Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan – Architecture & Culture

12 Days
from AUD$ 6,812

Single Supplement AUD$ 1,684.00

Check availability

Ask us a question

Highlights

  • Wander through ancient Silk Road cities
  • Explore alpine lakes, gorges and mountain villages
  • Experience a traditional stay in a yurt
  • Hiking through virgin landscapes
  • Embrace traditional cooking and handicraft experiences with locals
  • Witness eagle hunting
  • Mingle with nomads and shepherds

Ancient architecture, Silk Road fables, stories of merchants, traders and life on the road entwined with remote mountain lakes, valleys of wildflowers, hikes through remote cobbled villages dotted with shepherds and their flocks – a journey through Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan is the perfect introduction to Central Asia.

Dusted in eye-popping cobalts, cyans and sapphires, Uzbekistan has an incredible tangle of history to unravel and hidden sites to uncover. From its former Persian rule and key location along the famed Silk Road, to which is owes much of its grand architecture and culture, to a short period under Soviet rule, this jumble of traditions is a treasure trove waiting to be cracked open. We veer you through Uzbekistans great sites, mingle with their nomads and cross into Kyrgyzstan – a land defined by its natural beauty. Soak in joyously unspoilt mountainscapes, stark craggy ridges and rolling jailoos (summer pastures) which are brought to life by semi-nomadic, yurt-dwelling shepherds.

Journey map

Fitness level

Easy
Moderate
Challenging
Tough

Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival Tashkent

Welcome to Uzbekistan! Upon arrival in Tashkent airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Uzbekistan is the proud home to a spellbinding infusion of architecture and ancient cities, all deeply intertwined with the bloody, fascinating history of the Silk Road.

Leave your luggage at your hotel and set off on your city tour. Visit the wonderful complex Khast Imam, located in the old part of the city which has been the largest centre of Islamic culture in Uzbekistan for thousands of years. Continuing on, you will also visit Kukeldash madrasah, the largest madrasah and one of the most famous historical monuments of Tashkent. You will also have the opportunity to explore a local bazaar, Chorsu. This bazaar is one of the largest and most popular in the capital. Covered by seven domes tiled with coloured ceramic designs, mingle amongst the locals as they bargain and barter amongst themselves. Local farmers come from far and wide to sell products of their own production. Let your senses take over as you inhale the aromas of different eastern spices, vegetables and fruits.

Enjoy meeting a ceramist from Rishtan. Become acquainted with the full cycle of ceramic production – from the preparation of the clay to the manufacture of finished products and take part in our master class and get your hands dirty, as you learn from the locals. This evening, enjoy a walking city tour as you visit Amir Temur Square, Sailgoh Street, Romanov’s Palace (outside), Navoi Theatre Square and Independence Square. Return to your hotel. (L,D)

Overnight Hotel Wyndam or similar

Day 2 - Tashkent - Bukhara

This morning, transfer to the train station for your train to Bukhara. Travelling by train along the Silk Road is sure to be one of your highlights – not only from the scenery out your window, but from the local engagement you may experience. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel where you will leave your luggage and set off on a city tour. Bukhara was a prominent stop on the Silk Road trade route between the East and the West, and a major medieval centre for Islamic theology and culture. It still contains hundreds of well-preserved mosques, madrassas bazaars and caravanserais, dating largely from the 9th to the 17th centuries.

Explore the Lyabi-Khauz complex, an architectural ensemble, formed with three large, monumental buildings: Kukeldash Madrasah, Khanaka and Nodir Divan-begi. The centre of old Bukhara’s large ensemble became a reservoir.

Visit the Jewish Synagogue which still functions today and was built in 16th century and is protected by the government, as well as the Trade Domes. Medieval Bukhara was a big business city receiving merchants from Central Asia and other parts of the world and this is where much of the merchant trading took place.

Marvel at the Bozori Kord Khammam (Sauna bathroom) dating back to XIV century and the Abdullakhan Tim, a huge, roofed shopping passage from XVI century.

The only surviving building in Bukhara of Timurid-era, is the Ulugbeg madrassahs which you will have the privilege to see. Abdulazizkhan madrassahs is a part of architectural ensemble of Ulugbek Madrasah.

Spend your afternoon in fascinating Old Bukhara which is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Explore Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque and Miri-Arab Madrasah, Magoki-Attori Mosque, madrasahs of Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan, trade domes, Lyabi Hauz Ensemble, Chor-Minor Madrasah.

Venture into the Retro Saloon, Timur, where you will taste delicious herbal teas amongst the locals.

In the evening, visit a local family in their house where you will get hands on and assist in plov cooking. Plov is a very popular, historic Uzbek dish. Also referred to as “pilaf” or “palov”, it’s made up of long grain rice, tender chunks of lamb, onions, and carrots. (B,L,D)

Overnight Omar Khayam or similar

Day 3 – Bukhara to Gijduvan – Rabat Malik to Asraf

After breakfast, you will depart and drive to Gijduvan (approx. 1 hr). On the way, stop in Vabkent to see the famed minaret, which is one of the most refined works of local architecture. The minarets construction dates back to 1196-1197. A Kufic inscription on the lower decorative belt is visible around the trunk of the minaret. Continue driving to Gijduvan.

The small town of Gijduvan is situated 46 km northeast of Bukhara. In Gijduvan, there are remnants of architectural monuments: the latest of three is Ulugbeg Mardassahs  from the 15 century, of which only the front part has survived. You will also see Abd-al-Khalyk Gijduvani mazar. Gijduvan ceramics take a special place among the large number of crafts produced here. Gijduvan embroidery is the other distinctive craft in the region. The craftswomen of the Narzullaev family embroider silk on cotton fabric in the traditional style which is local to Gijduvan. Whilst here, visit the ceramic workshop and the Museum of Ceramics founded by Narzullaev family.

As you continue on, you will visit the ruins of Rabat Malika Caravan Saray, which served as a fortress for travellers along the Great Silk Road (approx. 1 hr). Make your way to the village of Asraf nestled in the Nurata Mountains (approx. 4 hrs), where you will become fully immersed in the life of the locals. Local people build themselves houses of small stones, rocks and clay. They plant and collect fruits and vegetables to cook for their meals, which are all cooked in the open-fire oven. Each family has a few head of livestock and poultry, which provide eggs, milk, meat and wool. Settle into your guesthouse where you will spend the night. Explore the village and see the local mosque, ruins of ancient forts. (B,L,D)

Overnight local guesthouse

Day 4 - Asraf Village to Samarkand

Awake to embrace the lifestyle of the local villagers and embrace the purity of the neighbourhood. After breakfast, you will transfer to Samarkand (approx. 4 hrs). Samarkand is a fascinating city in Uzbekistan known for its mosques and mausoleums. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel. This afternoon, explore the main attractions in Samarkand, including the Registan, which is a plaza bordered by 3 ornate, majolica-covered madrassas dating to the 15th and 17th centuries. You also have the chance to explore Gur Emir, the towering tomb of Timur (Tamerlane), founder of the Timurid Empire. Other points of interest include visiting the Shakhizinda, which is a necropolis in the north-eastern part of Samarkand and Bibikhanum Mosque which is one of the most important monuments of Samarkand. Visit a handicraft centre in Koni Ghil Village, where you will be acquainted with the production ancient paper, pottery, carpentry and oil following the processes of ancient tradition. (B,L,D)

Overnight Shakhzoda Elite or similar

Day 5 – Samarkand – Tashkent - Bishkek

This morning you will transfer to the train station and take the Afrosiyob train (06:11-08:21) to Tashkent. On arrival, you will visit ceramist Akbar Rahimov’s workshop (the dynasty of potters), the house of a master potter who has given new impetus to local pottery by picking century old styles and combining this with new designs. Enjoy a tea break with oriental sweets. Transfer to the airport for your flight to Bishkek this evening. (B,L,D)

Overnight Plaza Hotel or similar

Day 6 – Bishkek to Issyk Kul Lake

Enjoy breakfast before setting off on your city tour of Bishkek. Visit the Osh Bazaar – a huge open-air market, where it’s possible to buy everything. From food products and spices to common household goods, clothes, souvenirs, and even musical instruments. Mingle with the locals as you practice your bantering and bartering. From here, transfer to the southern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake (approx. 5-6 hrs). On the way, you will stop to witness the production of yurts in the village of Kyzyl-Tuu, before witnessing an eagle hunting show. Hunting has always been important in the nomadic lifestyle. Food gathering has generated many different customs and traditions.

Since ancient times, it was believed that the hunting bird was the most loyal and reliable assistant. Eagles and falcons were used for a long time before the appearance of firearms and held the status of a family member.

Kyrgyz tribes have used hunting birds to hunt since the 10th century AD. Today, they keep this incredible tradition from generation to generation. You will have the opportunity to meet with local eagle hunters and see how the birds are trained.

Continuing on, explore Fairy Tale Canyon. This place is certainly a magical place, full of mystery and mysticism, sufficient to stimulate the imagination of those with the inclination to stand, and stare, and wonder. Whipped into unique shapes and rock formations from the wind and water, this landscape is simply spectacular. This evening, you will spend the night in a yurt camp. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a yurt camp or similar

Day 7 – Issyk-Kul Lake to Svetlaya Polyana – Jety-Oguz to Karakol

Following breakfast, transfer to Svetlaya Polyana Gorge. This is a scenic gorge with wild nature and perfect for exploring on foot. Set off on your hike for 3-4 hours to Jety-Oguz Gorge. This is a relatively easy hike through fields of wildflowers and passing flowing waterfalls. Lunch will be served in a local yurt camp, before you continue on to Karakol city (approx. 4 hrs) which sits at the crossroads of Central Asia. Here, you will join a local family for a traditional dinner. (B,L,D)

Overnight Amir Hotel or similar

Day 8 – Karakol to Tamchi to Kochkor

Early this morning, if it is a Sunday, you will have the opportunity to visit the animal markets. A visit to the Sunday-only animal market in the outskirts of Karakol is a bit like going back in time. It hasn’t changed much over the decades and it’s unlikely to change in the next ones, either. Wear sturdy footwear, because you’ll get up close and personal with horses, sheep, cattle, goats, and donkeys of every size and stripe. While you’re probably not planning to buy an animal, this is a great opportunity for truly one-of-a-kind encounters with locals, and of course, memorable photos.

Continuing on, enjoy a city tour of Karakol (approx. 5-6 hrs) where you will visit the Russian Orthodox Church, Muslim Mosque in Dungan Style, before you transfer to Kochkor, which sits on the northern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake. Stop for lunch along the way. Visit the museum of Nomad Civilisation and the open-air museum of petroglyphs. Sit back and relax on a beautiful boat ride on the Issyk-Kul Lake. Issyk-Kul Lake is one of the world’s few remaining ancient lakes, estimated to be an incredible 25 million years old, but also the second-largest alpine lake on the planet. Surrounding the lake are the snow-capped Tian Shan mountains, towering as high as 4000m in the sky. The lake itself reaches depths of over 610m.

Boasting a long and storied history, the lake was once a stop along the ancient Silk Road. Issyk-Kul was also once used by the Soviet Navy as a torpedo testing site, during which time foreigners were not permitted to visit the area. (B,L,D)

Overnight Nomad Lodge Hotel or similar

Day 9 – Koshkor to Son Kul

After breakfast, you will visit a felt workshop which is run by the local women community called “Altyn Kol”. You will reach the village of Kilemche, where you will set off on foot for a soft trek to Son Kul Lake (approx. 4-5 hrs). Son-Kul is one of the highest lakes in Kyrgyzstan (2030m above sea level). It’s a place where you can experience true nomadic life. You may have a chance to ride a horse, see edelweiss flowers, camels, yaks, golden eagles, and to see how local women make the Kyrgyz national drink – Kymyz (mare’s milk). This is a remote mountain lake situated on a treeless, high mountain plateau, where shepherds bring their livestock in the summertime and establish a camp where they will live for the season and set up their yurts. In this area of beauty, you will see hundreds of herds of animals and their shepherds, as well as many different yurts. (B,L,D)

Overnight in a yurt camp or similar

Day 10 – Son-Kul to Chon-Kemin

After breakfast, transfer to Chon-Kemin Valley (approx. 5-6hrs). Its eponymous river flows across the Kungei-Ala-Too and Iliysky Ala-Too mountain ranges, stretching over 110km, with seven lakes in its basin. Here, also lies a specially protected region, Chon-Kemin National Park, a lush natural area brimming with diverse flora and fauna. Forming the sides of the valley are conifer forests, which are home to many varieties of herbs, berries, and mushrooms.

The Chon-Kemin valley is a place for those who truly appreciate natural beauty, as it remains – many say – in its virgin state. This afternoon, you have the option to explore on foot and go hiking or jump on a horse and venture off with a local guide. Your accommodation is simple but comfortable, something that adds to the area’s back-to-basics charm. (B,L,D)

Overnight Kemin Guesthouse or similar

Day 11 – Chon-Kemin to Bishkek

Following breakfast, set off on a morning hike to a panoramic viewpoint, where you have an impressive view looking back towards the Chon-Kemin Valley. Return to your guesthouse for lunch. In the afternoon, you will transfer to Bishkek (approx. 3-4 hrs). On the way, you will stop to see Burana tower, which is left from the ancient city Balasagyn (XI – XIII). This evening, enjoy a farewell dinner in a local restaurant. (B,L,D)

Overnight Plaza Hotel or similar

Day 12 – Departure from Bishkek

Following breakfast, the day is yours at leisure until it is time to transfer to the airport for your onward flight. (B)

Don’t have time now?

Download this tour’s PDF brochure and start your planning offline!

What’s included

  • Return airport transfers
  • 11 nights accommodation
  • Meals as per the itinerary
  • Entrances fees as per the itinerary
  • Services of an English speaking local guide
  • Train tickets Tashkent-Bukhara and Samarkand-Tashkent in business class
  • Taste aromatic herbal teas in “Timur” Retro Saloon in Bukhara
  • Visit ceramist Rakhimov’s workshop with traditional tea tasting
  • Visit Koni Ghil Village in Samarkand
  • Visit to yurt production workshop in in Kyzyl-Tuu
  • Eagle hunting experience
  • Felt workshop in Kochkor
  • 1L of bottled water per day
  • Private transportation
Exclusions
  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Items of a personal nature
  • Tipping
  • Travel insurance
  • Meals and beverages not specified above

**Please note that this tour can be organised on request for private departures.

* Pricing is subject to change at anytime until full payment has been received.

* A minimum of 4 adults is required to guarantee this departure.

A non-refundable deposit of $1000 AUD per person is required to secure your place. Final payment is due no later than 60 days prior to departure. Travel insurance is mandatory for travelling with Crooked Compass. For full terms and conditions, please click here.

Gallery

Availability

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Availability
Price
Start Date
11th Sep 2022
End Date
22nd Sep 2022
Duration
12 Days
Availability
Available
Price
$6,812 AUD
Start Date
29th May 2023
End Date
09th Jun 2023
Duration
12 Days
Availability
Available
Price
$6,812 AUD
Start Date
04th Sep 2023
End Date
15th Sep 2023
Duration
12 Days
Availability
Available
Price
$6,812 AUD