Registan Ensemble

The Silk Road

15 days
from
£1,999
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Traveller ratings
4.5 / 5 from 19 reviews >
Trip code: 
AXF
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Group size:
4–16
Min age:
16

Explore the best of the Silk Road in Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan

For centuries great caravans of merchants made their way through deserts, across steppes and over mountains, creating trade routes between the great civilisations of the Mediterranean and China. Art and religion spread both East and West and grand cities with impressive architecture sprouted alongside nomadic tribes of eagle-hunters. Follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo and uncover the natural and cultural treasures of Central Asia on this two week trip through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan taking in some of the Silk Road’s best sites, from Bukhara and Samarkand to the Tien Shan Mountains.

Highlights

  • Samarkand and Bukhara : two of the greatest cities on the Silk Road
  • Almaty with its leafy streets and cafe culture
  • Kyrgyzstan’s spectacular mountain scenery
  • Issyk Kul Lake

Key information

  • Accommodation in en suite standard hotels with one night in a yurt and one night on a sleeper train
  • 13 breakfasts and 3 dinners included
  • Fast paced itinerary
  • Travel by minibus and train
  • Experience local culture and nature
  • Countries visited: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan

What's included

  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout (2 separate leaders)
  • 13 breakfasts and 3 dinners
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival and departure transfers (for group flights only)

What's not included

  • Travel Insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call for general departures:
+91 80 4213 6106
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

Tashkent
to
Bishkek
  • Day 1

    Start Tashkent

    Those on the group flights arrive very late in the evening into Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Land only passengers can arrive at the hotel any time today, the leader may not be around today.

    Hotel Arien Plaza or Shodlik Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

  • Day 2

    Full day Tashkent

    We have a relaxed morning after the late arrival last night.
    We later start our sightseeing of this Central Asian capital. This will include visiting Independence Square flanked by public buildings and water fountains and also the Old City with its mausoleums and bazaar. Tashkent was largely destroyed by earthquakes in the 60's and was rebuilt in true Soviet style with pleasant leafy boulevards and lots of fountains to keep the heat down in summer. There are some very interesting museums as well as mosques.
    Hotel Arien Plaza or Shodlik Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Morning train to Samarkand, visit Registan Square and other sites of the city

    We catch the morning fast train to Samarkand arriving mid-morning. We spend the rest of today and tomorrow morning exploring Samarkand.

    Samarkand is steeped in history, dating back 2,500 years and impacted by such figures as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, who made it the capital of his empire in the 14th Century. Its central position on the Silk Road meant that it was an important stop on the route from Istanbul to Peking (now Beijing). At its heart is the grand Registan Square flanked by the three grand madrasahs of Ulughbeg (15th C), Sherdor (17th C) and Tilya Qori (17th C).

    Over the next day and a half we visit the grand square as well as the Gur Emir Mausoleum, burial place of Tamerlane, his sons and his grandson, Ulughbek. The Ulugbek Observatory built in 1420 by Tamerlane’s grandson who was not just a ruler but also a well-known astronomer. We move on to the oversized Bibi Khanum Mosque and Shakhi Zinda – the ‘Living King’ necropolis – with its series of mausoleums dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Our final visit is to the exotic Siab Bazaar with its fresh and dried fruit and nuts and other local food produce. The leader may shift the order the sites are visited.
    Dilshoda Hotel or Malika Prime Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 4

    Explore Samarkand's Necropolis and Ulugbek's Observatory; transfer to Bukhara.

    This morning we continue our visit of Samarkands many sites. In the afternoon we drive to Bukhara, the best preserved of the Silk Road cities we visit.
    Kavsar Plaza / Fatima Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 5

    Explore Bukhara's many historical sites.

    We spend two full days exploring Bukhara. The best preserved mediaeval city in Central Asia, this UNESCO World Heritage Site dates back over 2,000 years. Our city tour takes us to the Lyabi Khauz complex, built in the 16th and 17th centuries, this is the site of the oldest pool of its kind in Central Asia. The pool is surrounded by madrasahs and a khanaka (lodging house for travelling Sufis) including the largest madrasah in Bukhara, the 15th century Kukeldash Madrasah.

    We continue on to the Poi-Kalyan religious complex with its 48m Kalyan minaret dating back to the 12th century and the symbol of Bukhara; the large Kalyan Mosque (15th century) with its galleries topped by 288 domes; and the only active madrasah in the city, Bukhara Miri-Arab (16th century). Next is the Samanid Mausoleum, the oldest piece of Islamic architecture in Central Asia and burial site of the 10th Century Emir, Ismail Samani. Finally we visit the Ark, a 5th century citadel and the oldest building in Bukhara.
    Kavsar Plaza / Fatimah Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Another day exploring Bukhara before catching the late afternoon train to Tashkent.

    We continue our exploration of the sites of Bukhara. Please note that hotel check-out is usually 12 noon today. 

    Later this afternoon we will catch the fast train back to Tashkent arriving in the capital in the evening. The train leaves Bukhara at 15:52 and arrives in Tashkent at 19:40.
    Hotel Arien Plaza or Shodlik Hotel or similar, Comfortable Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Morning in Tashkent, overnight train to Almaty, Kazakhstan.

    We spend the morning visiting parts of Tashkent we'd missed on the first day. After lunch we head back to the train station to catch the train to Almaty in Kazakhstan. This is one of those epic train rides which Central Asia does so well. Since 2017 a new train service has cut the duration to 17hrs departing Tashkent around 15:00h and arriving in Almaty the following morning around 09:30h. Travelling on trains through this region is a great way of not only covering large distances (almost 1000kms in this case) but also of seeing the change in the landscape and mingling with locals. (Please note that it is possible to change Uzbek currency into Kazakh currency, and on the train it is possible to change US Dollars into Kazakh currency but the exchange rate is poor so you may wish to change only a small amount, say USD30 per person, and wait until you reach Almaty to change the rest at a better rate). 

    Overnight train

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Full day exploring Almaty.

    The train is scheduled to arrive at approx. 09:20am and after the formalities we meet our bus, stop to change some money and go for some breakfast. Almaty is a beautiful city with its backdrop of the Tien Shan mountains and we have the whole day to explore it. With leafy streets and café culture, the former Kazakh capital has a distinctly European feel. After breakfast we visit a number of sites, including Zhenkov Cathedral (Ascension Cathedral), made entirely of wood and without the use of nails, Panfilov Park, the Monument of Panfilovs 28 Guardsmen, the Great Patriotic and Civil War monuments and eternal flame, and one of the museums (National History Museum or Museum of National Instruments). 

    After the city tour we drive to our hotel and check-in. In the afternoon those who wish to explore further may want to take the gondola (cost approx. KZT2000) up Kok-Tobe Hill for a panorama over the city.

    Kazzhol Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

  • Day 9

    Day trip to Issyk and Turgen Gorge.

    We spend today exploring the countryside around Almaty. We first drive to Turgen Gorge, known for its beautiful natural scenery and waterfalls (some as tall as 40m), stopping at a supermarket en route to buy food for a picnic lunch. Along the drive we'll make a short photo stop near to several Scythian burial mounds, with the Ile-Alatau Mountain Range in the distance. Arriving at the gorge by late morning, we walk for around 1.3km (45 mins or so) on a rocky/sandy trail following the river to cascading 'Bear' Waterfall. After exploring the gorge, we drive to a shady spot and have a picnic lunch, before continuing by road for approx 1 hour 45 minutes to Issky Lake (or Esik Lake) - not to be confused with Issyk Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan which we visit later on the trip. Set amidst thick forests and pastures with wild flowers, this alpine lake is located at 1,760m above sea level within the Issyk Gorge. We walk down the concrete staircase to explore the southern shore of the lake (it is forbidden to go to the northern shore). Finally, we return to Almaty for the night (approx. 2 hours drive).

    Kazzhol Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Almaty to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan; afternoon visit Bishkek.

    Setting of early, we cross the border and drive to our third and final country: Kyrgyzstan. This mountainous country was completely closed to outsiders during the Soviet Union era but has since opened up to flaunt its spectacular natural beauty and lingering nomadic culture. It should take around 5 hours to dirve to Bishkek, including the border procedures and rest stops. To cross the border you will need to take all of your luggage and belongings off the bus and walk approx. 300m through security and immigration with it. From the border t's about 40 minutes drive to Bishkek.

    This afternoon we spend a couple of hours visiting the city’s main sites taking in Ala Too Square, Parliament House, the White House, the change of the guard, the Lenin Statue and the Manas Monument.

    Hotel Asia Mountains 1 or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 11

    Issyk Kul and Djety Oguyz Gorge where we overnight in a yurt camp.

    An early start to continue our journey through the Tien Shan Mountains and head towards Issyk Kul Lake. The second largest salt lake in the world, after the Caspian Sea (and fast becoming the largest as the Caspian Sea recedes), it measures 70km by 180km and is almost 700m at its deepest point. Its name translates as Hot Lake and was given as, even in the depths of winter and despite being just above 1,600m, it never freezes. The area around the lake is a mixture of forest and meadow with a backdrop of towering mountains and glaciers. 

    The drive will take all day but the scenery is stunning; following the southern shore of Issyk Kul, we arrive at Jety Oguz Gorge in the evening and spend the night in a traditional yurt. There will be plenty of photos stops and depending on the weather, there is also the option to see an eagle hunting show today (additional cost). The first 190km of the drive is on a new well-surfaced road but the remaining 220km is an old road and can be bumpy. When we reach Jety Oguz Village we swap into smaller minibuses for the last 20km (45 mins- 1 hour) off-road section through the gorge to the yurt camp. 

    Yurts are semi-permanent tents used by many nomadic people of Central Asia. The camp we stay at is made up of 6 sleeping yurts (each accommodating 4 to 5 people of the same gender) and one communal/dining yurt. There is a shower and two flush-toilets but hot water for washing has to be requested specifically. There is also a generator for electricity for 3 hours in the evening. Spending a night in a yurt camp is a fantastic experience and a small insight into a way of life which has gone on for centuries.

    Djety Oguz or similar, Yurt Camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 12

    Explore the gorge on foot; drive to Karakol.

    Jety Oguz translates as the Valley of Seven Bulls named after the distinct seven red-coloured rocks found in the gorge. We can learn about the local legends behind the name as we walk our way out of the beautiful gorge (approx. 2 hours), passing through fir forest, yurt settlements and grazing lands. For the energetic, there is also the option to hike to a waterfall but the trail can be slippery so this is not advisable when wet/rainy.

    If we did not see a Golden eagle hunting demonstration yesterday, we have another opportunity before moving on today (this depends on whether the Golden eagle hunter is available).

    From the gorge we drive for around 20 minutes to a viewpoint to see the Jety-Oguz red rocks, and then another 45 minutes (approximately) to Karakol on the eastern side of Issyk Kul. A ski resort in winter, Karakol is a quaint town of cottages and shady avenues. We grab lunch (swap buses again) and then do a short sightseeing tour, visiting the Dungan Mosque, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Victory Park before checking into our hotel. Tonight we enjoy a home cooked meal at a local Uygur or Dungan family.

    Green Yard Hotel or similar, standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 13

    Cholpon Ata on the northern shore of Issyk Kul Lake, burial mounds and petroglyphs.mounds and petroglyphs.

    We start with a visit of the Przhevalsky Museum dedicated to the travels and geographical studies of Russian scientist and geographer Nicolay Przhevalsky whose expeditions explored much of Central and East Asia.

    We then continue around the lake to Cholpon Ata town on the northern shore, stopping to climb the Scythian burial mound en route. We have lunch in the town and then drive to the nearby petroglyphs to explore these relics which date between 4,000 and 1,400 years old. The rest of the day is spent relaxing on the beach or wandering around town. There is also the option of doing a boat trip.

    Karven Club Resort or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 14

    Travel through the Boon Gorge, and visit the Burana tower before returning to Bishkek.

    We leave the lake behind and head toward the capital, Bishkek. En route we cross the Boom Gorge, where we usually take an early lunch. Boom ominously means ‘evil spirit’ and early travellers, in the 19th Century found the journey arduous and fraught with setbacks. Our next stop is the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Burana Tower, an 11th century minaret and the first of its kind in Central Asia. It is possible to climb to the top of the tower but please note that the stairs are steep and narrow and it is quite dark inside so care must be taken. 

    Roughly two hours further driving brings us back into Bishkek for our final night.

    Asia Mountains 1 Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    End Bishkek

    The trip ends this morning in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport for their flight back to London arriving later today.

    Meals included: Breakfast
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Visa Kazakhstan

A number of countries including the UK, USA, Australia, Canada, New Zealand Germany, Belgium and France can enter Kazakhstan for up to 30 days without a visa.

Kyrgyzstan

British, most European and most other nationalities, including Australians, New Zealanders, Americans and Canadians do not require visas for visits of under 60 days. All other nationalities should contact the nearest Kyrgyzstan Embassy if in doubt.

IMPORTANT: You can be arrested if you are not carrying ID in Kyrgyzstan.  You should carry your passport or a copy of it with you at all times.

Uzbekistan

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for at least 3 months beyond your entry date into Uzbekistan. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

Anyone travelling on a British Citizen, Australian, New Zealand, or Canadian passport can enter Uzbekistan as a visitor (for tourism or business purposes) for stays of up to 30 days without a visa. For a full list of nationalities that are eligible for a visa-free visit of up to 30-days, please visit http://www.uzbekembassy.org/e/visa_to_uzbekistan/

Many other nationalities are eligible for a simplified visa in advance (without the need for an authorisation letter of invitation), including USA. If you are eligible for a visa in advance then you should apply for one as for visas upon arrival, a letter of invitation is still required. Should you need an authorisation letter, please contact Exodus at least 8 weeks before departure as we can arrange this for you through our local operator.

It is no longer necessary for you to complete a currency declaration form upon arrival (unless you are carrying over US2000 with you). However, as this has only recently been implemented (summer 2018), you will still need to keep your receipts given by each hotel that you stay in - please hold on to these as they may be checked when you leave.

There have also been greater restrictions on bringing medicine into Uzbekistan. If you have any special medicine we recommend you check with the Uzbekistan Embassy about allowed quantities. You should also bring copies of your prescriptions and declare them upon arrival. Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccinations

Kazakhstan

No vaccinations are compulsory, but vaccination against typhoid, polio, tetanus, hepatitis A and Diptheria are recommended.

Kyrgyzstan

No vaccinations are compulsory, but vaccination against typhoid, polio, tetanus, hepatitis A and diphtheria are recommended. The risk of Malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or Travel Clinic for advice.

Uzbekistan

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Eating and Drinking

13 breakfasts and 3 dinners included. The only breakfast that is not included is after the overnight train.

Common dishes in the region include shish-kebabs and plov which you’ll probably see plenty of. The kebabs can be from different meats including lamb and beef whilst plov is a rice-based dish (variants elsewhere are known as pilaf or pilau rice). Another main food is bread, especially in Uzbekistan where it is baked and sold everywhere. There are normally a couple opportunities to try home-cooked meals. Tea is also plentiful, both black and green and is drunk with most meals as well as throughout the day. Please note that vegetarian food choices may be rather limited. If you are strictly vegetarian or have any special dietary requirements please notify us well in advance. In this region, the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, e.g. gluten-free or dairy-free, is minimal or non-existent and we strongly recommend you bring these specialised dietary items from home.

Drinking water is included and will be provided in large containers for you to refill your bottle from - please bring a reusable bottle with you.

Weather

These areas of Central Asia have long, extremely hot summers, but the winters are very cold. The July and August departures may be rather hot in the lowlands with afternoon temperatures often reaching 35ºC and beyond. Other trips are planned for Spring and Autumn when the temperature should not be below 5ºC at night and may be up to 25-30ºC during the day. In the highlands of Kyrgyzstan temperatures are generally cooler. Sunny weather with clear blue skies should be experienced but there can be some rain in Spring and Autumn. Occasionally periods of unexpectedly hot or cold weather can be experienced.

Samarkand

Samarkand

Is this trip for you?

This is a fairly fast paced trip with long days and early starts in order to make the most of the areas we visit within two weeks. We spend two nights in Bukhara and two nights in Almaty, everywhere else we only spend one night.

There are a couple of short walks; in Issyk and Turgen Gorges and Jety Oguz Gorge and you should be comfortable being on your feet for a few hours at a time for sightseeing. 

The roads are generally asphalted but there are some dirt road sections. There are some long drives on a few days, such as: Almaty to Bishkek (day 10) - approximately 5 hours including border procedures/rest stops, Bishkek to Jety Oguz Gorge (day 11) - approx. 9.5 hours including lunch/rest/photo stops, Cholpon Ata to Bishkek (day 14) - approx. 5 hours driving, exclduing lunch/sightseeing stops. We also use a long overnight train from Tashkent to Almaty. Most accommodation is modest but clean, mostly with private facilities.

Tourist services and facilities can be patchy and erratic and tolerance and flexibility are required but the rewards are an insight into local life and a discovery of a beautiful and fascinating part of the world. Group meals can be slow as often there are no English menus and the restaurant staff also may not speak English - you leader will translate and help order for the group but meal times can take longer than normal.

Temperatures can vary greatly depending on time of year, time of day and location from very hot to fairly cold.

Following a review of all our trips we have categorised this trip as generally not suitable for persons of reduced mobility. However if you are a regular traveller on such trips, please contact customer services to discuss the trip and your personal condition.

Call for general departures:
+91 80 4213 6106
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotel, Yurt and Sleeper Train

12 nights Standard Hotel, 1 night Yurt, 1 night sleeper train Most of the trip we stay in standard hotels, generally 2-star level with en suite bathrooms. One night is spent on an overnight train. On the train from Tashkent to Almaty we use 2nd class carriages which are made up of 4-berth cabins. The train is new (launched in 2017 and these cabins are comfortable though don’t expect the Orient Express. Train-travel has long been a popular way of travelling around the ex-Soviet Union and this is a great experience and insight into a different side of Kazakh life. We also spend one night in a traditional yurt camp in the Jety Oguz gorge in Kyrgyzstan. Yurts are traditional housing of nomadic tribes across Central Asia and are generally quite cosy. The camp has 6 sleeping yurts, each normally shared between 4 and 5 people of the same gender and there are two toilets and one shower. Single supplements don’t apply to the night on the sleeper train or the night in the yurt camp.

Call for general departures:
+91 80 4213 6106
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call for general departures:
+91 80 4213 6106
Call for tailor made trips:
+44 (0)20 8772 3874
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

  • Reviewed October 2019

    A varied tour of beautiful buildings and scenery.

    A very busy, varied tour. Most of the hotels were of a good standard with one or two not so good. The Hotel Asia Mountains 1 has been mentioned in a review already - take ear plugs so that you drown out the trains.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The beautiful mosques and madrassas in Uzbekistan and the stunning scenery in Kyrgyzstan, the golden eagle demonstration, Issyk Kul lake and the boat ride. The two 'family' meals were absolutely outstanding with delicious food and LOTS of it.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both leaders were excellent in different ways. Takhir Sadullaev in Uzbekistan has many years experience as a tour guide and was very informative with a sense of humour. He was most conscientious about 'guarding' our belongings on the sleeper train when we went to the restaurant car. Aziz Umetaliev who joined us in Kazakhstan and guided us in Kyrgyzstan was also knowledgeable (with one or two gaps in his knowledge) but made up for it with his very likeable personality. Aziz and Uri (not the right spelling) our driver decorated the bus with balloons for the first travellers birthday and left them up for my birthday a few days later. Uri was a very careful, helpful and friendly driver even though he had very limited English.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Be patient in restaurants as the service can be slow and erratic with (for example) rice to accompany a meal coming out a long time before the main dish and wine being served when some people had already eaten their meal. Meals tend to come in dribs and drabs again with some people having finished as others were just being served. As this was the last trip this year places had run down their stocks and often we couldn't get the wine or drinks that we wanted. Take a torch for the yurt and something warm to wear as it was cold in the morning. I found the trip notes a bit confusing about which currency to take, you only need to take US dollars. Both guides advised how much to change as we arrived in a new country which was very helpful.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    John Chapman

    A couple of tips

    Previous reviews have covered most things and are worth reading.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    See above.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    See above.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If you are buying drinks for the yurt take the opportunity to buy them for the homestay meal at the same time, alternatively turn right on leaving the Green Yard hotel and in 300yds there is a small shop. I would also advise buying drinks at the supermarket to take to the lakeside resort.
  • Reviewed September 2019
    Peter Stocker

    Marvellous Islamic architecture.

    The visits to Samarkand and Bukhara were the principal things I wanted to see apart from Khiva which I did on my own before the main trip. Exodus booked the flights for me and I booked the hotel in Khiva myself.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    I would have to say Khiva although it was not part of the standard trip. I also particularly enjoyed Samarkand, Bukhara and the overnight stay in the yurt camp amidst beautiful Alpine scenery.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two leaders, the one for Uzbekistan was very experienced and everything was very efficient. The guide for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan was less experienced but coped well.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Unless Exodus decide to include it, spend a couple of nights in Khiva first, it's very compact and traffic free and there is a lot to see. You don't need a guide just a guide book.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I think it would be far better to omit Kazakhstan altogether as there is very little to see that is worth travelling so far to see. The time saved could better be spent going to Khiva. So I would say go to Uzbekistan for the architectural interest and Kyrgyzstan for the scenery.
  • Reviewed August 2019
    Rouna Ali

    Rouna's Silk Road

    This is a truly spectacular once in a lifetime trip which I will never forget. I would never have been able to travel to such and so many places in the time available if it weren't for Exodus. The contrast between the three 'Stans' Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan is infinitely fascinating. The hot deserts, magnificent Muslim architecture, Madrashahs, Mausoleums, Markets and magnanimous hearts of the people of Uzbekistan to the epic mountains, rivers, lakes, forests and awesome pride and grace of the people of Kyrgyzstan (especially the Eagle Hunters which is only one of many highlights on this trip).

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    1. Registan Square in Samarkand in my view is more beautiful and epic than the Taj Mahal. 2. During the Eagle hunting demonstration in Kyrgyzstan I almost cried as the eagle flew above and swooped down in front of me to catch the coyote skin!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both group leaders (one for Uzbekistan) and (one for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan) did their very best for us and Ali bent over backwards to help me in Bukhara when I had a bout of 'Bukhara belly' :0

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    You might laugh but I regret not taking small bottles of salt and pepper and chilli sauce with me because the food will cause you problems. Take plenty of Immodium and Dioralyte. In Uzbekistan especially they try to put on the menu what Westerners will like and I did not like it at all. Sometimes the food ingredients were really old, not cooked properly or under hygienic conditions and tasted extremely bland. It can take forever to sort out the bill if you eat in a large group. Before you travel I would look at the trip notes and where the hotels are then do your own pre-trip research using google maps and trip advisor to see where all the good restaurants are near to these hotels.
  • Reviewed July 2019
    John Atherton

    Silk Road cities and sublime scenery

    Cities tend not to be high on my list of places to visit but I was surprised by the many parks and green spaces offsetting the large buildings and wide roads in all the cities visited. Of course the amazing architecture of the mosques, madrassas, minarets, mausoleums, museums and markets were impressive and interesting – with a wealth of information from both our tour leaders and local guides, all of whom spoke excellent English. The train journeys and the brief ride on the Metro in Tashkent made pleasant changes to the coach travel. Good to see family groups enjoying the warm evenings in pedestrianised streets and squares, parks, local cafes and bars, etc. No litter, no noisy groups of youths, just a nice atmosphere. Though the planned overnight train ride to Kazakhstan didn’t happen owing to international cancellation at little notice, the replacement coach was large and comfortable. In the morning traffic to Almaty many more upmarket cars were on the roads, after very few in Uzbekistan. The short drive out of Almaty with the walk up to the waterfall was a welcome change from the city streets. Then the long drive into the Kyrgyzstan countryside was literally a breath of fresh air; with the vast lake, snow-capped mountains, rushing rivers, flower-strewn meadows and leisurely walks. Not forgetting the impressive golden eagle demonstration. I would have preferred more than one night at the Yurt shores of Lake Camp. A couple of days later, an afternoon swim at the “seaside” on the Issyk Kul Lake was refreshing. Inevitable long road journeys were offset by ever changing views, excellent driving, mainly good roads and frequent stops.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Kyrgyzstan countryside and the happy atmosphere in the city pedestrian areas throughout.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both Dillshod and Ermek were excellent, knowledgeable and considerate. Different personalities, Dillshod the more experienced.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Drink the local draught beer - it's good and inexpensive. Lots of religious buildings so long trousers/skirt and covered shoulders often expected. Most public conveniences incur a small cost for women and for men, be aware of your currency note value!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    All hotels were clean and comfortable (with good quality loo paper)!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Sabina Latif

    Minarets, mosques, mausoleums to mountains

    This was a fantastic trip with a real mix of architecture, landscapes and cultures. Lovely tour guides and drivers to help and support. I was astonished by the sheer scale and intricacies of the buildings in Uzbekistan which contrasted with the beautiful snow capped mountains in Kyrgyzstan. My personal highlights were the overnight train and yurt camp experience!

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Seeing the sheer scale and stamina of the mosques, mausoleums and madrassahs in Uzbekistan including Registan Square.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had 2 group leaders, one for Uzbekistan (Dilshod) and another for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan (Ermeg). Both were great but in different ways. Dilshod was warm and kind and made us laugh, he was very knowledgeable. He did however give us too much information and it would be better if he slowed down and gave bite size chunks. Ermeg was so open and honest with us and shared his knowledge with us at a really good pace with the right amount of info.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    It is very hot in certain towns in June and July!... there are two hotels with pools so pack your swimming costume... you will need a torch for the yurt camp... take Tupperware or food bags as we have a lot of picnic lunches and most of the hotel breakfasts were really good buffets!
  • Reviewed July 2019
    Helen Faulls

    The Silk Road

    How special it was to be in the heart of Asia; a world we hear so little of but which is so steeped in history and the cross roads for so many different nationalities. The home of such legendary figure as Timur and Ginghis Khan. The trip explores the wealth of mosques, madrassas, mausoleums, minarets in Uzbekistan and after a brief visit to Kazakhstan (during a curfew due to demonstrations after elections) we journeyed to Kyrgyzstan. Although a poor country it is endowed with the most stunning mountain ranges and the world’s second biggest alpine lake. The elegance of Uzbeki women and the imposing use of space around all the official buildings in the major towns, as well as the spring flowers in the meadows, the bedding roses at Issy Kol and the vastness of the landscape are abiding memories. The brief stroll In the mountains was another rushed lost opportunity. I question the night in the yurt. It was just uncomfortable camping and again no interaction with the hosts. I did laugh at a few hip replacements, pacemakers, westerners’ long legs sprawled across the floor trying to eat. A full day’s walking in the mountains would have been more rewarding. Also scrambling in to a rather apologetic waterfall was also a waste of time. The itinerary was far too tight. Long days were spent in the coach and on a train. We would leave early and not arrive in the next hotel until early evening. Most of the hotels were in the suburbs and combined with the lack of time we had no opportunity to interact with a local people. The area has a wealth of talent in embroidery, weaving, silk work, felt work, and other handicrafts which we had no opportunity to explore in a leisurely manner. This was a huge disappointment both for our own shopping and also the lack of opportunity to support the women who do most of this work. My head is still out there and my reading about the area will continue. I will be back.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Just being in Samarkand and Bukhara.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two guides. One for Uzbekistan, one for the rest of the trip. Very different but both brilliant, knowledgeable, kind and thoughtful. Ermek from Kyrgyzstan is a very exceptional young man. I would also like to give a mention to Maxime our driver for the second half of the trip He was kind, thoughtful, mucked in as part of the team and certainly knew how to drive with the utmost consideration for both his passengers and the bus on some appalling roads. In spite of no English.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Yes! We arrived at 3 am and left at 3 am. This is no way to begin and end hard travel. Book your own flights and allow at least an extra day at the start to acclimatise. Take a fold up nylon shopping bag to avoid endless plastic when buying lunches etc. I was horrified to see plastic bags dumped by Morrison’s had turned up in a Bishkek store.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Exodus needs to work more closely with its subcontractors to develop a better itinerary. Less driving, more time to explore and interact with locals. More picnics, lunches too long and heavy. More time to explore crafts. People do not need to take plastic bottles from the hotels all the time! Water is provided
  • Reviewed June 2019
    H B

    Excellent and varied whistle-stop tour of Central Asia

    Great two weeks in Central Asia. The first week was in Uzbekistan and more focused on the history of the Silk Road and the gorgeous architecture in the three cities of Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara whilst during the second half in Almaty and Kyrgyzstan we learnt more about traditional & modern culture, history from different eras and got a taste of the alpine climates in the gorges and beautiful Issyk-Kol lake

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Hard to say given that we saw so much and there was so much variety! Watching a golden eagle train for the hunting season was pretty spectacular. Also we were in Bukhara during the annual Silk and Spice Festival so the city was heaving with Uzbek people and tourists alike experiencing national music, fashion, dance and goods sold all over the streets - it was an incredibly fortuitous addition to an already fascinating place

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Two great group leaders in Dilshod and Ermek; as other people have commented they are quite different personalities but they both made me feel relaxed and well supported throughout the trip with their welcoming and helpful attitudes, conscientiousness and knowledge. Ermek's thoughtful reflections about Kyrgyz culture and Dilshod's tales of growing up in Uzbekistan as a former Soviet state were both very engaging. I don't know how they keep up the energy to help us have such a good time for weeks on end!

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Most of the hotels didn't have lifts; the hotel staff and tour guides were very happy to help with carrying luggage but we also needed to load the trains with our suitcases ourselves so it would be worth making sure you're able to lift your luggage without too much difficulty. Furthermore most of the souvenir opportunities were in Uzbekistan so this means anything you buy (that you haven't shipped home) you'll need to carry for the remainder of your trip. Don't think you need to bother with bringing a whole loo roll as the toilet paper at its worst felt like bandage wrap but certainly wasn't rough! Tissues may be more worthwhile as not all public loos had toilet paper. Also be aware that almost all the public toilets had only squat loos, and these weren't always in good condition. You will need clothes for both warm and cold weather as well as rain - I brought something for all these weathers and ended up wearing everything in my suitcase!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    A few suggestions: 1 - given that people might want to do souvenir shopping, and that there are more opportunities for this in Uzbekistan (with the trip being more focused on Silk Road centre points during this part of the tour) maybe it might be worth doing Uzbekistan second rather than 1st to save the carrying the gifts around for the remaining two weeks? 2 - a free day during the trip might be nice if possible to allow people to choose their own activities to do or rest; perhaps this could be in Almaty or Cholpon-Ata? While the hike to Bear Waterfall and Issyk Lake were enjoyable activities I think this is the day I would replace with a free day 3 - the trip notes were slightly outdated; I know our guide has submitted an updated version so think it will be helpful for prospective travellers once this has been filtered down to the website to guide people's expectations further 4 - in both parts of the trip the lunches were sit-down meals; apart from the fact these were normally proper meals (which didn't really feel like we needed) they did take up at least 1.5 hours from the afternoon. I wonder whether it would be better to do more packed lunches and then a group meal in the evening? As per a lot of the other reviews I would say you aren't doing this holiday for Kazakhstan; but I did like Almaty and certainly enjoyed the overnight sleeper train to get there from Tashkent All in all though I had an absolutely fantastic time and I would definitely recommend this trip to anyone wanting a taste of the Silk Road and/or an introduction to Central Asia
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Nicola Peers

    a trip along the silk road

    This was a busy trip through three very contrasting countries. Almost a surfeit of historical monuments in Uzbekistan, just a glimpse of Kazakhstan and then the natural beauty of Kyrgyzstan. Some long bus drives but with plenty of "photo stops" and the drives are a great way to appreciate the scenery and see a little of local life along the way. The food was fine, and it was fairly easy to avoid meat, with plenty of delicious salads and pumpkin manti (a type of dumpling) usually available. Also some lovely soups, but often with unexpected chunks of lamb or beef. I did also enjoy the plov and the kebabs, as well as the fresh bread. The people were mostly friendly, welcoming and curious - we encountered no problems.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Kyrgyzstan - especially the yurt stay and the walk, but also the sheep, cattle and horses with their herders on horseback, coming down from their summer pastures.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    For me, both Dilshod and Ermek were great leaders, despite their very different pesonalities.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take a small towel for the yurt stay, and reasonable walking shoes. Do your shopping in Bukhara as there aren't many other opportunities. Learn a few words of Russian - it is spoken in all three countries and English isn't widely understood. Be able to carry your luggage a short distance - some of the hotel rooms are upstairs (no lifts) and also you have to carry it across the Kazakhstan - Kyrgyzstan border.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It was a privilege to visit these countries at this time - go before the tourist industry develops too much!
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Peter & Pamela Ackerman

    Outstanding Trip

    We have been on a number of Exodus trips and without doubt this is one of the best we have undertaken. Uzbekistan is a stunning country with wonderful buildings and monuments and incredibly friendly and polite people. Our guide was the best guide we have had on an Exodus trip, he was so enthusiastic about his country you could not fail to enjoy your time there. Kazakhstan could really be missed from the trip with the time saved being spent in the other two countries, we just saw lots of open plains and a big busy city in Almaty. Kyrgyzstan is a stunningly beautiful country with wonderful scenery. Some days involved long drives and perhaps driving all the way around Issyk Kul may be a little excessive but you get great views of the snow capped mountains and have the opportunity to stop at various sites along the way. The food overall was very good though the service in all three countries is very slow, haphazard and random. Whilst the dominant religion in each of the countries is Islam they are open to western culture and dress and therefore provided you offer the usual respect in mosques etc. there is no issue regarding the suitability of clothing

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    The Eagle hunter in Kyrgyzstan Registan Square in Samarkand The people of Uzbekistan

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader in Uzbekistan was outstanding

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    If possible only take a rucksack with your overnight gear to the yurt.

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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