2020 Five Stans

 Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan
and Turkmenistan

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Who is it for?

This tour is developed to see all states of Central Asia in one 18 days long trip. During the tour you get in touch with all major remains of the Great Silk Road as well as modern life of these bright countries. Being so different in the modern history all Central Asian states have a common past, kindred customs and traditions.

Price

From US $4 730

Inclusions

  • All transfers
  • Domestic flights/train tickets
  • Early check-in on Day 01
  • All Transportations
  • Accommodation: as in program 
  • Half board (breakfast and dinner daily)
  • Entrance and ecological fees
  • English speaking Guide
  • Visa support for Turkmenistan (Letter of Invitation, State
    Registration and Travel Pass)
  • FOC tour leader for groups over 10 pax

Program

Early morning arrival in Almaty.
Transfer to the hotel.
Almaty is a southern capital of Kazakhstan and at the same
time the largest city of the country. Officially it is not the
capital of the country for over 20 years, but still an important cultural and business center.
The capital city of Verniy was founded in 1854 by the  Russian tsarist government, replacing the old settlement of Alma-Tau (“apple-tree”). During the city tour you will see beautiful wooden Russian buildings – Zenkov-Cathedral, the ex assembly house of Czar officers and an apparel shop (1903 – 1908). Our city sightseeing tours includes: 28 Panfilov’s guardsmen park, Zenkov-Cathedral, Museum of History and Republic Square (Overall duration of city tour – 4 hours). In the afternoon excursion to a picturesque Big Almaty Lake (2511 m), whose turquoise surface reflects the surrounding peaks like a mirror – Peak Sovetov (4317 m), Peak Ozorhiy (4110 m), Peak Tourist (3954 m). In the evening we visit Sunkar show. The main attraction is the small zoo with birds of prey of different varieties. Here you can see a bird of prey hunting show. Five to seven spices of birds of prey take part in show. You will learn more about falcon hunting history, organic traits and the life-style of birds of prey. The show lasts for  approximately 40 min.

Accommodation: Hotel Otrar****

On the way to Bishkek we take a tour to Tamgaly-Tash collection of petroglyphs  which is considered to be one of the best in Central Asia. The canyon of Tamgaly Tash means “a sign-place” and is located in the eastern part of Chu-ili Mountains which provide all elements that favor the rise of a large petroglyph site. Centuries ago at the intersection of trade routes the strategic position of the site provided a habitat for a nomadic human community. Along with petroglyphs, other monuments have been identified such as: Bronze Age and Early Iron settlements, cemeteries in the mountain zone and dozens of kurgans at the plain. Over 4000 engravings are distributed into 50 small groups. The majority of the petroglyphs are in the main canyon which are mostly from the Bronze Age, but some have been overlaid with medieval or later etchings. There are some petroglyphs from the Iron Age. The site is included in the Heritage List of UNESCO. Further transfer to Kyrgyz/Kazakh border and to Chon-Kemin National Park.

Accommodation: Ashu GH or similar

Chon Kemin is quiet valley with several small villages and farmers’ lands surrounded by magnificent mountains and fir
forest. It is just a wonderful place to be, to sit on the doorstep and watch time pass by with a pot of tea. Today we arrange horseback games. Horseback games are the reflection of rich history of nomadic customs and traditions of the Kyrgyz  people. It is a colorful show that celebrates many vibrant aspects of Kyrgyz culture and includes traditional horse games “Ulak Tartysh”, “KyzKuumai”, “Oodarysh”, “Tyiyin-Enmei”. Our evening will be accompanied by a song of Manaschi. The epic poem Manas is central to Kyrgyz traditional culture and character, psychology and spirit. It is recited by specialists known as Manaschi, who hold a special place of respect in Kyrgyz culture.

Accommodation: Ashu GH or similar

On the way to Bishkek 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.
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 Sovietstyle 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 during 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: 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.
Our evening in Bishkek will be culminated by dinner with folklore show. Artists will  demonstrate you national musical
instruments and techniques of playing.

Accommodation: Hotel Ambassador****

Morning flight to Osh.
Osh is the oldest city in Kyrgyzstan (estimated to be over 3000 years old) and the second largest in the country. The town is situated at a crossroad of ancient trading routes that became known as the Silk Road. The age of the city can be judged by the rock drawings and inscriptions found on the northern slope of the four-­headed Suleiman Mountain. This mountain is located in the center of Osh and is a unique historical and architectural monument. The mountain is also known as Salomon’s throne. The site is still a popular place for local Muslims, with stairs leading up to the highest peak with a small mosque originally built in 1510. The mountain is included in the World Heritage list of UNESCO. Excursion to the bright Osh Bazaar and Historical  museum. We visit local bread bakery. Get hands on with a local baker to learn how lepyoshka is made, including preparing the dough, shaping and decorating the circular loaves, and placing them in the tandyr (oven). We also visit a workshop of Zakir Aka who has been making handmade knives for almost 60 years. These handmade knives also make a great gift for friends or family members who love to cook.
Dinner with Uzbek family. Hosts will demonstrate and explain all tricks of cooking of Central Asian most famous meals – Plov (or Pilaf).

Accommodation: Hotel Sunrise ***

Today we continue to Tajikistan (border crossing at KyzylBel). Upon arrival in Khojand we visit the mausoleum of century Sheikh Muslihiddin – the ruler of Khojand, a poet who lived in the 12th century, the  Historical Museum, which is located in a citadel, the largest bazaar in Tajikistan –
Payshanba.

Accommodation: Hotel Khujand Grand ***

Drive to Dushanbe through the Varzob Gorge and the Istiklol Tunnel. Our first stop is in the ancient city of Istarafshan, founded by the Persian king of Cyrus the  Great in the 7th century. You will visit the old town with the mosque of Shohi-Zinda and Mug Teppe, where once stood a gigantic fortress. On the way you will enjoy majestic views of Fan mountain ranges and emerald Iskandarkul Lake (2195 m) that reflects the surrounding mountains.
On the way to Dushanbe we will make couple stops in local villages. You will get  acquainted with people and see dayto-day life of local farmers.

Accommodation: Hotel Atlas****

From Tajik language name of the capital may be translated as “Monday”, it was named so because it grew from a village
that originally had a popular market on Mondays. Areas around Dushanbe were known as a center of cotton and silk
production during Soviet period of history. Although the name of the city is rather new, the historical past dates back
as far as 3 thousand years. Archeologists have dug out the remains of Greek-Bactrian settlements, the site of ancient
settlement from Kushan period, site of ancient Shishi Khon village and other medieval settlements. Our tour in Dushanbe will include the Museum of Antiquities, home to the UNESCO protected reclining Buddha – the largest statue of Buddha in Central Asia, main mosque, old synagogue, Russian Orthodox Church, Rudaki Park, and Shah-Mansur bazaar. We also will take a trip to Hissar Fortress, ruins of an 18th century fort of Emirate of Bukhara.

Accommodation: Hotel Atlas ****

Our destination for today is Termez. After crossing of the border between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan we visit Jarkurgan
Minarett that was supposedly built in the beginning of the XII century. The corrugated form of the minaret has no analogues among similar structures of Central Asia, and is typical for Buddhist religious buildings of India. This shape gives the structure softness and grace, and the brickwork in the form of “Christmas tree” ornament makes the surface of the minaret look more like soft fabric bends than a monumental structure.

Accommodation: Hotel Meridian *** ​

Termez is a real pearl of the East, a city at the crossroads of civilizations, the heart of Central Asia. The city was
repeatedly destroyed, ravaged, passed from hand to hand, but survived and today throws a hospitable oriental embrace
for tourists who are exploring new scopes. We visit Termez Archaeological Museum. Today, it is the first and only archaeological museum in Central Asia, many of whose unique exhibits date to more than 100 thousand years BC. Later we visit Buddhist temple complex of Fayaz-Tepe 1-3 c. BC. The site was discovered in 1968 and as a result of the
excavations, archaeologists found a whole temple complex consisting of a temple, a monastery and outbuildings. A
monument to the meditating Buddha has been preserved in the temple. We also visit a Kampyrtepa Complex – one of the oldest archaeological  monuments on the territory of Uzbekistan. It was a transit point for merchants, following the route of the Great Silk Road, where they could rest, ship their goods, pray to the gods and go on a further journey.

Dinner in national house.
Accommodation: Hotel Grand Samarkand****

On the way we visit Shakhrisabz – one of most ancient cities in Central Asia. The name Shakhrisabz means “green city”. It is not only a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but historically significant as the birthplace of Tamerlane. Under his leadership the city
became a real center of science and art. Today, the history of Shakhrisabz counts over 2700 years, and modern buildings are harmoniously combined with ancient buildings giving  the city a special flavor. Unlike Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara, there are few historical monuments in Shakhrisabz, but each of them is a real gem with a huge historical value. You will be impressed by the majolica and mosaics that cover the facade with countless motifs.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Samarkand ***(*)

The historic town of Samarkand is a crossroad and a melting pot of world’s cultures. Founded in the 7th century B.C. as ancient Afrosiab, Samarkand received its most significant development in the Timurid’s period from the 14th to the 15th centuries. Your sightseeing tour of this stunning city begins with a visit to the Gur-Emir mausoleum, the last resting place of the famous ruler Tamerlan. A short walk will take you to the heart of Samarkand, the beautiful Registan Square with its three sumptuous madrasah: Ulugbek, Shir Dor and TillyaKari. In the afternoon we continue the program by visiting beautiful Bibi Khanum Mosque and visiting an oriental bazaar. Bibi Khanum was the largest mosque in the eastern world at that time and after all, it is still one of the largest. You will also see the Ulugbek Observatory, named after the grandson of Tamerlane and famous astronomer. Northwest of Shahizinda was the ancient city of Afrosiab – now an archaeological site. Here a palace was discovered in 1912, which probably belonged to a senior official. The crowning glory of your day is the Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis with its 20 beautifully decorated mausoleums, in which the nobles of the Timurids are buried.

Accommodation: Hotel Grand Samarkand ***(*)

Bukhara was one of the greatest 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, and the city exists for half that time. Located at the Silk Road, the city has long served as a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. The town is also known as an open-air museum of mosques, madrasahs and minarets. It was the first oasis that caught eyes of invading Arab armies. In its 2500 year history it constantly changed hands from one ruler to  another.
City tour includes:
architectural complex Poi Kalon with the Kalon Minaret,
Kalon Mosque and Mir-Arab Madrasah, Toki Zargaron tradedomes, Magoki Attori Mosque.

Accommodation: Hotel Asia Bukhara ****

In the morning we visit an oriental bazaar full of traditional colors and oriental smells. We continue our walk through
Bukhara with the most beautiful architectural ensembles of mosques and madrasahs, visiting the Ark Citadel, the Mausoleum of the Samanids, Chor Minor Madrasahs, Lyabi Khauz Square, the Mausoleum Chashma Ayub, Bolo Mosque.
Folklore show in Nadir Divan Begi Madrasah.

Accommodation: Hotel Asia Bukhara ****

Today we enter the last Stan of our trip – Turkmenistan. In the morning, we depart Bukhara and drive to Uzbekistan Turkmenistan border point Farab. Border formalities on both sides, crossing the border. Transfer to Merv via Turkmenabat & Merv (350 km/4.5 hrs.). Merv was a major oasis-city in  Central Asia, on the historical Silk Road. Several cities have existed on this site, which is
significant for the interchange of culture and politics at a site of major strategic value. The site of ancient Merv has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site Upon arrival tour of Merv which was located at the crossroads of Great Silk Road and quickly became one of most important and biggest cities of the ancient World.
Sightseeing will include: Gyz Gala and Oglan Gala, Complex of Askhabs, Gyaur Gala, Erk Gala, Soltan Gala, Soltan Sanjar Mausoleum, Ibn Zeid Mausoleum.

Accommodation: Hotel Mary ***

With its lavish marble palaces, gleaming gold domes and vast expanses of manicured parkland, Ashgabat (“the city of love” in Arabic) is a showcase city for the newly independent republic. The Turkmen capital of Ashgabat lies at the foot of Kopet Dag Mountains in a fertile oasis of Karakum desert. We will visit the famous archeological site of Nisa – winter capital of Parthian rulers and National Museum of History with its rich collection of ancient artifacts and ethnic exhibits. Horses for centuries have played a vital role in Central Asian life. We will drive 40 km north-west of the city to visit a stud farm and see the beautiful Akhal-Teke horses. Turkmens began to breed these horses 5000 years ago and to this day they are not cross-breed. Their  elegance, lean body and fine bone structure are impressive. The horses are used for racing and are well-known among Eurasian jockeys. We will see the stables and the care and training of the horses. The Akhal-Teke horse is  considered to be the national symbol of Turkmenistan.

Accommodation: Hotel Oguzkent ****

Transfer to the airport and departure. End of services.

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