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June 30, 2020
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  • Hotels: Standard Class
  • Max Participants: 16
  • 6/30/2020 - 7/22/2020
  • 23 Days / 22 Nights

This comprehensive 23-day tour will take you through Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan, offering a fascinating glimpse of a part of the world most travelers miss. A true crossroads of empires, Central Asia will have your head spinning with insight into the Mongols, the Persians, the Uzbeks, the Russians, and many other cultures. Stay at unique homestays, sleep in traditional yurts, discover the breathtaking mountain and desert scenery, and roam gorgeous buildings built centuries ago. Beyond the incredibly rich historical sites and architectural monuments, this adventure will enlighten your understanding of Islam and also introduce you to the region’s greatest resource: its generous and kind people!


What's Included:
  • Half-day city tour (Bishkek)
  • Burana Tower visit
  • Yurt stay (Song Kul)
  • Felt-making workshop visit
  • Community-based tourism (CBT) stay
  • Yurt-building presentation (Kizil Tuu)
  • Przhevalsky Museum Visit
  • Karakol city tour
  • Saty Village Stay
  • Charyn Canyon stop
  • Orientation walk (Almaty)
  • City tour (Dushanbe)
  • Local homestay (Iskanderkul, 2 nts)
  • Waterfall hike
  • City tour (Khujand)
  • Mug Teppe settlement visit (Ura-Tube)
  • Khujand market visit
  • City tour including a Registan visit (Samarkand)
  • Chashma Complex and Holy Spring Visit
  • Alexander the Great fortress visit
  • Desert yurt stay (Aydar Kŭl)
  • Walking tour (Bukhara)
  • City Tour (Bukhara)
  • Walking tours (Khiva)
  • City tour (Tashkent)
  • Hikes and picnic lunch
  • Internal flight
  • All transport (mostly by taxis, private vehicles, planes, and trains) between destinations and to/from included activities
  • Standard hotels/guesthouses (15 nts), yurts (3 nts), CBT homestays (4 nts)
  • 22 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 7 dinners (Allow $200-300 USD for meals not included.)
  • G Adventures Tour Leader throughout, local guides
What's Not Included:
  • International air travel
  • Incidentals
  • Travel health and cancellation insurance
  • Applicable visas
  • Tips or gratuities
  • Airport taxes
  • Beverages
  • Meals not mentioned in itinerary
  • Optional tours and admission tickets
  • Airport transfers

Day 1: BishkekArrive at any time.

Arrive at any time. Our program will begin tonight in Bishkek, and we typically have a group meeting at the hotel around 6 p.m. Upon arrival at the hotel, please check the notice board for information about the group meeting. During the group meeting, the leader will outline the trip itinerary and answer any questions you might have.

If you arrive early enough, consider visiting the State Historical Museum to learn more about Kyrgyzstan. This marble-faced cube building, built in 1984 when Kyrgyzstan was part of the Soviet Union, retains many aspects of its original purpose as a state-of-the-art Lenin Museum.

Day 2: Bishkek/Chong-Kemin (B, D)Morning city tour of Bishkek before departing for Chong-Kemin. Stop at the Burana Tower before arriving at the community guest house. Explore the village and then eat a home cooked traditional dinner.

We start the day with a tour of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital and largest city. Bishkek is an interesting example of a czarist planned city: it is built in a grid with wide boulevards flanked by irrigation canals and large trees, buildings with marble façades, and Soviet apartment complexes. The city was founded in 1825 as the Khokand fortress of “Pishpek” as a means of controlling local caravan routes and enabling the collection of tributes from Kyrgyz tribes. The name is thought to derive from a Kyrgyz word for a churn used to make fermented mare’s milk (“kumis”), the Kyrgyz national drink, although not all sources agree on this.

Roughly 80 km from the capital city of Bishkek, we stop to see one of Kyrgyzstan’s oldest sights, the Burana Tower. The Tower is a large minaret and, along with some grave markers and the remnants of a castle and mausoleums, is all that remains of the 9th century city of Balasagun. Learn more about the ancient structure (rare in a nomadic culture) before continuing along the scenic valley towards Chong-Kemin.

We continue exploring the Kyrgyz countryside today with a visit to the scenic valley of Chong-Kemin. Formed over millennia by the Chong Kemin River, the valley provides some of the most stunning scenery on our trip. Enjoy an overnight in some local village houses in Ching-Kemin. Community Based Tourism helps villagers turn their houses into homestays. Savor home cooked food and make the most of time to wander the village.

Approximate travel time: 1.5 to 2 hrs by private vehicle.

Day 3: Chong-Kemin/Song Kul (B, L, D)Optional morning hike. Continue on to Song Kul and spend the night in a traditional yurt. Opt to spend the day hiking or go for a horseback ride.

In the morning, embark on an optional hike to the nearby mountains with stunning views. After lunch, take a scenic drive to Song Kul and be immersed in Kyrgyz culture with an overnight stay in a traditional yurt. Experience daily nomadic life, opting to hike the landscape or explore the scenery via horseback. Enjoy delicious traditional cuisine for dinner. In the evening, get cozy in the yurt around the stove. A traditional yurt (from the Turkic languages) or ger (Mongolian) is a portable, round tent covered with skins or felt and used as a dwelling by nomads in the steppes of Central Asia.

Approximate travel time: 4 hrs by private vehicle.

Day 4: Song Köl/Bokonbayevo (B, D)Travel to Kochkor and stop at a Kyrgyz felt-making workshop. After lunch drive to Bokonbayevo Village and spend the night at a homestay, indulging in a traditional local meal.

After breakfast we depart for Kochkor and stop at a Kyrgyz felt-making workshop. Learn about the importance of felt-making to the Kyrgyz culture and local artisans. Learn to craft with locals during an intimate workshop.

We then head to Bokonbayevo village and experience a traditional Kyrgyz meal. Spend the night at a local homestay situated near the Issyk Kul lake. Surrounded by mountains and often used as a base for hiking excursions, this village offers a glimpse into local Kyrgyz life. You will have a chance to swim in Issyk Kul this afternoon or the next morning.

Approximate travel time: 5.5 hrs by private vehicle.

Day 5: Bokonbayevo/Jety-Oguz (B, L)Visit Ak-Orgo yurt Workshop Center. Continue to Jety-Oguz Gorge and overnight in a traditional yurt.

Take a morning departure to Barskoon Village for a visit to Ak-Orgo Workshop Center. Observe how traditional yurts are built and learn about the importance of this Kyrgyz craft. Continue to the gorgeous rolling green hills and forested mountains of the Jety-Oguz Gorge where you can go for another hike or horseback ride. We overnight in a traditional yurt.

Approximate travel time: 2 hrs by private vehicle.

Day 6: Jety-Oguz/Karakol (B)Leave Jeti-Oguz and transfer to Karakol. Visit the Prejevalskiy Museum and a walking tour of the city followed by free time to explore.

Say goodbye to the beautiful valley of Jeti-Oguz and continue to Karakol, Kyrgyzstan’s 4th largest city, located on the scenic Lake Issyk-Kul. Today, we visit a fascinating museum dedicated to the Russian explorer Nikolai Przhevalsky. The museum offers insight into his life and travels and displays some of the flora and fauna species endemic to the area. We then have a walking tour of Karakol. See the Russian Holy Trinity Orthodox Church and pagoda-style Dungan Mosque, built by Chinese Muslims in the early 20th Century. Afterwards you will have free time to explore on your own.

Approximate travel time: 1 hr by private vehicle.

Day 7: Karakol/Saty Village (B, D)Cross into Kazakhstan. Continue driving until arriving in Saty Village. Take a bumpy drive in an old Russian van followed by a short hike hike to Kaindy Lake. Spend the night in a guest house sampling traditional Kazakh meals.

Cross the border into Kazakhstan embarking for Saty Village. Then get into an old Russian van and take a bumpy drive (1.5 hour round trip) into Kolsay Lake National park. We take a short hike (1 hour round trip, downhill then back uphill) to Kaindy Lake and soak in the bright hues and marvel at the eerie sight of submerged trees. Tonight, stay at a local guest house and indulge in a traditional Kazakh meal.

Approximate travel time: 4.5 hrs by private vehicle. Optional 1.5 hr roundtrip Russian van.

Note: If you suffer from motion sickness, you may want to skip the rough Russian van ride and as a result miss hike to Kaindy lake or instead load up on dramamine. The village is a lovely place to walk around if you skip the Kaindy Lake excursion.

Day 8: Saty Village/Almaty (B)Depart for Almaty, stopping along the way at Charyn Canyon. Take an orientation walk. Have a free afternoon to explore Almaty.

Depart for Almaty early this morning, stopping along the way to marvel at Charyn Canyon. Boasting stunning shades of red, orange and brown, the Charyn Canyon is a natural wonder comparable in beauty to the Grand Canyon. Take in the stunning views before continuing on to the former Kazakh capital, Almaty.

We will have an orientation walk in Almaty, highlighting sights like the historical center, Zenkov Cathedral and the Monument of Independence. Use any free time remaining to continue exploring this modern city. Opt to climb Green Hill for panoramic views, visit the local markets, or sip coffee in one of the plentiful cafes.

Approximate travel time: 6.5 hrs by private vehicle.

Day 9: Almaty/Dushanbe (B)In the morning, transfer to Almaty airport and board a flight to Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Enjoy an evening in the city.

This morning we will fly to Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

Dushanbe is the capital and largest city of Tajikistan and is situated at the confluence of two rivers, Varzob and Kofarnihon, and surrounded by mountains. Dushanbe means “Monday” in the Tajik language. It was so named because it grew from a village that originally had a popular market on Mondays. Until 1929, the city was known in Russian as Dyushambe and, from 1929 to 1961, as Stalinabad. As of 2014, Dushanbe had a population of 778,500.

Enjoy a free evening in the city.

Approximate travel time: 1.5 hrs by plane.

Day 10: Dushanbe/Kŭli Iskandarkŭl (B, D)Visit sights in Dushanbe. Drive through valleys and mountains in stunningly beautiful Iskandarkŭl. Meet locals and explore this gorgeous landscape in the Fann Mountains. Stay at a CBT homestay.

In the morning, you are free to visit some sights around Dushanbe, including museums, monuments, and the main mosque.

After lunch, we drive through the valleys and mountains of the area for an overnight in local homes in the stunningly beautiful Kŭli Iskandarkŭl region. We will meet local residents of the village of Sarytag and explore the gorgeous surrounding landscape of the Fann Mountains. On the way in if we have time we’ll go for a hike ( 45 minutes round trip) to view Fann Niagara, an impressive waterfall.

Tonight we stay at a community guesthouse. The rooms are multi-share, but they do have running water and electricity. The views are unbelievable.

Approximate travel time: 6 hrs by private vehicle.

Note: Today the road can be pretty bumpy. We recommend taking Dramamine or sitting at the front of the bus if you suffer from motion sickness.

Day 11: Kŭli Iskandarkŭl (B, L, D)Spend a full day exploring. Opt to hike in the mountains. After a picnic lunch, return to Sarytag village.

Today is a full day of free exploration. You might choose to join a hike through the valley (1.5 hrs round trip) to visit a tiny summer settlement used by herders. The very basic homes are all made of field stones. This is a great opportunity to meet locals and see how they live. We’ll then come back to Sarytag to have an included lunch out our guesthouse.

The rest of the day is free for you to roam the village or surrounding countryside.

Day 12: Kŭli Iskandarkŭl/Khŭjand (B)Continue to Istaravshan. Visit a fortress and an ancient settlement. Soak in the view over the city. Enjoy an optional lunch in a local chaikhana (teahouse). Drive to Khujand. Explore the city in the afternoon.

After breakfast, we drive to the city of Istaravshan, one of the oldest cities in Tajikistan at over 2,500 years old. We stop by Ura-Tube, an ancient settlement, and Mug Teppe, the ruins of a fortress stormed by Alexander the Great in 329 BCE and the Arabs in 772 AD.

You will have the opportunity to enjoy an optional lunch in a local chaikhana (teahouse).

After lunch, we continue to Khŭjand, Tajikistan’s second largest city. Khŭjand was the site of Cyropolis, which was established by the Persian King Cyrus the Great. Later, Alexander the Great would build the furthest settlement in Greek civilization nearby in 329 BCE. Khŭjand would later become an important stop along the Silk Road.

In the afternoon, explore the city, including visiting the museum and a mausoleum.

Approximate travel time: 3.5 hrs by private vehicle.

Day 13: Khŭjand/Tashkent (B)Visit the Khŭjand market. Drive to Uzbekistan and its capital city of Tashkent. Enjoy a short walk in the evening before an optional dinner.

We start the day with a visit to Panjshanbe Bozor in Khŭjand. It’s the largest market in Tajikistan and a great example of a typical Central Asian market. Enjoy browsing what’s for sale and opt to sample a few of the local delicacies.

Back in the vehicle, we continue on to the border with Uzbekistan. With 30 million people it is the most populous of the four countries on our itinerary. Uzbekistan is now a Republic with an elected government, though its elections are notoriously fraudulent. The most notable example is their former president Islam Karimov, who was in power from when he was first elected in 1991 until he died in 2016.

We begin our exploration of Uzbekistan in Tashkent, the capital. A bustling city of 3 million, Tashkent is a green city located in an oasis along the small Chirchik River, near the Tien Shan Mountains. Various settlements have existed on the site since antiquity. It has been called “Tashkent” since around the 10th century, when the city was part of the Kara-Khanid Khanate. This name, Turkic in origin, means “City of Stone.”

The city was sacked by Genghis Khan in 1219 and re-founded under Amir Temür in the late 1300’s. It was considered the richest city in Central Asia when it came under Russian rule in 1865. The capital was moved here in 1922 from Samarkand.

Very little from Tashkent’s history remains: most of the city was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1966. Volunteers came from around the Soviet Union to help rebuild afterwards, and many of them chose to stay due to the warm climate and easy access to food from nearby farms. It is still very common to see bilingual signs in Tashkent, written in both Uzbek and Russian.

Enjoy a short orientation walk in the evening before an optional dinner.

Approximate travel time: 3 hrs by private vehicle.

Day 14: Tashkent (B)Enjoy a free day to explore.

Today, we enjoy a free day to explore Tashkent, a city with an interesting mix of mosques, mud houses, and Soviet architecture deep in the middle of Eurasia. (You will also have some more free time in Tashkent at the end of the trip.)

Day 15: Tashkent/Samarkand (B)Travel on to Samarkand. Take an orientation walk and opt to visit the Amir Timur Mausoleum.

This morning, we drive to Samarkand, the second largest city in Uzbekistan, with a population of just over one half million. Samarkand is known for its position in the Silk Road. (Extending 4,000 miles [6,437 km], the Silk Road gets its name from the lucrative Chinese silk trade which was carried out along its length and began during the Han Dynasty [206 BC – 220 AD].)

One of the oldest cities in the world, Samarkand remains one of the most attractive in Central Asia despite a turbulent history of war and earthquakes. The city blossomed under Amir Timur (known in the West as “Tamerlane”), a tyrannical 14th-century ruler. A lover of art, Timur was responsible for the colorful domes and exquisite minarets that now form the city’s evocative skyline.

While Samarkand fell into disrepair during its Soviet days, restoration is slowly progressing.

Approximate travel time: 6 hrs by private vehicle.

Day 16: Samarkand (B)Take a city tour/visit to the Registan. Free time to visit the Guri Amir Mausoleum, Tomb of the Prophet Daniel, and the Registan minarets. Enjoy some free time.

This morning, we take a tour of the city, including a visit to the Registan, Samarkand’s most famous monument complex. It is a public square surrounded by three historic madrassas or schools (all now souvenir and craft shops). Sons of wealthy families from all over Central Asia attended the madrassas, and their training could last 10 to 20 years. Registan means “place of sand,” a reference to the square itself, which traditionally was a marketplace. Now it’s a stage used for musical performances during the summer.

Following the tour, you are free to check out the Guri Amir Mausoleum, Tomb of the Prophet Daniel, and the Registan minarets on your own.

We recommend visiting the Gur-e Amir, the tomb of Amir Timur. Timur lived between 1336-1405 and was the founder of the Timurid dynasty. He was the grandfather of Ulugh Beg and great-great-great grandfather of Babur Beg, who went on to found the Mughal Empire that ruled South Asia for four centuries. During his lifetime, Timur was one of the most powerful rulers in the Muslim world and his armies were feared throughout Asia, Africa, and Europe.

The mausoleum was actually built for Timur’s grandson and heir apparent, Muhammad Sultan, who died before him. Timur had requested to be buried in his hometown of Shahrisabz, about 50 km away. He died during the very cold and snowy winter of 1406 and, because the roads were not passable, he was buried here instead. An unfinished mausoleum still exists in Shahrisabz.

Use some free time to wander the bazaar or visit more sights such as the amazing Shaki Zinda Necropolis complex.

Day 17: Samarkand/Aydar Kŭl Camp (B, D)Travel out into the desert to visit the Nurota Shrine and remains of the Alexander the Great fortress. Spend an evening in a yurt. Opt to ride a camel. Enjoy a free Kazakh singing show around a campfire.

Today we drive to Nurota where we visit the remains of a military fortress of Alexander the Great and Holy Chashma (Spring) of Nurota.

Also known as Naruta or Nur, as it was once called, Nurota was founded by Alexander the Great in 327 BCE. We visit the ruins of Alexander’s military fortress and the Chasma Spring, which today is a popular pilgrimage destination. It is believed to have been discovered by a local farmer who had a vision of Imam Ali, the fourth khalifa and the Prophet Muhammad’s son-in-law, striking a rock and causing water to flow. The waters of the spring are believed to have healing powers.

Proceed to the nearby Aydar Kŭl Camp, which is located in the picturesque Nurota Mountains, for a chance to stay in traditional felt yurts and experience the way of life in the remote reaches of Uzbekistan.

You may choose to ride a camel in the afternoon. That night enjoy a free Kazakh singing show while sitting around a campfire.

Approximate travel time: 4 hrs by private vehicle.

Day 18: Aydar Kŭl Camp/Bukhara (B)Travel to Bukhara. Opt to visit the old city bazaars, have dinner with a local family, or visit a traditional hammam (bathhouse).

Today, we drive across the desert to the ancient city of Bukhara, one of most famous destinations on the Ancient Silk Road and Uzbekistan’s third largest city (at around 300,000 people). During the 9th and 10th centuries, Bukhara was the intellectual center of the Islamic world with numerous mosques and madrassas.

The old city has been restored, and there are a number of shopping districts with cafés and markets. People come from all over Bukhara to stroll in the evening and eat around the Lyab-i Hauz, a delightful pool of water surrounded by ancient mulberry trees and a commercial center for the modern city.

Bukhara was also once home to a large community of Jews, most of whom emigrated to Israel and the west after the breakup of the Soviet Union. A small number, however, remained, as do a handful of synagogues, one of which is located just down a small alley from Lyab-i Hauz.

Approximate travel time: 4 hrs by private vehicle.

Day 19: Bukhara (B)Take a half-day guided walk around the beautifully restored mosques, madrassas, and covered markets that make up the Old City.

This morning, we have an included city tour with a local guide to visit the Samanid Mausoleum, the Ark Citadel, and the Minaret Kalyan complex. Walk around beautifully restored mosques, madrassas, and covered markets that make up the Old City.

The center of Bukhara’s old city is the Bukhara Ark with its impressive walls. “Ark” is a word from old Persian meaning “fortress.” The Ark was the citadel, where the rulers and military lived, and was even more fortified than the rest of the city. The throne room contains an interesting innovation: once a month, the Amir received people from the community who were allowed to criticize his rule. A wall was built just inside the entry to the throne room so that people could speak their mind and leave without being identified (or punished) by the Amir and his courtiers for saying something that they didn’t like.

The Ark fell out of use after it was aerially bombarded by Russian forces in 1920. When Bukhara was seized by the Bolsheviks, the Amir fled into exile, and the area became part of the Tatarstan Soviet Socialist Republic.

Following the Ark, we visit the impressive Kalyan Minaret, a part of the Po-i-Kalyan mosque complex. The madrassa, located across a square from the mosque, is still in use today.

We finish the tour exploring the artisan shops and wandering the narrow, twisting streets and alleyways of the Old City. A center for pottery, cloth, and Turkmen carpets, the old city is centered around Lyab-i Hauz, where you can sit at café tables and let the evening drift by. There is also the option to take in a local puppet show held in an old caravanserai or indulge in a Turkish bath.

Some other optional activities include:

Hammam (Bathhouse) Visit
There are a few hammam choices in the city that are often gender specific. Depending on the day of the week and when you want to go, your tour leader can advise you on some options.

Magok-i Attari Mosque
Dating from the 9th century, the Magok-i Attar Mosque in Bukhara is the oldest surviving mosque in Central Asia. According to legend, the mosque survived the Mongols by being buried by locals in sand. Indeed, only the top of the mosque was visible when the digging began in the 1930s. It also boasts an illustrious history of sacredness: remains of a Zoroastrian temple and a Buddhist temple have been found beneath it, and Jews once used it in the evenings. It was once used for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian services, demonstrating the diversity and open-mindedness of this intriguing city.

Today, the Magok-i Attari Mosque (Museum of Carpets) offers information about the art of carpet making and some fine examples to boot.

Jewish Area and Synagogue Visit
Bukhara has a fascinating Jewish history, with Bukharan Jews speaking a Turkic-Persian dialect with a Hebrew script. The city once was home to 40,000 Jews and now has a community of about 25-30 families. The synagogue is well worth a visit and houses a Torah that is roughly 1,000 years old.

Day 20: Bukhara/Khiva (B)Travel through the Kyzyl Kum Desert to Khiva. Take a walking tour.

Enjoy a full day’s travel through the Kyzyl Kum desert to reach UNESCO-listed Khiva.

In the 17th century, the town of Khiva hosted the most famous slave market on the Silk Road. It is estimated that about 1 million Persians and an unknown number of Russian people were transported to Khiva to be sold. In the 19th century, Khiva was a center of the mighty Khiva Khanate. Today, it’s one of the best preserved ancient cities in the region.

You can clearly see the Itchan Qala, the walled inner town of Khiva. The outer town is Dichan Qala. Inside the walled town are many monuments including the Djuma mosque, madrassas, and mausoleum. The city is restored as a living museum with cafes, tea houses, craftsman workshops, and shops. At night, the streets are lit with colored spotlights while families stroll through the narrow alleys and children play football (soccer), sometimes enlisting tourists in their matches.

Get to know the place on a late afternoon walking tour.

Approximate travel time: 8 hrs by private vehicle.

Day 21: Khiva (B)Enjoy a guided tour of the city with free time to experience the local life. Opt to browse the shops, wander the lanes, examine handmade silk rugs, or sit in a café.

Explore the old town, which is still surrounded by city walls, bargain with locals in the market, and see the town from the top of the Friday Mosque’s minaret. Don’t forget to have a look at the amazing tiles in the yards of Tash Khauli Khan’s Palace. Experience the sand-colored brick structures populating the inner walls of the Ichon-Qala, wander through the madrassas, clamber up minarets, and explore the dark dungeons Khiva was infamous for back in the 10th century.

We have a guided tour of the city, followed by free time to experience the amazing local life – browse the shops, wander the lanes, examine handmade silk rugs, sit in a cafe drinking tea, or enjoy a cold beer in this ancient historical town.

Day 22: Khiva/TashkentFly to Tashkent. Enjoy a city tour or explore on your own. Optional visits to history museum, fine arts museum, mosques, or bazaars.

Fly to Tashkent. Our group will have a city tour. The first visit will be the Khast Imam Complex, which is one of the few “old” sites remaining in the city. The highlight of the complex is the Samarkand Kufic Qur’an, housed in a special building in the complex.

The Kufic Qur’an was originally housed in Samarkand and, at the order of Vladimir Lenin in 1923, was brought to Tashkent. It is believed to be one of the two remaining copies of the original seven copies of the Qur’an written at the order of the third khalifa ‘Uthman (Osman in Turkish) in 651 AD. This was the first time that the verses were compiled into a written volume, 19 years after the Prophet Muhammad’s death. According to tradition, seven copies were made and disseminated to the kingdoms that had accepted Islam by that time. The other original volume is housed at Topkapi Palace in Istanbul.

If time permits we will then visit the Chorsu Bazaar to do some end of the trip shopping.

Approximate travel time: 1-3 hrs by plane

Day 23: Tashkent (B)Depart Tashkent at any time.

Depart Tashkent at any time.

Want more adventure? Book two or more GEEO trips in the same year and receive a discount! GEEO will give you 10% off of the lesser value program(s) (up to 3 programs).

If you don’t see a program that interests you that pairs with this trip, but still would like to extend your time abroad, let us know. We will work with you to find a non-teacher trip from our tour operator’s much larger catalog. Even better, if you are an educator we can still offer you a discounted price on the trip you choose!

Frequently Asked Questions

Please click here to go to our general FAQ, which has essential information that applies to all of our programs. 

Resources to Learn & Teach About This Region

Visit our recommended reading page to see the list of books GEEO recommends reading before your program (this is not required reading). We also have lesson plans and Pinterest boards that may be useful for you as you learn about your destination and prepare to bring lessons back to your classroom. 


Terms and Conditions

It is very important for you to visit our Terms and Conditions page before signing up for this program.

Cancellation policy

All cancellations must be submitted to GEEO in written form by emailing your request for cancellation to If you do not receive a confirmation that we have received your written cancellation request, please call us at 1-877-600-0105. Verbal cancellation requests will not be honored.

  • If you cancel 60 days or more prior to departure, all your program fee payments will be refunded besides your $350 deposit which is kept on file for future use
  • If you cancel between 30 and 59 days prior to departure, you will receive a 50% refund and your deposit is kept on file for future use
  • If you cancel within 30 days of departure, you will receive no refund, but your deposit is kept on file for future use
Trip Notes

CULTURE: Central Asia is a region which may be very different to anything you have experienced before. Mixture of Soviet heritage and Islam, summer heat, religious conservatism, traffic and crowds can result in initial culture shock but should be seen as an exciting new challenge.

DRESS CODE: Though you can see lots of people in traditional clothes, Central Asia has adopted western style clothing as well. Don’t hesitate to pack your usual travel clothes: in summer it can be shorts and t-shirts, sandals etc. We recommend not to bring tank tops/singlets and any types of clothes with bare shoulders and backs – it is unacceptable in most areas, even in bigger cities. Our tour takes us to many religious sights, where dress code is very strict. We recommend women to have a headscarf in their day bags to cover up when going inside mosques (it’s also a great help in the heat in summer). Best things to pack for the hot Central Asian climate is loose, long clothing – long trousers and sarongs or long skirts for women. 

ALTITUDE CONSIDERATIONS: This trip operates at altitudes over 800m (max altitude 3016m at Song Kul ). Whilst we travel slowly allowing plenty of time to acclimatize you may experience headaches, nausea, lethargy, especially when visiting Song Kul & Iskanderkul. It is important to be aware of the effects of altitude, especially on long driving days.

MONEY: Due to the restrictions on changing money in Central Asia region, only notes/bills printed after 1996 and in good condition will be accepted for exchange. Usually 50 and 100 USD/EUR notes get better exchange rate. We recommend to bring smaller denominations as well – many vendors accept them if you don’t have local currency.


Group Leader Description

All GEEO/G Adventures group trips are accompanied by one of G Adventure’s group leaders, which they refer to as Chief Experience Officers (CEO). The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. They will provide information on the places you are traveling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues, and introduce you to our local friends. Our itineraries often have plenty of free time to explore on your own.

While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the countries visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. We also use local guides where we think more specific knowledge will add to the enjoyment of the places we are visiting – we think it’s the best of both worlds.

Fitness Level

This trip includes light walking and hiking that is suitable for most fitness levels. The heat is the biggest physical challenge. Make sure you stay hydrated!


Single Travelers

Half of the people that travel with GEEO are traveling by themselves, so please don’t worry if you have no one who can join you on your trip. Our pricing is based on double occupancy or, in other words, two people to a room. You never have to pay for a single room unless you want one. GEEO can find you a roommate of the same gender. Most of our trips have a “My Own Room” option, also known as a “Single Supplement,” which is an extra fee that will allow you to have a room to yourself. If you want to room alone, please email To see the price for the “My Own Room” option, please click here where you can look up your trip in the extra services spreadsheet.

Please note that if you have booked the “My Own Room” option for this tour, you will receive your own single accommodation for all night stops, with the following exceptions: Days 3, 5, 17 (yurt stay); Days 10-11 (homestay).


Joining Instructions

Day 1 is an arrival day, and no activities have been planned. Upon arrival to the city on Day 1, or earlier if you have booked pre-accommodation with us, please make your way to the joining hotel. Please note: Check-in time will be in the afternoon. Once you arrive at the hotel, look for a note at reception from your tour leader. This note will give the details of your Welcome Meeting on Day 1, usually between 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., during which you will get a chance to meet your tour leader and other travelers, as well as learn more about how the tour will run. If you don’t see a note, please ask reception for details!

Most people either take a taxi to our start hotel or book an airport transfer. If you have purchased an arrival transfer, please note that your arrival transfer will be arranged based on flight information you provide to us. If you are advised of a flight schedule change within 48 hours of your scheduled arrival time, we will do our best to rearrange your arrival transfer however we cannot guarantee this. If your arrival transfer does not arrive within 30 minutes after you have exited the arrivals area please take a taxi to your start point hotel.

Emergency Contacts

Should you need to contact G Adventures during a situation of dire need, it is best to first call their local office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information, so that they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible.

Emergency Contact Details:

Mr. Laziz Otayarov (Operations Manager – Central Asia)
Mobile 1: +99890 963 4779 (24h)
Mobile 2: +99897 921 7087 (24h)

If you are unable for any reason to contact their local office, they have a toll-free line within North America (or our regular direct line), which will connect you directly with their Toronto office. In the event that you cannot get through, you can reach a member of their Operations department at the mobile number below.

Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100
Outside North America: 1 416 260 0999

Packing List

Please read this article on GEEO’s blog for our staff’s suggestions on the best gear to pack for your upcoming travels. You must be prepared to carry your own bags and be comfortable carrying them up and down stairs, on and off transportation, and to hotels. As a rule, we try not to have to walk more than 15-20 minutes with your bags, which is why we recommend keeping the weight of your bags between 22-30 lb. Most travelers carry a backpack or rolling bag of small to medium size. No XXL bags please! A daypack is also essential for carrying everyday items. Space is limited on transportation, so there is a limit of one main piece of luggage per person plus a daypack per person.

There may be a weight restriction for the internal flight on this tour. Each passenger is allowed to carry one checked bag with a maximum weight of 15 kg (33 lbs). Additional bags or excess weight charges may apply. These charges are the responsibility of the passengers.

 Suggested Checklist
  • Clothes for Mosques – (shorts that go below the knees, shirts that cover shoulders, headscarves for women)
  • Light windproof/waterproof jacket (Chances are it will rain!)
  • Small towel and swimwear
  • Sun hat
  • Personal clothing for cool to hot weather (We recommend packing 10 days of outfits so you only have to do laundry twice. For women we recommend having at least some clothing that covers knees and shoulders.)
  • Warm clothes for wearing while in the mountains (A compact warm top and long pants will do the trick)
  • Day pack
  • Sturdy walking shoes (Running shoes are fine too)
  • Sport sandals
  • Sunblock
  • Sunglasses
  • Toiletries (biodegradable)
  • Flashlight or headlamp (or use the one on your phone)
  • Light weight silk sleep sheet (This really comes in handy on this trip!)
  • Eye Mask (Some of the accommodation has flimsy curtains so this will help you sleep later)
  • Camera
  • First-aid kit, including: lip salve, aspirin, bandaids, anti-histamine, Dramamine, Imodium or similar tablets for mild cases of diarrhea, electrolyte powder, insect repellent, extra prescription drugs you may be taking. Please note tampons can be hard to find in this region
Optional Checklist
  • Money belt
  • Travel pillow
  • Money belt
  • Water bottle
  • Phone/Tablet for internet – most hotels have WiFi
  • Chargers for electronics as well converters/adapters, if needed
  • Packing cubes – these are awesome
  • Earplugs – these are a life-saver if you have a snoring roommate
  • Snacks – packing a few granola bars is a good idea; you can buy snacks when you get there too, so don’t go crazy here
  • Ziplock bags for wet clothing
  • Reading/writing material
  • Hand sanitizer/Baby wipes
Document Checklist
  • Passport (with photocopies)
  • Travel insurance (with photocopies)
  • Airline tickets (with photocopies)
  • EUR/USD cash
  • Credit or debit card
  • G Adventures vouchers, pre-departure information, and dossier
  • Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
  • GEEO Classroom action plans for your group – this is sent 10-30 days before departure

Laundry facilities are offered by some of our hotels for a charge or ask your group leader where the nearest laundromat is. If you want to do your own laundry, we suggest you bring your own non-polluting/biodegradable soap.

Passports and Visas

All GEEO trips require that the participant have a valid passport.  Please see our general FAQ for information on obtaining a passport. 

As with all of our trips, we try to provide the most accurate information we can, but governments sometimes change visa rules. It is your responsibility to double check the information we provide below by searching here.
Americans do not need a visa for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
The Tajikistan Government have an electronic visa (e-Visa) process. This replaces the physical visa that was issued on arrival. You do not need to mail your passport anywhere for an E-Visa as it is all done online. E-Visas are available for all nationalities, and can be purchased for $50 by clicking on the following link:

According to the embassy you can apply 3 months in advance of arrival at the earliest. It seems like you can apply up until 2 days before your arrival, but I would not push it that far. I would apply at least a month in advance.

You will need a scan of the picture/info page of your passport, so make sure you have that on your computer before starting the application.

These are some of the answers you will need for your application:

Purpose of Visit Type: Tourism
Purpose of Visit: Tourism Sightseeing
GBAO Permit: No
Entry: Single

Group identifier: Panjakent Intour/ G Adventures

Date of Arrival: July 8th, 2020
Address in Tajikistan: Atlas Hotel 32, Nisor Muhammad Street 3/4, Dushanbe, Tajikistan


Americans need to purchase a visa for travel to Uzbekistan. The Uzbekistan e-visa portal issues a tourist visa that allows a single entry into Uzbekistan for a visit of up to 30 days and which is valid for 90 days from the date of issue. If, for example, a tourist enters Uzbekistan when his e-visa is only valid for 20 more days, his or her duration of stay in the country will be limited to 20 days. Please do not purchase this visa until you are 60 days before departure. You can find the application here: is a guide for applying:

The system does not seem to work with the Chrome web browser, but the latest version of Microsoft Edge worked. The application on the portal must be made not less than 3 days before the trip to Uzbekistan as the application takes 2 working days to process. The cost of an electronic visa to Uzbekistan is US$20, and payment is made through the VISA payment system. Once a visa is granted, it is sent electronically (as a PDF file) to the applicant’s email address. 

Route of transiting through the territory of Uzbekistan (choose from the following list no more than 5 points): Select Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara,

Purpose of visit: “tourism; participating in G Adventures program “Central Asia – Multi-Stan Adventure”

Inviting party: is a required field to complete the form, but American passport holders don’t need this, so put “n/a.”

Address in Uzbekistan: As per G Adventures web site, use the joining hotel:

Hotel Uzbekistan
45, Musakhanov str.,
Tashkent, Uzbekistan, 100047

+998 71 113 11 11

Accompanied Persons: Put “None”

Non-American participants should check with their government to find out if they need a visa.

Money Exchange

In general Central Asia is a cash operating region, and travelers checks are not recommended. Due to bank restrictions, only banknotes printed after 1996 can be exchanged. Better to bring notes without marks or stamps on them. We recommend to bring about 70 USD in small denominations: 1, 5 and 10 USD notes. If you are not able to get local currency it’s always possible to pay in USD or EUR.

There are lots of ATM’s to withdraw local currency (UZS), and banks around to exchange USD or EUR. Travelers checks are not recommended, as only limited amount of banks work with them. Please, note that you can withdraw only local currency (Uzbek Sums) from ATM’s. Some banks in Tashkent allow USD cash advance, but this option depends on the amount of USD cash in the bank.

The preferred currency for local transactions is the tenge, and local establishments rarely accept credit cards so keep cash on hand. ATMs in Kazakhstan are accessible in the larger cities. There are many currency exchange locations available to exchange EUR, USD, GBP, Russian rouble, Kyrgyz som and Chinese yuan.

The preferred currency for local transactions is the som, and local establishments rarely accept credit cards so keep cash on hand. There are many of ATMs accessible in Bishkek and other larger cities such as Karakol. Larger cities will also have money exchange locations that will trade EUR, USD, Roubles; some locations will trade GBP, and Chinese yuan.

The preferred currency for local transactions is the somoni, and local establishments rarely accept credit cards so keep cash on hand. You may be able to pay in USD and EUR in some places, however, it is recommended that you take out somoni at ATMs in Dushanbe; there are very few ATMs outside of Dushanbe, and those that exist are less dependable.


In Central Asia it is not customary to tip service providers such as waiters, but it is very appreciated, depending on the service we recommend 3-5%. Tipping shows an expression of satisfaction with the people who have assisted you on your tour. Although it may not be customary to you, it is of considerable significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels. There are several times during the trip where there is opportunity to tip the local guides or drivers we use. You may do this individually, or your tour leader will offer to collect the money and tip as a group. Recommendations for tipping drivers and local guides would range from $2-$3 USD per person per day depending on the quality and length of the service; ask your tour leader for specific recommendations based on the circumstances and culture. Also at the end of each trip if you felt your tour leader did an outstanding job, tipping is appreciated. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline $20-25 USD per person, per week can be used.


We legally cannot give you any medical advice. It is very important to consult your doctor or a travel clinic about which vaccinations you will need for your trip. Please take this seriously!


We often find the best prices for purchasing flights is 60 days before departure, but of course this varies greatly from route to route and year to year. You must wait until this trip is confirmed with the minimum number of required participants before you book your flights. Typically, we reach the minimum number needed at least 90 days before departure. GEEO and G Adventures bear no responsibility for any flights purchased before the trip is confirmed. You can find out whether this trip has been confirmed here.

Your trip begins in Bishkek and ends in Tashkent. Please double check our itinerary for the date by which you must arrive in Bishkek and for the earliest time you can depart Tashkent.

Plugs and Converters

There are two components to provide external power to your device: adapters and transformers. The adapter is the plug, adapting the prongs on a standard U.S. two to three-pronged power cord to match the prongs required by the local outlets. The transformer changes the local voltage to that required by your device.

Central Asia primarily uses a type C plug, which is the same two circular prong plug you find in most of Europe. Their voltage is 220 Volts. U.S. outlets are 120V. Most new devices (phones and laptops) can handle the different voltage rates, but some devices only work on the U.S. standard of 120V. Check your device to see what voltage range it handles. Most transformer blocks will have an “Input” line that defines its voltage capacity. For example, “Input: 100 – 240V” means that it will work on voltages from 100V to 240V. If your transformer can’t handle the different voltage, you’ll need to purchase a voltage converter. You can find world regional voltage converters power packs at various vendors.


Before you decide on traveling with GEEO, it is important that you read all of the information about the program you are considering. Remember, our programs are quite adventurous.

  • The purpose of the accommodation is to provide a safe place for you to sleep. Sometimes you will be pleasantly surprised, but do not expect luxury. Sometimes the accommodation is not air conditioned.
  • We use a mix of transportation that gets our guests from location to location safely. Sometimes you will have full days and nights of transportation as our trips tend to cover a lot of ground. The transportation will often be an adventure in itself.
  • You must be able to easily carry or roll your luggage, so do not over-pack.
  • Many of our programs occur in locations where it is very hot during the day. Please make sure you have thoroughly read the itinerary and can handle the group activities, which sometime include day hikes with your daypacks.
  • We recommend always carrying snacks with you. Meals can sometimes be far apart.
  • Please make sure you understand the role of your tour leader on this trip as they are not the traditional “guide” you may be expecting. While our trips are educational, they aren’t study/lecture trips. We want you to learn through exploring, and much of your experience will be based on how active you choose to be in acquiring knowledge and interacting with locals.

Hopefully this is the kind of adventure you are interested in!

Itinerary Disclaimer

While it is our intention to adhere to the routes described on our website, there is a certain amount of flexibility built into the itinerary and on occasion it may be necessary, or desirable, to make alterations. The itinerary is brief, as we never know exactly where our journey will take us. Due to our style of travel and the regions we visit, travel can be unpredictable. The information on our website is a general guide to the tour and region, and any mention of specific destinations or wildlife is by no means a guarantee that they will be visited or encountered. Additionally, any travel times listed are approximations only and subject to vary due to local circumstances.

Advice From Past Participants

“Bring an umbrella. And a good hat. Lots of sunscreen. And bring something that will help moisten your nose (I used carmex). Worked pretty well! Lot of tissues or wet wipes. “

“We could have been better prepared with a traveler’s package of dehydration salts and antibiotics for stomach issues. Imodium is not enough.”

“You need a flashlight for the yurt camp to find your way to the bathroom.”

“Unfortunately, you will probably get diarrhea. Most people in our group had some stomach issues. A few more seasoned travelers brought probiotic supplements with them and took them every day and that seemed to help.”

“I know it can be scary looking at the expected temperatures but it is bearable and most of the guided tours take place in the morning and early afternoon so you can rest and cool off when it is the hottest outside.”

“It is in the itinerary and we are adults who know these were oasis towns, but I think it could be made a little clearer that a participant will spend every other or 3rd day on long bus rides. Secondly, what a meat culture it is, and that there are few options for vegetarians. Even many of the salads include meats. “

“Bring sandwich sized ziplock baggies to the markets so you can limit the size of the purchases. They love to sell you a year’s worth of stuff.”

“Possibly bring some uniquely American tokens as small thank you gestures. I wish that I had some small things with American flags on them. Possibly pencils, magnets, or even stickers from the dollar store.”

“Remind people to check the dates on their visas. One participant didn’t and found it had expired before we got to Uzbekistan.”



The weather varies greatly throughout this trip. In the mountains in can be cool and rainy whereas other parts of this trip will be extremely hot and dry. 


Please note: this trip offers some free time to pursue activities that interest you. Make sure you look over all of the optional activities and note these additional costs when deciding whether you can afford this program. The prices below are in U.S. Dollars, unless otherwise noted, and are rough estimates so you can budget your trip.

Tour Company Fee

See our price in the top right corner

Optional Activities

$50-$150 USD

International Airfare from USA

Roughly $1,100-$2,000 USD
If you require assistance in booking your international airfare, we would be happy to help you. 


$25-$200 USD
Please note: it is mandatory for all of our travelers to have Emergency Medical insurance that covers both emergency evacuation and repatriation to the sum of $200,000 USD. We also strongly recommend purchasing cancellation insurance as well.


$60-$90 USD for your G Adventures Tour leader. Another $80 should cover local guides and drivers on other activities.

Meals Not Listed in the Itinerary

$200-$300 USD

Laundry, Drinks, Phone Calls, etc.

Make sure you budget for these types of expenses


Uzbekistan’s visa costs $20 USD for Americans. Tajikistan’s visa costs $50. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan do no require visas for Americans. (Check with your local embassy if you are not American.)


Spend what you want.

Non-Educator Donation

$100 USD (Suggested donation)

This is only for non-educator guests traveling with an educator on a GEEO trip. Educators and retired educators should not make this donation.

Optional Activities

Most optional activities are booked and paid for locally in the local currency. You do not have to decide in advance which activities you would like to sign up for. The prices listed below are based on the latest information we have received from our participants and G Adventures. They are not guaranteed to be accurate. Please feel free to use them as a guide for budgeting your trip.


Ulugbek Observatory – $3 USD
Tomb of Daniel – $2 USD
Davlat Museum – $3 USD
Minaret – $6 USD
Meal in local house – $15 USD
Amir Timur Mausoleum – $5 USD


Hammam (traditional bath house) – $25-30 USD
Puppet show – $25 USD
Meal in local house – $9-15 USD


Minaret – $5 USD