The Heart of Central Asia

Countries: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan
Tour duration: 19 days
This tour is developed to see traces of the Great Silk Road and get acquainted with the history and modern life of all Central Asian states. You will be impressed by magnificent Tien-Shan Mountains and a primeval nature of Kyrgyzstan with wild landscapes of Tien-Shan Mountains Range: densely planted forests of conifers, wide valleys and raging rivers, unique mountain lakes with transparent water, magic glaciers, herds of horses, sheep and yaks, magnificent Canyons and feel a charm of ancient cities of Uzbekistan.
Tour program:

Day 1 Flight to Almaty

Early morning arrival in Almaty. Meeting at the airport and transfer to Otrar Hotel. Time for a rest. Almaty is a modern metropolis with a picturesque panorama of mountains and apple tree forests. Almaty is the Southern capital of Kazakhstan and at the same time is the largest city of the country. Officially for more than 20 years it is not the capital of the country, but still an important cultural and business center. Our city sightseeing tours includes: 28 Panfilov’s guardsmen park, Zenkov-Cathedral, National museum of History, Medeo gorge, Republic Square (Overall duration of the city tour - 4 hours).

Accommodation: Hotel Otrar****

Day 2. Transfer to Bishkek, 350 km

On the way to Bishkek we make a detour to the amazing collection of petroglyphs which is considered to be one of the best Central Asia. The canyon of Tamgaly Tash means “a sign-place” and is located in the eastern part of the Chu-ili Mountains which provide all the elements that favor the rise of a large petroglyph site. Centuries ago at the intersection of trade route the strategic position of the site provided a habitat for a nomadic human community. In the area, together with the petroglyphs, other monuments have been identified such as: Bronze Age and Early Iron settlements, cemeteries in the mountain zone and dozens of kurgans on the plain. Over 4000 engravings are distributed into 50 small groups.

Accommodation: Hotel Ak-Keme ****

Day 3. Sightseeing tour in Bishkek

Bishkek is a capital and the largest city in Kyrgyzstan, located at the foothill of magnificent Kyrgyz Ala-Tau mountain range. Bishkek is a city of many green parks and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks and thousands of smaller privately built houses. It is laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels that water the innumerable trees which provide shade in the hot summers. The city is believed to be the greenest in Central Asia with more trees per head of population than any other.

Our sightseeing tour includes: blooming Osh Bazaar, Historical Museum, Museum of Applied Arts and Ala-Too square, the main square of the country. The square serves as a place for state events and celebrations and includes many monuments, open-air picture gallery, famous Oak Park, marble government buildings and theaters

Accommodation: Hotel Ak-Keme****

Day 4. Transfer to Cholpon-Ata, 300 km

On the way to the second largest mountainous lake in world we make a stop at Karakhanid’s minaret of the 12 century - Burana tower. Nowadays it is a museum complex which includes the tower itself, reconstructions of mausoleums found on the site, remains of the citadel, a collection of balbals (grave stones used by nomadic Turkic peoples), petroglyphs (stone carvings) and a small Museum. Further transfer through Boom gorge and along northern shore of the Issyk-Kul Lake to Cholpon-Ata town. The lake sits in a hollow surrounded by snowcapped peaks of Terskei and Kungei Ala-Tau Mountain ranges at the altitude of 1600 m. The Lake is 180 km long, 60 km wide and 700 m deep. 134 streams and rivers flow into the lake but none flows out what is explained by underwater tectonic activity.

Accommodation: Three Crowns ***

Day 5. Transfer to Karakol, 120 km

Transfer to Karakol along beautiful landscapes of the lake and mountains. Excursion to Semenov gorge with amazing view of the lake from the top. The atmosphere of Karakol town will bring you hundred years back and give you an impression of Tsarist Russia. Karakol in previous times had another name – Prjevalsk, in honor of the famous Russian explorer of Asia – Nikolai Prjevalski, whose grave is situated at the shore of Issyk-Kul lake. Visiting of Prjevalsk Museum. The town was founded in 1869. Karakol is built in an old Russian style with many buildings from Tsar time.
Dinner with Yighur family.

Accommodation: Hotel Green Yard ***

Day 6. Sightseeing tour in Karakol

Excursion to Russian Orthodox Church (1896) and Chinese pagoda styled mosque (1899). In the afternoon easy walk in Karakol national park.

Accommodation: Hotel Green Yard ***

Day 7. Transfer to Kochkor, 300 km

Transfer to Kochkor along the southern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake (700m deep). The lake is situated at the altitude of 1600 meters and with dimensions of 180 km long and 60 km wide is known as the second largest mountain lake in the world. The lake sits in a tectonic hollow surrounded by magnificent Terskey and Kungei mountain ranges of the Tien-Shan chain. On the way we visit Jety-Oguz gorge with famous “7 bulls” and “Broken Heart” rocks and canyon "Skazka" (Fairy tale). The canyon was named so due to its bizarre rocky landscape, which for many years has been transformed by wind into fabulous sculptures and formations. Some formations in "Skazka" have been named for their similarity to well-known objects. For example, one set of ridges in the canyon is named "The Chinese Wall" due to its similarity to the Great Wall of China. You can also find what appear to be statues of a hippopotamus, snake, dragon, sleeping giant and even whole castles.

Accommodation: Homestay

Day 8. Transfer to Son-Kul Lake, 150 km

Transfer to alpine lake Son-Kul over “33 parrots” pass (3300 m) and Dolon (3000 m). It is the second largest lake after Issyk Kul Lake, and the largest fresh water lake in Kyrgyzstan. It is surrounded by broad summer pastures dotted with yurts, grazing cattle and mountains. Here you will get acquainted with traditional lifestyle of Kyrgyz nomads.

Accommodation: Yurt camp

Day 9. Son-Kul Lake

Relaxing day at the lake. You can enjoy horseback riding, easy hike to the mountains to see an amazing panorama of Son-Kul Lake and mountains, play with children or participate in cooking of national meals.

Accommodation: Yurt camp

Day 10. Transfer to Jalal-Abad, 350 km

The road to Jalal Abad goes over picturesque Moldo Ashuu (3439m) and Kok Art (3200m) passes. On the way you will see colorful landscapes of Naryn river basin. The river is the largest in Kyrgyzstan, flowing further in Uzbekistan as Syr Darya and feeds Aral Sea.

Accommodation: Homestay

Day 11. Transfer to Osh via Uzgen, 100 km

On the way to the southern capital of Kyrgyzstan – Osh we make a stop in Uzgen. Excursion to 2000 years old minaret and mausoleums nearby. Visiting of famous rice bazaar. Further transfer to Osh. Osh is believed to be one of the oldest towns in Central Asia. Excursion to Suleiman Mountain and local museum in a cave. The mountain is also known as Salomon’s throne. The site is still a popular place among local with a small mosque originally built in 1510. The mountain is included in the World Heritage list of UNESCO.

Accommodation: Hotel Osh ***

Day 12. Transfer to Uzbek border

Today cross a border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan and head towards Fergana. City Tour in Margilan to see the process of handmade silk production at the famous Yodgorlik factory.

Accommodation: Hotel Club 777***

Day 13. Transfer to Tashkent, 350 km

Transfer toTashkent. On the route visiting of Rishtan pottery workshops of Rustam Usmanov, city tour in Kokand - former capital of the powerful Kokand Khanate which once dominated the whole Fergana valley. Tashkent is a wonderful city, a real embodiment of the modern elegance that is inherent in many world capitals. At the same time it remains an oriental city. City tour on this day includes: Theater square, Barak-Khan and Abdul-Kassym Madrasah, Kaffal-Schaschi Mausoleum.

Accommodation: Hotel City Palace ****

Day 14.Train trip to Samarkand

Morning train trip to Samarkand (08:00-10:10). The historic town of Samarkand is a crossroad and melting pot of the world's cultures. Founded in the 7th century B.C. as ancient Afrosiab, Samarkand had its most significant development in the Timurid period from the 14th to the 15th centuries. Visiting of Registan Square which used to be a heart of Samarkand in ancient times. After arrival to Samarkand transfer to the hotel. Accommodation. City tour in Samarkand: Visiting of Guri Emir Mausoleum (15c), Registan Ensemble (Square), a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, surrounded on three sides by blue tiled madrassahs: Ulugbek (15c), ShirDor (17c), Tillya Kari Madrassahs (17c); BibiKhanum Mosque

Accommodation: Hotel Malika Prime ****

Day 15.Samarkand, sightseeing tour

Morning tour in Samarkand: Shah-i-Zinda necropolis (14-15c), “Stars above Samarkand” - Ulugbek observatory (15c), “Ruines of Afrosiab” - excavations and museum of the ancient town (6 BC-13 AD), Saint Daniel Mausoleum, Samarkand local bazaar. Afternoon visiting of local agricultural farm and dinner with a local family.

Accommodation: Hotel Malika Prime ****

Day 16.Transfer to Bukhara, 290 km

Morning drive to Bukhara.
Bukhara was one of the great trading centers at the Silk Road. The history of Bukhara stretches back millennia. Humans have inhabited the region around Bukhara for at least five millennia ago and the city has existed for half that time. Located at the Silk Road, the city has long served as a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. Afternoon city tour: Visiting of Ark Citadel Bolo Haus mosque, the Ismael Samani Mausoleum and Kalyan Minaret.

Accommodation: Salom Inn Hotel ***

Day 17. Bukhara, sightseeing tour

Today we continue the city tour in Bukhara – Complex LabiHaus, Maggoki at Tori Mosque, Traditional covered bazaars including Toki Zargaron Trading Dome (1569-70); Toki Telpak Furushon Trading Dome, Toki Sarrafon Trading Dome (16th c.), Medresse Chor Minor. Folk Show in the Nodir Devon Begi madrasah.

Accommodation: Salom Inn Hotel ***

Day 18. Flight to Tashkent

Transfer to the airport for morning flight to Tashkent. After arrival we take a city tour in Tashkent: visiting of the Museum of Applied Arts, the central square Amir Timur Maydoni - dominated by a statue of Timur on horseback and the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre. And the last visit to the Old Quarter of the city to see an extensive Chorsu Bazaar.

Accommodation: Hotel City Palace ****

Day 19.Departure

Transfer to the airport and departure. End of services

Services included:
- All transfers
- Transport: minibus
- Accommodation: as in program above
- English/German/French speaking guide
- Half board (breakfast and dinner daily)
- Entrance and ecological fees
- Folklore show in Bukhara, Uzbekistan
- Train ticket Tashkent – Samarkand, “Afrosiab” train

Services not included:
- International flights
- Domestic flight Bukhara – Tashkent (100 USD)
Photo- and video fees in museums
- Alcohol beverages
- Single room supplement
- FOC
- Lunches
Notes.
Single room accommodation is not available at yurt camps. Yurt camp at Son-Kul Lake (Day 8 and 9) consists of 10 yurts with 5-6
beds in each. Toilet facilities are outside, small sauna is available. High quality food is served.
Most roads are in good paved condition, except the road around Son-Kul Lake. It is unpaved but bumpy.