The five stans silk road holiday

“Three week small group tour of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Overland travel between cities, towns and remote mountain villages. Cultural and scenic contrasts await.”

Highlights

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan | UNESCO Nisa ruins | Jeep convoy across Karakum Desert | 12 century city of Abiverd | UNESCO ruins of Merv | Bukhara, Uzbekistan | Samarkand | Shakhrisabz | Termez | Dushanbe, Tajikistan | Fann Mountains | Iskanderkul Lake | Khujand | Ferghana | Arslanbob Nature Reserve, Kyrgyzstan | Sulayman Mount | Arslan Bob homestay | Tien Shan Mountains | Kyzyl Oi village homestay | Son Kul Lake | Bishkek | Almaty, Kazakhstan |

Description of The five stans silk road holiday

There can be few more iconic traveller trails to follow other than the Silk Road that leads through the former Soviet era republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Colloquially considered: the ‘Five Stans’, these independent, land-locked nations swirl with the ancient trading traditions of Central Asia and make for a fascinating holiday destination for cultural adventurers.

Landscapes morph from desert plains and undulating steppe to luscious valleys and mountain peaks to ensure the Five Stans conjure up Silk Road experiences that remain totally out of reach of typical sightseeing tourists.

This epic three week small group tour helps you put together the pieces of the past as you journey on a Central Asian odyssey full of ancient insight and exclusive glimpses at modern day lifestyles.

Travelling as part of a group is an ideal experience for solo travellers who are searching for Silk Road tales but can’t find friends who want to share their adventures. Single room supplements, where available, ensure privacy and travelling as part of a guided group allows confidence to build and friendships to form.

Greek, Persian and Mongolian influence is just as evident across all Five Stans as that of the Soviet regime with a succession of trader markets, yurt camps, monuments and mosques opening up all manner of exciting and enlightening encounters across the heartland of Central Asia.
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27 Jul 2019
£4719
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10 Aug 2019
£4649
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17 Aug 2019
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24 Aug 2019
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06 Jun 2020
£4549
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Vouchers
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Holiday type

Small group holiday

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.

Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: The five stans silk road holiday

Accommodation and Meals:
On this trip, we will spend most nights in hotels and the remaining in local homestays, yurt camps and a guest house. All accommodation employs locally which provides the local community with employment opportunities and income. Additionally, yurt camps uses very little electricity and water, so this is a reduction to our overall impact on the environment. Where meals are provided, fresh fruit, vegetables and meat are sourced at local farms and markets. Free meal times are a wonderful opportunity to support small bazaar vendors, cafes and authentic, local restaurants. A common dish within the region is a rice dish with meat, carrot and onions called ‘plov’. Also expect varied salads, fresh fruit, Middle Eastern style stews and dumplings from the Far East.

Local craft and Culture:
We explore the many museums and mosques, mausoleums and markets of Ashgabat, Bukhara and Samarkand. By visiting these cultural and historical sites, we are supporting maintenance, restoration and research. Traditional craftsmanship is evident everywhere we go- from intricate tilework, wooden carvings and patterned textiles, to locally produced delicacies. At the bazaars we visit, local embroidered products, handmade carpets, painted ceramics and jewellery are all for sale. Not only does buying from market vendors benefit local people and celebrate traditional crafts, but it is a cultural experience in itself! (Expect to haggle). Our local guides are able to advise clients on products to purchase and which to avoid especially when the import of Turkmen carpets and carpet decorated items require relevant documentation and there may be extra costs that clients should be wary of. They should purchase carpets from authorized carpet dealer in large hotels or state carpet shops that comes with a certificate to show that taxes and fees are included.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. The leaders will give a briefing on Responsible Tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit.

Group Size:
This is a small group tour, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

UK Office:
It all starts at home where we work towards reducing our carbon footprint in our offices through energy conservation measures, recycling policies and the promotion of cycling and walking as a means for our staff to commute. Our head office has become a plastic-free zone with the use of plastic bottles being banned in our head office and we distributed reusable water bottles and tote bags to every staff member. We also support a large number of community and environmental projects in different parts of the world and try to give something back to the places we visit.

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