Uzbekistan to Kyrgyzstan – Architecture & Culture

13 Days
from AUD$ 7,675

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, and 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 cobalt, 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 it 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 Uzbekistan’s 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

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Itinerary

Day 1 – Arrival Tashkent

Airport Transfers

Welcome to Uzbekistan! Upon arrival at 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.

Tashkent City Tour

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. 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.

Ceramics Master Class

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 masterclass and get your hands dirty, as you learn from the locals.

Evening Walking Tour

This evening, enjoy a walking city tour as you visit Amir Temur Square, Sayilgoh Street, Romanov’s Palace (outside), Navoi Theatre Square, and Independence Square. Return to your hotel.

Meals

Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

Overnight Hotel Manor or similar

Services

Airport Transfers
Tashkent City Tour with private vehicle and English-speaking guide
Ceramics master class
Evening walking tour with an English-speaking guide

Day 2 - Tashkent - Bukhara

Train to 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.

Lyabi-Khauz

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

Jewish Synagogue

Visit the Jewish Synagogue which still functions today and was built in the 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.

Bozori Kord Hammam

Marvel at the Bozori Kord Hammam (Sauna bathroom) dating back to the XIV century and the Tim Abdullah Khan trading dome, a huge, roofed shopping passage from the XVI century.

Ulugʻbek Madrasasi

The only surviving building in Bukhara of the Timurid era is the Ulugʻbek madrassah which you will have the privilege to see. Abdulaziz-Khan’s Madrasah is a part of architectural ensemble of Ulugʻbek Madrasah.

Old Bukhara

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, and Chor-Minor Madrasah. Venture into the Retro Saloon, Timur, where you will taste delicious herbal teas amongst the locals.

Cooking with local family

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.

Meals

Breakfast box, Lunch at Local Restaurant, Dinner at Local Family House Inc. participation in plov cooking.

Accommodation

Overnight Paradise Plaza Luxury Hotel or similar

Services

Train from Tashkent to Bukhara (business class)
Herbal tea tasting
Bukhara tour with private vehicle and English-speaking guide
Cooking with local family

Day 3 – Bukhara to Gijduvan – Rabat Malik to Asraf

Vabkent Minaret

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.

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 Ulugbek Madrassahs from the 15 century, of which only the front part has survived.

Abd-al-Khalyk Gijduvani mazar

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.

Ceramic workshop and the Museum

Whilst here, visit the ceramic workshop and the Museum of Ceramics founded by the Narzullaev family.

Rabat Malika Caravan Saray

As you continue, 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).

Asraf Village

Make your way to the village of Asraf nestled in the Nuratau 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 and ruins of ancient forts.

Meals

Breakfast at the Hotel. Lunch & Dinner at Guesthouse.

Accommodation

Overnight Yahshigul Guesthouse or similar

Services

Private vehicle and English-speaking guide
Asraf Village visit

Day 4 - Asraf Village to Samarkand

Transfer 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.

Koni Ghil Village

Visit a handicraft centre in Koni Ghil Village, where you will be acquainted with the production of ancient paper, pottery, carpentry, and oil following the processes of ancient tradition.

Samarkand city tour

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. Enjoy a mini-concert and lecture about national music instruments at Sherdor Medrassah. 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 Shakhi Zinda, which is a necropolis in the north-eastern part of Samarkand, and Bibi-Khanym Mosque which is one of the most important monuments of Samarkand.

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

Overnight Arka Boutique or similar

Services

Private vehicle and English-speaking guide
Koni Ghil Village visit

Day 5 – Samarkand – Tashkent - Bishkek

Train to Tashkent

This morning you will transfer to the train station and take the Afrosiyob train (06:11-08:21) to Tashkent.

Akbar Rahimov’s Workshop

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 them with new designs. Enjoy a tea break with oriental sweets.

Flights to Bishkek

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Bishkek this evening.

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

Overnight Plaza Hotel Bishkek or similar

Services

Private vehicle and English-speaking guide
Rakhimov Workshop and Tea Tasting
Train to Tashkent
Flight to Bishkek

Day 6 – Bishkek to Kemin Valley

Enjoy breakfast before setting off on your city tour of Bishkek.

Osh Bazaar

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.

Burana Tower

On the way a visit to Burana Tower, a testament to the ancient city of Balasagun, which was a thriving Silk Road hub in present-day Kyrgyzstan. Constructed in the 9th to 10th centuries, this minaret originally soared to greater heights before earthquakes reduced it. Despite this, it still stands at an impressive 24.6 meters (81 feet).

Chon-Kemin Valley & Chon-Kemin National Park

Enjoy lunch in Bishkek before continuing to the Chon-Kemin Valley (approx. 3-4hrs). Its eponymous river flows across the Küngöy 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.

At Leisure

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.

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

Overnight Kemin Guesthouse or similar

Services

Private vehicle and English-speaking guide

Day 7 – Kemin Valley to Tepke

Transfer to Karakol

This morning you will set off towards Karakol along the northern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake (approx. 4-5hrs). Lunch is en route.

Museum of Nomad’s Civilization

On the way, you will visit the Museum of Nomad’s Civilization and an open-air museum of ancient petroglyphs.

Horse Farm

This evening you will stay at a beautiful farm known for its horse breeding. Enjoy an orientation through this stunning property and learn about the importance of horses in this nomadic culture.

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

Overnight at Reina Kench Guest House or similar

Services

Private vehicle and English-speaking guide
Horse breeding tour

Day 8 – Tepke to Karakol

Animal Markets

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 on 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 at Ash-Lyanfu Place

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

Karakol city tour

Continuing on, enjoy a city tour of Karakol where you will visit the Russian Orthodox Church, the Muslim Mosque in Dungan Style, and the Museum of Przhevalskiy, 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.

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner with a local Dungan family

Accommodation

Overnight Green Yard Hotel or similar

Services

Private vehicle and English-speaking guide

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

Jety-Oguz Gorge and an optional hike

After breakfast transfer to Jety-Oguz Gorge (around 2 hours). From here you have the option to do a hike into 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 a small pass before you transfer to the southern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake.

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.

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

Overnight Yurt Camp or similar

Services

Private vehicle and English-speaking guide

Day 10 – Tamga to Kochkor

Yurt Production & Eagle Hunting Show

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 KyzylTuu, 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.

Fairy Tale Canyon

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, 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.

Felt workshop

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

Meals
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

Overnight Nomad Lodge Hotel or similar

Services

Private vehicle and English-speaking guide
Yurt production workshop in Kyzyl-Tuu
Felt workshop

Day 11 – Kochkor to Son Kul Lake

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, and golden eagles, and 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.

Free time to hike

Enjoy hiking around the lake’s edge and through the valley where you have the option to visit many nomadic families who have settled in the valley for the season.

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

Overnight Yurt Camp or similar

Services

Private vehicle and English-speaking guide

Day 12 - Son Kul to Bishkek

Transfer to Bishkek

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

Meals

Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Accommodation

Overnight Plaza Hotel or similar

Services

Private vehicle and English-speaking guide
Folklore show during dinner

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.

Meals

Breakfast

Services

Airport transfers

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What’s included

  • Return airport transfers
  • 12 nights’ accommodation
  • Meals as per the itinerary
  • Entrance 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 Kyzyl-Tuu
  • Eagle hunting experience
  • Felt workshop in Kochkor
  • 1L of bottled water per day
  • Private transportation
  • Flight to Bishkek, Economy Ticket
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.

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Availability

Start Date
End Date
Duration
Availability
Price
Start Date
01st Sep 2024
End Date
13th Sep 2024
Duration
13 Days
Availability
Available
Price
$7,675 AUD
Start Date
25th May 2025
End Date
06th Jun 2025
Duration
13 Days
Availability
Available
Price
$8,058 AUD
Start Date
31st Aug 2025
End Date
12th Sep 2025
Duration
13 Days
Availability
Available
Price
$8,058 AUD