Welcome to Central Asia

Footprints of History

From Alexander the Great to Chinggis (Genghis) Khan to Timur (Tamerlane), Central Asia's page-turning history litters the land at every turn. From the right angle and with one eye closed, the storied oasis caravan stops of Samarkand and Bukhara, with their exotic skylines of minarets and medressas, really do seem to be lifted directly from the age of Marco Polo. Share a round of kebabs with an Uzbek trader or wander an ancient caravanserai and historical romantics will find the past and present begin to blur into one in Central Asia.

Mountains & Yurts

East of the desert and steppe settlements rise the snow-capped Pamir and Tian Shan ranges of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, home to traditional herding communities and some truly epic mountain scenery. Here community-based tourism projects can bring you face to face with nomadic Kyrgyz herders, meeting them in their yurts and on their terms. Ride out to remote lakes on horseback, hike from one village homestay to another, or take a 4WD out to remote archaeological sites. The scope for adventure and exploration here is almost limitless.

Travel off the Map

For decades – centuries even – much of the world has regarded Central Asia as a blank on the map, synonymous with the middle of nowhere, rather than the heartland of Asia. For a certain type of wanderer, this is all part of the attraction of a land that has been largely off-limits to travellers for the last 2000 years. Head even a little bit off the beaten track and you'll likely have the place to yourself. The region's little-visited oddities, namely Turkmenistan and most of Kazakhstan, are even further removed from the modern world and offer an addictive interest all of their own.

A Warm Welcome

Whether you want to explore the architectural gems of Bukhara or take a horse trek across the high Pamirs, everywhere in Central Asia you'll be greeted with instinctive local hospitality and offered a shared meal, a helping hand or a place to stay. Beyond Uzbekistan's Silk Road cities, mass tourism has yet to make any inroads in Central Asia, lending an authentic sense of discovery to each trip. Add to this the intrinsic fascination of a forgotten region slowly emerging as a geopolitical pivot point and you have one of Asia's most absorbing hidden corners.

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Central Asia activities

$125 Cultural & Theme Tours

1-Day Tour of Samarkand from Tashkent

This full day of sightseeing begins with a 7:15am pickup from any hotel in Tashkent. Travel to the railway station to catch an 8am, high-speed train departing for Samarkand. After arriving in Samarkand at 10:30am, the local tour guide and driver will be waiting upon arrival to introduce some of the most popular attractions in Samarkand. Some of the attractions and points of interest to see include: • Gur-Emir Mausoleum - The burial place of Amir Temur and his dynasty • Registan Square (15th-17th century) – Located in the heart of Samarkand, Register Square consists of three madrassahs: Madrassah Uughbek, MadrassahTillakari, and Madrassah Sherdar • Bibi Khanum Mosque - Named in honor of the eldest wife of Great Timur (14th century) • Shah-i-Zinda necropolis (12th-15th century) - The burial place of Kusamibn ibn Abbas, the cousin to the prophet Muhammad • Ulugbek Observatory - The biggest observatory, built by Ulugbek (15th century)The return to the railway station is at 4:30pm to catch a high-speed train departing for Tashkent at 5pm and and arriving in Tashkent at 7:40pm. The day concludes with a drop-off at any Tashkent hotel.

$37 Food, Wine & Nightlife

Wine Tasting Tour in Samarkand

Your guide will pick you up from your hotel in Samarkand in the morning or afternoon and drive you to Khovrenko Winery. Start by browsing through the Samarkand Museum of Winemaking, located at the winery, to learn about its history. Hear from your guide about the scientist who redesigned methods for producing award-winning vintage wines, earning prestigious recognition from worldwide competitions with multiple gold and silver medals.Taste 10 of the best varieties of Uzbek wines and two types of cognac produced by Khovrenko Winery — Sherdor and Samarkand — famous throughout central Asia.After wine tasting, you will be transferred back to your hotel in Samarkand where your tour concludes.

$543 Cultural & Theme Tours

4-Night Kashgar Tour of Xinjiang

Day 1: Arrive in KashgarYour guide will pick up from Kashgar airport and transfer to your hotel.Day 2: Explore Kashgar cityExplore rich culture of the Uighurs in Kashgar. First, visit Livestock market which is the most interesting and traditional part of the Sunday market. Then, continue on to the largest bazaar in Central Asia at the Kashgar Sunday Main Bazaar. Later, spend time by Id Kah mosque, the largest mosque in China, and marvel at the intricate architecture of Kashgar’s historic Apak hoja tomb. You will also spend time in Kashgar old town and have dinner with a local Uighur family.Accommodation: 4-star Qinibagh HotelDay 3: Kashgar to Karakul Lake and stay at a local family yurtToday set out along the Sino-Pakistan Karakorum Highway on Pamir Plateau (the roof of the world) where you will see colorful Oytagh Kunlunshan Mountain range and Bulungkol Valley (White Sand Mountain) before visiting Karakul Lake (11,811f/3600m above sea level). The lake sits at the feet of the notorious, Muztagh Ata (24758f/7546m) and Gongur (25,3235f/7719m) Mountains. "Muztagh Ata" means Father of the Ice Mountain and is one the most beautiful and mysterious mountains in the world. Travelers from around the world visit here to experience the live of its own, which is why you must spend the night in a yurt of a local Kyrgyz family.Accommodation: YurtDay 4: Karakul Lake to Tashkorgan After breakfast, hike around Karakul lake. You can visit local villages and homes of local residents before driving to Tashkorgan after lunch. Cross through Subash Pass, from where, you can see more beautiful views of the valley and majestic peaks of Muztagh Ata and Konger. If you prefer, your driver and guide will make a stop at Tagharma Village surrounded by beautiful grassland and colorful trees for you to visit a local Tajik family before arriving in Tashkorgan in late afternoon to enjoy some personal free time. Tashkorgan, used to be an important hub on the old Silk Road, is an area borders Pakistan and Afghanistan with Kunjerab Pass connecting them.Accommodation: 4-Star Crown Inn HotelDay 5: Tashkorgan to Kashgar/departVisit Stone Fort, Tajik Village, Prairies, Tashkorgan Museum, and then drive back Kashgar. After breakfast, you will have an opportunity to see the ancient stone fort of the town, Tashkurgan, which is still standing after 1,800 years! Then, walk around Tajik neighborhoods and pay a visit to local Tajik families living in this historic town. After lunch, drive back Kashgar and you will be transferred to Kashgar Airport where this 5-day tour concludes.

$7.41 Transfers & Ground Transport

TSE Astana Airport to Hotel Arrival Transfer by Private Car

When booking this private arrival transfer from your hotel to Astana International Airport, you will need to advise your flight details and your hotel details. Your transfer will be confirmed within 24 hours of booking, and you will be provided with a travel voucher to present to the driver. It's that easy!Transfer services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Choose from a luxury sedan transfer for three people, or a sport utility vehicle transfer that carries up to five passengers. All vehicles feature stylish and spacious interiors and you will be met and escorted by a professional chauffeur.Price is per person, based on three passengers per sedan or five per minivan.

$543 Multi-day & Extended Tours

Extreme horseback riding tour at the Ketmen ridge

Day 1 Almaty-Charyn Canyon-Tourist Base in the Ketmen GorgeMeeting with a guide in Almaty and transfer to the campsite (about 335 km from Almaty).Departure from Almaty with a stop in Charyn (~ 220 km from Almaty).After the excursion, moving to the base (185km, 2.5 hours)18.00 Arrival to the base. Accommodation in a guest house, lunch. Free time for a walk. In the evening, guests can visit the Russian sauna.Day 2 Ketmen – Dardamty Breakfast. Departure on horseback for an extreme tour of the surroundings towards the Dardamty gorge.Lunch and rest on the river bank. Overnight in tents at an altitude of 3000-3300 meters above sea level.At the request of tourists, a 2-days overnight stay in tents is possible.Day 3. DardamtyBreakfast. Taking things and equipment. Continuation of horseriding tour.Arrival to the guesthouse in the Dardamty gorge. Rest, dinner. You can visit sauna here.Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinnerDay 4. Dardamty-Chilik-Almaty08.00 Breakfast. After collecting the things, you will say goodbye to the horses and drive by car to Almaty (310 km, 5 hours)Further along the road you will visit the Kazakh family of berkutchi, try the national dishes, including the national drink kymyz (from mare's milk). You will have a unique opportunity to see the Golden Eagle alive and take a picture with him. In the autumn time, a Golden Eagle show with a demonstration performance is possible.20.00 Arrival to Almaty.Meal: breakfast, lunch

$1033 Multi-day & Extended Tours

Photo tour of the wild nature of Zhongar Alatau

Day 1. Almaty - Altyn-Emel07.00 Meeting with a guide in Almaty, transfer to Altyn-Emel National Park. (270 km, 5 hours).12.00 Arrival to the park, accommodation at the guest house, lunch.After lunch, go to excursion at Signing Dunes.18.00 Return to the guesthouse. Dinner and overnight.Meal: lunch, dinner Day 2. Altyn-Emel05.30 Early rise for the shooting of the dawn on the dune. Return to the guest house, breakfast.10.00 departure for excursion to the mountains Aktau-Katytau.Lunch-boxes.Next stop is a 700-year-old willow tree.18.00 Return to the guest house. Dinner and overnight.Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner Day 3. Altyn-Emel - Alakol06.00 Early risen. After breakfast, drive to Lake Alakol, the Akchi village (520 km, 8 hours)15.00 Arrival to the Alakol lake. Accommodation in guest houses, lunch. Free time. Walk along the beach. Dinner and overnight.Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinnerDay 4. Alakol - the Tastau gorge09.00 Breakfast. Departure by car towards the Tastau gorge (140km, 5 hours)15.00 Arrival to the base. Accommodation at a guest house, lunch. Free time for a walk. In the evening, guests can visit the Russian sauna.Here, while in the guesthouse, you can watch Siberian mountain goats and some species of birds of prey with binoculars. It’s the place where animals don’t afraid of people, that means that this place is really untouched by human.Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner Day 5. Tastau08.00 Breakfast, collecting things and equipment. After breakfast with guide you will go on a horseback tour of the surroundings.You will walk through the green fields with flowering flowers and crystal mountain springs in search of animalsMeal: breakfast, lunch, dinner Day 6. Tastau08.00 Breakfast, collecting things and equipment. After breakfast, continue the tour of the surrounding area in search of wild animals. Wherever you look, there are boundless expanses of alpine meadows and quaint granite rocks, and in the distance, you can see the peaks of Zhongar Alatau.Lunch near river. After a little rest return to the base. Dinner and overnight in the house.Meal: breakfast, lunch, dinner Day 7. Tastau - Almaty07.00 Breakfast, departure to Almaty (about 15 hours, 740 km). Stop for lunch at the transshipment point Usharal (210 km, 6 hours). Then stop for a snack in Taldykorgan.22.00 Arrival to Almaty.Meal: breakfast, lunch