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Your Words - We tell it like it is! Holiday Reviews by previous Exodus travellers  

Here at Exodus we thrive on feedback from our customers. It's the only way we can ensure our trips continue to be the best they can be. So, for the real tales, twists and turns of the trip you're interested in, look no further than the reviews from our previous travellers.

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  • 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.
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