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Get right off the beaten track on this unforgettable tour into Central Asia's mountainous hinterland. Beginning in Tashkent in Uzbekistan, we travel through Uzbek and Kyrgyz Fergana Valleys to the imposing Kyrgyzstan mountains. From the high country we head through the Karakol Valley, experiencing local life on a homestay and exploring the lush pastures of Song Kul lake and Tash Rabat Caravanserai before finally reaching the most traditional town in Central Asia, Osh. If an outside-of-the-box travel adventure through 'the Stans' is what you're after, then this is it.
Arrive in the capital of Uzbekistan, Tashkent. On arrival your local guide will show you the sights of the old soviet city of Tashkent as well as the colourful. Here you can encounter the hustle and bustle of everyday life in Central Asia and you will have a good chance to see people in the colourful local dress. Old part of the city is the center of traditional local cuisine in Tashkent. Between Kukeldash Madrassah and Chorsu bazaar you may find a great number of chaykhanas (café terrace with ayvans), cafes and eating houses, where you can snack a kebab, shaurma, Uzbek somsa.
Transfer from Tashkent over the in a private vehicle (4 hours) via the magnificent palace complex at Khan’s Palace in Kokand before arriving in the pleasant city of Fergana. The Fergana Valley remains the country’s breadbasket and one of the delights of reaching Uzbekistan for us has been the mass of fresh fruit and vegetables that are sold in every market and most street corners.
On day 3 we visit one of the most exotic Sunday markets in all of the Central Asia in the nearby city of Margilon. After a few hours in Margilon we travel to Andijan, only a 45 minute drive away. The Sunday market here is just as fascinating. After lunch we visit the ceramic pottery factory in Rishton before returning to the Yodgorlik silk factory in Margilan. After a long day we return to Fergana city where we’ll have dinner with a local family.
This morning we cross from Uzbekistan into Kyrgyzstan taking around 6 hours with the border formalities. The Western Tien-Shan mountains is a real treasure of spectacular lakes including the grandiose lake Sary-Chelek. We spend the night in the village of Arkit and spend most of the day exploring this stunning part of Kyrgyzstan.
After breakfast we drive to Arkyt Village, which is located in the Sary-Chelek National Park (a UNESCO international network of nature reserves) and lies 15km before Sary-Chelek Lake. (Driving time approximately 6-7 hours). Tonight we will stay in a local homestay and enjoy more of that Kyrgyzstan hospitality.
After a 3 hour private journey we reach the fairy-tale walnut forest of Arslanbob. Inhabitated by some of the friendliest people in all of Kyrgyzstan, this predominantly Uzbek village with its picturesque setting is a perfect place to unwind or embark on a short hike into the forest to view one of the many waterfalls the dot the area. Our accommodation tonight is in a friendly family run homestay.
After a 6 hour drive we reach the capital city of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek. Bishkek is known for its variety of monumental Soviet architecture (Philharmonic, Government buildings, History Museum, Victory Square) but modern monuments depicting traditional Kyrgyz culture are also featured (Monument of Manas, Monument of Independence, etc).
Bishkek is famous for being one of the greenest in the world, due to its countless parks and alleys, which make the town a nice place to live in the heat of the summer. On day 7 we spend the most of the day in the Swiss Mountains like Ala Archa National Park. Enjoy a picnic lunch by a river, relax or embark on a short hike through stunning mountain scenery.
A 7 hour drive takes along the northern shore of Lake Issyk-Kul to the Russian-style town of Karakol. En route to Karakol you will visit the Burana Tower minaret and the Petroglyphs near Cholpon-Ata.
Karakol is a true gem in the rough, just awaiting a master jeweller to polish it up. It holds great potential as a future tourism destination, offering year-round trekking, mountaineering, skiing, and spa opportunities, set in a picture-perfect setting of traditional Russian homes and striking mountains.
On day 9 guided tour will take in traditional Russian wooden Holy Trinity Cathedral, the local bazaar and the Dungan Mosque (one of the few mosques that dodged Soviet destruction).
Early on day 10 we travel to the outskirts of Karakol for the unforgettable Sunday Animal Market where regional herders and shepherds and farmers gather to sell sheep, horses, dogs, goats, and other animals. Truly memorable! After the market we travel in a private vehicle to Jeti Oghuz and the Valley of the Flowers.
After lunch here with some local shepherds we return to Karakol and travel into the mountains to probably the most scenic mountain vistas in all of Krygyzstan – Altyn Arashan.
The hot spring development called Altyn Arashan (Golden Spa), set in a postcard-perfect alpine valley at 3000m, with 4260m Pik Palatka looming at its southern end. On day 11 you can relax in your wooden chalet, take a dip in a hot spring or embark on a short, or full day hike to nearby lakes, streams and mountain ridges.
Today we travel down from our mountain retreat and drive 3 hours along the southern shore of Lake Issyk Kul to the small town of Kadja Sai. The southern part of Issyk Kul is less developed than the north which is a favourite holiday spot for Kyrgyz, Kazakh and Russian tourists.
In Kadja Sai we will experience one of the nomadic traditions in Central Asia – eagle hunting. While it is an experience in itself, it is never pretty for the bunny! Our accommodation tonight is in a family run homestay.
Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor where we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned.
Continue to Tash Rabat, a small community of Kyrgyz nomads high in the Tian Shan mountain range for a night in a yurt made out of camel and horse hair. Tash Rabat at 3,100 m is beautifully nestled in a picturesque valley surrounded by soaring peaks. It’s main attraction, other than it’s remoteness is its beautifully preserved 15th-century caravanserai.
We spend the night in a warm and comfortable shepherds yurt provided to us by a Community Based Tourism organisation.
Take a short walk to the Tash Rabat Caravanserai with your guide to learn about the Silk Road and its travellers who once came through here many years before us.
We continue on in our private vehicle (6 hours) to Song-Kol Lake, one of the largest lakes in the country. Parts of our drive stay at around 3000m above sea level and, like most of our journeys in Kyrgyzstan, offer sensational views and landscapes. This beautiful alpine lake is considered a sacred place for many Kyrgyz people as well as one of the best summer pastures for nomadic herders. In mid summer you will see many flocks of sheep, goats and herds of horses watched over by nomadic herdsmen and their families.
Tonight we stay in traditional Kyrgyz yurts once more.
Spend a relaxing morning by taking a stroll around Song Kul Lake, playing with the local kiddies or trying the Kyrgyz national drink kymys (fermented mares milk!). We travel down from Song Kul to the lush and green Suusamyr Valley via shepherds’ pastures to the colourful rock formations that surround Kyzyl Oi.
Located 160 kilometers from Bishkek is the Suusamyr valley is one of the more remote and rarely visited regions of Kyrgyzstan. It is a high steppe plateau at around 2200m and the mountainous lush landscape is dotted with yurts. Our accommodation tonight is in a family run homestay in Kyzyl Oi.
An afternoon drive brings us to Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan. Located in the Fergana Valley, Osh is often referred to as the capital of the south. Osh is actually one of Central Asia's oldest towns, dating back to the 5th century BC. While you are here explore the explosive Sunday Jayma Bazaar, pop your head into the famous 3 story yurt or take in a visit to the Suleiman Too Sacred Mountain.
On day 17 we explore the excellent Sunday Jayma Bazaar. This huge oriental market stretches for kilometers along the western Ak-Bura riverside and is the best preserved ancient markets in Central Asia. Traders, not only from all over Kyrgyzstan but also from China, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan flock to Osh to sell their wares each Sunday.
Day 18 is departure day. There are no activities planned and you may depart at any time. Hotel check out is at 11am.
All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.
|Standard:||from AU $4,875|
All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!
Hotels each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.
Set group departures for 2015: June 12 to 29 & August 21 to September 7. Maximum group size: 12 persons. Private trips can be operated on any day of the year.
Visas for Kyrgyzstan
Many nationalities no longer require a visa to travel to Kyrgyzstan for up to 60 days, including Australia, Belgium, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, USA and Switzerland.
Other nationalities should check with their nearest embassy. If you do require a visa please obtain it in advance. Give yourself 3-4 weeks.
Money in Kyrgyzstan
Your ATM, Visa or Mastercard will work in Kyrgyzstan but please bring USD with you just in case.
Some ATMS in Bishkek and Osh have been known to not dispense local currency.
Please bring cash in US dollars (100s, 50s, 20s) with you to change into the local currency. You will use this local currency while in the country.
The notes should be crisp and perfect with no folds or marks and should be no older than 2006.
Visas for Uzbekistan
All nationalities require a visa and a Letter of Invitation for Uzbekistan. Please contact Get About Asia in order to apply.
Money in Uzbekistan
Your ATM, Visa or Mastercard will not work in Uzbekistan.
You need to bring cash in US dollars (100s, 50s, 20s) with you to change into the local currency. You will use this local currency while in the country.
The notes should be crisp and perfect with no folds or marks and should be no older than 2006.
Availability and the price of accommodation varies from season to season.