Step onto the ancient Silk Road in Central Asia.
Get to know – or under-Stan, if you will – the desert landscapes, multicultural influences and religious significance in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan on a 26-day Central Asian adventure. The region’s allure lies in the heritage of the Silk Road, where ideas, culture and people flowed from East to West, and in the green field backcountry and sweeping mountain landscapes that play host to the traditional nomadic lifestyle. Journey through cities featuring crumbling reminders of Soviet occupation and influence and out into the stunning wilds, where the ancient history of these long-lived nations – Persian and Mongol, Buddhist and Muslim – becomes clearer. Samarkand’s iconic Registan Square, the soaring Ak-Baital Pass, Khiva’s city within a city, the ‘Door to Hell’ – Central Asia has got it all.
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Skirting the border with Afghanistan, get glimpses of the other side, from the hair-raising Afghan-built ovrings (footbridges) to the exotic imports on display in Khorog's local bazaar.
Soaring along the renowned Pamir Highway is an unforgettable experience, especially in fine weather when the mighty peak of Muztag Ata rears its head.
Steeped in Silk Road history and immortalised in many great tales, the UNESCO-protected town of Khiva is as photogenic as it is legendary.
Witness the eternal flames of the Darvaza Crater, known as the 'Door to Hell', as you camp nearby – one of the strangest, most mesmerising geological oddities on earth.
Ashgabat rose from the devastation of an earthquake in 1948 and has enjoyed a surreal and futuristic makeover – witness its often bizarre, but certainly memorable architecture on a city tour.
This trip visits places as high as 5000 metres above sea level, which can cause altitude sickness, regardless of age or physical health. Please see the ‘Health’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details on travelling at altitude and ensure you are familiar with signs of AMS.
This is the ultimate Central Asian road trip. Travellers who enjoy the journey even more than the destination will get the most out of this trip. Daily drives range from 3 to 10 hours in duration. Depending on traveller numbers, the group may be split into two vehicles. Though the longer travel days and single night stays can be tiring, you'll be in a private vehicle, and much of the scenery in this part of the world is simply stunning.
Medical facilities can be as far away as 2-3 days' drive at times, as some locations are very remote. During this journey the group will spend time in remote areas without home comforts or easy access to medical facilities. You will need to have excellent physical health to join this trip and consult with your doctor before travelling if you have any ongoing illnesses or injuries.
The diversity of the seasons here makes for incredible scenery, but the weather in this region can be unpredictable. It’s best to wear layers at all times of the year in case conditions change during the day. At night the temperature can really drop, so bring your warm clothes. Camping can be especially cold at the start and end of the season. Even in the warmer months the temperature can be low in the mountains.
Tourism is strictly controlled in Turkmenistan, with Letters of Invitation needed in advance in order to apply for your visa (which you can then get on arrival) and guides tending to be protective of what tourists see and fiercely proud of their nation and its leaders. Those used to more freedom of exploration and tour guides with a more global perspective may find their experience here different from in other destinations.
There is one night of basic camping included on this trip in the Karakum Desert. Sleeping bags, mattresses and tents are all provided, but there are no bathing or permanent toilet facilities at the campsite.
In the Pamirs you'll stay in local homestays, with the whole group often sleeping in one large room on mattresses on the floor. Bathroom facilities are outdoors, and it won't be possible to take a shower every night of the trip.
Please note that this trip can involve a lot of walking. Please ensure you bring sturdy walking shoes and comfortable clothes. To make the most of the trip, it's best if you have at least a moderate level of fitness.
1. Due to the demands of travelling at high altitudes a Passenger Self Assessment Form is required for this trip.
2. A Single Supplement is available for this trip, excluding nights in home stays and camping.
3. This is a multi-country trip. Please read the visa section of the Essential Trip Informaiton carefully for the visa requirement. Please note that you will need to obtain your Tajikistan e-visa & GBAO permit before travelling on this trip.
4. Please note your leader will change in Tashkent and at the Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan border
5. You'll need to provide a clear passport scan and fill in the application form in order for us to apply for Letter of Invitation for Turkmenistan. Please check with your booking agent for the application form.
6. Independent travel is not allowed in Turkmenistan. If you have post trip accommodation booked with us, you will also need to arrange tours to further explore Ashgabat. You may consult your Turkmen leader on what to book and what to do for your post tour days at an additional expense. Otherwise, you won't be allowed to leave your hotel without a guide in Ashgabat.
7. As Central Asian immigration and customs officials are notoriously strict, please make sure you keep all forms for when you exit the country. A lost customs or immigration form could result in a fine or being detained at the border. You must also declare ALL currency when entering and exiting the country; keep all currency exchange slips or ATM receipts.
Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.View Essential Trip Information