Gems of Uzbekistan, Karakalpakstan & Tajikistan

Gems of Uzbekistan, Karakalpakstan & Tajikistan

15 Days From



Gems of Uzbekistan, Karakalpakstan & Tajikistan

15 Days Starting in Tashkent and ending in Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Visiting: Tashkent, Nukus Street, Mizdakkhan, Muynak, Gyaur Kala, Nukus, Khiva, Bukhara, Nurota, Kyzyl Kum Safari Yurt Camp, Gijduvon, Aydar Lake, ASHRAF, Samarkand, Shahrisabz, Khujand, Iskanderkul, Dushanbe

Tour operator:

Crooked Compass

Tour code:


Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

2 - 12

Physical rating:


Special diets catered:


Tour operated in:


Trip Styles:




From: $5692 $5513 Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$179

NB: Prices correct on 24-Jul-2024 but subject to change.

This tour is no longer available, please see similar tours below or send an enquiry

Tour Overview

Visit the autonomous Karakalpakstan RepublicStay in a yurt camp in the Kyzyl Kum desertOpportunity to swim in Aydarkul desert lake, a turquoise, crystal clear lake and one of the most beautiful places in UzbekistanMingle with traditional communities in remote mountain villagesHike through Devil ValleyEnjoy a homestay in the Fann Mountains in TajikistanDusted in eye-popping cobalts, cyans and sapphires, Uzbekistan has an incredible tangle of history to unravel and hidden sites to uncover.

From its former Persian rule and key location along the famed Silk Road, to which is owes much of its grand architecture and culture, to a short period under Soviet rule, this jumble of traditions is a treasure trove waiting to be cracked open. We veer you through Uzbekistan's great sites, mingle with their nomads and cross into the autonomous Karakalpakstan Republic - a lesser known region often over shadowed by the other 'stans'. Karakalpakstan was once a rich delta feeding from the Aral Sea, part of the Silk Road and also a place of great Islamic learning. Now it barely survives. Almost completely deserted, the small republic provides a fascinating experience to the well healed traveller showcasing how regions can go from prosperous to destructed.

Wind back through Uzbekistan as you stay in hidden villages, live with locals and embrace the stunning scenery. Spend an evening under the stars in a yurt, deep in the Kyzyl Kum desert where the night sky will be one of the clearest and most spectacular star gazing experiences you may ever have.

Travel by land over the border to Tajikistan, the land of mountains, dotted with sapphire lakes and snow capped peaks. Stone villages scatter through the valleys, urging you to explore this landscape of sheer beauty. Travelling through Tajikistan is not easy. Roads are poor, hot water is a rarity and the locals are only just starting to warm to travellers. A destination that offers a true glimpse to a rare and remote way of life, Tajikistan's serene beauty will not disappoint.


  • Visit the autonomous Karakalpakstan Republic

  • Stay in a yurt camp in the Kyzyl Kum desert

  • Opportunity to swim in Aydarkul desert lake, a turquoise, crystal clear lake and one of the most beautiful places in Uzbekistan

  • Mingle with traditional communities in remote mountain villages

  • Hike through Devil Valley

  • Enjoy a homestay in the Fann Mountains in Tajikistan


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Day 1 : Arrival Tashkent

Location: Tashkent

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Inspira S Hotel or similar

Welcome to Uzbekistan! Upon arrival in Tashkent airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is yours at leisure. Uzbekistan is the proud home to a spellbinding infusion of architecture and ancient cities, all deeply intertwined with the bloody, fascinating history of the Silk Road.

Day 2 : Tashkent - Nukus

Location: Tashkent, Nukus Street

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Jipek Joli or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

After breakfast, meet your guide and depart for sightseeing in Tashkent. Visit the wonderful complex Khast Imam, located in the old part of the city which has been the biggest centre of Islamic culture in Uzbekistan for thousand of years. Continuing on, you will also visit Kukeldash madrasah, the largest madrasah and one of the most famous historical monuments of Tashkent. You will also have the opportunity to explore a local bazaar, Chorsu. This bazaar is one of the largest and most popular in the capital. Covered by seven domes tiled with coloured ceramic designs, mingle amongst the longest as they bargain and barter amongst themselves. Local farmers come from far and wide to sell products of their own production. Let your senses take over as you inhale the aromas of different eastern spices, vegetables and fruits. Later this afternoon, transfer to the airport for your flight to Nukus. Nukus is the sixth-largest city in Uzbekistan, and the capital of the autonomous Karakalpakstan Republic. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.

Day 3 : Nukus – Muynak – Mizdakhan – Gyaur-Kala – Nukus

Location: Mizdakkhan, Muynak, Gyaur Kala, Nukus, Nukus

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Jipek Joli or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

After breakfast, drive to Muynak where you will have a look at the former port now home to abandoned ships wedged into their final destination – the sand. This area is also known as the ‘Cemetery of Ships’. Today’s lunch is with a local family. Enjoy learning about their local way of life as you share lunch with them, and in turn tell them about your lifestyle. This is sure to be an eye opening experience as your two worlds come together. On your way back to Nukus, stop at Mizdakhan, a complex of historical monuments located on three hills and a plane between them. The flat top of the west hill is crowned with the ruins of Gyaur-Kala Fortress, built in the 4th century BC which you will also visit.

Day 4 : Nukus To Khiva

Location: Khiva, Nukus

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Asia Khiva Hotel or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

Depart early this morning as you drive towards Khiva. On the way visit Ayaz kala, an archaeological site housing the mud brick walls of three fortresses, and Toprak kala, an ancient settlement of an outstanding monument of culture of Khoresm from the 1-6th centuries A.D. Khiva is a city of approximately 50,000 people located in the Xorazm Region of Uzbekistan. According to archaeological data, the city was established in the beginning of the Christian era. It is the former capital of Khwarezmia and the Khanate of Khiva. Explore the main sights and attractions of Khiva. Visit the Ichan Qala complex, an old town retaining more than 50 historic monuments and 250 old houses, dating primarily from the eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. The most spectacular features of the Ichan Qala complex are its crenellated brick walls and four gates, one at each side of the rectangular fortress. This has recently become a UNESCO heritage site. Another highlight of your city tour includes visiting the Pakhlavan Mahmud, which is the holiest site in Khiva. It is the shrine of Khiva’s patron saint, Pakhlavan Mahmud, who was a fur hat maker and a famous poet of Khiva, and the dynastic burial complex of the Khiva Khans. Pakhlavan Mahmud was also a superb wrestler, winning every single of his wrestling matches as well as the hearts of the Khiva citizens who built a modest mausoleum for him on the site of his furrier workshop.

Day 5 : Khiva To Bukhara

Location: Bukhara, Khiva

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Paradise Plaza or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast

This morning you will transfer to the airport in Urgench for your flight to Bukhara. Spend the day exploring the fascinating city of Bukhara. Enjoy a city tour which takes you around the old city of Bukhara. Bukhara was a prominent stop on the Silk Road trade route between the East and the West, and a major medieval centre for Islamic theology and culture. It still contains hundreds of well-preserved mosques, madrassas bazaars and caravanserais, dating largely from the 9th to the 17th centuries. Explore the sites of Chashmai-Ayub mausoleum, the Poyi-Kalon complex, Miri-Arab madrasah, Lyabi-Hauz complex, Samanids mausoleum, Nadir Devonbegi madrasah, Chor-Minor minarets and the Ark Citadel – this citadel is where ancient Bukhara once started. At the end of your city tour, transfer to your hotel for check in.

Day 6 : Bukhara - Gijduvan - Nurata - Yurts

Location: Nurota, Kyzyl Kum Safari Yurt Camp, Bukhara, Gijduvon

Accommodation: Camp

Accommodation Name: Yurt Camp

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

This morning you will transfer to Gijduvan, where one of the most popular ceramic schools is located. Here you will visit the Museum of Ceramics and learn about the importance of this traditional in local life. Continue to Nurata town to visit the local mosque, Chashma, which has a spring water with holy water. Continue driving out through the stunning rolling landscape towards your yurt camp in the Kyzyl Kum desert, which is the 16th largest desert in the world. Its name means Red Sand in Turkic languages. Once you have checked into your yurt, it is time to head off for an afternoon camel ride before enjoying some free time. Once the sun has set, enjoy dinner around the camp fire with your local hosts serenading you with traditional folk songs beneath the stars.

Day 7 : Yurts To Asraf Village

Location: Aydar Lake, ASHRAF

Accommodation Name: Local Guesthouse

Meals Included: Breakfast

After a breakfast, visit Aydarkul desert lake, a turquoise, crystal clear lake and one of the most beautiful places in Uzbekistan. If the weather permits, you may like to take a swim! Enjoy a picnic on the shore of the lake taking in the tranquil setting before you transfer to the village of Asraf, where you will become fully immersed in the life of the locals. Local people build themselves houses of small stones, rocks and clay. They plant and collect fruits and vegetables to cook for their meals which are all cooked in the open-fire oven. Each family has a few head of livestock and poultry, which provide eggs, milk, meat and wool. Whilst with your host family, enjoy a masterclass to learn how to bake Uzbek bread.

Day 8 : Asraf Village To Samarkand

Location: ASHRAF, Samarkand

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Arka Boutique Hotel or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Awake to embrace the lifestyle of the local villagers once more and embrace the purity of the neighbourhood. After lunch, you will transfer to Samarkand. Samarkand is a fascinating city in Uzbekistan known for its mosques and mausoleums. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. This afternoon, explore the main attractions in Samarkand including the Registan, which is a plaza bordered by 3 ornate, majolica-covered madrassas dating to the 15th and 17th centuries. You also have the chance to explore Gur Emir, the towering tomb of Timur (Tamerlane), founder of the Timurid Empire. Other points of interest include visiting the Shakhizinda, which is a necropolis in the north-eastern part of Samarkand and Bibikhanum Mosque which is one of the most important monuments of Samarkand.

Day 9 : Samarkand - Tersak Village - Takhta Karacha Pass - Shakhrisabs

Location: Shahrisabz, Samarkand

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Inspira S Hotel or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

This morning, you will drive to the village of Tersak (approx 45 km). Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by a local family who will join you for tea and oriental dried fruits. Walk through this quaint village and discover the beautiful mountain landscapes of the region. This is a great chance to observe the everyday life of the people and witness their time frozen traditions. Continue to the Tachta Karacha mountain pass (approx 25 km). From here, you have a panoramic view of the snow-covered Pamir Altay chain. Hike through the ‘Devil Valley’, which takes its name from the unusual rock formations. Legend has it that the sorcerers and witches held their sacrificial ceremonies here. The locals believe that there is ground energy here, which makes the milk of all the cows that pass through the area even better. After your walk, continue to Shakhrisabz (approx 25 km). Transfer to the railway station for your train back to Tashkent. Enjoy dinner on arrival.

Day 10 : Tashkent - Transfer To Khudjand

Location: Tashkent, Khujand

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Khujand Deluxe Hotel or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Today you will travel to the Oybek border point (140km, approx. 2 hours) and then on to Khudjand. This will take approximately 4-6 hours depending on how long it takes to cross the border. Khudjand was formerly known as Khodjend or Khodzhent until 1936 and Leninabad until 1991, is the second largest city of Tajikistan and the capital of the northernmost province of Tajikistan, now called Sughd. Khudjand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, dating back about 2,500 years. It is situated on the Syr Darya at the mouth of the Fergana Valley and was a major city along the ancient Silk Road. Today, you will visit the biggest bazaar- Panjshanbe, mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddin, the complex of Kamoli Khujandi, and the Tajik sea. Lunch today is in a local restaurant.

Day 11 : Transfer To Iskanderkul

Location: Iskanderkul

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Local Guesthouse

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Travel today from Khudjand to Iskanderkul which will take approximately 4 hours. Iskanderkul is a mountain lake of glacial origin in Tajikistan’s Sughd Province. It lies at an altitude of 2,195 metres on the northern slopes of the Gissar Range in the Fann Mountains. Today you will also see Niagara Fanns – waterfall from which water falls from 35m. Zmeinoe Lake is beautiful as well and you will also spend time here. This evening, enjoy a homestay in Saratog village. Take an evening walking tour through the village.

Day 12 : Iskanderkul

Location: Iskanderkul

Accommodation Name: Local Guesthouse

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Spend the day exploring and walking through the breathtaking Fann Mountains. The Fann Mountains are part of the western Pamir-Alay mountain system and are primarily located in Tajikistan’s Sughd Province between the Zarafshan Range to the north and the Gissary Range to the south. This is definitely a once in a lifetime experience that you will not forget! Today you will hike Alexander the Great Mountain.

Day 13 : Transfer To Dushanbe

Location: Dushanbe

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Gostinitsa “Meridian” or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Transfer from Iskanderkul Lake to Dushanbe which will take approximately 3 hours. Dushanbe, on the Varzob River, is the capital of Tajikistan. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Day 14 : Dushanbe

Location: Dushanbe

Accommodation: Hotel

Accommodation Name: Gostinitsa “Meridian” or similar

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

In the morning, visit the Hissar Fortress which is part of the Hissar complex, one of the main Tajikistan highlights. What remains today is a portion of the wall and the gate towers, which are representative of the 18th and 19th century style. The area has been inhabited since antiquity and features an 8th century mosque, but it was the emirs who inhabited the fortress and the Silk Route traders that made Gissar a center of commerce and learning .You will also have an opportunity today to visit Old Medressa (Madrasai Kuhna) (16-17 century), Madrasai Nav (17-18 century) and the Caravan Saray as well. Later on you will have the opportunity to visit the Museum of National Antiquities with exhibits primarily from Tajikistan’s pre-Islamic civilizations: the Greek, Bactrian, Buddhist, Hindu, and Zoroastrian periods. The most notable piece in the museum is the largest, fifteen-hundred-year-old reclining Buddha statue. Later, enjoy strolling around the big Ismoili Somoni Monument – the forefather of Tajik nation, founded in the Main Square and Rudaki Park in the centre of city as well. Try the taste of Tajik tea and hot bread in public teahouses – called Choikhona – most of which are decorated in traditional, colourful Tajik style. Lunch today is in a traditional India restaurant and following lunch, you will explore the ancient oriental bazaar and some craft workshops. Dinner this evening is at a restaurant named ‘Kishmish’ with ethnic music and performances.

Day 15 : Departure

Location: Dushanbe

Meals Included: Breakfast

Today following breakfast, the day is yours at leisure until it is time to transfer to the airport for your onward flight.

What's Included

  • Return airport transfers

  • 14 nights accommodation

  • Meals as per the itinerary

  • Entrances fees as per the itinerary

  • Services of an English speaking local guide in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

  • Domestic flight Tashkent to Nukus in economy class

  • 1L of bottled water per dau

  • Train tickets for high speed train Shakhrisabs – Tashkent in economy class

  • Private transportation

  • Visa support for Tajikistan tourist visa

What's Not Included

  • International flights

  • Visas

  • Items of a personal nature

  • Tipping

  • Travel insurance

  • Meals and beverages not specified above

Check out our Q&As

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Yes, Return airport transfers are included.

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    As detailed in itinerary.

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    Domestic flight Tashkent to Nukus in economy class is included.

  • Are all entrance fees included in the price?

    Yes, Entrances fees as per the itinerary are included.

  • Is there a supplement for solo travellers?

    Yes, Single Supplement will be chargeable at AUD$ 925.00.

  • What is the fitness level required to do this tour?

    This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes, The local guides on the tour is English speaking

  • What is the minimum group size?

    The min group size is 2 people.

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Yes. Focusing on providing authentic experiences where ever you are in the world, Crooked Compass has access to a vast array of accommodation styles. From boutique properties in larger cities to local guest houses and home stays within small villages. Crooked Compass ensures that local authenticity flows through your accommodation throughout your tour without compromising standard.

  • What sort of transportation is used for your tours?

    Transportation utilised on a Crooked Compass escorted small group tour is a combination of a private air conditioned vehicle and local transport where appropriate. This may include a local bus ride, use of the cities metro system, a domestic flight to another city or overnight train ride.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Crooked Compass strives to be a leader in sustainable tourism. Crooked Compass is firmly committed to the principles of ethical travel. Our comprehensive Sustainable Tourism Practices policy summarises our commitments and actions. Although the very basis of our ground operations lends itself to the ethos of sustainable tourism, this policy re-iterates our commitment to: Use locally owned hotels Use locally owned ground agents Use local guides and drivers Promote community tourism projects from homestays to craft shops Support charities that work within the destinations that we travel to Carbon offset our travels

  • Who runs your tours and are they experts in their fields?

    Crooked Compass works with the worlds best operators who are specialists in their country, region and cities providing you with in depth local knowledge. We use local guides who live and breathe the areas they work in, making sure you experience their region, their way. We believe it is far better to have a local guide who knows a lot about a little than a text book trained Western tour guide who knows a little about a lot. Using local guides also ensures that money stays within local communities and supports the regions we visit.

  • What can I expect from a Crooked Compass tour that I wouldn't get from travelling with an alternative company?

    Crooked Compass provides a sensory way to understand the world – we help you live like a local, eat like a local, do what the locals do and seek the faces behind the places whilst discovering untouched lands and natural beauty. Crooked Compass tours delve deep into the heart and soul of a destination ensuring you get out of your journey all you intended and much, much more. Our intriguing itineraries have been created by travellers for travellers. Steering travellers to follow a different path, Crooked Compass’ itineraries allow you to experience the world’s most fascinating destinations in ways you never dreamed possible. It brings to life those ‘bucket list’ experiences you have yearned to do and separates the travellers from the tourists. Crooked Compass tours are culturally rich, reward travellers with unexpected encounters and uncommon rendezvous, creating truly unique, authentic travel experiences.

  • Who do your tours cater for?

    Crooked Compass escorted small group tours cater for those who are well travelled seeking the what’s next and what’s new. Our travellers are curious minded soft adventurers who want to uncover something more than the mainstream tourist trail. Crooked Compass tours draw travellers with an interest in sustainable tourism and conservation for the areas they visit. A Crooked Compass traveller is someone who is seeking something fresh and unique, who has a yearning for authenticity and discovery, with an appreciation for cultures, tradition and the natural world. We call them Cultural Purists.

  • I am concerned about my impact on travelling through untouched regions. Can I offset?

    Yes. All travellers on Crooked Compass tours have the option to offset their part of their tour’s carbon footprint by donating $4AUD (tax-deductible) at time of booking. 100% of these funds are donated to Greenfleet, an environmental non-profit organisation dedicated to protecting our climate by restoring our forests. By partnering with Greenfleet, we are confident that our carbon offset program provides genuine and lasting environmental benefits. Your offset donation funds plant trees and restore permanent native forests in Australia and New Zealand. As they grow, these forests provide many community and environmental benefits by absorbing carbon emissions, protecting our unique biodiversity, restoring habitat for native wildlife, preventing soil salinity and erosion, improving water quality and much more. If you’d like to find out more and offset the rest of your carbon emissions, visit

Reviews of this operator

Jeff Rehn  

A wonderful trip to Saudi Arabia organised by Crooked Compass


A wonderful trip to Saudi Arabia organised by Crooked Compass. Considering the country is just opening up to tourism everything went very well - flights, trips, transfers, guides and accommodation - thank you CC - highly recommended

Pauline Mavis Rusby  

We were kept safe at all times.


We were kept safe at all times. When unexpected hurdles appeared they were handled without fuss. Our tour was informative, picturesque and comfortable.

Tina Watts-Seale  

Family holiday to Vietnam


We booked a family holiday to Vietnam with Crooked Compass and it was perfect. The booking process was easy and Lisa took all of our requests on board so that the trip was exactly what we wanted. All flights, transfers, accommodations, guides and activities were fantastic, with great communication throughout the whole trip. Would highly recommend, we will be booking again soon!


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Tuesday - Tuesday

Sep 10, 2024 - Sep 24, 2024
$5692 $5513

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$179

Wednesday - Wednesday

Sep 10, 2025 - Sep 24, 2025
$5977 $5788

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$188

Thursday - Thursday

Sep 10, 2026 - Sep 24, 2026
$6395 $6193

Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$201

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  • Low Deposit

    Crooked Compass requires a minimum deposit of 20% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 60 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of crooked compass charges.

    Up to 61 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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