CA3 THE FIVE STANS TOUR

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Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyz Republic & Kazakhstan

TOUR HIGHLIGHTS:

Tashkent's Old City tour; Khiva: World Heritage Site; Ashgabat: City Tour; Visiting all '5 Stans'; Scenic Lake Issyk-Kul

  • DATES & PRICES
  • FULL ITINERARY
  • MAP & HOTELS
  • TRIP INFORMATION

Dates & Prices

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Prices are in US Dollars (USD), before taxes (if applicable) - All pricing reflects per-person Land Only expenses, however, we can book flights from virtually every city. Please call us for an air quote.


Start DateEnd DatePriceMore Info
Sat 26 Sep 2015Fri 16 Oct 2015 $5120
Sat 02 Apr 2016Fri 22 Apr 2016 $5120
Sat 24 Sep 2016Fri 14 Oct 2016 $5120

Optional Single Supplement: $636 (number of singles limited).


Tour Overview



Testimonials


The drive through the Pamir Mountains was beautiful and the tunnels made it exciting! Turkmenistan was a revelation! All the guides were excellent, Deyla,Fred-Chris,Jabbar,Farhud and of course our tour leader Chris Tripodi. The buses were very nice and comfortable. Chris is well suited to being a tour guide. He is friendly, outgoing, very concerned about meeting our expectations, always available to help with anything and very organized. He made the over all trip very enjoyable.

We have made over 35 international guided tours and found Jonathan to be one of the very best. Knowledgeable, quick to handle problems and very personable.

Khiva was wonderful. Nissa was fascinating. Our guide Jabbar was amazing in Turkmenistan. Chris has an absolutely wonderful sense of humor, is extremely patient and kind and knowledgeable. He was the very best tour leader I have had. This was the best tour I have taken!

I enjoyed all of the excursions. Guides Delia in Uzbekistan and Jabbar in Turkmenistan were outstanding. Transportation was great throughout the trip. Chris is one of the best tour leaders I have ever had. I would love to travel with him again.

Excursions were informative and the local guides were excellent. Chris, our tour leader, was a very caring person and made sure that everyone was taken care of.

I have traveled extensively over plus 20 years and never met anyone better than [Tour Leader] Jonathan!

The pace of the tour was good. Excellent Transportation. Bus was spacious. Drivers very pleasant. Cars were comfortable. Air travel was no hassle at all. Chris, our tour leader, was as good as you can expect. Good sense of humour,lots of tact and diplomacy and extremely competent in organizing things. Everything went as planned,no surprise,no snafu. Good knowledge of the areas visited and he is a very good communicator. Generally travel on my own. This tour impressed me enough that I will consider others. Met all my expectations and more.

Jonathan, to us, is the ultimate tour leader. He is resourceful, helpful, friendly and a just plain nice guy.

I enjoyed all the excursions. All the local guides were excellent and I had no problems with any of them. The buses and vehicles were wonderful and I never felt cramped for space. Chris is the type of person that is excited about travel and you have to be to be a tour leader. He had many suggestions for optional things to try if one felt like it and was always up for an adventure. I thoroughly enjoyed travelling with Chris. I would definitely travel with Chris on another trip as he helped to make it more interesting and exciting. I thoroughly enjoyed the trip and would travel with Adventures Abroad again.

Full Itinerary

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Day 1 Arrival in Tashkent
Today we arrive in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.

Overnight in Tashkent.

Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Tashkent: City Tour
Today we tour Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan, the third largest of the former Soviet Republics.

Uzbekistan is prospering under independence and this shows in the modern capitol building at the centre of town. We visit the Old City, which has mosques and madrassas (Islamic schools) housing craft workshops and dating from the 14th century. Chorsu Bazaar, a huge open market beside Kukeldash, draws crowds of people from the countryside, many in traditional dress.

We also include Kafelsashi Mausoleum, Barak Khana Medressah, Tila Shaikh Mosque and archives. Later we drive to Independence Square and, time permitting, we will make a stop for a visit of the Applied Arts Museum.

Overnight in Tashkent.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Tashkent - Urgench - Khiva
This morning we fly to Urgench and embark on a day trip to the autonomous region of Karakalpakstan, arguably the "Sixth Stan" of our tour to Central Asia. Karakalpakstan is considered to be autonomous due to their ethnic and cultural similarities with neighbouring Kazakhstan. The Soviets once included Karakalpakstan within the boundaries of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic but transferred it to the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic in 1936 as part of Stalin's divide and rule strategy in Central Asia. Our destination within Karakalpakstan is the region known for the Ellik-Qala, or Fifty Fortresses. These ruins date as far back as 2,000+ years ago and they represent the varied settlements of the famed Khorezm empire. We will visit two of the well known Qalas (fortresses) on our day trip. We begin with Toprak Qala (4th-5th century A.D.), now left as a series of mud walls and excavated rooms that entails a short hike up to the top of the complex for great views of the surrounding area. Nearby is Ayaz Qala, commanding a great view over the arid plains surrounding this promontory. We have an option to enjoy a traditional lunch at the yurt camp situated nearby the site, before we depart for our transfer by road to Khiva, once the most remote of the Silk Road's oasis cities. Depending on our time of arrival, we may be able to accomplish some Khiva sightseeing today upon arrival. Your Tour Leader will advise.

Overnight in Khiva.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Khiva: City Tour
Legend has it that Khiva was founded when Shem, son of Noah, discovered a well here. The town certainly existed by the 8th century, as a minor fort and trading post on a Silk Road branch to the Caspian Sea and the Volga. In the early 16th century, Khiva was made capital of the Timurid Empire, becoming a busy slave market and pivot of the khanate for the next three centuries.

Khiva is an ancient walled city and looks much like it did in centuries past. It is one of the few sites in Central Asia where one can easily imagine life during the time of the emirates. We will spend the morning wandering its maze of ruins and great mosques. Our tour includes Ichan Kala (walled city), Kalta Minor Minaret, Kunya Ark (inner citadel), and Madrassa Rakhimkhon. Later we walk to see Mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud, Islam Khodja Minaret and Museum, the medieval Friday Mosque, and Tashauli Palace and Harem. Your afternoon is free to further explore the walled city.

Overnight in Khiva.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Khiva, Uzbekistan - Dashauz (Dashoguz), Turkmenistan - Ashgabat
Today we travel by road to the Turkmenistan border. We complete immigration and customs formalities and then proceed to the nearby Turkmen city of Dashauz (Dashoguz), where we will have the opportunity to have some lunch and visit the local bazaar, brimming with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and much, much more. Great photo opportunities abound here.

Later in the afternoon we will transfer to the airport and fly from Dashauz (Dashoguz) to Ashgabat (Ashkhabad).

Overnight in Ashgabat.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Ashgabat: City Tour
Ashgabat is located in a spectacular natural setting, between the Kara-Kum Desert and the Kopet-Dag mountain range. A settlement on the site of the city was successively occupied by the Parthians, Seljuk Turks, and the Mongols. Under Russian control, it became the administrative capital of the Trans-Caspian oblast, and was the centre of trade between the Russian empire and Persia; the Trans-Caspian railway reached here in 1885. The transliteration of the town's name was changed in 1992 to more accurately reflect the Turkmen original.

Today we have a full day tour of Ashgabat, including a visit to the Russian Bazaar, a guided tour of the incredible collection at the Carpet Museum, the massive Spiritual Mosque of Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan's first president, and an orientation tour of the capital's incredible architecture. We will also explore the ancient Parthian capital of Nissa, a short drive away from the city.

Overnight in Ashgabat.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Ashgabat - Merv (Mary) - Turkmenabat
Early this morning we fly to the Silk Road city of Merv. Several cities have existed on this site, which is significant for the interchange of culture and politics at a site of major strategic value. It is claimed that Merv was briefly the largest city in the world in the 12th century. The site of ancient Merv has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

Upon arrival at the airport, we will transfer to Mary to visit the Museum and then drive to the vast site of ancient Merv, visiting the ancient Hellenistic fortress of Gaiyur Kala, and the sites of Erk Kala and Sultan Kala. We shall also see the impressive mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar, one of the most powerful Khorezmian rulers.

After our visit we continue by road to Turkmenabat for overnight.

Overnight in Turkmenabat.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 8 Turkmenabat, Turkmenistan - Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Today we travel by road and cross the border back into Uzbekistan and Bukhara,* former capital of the once powerful Emirate of Bukhara. En route we stop at the Chor Bakr necropolis.

With buildings spanning 1,000 years of history and a thoroughly lived-in city centre that hasn't changed much in two centuries, Bukhara is one of the best places in Central Asia to catch a glimpse of pre-Russian Turkestan. Most of the city centre is an architectural preserve and includes a massive royal fortress, plenty of former madrassas, a number of ancient public baths and the remnants of a once-vast market complex. You will have some free time this afternoon to wander and enjoy this atmospheric town.

* Please note: This tends to be a rather slow border crossing, and there is an awkwardly long stretch across "no-mans-land" between border posts. Sometimes we are able to arrange baggage handlers, or to send our Uzbek transport across to meet the group, but this permission is at the whim of the border guards and we cannot guarantee this.

Overnight in Bukhara.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 9 Bukhara: City Tour
We spend today exploring the old quarter of Bukhara on foot. The region around Bukhara has been inhabited for at least five millennia and the city itself has existed for half that time. Located on the Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. The historic center of Bukhara has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site.

The highlights of today tour include Labi-hauz, a 17th century plaza built around a pool; three domed bazaars; the 12th century Kalan Minaret, once the tallest building in Asia; and the Mausoleum of Ismail Samani, the town's oldest structure (completed around AD 905) and surely one of the most elegant in Central Asia.

Overnight in Bukhara.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 10 Bukhara - Samarkand
This morning we depart Bukhara and travel via Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa, the summer residence of the last Emir of Bukhara. The first structures in this picturesque area were built in the mid-19th century during the rule of Emir Nasrullakhan. In the 1880s, his successor Muzaffarkhan built a palace for his beloved wife Sitora-bonu. The most skillful Bukhara craftsmen were sent to Russia to learn the best practices of country residence construction. Soon after that they constructed a sumptuous set of rooms, including throne room, which had a peculiar mixture of European and Asian architectural styles.

We continue on our way to Samarkand, stopping in the town of Gijduvon, location of one of the famed schools of Uzbek ceramics. We will have the opportunity to see how the ceramics are made at the workshop of one of the masters of the region. We continue on our journey after an early lunch to Samarkand, arriving in the late afternoon.

Our destination is Samarkand. No name is as evocative of the romance of the Silk Road as Samarkand. For most people it's as mythical as Atlantis or as remote and legendary as Timbuktu. Most of Samarkand's high-profile attractions are the work of Timur, his grandson Ulughbek and the Uzbek Shaybanids, who between them made the city Central Asia's economic, cultural and intellectual epicentre in the 14th and 15th centuries. Almost everything of interest is in old town, whose layout has remained unchanged since this period.

Overnight in Samarkand.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 11 Samarkand: City Tour
Samarkand, sometimes called the 'Rome of the Orient', was already flourishing when Rome and Babylon were founded. During the course of our full day tour we visit the Bibi Khanum Mosque, Mausoleum of Tamerlane, Observatory of Ulughbek, the site where Uleg Bek, grandson of Tamerlane, made some of the greatest achievements of the pre-telescope era of astronomy in the 15th century. We also visit the regal mausoleums of Shah-i Zinda, site of Central Asia's most sacred Islamic shrine; the massive mosque of Bibi Khanym, and the adjacent colourful market where you can purchase Samarkand's famous bread which Alexander the Great unsuccessfully tried to have duplicated back home in Greece, or try some of the region's local produce.

We also visit the museum on the site of the ancient Afrosiab archaeological site. The ancient core of Samarkand is located on the Afrasiab hill, named after the legendary Turanian king. The settlement arose in the 8th-early 7th centuries BC and occupied more than 200 hectares. River bluffs on the north and east and deep ravines in the south and west protected it. During the Achaemenids period, the city was encircled with a massive wall having an internal corridor and towers. Scholars identify Afrasiab with ancient Sogdian capital Marakanda, destroyed in the 4th century BC by Alexander the Great.

Overnight in Samarkand.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 12 Samarkand: Registan Square & Free Time
We keep our sightseeing program to a relaxing visit to the Registan Square this morning. The impressive Registan ("Sandy Place" in the Tajik language) has been compared favourably to the Wonders of the World. Here three Madrassahs stand solemnly: the Ulug Bek Madrassah (built 1417 - 1420) to the west, the Tilya-Kori Madrassah (built 1646 - 1660), and the Sher-Dor Madrassah (built 1619 - 1636). Our sightseeing will take us through a careful exploration of the Madrassahs, now filled with various arts and crafts demonstrations, old photos of the monuments taken before the reconstruction by the Soviets and many varied handicrafts for sale. After our formal sightseeing visit, you are free for the rest of the day to further explore the Registan and other lane ways and alleys of Samarkand, the second largest city in Uzbekistan.

Overnight in Samarkand.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 13 Samarkand, Uzbekistan - Khujand, Tajikistan
We depart Samarkand by coach and transfer to the northern Uzbek-Tajik border connecting Tashkent with Khujand, Tajikistan's second largest city and formerly known as Leninabad during the Soviet period. The famous Syr-Darya river runs through the centre of the city. After undergoing border formalities, we say goodbye to Uzbekistan and meet our small vehicles on the Tajik side to take us to the city, a scenic journey that takes in some of the foothills of the Pamir mountains.

Upon arrival in Khujand, we will visit the city's small but fascinating museum, stop at the bustling bazaar in the centre of town, and see Khujand's mosque.

Overnight in Khujand.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 14 Khujand - Dushanbe
After breakfast we drive to Dushanbe via the Shahriston Pass. Enroute we will briefly visit the historical site of Istravshan, one of the oldest cities in Tajikistan, having existed for more than 2500 years. This small town has one of the best-preserved old towns in Tajikistan, punctuated with some lovely traditional architecture. The settlement was conquered by Alexander the Great; we visit Mug Teppe, the site of an ancient fort that Alexander stormed. The gate was reconstructed in 2002 and not much of the original site is visible, but the views of the city and the surrounding mountains are fantastic
.
Today's journey is taken by small vehicles and is a spectacular drive through a section of the Pamirs Mountains. Snow-capped peaks, deep valleys and vast vistas greet us as we circumnavigate the road connecting the two largest cities in the country. We will make frequent photo stops to take in this inspiring journey.

Toward the end of the day we will arrive in Dushanbe. With a cool backdrop of mountains, lazy tree-lined avenues and pastel-hued neoclassical buildings, Dushanbe is Central Asia's best-looking capital. Although the name of the city is rather new, its historical past dated back as far as 3 thousand years. Archeologists have dug out the remains of Greek-Bactrian settlements, the site of ancient settlement from Kushan period (7th - 8th centuries), site of ancient Shishi Khon village and other medieval settlements. Since 1991 Dushanbe has been the capital of independent Tajikistan.

Overnight in Dushanbe.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 15 Dushanbe: City Tour
Today we include a tour of the Museum of Antiquities in Dushanbe. The huge reclining Buddha, the burial place of the Sarazm princess, Tajikistan antiques, ancient wall paintings from Penjikent, can all be found here. Later we visit the Museum of Applied Arts and the local bazaar. Dushanbe means "Monday" in Tajik, and the name reflects the fact that the city grew on the site of a village that originally was a popular Monday marketplace.

Our tour will also include visits to the Friday Mosque, the city's beautiful Botanical Gardens, and a walk through the Bag-i-Rudaki (Rudaki Gardens), featuring the towering statue to Tajik hero, Ismail Somoni.

Overnight in Dushanbe.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 16 Dushanbe, Tajikistan - Almaty, Kazakhstan
Today we fly to Almaty. Depending on our flight time, we may accomplish some Almaty sightseeing shortly after arrival. In this case, we will aim to visit Zhenkov's Cathedral, built in 1904, and an extraordinary example of a Russian Orthodox church built in wood. We will also take the opportunity to visit Panfilov Park, in which the Cathedral is located, enjoying the Sunday afternoon family atmosphere. Furthermore, we will have a chance to visit the recently reopened Museum of Musical Instruments, also located in the park.

Overnight in Almaty.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 17 Almaty: City Tour
Today we have a full day tour of Almaty.

Compared to other cities in Central Asia, Almaty is quite young. It was founded in 1854 by Russians in the valley of Almaty and was just a fort at first. Its name was Zailisky, then it was named Verny. In 1921 it became Alma-Ata ("Father of Apples") and in 1929 it became the capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1993 the name was changed to Almaty.

We begin our day with a drive (approximately 1 hour) to "Big Almaty Lake", up in the nearby mountains to the south of Almaty. The Kazakh name for the lake is "Zhasylkol" which translates as "Blue Lake" due to the mineral content of the water that provides a vibrant blue hue to the surface of the lake. The mountain scenery is dramatic at this altitude of 2500 metres (8200 feet), with the peaks of Sovetov, Ozernaya and Bolshoy Almatinskiy visible from this beautiful vantage point.


After taking this picturesque location and enjoying the fresh air, we will drive back to Almaty in time for some lunch. After lunch, we will visit the Central State Museum with its excellent displays of Scythian art and some rock drawings depicting the ancient Nestorian pilgrim movement on the Great Silk Routes. A hall dedicated to the nomadic tribes of Kazakhstan is the highlight of the ethnic section of the museum.

Overnight in Almaty.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 18 Almaty, Kazakhstan - Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic
Today we travel by road across the border to Bishkek in the Kyrgyz Republic and embark on a city tour on arrival.

Originally, Bishkek was called Pishpek. In 1926 Pishpek became the capital of the Kyrghiz Autonomous Republic. In 1936, as the capital of the Kyrghiz Soviet Socialist Republic, Pishpek was renamed Frunze in honour of a major political organizer of the Civil War who was born in Pishpek to a Moldavian family. Today Bishkek is a modern city with vast squares, crowded bazaars, impressive administrative centers, and educational institutions.

Our tour includes Oak Park, Central Square, Statue of Manas, and Victory Square. We will also visit the National Historical Museum. At the northern end of Bishkek's central square, this enormous example of socialist realist architecture was once the Lenin Museum, entirely devoted to the man himself. After independence, two of its three floors were cleared to make way for exhibits that reflected Kyrgyzstan's new status as an independent state. Luckily for visitors one floor has been preserved, along with a huge centrepiece statue of Lenin leading the revolutionary masses.

Overnight in Bishkek.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 19 Bishkek - Lake Issyk-Kul
Today's scenic drive takes us along the shores of scenic Lake Issyk-Kul (1607 meters / 5,272 ft), the tenth largest lake in the world by volume and the second largest saline lake after the Caspian Sea. Although it is surrounded by snow-capped peaks, it never freezes; hence its name, which means "warm lake" in the Kyrgyz language.

In and around the town of Cholpon-Ata, on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul, we will have the opportunity to view the Petroglyphs located above the town. Most of these etchings are from the time of the Saka-Usun peoples who lived in the area before the arrival of the Kyrgyz. These carvings are between 2800 and 1900 years old. Many of the carvings depict animals such as wolves and deer, and include the hunters that pursued them. We will also visit a small regional museum that feature many artifacts from the region and ethnological displays.

Overnight at Lake Issyk-Kul.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 20 Lake Issyk-Kul - Bishkek
We depart for our drive back to Bishkek along the same road that we took to get to the lake. On the way back to Bishkek, we will stop and visit the Burana Tower, located at the mouth of the Shamsy Valley. An eleventh century monument, restored by the Soviets in the 1950's, you may choose to climb the minaret to get a view over the old city walls of Balasagun, a fortification built by the Sogdians.

We will complete any sightseeing still to do in Bishkek before enjoying our farewell dinner.

Overnight in Bishkek.

Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 21 Departure
Departure from Bishkek.

BON VOYAGE!

Meal plan: breakfast

Tour Map

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

*The red tour trail on the map does not represent the actual travel path.


Hotel List


The following is a list of sample hotels at some locations included on this tour. The hotels shown here are meant to provide a general sense of the standard of hotel we usually aim for; they are not necessarily confirmed for your chosen departure.


Hotel Dedeman

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Tashkent
Country: Uzbekistan

An exceptional relaxing atmosphere, luxurious rooms and elegant restaurants await you at the Best Hotel of the Year 2005 in
... Rooms feature: Direct telephone, minibar, electronic safe, Internet connection (free, broadband, wireless connections), TV,
air conditioning, hair dryer.

Read More.

Hotel Malika Khiva

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Khiva
Country: Uzbekistan

Malika Khiva, Malika Kheivak and Malika Khorezm are three modern hotels built in national style represent famous chain of Malika
... in Uzbekistan.

Malika Khiva Hotel opened in May, 2004. It is situated directly opposite the main Ata Darvaza gates of the Ichan Qala. It has the indisputably best view in all of Khiva!

Malika Kheivak is a new hotel, built in 2008. The hotel is located in the center of Ichan Qala, the historical fortress of Khiva, next to the Islam Khoja Minaret. The perfect location, rooms in national style and very great service from the hotel's staff makes it the perfect place to stay while visiting Khiva.

Malika Khorezm Hotel is located one block from the gates of the ancient old town of Khiva near the Art Museum. The decor of each hotel is classic Uzbek and cozy. The authentic Uzbek and European cuisine is unforgettable.

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Hotel Four-Points Sheraton Ak Altin Plaza

Rating: 4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation4 Star Accommodation
Location: Ashgabat
Country: Turkmenistan

Contemporary hotel located 5 minutes from city center & 3 km from Carpet Museum & Independence Monument

Hotel Malika

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Samarkand
Country: Uzbekistan

This newly built private hotel presents the finest Uzbek woodcraft. Hotel Malika features 26 guest rooms. There is a small
... in the hotel with Uzbek national sitting benches - "supa", where you can have breakfast or relax and have a cup of tea. Rooms: Air conditioning, telephone, satellite TV, mini bar, shower. Property amenities: Restaurant, internet, bar, laundry, souvenir shop.


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Hotel Otrar

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Almaty
Country: Kazakhstan

Well situated facing Panfilov Park, the Otrar dates from Soviet times but stands up very well. It has spick-and-span rooms
... air-con and satellite TV, a fitness room, sauna and a good help-yourself breakfast.
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Silk Road Lodge

Rating: 3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation3 Star Accommodation
Location: Bishkek
Country: Kyrgyzstan

The Silk Road Lodge was built in 2000 in the centre of the capital, next to the Central Park and
... a few minutes walk from the White house and Bishkek's popular restaurants. In-house bar-restaurant offers a wide range of international and local meals. Hotel also has facilities for a leisure: heated indoor pool with two saunas. All rooms have en suite bathrooms with bath and heated floors, tea/coffee making facilities and taps that are equipped with water filters.


Read More.


Trip Information

To book this tour, please refer to the sidebar ►

Inclusions

Breakfast and dinner (at local restaurants and some hotels) are included daily. All transport, accommodation, sightseeing and entrance fees for sites noted as 'visited' in the detailed itinerary. Gratuities for drivers, restaurant staff, porters, local guides. Airport transfers for land & air customers arriving / departing on tour dates.

Exclusions

Tour Leader gratuities, lunches, drinks, personal items (phone, laundry, etc), domestic and international (if applicable) air taxes, visa fees ($350-500, depending on your nationality), and any excursions referenced as 'optional'. Airport transfers for Land Only customers. Optional trip cancellation insurance. Our post-reservation trip notes offer further guidance on shopping, not included meals, visas and locally paid departure taxes.

Seasonality and Weather

In October and April, average low temperature is 57 F / 10 C; average high is 71 F / 20 C. Average number of rain days, 4. These are the two best times to visit this extreme climate where summers are unbearably hot and winters bitterly cold.

Transport and Travel Conditions

Road transport throughout via private bus. Domestic flights via scheduled local carriers. The tour is not strenuous though it is busy; you must be steady on your feet and be able to endure some heat and long days. We have numerous walking tours and visit several sites that are LARGE with steps and uneven surfaces. Porters are available at hotels but you must be able to manage with your baggage, especially at airports.

Accommodation

Most accommodation is of a 3-star standard, though accommodation may be simpler in remote locations. All are heated / air-conditioned as conditions warrant, and all feature private bath. Most passengers are pleasantly surprised at the overall comfort and level of service.

Staff and Support

Tour Leader throughout, local drivers, local guides at various locations.

Group Size

10-21 (plus Tour Leader)