Registan Ensemble

The Silk Road Trip Notes

Ways to Travel:
Guided Group, Private Group Adventures
Destinations:
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan
Programmes:
Culture
Trip Code:
AXF
Activity Rating - Leisurely/Moderate
Leisurely / Moderate

You are reasonably fit, enjoy the outdoors and are looking for some exercise. Some previous experience is preferable for activity based trips.

15 Days Flight Inclusive
15 Days Land only
Ages: 16+

Trip Overview

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.

At a Glance

  • 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

Trip 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

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, excluding 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 mealtimes can take longer than normal.

Temperatures can vary greatly depending on the 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.

Group

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

Adult min age:
16
Min group size:
4
Max group size:
16

Itinerary

Land Only

Start City:
Tashkent
End City:
Bishkek

Flight Inclusive

Start City:
London
End City:
London

Land Only Itinerary

  • 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.

    Gabrielle 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.
    Gabrielle 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 14:00h and arriving in Almaty the following morning around 08:20h. 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 USD20 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. 08:20 am 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.

    Kazzhol Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel

  • Day 9

    Day trip to Issyk and Turgen Gorge.

    Today is a long day with considerable driving as we head out of Almaty to stretch our legs and explore the countryside.  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 (walking shoes recommended). 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 Issyk 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 wildflowers, 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 off 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 drive 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, it'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.

    B Hotel 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 (approx. 10 hours) 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 photo stops and depending on the weather, there is also the option to see an eagle hunting show today if you didn't see one yesterday (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, arriving in time for dinner. We have climbed in elevation today and will be sleeping at an altitude of approx. 2,500m, so bear this in mind and take it easy. 

    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) and one communal/dining yurt. There is a shower and three western-style 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 home.

    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.

    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. You can relax and swim in the lake or there is 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.

    B 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

Accommodation

Hotel, Yurt and Sleeper Train

Djety Oguz yurt camp

12 nights Standard Hotel, 1 night Yurt and 1 night sleeper train.

Throughout most of the trip, we stay in standard, 2 to 3-star category, hotels. 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 and there are three toilets and one shower. Single supplements don’t apply to the night on the sleeper train or the night in the yurt camp.

Where a single supplement is available, paying for a single will only guarantee a room for single use. It does not necessarily mean a twin or double room will be provided for sole occupancy.

Please note that a member of the group may be allocated a single room by default if the make-up of the group means there isn’t anyone for them to share with. Paying the supplement in advance is the only way to guarantee a single room.

Single supplements cannot be refunded retrospectively.

Single supplement from £310.00

Food & Transport

Eating & 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.

Transportation

We generally use air-conditioned buses or minibuses, changing vehicle in each country. We also use three trains, a fast train from Tashkent to Samarkand, one from Bukhara back to Tashkent and an overnight train from Tashkent to Almaty.

Weather & Seasonality

Weather Information

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 to 40ºC plus, which can make sightseeing tiring. 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.

Weather Charts

Samarkand

Samarkand

Joining Instructions

Travelling flight inclusive from London: 15 Days

The group flight from London is an overnight flight departing the day before Day 1 of the itinerary.

Flights from London

We normally use the scheduled services of Turkish Airlines (depending on availability). As flight timings and schedules change regularly we recommend you call one of our specialist sales staff or your agent to confirm up‐to‐date timings. Please note timings may change at a later date and cannot be confirmed until approximately two weeks before departure.

Travelling land only: 15 days starting in Tashkent and ending in Bishkek

Your trip normally starts at our accommodation in Tashkent in the evening of Day 1 of the itinerary. Details of how to reach the start point are provided in the Final Joining Instructions ‐ sent approximately two weeks before departure.

In the unlikely event of any of your luggage being misplaced or damaged, a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) must be filed with the appropriate airline if you subsequently wish to make a claim against the airline or on your travel insurance. This must be done at the airport where your baggage arrived, or should have arrived.

Regional Flights

The Flight Inclusive price is based on a London departure, but we are happy to tailor this to your local or regional airport. Please ask about flights from local or regional airports.

If booking regional flights other than with Exodus, you must allow a minimum connecting time (in addition to the international check-in time) of 1 hour at Gatwick, and 1.5 hours at Heathrow; this is longer than the official minimum, but baggage handling is known to be subject to delays.

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.

Transfers Details

Airport transfers are included for those on the group flights. Please note that transfers are not included for clients arriving on any other flight, even if Exodus has booked it.

If you require airport transfers, you may (by prior arrangement only) be able to join the group transfer. Transfers are arranged to coincide with the arrival time of the group flight - please check the group flight details 2 weeks before departure. If you do not take this transfer, or miss it, you must make your own way to the joining point at your own expense.

Location start:
Tashkent
Location end:
Bishkek

What to Take

Essential Equipment

Light casual cotton clothing is recommended. Please remember that 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, whilst 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 madrasas.

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 - such as Turgen Gorge

Sunhat, suncream and sunglasses

Swimwear (it's possible to swim in Lake Issyk Kul at Cholpon Ata) 

A set of thermal underwear (as a lightweight solution) and a fleece, hat and gloves is highly recommended for cold nights (especially during Spring/Autumn).

Mosquito repellent 

Travel towel

Hand sanitizer

We also recommend bringing a personal first aid kit with some rehydration salts to help hydrate in the heat

At the time of writing the standard weight limit for hold baggage on the recommended international carrier for this trip is 23kg. We recommend packing only one piece of checked baggage. As advice about luggage allowances for both hand and hold luggage is subject to change, we suggest you check the airline's website for the latest information prior to your departure.

Water Included

Plastic bottles are a big issue in many countries where recycling isn’t yet widely available; they often end up in landfill sites or get burnt, 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 in order to reduce the amount of plastic used. This means that safe drinking water will be available throughout so all you need to do is bring a bottle to re-fill along the way. Please add this to your packing list!

Practical Information

Passport

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.

Visa

Kazakhstan

Under normal circumstances, 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. However, at present, the visa-free regime has been suspended until 1 November 2020, and most countries will need to apply for a visa in advance of travel. Applicants must also present a medical certificate confirming that they do not have a coronavirus infection, issued within 48 hours prior to their visit to the consular office. Failure to present such a certificate will result in cancellation of the Kazakh visa. You should contact your nearest Embassy of Kazakhstan for further information.

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 https://mfa.uz/en/consular/visa/

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.

For assistance with obtaining visas please call Travcour on 020 8543 1846 or visit their website: http://www.travcour.com/page/tour-packs/exodus.php

Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccination

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.

Travel health can often be something people forget about before going away, but a little preparation and knowledge can go a long way to help you stay fit and healthy while abroad.

As we are not qualified to answer all your questions about travel health we strongly recommend you contact your Medical Professional or a Travel Health Clinic at least 8 weeks prior to departure for up-to-date information. Please note: vaccinations that are routinely recommended to residents of the UK, North America or Australasia are not considered to form part of the travel health advice, and you should ensure these are kept up to date where necessary.

For additional information please visit: https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/countries

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

Insurance - are you adequately covered?

It is a condition of joining any of our holidays that you must be fully insured against medical and personal accident risks (to include repatriation costs and air ambulance or helicopter rescue services where appropriate). On arrival in destination for your trip, you will be asked to present details to your leader or local representative of your policy.

If you are resident in the UK we strongly recommend the Exodus travel insurance policy, this is specifically designed to cover all activities on your trip. If arranging your own policy please ensure that you are covered for all activities that are part of the trip, optional activities that you intend to take part in and/or on high altitude itineraries, that you are covered up to the maximum altitude of the trip.

Local Time

Kazakhstan's Timezone:
Asia/Almaty +06 (GMT +06:00)
Kyrgyzstan's Timezone:
Asia/Bishkek +06 (GMT +06:00)
Uzbekistan's Timezone:
Asia/Tashkent +05 (GMT +05:00)

Electricity

Kazakhstan's Electricity:

Kazakstan uses Continental European style 2-prong plugs type C/F.

Kyrgyzstan's Electricity:

Kyrgyzstan uses Continental European style 2-prong plugs type C/F.

Uzbekistan's Electricity:

Uzbekistan uses Continental European style 2-prong plugs type C/F.

Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan use Continental European style 2-prong plugs type C/F.

Money

Kazakhstan's Currency

The national currency of Kazakhstan is the Kazak Tenge (KZT), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 450 to the UK£ and 338 to the US$.

Kyrgyzstan's Currency

The national currency of Kyrgyzstan is the Kyrgyz Som (KGS), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 91 to the UK£ and 69 to the US$.

There are money change facilities in the main cities in Kyrgyzstan, including Bishkek and Osh. You need to bring US Dollars or Euros in cash as these are easy to change. GB Pounds can be changed in a few places but most money changers will not accept them. Please bring brand new notes as most money changers will not accept old notes. Larger denominations ($50 or $100 notes or Euros50 or 100) attract a marginally better exchange rate but we recommend that you bring a mixture of denominations so that you can change just a small amount of money at a time if needs be. In Kyrgyzstan, smaller denominations of Kyrgyz Som are very useful.

Uzbekistan's Currency

Money exchange is done in banks or bureaux de changes.

The national currency of Uzbekistan is the Uzbeki Som (UZS), with an exchange rate at the time of publication of approximately 11000 to the UK£ and 8000 to the US$.

The Som is subject to significant fluctuations so it is better to relate everything to the US Dollar. We recommend you bring your money in Dollars/Pounds as other currencies will be hard to change.

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 so please bear this in mind. It is difficult to change travellers cheques.

It is no longer necessary for you to complete a currency declaration form upon arrival (unless you are carrying over US2000 with you). 

ATM Availability

There are ATMs in large hotels and at banks in the main cities in Uzbekistan. Some ATM machines do not accept international bank cards. It is also possible to exchange GBP in the banks in the main cities. Credit cards are rarely accepted so it is wise to 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 exchange bureau at large hotels, and at some of the 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, but as an indication, we recommend you bring at least GBP250 (USD300) for meals not included, souvenirs, drinks and other incidentals. Photo fees are payable at nearly all the sites in Uzbekistan ‐ they vary from 5000 to 10000 Som. Meal prices in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are usually a little more than in Uzbekistan.

Optional Excursions

There are a number of optional activities, which if you wish, your leader can help arrange for you. 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.

Jety Oguz:
Golden eagle hunting demonstration ‐ USD120-150 per group

Cholpon Ata:
Boat cruise ‐ USD120 per hour per boat

Bishkek:
Folklore show ‐ USD150 per group
Skewered lamb dinner ‐ price can vary on season and group size

Tipping

This is entirely at your own discretion however; we suggest that you allow a few pounds for tips for the local guides and staff. In the countries visited, with the increase in tourism, tipping has become customary. The local staff will probably expect some gratuity and we suggest you allow for this. If you feel that your leaders have performed well over the course of your trip, you may want to show your appreciation of their services. The sum you choose to give is entirely personal, but as a guide, USD4 per person per day for all tipping would be a reasonable starting point (of which about USD2 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.

Responsible Tourism

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… 

Exodus Community

Join the Exodus online community

Don't forget to visit the Community area on our website. You can view the range of Exodus videos and podcasts, read trip write-ups which have featured in the national media and take advantage of some special deals on travel gear and equipment.

In the Community Travel Forum you'll find the Departure Lounge where you can discuss your trip with fellow travellers before you depart. When you get back from your holiday remember to upload your images to the relevant trip page on our website. This helps other people see what our holidays are really like and you'll be entered automatically into our monthly photo competition.

To make full use of the Community you'll need to join My Exodus. It's free, registration is simple and easy, so what are you waiting for?

Important Information

On all guided trips

Although our leaders are well trained to deal with different capabilities, if they have any concerns about someone’s ability to safely partake 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.

Although rarely enforced, by booking this trip you agree to section 14 of our Booking Conditions which clearly states that our leaders have the authority to do this. In these circumstances 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.

On all trips

In 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 you should call the Exodus office and ask to speak to one of the experts on this itinerary.

 

Every time that you travel abroad you should take the time to read the warnings in the essential information in the brochure.

Full joining instructions including local emergency numbers, and details of how to reach the start point, will be sent to you approximately 2 to 3 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.

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; in order to enjoy them you should be prepared to be flexible where necessary. Occasionally, as stated in our brochure, 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.

As fuel prices, airport taxes and exchange rates fluctuate, and airlines manage their rates to match demand, it is proving harder than ever to guarantee our Flight Inclusive prices. Although we endeavour to keep our website as accurate as possible, daily fluctuations mean that our Flight Inclusive price may be out of date. For accurate prices we recommend that you contact one of our Travel Experts, or your Travel Agent.

This trip includes time by a lake, river or sea, where there may be opportunities to swim. Swimming results in more tourists deaths than any other activity. All customers should always seek local advice before deciding whether to swim, and are requested to treat the sea with extreme caution if they choose to enter the water. Details on how to keep yourself safe while swimming are shown here.

TRAVEL AWARE – STAY SAFE & HEALTHY ABROAD

 

The Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and the NHS have up-to-date advice on staying safe and healthy abroad. For more on security, local laws, plus passport and visa information, see https://travelaware.campaign.gov.uk/

Keep informed of current travel health news by visiting https://travelhealthpro.org.uk/

Advice can change so check regularly for updates.

For all latest travel information about your holiday, please visit our Travel Safety Advice page.

Please note, although this trip doesn’t visit any FCDO no-go areas, it does visit a region close to an area where the advice is not to travel. If joining this trip, or if planning any additional travel pre or post tour in the area, you should ensure you visit their website to familiarise yourself with the advice. Any independent travel to these areas is entirely at your own risk and is likely not to be covered by your insurance.

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. Book with confidence: 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 monies paid to us for your trip are fully protected.

TRIP NOTE VALIDITY

These Trip Notes are valid from the "Current as" date on page one. They will occasionally be updated post booking and pre-departure; if there are any updates that significantly impact the inclusions or itinerary bookers will be written to separately. All customers will also receive a link to the most up-to-date version of the Trip Notes with their Final Joining Instructions pre-travel.