Destinations Destinations
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Activity Activity
Nature & Wildlife, Culture, Cities
Tour Type Tour Type
Group tour
Physical Level Physical Level
Easy
Season Season
January - December

Good to know

  • Operated by Kalpak Travel, the leading Central Asia specialists
  • Small group tour: max 12 people
  • Guaranteed departures
  • Expert local guides
  • 24/7 support
  • Single supplement available: €900

This escorted tour combines the cultural highlights and natural beauty of five countries into one epic journey. Uncover the cultural treasures and traditions of the nomadic people who have crossed this region for centuries. Explore epoch-defining architecture, from medieval Samarkand to Soviet-era cities. Get an unparalleled insight into the "Five Stans" and what makes this enigmatic and little-visited region tick.

Tour itinerary

What you'll see and do

Nur-Sultan city tour

Welcome to Central Asia! Most of the flights arrive early in the morning, so you can have a rest after the long flight, take a shower and have breakfast. Meet your fellow travelers and your guide at 10.00 AM in the hotel lobby to start the city tour.

Nur-Sultan is Central Asia’s youngest capital and a showpiece for the 21st century Kazakhstan. We will visit the National Museum of Kazakhstan, walk to Independence Square and in the afternoon, enjoy the nice city view from the top of the Baiterek Tower. We will have a walk along the Nurzhol Boulevard, designed by Kisho Kurokawa, with Khan Shatyr at the end, giant tent-like shopping center designed by architect Norman Foster. Finally, you will get to see the Expo 2017 area with the impressive Kazakh pavilion in a unique spherical shape.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay
Hilton Garden Inn (or similar)

Hilton Garden Inn (or similar)

Nur-Sultan - Bishkek

After breakfast, it's back to the airport for a short flight to Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan. Check in to your hotel before heading out for a guided tour of this charming city, the greenest in all Central Asia. After lunch our sightseeing program in Bishkek includes stops at the Oak Park, Central Square Ala-Too, and the Victory Square.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay
Hotel Plaza 4* or similar

Hotel Plaza 4* or similar

Bishkek - Burana - Song Kul or Chon Kemin

You'll depart after breakfast for a road trip into the heart of Kyrgyzstan. First stop is the medieval town of Balasagun and its 11th century Burana Tower. Climb the minaret's winding staircase for impressive views of the Chuy Valley.

In June, July, August & September: Song-Kul

We then continue driving to the village of Kochkor, where we stop for lunch. From Kochkor it’s another 4-5 hours mostly on dirt road driving up to lake Song Kul and driving along its southern shore to the yurt camp. The lake is situated on around 3000m altitude and only accessible in summer.

In May & October: Chon Kemin

From Burana we'll continue further into the mountains to a guesthouse in the beautiful Chon-Kemin Valley. Upon arrival, we'll have lunch at the guesthouse and in the afternoon we'll explore the village, observe local life, or optionally enjoy a short horse riding tour into the surrounding hills. Dinner and overnight in the guesthouse.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay
Yurt Camp (Kemin Guesthouse in May & October)

Yurt Camp (Kemin Guesthouse in May & October)

Song Kul/Chon Kemin – Kochkor – Tamga

After breakfast, it is time to drive to Issyk Kul Lake– the “Pearl of Kyrgyzstan”. On the way, we stop in a village for lunch and to see a presentation of how traditional felt carpets are made. We drive along the southern shore to the “Skazka” or “Fairytale” canyon. The canyon derived its name from its bizarre landscape with fabulous formations from rocks. From there we drive to our overnight stay – a nice yurt camp not far from the shore of Lake Issyk Kul.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Tamga – Jety Oguz - Karakol-Tepke

After breakfast, we drive further eastwards along the southern shore of Issyk Kul towards the town of Karakol. On the way to Karakol, we drive into the side valley of Jety Oguz, famous for its two red rock formations called “Seven Bulls” and “The Broken Heart”. You will see these rocks and your guide will tell you the legend behind their interesting names.

In Karakol, we will have lunch and have a short sightseeing tour of the town’s most interesting sights. The tour includes the Dungan Mosque, built in 1904, and the wooden Russian Orthodox Church which has been standing since 1869. We will have lunch in Karakol in a Uighur family. From Karakol, it is another 30km driving north to the village of Tepke where we will spend the night in a nice guesthouse of farmers who breed horses. You can see their horses and learn how “Boorsok” (deep fried bread, typical for Kyrgyzstan) is made.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay
Guesthouse "Reina Kench"

Guesthouse "Reina Kench"

Karakol - Charyn Canyon - Almaty

Cross the mountains into Kazakhstan and drive to Almaty, former capital and biggest city of Kazakhstan. En route we'll stop for lunch at Charyn Canyon, often described as Kazakhstan's answer to the Grand Canyon (although in reality much smaller in size). We'll visit the “Valley of Castles” so named for its unusual rock formations, and enjoy a 3km hike through the canyon. In the evening, we'll arrive in Almaty in time for dinner.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay
Hotel Kazzhol 4* (or similar)

Hotel Kazzhol 4* (or similar)

Almaty city tour

Almaty is the largest city of Central Asia’s richest country, Kazakhstan. Until 1997 it was the country’s capital and it remains today the country’s business and educational center. The name Almaty means “the place with apples” and it is believed that this is where apples originated from.

We will visit Panfilov Park to see the most famous sight of Almaty, Zenkov Cathedral. In the same Park is the impressive Soviet Glory Memorial, a tribute to 28 men who, as the narrative goes, repulsed 50 German tanks from the outskirts of Moscow during World War II. In the afternoon, you have some free time to explore the city on your own or relax at the hotel. Your guide will be available and happy to suggest places to go / things to see or do. In the evening, we meet up again in the hotel lobby and take the cable car to Kok Tobe hill, from where we will have a nice view of the city. Then we have dinner and return to the hotel.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Almaty - Dushanbe city tour

After breakfast transfer to Almaty Airport for the flight to Dushanbe, capital of Tajikistan. Meet your Tajik guide, and have lunch in the city. In the afternoon, we will visit the Museum of Antiquities with the famous 13m Buddha statue. We will then have a walk in the shade of the trees in the Botanical Garden or – if possible (on Sunday no guaranteed opening time) – we visit marvelous modern Navruz Palace. We will then go to the hotel to have some rest and at 6:30 pm when it’s not too hot anymore meet your guide in the hotel lobby again. We will visit Ismail Samani statue. The large monument commemorates the 1100th anniversary of the Samanid State, the heyday of the Tajik nation when science and arts flourished.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Overnight in hotel Atlas 4*

Dushanbe - Iskanderkul - Penjikent

After an early breakfast we'll set off for Iskanderkul Lake, named after Alexander the Great. Triangular in shape and nestled among the Fann Mountains at 2,200 m above sea level, it's one of the most impressive lakes in the former Soviet Union. We'll stop for lunch at the lake shore and take a dip if you wish, followed by a brief hike to a nearby waterfall, called the Niagara Falls of the Fann Mountains. From there it's another four hours of scenic driving to the town of Penjikent, where we'll arrive just in time for dinner.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Hotel Umarion 3* or similar

Penjikent city tour or Seven Lakes day trip

Today we take a bumpy ride into the mountains, to explore the area of the “Seven Lakes”. The mountain valley is not far from Penjikent, but due to the terrible road condition, this trip takes a full day. Near the fourth lake, there is a guesthouse. Those who like can stay there after lunch and relax and who wants can drive further up the valley until the sixth lake. From there it’s a short and easy hike of about 2 hours (both ways) to the seventh and highest lake Hazorchashma. Enjoy the scenery and go on a short hike along the lake’s shore if you like, before hiking back down to the 6th lake and driving back down to Penjikent.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Hotel Umarion 3* or similar

Penjikent - Istarafshan - Khujand

From Penjikent we drive up North to Istarafshan first and finally to Khujand. The road to Istaravshan is very scenic, crossing Shahriston Pass. Today, Istarafshan is well known in Tajikistan for its blacksmiths, hand-crafting knives of high quality. We will visit the workshops of the blacksmiths near the entrance of the market. From Istarafshan it is another one and a half hours driving to Khujand. Check-in at the hotel and have dinner in the second largest city of Tajikistan.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Grand Hotel 3* or similar

Khujand City Tour - Tashkent

Khujand is situated in the Fergana Valley on the Syr Darya river. It is another ancient city with history dating back to Cyrus the Great of Persia and Alexander the Great. Today it is the second largest city in Tajikistan with Tajikistan’s biggest market – Panjshanbe Bazaar. City tour of Khujand includes the bazaar and the adjacent Maslihaddin Mosque, the historical Museum of Khujand, and Arbob palace.

In the afternoon, around 3:00 PM departure from Khujand to Tashkent. Cross Oybek border point on foot and meet your Uzbek driver and bus on the other side and drive ca. 2 hours to reach Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan and largest city in Central Asia.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Hotel City Palace 4* or similar

Tashkent City Tour – Samarkand

After breakfast, it is time to start the city tour. Visit the Old City area of Tashkent where you will find the Khast Imom Complex which contains ancient holy Quran of Caliph Osman. Take a ride on the city’s famous Soviet-era metro system which like Moscow’s features some of the most ornately decorated stations in the world. Exit at Amir Temur Square Station to view the statue of the great conqueror and next to it, the grand Independence Square.

Enjoy some free time in the afternoon exploring the city at your leisure before regrouping for the high-speed train to Samarkand, arriving around 9pm for a transfer to your hotel.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Hotel Rabat 3* or similar

Samarkand City Tour

Samarkand evokes an almost mythical past of romance and intrigue. This was the domain of Timur, one of history’s great conquerors. Much of his architectural heritage has been preserved, offering a view of the city at the peak of his power. We start the day with the visit of Gur-Emir mausoleum, where Timur is buried. We will hear the stories from his life and how did he start the construction of Samarkand. Then, we go to Registan Square – Samarkand’s and arguably Uzbekistan’s most famous landmark. The focal point of ancient Samarkand is framed by three beautiful madrassas (religious schools) – Ulugbek, Sherdor and Tillya Kori. After lunch, we will stroll through the spacious courtyard of the Bibi-Khanum Mosque. We will have time to explore the Siyob Bazaar.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Hotel Rabat 3* or similar

Samarkand - Bukhara

After breakfast, we visit Konigil Paper Mill. At the paper mill, you may see the process of paper production from mulberry tree bark – just like in 8th century Samarkand. We then go to Shahi Zinda, to the tile-rich street of turquoise and blue domes. After lunch you can have free time or visit Ulugbek’s Observatory and Afrasiyab Museum. At the museum you can learn more about the ancient city of Samarkand – then known as Afrasiyab – that was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century. Dinner in the city center. After dinner, transfer to the train station to catch Afrosiyob high-speed train to Bukhara, departing 9:00 pm and arriving 10:40 pm in Bukhara. Transfer to the hotel and check-in.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Hotel Safiya 3* or similar

Bukhara walking tour

After breakfast, we start the walking tour of Bukhara. Even the very name Bukhara conjures up images of the exotic Orient. For centuries, it was an important trading post and an academic center. The Old Town has been well preserved and is crammed full of minarets, mosques, and madrassas. Its once notorious canals and pools, the source of many an epidemic, have now been drained but the most famous, Lyabi-Hauz, is still there, an oasis shaded by mulberry trees at the heart of the city. Sights that we will see on today’s walking tour in the Old Town of Bukhara: Mausoleum of Samanids, Kalon Complex, Ark Fortress, Bolo Hauz Mosque and local markets under the domes.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Hotel Safiya 3* or similar

Bukhara - Khiva

After breakfast check out from hotel for the road journey to Khiva, a long but scenic ride through the Kyzylkum desert, with plenty of stops for lunch and to stretch your legs. After a long road trip, the reward will be Khiva, where you'll arrive in time for dinner in the Old Town.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Hotel Asia 3* or similar

Khiva walking tour

After breakfast start walking tour of the city. Khiva is bursting with historical sites – and today you will get a chance to see them all. We will visit the walled inner-city section of Khiva called Ichan Kala. This old section of town preserves more than fifty historic monuments and hundreds of old houses dating back hundreds of years. The entire citadel is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you walk through the enormous city gates, you are confronted by the glistening Islamic beacon, the Kalta-minor Minaret. Delve deep into the town on a guided tour that embraces all of the city sites. Enjoy broad views of Old Khiva atop the Kunya-Ark Citadel. During dinner there will be a small performance of local dancers and singers.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Hotel Asia 3* or similar

Khiva - Kunya Urgench - Darvaza crater

After breakfast you'll drive to the Turkmenistan border to deal with border formalities (all necessary information and support provided by Kalpak Travel and your guide).

On the Turkmenistan side of the border, meet your Turkmen guide and driver and transfer to Kunya Urgench (100 km, 2 h.). Visit the most important Mausoleums and see the Kutlug Timur Minaret. In the afternoon, drive to Darwaza gas crater located in the middle of the Karakum desert (270 km, 4-5 h.). Enjoy a delicious fire-cooked meal for dinner near the burning gas crater.

Please note: On September and October departure we skip Kunya-Urgench and drive directly to Darvaza, to be there before sunset. This means reduced driving time by 1-2 hours.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Overnight in Yurt Camp

Darvaza - Ashgabat

After camp-style breakfast you'll continue to Ashgabat, arriving around noon with some free time to relax, eat lunch, take a shower and avoid the midday heat.

After lunch you'll take a short tour of Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan. Your tour includes a visit of the National Museum of History, the Arch of Neutrality, and the newly built Independence Park. Finish the tour at a 7th floor terrace restaurant for dinner with nice views of the city.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Hotel Nusay 5* or similar

Ashgabat - Goekdepe - Ashgabat

It's a busy penultimate day with a drive to Old Nisa fortress, yet another UNESCO World Heritage site. Located at the foot of the Kopet-Dag Mountains, Old Nisa is 14 hectares in size with two semi-excavated complexes of Parthian-era structures, designated as royal residence and temple complex. From Nisa fortress you'll continue to the Spiritual Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in Central Asia. Then drive back to Ashgabat, stopping en-route at National Memorial Complex “Halk Hakydasy” with WWII and Earthquake memorials.

After lunch you'll drive to a farm in Geokdepe, about 50 km west of Ashgabat, where you can see the famous Turkmen horses called Akhal Teke. That evening you'll enjoy a farewell dinner with your guide and travelling companions, certain by now to have become firm friends.

Includes: breakfast, lunch, dinner
Where you'll stay

Hotel Nusay 5* or similar

After one final breakfast it's time for your transfer to the airport for your flight back home. Say goodbye to your companions and Central Asia - perhaps you'll return again soon!

This escorted/group tour is also available as a private trip with flexible departures and a customisable itinerary. Contact Kalpak Travel for more information.
Includes: breakfast

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Good to know

  • Operated by Kalpak Travel, the leading Central Asia specialists
  • Small group tour: max 12 people
  • Guaranteed departures
  • Expert local guides
  • 24/7 support
  • Single supplement available: €900

Tour inclusions

Get in touch now for more details

Included Accommodation
  • 18 nights in carefully-selected, quality assured hotels.
  • Three nights in traditional Yurt camp.
  • One night in a family guesthouse.
Included Guided excursions

Expert, English-speaking guides and fully escorted tours in every destination.

Included All meals

Full board (22 breakfasts, 21 lunches, 21 evening meals).

Included Ground transfers

All road transport, rail tickets and airport/hotel transfers.

Included Internal flights

All internal flights included.

Testimonials

What people are saying about Kalpak Travel

E
Elaine, New Zealand
01/10/2019

If you are thinking about a trip through Central Asia, Kalpak Travel are the way to go!!

They are an amazing small company, specialising in the region, who take a lot of care and attention to ensure everyone gets the personal touch both before and during the trip. Great care is taken when partnering with local companies to ensure they only have the best guides and the best itineraries. I did the 22 days Best of Central Asia tour and it far exceeded my expectations in every way.

Loved Central Asia and loved seeing it through the eyes of Kalpak Travel and their local partners.

B
Bob, Canada
01/05/2019

I took a 22-day Best of Central Asia Tour (the 5 Stans) with Kalpak Travel in May 2019. First of all, Central Asia is full of beautiful scenery, fascinating history but most importantly warm and welcoming people who literally jump up to shake your hand. So, if you are thinking about a trip to the area, do not hesitate, book it now.

I chose Kalpak Travel based on their reviews. My own experience confirms that they deserve all five stars. Luca answered my emails so promptly with detailed responses that I wondered if he ever slept. He even called me to discuss the trip and talked me through my concerns about the visa issues for Turkmenistan. The trip was well planned with great hotels and food (most of the time far beyond what I expected). All the guides were professional and enthusiastic. The tour vehicles were late models in great repair and drivers extremely careful and skilled. We had a fabulous tour leader with us throughout all 5 Stans who looked after our various needs. It was greatly reassuring to have her with us through the various borders, especially crossing into Turkmenistan. Kalpak offers a very personal touch from customized itineraries to cards and chocolates waiting in our hotel rooms. Luca and Aijan hosted us for two fabulous meals in Bishkek.

Your next trip should be to Central Asia with Kalpak.

B
Bill, USA
01/09/2018

I always travel independently, but my research indicated that independent travel in Central Asia would be a bit daunting ... so I spent several years examining Central Asian tours online. Everything I saw was quite expensive, and none of the tours included all the places I wished to visit. Finally I came across KALPAK TRAVEL's "Best of Central Asia" tour, which checked all my boxes ... (a) comprehensive journey across all five 'Stans, (b) majority of travel by land, (c) small group, and (d) reasonable cost. As soon as I booked the journey I discovered the excellent personalized service provided by Kalpak Travel owner Luca ... and as soon as I started the 22-day journey I discovered the excellent comprehensive service provided by the consistently professional and personable local guides. The journey was perfectly smooth and highly enjoyable from start to finish, and I credit Kalpak Travel with meticulous organization and orchestration of every element ... from the variety of accommodations, meals, and experiences to the seamless crossing of each international border in a fascinating region of the world. Kalpak Travel is simply the best.

Days

22

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