An Intrepid Silk Road Adventure
Follow in the footsteps of Joanna Lumley with us on this small-group Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan tour.
Across sixteen epic days, we’ll take you from the breath-taking Uzbek cities of Khiva, Samarkand and Bukhara to the snow-streaked peaks of Kyrgyzstan’s ‘Heavenly Mountains’. On the way, you’ll get under the skin of these post-Soviet nations and learn what makes them tick.
The Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan Tour
You’ll wander among the turquoise domes of legendary Silk Road cities, explore medieval caravanserais, sleep in yurts under star-spangled skies and dip your toes (or more) into azure mountain lakes. But this isn’t all about the tick-box sights, this is about the people too: you’ll break bread with nomads, stand on mountaintops with Kyrgyz eagle hunters, watch artists at work and haggle with traders in some of the world’s oldest bazaars.
Follow in the Footsteps of Joanna Lumley
The trip has been designed by one of our directors, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent, an award-winning adventurer, travel writer and TV producer. Antonia produced the Central Asian leg of Joanna Lumley’s Silk Road series, spending a year researching and designing Joanna’s journey and travelling across these countries with Joanna and the crew. Thanks to this, this Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan tour allows you to follow directly in Joanna’s footsteps: to travel to the places featured in the series, meet the people she met, stay in the same hotels and yurt camps and much more. No other company can give you this experience.
|DEPARTURE/RETURN LOCATION||The trip will depart from Tashkent’s Islam Karimov International Airport and end at Bishkek’s Manas International Airport|
|DEPARTURE TIME||Please ensure you arrive in good time for our scheduled departure from Tashkent|
- Accommodation in characterful hotels and yurt camps
- NO SINGLE SUPPLEMENT CHARGES
- All meals and some alcohol
- Unique experiences such as fashion shows and a morning with an eagle hunter and his family.
- Local airport transfers
- All land travel costs
- Flight from Tashkent to Bishkek
- Professional, knowledgeable and courteous English speaking local guides.
- Fresh filtered water + a Water 2 Go water filtration bottle, in order to reduce plastic waste
- Professional route planning and logistics, backed by risk assessments, emergency procedures, satellite communications (where necessary) and medical support. We don’t take risks lightly and we plan for all eventualities, believing it is better to have prepared and not require a procedure than not to plan at all. We also carry a very well stocked First Aid and Trauma medical kit and have been First Aid and Trauma trained by the excellent team at Crux Medical.
- International Flights to Tashkent and from Bishkek – we can organise these for you as part of the package – please advise us if you need this.
- Guide and driver gratuities
- Personal spending money for alcohol or souvenirs
- Your personal travel insurance
Here’s what a few of our 2019 guests said about this trip.
“Using a specialist company with owners who are true travellers made the trip complete. The attention to detail was superb and we were very fortunate to be in the party.” Oliver, UK.
“The guides and drivers were all absolutely top class”. Brian, UK.
“I can’t thank you enough for my recent journey of a lifetime. I don’t think I’ve come down from the mountains yet! I am singing the praises of both your company and the countries of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan!” Catherine, UK.
“You don’t expect to have what feels like life changing experiences at our age, but this took us into a part of the world about which we knew very little and made us feel like real travellers, not tourists, cocooned in a little bubble.” Vivien, UK.
Where will we be staying?
We’ll be staying in a mix of places – from four star hotels in Tashkent and Bishkek, to stylish, boutique hotels in Bukhara and Samarkand and wonderful, family-run yurt camps in the wilds of Kyrgyzstan. In the yurt camps, you won’t always have access to hot showers or western loos, but the wilderness and views will more than make up for it. In the detailed Traveller Briefing Pack you receive before you travel, we will be very clear about the facilities in each place you stay.
What size of group will it be?
Our group sizes are always small, allowing for an intimate experience of the cultures we meet along our path. On this trip we won’t have more than ten guests, plus the local guides and drivers. We usually find groups are made of like-minded people, both male and female, from a wide age range.
How is this different to other ‘Silk Road’ expeditions I’ve seen?
We have been living, breathing, reading, researching and travelling the Silk Road for the past five years and are in the unique position that one of our directors, Antonia Bolingbroke-Kent, was the producer on Joanna Lumley’s ITV Silk Road series. Antonia, who is an award-winning travel writer as well as a TV producer and expedition leader, spent a year researching and designing Joanna’s route – the people she’d meet, the stories she’d tell, the places she’d visit – and then travelling across these countries with Joanna and the crew. This expedition gives you a unique opportunity to follow in Joanna’s footsteps: to travel to the places you’ve seen in the series, meet the people she met, stay in the same yurt camps and much more. No other company can give you this experience.
What will the weather be like?
Depending on which dates you sign up for, it’ll likely be hot in Uzbekistan, and slightly cooler in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. Expect up to 35 degrees in Uzbekistan, but down to as low as five degrees at night in the mountains of Kyrgyzstan. But have no fear, we will supply you with a detailed packing list after you’ve signed up.
I’m a solo traveller – is this for me?
Yes. More than 85 per cent of our expedition clients travel alone as part of our group. We don’t charge single supplements to solo travellers – see below.
Do you charge single supplements – I can’t see them in your information?
No. We don’t believe that solo travellers should be penalised with extra charges. It goes against our ethos, so unless totally unavoidable or astronomically expensive, all costs are included in the expedition price. Please note that in most of the yurt camps we are staying in, single rooms are simply not available.
What kit do I need to bring?
We will provide you with an information pack after signing up to this trip, and this will detail any particular equipment we think either necessary or useful.
What vehicles will we be travelling in?
In Uzbekistan we will travel by foot, minibus and train. In Kyrgyzstan we will travel in top of the range 4WD Toyota Land Cruisers, with a maximum of three guests per car.
How much are flights?
This is a moving feast! It depends on where you are travelling from and how you want to get there. From London, it’s around £350 one way to Tashkent, and around £300 to Bishkek. We can offer flight inclusive packages also though. And the internal flight from Tashkent to Bishkek is included in the tour price. Again, we’ll send you an information pack containing all the information you need when you book your place.
What will the food be like?
Food in both Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan is very good – a hearty, healthy, tasty mix of fresh fruit and salads, meat, plov (the classic Central Asian rice and meat dish) and wonderful bread. If you’re a vegetarian (or even a vegan) you’ll find plenty to eat, we can assure you.
Will I have to share a room?
The only time you may have to share a room is in one of the yurt camps we stay in, where – if we have a lot of single travellers – two or three single travellers may have to share one yurt. This rarely happens though and on all other occasions you will have your own room.
How fit do I need to be?
Not very – although there are options to ride horses, swim and walk, you can also opt to simply relax or travel in one of the vehicles instead. However, there are some fairly long days walking in the cities, so you do need to be happy to be on your feet for two to three hours at a time. But this isn’t a boot camp, it’s your holiday, so if you’d prefer to repair to the hotel for a Negroni, then that’s up to you.
Will I be affected by altitude?
Altitude can affect different people in different ways. It can also affect the same person in different ways from trip to trip. We will be spending a handful of days above 3000 metres in Kyrgyzstan. If you feel that you might suffer from altitude sickness, or have history of it, you should consider discussing this with your doctor prior to booking and travel. Diamox and other similar prescription drugs are available to ease symptoms, but the key way to address any onset of altitude sickness is to descend. Luckily, from anywhere particularly high, descent is possible rapidly thanks to our vehicles. Simple precautions and awareness go a long way.
Do you perform proper risk management on your expeditions?
Yes. We are members of TRIP – the Travel Risk and Incident Prevention Group – and perform detailed country risk assessments prior to departure, in line with the ISO 31000 international standard for risk assessment. We also maintain close contact with the relevant Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice for countries we plan to visit, in addition to making use of the Australian Smart Traveller assessment tool, and the US State Department’s OSAC service. Beyond this, we have a full set of risk management and disaster contingency plans for each expedition and are expedition first aid trained by Crux Medical. For final back up we also use the services of Remote Medical Support that allows us to have a UK expedition doctor on the end of a telephone line wherever we may be. And we always carry a satellite phone. We really don’t mess around when it comes to safety.
I can’t do your dates but love the sound of your expedition – can you be flexible?
Yes. We offer set group dates for many of our expeditions, but we can organise and deliver bespoke expeditions to groups and individuals to suit your itinerary and budget. More information is available on our Tailor Made tours page.
Is it a guaranteed departure?
As with all of our trips we need to reach a minimum number of guests to make this viable. For this trip, we need a minimum of 5 guests. When you express interest in this expedition, we will send you a deposit invoice to hold your place. This is refundable according to our terms and conditions if we do not reach the minimum numbers. We recommend that you do not book your flights or other arrangements until we have communicated that the expedition is definitely departing as planned and will aim to do this in order to give you at least three months prior to the scheduled departure in which to make your travel arrangements.
Why should I book with Silk Road Adventures?
We are a small company who pride ourselves on going a great deal of extra miles in order to put together creative, immersive itineraries which truly get under the skin of these wonderful countries. We don’t follow the crowds and we always strive to do things differently. We’re also a company that’s founded and run by people who have spent years living and working in this region, and who are passionate about sniffing out the best guides, hotels, restaurants and hidden valleys for you to experience.
We never want to be the biggest travel company, but we do want to be the best. We treat every guest as a friend and strive to give them the very best experience possible. As a result, a high percentage of our customers have booked to travel with us again, with some of them coming on a trip every year.
Your safety is vital: we also do annual expedition and remote medicine training and pay for 24/7 remote medical assistance cover. We employ professional military-grade risk assessments and plan for every possible negative scenario whilst hoping that none ever come to pass.
Is this really for me?
If you love adventure, new places, friendly people, wild landscapes, history and culture then yes, this is for you. However, if you’re the sort of person who is going to be worried about the lack of flush loos in a mountain yurt camp, might complain that the road to Tash Rabat is too bumpy (it isn’t!) or frets about Wi-Fi availability, then this probably isn’t your bag.