Peter Jackson review 27 Jul 2013
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your holiday?
This trip visited Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. The most memorable bit was the journey along the border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan where the river runs in a gorge, with the snow-capped peaks of Afghanistan across the river. And how fascinating to travel along a river like that with no bridges across it.
However, at the end as we headed north towards Kyrgyzstan the tour leader decided to stay at the last town in Tajikistan (where it was rumored he had friends) rather than cross and use the advertised stop at Sary Tash (which we just drove through). I have forgotten the name of the Tajik town, but it was a dump with nothing to do and of no scenic interest. The trip north through Kyrgyzstan was interesting, but we went first to Bishkek and then made a side trip across to lake Issyk Kul staying at Cholpon Ata rather than Chichkan as advertised: this was a complete waste of time: 6 hours travelling each way and nothing worthwhile when we got there. On the last day back in Bishkek we visited a nearby valley (I think the Alamdin Gorge). This was quite beautiful and would have been worth at least half a day to allow more time for less fit people like myself to get up to the waterfall. We had a local guide (Eve!) who was excellent, more informative than Januschek (or whatever his name was) who was our main guide: this should be included in the trip, it was great evening out.
The Kyrgyz part of the trip needs to be sorted out between yourselves and your local agents to make it better. The tour leader had designs on setting up a local travel business, but he needs better English to attract an Anglo-phone clientele.
2. What tips would you give other travellers booking this holiday?
Some of the home stays were crowded (18 people) and facilities limited (1 loo, only washing facilities the local stream). You will see wonderful scenery, but a lot of travelling.
3. Did you feel that your holiday benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
I hope that some locals benefitted from our stays by being paid for the facilities we used. I don't think our visit would have had a positive environmental impact or helped conservation.
4. Finally, how would you rate your holiday overall?
Mixed: 4 stars Tajik, 2 stars Kyrgyz part.
Read the operator's response here:
Thank you for your comments regarding your recent tour to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. Feedback of any sort is very important to us as it helps us to maintain the standards we strive to achieve, as well as pointing out any areas that may need improvement.
I am pleased that on the whole you found the trip very enjoyable, with the 10 days you spent in Tajikistan being the highlight. Clearly, the second leg and your time travelling in Kyrgyzstan was less successful and this part of the itinerary needs our immediate attention. Accordingly, we are reviewing the itinerary with our local partner and in particular the guiding arrangements. It is unacceptable that the guide should make changes to the advertised overnight stops without good reason. We have instructed our local partner to discuss the matter with the guide concerned. If necessary we will ask that a different guide is used in the future.
As for the actual itinerary and places visited, some valid points are raised. Although some long and on occasions uncomfortable road journeys are inevitable when travelling in this region, these should only be necessary in order to enhance the programme. With this in mind we are taking a look at the itinerary to see where improvements can be made.
Regarding the homestays, these are generally a popular part of any adventure type tour. But on occasions given the limited accommodation options available, we may have no alternative but to use a homestay that is of a lower category than we would like. Nonetheless, on this tour any discomfort and the need to accept basic conditions allows travellers to get off the beaten track and take in some wonderful scenery as you say.