Central Asia Explorer

A Cultural Odyssey to Samarkand and Beyond

Repertory Trip: Next Offered September 13-October 6, 2023


Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan—sometimes known as the four ’Stans—reveal a rich historical and ethnic canvas, filled with dazzling scenery and a multitude of architectural wonders. From the blue-domed Silk Road oasis of Samarkand, where Tamerlane once held sway, to Issyk-Kul, a vast alpine lake surrounded by the forested peaks of the Tien Shan, our journey with veteran Central Asia Trip Leader Roger Williams brings us through the heart of the Silk Road. We’ll enjoy a full exploration of these four countries, roaming ancient bazaars that take us back to the times of the Arabian Nights, meeting local families and traditional artisans, and exploring nine World Heritage Sites, including magnificent Bukhara, a 2,000-year-old city wrapped in medieval mosques, and Khiva, a walled town isolated in a vast desert. Join us for the ultimate Silk Road adventure!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-9, Sep 13-21, 2023
Almaty, Kazakhstan / Karakol, Kyrgyzstan / Issy-Kul Lake / Bishkek

After exploring Almaty, we head to remote Karakol, a town on the shores of Issyk-Kul Lake, one of the largest alpine lakes in the world. We visit the colorful market, a summer encampment of Kyrgyz nomads, and fascinating lakeside petroglyphs. En route to Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, we visit the striking 11th century Burana tower, a Silk Road monument, and stop in a village for lunch with a local family.

Days 10-13, Sep 22-25, 2023
Tashkent, Uzbekistan / Samarkand

After exploring Bishkek, we fly to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent, Central Asia’s biggest hub, and tour its Old Town. We then take a train to ancient Samarkand, with its breathtaking main square, the Registan, a panorama of handsome blue-tiled mosques. We also visit the Shahr-i-Zindah, one of Tamerlane’s first creations, the famed market at the village of Urgut, and enjoy lunch at the home of a local Uzbek family. A day’s excursion brings us out to Shakre Sabz, birthplace of Tamerlane.

Days 14-18, Sep 26-30, 2023
Bukhara / Khiva

We head to historic Bukhara, with two full days to savor this fascinating city, whose beautifully restored medieval quarter is a World Heritage Site. We visit the covered bazaars and mulberry-shaded plazas where old men play chess and enjoy roaming Bukhara’s marvelous markets. In Khiva, we enjoy a full-day walking tour of this atmospheric walled city.

Days 19-24, Oct 1- 6, 2023
Kunya Urgench, Turkmenistan / Ashgabat / Mary / Merv

Crossing the Turkmenistan border, we head to Kunya Urgench, with its pre- and post-Mongol monuments, then fly to Ashgabat, the Turkmen capital, an ancient city surrounded by the Kara-Kum (“black sands”) desert. Flying to southeastern Turkmenistan, we visit the vast ruins of ancient Merv, once one of the most important cities along the Silk Road and now a stunning World Heritage Site. Back in Ashgabat, we enjoy a full-day tour of the capital city of Turkmenistan, including the famous archaeological site of Nisa, which served as the winter capital of the Parthian rulers. Depart from Ashgabat on Day 24.



Issyk-Kul Lake in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan
Ancient Samarkand, capital of Tamerlane, with its magnificent blue mosques
Nine World Heritage Sites including the Silk Road cities of Bukhara and Khiva


Length: 24 days
Cost From: $11,495  
Arrive: Almaty, Kazakhstan
Depart: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Lodging: 23 nights in hotels
Meals: All meals included as indicated in the Detailed Itinerary (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Cultural Adventures, Archaeology
Trip Level:

Cultural exploration and walking tours, rugged road travel

Other Trips You Might be Interested in: