Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan – Architecture & Culture

13 Days
from AUD$ 7,675


  • 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



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 a BBQ lunch here, hot off the open flames as you sit amongst the locals.

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 Inspira S 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 Paradise Plaza 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 Arka Boutique 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 Kemin Valley

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. Enjoy lunch in Bishkek before continuing to the Chon-Kemin Valley (approx. 3-4hrs). 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 7 – Kemin Valley to Tepke

This morning you will set off towards Karakol along the northern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake (approx 4-5hrs) . Lunch is enroute. On the way, you will visit the museum of Nomad’s Civilization and an open-air museum of ancient petroglyphs. This evening you will stay at a beautiful farm known for its horse breeding. Enjoy an orientation through this stunning property and learning about the importance of horses in this nomadic culture. (B,L,D)

Overnight at a local farmstay or similar

Day 8 – Tepke to Karakol

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.

Breakfast in ash-lyanfu place, a hidden local restaurant serving traditional Dungan food. Many Dungan people settled here in Karaol after fleeing from China. Their culture and stories are fascinating.

Continuing on, enjoy a city tour of Karakol where you will visit the Russian Orthodox Church, Muslim Mosque in Dungan Style and the Museum of Prjevalski, a famous traveller and Central Asia explorer. Lunch today is in a local restaurant and this evening you will enjoy a traditional dinner served by a local Dungan family. (B,L,D)

Overnight Green Yard Hotel or similar

Day 9 – Karakol - Jety Oguz - Svetlaya Polyana - Tamga

After breakfast transfer to Jety-Oguz Gorge (around 2 hours). From here you have the option to do a hike into to Svetlaya Polyana gorge for about 3-4 hours. This is a scenic gorge with wild nature and perfect for exploring on foot. Enjoy a packed lunch on top of small pass before you transfer to the southern shore of 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 Yurt Camp or similar

Day 10 – Tamga to Kochkor

Enjoy breakfast this morning before you continue along the southern shoreline. Today’s driving time is approx 4-5 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.

In Kochkor, you will visit a felt workshop which is run by the local women community called “Altyn Kol”. (B,L,D)

Overnight Nomad Lodge Hotel or similar

Day 11 – Kochkor to Son Kul Lake

After breakfast transfer to Son-Kul Lake (approx 2-3hrs). 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.

Enjoy hiking around the lakes edge and through the valley where you have the option to visit many nomadic families who have settled in the valley for the season. (B,L,D)

Overnight Yurt Camp or similar

Day 12 - Son Kul to Bishkek

After breakfast transfer to Bishkek (approx 5-6hrs). Stop in Kochkor for lunch. Upon arrival into Bishkek, take some time for rest freshen up before your farewell dinner. (B,L,D)

Overnight Plaza Hotel or similar

Day 13 – 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)

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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
  • 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.



Start Date
End Date
Start Date
26th May 2024
End Date
07th Jun 2024
13 Days
$7,675 AUD
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End Date
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End Date
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End Date
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