reflect on our journey.

City Palace Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 23: TOUR ENDS IN TASHKENT

DAY 23: TOUR ENDS IN TASHKENT

Today those taking the suggested group flights will depart early in the morning before breakfast. For those that have made alternative arrangements, the tour will finish after breakfast this morning.

Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION USED ON THIS TOUR

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

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Accommodation displayed here should be taken as a guide only. *Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary of your individual departure for more information.

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

REVIEWS OF THIS TRIP

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Homestays

In Tajikistan, we will stay in the homes of hospitable locals. This is a great way to meet and interact with the local people, understand their limited infrastructure, and be introduced to their culture and way of life. With the homestays we use, the money goes straight into these remote communities and so benefits the people directly.

Travel, Discover, Help

For every passenger that our local agent in Kyrgyzstan hosts, $1 per day is donated to their charitable project during your stay.
 
Travel, Discover, Help enables children from orphanages to learn more about Kyrgyzstan, by offering excursions to the countryside and events throughout the year.  
 
Additionally, they provide 40,498 days of work for locals annually and support ecological campaigns - transporting waste from glaciers and mountain gorges across this beautiful country.

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
SU 2585 London Heathrow (LHR) 22:30 Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) 05:20
SU 1880 Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) 08:00 Bishkek Airport (FRU) 15:15
SU 1871 Tashkent Airport (TAS) 04:45 Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) 07:05
SU 2578 Sheremetyevo Airport (SVO) 10:00 London Heathrow (LHR) 12:05

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

For this tour UK passport holders currently require visas obtained in advance for China and Tajikistan, but the Kyrgyz and Uzbek visas are simply stamped in your passport on arrival at the border.

Non-UK passport holders or non-UK residents should contact the relevant embassies for individual requirements. 

Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements.

Uzbekistan

Explore more of this fascinating country with an extension to the Aral Sea or the beautiful Yangikishlok region. Allow 3-5 days.

Turkmenistan

For an even more in depth insight into the Silk Road, why not extend your trip with a visit to Turkmenistan? This bizarre country is home to the ancient city ruins of Merv, the spectacular Darvaza gas crater, and one of the world’s most memorable and bizarre cities, Ashgabat. Allow 5-7 days.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

The weather conditions can be extremely varied on this tour. In the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan you will often be travelling at heights in excess of 3000m and so even in the summer it can turn cold with snow falling; at the same time mercury in the thermometers of Bukhara and Samarkand can be nudging 40C.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

This particular tour travels 2,500 km in 3 weeks along the old silk routes, taking in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and the towns and cities of China and Uzbekistan, and so by its nature involves quite a lot of driving. We would therefore class this as an ‘overview’ type tour, rather than a really in-depth trip. We operate other tours that cover these areas in more detail if that is your preference. Please feel free to contact us for more details and advice on selecting the right trip for you.

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, as many of the activities are optional. Bear in mind, though, that the sheer length of the tour and distance covered means that it can be tiring and there are some long drives involved.

Please note that in certain places you will be staying in yurts and homestays so you should be prepared for basic and shared facilities, long-drop toilets and no showers for part of the trip. We think that what you will be witnessing will easily make up for any discomfort, though!
 

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation, but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour except when in the yurts and homestays, where it will be necessary to share with others.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking. In addition, due to the particular nature of this trip, an interim deposit of £600 (or equivalent) per person will be required within 30 days of booking a guaranteed departure, or subsequently within 30 days of receiving confirmation from us that the trip has been guaranteed.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 6826 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Airport Transfers: We include complimentary transfers if arriving/departing on the suggested group flights
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION

THE SILK ROAD IN 60 SECONDS

The Old Silk Road goes through some of Central Asia’s most spectacular mountains, lively bazaars and ancient towns. Following the ancient trade route between Asia and Europe. Traversing parts of Kyrg…