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The Five Stans of the Silk Road

From £3849 for 23 days
Trip Overview
Vast deserts, rolling steppe, fertile valleys and majestic mountains form the backdrop to the five former Soviet republics of Central Asia which are commonly known as the five Stans. Amongst this changing and varied landscape are traditional villages, ancient towns and modern cities which tell a tale of advancing Greek and Persian armies, marauding Mongolian hordes, traders selling their wares along the Silk Road, philosophers, astronomers, Communist experiments and post-Soviet eccentrics. Journey past giant burning gas pits, intrinsically tiled mosques, alpine lakes bordered by yurt camps, grand monuments, rural villages and colourful markets on this epic trip through the heart of Central Asia.
Essential Info
Starts: Start Ashgabat
Ends: End Almaty
Ages: Min 16
Theme: Discovery, Expedition
Trip Code: EAXK
Activity Level:     
Countries visited: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan
What's Included


All breakfasts, 3 lunches and 8 dinners included Common dishes in the region include shish-kebabs and /plov /(rice usually with mutton, onions, carrots, spices, raisins, peas) which you’ll probably see plenty of


23 days land only / flight inclusive Travel by minibus


Trip Highlights

•    ‘Door to Hell’ giant burning gas pit in Turkmenistan

•    Islamic architecture and  ruins along the great Silk Road

•    Villages and lakes of the Fann and Tien Shan Mountains

•    Post Soviet grand monuments

•    History of traders, preachers and invaders

•    20th July 2019 departure: accompanied by photographer and National Geographic Explorer, George Kourounis

Dates & Availability
Start date
End date
Departing: 29th Jun 2019
Returning: 21st Jul 2019
Fully Booked
Departing: 6th Jul 2019
Returning: 28th Jul 2019
Fully Booked
Departing: 13th Jul 2019
Returning: 4th Aug 2019
Fully Booked
Departing: 27th Jul 2019
Returning: 18th Aug 2019
Fully Booked
Departing: 10th Aug 2019
Returning: 1st Sep 2019
Limited Availability
1 space
Departing: 17th Aug 2019
Returning: 8th Sep 2019
Limited Availability
1 space
Departing: 24th Aug 2019
Returning: 15th Sep 2019
Limited Availability
1 space
Departing: 6th Jun 2020
Returning: 28th Jun 2020
Fully Booked
Departing: 13th Jun 2020
Returning: 5th Jul 2020
Availability: Good
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Itinerary & Notes
Arrive at Ashgabat at any time. The group flights usually arrive very late at night (i.e. around 2am on day 2). Please note that it is obligatory by Turkmen law for tourists to have an arrival transfer arranged by the inviting party (as per your LOI/visa) from Ashgabat airport. For anyone not joining the group transfer, Exodus offers free arrival transfers for any flight, provided you have supplied your flight details in advance - please see the 'joining' section of the Trip Notes for more information. *Hotel Ak Altyn or similar*
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A busy and varied trip covering five countries, encompassing a wealth of culture and history, and some amazing scenery.
This is my 17th trip with Exodus and this has been one of the best so far, if not the best. There is so much to see, though there is quite a lot of travelling to enable this to happen. However the scenery, mostly deserts and mountains, are delightful. The accommodation ranged from the sublime (A Sheraton!) to the plain and simple, homestays, which gave us an even better chance to interact with local people. If you have the time to do this trip, do it, the scenery is stunning and the history of this region is the history of the civilised world. Brilliant!
An incredible journey across a region that has not always been easy to visit.The trip encompasses grand landscapes, huge distances and wonderful opportunities to learn much from the local guides. Bek in Uzbekistan and Aibek in Kyrgyzstan/ Kazakhstan particularly endeared themselves to the group, bringing knowledge, consideration and enthusiasm to the task. The trip endeavours to give wide and varied experiences and "gets off the worn track" with inclusions such as Termes, Uzbekistan near the Afghanistan border.
This is a really fascinating, busy, exhausting and quite unique trip across 5 countries in just over 3 weeks. Go with an open mind and you will enjoy the most amazing experiences, see incredible sights, meet really lovely people and learn so much.
A great trip covering a wide range of experiences - from Turkmenistan [Ashgabat with its somewhat bizarre architecture (the Wedding Palace being a particularly good, if that's the right word, example) and the welcoming wedding parties at the Arch of Neutrality; the ancient ruins at Nisa and Merv; and the burning pit at Darvaza among particularly memorable sights - all in the presence of a great local guide Jabar]; through Uzbekistan [with spectacular sights and sites at Bukhara, Samarkand and Shahrisabz together with the ruins of one of Alexander the Great's fortresses by the River Oxus all with the guide, Bek, who is probably the best guide on any tour I've been on]; Tajikistan [wonderful journey through the mountains to the gorgeous Iskanderkul Lake]; back into Uzbekistan [to learn about ceramics and the mechanics, and smell (boiling silkworm cocoons), of the silk industry; Kyrgyzstan [marvellous mountain scenery, great homestays, and lovely yurt camp (though be prepared for all weathers in one day - from bright sun to hail and lightning in a matter of minutes)]; and a brief stay in Kazakhstan [could have stayed longer and got to see more of Almaty, etc]. Suzie, the British guide who accompanied the trip throughout was wonderful and made everything easy for us - without her it would have been a lot more difficult. Food was ok to very good (the meal at the family house in Samarkand and the meals at the homestays being favourites), but was very limited for the vegetarians generally. Hotels were good to excellent and the transport was fine, though the air-conditioning on the minibuses in Kyrgyzstan didn't cope with the high temperatures.
This was a trip full of variety and dramatic scenery, from the surreal Ashgabat, the amazing Darvaza crater, the beautiful mosques and madrasahs of Samarkand and Bukhara to the truly majestic and ever changing scenery of the Kyrgyzstan mountains. Each of the 5 countries had its own unique character. There are some long journeys but they are full of continuing interest with lots of worthwhile stops on route. 99% of the accommodation was very comfortable, spacious and spotlessly clean.
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