The Silk Road small group tour

“16 day small group (max 16 people) overland tour following the Silk Road through Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Spend one night on a train, one in a yurt camp and 12 nights in locally-owned hotels.”

Highlights

Tashkent | Samarkand | Bukhara | Kazakhstan | Sauran | Turkestan | Almaty | Issyk | Turgen Gorge | Bishkek | Kyrgyzstan | Issyk Kul | Jety Oguz Gorge | Karakol | Boon Gorge | Bishkek |

Description of The Silk Road small group tour

There are roads and then there are the stuff of legends which is why this fortnight long Silk Road group tour has become an incredible experience, well-worth investigating further.

This is your chance to go on a Silk Road small group tour that features the stunning scenes once witnessed by traders and merchants making their way from Europe and into Asia.

Find out what it may have been like for Marco Polo as you venture from the Mediterranean and into China via Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan where steeped mountain slopes and ancient architectural achievements provide ever-changing scenes to accompany your tour.

Explore the unchartered tourist territory of central Asia where some of the Silk Road's most revered sites, such as Bukhara, Samarkand and the Tien Shan Mountains, come into view and nomadic herders and tribes, who still hunt with eagles, make their lives amongst some awesome settings.

As you'd hope, this 16 day Silk Road small group tour is all about experiencing one of the world's most fabled journeys overland with overnight train trips letting you explore as efficiently as possible although without missing out any of the good bits along the way.

Travel Team

If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. The Travel Team.

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20 May 2020
£2899
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27 May 2020
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03 Jun 2020
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17 Jun 2020
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15 Jul 2020
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05 Aug 2020
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26 Aug 2020
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02 Sep 2020
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07 Sep 2020
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14 Sep 2020
£2799
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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

The Silk Road small group tour

Carbon reduction

Your holiday will help support local people and conservation. We must also reduce CO2. Learn about the CO2 emissions of this holiday and how to reduce them.

Environment

Accommodation and Meals:
We spend 12 nights in a hotel, 1 night in a traditional yurt camp and 1 night on a sleeper train. All of our accommodation is predominantly locally owned and staffed, which is beneficial to surrounding communities. The yurt camp in the Jety Oguz gorge is also run by local people and 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. Train-travel has long been a popular way of travelling around the ex-Soviet Union and so this is also a great experience and insight into a different side of Uzbek life. Where meals are provided, ingredients are locally sourced and free mealtimes are a great opportunity to support local cafes, restaurants and markets by trying some authentic cuisine. The market in Bukhara specialises in dried fruit, whilst in Kashgar there are several vendors selling dishes from homemade ice-cream, to roast lamb and steamed buns.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Community

Local Craft and Culture:
In Kyrgyzstan we stop for lunch at a woman's association attached to a shop which sells traditional felt rugs and other crafts made by local women from surrounding villages. There is also the opportunity to experience local Dungan and Kyrgyz folklore (song, dance and poetry) organised by local teen-agers and to meet a local hunter who uses a Golden eagle. In China there are visits to earthenware workshops run by local families and to crafts-streets, where local tradespeople (bakers, blacksmiths, ironmongers, ice-cream makers, basket makers etc.) make and sell their wares. Whilst in Fergana, Uzbekistan, there is a visit to a local ceramic workshop and a local silk factory. Throughout the journey there are also opportunities to eat dinner with local families in their homes which might be the most valuable cultural experience on offer. The group can sample local, home-cooked food and learn about Uzbek, Dungan, Kazakh and Kyrgyz families and their different cultures.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator to run this trip in a way that aims to reduce impacts and to give as much back as possible to the local communities. Part of this is employing local leaders, who are committed to responsible tourism and helping to preserve the way of life in their area. 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 small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, 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.

8 Reviews of The Silk Road small group tour

4.5 out of 5 stars
SHOW
5
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1
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Reviewed on 01 Oct 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Scenery in Kyrgyzstan, amazing!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Advertised as Leisure/Moderate, not altogether sure that this is a fair description.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Certainly benefited local economy, given the amount of coach travel I’m not sure there was any environmental benefits.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


An informative, interesting, and awe inspiring holiday.

Reviewed on 11 Sep 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


So many 'Wow' moments would be impossible to choose just one favourite!

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Dollars are widely taken in many shops and markets (although you will also need the local money for smaller purchases and some restaurants). Pounds and Euros can be changed at Exchange facilities but aren't so recognised 'on the street'. The country as a whole is far more westernised than I expected so no real issues about dress code.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes. Our guide was local, we had several meals at family homes and stayed in small traditional hotels where possible. Large water containers provided so we could fill up our smaller bottles rather than buy new all the time.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


Magical. Khiva was amazing and I was worried the trip had peaked too soon, but Bukhara and Samarkand were both just as incredible in their own right, as was the overnight yurt.

Reviewed on 25 Jun 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The culture and architecture. Guides were very knowledgeable and gave a great history of the silk road itself.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Be prepared and take some sturdy walking shoes

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Benefit was that we used local hotels and not hotel chains owned outside the country and shopped at locally owned shops.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


A great introduction to the STANS and the silk road

Reviewed on 10 Jun 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Hard to say - lots of fantastic elements and a great variety! Spending the night in a yurt in the Jeti-Oguz valley was a fun, unique and very comfortable experience. Really enjoyed experiencing the train travel

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


The hiking days were more leisurely than I had expected, and I imagine this was tailored to our group which covered a wide age range. Furthermore there are a few long distances in the coach, particularly in Kyrgyzstan. As such, this trip might not best suited to people who are keen for a lot of walking in the outdoors. Equally there aren't any rest days, just short periods (i.e. a few hours) and evenings which are free so it is quite intense - but worth it for everything that's included in the schedule!

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


With the exception of where we stayed in Almaty, all the hotels were small and (I think) locally owned businesses. We were introduced to local craftspeople when it came to souvenir shopping opportunities who would teach us about their crafts. There were no flights during the tour despite covering large geographical areas (we travelled by coach and train). We couldn't drink tapwater but to reduce plastic waste we were asked to bring our own bottles to refill from large bottles for the group.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was fantastic - loved learning about the history and culture of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. We had fantastic local guides and the countries were both beautiful and welcoming places. I'm definitely keen to return and see more of Central Asia!

Reviewed on 20 Jun 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Swimming in the lake in the desert.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Unless you know your history well , 10 day trip is good introduction to the culture and lifestyle in Uzbekistan

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes eating and shopping helped the locals as they heavily rely on tourism. Having been provided large water cans each day helped reduce using small individual bottles .

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


7

Reviewed on 07 Jun 2019 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Bukhara Ancient Citadel, Registan Square Samarkand, Train journey to Almaty

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


It's full on from the moment you arrive so plenty of stamina is required. Consider taking probiotics before your holiday to avoid stomach/bowel problems.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


I would like to think so. We ate at a local family's in Kyrgyzstan and stayed in a Yurt Camp run by locals.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


I enjoyed our holiday very much although I would have liked to have had some free time which was meant to happen but never did!! We usually arrived after 5 to the hotel which meant little time to relax.

Reviewed on 28 Sep 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


Uzbekistan as a whole was the most interesting part of the trip. The night in a yurt in the mountains in Kyrgyzstan came a close second, with spectacular views of the Milky Way.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


Make sure you try the local food. Take socks and a torch for your night in the yurt, and a spoon and fork for picnic lunches. Take a fabric carrier bag for your shopping so you don't have to use a plastic bag.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We visited local restaurants and bought local food. Plastic water bottles are a real problem creating litter almost everywhere. We were encouraged (rightly so) to hold onto and refill one smaller plastic bottle from a larger bottle supplied by the leader.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


This was a really memorable experience, full of contrast.

Reviewed on 11 Aug 2015 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?


The livestock market at Kashgar.

2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?


It was very hot throughout, so take loose, cool clothing.

3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Supported local people by eating in some homes.

4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?


It was very interesting, with an insight into post Russian life. The scenery in Kyrgyzstan was spectacular. The only downside was the guide in China was poor and we didn't spend enough time in the market.

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