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The Five Stans of the Silk Road

turkmenistan Tours The Five Stans of the Silk Road

The Five Stans of the Silk Road

Journey through vast deserts, fertile valleys and majestic mountains which form the backdrop to the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia, commonly known as the five Stans. Amongst this changing and varied landscape are traditional villages, ancient towns and modern cities. Visit giant burning gas pits, intricately tiled mosques, alpine lakes bordered by yurt camps, grand monuments, rural villages and colourful markets on this epic trip through the heart of Central Asia.        

  • Style: Guided Small Group Adventure Tour
  • Duration: 23 days/22 nights
  • Starts in: Ashgabat
Guide Price £3749
per person (based on 2 adults sharing)
Highlights:
  • 'Door to Hell’ giant burning gas pit in Turkmenistan
  • Islamic architecture and ruins along the great Silk Road
  • Villages and lakes of the Fann and Tien Shan Mountains
  • Post Soviet grand monuments
  • History of traders, preachers and invaders
Itinerary:

Day 1  Ashgabat, Turkmenistan      
Arrive in Ashgabat and transfer to your hotel.      

Day 2  Ashgabat      
After a briefing in the morning take a tour of the city’s many sites including Ertogrul Gazy Mosque, Independence Park, the Neutrality Arch and the National Museum.      

Day 3  Darvaza      
Set off on a long day trip out of the city stopping en route to visit the ancient Persian-era fortress of Nisa. Later, head north in a jeep convoy to the Karakum Desert to see one of the world’s most unusual sites, a large burning gas crater in the middle of nowhere within the Darvaza region. The sight of the burning crater in the desert after sun down is a memorable experience not to be missed. Have dinner near the crater before returning to Ashgabat late at night.      

Day 4  Ashgabat to Mary      
Leaving Ashgabat behind, journey east along one of the old Silk Road routes to Mary. Arrive late afternoon and take a city tour, visiting the Central Bazaar, Juma Mosque and Russian Orthodox Church.

Day 5  Mary to Bukhara, Uzbekistan      
Spend the morning exploring Mary before continuing to the border. Cross the border leaving Turkmenistan behind and arrive into Uzbekistan where you meet your Uzbek tour leader and drive for another 2 hours to one of the great Silk Road cities, Bukhara.

Day 6  Bukhara      
Explore the fascinating Silk Road city which evokes the many centuries of traders and travellers who’ve passed through here on their way between the Mediterranean and China. Visit the historic Lyabi Khauz architectural complex with the oldest reflective pool in Central Asia. After some time head to Samanids Mausoleum, the Ark Citadel and Chor-Minor.  

Day 7  Bukhara to Samarkand
Uncover more of Bukhara’s fascinating history and culture as you explore the Sitorai-Mohl-Hosa Palace, Bukhara’s Emirs’ Summer Palace. After lunch it’s a 4-5 hour drive to another one of the Silk Road’s city, Samarkand. En route stop at Rabat-i-Malik, a caravanserai ruin and lunch in Navoi.  

Day 8  Samarkand      
A full day of sightseeing lies ahead as you start with a visit to one of the World’s great squares, the legendary Registan Square. Surrounded on three sides by the madrassahs of Ulugh Beg, Sher-Dor and Tilya-Kori. Spend the day visiting a number of Tamerlane era sites including the Gur-Emir Mausoleum, Ulugh Beg’s observatory, the huge cathedral mosque Bibi Khanum, as well as the impressive Necropolis.

Day 9  Samarkand to Termez      
A long day of driving today with some sightseeing along the way as you leave Samarkand behind and head to the town of Shakhrisabz, offering a number of important historic monuments including the ruins of the Ak Saray Palace, the Doruttilyavat Ensemble, the Kok Gumbaz Mosque and others. Continue south heading to the Silk Road city of Termez arriving in the evening.    

Day 10  Termez      
The region surrounding Termez is unusual for the Stans as it is also home to Buddhist ancestry and relics as well as some more traditional Silk Road sites. Spend time exploring this city often overlooked due to its remote location. Visit the 1st Century Fayaz-tepe Buddhism Complex and the 9th and 10th Century Samanid Sultan Saodat Mausoleum. Later visit the ruins of an ancient settlement of Kampyr-Tepe also the oldest site in Uzbekistan.  

Day 11  Termez to Dushanbe, Tajikistan      
An early start as you continue to the third Stan of this epic journey, Tajikistan. On the way visit the village of Jakurgan, famed for it’s medieval minaret. Meet your Tajik leader upon crossing the border. Stop for some lunch as you continue to the capital Dushanbe. On arrival, take a tour of the city, visiting Independence Square, the Samany Monument (dedicated to the founder of the Tajik Government), Rudaki Ave and a historical museum.

Day 12  Dushanbe to Iskanderkul Lake      
Journey through the Fann Mountains, one of Tajikistan’s great mountain ranges as you head to Iskanderul Lake (named after Alexander the Great). Admire the stunning scenery as you traverse through a beautiful valley. In the afternoon explore the area around the lake before heading to your cottage with fantastic views overlooking the lake where you will spend the night.

Day 13  Iskanderkul Lake to Khujand      
Leaving the Fann Mountains behind, head to Tajikistan's industrial and agricultural heartland around the city of Khujand. En route visit the town of Istravashan founded by the Persian king Kier in the 6th Century, where you visit the old city with its bazaar, the Kok-Gumbaz mosque and madrassah.      
Later arrive in Khujand believed to be one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, it was once an important stop along the Silk Road. Take in a tour of the sites including the Sheikh Maslikhiddin Mausoleum and the Payshhambe bazaar.      

Day 14  Khujand to Ferghana Valley, Uzbekistan      
Travel back to Uzbekistan making a few stops along the way, one of which is the small village of Rishtan famous for potter dynasties and ceramic masters. Visit a local ceramics studio and witness a demonstration of the craft before having the opportunity to buy some of the iconic earthenware. The final stop before arriving into Ferghana Valley will be at Marghilan to visit a local silk factory, learn about the material which has given its name to the greatest trade route in history.      

Day 15  Ferghana Valley to Arslanbob, Kyrgyzstan
A short drive takes you to the next border into Kyrgystan, where you visit Osh, Kyrgyztan’s second largest city.  Explore at leisure starting with the Osh Bazaar, Central Asia’s famous bazaar, later visit the sacred Sulayman Mountain, a holy Muslim site (and burial place of the prophet Sulayman (Solomon)) and the central point on the Silk Road. In the afternoon arrive in the village of Arslanbob, located in the mountains and surrounded by ancient trees, your home for the next two nights.      

Day 16  Arslanbob
Today is a day to spend relaxing in your picturesque surroundings and taking it easy after days of travelling. Mid-morning take a walk in the nearby countryside and enjoy a picnic lunch.  

Day 17  Arslanbob to Chychkn Gorge
Journey through the central Tien Shan Mountains as you drive through picturesque canyons and gorges and around Toktogul Reservoir. It is a long drive to Chychkn Gorge where you will be spending the night.      

Day 18  Chychkn Gorge to Kyzyl Oi Village
Travel across Central Kyrgyzstan as you head to the village of Kyzyl Oi, upon arrival, there is some free time to explore the village and surrounding area or interact with the families at the homestays where you will spend the night.  

Days 19-20  Kyzyl Oi Village to Son Kul Lake      
Leave the gorges behind and head towards the high pastures surrounding Son Kul Lake. This is the land of the nomadic where you will get to experience a bit of nomad life with a stay in a Yurt camp for the next two nights. On day 20 you have the whole day to admire the beauty of the landscape, there is the option to go for a walk in the nearby hills. After lunch visit one of the Kyrgyz shepherd families close to camp to learn about their lifestyle, there is also the option to go horse riding.    

Day 21  Son Kul Lake to Bishkek      
Head to the Republic’s capital city, Bishkek stopping for lunch en route. The former Soviet city is undergoing a transformation with cafes and trendy bars opening. On arrival, tour the city’s main sites for a couple of hours around the main square, there will be some time for souvenir shopping, or relaxing.      

Day 22  Almaty, Kazakhstan      
A morning drive takes you to the last Stan of your journey, Kazakhstan and into Almaty, considered to be Central Asia’s most European city. After lunch set off on a tour visiting Panfilov’s Park, the Republic Square and the high mountain dam of Modeo on the outskirts of town.  

Day 23  Almaty      
Your tour comes to an end after breakfast this morning, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

Prices
Guide Price £3749
per person (based on 2 adults sharing)
Inclusions
  • 15 nights simple hotels, 3 nights homestays, 2 nights yurts, 1 night cottage & 1 night guest house
  • 22 breakfasts, 3 lunches & 8 dinners
  • Journey by minibus
Not Included
  • International flights
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The tour itinerary, inclusions and departures are based on travel from 01/06/2020 to 31/08/2020. Guide prices are based on twn/dbl share, are subject to availability and may vary by departure date. For travel outside of these dates, the itinerary and inclusions may vary to that shown above - please ask for details.
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