The Epic of Central Asia

  • Mouth-dropping Islamic architecture as though you've stepped back in time
  • Marvel in bustling markets, selling everything from carpets and silk to livestock
  • Khiva's walled old city and mile-high Issyk Kul, the lake that never freezes
Trip Type: Scheduled Departure
Trip Length: 21 Days
Activity type(s): Cultural Tour
Trip Extensions: Call 888-570-7108 for custom extension options

The Epic of Central Asia packs in a tremendous lot of old-fashioned travel romance in just three weeks. We begin in Turkmenistan, wend through Uzbekistan—which every fan of eye-snapping Islamic architecture and slam-bam history must eventually visit—and revel in Kyrgyzstan. Along the way, we encounter place-names that quicken the pulse: Ashgabat, Bukhara, Tashkent, Ferghana, and on and on.

In Samarkand, we explore the Registan, which Lord Curzon called “the noblest public square in the world,” and in Khiva—smaller than its oasis brethren of Bukhara and Samarkand (and quicker to gain World Heritage Site status)—we walk the narrow streets of the old city, intimately beautiful and the next best thing to time travel. We circumnavigate mile-high Issyk Kul, a larger Lake Tahoe, glancing up at the snowcapped peaks of the Tien Shan. We soak up colorful markets hawking all manner of goods from sheepskin hats and silks to food and livestock. And in the Djety Oguz Gorge, we spend time with our favorite, charming eagle hunter and gaze at beautiful canyons.

Note: We’re happy to extend your trip with visits to Kazakhstan, mountainous Tajikistan, western China, or other intriguing Central Asia locales.

Silk Road tour map

Itinerary at a Glance

  • Day 1: arrive in Ashgabat
  • Day 2: Ashgabat
  • Day 3: excursion to Merv
  • Day 4: fly north to Dosoguz
  • Day 5: Konye Urgench; drive to Nukus, Uzbekistan, then to Khiva
  • Day 6: Khiva
  • Day 7: drive to Bukhara
  • Days 8 & 9: Bukhara
  • Day 10: drive to Samarkand
  • Day 11: Samarkand
  • Day 12: drive to Tashkent
  • Day 13: drive to Ferghana via Kokand and Rishtan
  • Day 14: Ferghana and Marghilan
  • Day 15: drive to Osh, Kyrgyzstan, fly to Bishkek
  • Day 16: Ala Archa National Park, Bishkek
  • Day 17: drive to Karakol via Issyk Kul Lake
  • Day 18: Karakol's Sunday bazaar, excursion to Djety Oguz Gorge
  • Day 19: drive to Cholpon Ata, boat trip on Issyk Kul
  • Day 20: drive to Bishkek via Burana Tower
  • Day 21: depart for home.