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"The Stans"- Uzbekistan,Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan & the Kyrgyz Rep
SEP 10 - 27
18 days
$8099 + $595 tax

Day 01 - 02 : 10 - 12 Sep
Flight Vancouver to Tashkent

Day 03: 12 Sep TASHKENT (Uzbekistan) Meet, assist & hotel transfer on arrival Tashkent
On our arrival in Tashkent capital of Uzbekistan, third largest of the former Soviet Republics, we are met and transfer to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure. Overnight (4 star) City Palace Hotel (or similar)

Day 04: 13 Sep KHIVA HD tour: Bazaar, Kafelsashi Maus. etc. Fly Urgench. Drive Khiva
This morning we depart on a half day Tashkent city tour. Later we fly to Urgench and drive to Khiva where we check into our hotel. During our morning tour of Tashkent, we visit the Old City, with its 14th century mosques, madrassas (Islamic schools) and craft workshops. We visit Chorsu Bazaar, a huge open market beside Kukeldash, draws crowds of people from the countryside, many in traditional dress. Next, we visit the Kafelsashi Mausoleum, Barak Khana Medressah, and the Tila Shaikh Mosque and archives. Later we drive to Independence Square and, time permitting, visit of the Applied Arts Museum. Later we transfer to the airport and fly to Urgench where we are met at the airport and transfer to nearby Khiva, once the most remote of the Silk Road's oasis cities. On arrival we check into the hotel. Overnight (3+ star) Asia Khiva Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 05: 14 Sep KHIVA Half day tour: Ichan Kala, Minaret, Kunya Ark, Madrassa, Palace
This morning we depart on a half day tour of Kiva. Khiva is an ancient walled city and one of the few sites in Central Asia where one can easily imagine life during the time of the emirates. We spend the morning wandering its maze of ruins and great mosques. We visit 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. Legend has it that Khiva was founded when Shem, son of Noah, discovered a well. The town certainly existed by the 8th century CE, as a minor fort and trading post on a Silk Road branch to the Caspian Sea and the Volga. In the early 16th century CE, Khiva became the capital of the Timurid Empire, developing a busy slave market and becoming the pivotal city of the khanate for the next three centuries. Overnight (3+ star) Asia Khiva Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 06: 15 Sep ASHGABAT (Turkmenistan) Drive Dashauz. Dashauz bazaar. Fly Ashgabat
Today we travel by road to the Turkmenistan border, complete immigration and customs formalities and then proceed to the nearby Turkmen city of Dashauz (Dashoguz). On arrival there is free time to arrange our own lunch and to visit the Dashauz bazaar, brimming with fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and much, much more. Great photo opportunities abound here. Later in the afternoon we transfer to the airport and fly from Dashauz (Dashoguz) to Ashgabat (Ashkhabad). On arrival we are met and transfer to our hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure. Overnight (4 star) Grand Turkman Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 07: 16 Sep ASHGABAT Full day tour: Russian Bazaar, Carpet Mus, Spiritual Mosque
Today we depart on a full day tour of Ashgabat. We visit the Russian Bazaar, a guided tour of the incredible collection at the Carpet Museum, the Spiritual Mosque of Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan's first president, and take an orientation drive of the capital's architecture before driving out to visit the ancient Parthian capital of Nissa, a short drive from the city. Ashgabat is located in a spectacular natural setting, between the Kara-Kum Desert and the Kopet-Dag mountain range. The city has been occupied by Parthians, Seljuk Turks, and the Mongols. Under Russian control, it became the administrative capital of the Trans-Caspian oblast, and was the center of trade between the Russian empire and Persia, with the Trans-Caspian railway reaching here in 1885 CE at the height of the ‘Great Game’ – the struggle for Asian dominance between Britain and Russia in the 19th century CE. The transliteration of the town's name was changed in 1992 to more accurately reflect the Turkmen original. After our tour we return to the hotel. Overnight (4 star) Grand Turkman Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 08: 17 Sep TURKMENABAT Fly Merv. Half day Merv/Mary tour: Drive Turkmenabat
Early this morning we transfer to the airport and fly to the Silk Road city of Merv. Several cities have existed on this site due to Merv’s strategic importance on the trade routes. It is claimed that briefly in the 12th century CE Merv was the largest city in the world. Today ancient Merv is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. On arrival at Merv airport, we are met and transfer first to Mary to visit the Museum, then we drive to the vast site of Ancient Merv, visiting the Hellenistic fortress of Gaiyur Kala, and the sites of Erk Kala, Sultan Kala, and the impressive Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar, one of the most powerful of the Khorezmian rulers. After our visit we continue by road to Turkmenabat and check into our hotel. Overnight (3 star) Jeyhun Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 09: 18 Sep BUKHARA (Uzbekistan) Drive to border. Drive Bukhara via Chor Bakr
Today we drive back to the border with Uzbekistan, cross the border* and drive to Bukhara, former capital of the once powerful Emirate of Bukhara. En route we stop briefly to visit Chor Bakr Necropolis. On arrival at our hotel we check in. The balance of the day is at leisure. With buildings spanning 1,000 years and a thoroughly lived-in city center unchanged 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 center 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. The afternoon is at leisure to wander and enjoy this atmospheric town. Overnight (4 star) Asia Bukhara Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

* 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.

Day 10: 19 Sep BUKHARA Full day tour: Labi-hauz, 3 Domed Bazaars, Kalan Minaret
Today we depart on a full day walking tour of Bukhara. 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. We visit Labi-hauz, a 17th century CE plaza built around a pool; the 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 (905 CE) and surely one of the most elegant in Central Asia. After the tour we return to the hotel. Overnight (4 star) Asia Bukhara Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 11: 20 Sep SAMARKAND Drive via Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa. Half day Shakhrisabz tour:
This morning we depart Bukhara and drive to Samarkand via Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa and Shakhrisabz. Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa was 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 then continue by road to Shakhrisabz, birthplace of Tamerlane (Timur the Lame), where we visit Ak-Saray Palace, Kok-Gumbaz Mosque, House of Meditation and the Crypt of Timur, a man who changed the course of history and made so much of a difference to Central Asia. Shakhrisabz is a small, fairly unimpressive town at first glance. But then one begins to notice the ruins dotted around the backstreets. This is Timur's birth town, and it once eclipsed Samarkand. There's little left of Timur's Ak-Saray Palace except bits of the gigantic, 40 m (98 foot) high entrance covered with gorgeous filigree-like blue, white and gold mosaics, but it's staggering to try and imagine what the rest of this glorious summer palace must have looked like. We then continue to Samarkand. Our route is scenic and matches that famously taken by Tamerlane over the Takhtakurcha Pass, where we pause briefly for the impressive views over stark terrain. Finally we arrive in 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 epicenter during the 14th and 15th centuries CE. Almost everything of interest is in old town, whose layout has remained unchanged since this period. Overnight (4 star) Asia Samarkand Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 12: 21 Sep SAMARKAND Full day City tour: Mosque, Maus, Bibi Khanym, Museum
This morning we depart on a full day Samarkand 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 during 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 colorful market where you can purchase Samarkand's famous bread, much favored by Alexander the Great who unsuccessfully tried to duplicate it back in Greece. We also visit the Afrosiab Archaeological Site Museum. 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 BCE and occupied more than 200 hectares. River bluffs on the north and east and deep ravines to the south and west protected the site. During the Achaemenid period, the city was encircled with a massive wall, which had an internal corridor and several towers. Scholars identify Afrasiab with ancient Sogdian capital Marakanda, destroyed in the 4th century BCE by Alexander the Great. Samarkand is sometimes called the 'Rome of the Orient', but was already flourishing when Rome and Babylon were founded. After our tour we return to the hotel. Overnight (4 star) Asia Samarkand Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 13: 22 Sep ALMATY (Kazakhstan) Fly Almaty. Half day Almaty tour: Big Almaty Lake
This morning we transfer to Samarkand airport to catch our flight to Almaty in Kazakhstan. On arrival we are met and transfer to our hotel. This afternoon we depart on a Half day Almaty tour to visit the Big Almaty Lake, located 40k from Almaty. We drive through Big Almaty Gorge to reach the lake, which lies at altitude of 2,510 meters above sea level. The lake is very beautiful, especially when its blue surface is absolutely calm and reflects the sky and surrounding mountains. Big Almaty Lake was formed by glacial movement during the last ice age, and the elevation ensures that the lake water is always cool – even in July the water temperature does not exceed 10 degrees. The lake is a source of potable water for Almaty city, which is why access to the lake is limited. We then drive into the surrounding mountain to an altitude of 3300 meters to access a vast and dramatic panorama of the mountains cradling Big Almaty Lake, covered with Tian-Shan fir-tree, aspen and juniper. We then return to the hotel. Overnight (3 star) Kazzhol Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 14: 23 Sep ALMATY Full day tour: Zhenkov's Cathedral, Central State Museum, Medeo
Today we depart on a full day tour of Almaty. We visit Zhenkov's Cathedral, built in 1904, and an extraordinary example of a wooden Russian Orthodox Church. Later we 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. We also drive up to the ice-skating rink of Medeo, in the mountains to the south of Almaty for dramatic views. After our tour we return to the hotel. The balance of the day is at leisure. Compared to other cities in Central Asia, Almaty is quite young. It was founded in 1854 CE by Russians as a strategic fort named Zailisky, then it was named Verny. In 1921 it became Alma-Ata and in 1929 it became the capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic. In 1993 it became Almaty. Overnight (3 star) Kazzhol Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 15: 24 Sep BISHKEK (Kyrgyz Rep.) Drive Bishkek. HD tour: Oak Park, Museum etc.
Today we drive to the border, cross into Kyrgyz Republic, and drive Bishkek, where we check into our hotel. In the afternoon we depart on a half day tour of Bishnek. We visit Oak Park, Central Square, Statue of Manas and Victory Square. We also visit the National Historical Museum located 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 centerpiece statue of Lenin leading the revolutionary masses. 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 honor 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. Overnight (4 star) Plaza Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 16: 25 Sep LAKE ISSYK-KUL Lake Boat trip. Cholpon-Ata Petroglyphs, Museum
Today we depart and drive Lake Issyk-Kul. Our scenic drive takes us along the shores of 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. This afternoon, (weather-permitting) we take a (shared) boat trip on the lake. We also visit the town nearby town of Cholpon-Ata 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 also visit a small regional Museum that feature many artifacts from the region and ethnological displays. Overnight (4 star) Raduga Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 17: 26 Sep BISHKEK Drive Bishkek via the Burana Tower,
This morning we depart and drive back to Bishkek along the same road that we took to get to the lake. En route we stop to visit the Burana Tower, located at the mouth of the Shamsy Valley. An eleventh century monument, restored by the Soviets in the 1950's, we may choose to climb the minaret to get a view over the old city walls of Balasagun, a fortification built by the Sogdians. On arrival at the hotel we check in. The balance of the day is at leisure. Overnight (4 star) Plaza Hotel (or similar) Meal plan: breakfast

Day 18: 27 Sep FLY Transfer to airport for departure flight
Today we transfer to Bishkek airport for our international departure flight. Meal plan: breakfast

Important notes for all travelers:
• Please bring only cash US$ for your local expenses in Turkmenistan, no EUROs and no credit cards
• Please be aware that a member of staff of our agency will need to take your original passport for several hours for registration on your arrival
• Please be aware that there may be various vehicles and drivers used during your tour, depending on the route section and type of transport needed on that section
• TURKMENISTAN TOURIST VISA can be obtained on the border US$75 per person (subject to change; nationality dependent). Payable in US$ cash (ensure you have correct denominations)
• TURKMENISTAN MIGRATION TAX US$15 per person, to be paid at land borders (subject to change)
• HOTEL TOURIST TAX: US$2 per person / per night tourism tax in Turkmenistan paid in cash to the hotel reception directly by each traveler

Included Services
• Meet & assist with English speaking assistance at Tashkent airport, transfer to hotel
• Fully escorted by English speaking guide in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan
• Fully escorted by English speaking guide in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan & the Kyrgyz Rep
• Private car & professional driver for all sightseeing & transport between cities
• All airport transfer for domestic and inter-Stan’s flights
• All city sightseeing tours to include guide, all entrance fees, all costs
• All sites listed as visited en route between cities to include all entrance fees and costs
• Visa support to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan (costs to be paid at border)
• 1 night 4 star Tashkent hotel on room & breakfast basis
• 2 nights 3 star Kiva hotel on room & breakfast basis
• 2 nights 4 star Ashkabat hotel on room & breakfast basis
• 1 night 3 star Turmenabat hotel on room & breakfast basis
• 2 nights 4 star Bukhara hotel on room & breakfast basis
• 3 nights 4 star Samarkand hotel on room & breakfast basis
• 2 nights 3 star Almaty hotel on room & breakfast basis
• 2 nights 4 star Bishtek hotel on room & breakfast basis
• 1 night 4 star Lake Issyk-kul hotel on room & breakfast basis
• Support services of local agents throughout the itinerary

Not Included
• Hotel tourist tax, payable to hotel receptions on check out (approx.: $1 pp/pn)
• Domestic and inter-Stans flights, quoted separately above
• Camera and Video charges during the sightseeing
• Entry visas / departure taxes (if applicable)
• Tips, backshish, gratuities of any kind
• Alcoholic beverages and bottled drinks
• Meals not indicated above
• Extra costs for optional excursions or services on own or to be paid direct
• Travel insurance




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