Price before $2,000 NCTA subsidy. 5% off until December 16th.

$4275 $4062

Available: 4 spaces

Secure your place on this trip with $350 deposit. Final payment due 60 days before departure.

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      • Hotels: Standard Class

      • 06/25/2024 - 07/17/2024

      • Max Participants: 16

      • 23 Days / 22 Nights

      Overview

      This comprehensive 23-day tour will take you through the heart of the ancient Silk Road, including Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Not only will you experience a fascinating part of the world most travelers miss, but you will also gain a better understanding of how this region contributed to the cultural, economic, religious, and political ideas of our world. A true crossroads of empires, Central Asia is a region layered by cultures of ancient civilizations, from those of the ancient Eastern Iranians and Persians to those of the Turks, Mongols, and Russians. These legacies along with influences of peoples further East (China, Japan, Korea) will be thoroughly explored in this tour. Stay at unique homestays, sleep in traditional yurts, discover the breathtaking mountain and desert scenery, and roam gorgeous buildings constructed centuries ago. Beyond the incredibly rich historical sites and architectural monuments, this adventure will enlighten your understanding of Buddhism, Christianity, and especially Islam. Most notably, it will also introduce you to the region’s greatest resource: its generous and kind people! Visit Central Asia with us, all while earning professional development credit with other educators.

      This program is sponsored by the National Consortium for Teaching About Asia (NCTA), University of Pittsburgh coordinating site. This study tour is open only to NCTA alumni.

      To enhance the educational impact of the trip and to make explicit the East Asia connections to Central Asia and the Silk Roads, China historian Dr. David Kenley (Dakota State University) and Central Asianist David Dettmann (University of Pennsylvania) will be traveling with the group, providing historical and cultural context.

      What's Included:
      • Bishkek half-day city tour
      • Burana Tower visit
      • Yurt stay (Song Kul)
      • Felt-making workshop visit
      • Guesthouse stay (Tamga Village)
      • Yurt-building presentation (Kizil Tuu)
      • Przhevalsky Museum Visit
      • Karakol city tour
      • Saty Village Stay
      • Charyn Canyon visit
      • Almaty city tour
      • Dushanbe city tour
      • Community homestay (Iskandarkul, 2 nts)
      • Waterfall hike (Kŭli Iskandarkŭl)
      • Khujand city tour
      • Mug Yepe Visit (Istaravshan)
      • Khujand market visit
      • Samarkand city tour including a Registan visit
      • Chashma Complex and Holy Spring visit
      • Alexander the Great fortress visit
      • Desert yurt stay (Aydar Kŭl)
      • Bukhara city tour
      • Khiva city tour
      • Tashkent city tour
      • Internal flight
      • G Adventures Tour Leader throughout, local guides
      • 22 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 8 dinners – allow $545-710 USD for meals not included
      • Standard hotels/guesthouses (19 nts), yurts (2 nts), CBT homestay (1 nt)
      • All transport (mostly by taxis, private vehicles, planes, and trains) between destinations and to/from included activities
      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

      Itinerary Download PDF

      Arrive in Bishkek at any time. Due to the potential for flight delays or cancellations, we recommend that you plan to arrive at least a day in advance. This will also give you time to adjust to the time difference and overcome any jetlag. We can book extra hotel nights for you in Bishkek before and/or after the trip. If you arrive early, 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. Please note that check-in at the hotel is usually around 2:00-3:00 p.m. There are no planned activities until an intro meeting around 6:00 or 7:00 p.m., usually in the hotel lobby. Check for a sign or ask at the reception desk about the exact time and location of the group meeting. Please make every effort to arrive in time for this meeting. If you are delayed and will arrive late, please inform us. Your tour leader will then leave you a message at the front desk informing you of where and when to meet up tomorrow. After the meeting, you might choose to get dinner at a nearby restaurant with your traveling companions and your tour leader to further get to know one another.

      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 (50 mi) 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 a cozy guest house run by Ashuu villagers. Savor home-cooked food and make the most of the time to wander the village. Approximate travel time: 1.5 to 2 hrs by private vehicle

      In the morning, opt for a hike to the nearby mountains or explore the famous gorges of Chong-Kemin. After lunch, enjoy the scenic drive along the Kalmak-Ashuu mountain pass to Song Kul Lake. Immerse yourself in Kyrgyz culture with an overnight stay in a traditional yurt. Experience daily nomadic life and wander the breathtaking landscape. Indulge in delicious home-cooked cuisine for dinner, then get cozy in the yurt around the stove.

      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. Make your own miniature version of the precious carpet known as ala-kiyiz, and enjoy lunch in Kochkor village. Afterward, head to Tamga village situated near the Terskey Ala-Too mountain range and Lake Issyk-Kol, where you'll spend the night at a village guesthouse and get to know the local community members. Tamga village was once famous for its Soviet-era military sanatorium, where Soviet cosmonauts relaxed and recovered after space flights. The complex still exists in its original, untouched 1930's glory, with an atmosphere that would seem to bring you back in time. Approximate travel time: 4.5 hrs by private vehicle

      In the morning, visit Ak-Orgo Workshop Center and enjoy an included lunch. Observe how traditional yurts are built and learn about the importance of this Kyrgyz craft. Continue to Karakol, Kyrgyzstan's fourth 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. Afterward, you will have free time to explore on your own. Approximate travel time: 1.5-2 hrs by private vehicle

      Today we will drive through the gorgeous rolling green hills and forested mountains for a day trip Jety-Oguz Gorge where you can go for optional hiking and horseback riding. You can also relax in nature if you don't feel like being active. Return to Karakol in the afternoon for free time to explore this city. Approximate travel time: 2 hrs roundtrip by private vehicle

      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, where we soak in the bright hues and marvel at the eerie sight of submerged trees. Spend the night in a homestay and indulge in a traditional Kazakh meal. Note: If you suffer from motion sickness, you may want to skip the rough Russian van ride and, as a result, miss the 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. Approximate travel time: 4.5 hrs by private vehicle, optional 1.5 hr roundtrip Russian van

      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. On arrive in Almaty, we will take a city tour. Stop by the colorful Zenkov Cathedral, constructed entirely of wood without the use of any nails. Walk through Panfilov's Park and the historical part of the city. Visit the new part of Almaty known as Independence Square, and stop by the WWII Memorial. Time permitting, opt to climb Green Hill for panoramic views, visit the local markets, or sip coffee in one of the plentiful cafés. Approximate travel time: 6.5 hrs by private vehicle

      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.

      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 take a short hike through the peaceful Fan Mountains to Iskander Darya waterfall, or Fan Niagra. The Iskander Darya river flows from the famous Iskandarkul Lake, named after Alexander the Great for his love of the place. This massive, majestic waterfall falls from a height of 38 meters. Tonight we stay at a community homestay. The views are unbelievable. 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. Approximate travel time: 6 hrs by private vehicle

      After breakfast, embark on a trek alongside Sarytag and the Karakul River. Return to the homestay for lunch and spend the afternoon at leisure. Later, head to Sarytag Village to experience local living and get a better understanding of life in this remote region. After the village exploration, head back to the homestay for a delicious Tajikistan dinner.

      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 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, take part in a city tour, including visits to the Historical Museum of Sughd, resembling a castle, and the Mausoleum of Sheik Muslekheddin. Approximate travel time: 3.5 hrs by private vehicle

      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 1991 until his death 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 1300s. 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 afterward, 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

      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.)

      This morning, we drive to Samarkand, the second-largest city in Uzbekistan, with a population of just over 500,000 people. Samarkand is known for its position on 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: 4.5 hrs by private vehicle

      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.

      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 Aidarkul Lake and opt for a swim before continuing on for an overnight stay in a local yurt camp. Enjoy an authentic Uzbekistan dinner and an evening Kazakh singing show. Approximate travel time: 4.5 hrs by private vehicle

      Today, we drive across the desert to the ancient city of Bukhara, one of the 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

      This morning, we have an included city tour with a local guide to visit the Samanid Mausoleum, the Ark Citadel, and the Poi-i-Kalon 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 entrance 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. Carpet Museum Dating from the 9th century, the Magok-i Attar Mosque (Museum of Carpets) in Bukhara is the oldest surviving mosque in Central Asia. According to legend, the mosque survived the Mongols by being buried by locals in the 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.

      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 one million Persians and an unknown number of Russian people were transported to Khiva to be sold. In the 19th century, Khiva was the 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 orientation walk. Approximate travel time: 8 hrs by private vehicle

      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.

      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 hr by plane

      There are no planned activities today, so you may depart Tashkent at any time. If you wish to extend your stay in Tashkent, consider booking post-tour accommodation with us. Please note that check-out time from the hotel is usually mid-morning, but luggage storage services are available at the reception desk. Want more adventure? Book two or more GEEO programs in the same school year and receive a discount! GEEO will give you 10% off of the lesser value program(s) (up to 3 programs per year). If you would like to extend your time abroad but don't see another GEEO program that interests you, let us know. We can work with you to find a trip from our tour operator’s much larger catalog. Their tours are open to the general public and not designed specifically for educators, but we can still offer you and your travel companions a discounted educator price on any additional tours that you book.

      Details

      Frequently Asked Questions
      Please read our general FAQs, where you can find 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.
      GEEO Program Confirmation Process
      We require a minimum of 6 participants for most GEEO programs. We officially confirm that a program will run once at least 8 people have signed up, which provides a margin for individual cancellations. Nearly all GEEO programs ultimately meet this enrollment quota, and in the rare event that a program does not meet the minimum requirement and GEEO cancels the program, we will work with you to find a suitable alternative or provide a refund of your deposit if you prefer. We encourage you to sign up for any program that interests you, and we will notify the entire group once 6 people are booked and again once 8 people are booked. We always emphasize the importance of exercising caution when making non-refundable travel arrangements, especially given the unpredictable nature of travel. For example, we typically recommend booking flights with flexible change/cancellation policies.
      Cancellation policy
      All cancellations must be submitted to GEEO in written form by emailing your request for cancellation to travel@geeo.org. 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
      1. CULTURE: Central Asia is a region that may be very different from anything you have experienced before. A 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.
      2. 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 the 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). The best things to pack for the hot Central Asian climate is loose, long clothing – long trousers and sarongs or long skirts for women.
      3. ALTITUDE CONSIDERATIONS: This trip operates at altitudes over 800m (max altitude 3016m at Song Kul). While we travel slowly allowing plenty of time to acclimate, you may experience headaches, nausea, and lethargy, especially when visiting Song Kul and Iskanderkul. It is important to be aware of the effects of altitude, especially on long driving days.
      4. MONEY: Due to the restrictions on changing money in the 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 a 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 (CEOs). 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 GEEO’s participants travel by themselves, so please don’t worry if you do not have a travel companion for your trip. Our program fee is for one traveler in double-occupancy accommodation, and GEEO can find you a roommate of the same gender if you do not have a travel companion. Most of our programs have a “My Own Room” option, also known as a “Single Supplement,” which is an extra fee that you can pay to have a room to yourself. You will only incur an additional charge if you specifically request a single room. To see the price for the “My Own Room” option, please find your program on our extra services page. If you want to room alone, please email travel@geeo.org to request a single room. 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 except Days 3, 5, and 17 (yurt stay), and Days 10 and 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. If you miss the Welcome Meeting, your tour leader will leave a note at reception for you with any information you may need and with instructions for the next morning. 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 the 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 G Adventures office. If for any reason you do not receive an immediate answer, please leave a detailed message and contact information so they may return your call and assist you as soon as possible. If your call is specifically concerning airport transfer complications, please call the local G Adventures transfer provider directly: Mr. Arlan (+996700602090) or Mrs. Asel (+996777202888) EMERGENCY CONTACT NUMBERS Mr. Laziz Otayarov (Operations Manager - Central Asia) Mobile 1: +99890 963 4779 (24h) If you are unable for any reason to contact G Adventures’ local office, they have a toll-free line which will connect you directly with their Toronto office: Toll-free, North America only: 1 888 800 4100 Calls from UK: 0344 272 0000 Calls from Germany: 0800 365 1000 Calls from Australia: 1 300 796 618 Calls from New Zealand: 0800 333 307 Outside North America, Australia, New Zealand, Germany and the UK: +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. Health & Safety
      • N95/KN95 face masks (at least a few just in case there is an outbreak within your group)
      • Hand sanitizer
      • Rapid Covid test/antigen tests (at least 3)
      Suggested Checklist
      • Clothes for mosques (shorts that go below the knees, shirts that cover shoulders, headscarves for women)
      • Light windproof/waterproof jacket (it will likely 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)
      • Lightweight 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
      • AirTags or Tile trackers
      • Packing cubes
      • Earplugs
      • 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)
      • Any entry visas or vaccination certificates required
      • Travel insurance ID card
      • Flight itinerary/boarding pass(es)
      • USD/EUR cash
      • Credit/debit card
      • G Adventures vouchers
      Laundry
      Laundry facilities are offered by some of our hotels for a charge. You can also use a local laundromat, if necessary. If you want to do your own laundry, we suggest you bring your own non-polluting/biodegradable soap.
      Passports and Visas
      All GEEO programs 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. -- U.S. citizens do not need a visa for Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. U.S. citizens are eligible for visa-free entry to Tajikistan for stays lasting less than 30 days. Your hotel will register you with the Ministry of Interior, which allows you to skip the visa process. Please keep up with your registration document, because you will need it to depart for Uzbekistan. -- U.S. citizens 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: https://e-visa.gov.uz/main. Here is a guide for applying: https://www.advantour.com/uzbekistan/visa/application-guidelines.htm The system may not work with the Chrome web browser, but the latest version of Microsoft Edge works. The application on the portal must be submitted 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 $20 USD, 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: Select Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara Purpose of visit: “tourism; participating in G Adventures program Central Asia – Multi-Stan Adventure” Inviting party: This a required field to complete the form, but United States passport holders don’t need this, so put “n/a.” Address in Uzbekistan: 38 3 Shakhrisabz Street, Tashkent, Uzbekistan 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. Due to bank restrictions, only banknotes printed after 1996 can be exchanged. Please make sure your USD bills are in good condition (i.e., not torn, wrinkled, or marked on in any way) and dated recently. We recommend bringing about $100 USD in small denominations: $1, $5, and $10 USD notes. While USD may be accepted for transactions, we recommend that you obtain local cash from ATMs while traveling; they will dispense the local currency. Uzbekistan The currency preferred by merchants and service providers in Uzbekistan is often the U.S. dollar. There are lots of ATMs to withdraw the local currency, the sum (also som, soum, UZS), and banks to exchange USD or EUR. Some banks in Tashkent allow USD cash advances, but this option depends on the amount of USD cash in the bank. Kazakhstan The preferred currency for local transactions is the tenge (KZT), 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 USD, EUR, GBP, Russian roubles, Kyrgyz som and Chinese yuan. Kyrgyzstan The preferred currency for local transactions is the som (KGS), and local establishments rarely accept credit cards, so keep cash on hand. There are many ATMs accessible in Bishkek and other larger cities, such as Karakol. Larger cities will also have currency exchange points that will trade USD, EUR, and roubles; some locations will trade GBP and Chinese yuan. Tajikistan The preferred currency for local transactions is the somoni (TJS), 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, but it is recommended that you withdraw somoni from ATMs in Dushanbe; there are very few ATMs outside of Dushanbe, and those that do exist are less dependable.
      Tipping
      While it is not customary in Central Asia to tip service providers such as waiters, it is appreciated; depending on the service, we recommend 3-5%. Tipping expression of satisfaction with the people who assist you on your trip. Tipping is also one of the most direct ways that you can have a positive economic impact within the local community. 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 will be times during this program when you will have an opportunity to tip local guides or drivers. You may do this individually, or your tour leader may offer to collect the money and provide the tip for the entire 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. At the end of your program, if you felt your G Adventures tour leader did an outstanding job, a tip would be appreciated. The amount is entirely your personal preference, but as a guideline, $20-25 USD per person per week would be appropriate. Please make sure any U.S. bills that you offer as tips are in pristine condition, kept flat and unwrinkled throughout your trip, as banks in Central Asia will not accept wrinkled currency.
      Vaccinations
      GEEO cannot provide any medical advice, so it is very important to consult your doctor or a travel clinic about which vaccinations you will need for your trip. We recommend contacting Passport Health (http://www.passporthealthusa.com/), which has travel clinics located throughout the United States. You can also check the CDC's recommended vaccinations for your destination. Please take this seriously!
      Flights
      We find the best prices for flights are often available around 90 days before departure, but of course this varies greatly from route to route and year to year. You should wait until this trip is confirmed before you book non-refundable flights. GEEO and G Adventures bear no responsibility for any flights purchased before the trip is confirmed. This program begins in Bishkek and ends in Tashkent. Please double-check our itinerary for the date by which you must arrive in Bishkek. You may want to arrive in Bishkek one or more days early in case you have flight disruptions. You can arrive at any time you choose, but try to make it in time for our 6:00 p.m. Welcome Meeting on Day 1. You can depart from Tashkent any time on the final day of the program, or stay longer to see more of the city.
      Plugs and Converters
      There are two components to provide external power to your device: adapters and transformers (also called electrical converters). The adapter is for your device's plug, adapting the prongs on a standard U.S. two- to three-pronged power cord to fit the local outlets. The transformer/converter changes the local voltage to the voltage used in the U.S. Central Asia uses a European-style Type C plug with two circular prongs, and the voltage is 220V. (Standard U.S. electrical outlets are 120V.) Most new devices, including phones and laptops, are made to work with the different voltage rates, but some devices, like hair dryers, may only work on the U.S. standard of 120V. Check your device's plug or manual to see what voltage range it requires. Most transformer blocks will have an “Input” line that defines its voltage capacity; for example, “Input: 100-240V” means that it will work with voltages between 100V to 240V. If your device can’t handle the higher voltage, you’ll need to purchase a transformer/converter. You can find world transformers/converters online or at many retail stores in the travel section.
      Expectations
      Before you decide to travel 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 sometimes 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.
      Weather
      The weather varies greatly throughout this trip. In the mountains, it can be cool and rainy, whereas other times during this trip it will be extremely hot and dry.
      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 rehydration 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.”

      Costs

      Please keep in mind that 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 rough estimates for budgeting 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.
      Airport Transfers
      $10-20 USD
      Insurance
      $79-200 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 an add-on.
      Tipping
      We recommend $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
      $545-710 USD
      Visa
      Uzbekistan’s visa costs $20 USD for Americans. Tajikistan’s visa costs $50. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan do not require visas for Americans. (Check with your local embassy if you are not American.)
      Laundry, Drinks, Phone Calls, etc.
      Make sure you budget for these types of expenses
      Vaccines
      Variable. Please consult your doctor.
      Souvenirs
      Variable. At your personal discretion.
      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, sometimes in the local currency, and you do not have to decide in advance which ones you would like to sign up for. The prices listed are based on the latest information we have received from our participants and G Adventures. They are not guaranteed to be accurate. Please use them as a rough guide for budgeting your trip.
      Samarkand
      Ulugbek Observatory: $3 USD This 15th century observatory was built by Ulugbek, a Timurid ruler and astronomer. It is considered one of the most significant astronomical observatories of the medieval Islamic world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It features the remains of a large marble sextant as well several astronomical instruments. Tomb of the Prophet Daniel: $3 USD Enjoy a visit to the tomb of the Old Testament Prophet Daniel, famous for the Biblical story of Daniel and the lions. A legend says that his body grows by half an inch every year! The State Museum of Culture History of Uzbekistan: $3 USD This museum displays a wide range of artifacts, including traditional textiles, ceramics, metalwork, and jewelry, as well as historical and cultural exhibits on the ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. Visitors can also learn about the lives of famous Uzbek poets, scientists, and other historical figures. Bibi-Khanym Minaret: $3 USD Considered one of the most impressive examples of Islamic architecture in Central Asia, the Bibi-Khanym Minaret was built in the 14th century by the Timurid ruler Amir Timur, also known as Tamerlane. The UNESCO World Heritage Site in Registan Square is over 150 feet high and is decorated with intricate geometric patterns and inscriptions from the Quran. Amir Timur Mausoleum: $3 USD Amir Timur (Tamerlane) is an important historical figure to the city of Samarkand. He attempted to rebuild the empire of Genghis Khan in the 14th century, and he is considered the last of the great conquerors of the Eurasian steppe. Visit his mausoleum and learn more about his life and contributions.
      Bukhara
      Hammam (traditional bathhouse): $20 USD There are a few hammam choices in the city and they are often gender specific: Hammam Kunjak for ladies and Bozori Kord Hammam for gentlemen. Depending on the day of the week and when you want to go, your tour leader can advise you on some options. Carpet Museum: $1 USD The Magok-i Attari Mosque (Museum of Carpets) offers information about the art of carpet making with some fine examples. Perhaps more impressively, the building the museum is located in was once used for Jewish, Muslim, and Christian services, demonstrating the diversity and open-mindedness of this intriguing city. Jewish Area and Synagogue Visit: Free 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 (donation expected) and houses a Torah that is roughly 1,000 years old. Please note that on Friday evenings and Saturday, the Synagogue is usually closed for Shabbat.
      Khiva
      Kalta Minor Minaret: $5 USD The Kalta Minor Minaret, located in the center of the old city, was built in the 19th century by the last Khan of Khiva, Muhammad Amin Khan. The minaret was intended to be the largest in Central Asia, but construction was halted when the Khan died, and the minaret remains unfinished. Despite this, it is still an impressive structure and a notable example of Islamic architecture. The minaret is decorated with glazed tiles and has a spiral staircase leading to the top, where visitors can enjoy views of the surrounding city.