Take in the highlights of the Caucasus and Central Asia on this 49-day overland group adventure from Tbilisi to Bishkek. Camp on the shore of shimmering Lake Sevan, admire the incredible Vardzia cave complex and stay in a traditional Silk Road caravanserai in Azerbaijan. Explore the bizarre capital of Turkmenistan, stay in a traditional felt yurt and take in the beautiful ancient cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand before overlanding through the lush scenery of Kyrgyzstan.
Welcome to Georgia!
Welcome to Tbilisi! Make your way to our hotel and join a pre-departure Welcome Meeting at 6pm so you can meet your tour group and crew. The evening is then free to explore Georgia’s vibrant capital as you please.
Today we discover everything that Tbilisi’s charming Old Town has to offer. Take in highlights including the fascinating National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the pretty Metekhi Temple, then spend the afternoon at leisure. History buffs can visit the Museum of Soviet Occupation or you can hike up to ancient Narikala Fortress to admire the fantastic views of the city below.
Overnight: Tbilisi | Breakfast
Dilijan National Park & Lake Sevan
Tbilisi - Lake Sevan (Armenia). Say goodbye to Tbilisi as we board our overland truck for the first time and set off for the border with neighbouring Armenia. Once we’ve crossed you can enjoy wonderful views as we journey through Dilijan National Park.
Tonight, we’ll either camp in the park or continue to the shore of Lake Sevan, home to the only beaches in landlocked Armenia. A popular getaway for the locals, Lake Sevan is the perfect place to relax after a day of overlanding.
Overnight: Dilijan NP / Lake Sevan | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Lake Sevan - Yerevan. On day 4 we drive to Yerevan - the capital of Armenia and also one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on the globe. On the way to Yerevan we have an included stop at the UNESCO-listed Geghard Monastery, which was carved into the rock face of the Azat River Gorge. There’s also a visit to the beautiful Graeco-Roman Garni Temple before we finally arrive in Yerevan.
Day 5 is free to explore the city, or you can opt for a tipple with a visit to the Ararat Brandy Museum.
Yerevan - Armenian Highlands. Say goodbye to Yerevan as we head out of the city. We stop at the Khor Virap Monastery, which is perched in the shadow of mighty Mt Ararat, not far from the border with Turkey. The monastery is an important pilgrimage site and if it’s a clear day then the views of the snow-capped mountain will be incredible. After our visit we head into the lush Armenian Highlands and find a suitable spot for our first night of wild camping.
Overnight: Armenian Highlands | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Armenian Highlands - Vardzia (Georgia). Today we cross back into Georgia and head to the incredible Vardzia Caves. This subterranean city was first inhabited in the Bronze Age but was mostly abandoned in the 16th century. A handful of dedicated monks still reside in the Vardzia Monastery and you can hear the bells ringing at 7:00am every morning. If there’s not time to explore the site today, then our included visit will take place tomorrow instead. Tonight, we wild camp close to the caves.
Overnight: Vardzia | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Borjomi National Park & Mtskheta
Vardzia - Mtskheta. We’ll visit Vardzia this morning if we didn’t have time yesterday. We then drive to Borjomi National Park and enjoy a short hike in the ancient forest. There’s an optional cable car ride up the mountain before we climb back aboard the truck and journey to Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia. We visit the charming Svetitskhoveli Cathedral on arrival.
Overnight: Mtskheta | Breakfast, Dinner
Mtskheta - Stepantsminda. Today we drive through picturesque countryside to Stepantsminda. Either today or tomorrow morning we’ll enjoy a hike up to the tiny Tsminda Sameba Church, which is nestled in the rugged Caucasus Mountains. The scenery en route is simply spectacular. Returning to Stepantsminda, there’s free time to relax or you may wish to join an optional cooking lesson to create delicious Georgian kinkhalis (meatballs).
Overnight: Stepantsminda | Breakfast, Dinner
Telavi & wine tasting
Stepantsminda - Telavi. On day 10 we drive through the Alazani Valley to reach Telavi, an area famous for its wine. Over the next two days we’ll get to explore some vineyards and wineries to see local traditions including grape harvesting and wine making in action. On day 11 we’re treated to lunch and wine tasting at a local winery, where you’ll get to experience some famous Georgian hospitality.
Overnight: Telavi | Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 2
Lagodekhi National Park
Telavi - Lagodekhi National Park. We leave Telavi behind today and head towards the border with Azerbaijan. There’s a stop at the impressive Gremi Citadel before we head into Lagodekhi National Park. Our final night in Georgia is spent wild camping in the park, close to the border.
Overnight: Lagodekhi NP | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Sheki & caravanserai stay
Lagodekhi National Park - Sheki (Azerbaijan). Today we cross into Azerbaijan and drive to the ancient city of Sheki. Visit the exquisite Khan’s Palace before we arrive at our accommodation for the night, which is a hotel built inside an old Silk Road caravanserai. You’ll experience what it was like for weary Silk Road travellers who would stop at caravanserais to rest and resupply their caravans.
Overnight: Sheki (caravanserai)
Sheki - Lahij. Today we drive to the mountain village of Lahij, which is known for its copper and arms production. There’s time to explore the settlement and we spend the night camping with facilities close by.
Overnight: Lahij | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Gobustan & Baku
Lahij - Baku. Today we drive to Gobustan where we can see the ancient carved petroglyphs and the bubbling mud volcanoes that this area is famous for. We then continue to the capital of Azerbaijan, Baku. The city is a fascinating contrast of the old and new, with the ancient Maiden Tower set against the backdrop of glistening modern skyscrapers. There’s free time to explore the city as you please.
There’s a group meeting at 10am today to discuss the next few days in Turkmenistan. At some point in the next couple of days we’ll take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan. However, the ferry timetable is notoriously unpredictable so our itinerary will have to be extremely flexible over the next few days. Please see the trip notes for more details. In the meantime, relax in vibrant Baku and explore as you please. We may be joined by new travellers for the next leg of our journey.
Caspian Sea ferry
Baku - Turkmenbashi (Turkmenistan). Today we will hopefully be able to board the Caspian Sea ferry bound for Turkmenbashi. The ferry is a fantastic and authentic experience but please don’t expect any luxury! There will generally only be seats available for the overnight crossing.
Overnight: Caspian Sea ferry
Today we dock at Turkmenbashi and disembark the ferry. We will either stay in a hotel in Turkmenbashi or begin our drive towards Ashagbat, finding a suitable spot to wild camp en route.
Please note: Due to the unpredictability of the ferry, please get your Turkmenistan visa issued with at least two 'flexible' days before the entry date given on the tour. Please see the trip notes for more details.
Turkmenbashi - Ashgabat. Day 19 sees us complete our overland drive to Ashgabat, the bizarre and modern capital of Turkmenistan. The city has a plethora of white marble buildings, a favourite of the eccentric President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. On day 20 we enjoy a minibus tour of this off the beaten track capital city to see some of these and other quirky architecture including the world’s largest indoor Ferris wheel.
Overnight: Ashgabat | Breakfast x 2
Darvaza Gas Crater
Ashgabat - Darvaza. Say goodbye to Ashgabat as we head into the remote Karakum Desert. There’s an included stop at the flaming Darvaza Gas Crater, which was created accidentally in 1971 when Soviet oil drillers caused gas to escape from underground. This created the crater and the Soviets, in an effort to burn off the gas, set fire to it. There turned out to be a lot more gas than they anticipated, and it’s been burning away ever since. After our visit to the crater we find a suitable spot to wild camp nearby.
Overnight: Darvaza | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Darvaza - Kunye Urgench. We continue overlanding through the Karakum Desert this morning. There’s an included stop at the ruins of Kunye Urgench, once an important settlement on the Silk Road. The invading Genghis Khan opted not to destroy the city and structures including the 60m high Kutlug-Timur Minaret survive today for us to admire. Tonight, we wild camp near to Kunye Urgench.
Overnight: Kunye Urgench | Breakfast, Lunch
Kunye Urgench - Khiva (Uzbekistan). On day 23 we browse the markets in the border town of Dashoguz before crossing into Uzbekistan. Continuing overland, we reach Khiva later in the day.
There’s a guided tour of the ancient Silk Road city the next day during which you can see highlights including the turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret, the blue palace of Tash Khovli and the Juma Mosque. There’s also plenty of time to explore the city independently in the afternoon.
Overnight: Khiva | Breakfast x 2
Khiva - Bukhara. Day 25 is a travel day as we journey to Bukhara. There’s a guided tour of the city on day 26, taking in highlights including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Ark Fortress and Kalon Mosque. You’ll also get to see the giant Kalyan Minaret, which earned its nickname of “Death Tower” due to its historic use as a place of execution, where prisoners were thrown from the top.
There’s free time on day 27 and you may wish to join an optional visit to the gruesome Zindon Prison. A barbaric method of internment used here historically was the Bug Pit. Prisoners would be thrown into the pit and all manner of creatures including rats and scorpions would be emptied onto their heads.
Nurata, Kyzylkhum Desert & yurt camping
Bukhara - Nurata (Kyzylkhum Desert). Today we board our truck and say goodbye to beautiful Bukhara. We head into the Kyzylkhum Desert and enjoy an optional camel ride over the rolling sand dunes. Tonight, we’ll be camping near the town of Nurata in comfortable felt yurts - yurts are the traditional accommodation for nomads who roam across Central Asia.
Overnight: Nurata | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Nurata (Kyzylkhum Desert) - Samarkand. On the morning of day 29 we have some time to explore the picturesque Nurata Hills and you can opt for a refreshing dip in Lake Ajdar Kul. We then continue overland to the incredible jewel in Uzbekistan’s crown - Samarkand.
Day 30 sees us embark on a guided tour of the city. We visit sights including the incredible Registan plaza, which is an iconic emblem of Central Asia. You’ll also see the Ulug Beg Observatory and Bibi-Khanym mosque. Day 31 is free to explore the city further at your own pace or you can opt for a visit to the nearby city of Shakhrisabz.
Overnight: Samarkand | Breakfast x 3
Samarkand - Tashkent. The morning of day 32 is free to further relax in Samarkand. In the afternoon we make our way to Uzbekistan’s clean and modern capital, Tashkent. A Soviet-style city, Tashkent contrasts spectacularly with the Silk Road cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. There are two free days to explore the city. Optional activities in Tashkent include a visit to Hast Imam Square to see the world’s oldest surviving copy of the Koran.
We may be joined by new travellers for the next leg of our journey and there’s a pre-departure meeting at 10am on day 34 to discuss the next few days in Kyrgyzstan.
Please note: The next leg of our journey is subject to change dependent on the weather conditions in Kyrgyzstan. Refer to the trip notes for more details.
Overnight: Tashkent | Breakfast x 3
Tashkent - Fergana. Today we cross over the mountainous Kamchik Pass in local transport, as our overland truck must journey over the pass without passengers. Arriving in Kokand we visit the Khudayar Khan’s Palace and the nearby Margilan Silk Factory before completing our journey to Fergana. We’ll be reunited with our truck this evening.
Overnight: Fergana | Breakfast
Fergana - Arslanbob (Kyrgyzstan). This morning we cross the border into Kyrgyzstan and make our way to Arslanbob in the lush Fergana Valley. If we’re delayed at the border then we may stay at the closer town of Jalalabad instead.
Overnight: Arslanbob | Breakfast
Kyrgyz Fergana Valley
Arslanbob - Kyrgyz Fergana Valley. The next three days will be spent overlanding through the incredible scenery of the Kyrgyz Fergana Valley. We stop often to hike and enjoy the amazing views. We plan to wild camp en route but if the weather is too cold then we’ll stay in local guesthouses instead.
Please note: If preferred by the group then we can spend an extra night in Arslanbob and spend just two days overlanding in the Kyrgyz Valley.
Overnight: Kyrgyz Fergana Valley | Breakfast x 3, Lunch x 3, Dinner x 3
Song Kol Lake
Kyrgyz Fergana Valley - Song Kol Lake. On day 40 we arrive at the shore of Song Kol Lake. During our two days here there’s time for hiking, horse-riding and you get to experience the life of rural Kyrgyz mountain shepherds. We’ll stay in comfortable traditional yurts on the shore of the lake. In the low season, Song Kol Lake is inaccessible and we’ll stay on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Kol instead. Please see the trip notes for details.
Overnight: Song Kol Lake | Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 2
Song Kol Lake - Kochkor. We drive to the small village of Kochkor today where we will be staying in small family-run guesthouses and experiencing some traditional Kyrgyz hospitality. There’s an included visit to the local museum and we visit a traditional women’s felt making cooperative. The cooperative produces ‘shyrdaks’, the traditional felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is known. Optional activities in Kochkor include a folk demonstration and you can learn how to erect a yurt.
Overnight: Kochkor | Breakfast, Dinner
Jeti Oguz Valley
Kochkor - Jeti Oguz Valley. On day 43 we pass Lake Issyk Kol and journey up into the mountains to reach the alpine trekking region of Jeti Oguz. On the way we stop to watch a demonstration from an eagle hunter, who uses his well trained birds to catch animals for their meat and pelts. The next day is free to hike in the valley and admire the incredible red sandstone rock formations. There is also optional horse-riding available. In Jeti Oguz we camp without facilities.
Please note: In the low season the low temperatures may prevent us from camping in Jeti Oguz and we have an alternate itinerary. Please see the trip notes for details.
Overnight: Jeti Oguz | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Jeti Oguz Valley - Karakol. Today we drive overland to the Russian-style town of Karakol. The afternoon is free to explore the town as you wish - perhaps head out to admire the striking Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Overnight: Karakol | Breakfast
Cholpon Ata & the Chong Kemin Valley
Karakol - Chong Kemin Valley. We drive to the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kol today and visit the ancient petroglyphs at Cholpon Ata. Afterwards, we continue to the Chong Kemin Valley where the next day is free to explore. Hike in the stunning valley, opt for a horse-riding experience or join an optional white water rafting excursion. We wild camp in the valley.
Overnight: Chong Kemin | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Chong Kemin Valley - Bishkek. We complete our overland adventure today as we drive to the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, stopping en route to admire the Burana Tower. There’s time to relax or explore the hospitable city as you please.
Overnight: Bishkek | Breakfast
Today our Central Asian adventure comes to an end. Please contact the sales team if you wish to book some extra nights accommodation in Bishkek.
Is Overlanding Right For Me?
Overlanding is not a style of travel that will suit everyone so please carefully read the Trip Notes before selecting this tour and be realistic about your ability and desire to join such a trip. If you’re the adventurous type who’d rather spend a night wild camping in the wilderness than luxuriating in a boutique hotel, then overlanding is for you. You just need the right attitude, an open mind, and a desire to participate fully in the trip.
Overland travelling can be demanding and challenging. On your trip you’ll travel in a purpose-built expedition vehicle on an off-the-beaten-track adventure along rugged roads, sometimes across vast distances and at high altitude. You will find the drive times noted on the Trip Notes.
On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger, these are full participation trips and everyone gets involved and pitches in! You will also be expected to erect your own tent and help with camp chores including cooking meals for the group on a rota basis. Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!
The type, variety and standard of accommodation can vary greatly from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to comfortable hotels with good facilities. Generally in hotels most rooms will be twin-share, but some may be triple/quad-share. Hostels and yurts are nearly always multi-share and may be mixed sex.
The campsites we use range from basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and a bar. On occasions we wild camp with no facilities, which means there are no toilets - just the vast expanse of the great outdoors and a shovel!
Our overland journeys are designed to offer freedom, and many of our routes have a large degree of flexibility rather than a strict hour-by-hour or even day-by-day itinerary. We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed and it sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our planned itinerary.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling.Read More
Local payment - $1880pp, paid in USD
Please note that this is payable locally on day 1 of your trip in the currency specified.