Current as of: December 5, 2023 - 05:42

Registan Ensemble

The Silk Road Trip Notes

  • Ways to Travel: Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
  • Destination: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan
  • Programmes: Culture
  • Activity Level:

    2 out of 7 - Leisurely / Moderate

  • 15 Days: Flight Inclusive
  • 14 Days: Land Only
  • Ages: 16+
  • Trip Code: AXF
  • Carbon Footprint: 356.4kg CO2e

Trip Overview

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

For centuries, merchant caravans 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 cities with impressive architecture sprouted alongside nomadic communities of eagle hunters. Follow Marco Polo’s footsteps and uncover the natural and cultural treasures of Central Asia on this two-week trip visiting the best sites on the Silk Road, from Bukhara and Samarkand to the Tien Shan mountains.

Itinerary variations

Our departures up to and including 12 June 2024 follow a 14 day itinerary starting in Bishkek and ending in Bukhara, with an optional extension to Khiva.

Our departures from 19 June 2024 onwards follow a 16 day itinerary starting in Bishkek and ending in Khiva/Urgench with a visit to Khiva included in the main itinerary.

At a Glance

  • Accommodation in standard hotels plus one night in a yurt, one night in a simple guesthouse and one night on a sleeper train
  • 11 breakfasts and three dinners included (13 breakfasts on the 16 day version)
  • Fast-paced itinerary
  • Travel by minibus and comfortable trains
  • Experience Silk Road cities, culture and nature
  • Enjoy easy walks in Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan


  • Marvel at the Islamic architecture of Registan Square in Samarkand
  • Wander through the Silk Road city of Bukhara, full of domes and minarets
  • Enjoy the mountains and lakes of Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan
  • Explore the Charyn Canyon in Kazakhstan
  • Stay a night in a Kyrgyz yurt
  • Get a taste of rural Uzbekistan in the small town of Urgut

Is This Trip for You?

This is a fast-paced trip with long days and early starts to make the most of the areas we visit within two weeks.

There are some walks, especially in Kyrgyzstan, including in Ala Archa National Park, Chon-Kemin and Djety Oguz. You should be comfortable sightseeing on foot for a few hours at a time.

The roads are generally paved but there are dirt sections. There are long drives on a few days, including the journey from Karakol to Almaty, which is about six hours excluding stops. We also use a long overnight train from Almaty to Tashkent. Most accommodation is modest but clean, mostly with private facilities. At the yurt camp, facilities are shared. At the guesthouse in Chon-Kemin, private facilities are not guaranteed.

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

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


The group will generally be between 4 and 16 people. We use two leaders on this trip. One for the Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan and another for the Uzbekistan section.

Adult min age: 16

Min group size: 4

Max group size: 16


The Silk Road

Land Only

  • Start City: Bishkek
  • End City: Bukhara


Hotel, yurt and sleeper train

Djety Oguz yurt camp

This trip includes 10 nights in standard hotels, one night in a guesthouse, one night in a yurt and one night on a sleeper train. Throughout most of the trip, we stay in standard two- or three-star hotels. Below are some of the notable accommodations on this trip.

Bukhara: Kavsar Boutique Hotel

Taking over an old mansion, this small boutique hotel is one of the standout accommodations on this itinerary. It’s embellished with intricate design features and plenty of antiques, while an atmospheric central courtyard provides a wonderful place to gather as a group.

Sleeper train

The railway has long been a popular way of travelling around the ex-Soviet Union and this is a great experience and insight into Kazakh life. On the train from Tashkent to Almaty, we use second-class carriages with four-berth cabins. The train was launched in 2017 and these cabins are comfortable, though not luxurious.

Djety Oguz: Yurt camp

Yurts are traditional housing for nomadic communities across Central Asia and are generally quite cosy. We spend one night in a traditional yurt camp in the Djety Oguz Gorge in Kyrgyzstan. The camp has six sleeping yurts, each normally shared between four and five people and there are three toilets and one shower.

Worth knowing

  • Single supplements don’t apply to the night on the sleeper train or the night in the yurt camp.
  • April and October departures: We stay in Almaluu Yurt Camp close to Lake Issyk Kul instead of the yurt camp in Djety Oguz.

Single supplement from £ 340

Food & Drink

There are 11 breakfasts and three dinners included. The only breakfast 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, while 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 of opportunities to try home-cooked meals.

Tea is also plentiful, both black and green, and drunk with most meals and throughout the day. Please note, 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, eg 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 – please bring a reusable bottle with you.


In Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, we generally use minibuses, sometimes we may use more than one vehicle for the group. We travel from Kazakhstan to Uzbekistan by sleeper train. In Uzbekistan, we have two high-speed train journeys, one from Tashkent to Samarkand and another from Samarkand to Bukhara.

Weather & Seasonality

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 35C-40C (95F-104F) or more, which can make sightseeing tiring. Other trips are planned for spring and autumn, when the temperature should not be below 5C (41F) at night and may be up to 25C-30C (77F-86F) during the day. In the Kyrgyzstan highlands, temperatures are generally cooler. Sunny weather with clear blue skies should be experienced but there can be some rain in spring and autumn. Occasionally, there are periods of unexpectedly hot or cold weather.

Joining Instructions

Key information

Recommended arrival time: In the morning (or previous day) to make the afternoon tour on Day 1
Airport: Bishkek Airport (FRU)

Getting to the start hotel

The start hotel is approximately 45-70 minutes’ drive from the airport. Your options for this journey are:

Take an Exodus transfer
Exodus provides one group arrival transfer from the airport, which is timed to coincide with the arrival of a chosen flight from London, UK. You may join this transfer at no extra cost, provided you can be at the airport before the transfer leaves. Speak to your sales representative for the group arrival transfer times or to arrange a private transfer.

Make your own way
It’s possible to reach the start hotel by public transport, but the journey is complicated. We therefore recommend joining the group transfer where possible. If not, speak to your sales representative about organising a private transfer. On arrival at the hotel, please make the reception staff aware that you are part of an Exodus group and they will have more details on meeting with your leader and group.

If you would like further information on joining this trip, please speak to your sales representative.

You can check-in at the hotel from around 10am on Day 1.

Catching your return flight

There’s a group departure transfer to Bukhara Airport (BHK) or Urgench Airport (UGC) – depending on which version of our itinerary you are booked onto. These transfers are for customers who Exodus booked onto a chosen flight to London, UK. Please speak to your sales representative if you wish to join. If the group departure transfer does not suit your flight time, speak to your sales representative to arrange an alternative transfer.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers will be sent to you as part of our Final Joining Instructions. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier please contact our office or your travel agent.

Location start: Bishkek
Location end: Bukhara

What To Take

Essential Equipment

  • Light casual cotton clothing is recommended. Please remember, you will be expected to cover your legs and arms (to the elbow) during visits to mosques. Women should also have a scarf they can use to cover their hair when visiting holy sites. While this is not a requirement, it is expected
  • Local men tend not to wear shorts, but it is okay to wear shorts when not visiting a mosque or madrasah
  • Sandals are useful as they are cooler and are easier to take off when visiting mosques
  • Walking shoes or boots are needed for the day walks
  • Sunhat, sunscreen and sunglasses
  • Swimwear (it’s possible to swim in Lake Issyk Kul)
  • Thermal underwear (as a lightweight solution) and a fleece, hat and gloves are highly recommended for cold nights (especially during spring/autumn)
  • Mosquito repellent
  • Travel towel
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Personal first-aid kit with rehydration salts

Water included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill or get burned. Both processes are harmful to the environment and we would like to reduce our impact here. For your trip, we provide an alternative to single-use plastic bottles to reduce the plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout; all you need to do is bring a bottle to refill along the way. Please add this to your packing list.

Practical Information



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.


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.


All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for at least three 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, 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

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 US$2,000 with you). 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.

For assistance with obtaining visas please call Travcour on 020 8543 1846 or visit their website:

Vaccinations and Health


There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, tuberculosis and typhoid. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.


There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, tick-borne encephalitis, tuberculosis and typhoid. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.

You will also require a yellow fever vaccination certificate if arriving from (or transiting through) a country with risk of yellow fever transmission.


There are no required vaccinations. However, you may want to consider vaccinations for tetanus, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, rabies, tuberculosis and typhoid. Please confirm with your doctor or travel clinic.

The risk of malaria on this trip is slight, but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Local Time

Uzbekistan's time zone: Asia/Tashkent (UTC +05:00)

Kazakhstan's time zone: Asia/Almaty (UTC +06:00)

Kyrgyzstan's time zone: Asia/Bishkek (UTC +06:00)


Uzbekistan's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins) and F (two round pins) – 220V, 50Hz

Kazakhstan's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins) and F (two round pins) – 230V, 50Hz

Kyrgyzstan's electricity: Plug types C (two round pins) and F (two round pins) – 220V, 50Hz


Uzbekistan's currency: Uzbekistani soum (UZS). Please note, the soum can fluctuate significantly, so it is better to relate everything to the US dollar. We recommend you bring your money in dollars or pounds as other currencies are hard to exchange. Make sure you bring plenty of small denomination notes. Notes issued before 1990, and any ripped or dirty notes, or notes with writing or stamps, may not be accepted. It is also difficult to change travellers cheques.

Kazakhstan's currency: Kazakhstani tenge (KZT)

Kyrgyzstan's currency: Kyrgyzstani som (KGS). There are money exchange facilities in the main cities, including Bishkek and Osh. Bring US dollars or euros in cash as these are easy to change; pounds can be exchanged in a few places but most will not accept them. Please bring new notes as most money exchangers will not accept old notes. Larger denominations (US$50 or US$100 notes or €50 or €100 notes) attract a marginally better exchange rate, but bring a mixture of denominations so you can change a small amount at a time. In Kyrgyzstan, smaller denominations of som are useful.

ATM Availability

There are ATMs in large hotels and at banks in the main cities in Uzbekistan, though some do not accept international bank cards. Credit cards are rarely accepted so take most of your money in cash – Visa cards are sometimes accepted but Mastercards usually are not. You may be able to use your credit card in the gift shops and money exchange desks at large hotels, and at some larger stores. There are ATMs in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, though they may not always work with foreign cards.

Extra Expenses & Spending Money

The amount of spending money required can vary depending on how much you spend on drinks and souvenirs. As an indication, we recommend you bring at least US$300 for meals not included, souvenirs, drinks and other incidentals. Photo fees are payable at nearly all the sites in Uzbekistan – they vary from 5,000 to 10,000 soum. Meal prices in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are usually a little more than in Uzbekistan.

Kazakh hotel tax

A hotel tax is payable on check-in to the hotel in Almaty in cash, USD or Tenge. This comes to approximately US$10 per person in total.

Optional Excursions

There are several optional activities, which your leader can help arrange. They are subject to schedules, weather and availability; your leader will let you know what is available and the local costs. Payment should be made locally in US dollars. Below is an indication of the optional activities and their approximate costs but these may vary throughout the season or depending on the number of participants and are given in good faith as a guideline only.

Djety Oguz

  • Golden eagle hunting demonstration: US$120-US$150 per group

Uzbek hotel tax

A hotel tax is payable on check-in at each hotel in Uzbekistan. This comes to approximately US$3 per person per night.


This is entirely at your own discretion; however, with the increase in tourism, tipping has become customary here. The local staff will probably expect some gratuity and we suggest you allow for this. If you feel your leaders have performed well over the course of your trip, you may want to show your appreciation for their services. The sum you choose to give is entirely personal, but as a guide, US$4 per person per day for all tipping would be a reasonable starting point (of which about US$2 a day for the leader and the rest for drivers and other staff). The main tipping will be for the leaders and drivers, though you may want to leave tips in hotels for the staff there.

People, Places & Planet

We work hard to create trips that have a positive impact on the people and places we visit and look after the planet we explore. Learn more about our sustainable travel ethos and practice here and find out about the work of the Exodus Travels Foundation here.

We are very proud to work with a local partner who has the Travelife Partner award. Travelife is a certification system dedicated to achieving sustainable practices in the global tourism industry. To receive the award, our partner had to comply with more than 100 criteria related to corporate social responsibility. The Travelife standard is formally recognised for full compliance with the UN Sustainable Tourism Criteria.

Some sustainable travel highlights of this trip include:


How this trip helps improve life for local communities.

  • Local guides keep you well informed about local traditions and cultural-social sensitivities.
  • This trip brings income and opportunity to the destination community through the inclusion of locally owned hotels, restaurants, and other enterprises, and by championing locally produced food wherever possible. At Chon-Kemin Gorge, we stay in a family-owned establishment and at Djety Oguz Gorge we stay at a family-owned yurt camp. This provides great opportunities to learn about local cultures.
  • In Karakol, we have dinner with a local family.
  • Read more about our other initiatives here.


How this trip helps protect and conserve local landscapes and nature.

  • By travelling in a small group, we ‘tread lightly’ to minimise our impact on local resources and the environment.
  • We work with our partners on the ground to proactively reduce waste; this includes eliminating all single-use plastic water bottles by providing refills for reusable bottles.
  • The payment of entrance fees to natural reserves and archaeological sites generates income used for upkeep and development of these important sites. We visit several national and Unesco heritage sites on this trip. We also visit Ala-Archa National Park and Charyn Canyon.
  • We rewild 1,075sqft (100sqm) per passenger to compensate for all trip and flight emissions.
  • Read about our commitment to nature protection and restoration hereincluding our rewilding commitment for every customer who travels with us.


How we seek to keep the carbon footprint of this trip low.

  • Accommodation and restaurants in the itinerary use locally sourced food which has not been transported long distances.
  • Read about our climate action here, including our carbon reduction and compensation commitments.

Tips for sustainable travel on this trip

  • Leave no trace: We do all we can to ensure we leave no rubbish in the wild and beautiful places we visit; we ask that you do the same. If there are no recycling facilities in-country, consider bringing recyclable materials home with you.
  • Plastic waste reduction: Please bring a reusable water bottle on this trip, also consider avoiding single-use hotel toiletries, which generate a large amount of plastic waste.

Important Information

Water safety

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. You should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim. Open-water or wild swim spots should be treated with extreme caution. Information on how to keep yourself safe while swimming is shown here.

This trip goes near an area deemed unsafe to visit by the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, whose advice we follow when operating our trips. While our itinerary doesn’t go to these areas, you should familiarise yourself with your local government’s advice if you are planning any pre- or post-trip travel. Any independent travel to areas currently against your local government advice is entirely at your own risk and unlikely to be covered by your travel insurance.

Important Information

Your safe participation 

When booking this trip, you should be confident in your ability to participate in all activities described in these Trip Notes. If you have any doubt about your suitability, please call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary. 

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely take part in an activity, or their impact on other people’s enjoyment, we authorise them to take necessary action which, in some circumstances, may involve asking someone to miss that activity. 

By booking this trip you agree to our Booking Conditions which clearly state that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these rare instances we will ensure anyone sitting out is safely provided for and offered alternative options where possible. Refunds will not be provided for activities missed and customers may be liable for additional costs incurred. 

How to Book

  1. Check availability: Go online to check availability, or contact us by phone or email.
  2. Secure your place: You can provisionally hold a place on this trip, usually for between three and seven days.
  3. Complete your booking and payment

When you’re ready to book, go to our website for online bookings, book over the phone or you can complete a booking form (available online or on request by calling us). We accept all major credit and debit cards, or you can pay be cheque.

After booking

You will receive your booking confirmation letter and invoice, which includes extra information and guidance about your travel arrangements.

Full joining instructions, including local emergency numbers and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately two to three weeks prior to departure. If you do not receive these at least a week before departure, or require them earlier, please contact our office or your travel agent.

Trip Note validity

These Trip Notes are valid from the “Current as” date on page one. They will occasionally be updated after booking and before departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary, customers will be written to separately. They will also receive a link to the most up-to-date Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions before travelling.

The information in these Trip Notes is given in good faith. Where differences exist between the Trip Notes and our current brochure or website, the Trip Notes supersede the brochure and website. All holidays can be subject to unexpected changes; to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, it may not be possible to follow the itinerary as planned. This may be for a variety of reasons – climatic, political, physical or other. In these circumstances we will make the best-possible alternative arrangements that maintain the integrity of the original itinerary.


Exodus is fully licensed and bonded as a tour operator. We hold Air Traffic Organisers Licence (ATOL) number 2582, issued and bonded with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). We are also bonded to the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and we are members of the Federation of Tour Operators (FTO) and ABTA – The Travel Association. This means you can book your Exodus holiday with confidence, as all money paid to us for your trip is fully protected.