This 20 days itinerary in Central Asia stan countries offers to experience the whole specter of brand new feelings, learn more about traditions of the Great Silk Road cities and nomadic life, as well as tasting most delicious food of local cuisines. If you're unsure about to travel or not - most of world countries citizens don't need visa for entry, and even if they do - they can apply online and not be bothered with paperwork.
So open your mind towards new world located between China and India - a lost place full of miracles and atmosphere, a homeland of plov and glittering mosaics - Central Asia!
Flight to Tashkent, the biggest city in Central Asia with 2.5 million population.
Morning arrival in Tashkent International Airport named after Islam Karimov, first President of Uzbekistan.
Migration formalities usually take 20 min to 60 min: visa/passport control and baggage claim. Come out of the terminal and meet the driver and guide holding a sign “ANUR TOUR” or with your name on it.
Start sightseeing tour of Tashkent (5 hrs) visiting old and new parts of the city:
- Amir Timur Square, founded in 1882 and originally called Konstantinovsky Square, was renamed in 1994 after of the Amir Timur to honor the cultural and historical contribution of the great conqueror.
- Tashkent chimes, one of major symbols of Tashkent, were brought from defeated Koenisberg in 1945 by as a sign of the great victory and eternal glory of patriots who fought in World War II.
- Theatre Square with the Opera House: State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Uzbekistan named after Alisher Navoi builit in 1947 is one of the best opera theatre of the world performs both classical and national repertoires.
- Independence Square, the main square of Uzbekistan reflects the past, present and future of the country. There are fountains, the “Eternal flame" in honor of soldiers who died during the Second World War, arch "Good and noble aspiration" crowned with birds of happiness and prosperity, road "Ok Yul" leading to Independence Monument and a monument to Happy Mother that symbolize the hope for a great future.
- Earthquake Memorial, the composition is devoted to the tragic date of earthquake in Tashkent on April 26, 1966 and is erected in the approximate place of earthquake epicenter. Residents still come to the monument to honor those people who took a part in the reconstruction of Tashkent.
- Khast Imam Square – a religious center of the city consisting of the Barakkhan madrasah; Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum and the library of Islamic Literature with the Holy Koran Book of the VII century ( original Quran Othman). Khast Imam is one of the most significant spiritual centers in Central Asia and attracts the pilgrims and visitors all over the world.
- Chorsu bazaar – the ancient bazaar of Tashkent. “Chorsu” means “four waters”, symbolically meaning the conjunction of four major parts of old city in bazaar where people come for trades.
- Tashkent Metro (the first line was launched in 1977) with beautiful train stations each decorated in thematic style with traditional ornaments and special lightning.
Transfer to the hotel.
Resting time in the evening. Overnight at the hotel.
Start WALKING sightseeing program in Bukhara(5-6 hours):
- Ensemble Lyabi Hauz (Nadir Divanbegi Madrassa, Khanaka, Kukeldash Madrassa and the monument of Khodja Nasreddin);
- Magoki Attari Mosque is one of the oldest mosques survived in Bukhara from the time before the Mongolian invasion;
- Abdullakhan’s Tim with numerous handicraft shops of souvenirs, ceramics, national clothes and carpets;
- Caravanserai Sayfuddin (the Center of Development of Bukhara);
- There are three trading domes or so-called covered bazaars Toki Sarrofon, Toki Telpak Furushon and Toki Zargaron preserved from the XVI century and these bazaars were the centers for trade of silk, jewelry and even for money exchange. Today as well, one can enjoy and purchase different souvenirs of a wide range, from small souvenir magnets to the famous Bukhara carpets;
- Visit Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan Madrassas or so called Kosh (pare) madrassas opposite each other with distinctive style of facade ornamental decoration;
-Poi Kalon Square with Kalon Minaret and Mosque, Mir Arab Madrassa – the heart of Bukhara, a monumental complex impresses the imagination;
- Ark Fortress – the oldest citadel dating back to I century BC where one can feel the history of the great fortress covered in beautiful legends and myths.
09:00 Transfer to Samarkand via Shakhrisabz town through beautiful Takhta Karacha pass(320 km). Photo stops en-route.
Meet the guide in Shahrisabz.
Excursion tour in Shakhrisabz includes visiting (2,5 hrs):
- Ak Saray Palace (“White Palace”), the ruins of the summer palace of Tamerlane. The palace was constructed and decorated by deported from conquered Khorezm skillful builders, masters and artisans. Some parts of the gate tower survived to the present day.
- Mausoleum of Dorus-Saodat ("The Place of Power", XIV century) contains the tomb of Eldest and favourite Tamerlane’s son Jahongir.
- Visit Kok Gumbaz, so-called “House of Meditation.
- Mausoleum Gumbazi-Seyidon of XVI century where the descendants of Ulugbek are buried.
Continue to Samarkand. Arrival in Samarkand. Hotel check in.
- Gur Emir Mausoleum – a burial vault of Timur the Great and his descendants is decorated with gold ornaments and is considered as one of the most significant sights of the world;
- Continue to the famous Registan Square – heart of Samarkand and real masterpiece of Central Asian medieval architecture, the ensemble of grandiose buildings: Ulugbek Madrassa, Madrassa Sherdor and Madrassa Tilla Kori;
- Bibi Khanim Mosque – the biggest medieval building in the city was one of the most magnificent mosques in the Islamic world in 15th Century;
- Shahi Zinda Necropolis – unique complex of Mausoleums formed by standing on both sides of the cenotaph (an imaginary grave) of the Muslim saint Abbas ibn- Kussam;
- Ulugbek’s Observatory – the finest astronomical centers in medieval world was built by order of Ulugbek, an outstanding scholar and astronomer;
09:00 Transfer to border Jartepa. Border crossing (it usually takes 30 min- 1 hr).
Meet the guide and driver at Tajikistan part of the border.
Start excursion to Marguzor lakes in Fann Mountains.
- Transfer to Marguzor, the famous seven lakes - seven wonderful water mirrors full of mountain riverside drops. Each lake looks different whenever the sun changes its position. Colors may vary from deep blue to indie color ripple. Most of them are cold to swim even in summer. These lakes belong to Fann Mountains system.
On the western edge of the Fan Mountains in the valley of the river Shing there are seven lakes, six of them are dammed origin, beside the lake Hazorchashma. Lakes are called Marguzor, but each lake has its own name: Nezhigon (other references Mizhgon), Soybean, Gushor, Nofin, Hurdak, Marguzor, Hazorchashma. The difference in level between the upper and lower lake is 692 meters.
Easy hike at the lakes.
Transfer to Penjikent - an ancient town in Sogdiana and now it is a city in the Sugd province of Tajikistan on Zeravshan River.
- The Sarazm Important Bird Area (UNESCO World Heritage) lies downstream of the city on the tugay - vegetated floodplain of the river.
- The archaeological site of the ruins of old Penjikent - a walled inter-city (2500-years ago) - was once a Sogdian trading city on the Silk Road. Today, only ruins are left owing to the fact that the main construction material was clay-bricks.
Transfer to the hotel.
Resting time in the evening. Overnight at the hotel.
09:00 Transfer to the camp "Artuch", via Fann Mountains.
Take short stops en-route to observe the beautiful views.
- Artuch is a town in north - west Tajikistan. It is located in Sugd not far from the Kulikalon Lakes. The mountaineering tourist base "Artuch" is located in the heart of Fann Mountains (2200 m) in the valley of the river Artuč, the land is covered with alpine meadows where the spring river Chil Chashma originates.
The camp was opened in 1971 and was the site of various climbing camps and events.
After lunch, one can have light warm-up walk around Artuch, the place is beautiful and is a great for photographing.
09:00 Transfer to Khujand with short photo stops en-route.
Khujand, the second largest city and one of the oldest cities in Tajikistan, was the furthest point Alexander the Great reached in Central Asia, so the city was named Alexandria Eschate (Alexandria the Furthest).
- Panjshanbe bazaar (the name "Panjshanbe" comes from Persian language meaning “Thursday”) is one of the oldest markets in Tajikistan. The Silk Road routes passing through Khujand had always made Panjshanbe to be crowded with merchants and travelers.
Kokand(mentioned as Khavakand or Kokan derived from a tribal name) is an ancient city that due to favorable location was one of the convenient fortified points of caravan routes in the Great Silk Road.
Nowadays, Kokand is a modern town at the crossroads of Tashkent, Fergana valley to Andijan and the other route to Khujand (Tajikistan) and is considered as one of the most important pre-border points.
Start sightseeing tour around Kokand visiting:
- Khudoyar - Khan Palace of 19th century is listed in the world heritage of UNESCO, at present days houses Kokand Regional History Museum that exhibits a unique collection of more than 3000 artifacts from ancient, khanate and tsarist periods of the region.
- Norbut - Biy Madrassah, the largest madrassa in Kokand. The madrassa was built in XVIII century by captured architects as well as the famous Bukharian architect Usto Muhammed Salih Kasim, so the design and construction is quite typical to some monuments of XVIII Century in Bukhara.
- Modari Khan Mausoleum (Modari - khan means “Mother of Khan”) was built in 1825 by order of the widow of Umarkhan, famous poetess Nodira to honor the tomb of her mother-in-law. Since then the mausoleum became the family mausoleum where most of the female members of khan family were buried.
- Rishton (50 km west of Fergana) famous all over the world for its pottery that is decorated according to ancient tradition that is more than 800 years. Masters hand down their trade secrets from father to son. The unique red clay ceramic masterpieces are decorated with naturally made ultramarine, turquoise and azure ornaments known as blue glaze "ishkor".
- Workshop of the famous potter Rustam Umarov where visitors are welcome to observe the finest Rishtan ceramics in wonderful hand made and painted tea sets and lagans and beautifully decorated jugs and vases.
- Fergana is a relatively young city that was founded as a strategic fortified point in Turkestan in 1876 during tsarist period of the region. The town was initially called as New Margilan, further in soviet period renamed as Fergona in 1924. Nowadays, Fergana is a flourishing beautiful town and despite its young history became the central point of Fergana valley.
- Visit Ahmad Al-Fargoni monumental complex;
- Continue to Margilan. Margilan (“Marg” from Persian green grass, “lon”- “place“) was inhabited settlement in Fergana valley since IV-III Centuries BC, the town was well known for its crafts and finest silk fabrics from the Great Silk Road period up to now.
08:00Transfer to the Uzbek - Kyrgyz border Dostyk (ETA 09:00),
Border crossing formalities (40 min- 1, 5 hrs depending on the customs formalitiesand tourist flow). Meet the guide and driver.
Transfer to Osh, Osh is the oldest city in Kyrgyzstan, for sightseeing tour visiting
- Suleiman Mountain. Suleiman Too (Suleiman is the prophet Solomon - Suleyman in Quran, “Too “is “mountain”). The museum is the only UNESCO sight of the whole mountain with many sacred places in caves and paths. It is quite unusual – the museum with rare artifacts is located in the largest cave of the mountain. Besides, there are several caves, rocks and niches each with its name. The locals and pilgrims believe every spot of the mountain is sacred and come here to follow the rituals and pray for better life and good health; couples come pray to be blessed with a child. It is believed that every spot of the mountain is sacred. There is a watching platform with beautiful panoramic views to the city and surroundings.
- Osh Bazaar, a colorful bazaar with more than 2000 years history, plays an important role in the Great Silk Road as a major landmark. Nowadays, along the visitors may take a walk around and enjoy shopping in the shops of national clothes, embroidery, handicrafts and souvenirs.
- Main Square with Lenin statue. Kyrgyz people are very respectful to the history of Soviet period and kept the monument to Lenin in main cities as the country major developments were made during soviet time.
- Ala Archa National Park (40 km from Bishkek one way);
- Oak Park in the city center. It is known also as Dubovy Park - today it is one of the favorite places among locals and tourists in Bishkek.
- Ala - Too Square is the central square in Bishkek. It serves as a place for state events and celebrations. Philharmonic hall – situated at the top of Rose Alley.
- Statue of Manas (Manas is legendary Kyrgyz hero and the classic centerpiece of Kyrgyz literature).
- Victory Square, where in the centre you can see the Victory monument, a memorial which was completed in 1984. Usually the main festival events are held in Bishkek at eternal flame, on Victory Square, where is posted guard of honor, forces of Kyrgyz garrison and a military band.
- State History museum is a perfect display of the Kyrgyz people and the history of the country of Kyrgyzstan.
09:00 Transfer to Karakol via Issyk Kul with sightseeing en-route:
- Burana Tower was the vertical dominant of the ancient city Balasagun, the north capital of the Turkic lingual state of the Karakhanids and the small nearby museum with its collection of ancient bal-bals, carved stone figures used as monuments.
- Continue driving to Issyk-Kul. The lake is called "the pearl of Central Asia". Due to the salty water, Lake Issyk Kul possesses curative qualities. Arrival to Issyk-Kul, accommodation in the hotel on the North Shore of the lake.
- Easy hike near the lake. Issyk Kul is one of the most wonderful lakes of the world, located in the north-eastern part of the Kyrgyz Republic. Issyk Kul is translated as “Hot Lake”. There are many activities that entertain people on the beach. Windsurfing, scooters, aqua parks, parachutes and rides on boats and ships. In winter, there are also spots of alpinism where people enjoy incredible landscapes.
08:00 Transfer to Kegen-Karjyra border, border passing formalities.
Transfer to one of the most beautiful places of Kazakhstan, Kaindy Gorge.
Kaindy Lake (Birch Lake) is situated among magnificent pine forest at an altitude of 2000 meters above sea level and is famous for its origin. It was formed in 1911 due to the powerful earthquake that triggered the landslide blocked the valley with the natural dam, and the water has flooded the valley. The water of the lake is very cold, that is why the needles of the flooded trees are well-preserved and clearly visible through the transparent surface of the water. Dry stems of fir trees overlook the water surface, like the masts of the submarine squadron. It is impossible to describe in words all this mystical splendor of the lake.
Dinner and overnight at guesthouse in Saty village.
Morning exploring Kolsai Lakes (1800 m above sea level) enjoying gorgeous views and photo stops en-route.
Transfer to Charyn Canyon. Sightseeing in the "Valley of Castles".
-Charyn Canyon is a natural complex, unique in its kind not only in Kazakhstan but also worldwide. It was formed during Paleogene and reminds the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River in North America, although inferior to it in size. The height of the steep slopes of the canyon is up to 150-300 meters. Extraordinary dissection of the terrain is striking: the numerous ravines form a dense, chaotic network. Wind and water have created the beautiful "Valley of Castles", where visitors are always surrounded with the fancy towers composed of sedimentary rocks. The length of the valley is more than 2 km, width varies from 20 to 80 meters. For millions of years the nature has been creating a unique architecture, erecting magnificent castles carefully and slowly.
Nature phenomenon, that many scientists still try to get the reasonable explanation, is crescent like barchan of about 120 m high that produces distinctive melodically rumbling sounds when the wind blows,
Transfer to Almaty (261 km), passing the bridge through the river Ili in vicinities Kapshagay of a water basin.
- Panfilov Park. The name of the Panfilov Park comes after the heroes of Panfilov. There is a big monument in commemoration of the heroic actions made by 28 Almaty Soldiers who died back in 1941 fighting in World War II near Moscow.
- Zenkov Cathedral. Zenkov Wooden constructed Cathedral is one of the eight unique wooden buildings in the world. It is one of the few buildings to survive the 1911 earthquake, despite the fact it is built entirely of wood and constructed without nails;
- National Musical Instruments Museum. In the Museum of Musical Instruments, one can find various national musical instruments, the oldest of is dated of XVII century.
- Medeu, the World's largest speed skating rink known as Medeo. At the end of the gorge there is a ski resortShymbulak, situated at an altitude of 2.200 m above sea level. It is one of Central Asia's top skiing spots where visitors may take a cable car funicular to ShymbulakSki resort and enjoy the panoramic views to the surroundings.