Bishkek To Ashgabat (37 Days) Silk Road Highlights & Kyrgyzstan Overland

Bishkek To Ashgabat (37 Days) Silk Road Highlights & Kyrgyzstan Overland

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37 Days
From

$3189

$3030

Bishkek To Ashgabat (37 Days) Silk Road Highlights & Kyrgyzstan Overland

37 Days Starting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan and ending in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Visiting: Bishkek, Almaty, Altyn-Arashan, Jeti Oguz, Song-Kul, Tash-Rabat, Osh, Fann Mountains, Dushanbe, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Ashgabat

Tour operator:

Oasis Overland

Tour code:

483

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

1 - 10

Physical rating:

All Ages / Not applicable

Age range:

18-80

Special diets catered:

Please advise requests

Tour operated in:
English
Trip Styles:

Active, Adventure Tours

Interests:

Cultural, History

Activities:

Sightseeing, Swimming

From:
$3189
$3030 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$159
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Tour Overview

Follow one of the world's most well renowned highways; the Silk Road. This fantastic expedition will take you through some of the oldest cities and ancient trading routes in the world, you will also discover the stunning scenery as you get off the beaten track and into the wilderness of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Highlights

  • Feel the intense heat coming from the Darwaza Gas Crater

  • See ships marooned in the desert at the Aral Sea

  • Explore the ancient medressas, mausoleums and mosques in Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand

  • Soak in the atmosphere of colourful oriental bazaars and majestic fortresses in Dushanbe

  • Stunning journey through Tajikistan over it's High Peaks and Alpine Lakes

  • Travel through the Fergana Valley - famous for the production of silk and where the great route started

  • Visit the oldest bazaar in Central Asia in the city of Osh

  • Overnight stay in a Traditional yurt at Lake Song Kol

  • Enjoy the stunning mountain scenery, cliff formations and alpine lakes throughout Kyrgyzstan

  • Swim in Lake Issyk-Kul, the world's second largest Alpine lake

Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1 - 9 : Bishkek To Semenovskre Gorge
Location: Bishkek, Almaty, Altyn-Arashan, Jeti Oguz
Accommodation: Camp

We head north east to Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis and capital until 1997. Almaty is the largest and most ethnically and culturally diverse city in Kazakhstan. Set in the foothills of the Trans Lli Alatau mountains, the area has a ski resort (Shymbulak) at an elevation of 2,200 mtrs and enjoys a great amount of snow from November through to May. The city has many sights and attractions, including Ascension Cathedral in Panfilov Park; Abay Opera House; Golden Warrior Monument in the Republic Square and the giant Almaty Tower. Or for adrenaline lovers, why not ride the ‘Fast Coaster’ roller coaster, that is located on the side of a mountain and reaches speeds of 45 km per hour.

We continue east looking for amazing camping areas to explore, before crossing back in to Kygyzstan and the area of Lake Issyk-Kul, a mountain lake in the northern Tien Shan Mountains, once used by the Soviets to test their submarine torpedoes!

The area of Altyn Arashan and its surrounds offer the outdoor lover many hiking and horse riding opportunities and we spend a few days here to take in the amazing scenery.

We visit the vast red stone cliffs in Jeti-Oguz and visit the town of Karakol with its attractive houses and tree-lined streets. Behind it are the Terskay Ala-Too Mountains, an unspoilt wilderness populated only by nomadic shepherds.

Continuing around the lake to Semenovskre Gorge the adventurous can hike through lush terrain, following the rivers that wind through the national reserve.

As we travel around Kyrgyzstan we camp, but we also may have the opportunity to use some family homestays, where we are welcomed into a local home for the night. These are subject to availability, but if we can arrange them they offer a fantastic experience, allowing us to feel part of the family for a night and make some new friends!

Day 10 - 13 : Semenovskre Gorge To Tash Rabat
Location: Song-Kul, Tash-Rabat

Travelling south and leaving behind Lake Issyk-Kul, we make our way to the isolated and breathtaking Lake Song Kol, where we stay in traditional felt Yurts. There will be opportunity to either hike or horse back ride and explore the surrounding area. If we are lucky we may even see a game of Ulak Tartysh - a Kyrgyz version of polo.

We spend a couple of days driving south through the mountains towards the border with China. On the way we cross vast high plains where Kyrgyz nomads, living in their traditional yurts, practice a lifestyle which has changed little over the centuries. We will stop off at Tash Rabat, an ancient Caravanserai on the old Silk Route.

Day 14 - 15 : Tash Rabat To Bishkek
Location: Tash-Rabat, Bishkek
Accommodation: Camp

We retrace some of our steps and head north to Bishkek, seeking out scenic camping spots as we go.

Day 16 - 17 : Bishkek
Location: Bishkek
Accommodation: Hostel

Kyrgyzstan's leafy, relaxed capital is a largely Soviet-built city, softened somewhat by its many boulevards and tree lined streets. We take a few days here in a comfortable, friendly hostel to recharge our batteries. We can enjoy the cafés and restaurants dotted around the city, there is no shortage of bars and nightclubs, and for those so inclined there are also a few cinemas and shopping districts.

Bishkek is also home to a number of museums, including the Kyrgyz State Historical Museum and Zoological Museum, which have exhibits that explain more about Kyrgyzstan political and natural history, and there are a number of parks and other public areas worth visiting to watch local life pass you by, the main one being Ala-Too Square, which once was dominated by a large statue of Lenin (this has now been moved to a smaller square in the city).

Day 18 - 22 : Bishkek To Fann Mountains
Location: Bishkek, Osh, Fann Mountains

We leave Bishkek and drive through stunning mountain views and past the turquoise waters of Toktogul Reservoir, before arriving in Osh. Osh, the second biggest and the country’s oldest, city. Make sure you visit the bazaar, which has occupied the same spot for over 2000 years and used to be a major stop along the ancient Silk Road.

We enter Uzbekistan and arrive in the Fergana Valley, known for its silk production and the area that gave the name to one of the greatest routes in history.

Continuing west we arrive in to Khujand – although today the city is not one of the most picturesque, it has had an important role in the history of the Silk Road and was one of the furthest points reached by Alexander the Great. It is said in this area that he wept, saying he had no further territory to conquer. We have time to visit the Fortress and Panjshanbe Market (one of the largest covered markets in Central Asia).

We drive south in to the Fann Mountains, one of Tajikistan’s great ranges (the other being the Pamirs). Peaks of over 5000 mtrs slip by as we head to Iskanderkul Lake at 2200 mtrs. It is said to be the resting place of Alexander the Greats horse, Bucephalus. The glacial lake is a stunning spot for a hike and we aim to visit Tajikistan’s highest waterfall (40 mtrs).

Day 23 - 24 : Fann Mountains To Dushanbe
Location: Fann Mountains, Dushanbe

We continue south to Dushanbe - Tajikistan’s largest city, and aptly its name means “Money” in Tajik language. It is a big showy entry to the country, in stark contrast to the East. You’ll pass a lovely day strolling through parks, admiring the fountains and the wide boulevards punctuated with grand buildings. Visit “Flag Pole Park” or the bazaar, or make the most of being in a city with restaurants specialising in various different cuisines!

Day 25 - 28 : Dushanbe To Bukhara
Location: Dushanbe, Samarkand, Bukhara

From Dushanbe we drive westwards and we re-enter Uzbekistan. In Uzbekistan we will find well preserved relics from the time when Asia was a centre of empire, learning, and trade along the famous silk route. Some of its cities have abundant old architecture, mosques and minarets cloaked with the mystery of the orient dating back thousands of years.

Samarkand, the second largest city in the country. The history of Samarkand is about 2,500 years old and it's as old as Babylon or Rome. Here we have a couple of days to explore the splendid architecture such as the 15th century Bibi-Khanum Mosque which when it was built was considered to have the largest dome in the Muslim world. Today it stands next to a noisy and colourful Oriental market. No trip here is complete without a wander around the three edifices of the Registan, once Medieval Samarkand's commercial plaza and today quite possibly the most awesome sight in Central Asia.

The Kyzylkum Desert is about 300,000 sq km and lies between the Syr Darya and the Amu Darya rivers. This is a vast arid plain with a number of isolated bare mountains rising to 900 metres and we journey across it on our way to Bukhara. Time and schedules permitting, we will take the trip from Bukhara to Samarkand by train, giving us an opportunity to travel with the locals as we pass through the arid landscape.

Bukhara, our next stop, is situated on a sacred hill, and was founded in the 13th century BC and it is home to over 350 mosques and some 100 Islamic colleges. The city is intrinsically linked to the history of the Silk Road and later ‘Great Game’ that played out in the nineteenth century between Russia and Great Britain. One of the most famous individuals involved in this historical period, the Englishman Alexander Burnes, was known as ‘Burnes of Bukhara’ and the books he authored based on his adventures in this part of Asia gave him celebrity status in Victorian England.

Bukhara today is an attractive city with narrow streets, green parks and gardens, and is a pleasure to wander around and there will be the opportunity for a bout of good humoured haggling in the bazaar.

Day 29 - 32 : Bukhara To Aral Sea
Location: Bukhara, Khiva
Accommodation: Camp

Continuing north, we bush camp out in the desert before reaching Khiva, another town with much historical influence, that was also on the great silk route. This, our last city stop, is one of the most noteworthy of the cities and towns of Central Asia. It is a unique monument town, completely preserved in the cultural style of the region, and is a World Heritage Site for its historical significance. It has more minarets than any other place in Asia, and the Juma Mosque, which has an amazing 218 ornate carved wooden columns, is another of the main attractions. We will spend a couple of nights here to explore the ancient medressas, medinas, mausoleums and museums and soak up the unique atmosphere.

Road conditions permitting, we will then drive to the edge of where the Aral Sea used to lie. In the 1960's the Soviet Union began an intense irrigation project to boost cotton growth in the region using the then vast sea as its source. The project led to the sea shrinking to just 10% of its original size and today as we reach where its edge formerly was, we can see ships sitting incongruously in the middle of what is now a huge desert where we camp for the night.

Day 33 - 35 : Aral Sea To Ashgabat
Location: Ashgabat
Accommodation: Camp

We cross the border into Turkmenistan, one of the world’s most secretive and mysterious countries, largely cut off from the outside world. Most of Turkmenistan is covered by the vast Kara-Kum (Black Sand) desert and conditions can be challenging with hot weather and some poor roads to travel along, but it is all worth it with some memorable stops along the way and also the opportunity to travel through this rarely-visited country.

Our first stop is Kunye Urgench, a UNESCO World Heritage site and ancient stop on the Silk Road; now largely abandoned we are able to bush camp near the site. It is said that the 60 metre high Kutlug-Timur minaret so impressed Genghis Khan that he specifically ordered for it not to destroyed when his Mongol hordes invaded the area in the thirteenth-century, so we are able to see it for ourselves today!

Continuing south through the desert our next stop is one of Central Asia’s most curious and impressive sights, the Darvaza Gas Crater. Also known as the ‘Door to Hell’ or ‘Gates of Hell’, this remarkable sight is the result of a Soviet-era gas exploration accident, when the ground beneath a drilling rig gave way and to prevent poisonous gas leaking out it was decided to burn it off. Originally engineers believed it would all be burned in a few days, but that was in 1971 and the field is still burning to this day. The result is a sight quite like no other as we are able to peer down into the crater and see the fire, and feel the intense heat coming from the flames. Road conditions permitting we will get to the crater in the truck and bush camp nearby in the remote desert.

Leaving Darvaza we then have around a half-day drive to reach Turkmenistan’s unique and bizarre capital city Ashgabat where we check into a hotel to wash off the sand from the desert and enjoy a well-earned bed for the night.

Day 36 : Ashgabat
Location: Ashgabat

We have some free time and enjoy a city tour of Ashgabat. Turkmenistan’s capital, founded in the 1880s by the Russian Tsarist government, sits between the foothills of the Koptedag mountains to the south, and the vast Karakum Desert to the north. The city was almost entirely destroyed following an earthquake in 1948 and rebuilt in the Soviet style. Following independence in 1991 the city has been transformed into a futuristic, and in many ways bizarre collection of unique structures and wide streets lined with marble. For many travellers, Ashgabat is one of the most mystifying and unusual cities they will ever experience.

On the city tour we visit Independence Park, the Ertogrul Gazi Mozque, the Arch of Neutrality, the Turkmenbashi Mosque Mauasoleum and many other sites throughout the city. There are plenty of fantastic photo opportunities, and we will have the chance to explore some of the markets and meet the locals.

Day 37 : Ashgabat
Location: Ashgabat
Meals Included: Breakfast

The trip ends after breakfast. Additional nights in Ashgabat must be booked in advance, through your Oasis Overland account, and we recommend leaving no later than the day after your trip ends. Departure airport transfers are included in the trip price, and you will be taken straight from the hotel to Ashgabat’s futuristic, falcon-shaped airport to catch your flight.

What's Included

  • Accommodation -approx. 70% camping & 30% simple hostels/hotels/homestays

  • Tash Rabat Caravanserai

  • Yurt Stay at Lake Song Kol

  • Turkmenistan Letter of Invitation support and fees

  • Darvaza Gas Crater

  • Ashgabat city tour

  • Departure airport transfer in Ashgabat

  • Meals - approx. 50%

  • All Transport on Oasis Expedition Truck

  • Camping and Cooking equipment

show more

What's Not Included

  • Visas

  • Optional Excursions as listed in the Pre-Departure Information

  • Flights

  • Airport Taxes & Transfers

  • Travel Insurance

  • Meals - approx. 50%

  • Drinks

  • Tips

  • Local payment from US$1,050

    Local Payment (LP) is in the addition to the Trip Price and is paid to your Tour Leader at the start of your Trip.

    It covers some of the trip's day to day expenses such as food and accommodation which your tour leader pays direct to local people.

More Info

Follow one of the world's most well renowned highways; the Silk Road. This fantastic expedition will take you through some of the oldest cities and ancient trading routes in the world, you will also discover the stunning scenery as you get off the beaten track and into the wilderness of Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.

Mode of Transport

The Oasis expedition truck will be your new home giving you a comfortable & secure base with which to experience your trip. We use a purpose built truck which has been converted especially for this expedition, which passes through all types of terrains from soft sand, mud, rock and potholed roads to tarseal. It is reassuring to know that these vehicles can handle the tough conditions that they are put through. The truck is equipped with all of the equipment we may need en-route, including a professionally compiled expedition Medical Kit, large water & fuel carrying capacities, an extensive range of spare parts as well as the kitchen sink, (well almost!) so all you need is your sleeping bag, a roll mat and your own personal gear!

Seatbelts

All Oasis Overland trucks are fitted with seatbelts. For your own safety and security we recommend that travellers wear these at all times whilst the vehicle is moving. Most of our overland trucks also have a ‘beach area’ which is a chill out zone to be used when the truck is not moving.

Accommodation

Accommodation is split throughout this trip between simple hotels and hostels and camping. The variety of accommodation provided is great and often a totally unique experience, including bush camps with no facilities, yurts and simple village pensions. Some are well managed and some very basic. Oasis uses roomy three-person tents but only for two people. They are specially made for us to meet the tougher conditions of an expedition trip and have mosquito netting sewn into the door and windows. It would also be a good idea to bring your own freestanding mosquito net so as to give you the freedom of sleeping under the stars at night. At bush camps you will be living off the truck, so there will be no showers or en-suite facilities, so digging your own toilet pit with the shovels supplied is essential!

Check out our Q&As

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    Starting in Istanbul - If you plan to collect your Iranian visa in Istanbul, we recommend that you arrive at least five working days before your trip departure date and take in to account any days the embassy/consulate may be closed (holidays, weekends etc). Starting in Tbilisi, Bishkek or Dushanbe - Please note that our trip leaves the city on Day 1 - we recommend arriving a day or two earlier if you wish to make the most of the sights and attractions of the relevant city and surrounding areas. Starting in Ashgabat - Because of restrictions on tourism in Turkmenistan, we advise arriving no earlier than the day before the trip begins. Please note that pre-trip accommodation in Ashgabat must be booked and paid to Oasis Overland before travelling. Return flights must be booked for at least the day AFTER the trip is due to end, but flexible tickets are best in case of unforeseen delays. You may wish to allow some extra time to explore your departure cities. One way ticket - If you intend to travel on a one way ticket to meet up with one of our trips, without possessing an onward flight ticket - we recommend that you have a copy of your payment confirmation/receipt (that you will be sent at time of your balance payment) available at immigration to assist easy entry. Departure Taxes - Please check with your Travel Agent or Airline if your flight ticket already includes a departure tax payment out of the country. If it does not - please budget for approx US$30 to $70 USD - to be paid in US$ only.

  • Where does the trip start?

    The trip starts from the Interhouse at approximately 8am on the morning of Day 1 of your trip. The hostel is situated in a quiet place in the centre of Bishkek, just a 10 minutes walk from MosSovet (crossing of central streets Moskovskaya and Sovetskaya). Trip Joining Point: Interhouse - Bishkek Start Time Day 1: 08:00 Address: 91/1 Manas Ave, Bishkek Telephone: +996 705 123 456 Website: www.interhouse.life Email: bishkek@interhouse.life

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Airport Transfer Costs: Approximately $30 USD Transfer costs are per person and are payable to the transfer representative on arrival. On arrival into Bishkek airport you will be met by a local representative who will take you to the group joining Hotel. The driver will have your name on a sign with Novi Nomad. If you have not arranged an airport transfer there is a taxi rank outside of the airport, expect to pay approximately $30 USD. We recommend to change some currency into Kyrgyzstani Som in the airport at an ATM's, rates in town for changing cash are better than at the airport. Your departure airport transfer is included in your trip price. You can contact the Oasis Office before your trip commences to arrange this, please email centralasia@oasisoverland.co.uk.

  • What is the maximum group size?

    Maximum 10 people.

  • What to expect at meal times?

    When 'on the road' with the expedition vehicle or camping, we usually cook using gas or over open fires in a rota system and you can expect to cook in a group of two or three people approximately once every ten days depending on the number of people on trip and whereabouts you are. Your cook group will have to decide on what to cook, utilise stocks from the truck stores and locally obtain ingredients from markets, shops etc and rustle up a meal. But don't worry if you're not a Gordon Ramsay as the rest of the group and the Tour Leader usually lend a helping hand. Here is an idea of what to expect at meal times: Breakfasts - Usually simple - we help ourselves to cereal, toast, hot drinks and on occasion we will splurge with a cooked breakfast. Lunch - Cold and usually quick. The cook group will put out bread, tinned supplies and maybe make a salad. Dinner - Cooks come into their own in the evening and will always attempt to cook up some delights. When the truck is parked up for a few days in a town or city most people usually like the option to eat out at local restaurants - so we often don't cook all meals when at these locations. Meals whilst staying in Hotels/Hostels/Pensions are not included in the local payment price.

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

    As detailed in the itinerary.

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

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

    Yes, if you are travelling solo. On our Overland Adventures and Ultimate Expeditions, we will pair you up with a tent buddy of the same sex when we camp and the same goes for twin & shared rooms in hostels, so there is no need to go it alone! If you specifically would like to request your own single room whilst on the trip, this may be requested subject to availability and additional fee.

  • How many people do you take on your Trips?

    On most of our Overland Adventures and Ultimate Expeditions our vehicles can carry a maximum of 24 travellers, the average however is around 16-20 on any one trip. Our Small Group Adventures have a maximum of 18 people per Tour Leader, although again the average is around 10-14 people.

Reviews from Travellers on this Tour

John Hammond  

BISHKEK TO ASHGABAT (37 DAYS) SILK ROAD HIGHLIGHTS & KYRGYZSTAN OVERLAND

Oct 2019

From pre-trip helpfulness (that's you, Jamie) to the convivial gathering of the tribe embarking on the journey and the beauty of these unexplored regions, I can only express enthusiasm. The bush camping was new for me but I could still rally my 75 year old butt to do what was necessary. Tour leader, Laura, and Driver, Paul, became my friends and I watch still, from home, their continuing journey and remember them both with happiness. I would encourage other potential travelers to give serious consideration to acting on their urge to know the world by this means!

Maria  

BISHKEK TO ASHGABAT (37 DAYS) SILK ROAD HIGHLIGHTS & KYRGYZSTAN OVERLAND

Dec 2016

I love to travel, but this trip was life changing! From the soulless Ashgabat to the vanishing Aral sea, the old towns of Uzbekistan, and the mountains of Kyrgistan, it was all amazing. But the crew and the other passengers made the trip - they went out of their way to make everything happen, to make everything run smoothly, to accommodate our "demands". It was the trip of a lifetime. I have travelled with many other companies... Really; they are the best!

Dates & Availability

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Saturday - Sunday

Aug 24, 2024 - Sep 29, 2024
$3189 $3030 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$159 (USD)

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  • Low Deposit

    Oasis Overland requires a minimum deposit of 25% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 70 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of oasis overland charges.

    Up to 70 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 69 days before tour starts: Forfeit 33% of booking price.

    At 45 days before tour starts: Forfeit 70% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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