This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Responsible tourism: Tashkent to Bishkek Silk Road holiday, tailor made
Most of this trip is spent in towns and cities, exploring the cultural heritage of the old Silk Road. However we do have the opportunity to explore the wilder areas of Central Asia, in particular when we visit Issyk Kul, one of Kyrgyzstanís most impressive natural sites. Our travellers are given full briefings by our local guides as to how best to minimise their impact upon the environment, including staying on the marked tracks, disposing of litter properly and not damaging plants.
The Central Asian states were part of the USSR and have only really started to receive western visitors within the last twenty years or so. As a result of this responsible tourism practices are far less established here than they are in other destinations and we find it particularly important to work with our local teams and suppliers in order to raise the issue of sustainable travel and ensure that it is placed on the agenda and becomes a better known concept. To ensure that our groups have minimal impact upon the environment we work with our local team to ensure that all guides and drivers receive extensive training on sustainability policies, from not dropping litter (which unfortunately is commonplace here) to ensuring that natural habitats are respected when trekking or exploring the countryside. We also work with hotels and accommodation providers to offer guidelines on how best to have a low impact upon the environment, from water and electricity conservation to responsible methods of waste disposal.
In our UK office we recycle extensively, from paper and envelopes to ink cartridges, plastic bottles and food packaging, with dedicated recycling bins. We minimise our use of electricity by turning off appliances and using energy efficient lightbulbs, and our toilets use reduced water cisterns to minimise our use of water
We only ever use local tour leaders and guides on our trips; not only does this mean that travellers get local insights that they might not get from a westerner, but it means that the communities we travel through benefit directly from the presence of tourism. We try to encourage our travellers to spread their spending among local businesses, and for that reason we exclude most meals to give people the opportunity to eat in local restaurants, avoiding spending everything in the hotel and bypassing local businesses.
In all of our pre-departure notes we include extensive information about how to travel sensitively and travellers are given guidelines on local culture and customs.
Under communism religion was heavily suppressed in the Central Asian states, but with independence Islam, the dominant religion in the area, is making a resurgence. Many of the historic sites that we visit on this trip are mosques, madrassahs or other religious monuments. Travellers are fully briefed on appropriate dress and behaviour so as not to offend the cultures through which they are travelling.
Some of these sites that are also rather fragile, with crumbling tilework or easily damaged carvings. We ensure that our travellers do not contribute to their deterioration, which also includes appropriate guidelines on flash photography. Central Asiaís historic monuments do not always receive a great deal of government funding for maintenance, and the entrance fees that tourists pay play a vital role in ensuring that these magnificent sites are there not just for tourists but also for local people, for whom they are more than just an interesting sight but hold great significance.
We make an effort to stop at small villages along the way to gain further insights into local culture. These are carefully selected to ensure that our presence is welcome, rather than obtrusive, and we discuss with local elders how best to show our appreciation in terms of appropriate donations.