Bespoke Tailor Made Holidays & Honeymoons to Central Asia
Although there are a lot of countries in Central Asia and the former Soviet states and republics, they are often explored by the intrepid traveller as part of a longer overland journey together, or along the famous ‘Silk Route’ or ‘Silk Road’.
I can find you a group escorted or adventure tour to explore many of these distant lands or put together a tailor made itinerary to encompass your plans. Trips along the Silk Route itself come in many shapes and forms, but most do link up the Central Asian / Eastern European borders with the far reaches of the Orient in China.
There are a treasure trove of delights along the way on this well trodden trade route, rich cultural history, dramatic mountains and lakes, far away desert communities – a rural culture long lost to the modern western world. Most of these countries do require a visa in advance of travel, so contact me for details and plan your travels as far ahead as possible
UZBEKISTAN is a great place for a single centre holiday if you are primarily interested in the history and culture of Central Asia. The capital, Tashkent, is a mix of Soviet era architecture and traditional Islamic influences, but the most popular place for tourists to visit are the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. There is also a winter sports centre at Mount Chimgam. Registan has an amazing collection of majestic Islamic schools. The holy city of Bukhara is beautifully preserved and the desert settlement of Khiva is a typical memory of the heyday of the Silk Route. Visas are currently £100 for a 30 day single entry.
TAJIKISTAN is now looking to a positive future after a long civil war – it has many natural attractions and friendly Farsi speaking people and appeals to adventurous travellers. There are Mountain ranges such as the Pamirs and lots of outdoor activities. The capital of Dushanbe is a great place to explore and Penjikent is a must for fans of historical sites. There are some fabulous road trips here including the Pamir Highway with high peaks and mountain lakes, there are some great community home stays for travellers to stop over. The Wakhan Valley near the border with Afghanistan is dotted with forts of the Silk Route. Visas are currently £19 for seven days and you can fly there via Turkey.
KAZAKHSTAN is a huge place! The world’s ninth biggest country and the oil and mineral resources here have given rise to a prosperity and a commercial centre at Almaty with trendy cafes and boutiques you would not expect to find in Central Asia. There are snow capped mountains surrounding the capital city. Trekking is a popular tourist attraction here with hikes and horse riding available in the mountains of the Tian Shan or Altay. The ancient city of Turkestan and the modren capital of Astana are worth a visit. Visas are currently £35 for a 30 day single entry.
KYRGYZASTAN Towering mountains and glaciers, valleys and gorges take up 90% of the country so it’s no surprise that trekking and mountain challenges are a popular reason to visit here! This kind of travel also gives you an insight to the tribal life of rural Kyrgyzastan. Visit Lake Issyk Kul (the second largest alpine lake in the world) for beautiful views and an assortment of beaches and health resorts. The Altyn Arasham nature reserve has the largest walnut grove on earth and a network of hot springs. Visas currently cost £22 for 30 days.
TURKMENISTAN is dominated by the Karakum Desert and is ruled by one of the world’s last Stalinist governments and not the run of the mill tourist destination! But there is plenty of culture, legendary hospitality and ancient ruins to enjoy here. Merv is a great centre of Islam and an important point on the Silk Route – it was destroyed by Mongol warriors but ruins are visible today. The capital is Ashgabat which has various statues and ancient art and one of the natural attractions is the painted desert at Yangkala Canyon. A single entry visa currently costs £45 and you must have a guide for travel in Turkmenistan.
AZERBAIJAN sits on the border of the far reaches of Eastern Europe and the far west of Central Asia, this is one of the least visited of the former Soviet republics. Baku is an oil city with skyscrapers and mansions jostling with the soviet era buildings and preserved walled old city. The countryside is dominated by the Caucasus Mountains and the Caspian Sea dotted with dense forests and hidden fortresses. The country was once an important stop over on the Silk Road, visit places such as the Khan’s summer palace and stop and see the mud geysers at Gobustan and the Stone Age cave art. You can even spend an evening stargazing at the Pirguli Space Observatory or join the locals in a teahouse to watch the Fire Mountain….
So … wherever you want to wander or piece together parts of the Silk Road and ancient cultures – get in touch and I’ll put together the perfect Central Asia holiday plan for you!