Registan Ensemble

The Silk Road

15 days
from
£2,649
View Trips
Loading...
Traveller ratings
4.5 / 5 from 11 reviews >
Trip code: 
AXF
Way to Travel:
Guided Group
Activity:
Culture
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

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
  • 14 breakfasts and 3 dinners included
  • Fast paced itinerary
  • Travel by minibus and train
  • Experience local culture and nature

What's included

  • All accommodation
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Tour leader throughout (2 separate leaders)
  • 14 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:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade 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

London
to
London
  • Day 1

    Depart London; late night arrival into 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 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 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.

    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.

    Overnight train

     

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 8

    Full day exploring Almaty.

    Arriving early we have the whole day to explore Almaty with its backdrop of the Tien Shan mountains. With leafy streets and café culture, the former Kazakh capital has a distinctly European feel. We visit a number of sites such Zhenkov Cathedral, made entirely of wood and without the use of nails.
    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 head for Issyk 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. From here we continue to Turgen Gorge known for its beautiful natural scenery and waterfalls, some as tall as 40m. After a day spent exploring part of the Ile-Alatau region we return to Almaty for the night.
    Kazzhol Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 10

    Almaty to Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan; afternoon visit Bishkek.

    Heading for the border we soon find ourselves in our third and final country: Kyrgyzstan. The 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. Our first stop, however, is Kyrgyzstan’s modern capital city, Bishkek.

    This afternoon we spend some time 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.

    We 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.

    We drive along the southern shore of Issyk Kul before arriving at Jety Oguz Gorge where we will spend the night in a traditional yurt.

    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

    Morning hike (3hrs); 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 go on a 3 to 4-hour hike through the gorge, either walking along the river or going to a nearby waterfall. We should have the option of attending a Golden eagle hunting demonstration before moving on (this depends on whether the Golden eagle hunter is available).

    From here it’s a relatively short drive to the town of Karakol on the eastern side of Issyk Kul. A ski resort in winter, Karakol is a quaint town of cottages and shady avenues. We visit the Dungan Mosque, the Russian Orthodox Church and the Victory Park as part of a short tour. 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 along the north shore, passing Scythian burial mounds, towards Cholpon Ata. We explore the nearby petroglyphs which are 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. 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 of Burama Tower, an 11th century minaret and the first of its kind in Central Asia.

    We eventually arrive back in Bishkek for our final night.
    Asia Mountains 1 Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 15

    Fly to London

    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.

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.

All passengers require a visa for Uzbekistan. Many nationalities are now eligible for a simplified visa in advance (without the need for an authorisation letter of invitation), including; UK, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Switzerland. If you are eligible for a visa in advance then you should apply for one. For visas upon arrival, however, 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.

For more information on the Uzbekistan Visa, click here to see our Visa Information Sheet.

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

14 breakfasts and 3 dinners included

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. The roads are generally asphalted but there are some dirt road sections. 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. Temperatures can vary greatly depending on time of year, time of day and location from very hot to fairly cold.

Call for general departures:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade 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:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade 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:
020 8772 3936
Call for tailormade 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

Embracing a healthy lifestyle can be a challenge, but if you’re going to keep it up there’s got to be more to it than

  • 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.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Jacqueline S

    A long and hard road.

    The trip travelled through Uzbekistan, Kazestan and Kirgizstan. We have been on many Exodus tours before but felt this was the least well designed and involved the most travelling for little outcome. The first week in Uzbekistan travelling to the silk road cities was excellent. Lots to see and do and some ability to wander as well as being led. When we got to the other two countries there were several consecutive days on the coach for 5 to 8 hours. The night in the Yurt was just that; we arrived at 6 pm and in the morning had a 2 hour stroll before setting off again. This was the one place where a full day walk and an extra night in the yurt would have been preferable to travelling all the way around Issyk Kul Lake. No surprise that everyone was coughing and a cold was quickly transmitted around the tour participants. During the whole tour we only stopped at two hotels where we could walk out of the doors and go into the town. All the other hotels were a bit out of town and needed transport to get anywhere. The food was great and most hotels good. Though why choose a hotel next to a railway line with trains that went past every half hour of so all night? The night in the Club resort was bizarre. it was empty except for us and a Dutch couple who had booked for three nights but were leaving after one. You could not walk to the town so you were stranded. The facilities such as tennis or the pool were closed. The meal was the worst we had and the bar closed at 9.30. This was our last night as the next night we would have to be up at 4 am to get to the airport. No last night party for us. Exodus please think again.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Samarkand

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dilshop in Uzbekistan was brilliant.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Unless you like sitting on a bus a lot just go to Uzbekistan for the Silk Road don't try to combine too many Stans.
  • Reviewed September 2018
    Keris Mcdonald

    Two Out of Three Aint Bad

    We did this trip as a private group of friends. We're all keen on history and museums - we'd also managed as a bonus to book tickets for the closing ceremony of the World Nomad Games, which coincided with our visit to Kyrgyzstan. The Islamic monuments of Uzbekistan were breathtaking, and the natural scenery of Kyrgyzstan was lovely. Both countries are clean and well-ordered and felt safe. I enjoyed the yurt camp far more than I expected too - it had the best beds of the trip ;-) Kazakhstan I cannot recommend. It's the only country I've *ever* been to that I'd consider not worth the effort. It feels like going back into the Soviet era - there was a plainclothesman lurking outside our hotel reporting on arrivals for example - and the police are flat-out corrupt. One of our number was held at the Kazakh border for 7 hours on the way out - there were strong attempts at intimidation (though luckily he kept his cool) and it all ended with him slipping a £100 bribe to an officer to get out of the country.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Finding out about Ulug-Beg and his astronomy was inspirational. Bukhara is wonderful - a golden jewel of a city. Samarkand's mausoleums are unforgettably beautiful.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two leaders - Tahir in Uzbekistan and Ermek for the rest of the trip. Both were conscientious and flexible, and were willing to put in extra hours to take us to museums we wanted to see that weren't in the official itinerary. Ermek stuck with our detained friend right throughout the crisis - he was our hero.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    All three countries on this tour are police-states to some extent. Mostly this means people are well-behaved in public, but BE REALLY CAREFUL. In Uzbekistan you will not be able to avoid tourist shops as they are literally set up within every corner of every historical monument. Don't feel hassled to buy anything - there isn't any hard-sell. Do take the opportunity to shop in the food markets though - and buy the smoked cheese strings, they are awesome! Kyrgyzstan is the opposite - if you want souvenirs you might well have to ask your guide to find you a shop. In Kazakhstan DO NOT SMOKE IN PUBLIC - the police are looking for a chance to shake tourists down. DO NOT BUY A SOUVENIR KNIFE AT ANY POINT ON THE TOUR, even if the vendor tells you it is certified to be allowed across the borders. It isn't. If you do get detained, stay absolutely calm despite every provocation; they're just trying to pressurise you so that they can extract more money. And remember to refer to your guide only as your "translator." PS: Take Enterosgel with you. It's better than imodium.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    It's a very diverse tour - Uzbekistan and Kyrgystan are real contrasts and we enjoyed visiting both immensely. I'm afraid I think they should drop Kazakhstan out of the itinerary altogether in future, as the place has little to recommend it and the risk is too great.
  • Reviewed August 2018
    Archie Robertson

    Central Asia Discovery Trip

    A varied trip through three Stans. Uzbekistan very Western with modern cities, and has put a loot of effort into monument preservation; Kazakstan, harder to define, its a really big Steppe. Kyrgistan is just beautiful and largely untrodden by tourist hordes.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Swimming in Issyk Kul

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both were really good.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Dont expect too much of Almaty and Kazakstan!
  • Reviewed July 2018
    Sarah Coupland

    "Why do you want to go there?"

    When I told people I was going to three of the 'Stans', their question was always why ? To be honest, I wasn't sure myself until I'd been, but they are very different countries, not subject to mass tourism, with different cultures, lovely people and a joy to explore.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    My personal highlights were, the mausoleums at Shakhi Zinda, talking to the students learning English in Registan square and Bukhara - all in Uzbebikistan. However, being allowed to hold the eagle hunter's Golden Eagle in Kyrgyzstan was an honour.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two group leaders In Uzbekistan, Dilshod was confident and highly knowledgeable and he would tell us interesting stories of his personal life growing up in Uzbekistan under Soviet rule. He provided advice daily and was always checking everything was OK. In Kazakhstan and Kyrgzystan, Ermek was equally engaging but with a quieter manner. He enjoyed imparting knowledge of his home country, Kyrgzystan, and keen to learn and join in with our English sense of humour. Alexi, our driver in Kazakhstan and Kyrgzystan, was amazing, fixing the coach when we broke down.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure your dollars are clean, any marked or slight tears and the money exchange will not accept them. There are ATM's available (for top ups) for example at the Hotel Asia in Bukkhara and the Kass Hotel in Almaty. (Tip: If you do happen to stay in the Kass Hotel, get your picnic lunch from the deli which is 2 minutes walk, turn right at the main road) As a rough guide, I spent $85 in Uzbekistan, $60 Kazakstan (drinks at hotel were a bit more expensive), $100 in Kyrgzystan plus dollars for tips for the guides and drivers For the yurt stay - if you drink, make sure you buy alcohol to take with you as they don't sell it! Also, we were a group of 14 and they were able to mostly put the couples together (rather than the gender separation mentioned in the notes). We went in early June and it rained and was a bit cold in the evening, so pack a waterproof and a fleece (just in case) At the home stay meal in Karakol - buy your wine at the house (cheaper than the Green Yard Hotel prices) - but breakfast at the Green Yard is amazing! The food was better than I had anticipated, I ate lots of salads, kebabs and pasta. Meals are not expensive and the vodka and beer are cheap. Shopping is best in Bukhara with some free time for exploring. Would recommend The Old Bukhara and Minzifa restaurants in Bukhara Ladies, make sure you take a scarf for your head/shoulders, but respectable shorts and t shirts were fine for the most part, with only a few places where knees needed to be covered as well.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Why do you want to go to the Stans? Because they are different, the architecture and history of Uzbekistan is amazing and the scenery of Kyrgyzstan is beautiful. Neither will disappoint,
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Lesley Butler

    Wonderful Trip

    If you like history, visiting beautiful buildings and tasting local food, this is the trip for you. Yes there are some bad roads to contend with, but that's a small price to pay. The highlights? Bukhara, meeting the eagle hunter and brilliant local guides.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Getting up close to a golden eagle.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    We had two leaders. Dilshod in Uzbekistan was brilliant - his knowledge of local history was amazing and he also had a great sense of humour. Ermek in Kazakhstan and Kyrgystan was also a great guide - conscientious and a fund of information, particularly about the recent history of the region.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Enjoy the different cultures of Central Asia.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    We found the local people very friendly and all three countries a lot more laid back than we were expecting.
  • Reviewed June 2018
    Ian Buxton

    A thought provoking journey

    The trip introduced me to many aspects of the history of Central Asia of which I knew little. It has inspired me to read more on the subject. I was also possible to gain a little appreciation of the culture of the three countries I visited.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    There was not one single inspirational moment. The combination of places we visited and the information provided by our excellent guides stimulated much food for thought. I find that often inspiration comes after a period of reflection.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Both of our guides were excellent. They were both different but equally good at their job. There were no problems when travelling throughout all three countries.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Try to find the time to read about the histories of the countries before going.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I have been on many Exodus trips and they have all been good. This one lived up to my expectations. I would recommend anybody who has a sense of adventure and a thirst for knowledge go on the Silk Rd.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Caroline Bradley

    The Silk Route

    Really exciting trip, very full on and packed with seeing the best of all 3 countries that you visit. Be prepared for long but very rewarding days of sightseeing and travelling. Go with the flow! Very friendly and hospitable people. Eating out is cheap and there is plenty of choice of good quality meat (lamb, beef) kebabs/ pasties! (or the nearest thing to them, yummy) dumplings, paste/noodle/bread and salads. Local beer very acceptable and even the best vodka is very cheap and taste great.. Great photo opportunities and load of very interesting architecture such as Madrasah's and mausoleums to see! Scenery up in mountains is stunning with waterfalls and turquoise lakes. Staying in the Yurt in the mountains in Kyrgyzstan was wonderful. No light pollution so you can see the milky way and shooting stars! But be prepared for it to be very basic and rustic! We ended up playing hand ball with a international team of people staying at the camp site and then sitting round the camp fire singing and drinking vodka watching the night sky.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Staying in the Yurt in the mountains in Kyrgyzstan was wonderful. No light pollution so you can see the milky way and shooting stars!

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Dilshod was a composite professional and very knowledgeable Lisa was a lovely person who worked hard, and would certainly benefit from a bit of training (fine tuning) to make her even better :)

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    See comments above in summary.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    See comments above in summary.
  • Reviewed September 2017
    Karen Harrison

    The Silk Road

    This is a trip full of contrasts and culture.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    Uzbekistan was the best part of the trip, with an enormous amount of history and beautiful buildings. As a nation, they seem to have totally reclaimed their national identity following their independence. During our night in the mountains staying in a yurt, the magical, mesmerising Milky Way was also clearly visible (and even better with binoculars).

    What did you think of your group leader?

    The group leaders really knew their stuff, and if they didn't know the answer to a question, they came back to us with it the next day. The leaders were willing to answer questions on social matters, like marriage, Russian influences/legacies, school, cotton picking. This gave us a better understanding of each country.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Make sure you buy your souvenirs in Uzbekistan (ikat prints, scarves, pottery, rugs) as there really is very little opportunity to buy anything worthwhile in either Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan. You'll regret it if you don't. Be prepared to haggle a little bit. The currency exchange app a fellow traveller told me about, XE Currency, was extremely useful for converting all currencies. Take a fork and spoon for picnic lunches, and socks for the night in the mountains. No medication containing Codeine is allowed in Uzbekistan.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    Don't expect 'western' standards. Embrace the quirks and idiosyncrasies of each country and admire each country for how they have developed their own identities. Make sure you experience as much of the local food as you can. It really is very good, especially the lamb.

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]

Trips you might also like

Call us on 020 8772 3936