Kyrgyzstan's Silk Road Journey

Kyrgyzstan's Silk Road Journey

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14 Days From

$3140

$2791

Kyrgyzstan's Silk Road Journey

14 Days Starting in Bishkek and ending in Tashkent

Visiting: Bishkek, Burana, Issyk Kul, Karakol, Kochkor, Song-Kul, Suusamyr, Toktogul, Jalal-Abad, Arslanbob, Osh, Fergana, Rishtan, Tashkent

Tour operator:

Explore!

Tour code:

KR

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

4 - 18

Physical rating:

Full On

Age range:

16-

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians, Vegans

Tour operated in:
English
Interests:

Cultural, History

From:
$3140
$2791 Operator discount: -$270 Exclusive Tourhub Discount: -$79 -11%

NB: Prices correct on 18-May-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

This overland adventure travels along parts of the ancient Silk Road through the wild mountain landscape of Kyrgyzstan and across the border and onto the dusty plains of Uzbekistan.



Suusamyr Valley - Drive through remote mountain scenery and past lush alpine valleys passing nomadic families

Song Kul - Stand on the shores of sublime alpine lakes and sleep in a traditional yurt

Arslanbob - walk amongst ancient towering walnut forests and discover hidden waterfalls

Highlights

  • Suusamyr Valley - Drive through remote mountain scenery and past lush alpine valleys passing nomadic families

  • Song Kul - Stand on the shores of sublime alpine lakes and sleep in a traditional yurt

  • Arslanbob - walk amongst ancient towering walnut forests and discover hidden waterfalls

Itinerary

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Day 1: In Bishkek; Afternoon City Sightseeing

Location: Bishkek

Accommodation: Guesthouse

Arrive in Bishek, a former Silk Road settlement. Kyrgyzstan's capital is a young city, starting life as a clay fort built by the Khan of Kokand in 1825 only to be destroyed by the Russians 43 years later. It was rebuilt in 1878 and it is from this time that Bishkek evolved.



For those arriving on time today our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 11am for the welcome meeting and to take us on the sightseeing tour, which is by bus and on foot. We learn about the main monuments and buildings of the city, and take a leisurely walk through Oak Park.



If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Manas International Airport (FRU), which is 50 minutes' from the hotel. For those arriving on flights in the early hours of this morning, we'll arrange for your hotel room to be available immediately upon your arrival. For anyone arriving before today please contact us to book additional nights accommodation.



Please note that if you wish to join the Bishkek City Tour today, you must arrive at the hotel by 11am. If you are booking your own flights, we recommend giving yourself at least one hour to clear the airport. From the airport to the hotel is around 40 minutes' drive, so therefore the latest your flight can arrive is 9am. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will inform you of any essential information at 6pm.

Day 2: Drive To Karakol Via Burana Tower And Issyk Kul Lake

Location: Burana, Issyk Kul

Accommodation: Guesthouse

Leaving behind the city we head into the heart of this small nation. At its centre lies Issyk Kul Lake, surrounded by the Tien Shan Mountains. Along the way we visit the Burana Tower, all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun. The tower is believed to be the oldest minaret in Central Asia with a detailed external pattern of relief work in brick.



We also see the petroglyphs in Cholpon-Ata where stones vary in size from 30cm to 3 metres. Ancient drawings on the stones date from the 7th century BC to the 3rd century AD, many of them figures of hunters, ibex, goat and reindeer. From here we are also afforded with views of Issyk Kul Lake. We then follow the shore along the north of the lake arriving in the evening in the city of Karakol. Strategically located this was once a Russian military outpost, and the gateway of expeditions into the Tien Shan and beyond. This evening we enjoy a meal cooked by a family from an ethnic minority group, either Dungan or Uygur; both groups are Muslim people of Chinese origin. We not only sample their hospitality but also learn about the traditions and lifestyle.

Day 3: Explore Karakol; Walk In Djety Oguz Gorge

Location: Karakol

Accommodation: Guesthouse

The great Russian explorer Prjevalsky died in Karakol before an expedition to Tibet and the small museum dedicated to him gives a great insight into the 19th century Central Asian explorers. In the city we have the opportunity to see the Chinese influence at the Dungan mosque built in 1910 in the style of a Buddhist pagoda (it is made of wood without any nails) whilst the strong Russian influence is evident at the Orthodox Cathedral.



After sightseeing in the morning we drive to visit the Valley of Seven Bulls, at Djety-Oguz, where large red sandstone rock formations tower over the valley. During Soviet times this area become known as a health retreat, the sanatorium remains. It became famous when after his first flight in space Yuri Gagarin came here to decompress.

Day 4: Drive To Kochkor; Visit Waterfalls En Route

Location: Karakol, Kochkor

Accommodation: Guesthouse

We continue along the southern shore of Issyk Kul Lake where we make a stop for the opportunity to take a bracing dip into the cold waters of the lake. Continuing on we stop again to view the waterfalls within the dramatic 10km long Barskaun Gorge, as well as having an opportunity to spot birds whilst we enjoy a river-side picnic. Our final destination is Kochkor, a typical Kyrgyz town where we spend the night in local guesthouses, a great way to get to know the locals. Depending upon size we may find the group split between guesthouses.

Day 5: Spend The Night In A Traditional Yurt At Song Kul Lake

Location: Song-Kul

Accommodation: Yurt

The women of the town are famous for felt-making and this morning we have the chance to see how 'shirdaks', traditional felt applique rugs, are made by hand.

We then set off along a dramatic mountain road via Kalmak-Ashu Pass at a lofty 3346m where we can drink in our epic surroundings as we journey to Song Kul. The lake itself is spectacular and the second largest in Kyrgyzstan, situated at an altitude of 3013m above sea level. Surrounded by dramatic snow-covered mountain peaks, it is hidden in a flat, plate-like 'jailoo' (the Kyrgyz word for mountain pasture) which is covered in Edelweiss flowers at certain times of the year. In the summer the shepherds drive the livestock (sheep and/or horses) up into the mountains for pasture and establish a camp for the season.



After settling into our yurts, we will have the opportunity to relax and unwind or perhaps go on a pleasant walk by the lake. Yurts are circular dwelling structures made from felt and insulated with sheepskins, traditionally made to be portable and accommodate 5-6 people. Basic long drop toilets are available in a separate building along with an outdoor basin for washing and are shared with the camp. The experience is very basic, however, gives a unique insight into how local nomads traditionally live and allow us to wake up the next morning in the middle of nowhere.

Day 6: Morning At Song Kul; Return To Kochkor

Location: Kochkor

Accommodation: Guesthouse

This morning you may choose to relax by the lake, or depending on weather conditions, it may be possible to take a hike into the mountains surrounding the lake. Leaving the camp we walk along grassy, undulating slopes through the Moldo-Toor range. Song Kul Lake offers a spectacular backdrop to the north and we hope to meet locals along the way to get a further glimpse into this traditional lifestyle. The walk takes around 4 hours and reaches an altitude of 3300m. After lunch we leave our yurts and make our way to back to Kochkor for the night, this time taking a different route crossing the Teskey-Topok Pass, arriving in town in the late afternoon. This evening we head out to enjoy a musical Folklore ensemble performance with a wide repertoire of traditional ballads, love songs, work songs and lullabies, accompanied by Kyrgyz national instruments.

Day 7: Scenic Drive Through The Mountains To Suusamyr Valley

Location: Suusamyr

Accommodation: Hotel

We spend the day on the road driving through the wild mountain scenery of the inner Tien Shan Mountains as we make our way west. Our drive takes us along the stunning Suusamyr valley, which is situated at an altitude of 2000-3200m between the dramatic ridges of Kyrgyz and Talas Ala-Too and stretches for some 155km. During the summer alpine grasses cover the whole valley, whilst the winter months see it blanketed with snow. There will be plenty of stops for photo opportunities along the way as we make our 320km journey across the passes to Suusamyr Valley.

Day 8: Walking In Chichkan Gorge; Afternoon Drive To Toktogul Reservoir

Location: Toktogul

Accommodation: Hotel

After breakfast we set off on a scenic drive along the Ala-Bel pass (3175m) before following the course of the Chichkan River to the junction with its tributary, the It-Agar River. From here we start a mostly easy walk on an earth trail which is stony in some sections. The path follows the It-Agar River for about three kilometres uphill, before arriving at the small, but impressive and beautiful alpine Lake of Saz Kul. The walk is around two hours up and one hour down. After some time enjoying this picturesque place we drive along a winding road that follows the Naryn River all the way to the Toktogul Resevoir, the largest reservoir in all of Central Asia and our base for the night.

Day 9: Mountain Drive To Djalal-Abad.

Location: Jalal-Abad

Accommodation: Hotel

Today we leave Toktogul and again drive through the wild landscapes that make Kyrgyzstan such a memorable place to visit. Our destination is Djalal-Abad, located at the north-eastern end of the Fergana Valley and nestled in the foothills of the Baba Ata Mountains. The city is well-known for its spas and is responsible for producing several brands of mineral water sold across Central Asia. It is an also important agricultural hub, providing the majority of the fruit and vegetables for the region. Upon arrival, the rest of the afternoon is free to either explore or to relax after the day's drive.

Day 10: Discover Arslanbob, Walk Through Walnut Woodland, Visit Waterfall

Location: Arslanbob

Accommodation: Hotel

We start the day travelling 90 kilometres north to the charming village of Arslanbob. Here we spend the day accompanied by a local guide, walking through the walnut groves of Arslanbob sometimes referred to as 'The Royal Woods of Kyrgyzstan'. The trees can reach 30 metres and grow wild on mountain slopes, and walking through the grove rewards us with spectacular views. We will also come across a beautiful 23 metre high waterfall nestled deep in the forest. The walk will take around three to four hours and is graded as easy, with no significant ascents or descents. Later in the afternoon we will make our way back to Djalal- Abad.

Day 11: Drive To Osh; Cross Border Into Uzbekistan And Drive To Fergana City

Location: Osh, Fergana

Accommodation: Hotel

Leaving Djalal Abad behind we make our way into the expansive Fergana Valley and past the city of Osh, which according to legend was founded by either King Solomon or Alexander the Great! Although it dates back to the 5th century BC, very little remains to suggest its ancient past and today, it is Kyrgyzstan's second city and very much soviet in feel.



We then make our way to checkpoint 'Dostlik', on the Kyrgyz-Uzbek border, where we undergo immigration and customs formalities and bid farewell to our Kyrgyz leader as we are handed over to our tour leader from Uzbekistan. From the border we drive to our overnight stop in Fergana City.

Day 12: Drive Via Ceramic Workshop In Rishtan To Tashkent

Location: Rishtan, Tashkent

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we head out to start the final leg of our journey. We must travel by convoy of smaller vehicles as we cross over Kamchik Pass at 2300m. We make a stop at Rishtan town, famous for its ceramics, where we visit a workshop. The Silk Road introduced Chinese ceramics to Uzbekistan, and while craftsman initially emulated Chinese designs, they soon evolved their own, now traditional, Uzbek geometric style. Later we make a brief stop in Kokand town, the former residence of Kokand Khan, before finally arriving in Tashkent.

Day 13: In Tashkent, City Tour; Free Afternoon

Location: Tashkent

Accommodation: Hotel

This morning we head out with a local guide to explore Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, which has been on this site for over 2000 years. Although much of it was destroyed in the earthquake of 1966 it has been rebuilt as a modern model city, with spacious avenues and ever-present fountains to cool the air. Our sightseeing tour includes various points of interest around the city, like the Independence Square, Navoi Theatre, Old City, Abu Khasim Madrassah and the Earthquake Monument. We also take a ride for 2-3 stops on the Tashkent Metro, which boasts some flamboyantly decorated stations.The afternoon is free.

Day 14: Tour Ends In Tashkent

Location: Tashkent

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Tashkent.



There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Tashkent at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to depart from Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport (TAS), which is 20 minutes\ drive from the hotel.

What's Included

  • Fully Guided

  • All Domestic Transportation (including internal flights)

  • Meals – Breakfast Only

  • Accommodation

What's Not Included

  • Tipping and Gratuities

  • 1 bottle of Mineral Water per person per day

  • Country Entry Visas

Why Book this Tour

This tour is ideal for adventurous travellers who not only want to experience a destination's iconic sights but also enjoy wild desolate mountain scenery and want to get off the main tourist path. You can expect epic landscapes, ancient cities and traditional local experiences such as a yurt stay on the shores of Lake Song Kul and dining with an ethnic minority family.

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Check out our Q&As

  • Are children permitted to take part in the tour?

    No

  • Can you assist with pre or post tour accommodation?

    Yes

  • Will I know the names and details of all the accommodation before I depart?

    Yes

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

    Yes

  • Will there be an escort accompanying this tour?

    Yes

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

  • What is the maximum group size?

    16

  • I'm going on a walking/cycling trip-do I need to train?

    It will depend on the grade and how fit you already are. Check the trip page for details of the walking or cycling grade and how far you’ll be walking/cycling each day. For moderate or challenging trips in particular we’d recommend doing some walks or cycles before you leave to build up your fitness and prepare you for the distances being covered.

  • Who will be my travelling companions on the tour?

    We have a wide range of ages nationalities on our small group trips and they come from all walks of life.

  • Should I get travel insurance?

    Yes–it is a condition of booking that you are fully insured when travelling with us

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    At Explore, we're the experts in adventure travel. Our small group adventure holidays have been running since 1981. Today, Explore is one of the most trusted travel companies in the UK with over 500 trips to more than 120 countries.

  • Can I join the tour once it has departed?

    Yes, but there are no concessions for doing so, and we must have a record in your booking advising as such before the trip departs.

  • Am I contributing to any charity by booking the tour?

    Being a responsible company is a large statement, something that has to be entwined within the very fibre of a company. Discover the charities and partnerships we support as part of this at https://www.explore.co.uk/about/sustainability/charities-and-partners

  • What happens if I need to change my holiday date once I’ve booked?

    We want to be as clear as and as honest as possible about what happens if you decide to that you no longer wish to travel on your trip. Our booking conditions have details of the costs you’ll incur when you cancel-these charges depend on how long it is before your planned departure.

  • What is the accommodation like?

    We choose comfortable accommodation in the best locations possible. We opt for small, local and family-run accommodation where we can, as opposed to large chain hotels. We typically use hotels that are the equivalent of European 3-star, and you’ll usually have an en suite room. Occasionally, where we want to get off the beaten trail we may stay in more basic accommodation.

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Sustainability is embedded within the fibre of Explore, it emanates from the inside out. But as we enter a new decade it is clearer than ever that our world needs help, and Explore has created a sustainability strategy based on the 2015 UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Our flexible booking and safety policies mean you're protected before and during your travels with us. Receive a full refund if your trip is cancelled, transfer your trip free of charge up to 10 days before departure minus any irrocoverable costs.

  • Do I need to be very fit to book with you?

    All our trips require some level of active participation. This could be on a cultural trip, trek, safari, expedition or voyage. It is in the interests of all members of the group that everyone should be capable of fully participating in the activities of their chosen trip.

  • What documents will I receive before I travel?

    Final documents will include a comprehensive trip itinerary, climate and country information, budgeting and packing advice visa and passport information and details on optional activities available.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Yes on most of our trips. Most trips are based on customers sharing twin-bedded rooms. If you book a group trip as an individual, you will share a room with someone of the same sex. However, on many trips we offer the opportunity to pay a supplement to pre-book a single room, known as our single room option. On some trips a single room will be provided every night, on others it will be provided o

  • Do we have to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to travel

    It’s now a condition of booking a trip with us that customers should have one of the following before they travel - — Be vaccinated against COVID, having received the full recommended course, and allowing enough time for immunity to take effect. Full vaccination includes any booster required to keep the vaccine valid. — Have taken a negative test (rapid antigen or PCR) within 72hrs of departure.

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

    Explore will only offer hotels that have specific COVID-19 protocols in place and comply with local government guidelines. We will ensure these measures include; enhanced room cleaning, ventilation, social distancing, regular cleaning and disinfection of high frequency touch points in public areas, food safety, staff re-training and minimising contact within the properties.

Reviews of this operator

Feefo Rated Customer  

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02-Nov-2021

' Excellent trip with a mixture of easy riding days, mixed with great scenary ' The trip was excellently organised by the group leader. The accommodation was very good throughout the trip. The bikes were ideal for this trip.

Gemma Jackson  

Peru Encompassed - spectacular trip

02-Jan-2023

I booked for my husband and I to go on the Peru Encompassed trip with the 3 day Amazon extension trip tagged on the end, we also booked to go to Lima few days early to get over the jetlag and see something of Lima before setting off on the group trip. Everything was booked for us by Explore! with seamless ease and without any hitches. This was the first time I had booked onto an organised trip so I was a bit concerned it might not be for us. How wrong I was. We were a group of 9, ranging from 30s to 60s, and a mixture of couples and singles and different nationalities. As a group we gelled really well and chose to spend most of our free time together which made the trip great fun. As for the trip itself, it surpassed all expectations. The Peru Encompassed trip was superb. I don't think any other country offers so much culture, wildlife, specular scenery and amazing food, all of which we experienced in abundance on the trip. We had a local tour guide for the whole trip who was fantastic and then expert guides joined us on different legs of the journey. We learned so much as a result. The highlights for me were visiting the local market in Arequipa with our guide and sampling lots of different fruit and street foods, the day on Lake Titicaca and of course Machu Picchu itself. We booked an additional trip to go back ourselves the second morning which was great as we could do a different route around the ruins and get different views from the afternoon before. Our final highlight was the additional 3 day trip to the Amazon staying at the Hacienda Conception. The lodges were immersed in the jungle which was wonderful if noisy! the food was fab and the daily trips provided were excellent. It was a great relaxing way to end the trip although it did rain quite a bit. Both my husband and I said our trip to Peru was one of the best trips we have ever done.

Trustpilot
Ms D Brown  

Excellent company

07-Dec-2022

Excellent company, there are so many trips, you really get looked after. Everything is dealt with by your Tour Leader, all logistics are taken care of and usually things go smoothly, I only use explore because I know what to expect each time, that makes me happy, with a stress free holiday

Trustpilot
Stephen  

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08-Nov-2021

Very well organised tour. Brilliant Tour Leader who went out of her way to make sure everyone was happy and enjoyed the trip. The Azores are an incredible location with amazing scenery and good food.

Barbara in Beckenham  

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05-Nov-2021

' Steina was a great guide - full of information made the trip so interesting ' Everything was just perfect - just as I had hoped - except the Northern lights were a no show!

1 Dates & Availability

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Monday - Sunday

Jul 29, 2024 - Aug 11, 2024
$3140 $2859

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May 26, 2025 - Jun 08, 2025
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Jul 28, 2025 - Aug 10, 2025
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Exclusive Tourhub Discount: -$91

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Monday - Sunday

Sep 01, 2025 - Sep 14, 2025
$3320 $3229

Exclusive Tourhub Discount: -$91

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Sep 08, 2025 - Sep 21, 2025
$3320 $3229

Exclusive Tourhub Discount: -$91

Instant Booking Available

Monday - Sunday

Sep 15, 2025 - Sep 28, 2025
$3320 $3229

Exclusive Tourhub Discount: -$91

Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Explore! allows you to make 1 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 60 days before the start of the tour.

  • Low Deposit

    Explore! requires a minimum deposit of 10% 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 explore! charges.

    Up to 60 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 59 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 41 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 90% of booking price.

    At 13 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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