LAND & AIR (from JFK) COST - $8,880 per person (this tour travels over 35,000 miles and includes 8 transatlantic and domestic flights.)
All meals, entrance fees, taxes, transportation, hotels, shows and more are included in the cost of this tour.
Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Istanbul (Turkey)
Day 1 - DEPART USA (Apr 18 / Sep 19)
Your international Turkish Airlines non-stop flight will depart from the United States, arriving in Istanbul the next day.
Day 2 – ISTANBUL (Apr 19 / Sep 20)
Upon arriving in Istanbul, we will be picked up and taken to the 5-star Barcelo Eresin Topkapi Hotel to rest. Dinner will be at a local restaurant.
PLEASE NOTE: The Istanbul schedule may vary due to the Central Asia flight schedule, the group’s arrival times and member preferences (rest period, familiarity with Istanbul, etc.)
Day 3 – ISTANBUL (Apr 20 / Sep 21)
Today, a guide and driver will take you on a tour of Istanbul. Istanbul, once called Byzantium in the 7th century B.C., was named Constantinople in 326 A.D. by Constantine the Great when he moved the capital of the Roman Empire to what is now Istanbul. The city received its current name from Mehmet II in 1453 and is the only city in the world that spans two continents. It was the capital to three major empires (Rome, Byzantine and Ottoman Empires). Here, we will visit several of Turkey's most famous museums and mosques. Topkapi Palace was first built by Mehmet the Conqueror in 1453 and was the home of the sultan until the 19th century. St. Sophia was built by Roman Emperor Justinian and was completed in 537 A.D. It was the greatest Christian church in the world for more than 1000 years. The Blue Mosque was commissioned by Sultan Ahmet in 1603 and was constructed with the deliberate intention of rivaling the St. Sophia.
If you have already visited the major sites in Istanbul, you can visit the Archaeological Museum or you can rest on this day.
After a late lunch, we will be taken to the Istanbul airport for our flight (TK 346) at 6:35 p.m. to Bishkek, arriving the next morning at 2:40 a.m..
Day 4 - AIRPORT ‘MANAS” / BISHKEK (KYRGYZSTAN)(Apr 21 / Sep 22)
The group will meet at the “Manas” airport at 02:40 AM (by flight TK 346) and be taken to the Ambassador Hotel to check-in. After a short rest and breakfast, you will tour Bishkek in the afternoon. We will visit the Kyrgyz Philarmony, the Manaschi and Manas statue, the Ala-Too Central square, the Flagpole and Manas Monument, the National History Museum, the Lenin Monument, Old Square, the Oak Square, the Theater of Opera and Ballet and Victory Square.
Lunch and Dinner will be at local restaurants. Overnight in Bishkek
Day 5 - BISHKEK / LAKE ISSYK-KUL (Apr 22 / Sep 23)
After breakfast, we will travel to Lake Issyk-Kul. Accommodations and lunch will be at the “Raduga” hotel. We will then visit a museum of petrogliphs in Cholpon-Ata and cruise on Lake Issyk-Kul. Dinner will be at the hotel. Overnight on the north shore of Lake Issyk-Kul.
Day 6 - LAKE ISSYK-KUL / KARAKOL+DJETY-OGUZ GORGE / LAKE ISSYK-KUL (Apr 23 / Sep 24)
After breakfast we will drive to the town of Karakol, which is situated on the eastern part of Lake Issyk-kul. During the tour of Karakol, founded at the end of the XIX century, you will see Dungan’s mosque, which is built in the style of a Buddhist pagoda and is built from wood without a single nail. There is also the Russian Orthodox Church, “Sviato-Troitski Sobor” and the Prjevalsky museum, which focuses on the first Russian explorer of Central Asia. Lunch will be at a local restaurant in Karakol. After lunch, we will drive to the Djety-Oguz Gorge, where we will see an eagle hunting show, which demonstrates the traditional sport of falconry. Golden eagles are used to hunt for hares, foxes, gazelles and even wolves. After the show, we will return to the “Raduga” hotel on the north shore of Lake Issyk-Kul. Dinner will be at the hotel.
Overnight on the north shore of Lake Issyk-Kul.
Day 7 - LAKE ISSYK-KUL / BISHKEK (Apr 24 / Sep 25)
After breakfast, we will return to Bishkek. On the way, we will visit the famous 11th century “Burana Tower”, one of the remaining watch towers from the silk route times. Here, we will also see the traditional horseback game, Ulak-Tartysh. In this game, two teams of horsemen try to take away a dead goat from each other with the winner keeping the goat. Lunch will be at a kyrgyz family’s home. Upon arriving in Bishkek, we will check into the “Ambassador Hotel”. Dinner will be at a local restaurant with a folklore concert.
Day 8 - BISHKEK / ALMATY (KAZAKHSTAN) (Apr 25 / Sep 26):
After breakfast, we will drive to Almaty (250 km). On the way, we will cross the Kyrgyz-Kazakh border. Arriving in Almaty, we will check into the “Otrar” Hotel and have lunch there. Afterwards, we will visit Panfilov Park with the Cathedral of Zenkov and the museum of Kazakh musical instruments. Dinner will be at the hotel.
Day 9 – ALMATY (Apr 26 / Sep 27):
Following breakfast, we will continue our city tour with the National museum, the Republic square, the Green Bazaar and Medeo (1691 meters above the sea level). Lunch will be at a local restaurant and dinner will be at a hotel.
Day 10 – ALMATY / AIRPORT / TASHKENT (UZBEKISTAN)(Fly) (Apr 27 / Sep 28)
After breakfast, we will be taken to the airport for our flight (KC 127) at 12:15 to Tashkent (Uzbekistan). Upon arrival in Tashkent at 12:50, we will pass border and customs procedures (around 1 hour). We will then be met and taken to our hotel in Tashkent. Tashkent, one of the largest ancient cities in Central Asia, is the capital of Uzbekistan. In Uzbek, Tashkent means “the Stone City” and is also known as a city of striking contrasts. You will see both old and modern buildings here. Lunch will be at a local restaurant.
While in Tashkent, we will visit the Khazrat-Imam Complex including the Madressah Barak-Khan (XVI cc), the Jami Mosque (XIX cc) and the Mausoleum of Kaffal Shoshi (XVcc). We will also visit the National museum of the History of Uzbekistan and an oriental bazaar. Dinner will be at a local restaurant. Overnight in Tashkent
Day 11 – TASHKENT / URGENCH (by air) / KHIVA (Apr 28 / Sep 29)
Upon completing breakfast, we will be taken to the Tashkent domestic airport for our flight (HY-1051) at 7:35 to Urgench (1flight schedule is subject to change). Arriving at the airport at 9:15, we will be met and driven to Khiva (30 km). Upon arriving in Khiva, we will check into our hotel.
The history of Khoresm dates so far back to ancient times that only few civilizations can equal its age. Here, we will see palaces with the rich mosaics, unique beautiful minarets, madrasahs and mosques. We will also drive to Khiva to see the museum under the open sky, the Ichan-Kala architectural ensemble, which is a mini town accessible by foot. Here, we will see the Tosh-Khowli Palace (Harem) (1830-1836), the Kunya-Ark Fortress (1868-1888), the Kalta-Minor Minaret (1855), the Complex of Alla-Kuli Khan (XIII-XVIII), the Juma Mosque and Minaret (XII-XX), the Medrese of Abdulla-Khan (1865), the Mausoleum of Said Alautdin (XIV), the Medrese of Mukhamad Amin-Khan (XIX) and the Walls of Ichan-Kala (XVIII-XIX).
Lunch and dinner will be at a local restaurant. Overnight in Khiva.
Day 12 - KHIVA / DASHOGUZ / KUNYA-URGENCH (TURKMENISTAN) / DASHOGUZ / ASHGABAT (fly) (Apr 29 / Sep 30)
After breakfast, we will be taken to the Uzbekistan / Turkmenistan border (100 km) where we will go through the visa and customs procedures before entering Turkmenistan. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. We will then drive to Kunya-Urgench, the ancient capital of the Khorezm Empire. The most famous monuments here are the Arslan and Tekesh mausolems (12th c.), the Turabek –Khanum mausoleum (14th c. mausoleum of Sufi Dynasty), the Kutlug Timur minaret, the Mamun II minaret, the Sultan Ali mausoleum, the Ibn Khadgib mausoleum (14th c.), the Nadjmetdin al –Kubra Khanaka and more. Afterwards, we will return to Dashoguz. Dinner will be at a local restaurant. In the evening, we will take a flight (T5-106) at 8 p.m. to Ashgabat (air schedule is subject to change). Upon arriving in Ashgabat, we will take an evening tour of the city. Its wide avenues are more spectacular in the evening. We will then be taken to our hotel. Overnight in Ashgabat
Day 13 – ASHGABAT / MARY (by air) / MERV (Apr 30 / Oct 1)
Today, we will be taken to the airport after breakfast for our flight (T5-127) at 7 a.m. to Mary. Upon arriving in Mary, we will be picked up and driven to ancient Merv, which was a major center of international trade and crafts located on the Silk Road. The city blossomed during the Iranian Empire of the Achaemenids and later under Parthian, Sasanian, Arab, and Seljuk Turk domination. We will explore the historical park, which includes the Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum, the Large and Small Gyz Gala, the Erk Kala, the Gyaur Gala, medieval castles – “Kesk” fortresses and more. Afterwards, we will return to Mary. Lunch and dinner will be at local restaurants. Overnight in Mary.
Day 14 – MARY / BUKHARA (UZBEKISTAN) (May 1 / Oct 2)
After breakfast, we will take a long drive from Mary to Bukhara via Turkmenabad (300 km). Lunch will be by the road. After crossing the border and going through the customs procedures, we will continue to our hotel in Bukhara. Dinner will be at a local restaurant. Overnight in Bukhara
Day 15 – BUKHARA (May 2 / Oct 3)
We will tour of the city of Bukhara after breakfast at the hotel. As mentioned in the holy Avesta book, Bukhara is one of the most ancient Uzbek towns built on the sacred hill of spring time offerings put there by Zoroastrians. The name "Bukhara " is derived from Sanskrit denoting "temple, cloister". This city was once a big commercial center on the Great Silk Road.
F On this day, we will visit the Medrese of Ulugbek (1417) and the Poi-Kalyan Complex, which includes the Minaret of Kalyan (XII), the Medrese of Mir-Arab (XVI), the Kalyan Mosque (XV); the Taki-Zargaron Dome Bazar (XVI), a demonstration of silk production and materials and the Lyabi-Khauz Mosque (XVI-XVII). Lunch and dinner will be at local restaurants. Overnight in Bukhara
Day 16 – BUKHARA / SAMARKAND (May 3 / Oct 4)
In the morning, we will continue our tour of Bukhara after breakfast at the hotel. We will visit the Ark Fortress (VII-XIX); the Mausoleum of Ismail Samani (X), the Sitorai Mokhi Hosa Palace (XIX-XX) and the Chor-Minor Medrese (1807). Lunch will be at a local restaurant. After lunch, we will drive to Samarkand (280 km). Upon arrival, we will be taken to our hotel to check in. Dinner will be at a local restaurant. Overnight in Samarkand
Day 17 – SAMARKAND (May 4 / Oct 5)
After breakfast at the hotel, we will begin our tour of Samarkand, "The town of Blue domes”. The history of Samarkand dates back to 2500 years or more. Landmarks date back to the times of the Timur Dynasty and Samarkand is of the same importance as architectural masterpieces of ancient Egypt , China , India , Greece and Rome. On this day, we will visit the Registan square to see the Madrasseh of Ulugbek (XIV), the Sherdor Madrasseh (XVII), the Tillya Kari Madrasseh (XVII) and the Gur-Emir Mausoleum (XV c.). We will also visit the Ulughbek's Observatory (XV.), the Khodja Daniil Mausoleum and the Bibi Khanum Mosque (XVcc). Lunch and Dinner will be at local restaurants. Overnight in Samarkand.
Day 18 – SAMARKAND / TASHKENT (May 5 / Oct 6)
We will continue our tour of Samarkand after Breakfast at the hotel. We will visit the Shakhi Zinda Mausoleum (XII-XVI cc) and the ancient settlement Afrosiyab plus its Afrosiyab Museum (8th BC-13th AD). Situated in the outskirts of the city, the Afrosiyab Museum features exhibits of archeological discoveries, pottery and terracotta statuettes. In addition, we will visit an oriental market “Siyob” bazaar. Lunch will be at a local restaurant. After lunch, we will be taken to the train station to take a fast comfortable train, the AFROSIAB, at 5 p.m. to Tashkent. Arriving in Tashkent at 7:10 p.m., we will be picked up and transferred to a 5-star hotel. Dinner will be at a local restaurant. Short overnight in Tashkent.
Day 19 – TASHKENT / ISTANBUL (fly) (May 6 / Oct 7)
At 12:30 a.m., we will be picked up and taken to the airport for our return flight (TK 371) at 3:10 a.m. to Istanbul, arriving at 6:25 a.m.. In Istanbul, we will be picked up and taken to the Barcelo Eresin Topkapi hotel to check in. The rest of the day will be free to rest or explore Istanbul on your own. Dinner will be on your own.
Day 20 – DEPART FOR U.S.A. (May 7 / Oct 8)
Early in the morning, you will be taken to the Istanbul airport for your connecting flight home.
(Due to the Central Asia flights on this tour, this tour schedule may be subject to change.)
NOTE: This is the day-to-day itinerary for what we are hoping and planning to do during our tour of the Central Asia republics on the great Silk Road. There will be more events, spur of the moment activities, visits, and interaction with the people. We always aim to give more then we promise and with minimal regimentation. We may change the program slightly before or even during the tour, or we may have different domestic flight departure times than planned all for a better tour which will be memorable for all Cultural Folk Tours clients. If you are a person who demands "exact" adherence to the written itinerary or if you expect American-style luxury 5-star hotels throughout Central Asia, these tours will not appeal to you. Although all the hotels have private western facilities, please be aware that there may be times when only eastern-style facilities are available while away from your hotel room. Central Asia (as is the case in eastern Turkey) is wild, wonderful, remote and beautiful. It is a less-traveled destination and all we require is a bit of flexibility. If you are tolerant and flexible, you will have one of the best tours ever.
- Most of the hotels that we use will be pleasant surprises.
- For parts of the tours, we may have a bus with on-board western style facilities.
- Flight schedules and itinerary are subject to change.
- Throughout Central Asia, three meals per day will be served.
- Throughout Central Asia and in all of the countries that we will visit, Turkish is spoken.
WHAT IS NOT INCLUDED:
- The cost of the visas for the five Silk Road countries
The gratuities for the entire staff (guides, tour leaders, assistants, drivers and driver assistants) in the five countries; four hundred dollars per person in cash collected at the start of the tour
- Please note that itinerary and visit of sights may be changed due to any unforeseen conditions. If so, an equivalent site/event will be substituted.