Wander to Kyrgyzstan / Uzbekistan (May 2023)

May. 14 — May. 29, 2023
16 days
4/12 spots booked
BOOK WITH CONFIDENCE: To reserve your spot on a tour, a $500 deposit will be required. However, you can book with complete peace of mind as this deposit will be 100% refundable for 30 days (or until 90 days before the tour starts, whichever comes first).
When most people land here, they have no idea what to expect. By the end of their stay, they don’t want to leave. This is the ultimate tour of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Interact with nomadic Kyrgyz and Uzbek communities and learn about their culture
Go straight into nature - incredible canyons, valleys, mountain lakes and more
Spend a night in a Kyrgyz yurt camp
Wander through unbelievable ancient cities far off the beaten path
Discover local crafts at traditional markets along the Silk Road
Take in some of the world's most dramatic mountain landscapes

Everywhere you look in this region there seems to be the most beautiful snow-covered mountain range or the most mesmerizing lakes, the most dramatic gorges and beckoning deserts. Wandering through ancient cities full of pulsing energy, you’ll soak up the history. Traveling along dirt roads into hidden valleys, you’ll soak up the serene nature. Spending time in small towns and villages, you’ll understand why this region is considered one of the friendliest in the world.

This trip takes you to the heart of the Silk Road, where being welcomed into local homes for tea is as common as could be. There’s the colorful non-touristy markets, traditional crafts, unique regional cuisine and several activities that will leave your heart warm, your smile wide and your days unforgettable.

As we travel through these wonderful lands, you’ll stay in a traditional yurt and warm family-run guesthouses, you’ll dine in homes, with nomads and at some of the best eateries around.

In reality, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan are two countries that few travelers reach. But for those who do travel here, they quickly become two of their favorite destinations on the planet.

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  • 1
    Day 1Bishkek
    Bishkek
    Arrival day
    Included: Dinner
    Upon arrival at the Bishkek International Airport, you'll be picked up by our private driver and taken to our hotel in the city center. Once everyone has arrived we'll have an evening orientation followed by a great local dinner.
  • 2
    Day 2Bishkek
    Bishkek
    Highlights: Walking tour of Bishkek, visit to Aidai Asngulova Center
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    After breakfast we'll embark on a full walking tour of Bishkek, heading through the center of this planned city, with its endless monuments and grand plazas. From colorful markets to the public ping pong parks, into hidden neighborhoods that are home to a mix of the modern and traditional, you'll get an excellent feel for this peaceful city that maintains an appealingly positive vibe. We'll then hop on the bus and drive to the outskirts of Bishkek and over to the Aidai Asngulova Center. Here you'll learn about the local felt-silk fashion, make your own small scarves and while they are drying - have lunch and learn about Aidai's desire and work to save traditional Kyrgyz costume. In the late afternoon you'll have some free time to rest.
  • 3
    Day 3Bishkek » Tamga
    Bishkek » Tamga
    Highlights: Lake Issy-Kul, dramatic Ala-Too Mountains, Skazka Canyon
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Off we go towards the majestic Ala-Too Mountain Range, with a journey that will take us along the second largest mountain lake in the world. Backed by towering snow-covered peaks, Lake Issy-Kul is a gorgeous destination, with scattered villages, towns and nomadic communities near its shores. We'll have lunch in the house of a local yurt-maker and learn all about the art of yurts. We'll then stop for a walk through the gorgeous Skazka Canyon before arriving in the little-known town of Tamga in the late afternoon. We'll then check in to our wonderful family-run guesthouse. (Total driving time to Tamga can be 8 hours including all stops, but it’s a gorgeous drive!)
  • 4
    Day 4Tamga
    Tamga
    Highlights: Tamga, Soviet Sanatorium, Barskoon Valley, waterfalls
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Today will start with a walk around the peaceful, friendly village and a visit to the Soviet Sanatorium. For those who want something more active, you'll have a chance to do some optional horseback riding along the Silk Road (approximately $15 USD). After a delicious lunch at our homestay, we'll drive to Barskoon Valley to visit the waterfalls and the monuments to Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. Upon our return to Tamga, you can take a swim in the waters of Issy-kul Lake or relax at our guesthouse. For those who wish, you can also visit the local sauna for a 1 hour session at the spa!
  • 5
    Day 5Tamga » Djeti Oguz » Yurt camp
    Tamga » Djeti Oguz » Yurt camp
    Highlights: Jety-Oguz region, incredible nature, yurt camp
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    After breakfast, we'll leave Tamga behind and make the drive to Djeti Oguz. We'll stop for a scenic view of the impressive rock formations before continuing out to our yurt camp. We'll have a relaxed lunch upon arrival at the camp, with free time in the afternoon. Optional activities will include light hiking, interaction with our local hosts, horseback riding and enjoying the nature surrounding our yurt camp. We'll then spend the night at the yurt camp. *Tents at the yurt camp are shared. There will be anywhere from 2-4 people per yurt.
  • 6
    Day 6Yurt camp » Yrdyk » Karakol
    Yurt camp » Yrdyk » Karakol
    Highlights: Yrdyk village, Karakol, traditional dinner experience
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    After breakfast, we'll take a 1.5 hour drive to the village of Yrdyk, home to Dungan people (Muslim Chinese people of Hui origin). We'll meet our local hosts and have a traditional lunch of Dungan dishes in their home. After lunch, we'll head out with our guide for a walk around this unique village to learn about their culture and gain a deeper understanding of this seldom visited area. In the mid-afternoon, we'll continue to the town of Karakol and check in to our accommodation. In the evening we'll have a wonderful traditional local dinner in town.
  • 7
    Day 7Karakol
    Karakol
    Highlights: Karakol tour, markets and food tasting, hot springs
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    After breakfast, we'll head out for a complete walking tour of this traditional town. With its Orthodox wooden church, picturesque neighborhoods and many local craft markets, we'll explore at a leisurely pace, always flexible to the local experiences that will pop up along the way. We'll also visit local markets and taste some excellent regional cuisine, while meeting local people who will be excited to interact with foreign visitors. In the afternoon, there will be free time and an optional visit to the nearby hot springs for a warm soak!
  • 8
    Day 8Karakol » Chon-Kemin Valley
    Karakol » Chon-Kemin Valley
    Highlights: Sunday Animal Market, Chon-Kemin Valley, family-run guesthouse
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Waking up early will be worth it today as we stop by the traditional Sunday morning Animal Market on the outskirts of Karakol. Once we tour this bustling market that is probably unlike any other market you've ever seen, we'll begin our journey around the north side of Lake Issy-kul. Our destination is the beautiful Chon-Kemin Valley where we'll visit a local farm village. We'll go for a short hike through the valley, meet local farmers and then enjoy an excellent dinner and overnight at a local family-run guesthouse. (Total driving time to Chon-Kemin can be 5 hours, but it’s another gorgeous drive on a different route!)
  • 9
    Day 9Chon-Kemin Valley » Bishkek » Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
    Chon-Kemin Valley » Bishkek » Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
    Highlights: Burana Tower, Chuy Valley, flight to Tashkent
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch
    After a leisurely breakfast, we'll leave the valley and head back to Bishkek. Along the way we'll stop at the Burana Tower, an impressive and ancient minaret located in the Chuy Valley. After a stop for lunch, we'll arrive back in Bishkek in the afternoon and transfer straight to the airport for our evening flight to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Upon arrival in Tashkent, we'll transfer to our hotel for a good night's rest.
  • 10
    Day 10Tashkent
    Tashkent
    Highlights: Tashkent tour, evening out on the town
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    We'll head out with our guide for an afternoon wander that takes in the mix of modern and Soviet-era architecture. This will include the Museum of Stalin's Repressions, Chorsu Bazaar, an ancient madrassa and mosque, a variety of neighborhoods, a local lunch and a trip along the local metro. We'll return to the hotel in the late afternoon and meet up again for a dinner and night out on the town!
  • 11
    Day 11Tashkent » Samarkand
    Tashkent » Samarkand
    Highlights: Drive to Samarkand, local workshops, evening light show
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Leaving in the morning, we'll begin the 4 hour drive to Samarkand, visiting a traditional mulberry paper making workshop and an ancient observatory along the way. Once we arrive, we'll check in to our hotel and have an afternoon rest. In the evening, we'll head out for a local dinner followed by the unique light show that takes place in the heart of the ancient city in the evenings.
  • 12
    Day 12Samarkand
    Samarkand
    Highlights: Full tour of Samarkand, local lunch, wine tasting, free time
    Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    The full tour of beautiful Samarkand today will include Registan, the heart of the ancient city and home to some of the most spectacular architecture in the country. We'll visit the Bibi-Khanum mosque, the Necropolis and the Ulugh Bek observatory. In the afternoon, we'll start off with a lunch at an incredible local family restaurant where we'll try the region's main specialty. Afterwards, we'll go to a local Uzbek winery for a wine tasting experience like no other. You'll also have some free time before we meet up for an evening dinner.
  • 13
    Day 13Samarkand » Bukhara
    Samarkand » Bukhara
    Highlights: Gijouvan town, local workshops, Bukhara
    Highlights: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    Today will be a long-ish driving day so we'll head out of Samarkand right after breakfast. En route to Bukhara, we'll stop in the small town of Gijouvan, famous for its ceramic workshops. We'll tour the workshops and enjoy lunch here as well. In the afternoon, we'll continue the drive, arriving in Bukhara at around 4pm. We'll settle into our hotel and for those who wish, we'll head out into the town for dinner.
  • 14
    Day 14Bukhara
    Bukhara
    Highlights: Walking tour of the ancient city
    Included: Breakfast, Dinner
    Our walking tour today will take us straight inside the old city walls where you'll be awed by the Kalyan minaret, Samanid Mausoleum, unique water museum, Bolo Haus mosque, traditional bazaar and the local crafts and jewelry market. That's not to mention the incredibly friendly people who are bound to strike up conversations, invite you for tea and most likely to meet their friends. We'll move at a comfortable pace, taking in as much of the city as we can. We'll leave plenty of room for the rewarding, unplanned experiences that will come our way as well. There will then be some free time in the afternoon before dinner.
  • 15
    Day 15Bukhara » Tashkent
    Bukhara » Tashkent
    Highlights: Local activities, free time
    Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
    In the morning, we'll take a trip to the Ark Fortress for an awesome guided tour of this fascinating historical site. We'll then head for a great local lunch before checking out of our hotel and heading to the train station. We'll board a high speed train to Tashkent in the early afternoon. The trip back to Tashkent takes 4 hours. Upon arrival, we'll head to a beautiful restaurant for our farewell dinner, where everyone can share their favorite experiences from the past 15 days in this fascinating part of the world! We'll then head to the hotel for our last night.
  • 16
    Day 16Tashkent
    Tashkent
    Departure Day
    Included: Breakfast
    Today you'll be picked up at the hotel by our private driver and taken to the airport in time to catch your departing flight.

Tour Essentials

Physical Level: Medium
While the tour itself is not very strenuous, please note that it can involve the following: somewhat long days, walking tours in the cities, being outside in potentially warm temperatures, a couple of long journeys, early morning wake-ups and other similar scenarios. Also, western-style toilets can be difficult to find while driving between destinations.
Accommodation
On this trip, accommodation ranges from great guesthouses and mid-range hotels to traditional nomadic yurts! You can always expect comfortable accommodation on this trip. *The yurt camp will involve sharing a tent with other tour participants and have shared bathrooms. Prices are based on twin-share rooms. There are 6 single rooms available at an extra charge. For twin share, solo travelers of the same sex will be placed together in a room with two beds.
Transport
During the trip, we'll travel in comfort with our private vans. Our vans offer plenty of space for each guest while giving us access to areas that larger vehicles simply can't go. We'll also have one flight from Bishkek to Tashkent and one high-speed train journey in Uzbekistan.
Meals
Breakfast every day, 12 lunches and 12 dinners are included. With included meals, some will be served family style and other times you will be able to order anything you wish from the menu. All dietary restrictions can be accommodated with prior notice although there may be limited options for some requirements.
Sustainability
As with all of our trips, we aim to offer as sustainable an experience as we can. Trash is recycled where possible and we avoid mass tourism activities that cause harm to the environment and/or do not benefit local communities.
Small Groups
This tour requires a minimum of 8 participants and has a maximum of 12 participants in order to ensure the best small group tour experience. With such a small group, you'll be able to enjoy unique, rewarding activities that would not be accessible with more people. That's the kind of trip we love to offer!

What's included

Included
  • Wandering Earl Tours leader throughout
  • Small group (maximum 12 participants)
  • Accommodation (15 nights – 3* hotels, guesthouses and shared tents at a yurt camp)
  • Transportation within Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan (flights, private vans, train)
  • Local guides in each destination
  • All mentioned activities and entrance fees
  • Breakfast every day, 12 lunches and 12 dinners
  • Water throughout the trip
  • Gratuities at hotels/included meals
  • All airport transfers (Bishkek arrival / Tashkent departure)
Not Included
  • Flights to/from Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan
  • Passport/visa fees
  • Meals and activities not mentioned
  • Travel insurance (mandatory)
  • Other gratuities

What's a Wandering Earl Tour Leader?

A Wandering Earl Tour Leader is more than a guide. They’re a travel fanatic, and this is more than just a job for them. It’s a passion. They’ll be with your group every step of the way, excited to lead you around the next bend and to take care of all the logistics so that you can relax and travel with ease.

They’ll be your ambassador as they introduce you to hyper-local guides who know their part of the world better than anyone else. They’ll work hard every single day to ensure that you have the type of travel experience that brings you the most rewards. With endless connections and the freedom to improvise, our leaders know exactly how to make a trip extraordinary.

And, most importantly, they’ll always be there for you any time you need them.