A Silk Road Adventure: Uzbekistan & Kyrgyzstan

Code: JLSRA/UZKG/SEP/19
16 Days
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Fixed Departure: 30th August – 14th September 2019. See itinerary for details.
!SOLD OUT!

Have you watched Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road series on ITV and fallen in love with Central Asia?

Are you itching to follow in her footsteps across these remote lands at the heart of the ancient Silk Road?

Then join us on this culture-laden adventure across the fabulous countries of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan!

In two epic weeks, we’ll take you from the breath-taking Uzbek cities of Samarkand and Bukhara to the snow-streaked peaks of Kyrgyzstan’s ‘Heavenly Mountains’. You’ll wander amongst the turquoise domes of legendary Silk Road cities, explore medieval Caravanserais, sleep in yurts under star-spangled skies and dip your toes (or more!) into azure mountain lakes. You’ll break bread with nomads, stand on mountaintops with Kyrgyz eagle hunters, watch master woodcarvers at work and experience the smells, sights and flavours of some of the world’s best bazaars. For those who feel a little more adventurous, horse-riding and trekking are also on the menu.

The trip will be led by one of our directors, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent, an award-winning adventurer, travel writer and TV producer. Antonia produced the Central Asian leg of Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road series, spending a year researching and designing Joanna’s journey and travelling across these countries with Joanna and the crew. Thanks to this, this journey gives you a completely unique opportunity to follow directly in Joanna’s footsteps: to travel to the places featured in the series, meet the people she met, stay in the same hotels and yurt camps and much more. No other company can give you this experience.

DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION The trip will depart from Tashkent’s Islam Karimov International Airport and end at Bishkek’s Manas International Airport
DEPARTURE TIME Please ensure you arrive in good time for our scheduled departure from Tashkent
INCLUDED
  • Accommodation on a twin-shared basis throughout
  • All meals
  • Local airport transfers
  • All land travel costs
  • Flight from Tashkent to Bishkek
  • A professional guiding team including Silk Road Adventures’ Director Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent and English speaking local guides.
  • Fresh filtered water + a Water 2 Go water filtration bottle, in order to reduce plastic waste
  • Professional route planning and logistics, backed by risk assessments, emergency procedures, satellite communications (where necessary) and medical support. We don’t take risks lightly and we plan for all eventualities, believing it is better to have prepared and not require a procedure than not to plan at all. We also carry a very well stocked First Aid and Trauma medical kit and have been First Aid and Trauma trained by the excellent team at Crux Medical.
NOT INCLUDED
  • International Flights to Tashkent and from Bishkek – we can organise these for you as part of the package – please advise us if you need this.
  • Guide gratuities
  • Personal spending money for alcohol or souvenirs
  • Your personal travel insurance including medi-evac
  • Your Uzbek visa

Immersive, personal and unique – this is a trip that will get you under the skin of these stunning post-Soviet nations and leave you wanting more.

Follow the Silk Road in Joanna Lumley’s Footsteps : Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan
30th August – 14th September 2019. NOW SOLD OUT (CONTACT US FOR BESPOKE TRIP DETAILS)

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Day 1: Friday 30th August 2019

Arrive in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, and – depending what time your flights arrive – have the remainder of day off to rest and explore the city in the company of Antonia and a local guide

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Day 2: Saturday 31st August

Tashkent to Bukhara
We hop on the early morning, high-speed Afrasiab train to Bukhara, then have the afternoon getting to know this magical Silk Road city

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Day 3: Sunday 1st September

Bukhara
Since there’s so much to see here, we don’t want to rush, so today we have the whole day in Bukhara. Prepare yourself for a feast of minarets and madrassas.

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Day 4: Monday 2nd September

Samarkand to Bukhara
Today we take the ‘Golden Road to Samarkand’ – arguably the most fabled of all the ancient Silk Road cities – via the town of Gijduvan, a place famous for its ceramicists. Prepare to spend the rest of the trip coddling your new Uzbek bowls! The afternoon and early evening will be spent getting to know Samarkand and its dazzling turquoise-domed Timurid architecture. It won’t take you long to see why this city was feted by Marco Polo, Xuanzang, Ibn Battuta, Lord Curzon and so many more

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Day 5: Tuesday 3rd September

Samarkand
A whole glorious day exploring Samarkand, the former capital of Sogdiana, the heartland of the Silk Road. As well as taking you to the main sites, such as Gur Emir and Shakhi Zindar, you’ll also be meeting some of the local stars of Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road series, and seeing a slice of Samarkand very few visitors get to experience.

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Day 6: Wednesday 4th September

Samarkand to Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
Today we shall be travelling from Samarkand to Bishkek, in neighbouring Kyrgyzstan, by a train, a plane and some automobiles. But by six p.m. we’ll be sipping cocktails in our luxury hotel in Bishkek, the very same one Joanna and our crew stayed during the filming of Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road.

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Day 7: Thursday 5th September

Bishkek
A full day in Bishkek, one of our favourite Central Asian cities, to take in the main sites (Ala-Too Square, the Lenin statue, the Changing of the Guard, National Museum of Fine Arts) and do some serious shopping at Osh Bazaar, home of the world’s finest felt slippers!

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Day 8: Friday 6th September

Bishkek to Bokonbaevo
We head east into the wilds of Kyrgyzstan today, to the southern shore of gorgeous Lake Issyk-Kul. Meaning ‘warm lake’ in the Kyrgyz language, it’s the second largest saline lake in the world after the Caspian Sea and was a major stopping point on several skeins of the Silk Road. On the way we’ll stop at the ruins of Burana, an 8th century Uighur settlement that was once seen as the centre of the world, and visit a yurt-making family in a village beside the lake. Tonight we’ll be in a beautiful yurt camp beside the lake, surrounded by the glistening peaks of the Tien Shan.

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Day 9: Saturday 7th September

Bokonbaevo
This is such a special place we don’t want to rush off just yet. If you wish, you can simply lounge in a hammock under the apple trees and get lost in the view (or a good book). Or you can dip your toes in the gin-clear waters of the lake. But for those who want a bit of action, we’ll be venturing into the nearby mountains to meet the family of eagle hunters featured in Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road, and learn a little about this ancient Central Asian art. In the evening there’ll be a special lakeside treat – although we don’t want to give too much about that away just yet!

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Day 10: Sunday 8th September

Bokonbaevo to Song Kul
We go from one lakeside idyll to another today, arriving on the southern shores of Lake Song Kul (3000 m above sea level) in time for a late lunch. The afternoon is yours to wander, read, explore, paint or relax in your yurt. For those who want, there’ll be a chance to learn how to cook a Kyrgyz speciality.

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Day 11: Monday 9th September

Song Kul
Again, this is too lovely a place to leave in a hurry, so we have the whole day here to explore. Trekking, horse-riding and camel-trekking are all on offer here, and we will pre-arrange whatever you fancy doing. Or, you can do nothing! It’s your holiday after all – the choice is yours.

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Day 12: Tuesday 10th September

Song Kul to Tash Rabat
It’s a four hour drive across fantastic mountains to the 15th century Silk Road caravanserai of Tash Rabat, a mysterious hulk of a building nestled in the mountains near the Chinese border. After exploring the Caravanserai we’ll be spending the night in a wonderful, family-run yurt camp beside a gurgling river. There can’t be many more places on earth where the stars shine quite so brightly.

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Day 13: Wednesday 11th September

Tash Rabat to Kel Suu
Deeper into the mountains we venture today, via the Chinese border, to a yurt camp beside the stunning turquoise waters Kel Suu lake (3500 metres altitude). If you’ve watched Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road series, you’ll recognise some of this! We’ll have the afternoon to explore the lake, hike and meet the local nomads.

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Day 14: Thursday 12th September

Kel Suu to Naryn
We start heading back to Bishkek today, via the town of Naryn. Hot springs, a waterfall and meeting nomads are all on the agenda today. Plus of course a drive through epic mountain scenery. We end the day in Naryn, at the oxygen-rich altitude of 2000 metres. If you’ve been missing hot showers – then you can make up for it at tonight’s hotel.

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Day 15: Friday 13th September

Naryn to Bishkek
It’s a five and a half hour drive back to Bishkek today, through more gorgeous scenery. We’ll arrive by early afternoon and have a celebratory dinner together in Bishkek tonight.

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Day 16: Saturday 14th September

Bishkek – Home
 We will get you to the airport in good time for your flight home today. You’ll fly away with wonderful memories of these countries and their peoples, and you’ll have followed part of Joanna’s exact route.

Where will we be staying?

We’ll be staying in a mix of places – from four and five star hotels in Tashkent and Bishkek, to stylish, boutique hotels in Bukhara and Samarkand and wonderful, family-run yurt camps in the wilds of Kyrgyzstan. You won’t always have access to hot showers, but the wilderness and views will more than make up for it.

What size of group will it be?

Our group sizes are always small, allowing for an intimate experience of the cultures we meet along our path. On this trip we won’t have more than ten guests, plus Antonia and the local guides and drivers. We usually find groups are made of like-minded people, both male and female, from a wide age range.

How is this different to other ‘Silk Road’ expeditions I’ve seen?

We have been living, breathing, reading, researching and travelling the Silk Road for the past five years and  – with this trip – are in the unique position that one of our directors, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent, was the producer on Joanna Lumley’s ITV Silk Road series. Antonia, who is an award-winning travel writer as well as a TV producer and expedition leader, spent a year researching and designing Joanna’s route – the people she’d meet, the stories she’d tell, the places she’d visit – and then travelling across these countries with Joanna and the crew. This expedition gives you a completely unique opportunity to follow in Joanna’s footsteps: to travel to the places you’ve seen in the series, meet the people she met, stay in the same yurt camps and much more. No other company can give you this experience.

What will the weather be like?

It’s early autumn, when Central Asia can still be very hot in places, but where the colder months ahead are beginning to cast their shadow. Expect up to 30 degrees in Uzbekistan, but down to around ten degrees at night in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. But have no fear, we will supply you with a detailed packing list after you’ve signed up.

I’m a solo traveller – is this for me?

Yes. More than 85% of our expedition clients travel alone as part of our group. We don’t charge single supplements to solo travellers – see below.

Do you charge single supplements – I can’t see them in your information?

No. We don’t believe that solo travellers should be penalised with extra charges.  It goes against our ethos, so unless totally unavoidable or astronomically expensive,  all costs are included in the expedition price. Please note that in most of the yurt camps we are staying in, single rooms are simply not available.

What kit do I need to bring?

We will provide you with an information pack after signing up to this trip, and this will detail any particular equipment we think either necessary or useful.

What vehicles will we be travelling in?

In Uzbekistan we will travel by foot, minibus and train. In Kyrgyzstan we will travel in sleek, comfortable Land Cruiser 4WDs with three guests per car.

How much are flights?

This is a moving feast! It depends on where you are travelling from and how you want to get there. From London, it’s around £350 one way to Tashkent, and around £300 to Bishkek. We can offer flight inclusive packages also though. And the internal flight from Tashkent to Bishkek is included in the tour price. Again, we’ll send you an information pack containing all the information you need when you book your place.

What will the food be like?

Varied – the ‘stans are a region known for meaty delicacies so you can expect tasty shashlik almost anywhere if this is your thing. But it’s not all bad news for veggies as the salads in Central Asia are fantastic. Bread, plov, tomatoes, cucumbers, dill and vodka all feature heavily!

Will I have to share a room?

Yes, at times. There will be hotels and guest houses where we will have separate rooms and wherever possible we will arrange this, but there will also be times where we are staying in yurts when there is scant option but to share rooms. This is all part of the adventure, and a reason we love to travel here. It makes sense for light sleepers to bring earplugs, in case of snorers.

How fit do I need to be?

Not very – although there are options to horse-ride, swim and trek, you can also opt to simply relax or travel in one of the vehicles instead. There is some amount of walking in Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent and Bishkek, but again, how much you do or don’t do is up to you. This isn’t a boot camp, it’s your holiday.

Will I be affected by altitude?

Altitude can affect different people in different ways. It can also affect the same person in different ways from trip to trip. We will be spending a handful of days above 3000 metres in Kyrgyzstan. If you feel that you might suffer from altitude sickness, or have history of it, you should consider discussing this with your doctor prior to booking and travel. Diamox and other similar prescription drugs are available to ease symptoms, but the key way to address any onset of altitude sickness is to descend. Luckily, from anywhere particularly high, descent is possible rapidly thanks to our vehicles. Simple precautions and awareness go a long way.

Do you perform proper risk management on your expeditions?

Yes. We are members of TRIP – the Travel Risk and Incident Prevention Group – and perform detailed country risk assessments prior to departure, in line with the ISO 31000 international standard for risk assessment. We also maintain close contact with the relevant Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for countries we plan to visit, in addition to making use of the Australian Smart Traveller assessment tool, and the US State Department’s OSAC service. Beyond this, we have a full set of risk management and disaster contingency plans for each expedition and are expedition first aid trained by Crux Medical. For final back up we also use the services of Remote Medical Support that allows us to have a UK expedition doctor on the end of a telephone line wherever we may be. And we always carry a satellite phone. We really don’t mess around when it comes to safety.

I can’t do your dates but love the sound of your expedition – can you be flexible?

Yes. We offer set group dates for many of our expeditions, but we can organise and deliver bespoke expeditions to groups and individuals to suit your itinerary and budget. More information is available on our Tailor Made tours page.

Is it a guaranteed departure?

As with any new, pioneering itinerary we need to reach a minimum number of guests to make this viable. For this trip, we need a minimum of 6 guests. When you express interest in this expedition, we will send you a deposit invoice to hold your place. This is refundable according to our terms and conditions if we do not reach the minimum numbers. We recommend that you do not book your flights or other arrangements until we have communicated that the expedition is definitely departing as planned and will aim to do this in order to give you at least 3 months prior to the scheduled departure in which to make your travel arrangements.

Is it good value for money?

We are very proud of the routes we design and the way in which we travel them. We don’t cut corners and we plan meticulously. We are a small company that treats every guest as our friend and you won’t find that kind of service in many places. 85% of our customers have re-booked to travel again with us and some of them come on a trip every year. We also do annual expedition and remote medicine training and pay for 24/7 remote medical assistance cover. We employ professional military-grade risk assessments and plan for every possible negative scenario whilst hoping that none ever come to pass. We take our obligations to you and your safety very seriously and this all does cost money. We think the price offered is keen, but add the extra measures outlined above and we think the price represents great value for an experience you won’t find elsewhere. This trip is also being led by one of our directors, Antonia, an expert on the region.

Is this really for me?

If you love adventure, new places, friendly people, wild landscapes, history and culture then yes! However, if you’re the sort of person who is going to be worried about the lack of flush loos in a mountain yurt camp, might complain that the road to Tash Rabat is too bumpy (it isn’t!) or frets about Wi-Fi availability, then this probably isn’t your bag.

 

Price:£3,650.00