Take in the historic sights and wonderful scenery of Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on this 30-day overland group tour which travels from Bishkek to Ashgabat. Hike in the picturesque Jeti Oguz Valley, camp in a traditional yurt in the desert and relax on the shore of Song Kol Lake. Take in the flaming Darvaza Gas Crater, watch a demonstration from an eagle hunter and explore the incredible Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva.
Welcome to Kyrgyzstan! On arrival there’s a pre-departure Welcome Meeting at 10:00 and the rest of today is free to explore Bishkek, the hospitable and fascinating capital of Kyrgyzstan. Perhaps wander down to the vibrant Osh bazaar or head to the central Ala-Too Square.
Please note: The following itinerary is subject to change due to the unpredictable conditions in Kyrgyzstan. We have tried and tested alternatives in place to ensure your trip runs smoothly, please see the trip notes for details.
Chong Kemin Valley
Bishkek - Chong Kemin. We climb aboard our overland truck for the first time today and head out of Bishkek. We may need to return to Bishkek to organise Uzbekistan visas for some of the group so the next couple of days need to be fairly flexible.
We will most likely spend the next two nights camping in the Ala Archa National Park and Chong Kemin Valley. There will be plenty of time for hiking in the stunning scenery and an optional white water rafting excursion will be offered.
Overnight: Chong Kemin | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Cholpon Ata & Karakol
Chong Kemin - Karakol. We drive to the northern shore of Lake Issyk Kol this morning, where we can admire the ancient rock-carved petroglyphs at Cholpon Ata. After our visit here, we continue to the Russian-style town of Karakol, where the afternoon is free to explore. Perhaps pay a visit to the beautiful Russian Orthodox Holy Trinity Cathedral.
Overnight: Karakol | Breakfast
Karakol - Jeti Oguz. On day 5 we have a scenic drive into the rolling hills of the Jeti Oguz region, dominated by towering red sandstone cliffs. The next day is free to explore this picturesque corner of Kyrgyzstan, on the edge of the Tian Shan Mountains. Hike in the hills and mountains or opt for a horse-riding excursion with local nomads. We’ll camp in the area for these two nights (weather permitting).
Overnight: Jeti Oguz | Breakfast x 2, Lunch x 2, Dinner x 2
Eagle hunter demonstration & Kochkor
Jeti Oguz - Kochkor. Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, stopping en route to watch a demonstration from a local eagle hunter, whose well-trained birds are used to catch wild animals for their skins and meat.
On arrival in Kochkor, we check in to our small, family-run guesthouses - this is a great experience and you'll get to meet the local people. We also visit the village museum and a women’s felt making cooperative which produces shyrdaks - the felt carpets that Kyrgyzstan is known for. There’s also an optional outdoor folk concert and you can learn how to erect a yurt.
Overnight: Kochkor | Breakfast, Dinner
Song Kol Lake & yurt camping
Kochkor - Song Kol Lake. On day 8 we drive to shimmering Song Kol Lake, where we base ourselves for the next two nights. Song Kol is a remote and peaceful lake set in stunning scenery - Kyrgyzstan in all of its glory. We’ll stay in traditional felt yurts and experience the life of rural Kyrgyz people. There’s optional hiking and horse-riding in the area.
Please note: In the low season we will be unable to stay at Song Kol Lake due to the adverse weather. Instead we will likely stay in yurts on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Kol.
Overnight: Song Kol Lake | Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 2
Kyrgyz Fergana Valley
Song Kol Lake - Kyrgyz Fergana Valley. The next three days will be spent overlanding through the Kyrgyz Fergana Valley, home to some of the finest scenery in the world. We’ll make frequent stops to hike amongst the rolling hills and to admire the incredible views. Along the route we plan to wild camp but we may stay in local guesthouses instead, if temperatures are too low.
Please note: If the group prefers, we will spend an extra day in Arslanbob and depart for two days of overlanding in the valley on day 10.
Overnight: Kyrgyz Fergana Valley | Breakfast x 3, Lunch x 3, Dinner x 3
Kyrgyz Fergana Valley - Arslanbob. Today we finally arrive in the picturesque village of Arslanbob. There's free time to relax after a long few days of overlanding. Perhaps take a stroll in the famous walnut forest, the largest walnut grove in the world - the walnut was Kyrgyzstan's first known export to Europe.
Overnight: Arslanbob | Breakfast
Arslanbob - Fergana (Uzbekistan). We say goodbye to the mountainous country of Kyrgyzstan today, crossing the border into neighbouring Uzbekistan. Our drive today takes us to the city of Fergana, where the evening is at leisure.
Overnight: Fergana | Breakfast
Kokand & Tashkent
Fergana - Kokand - Tashkent. Today we journey to Kokand, where we’ll visit the Khudayar Khan’s Palace and the Margilan Silk Factory. Traditional methods are still used here in the production of this famous textile.
After exploring Kokand, we cross over the mountainous Kamchik Pass to Tashkent, the Soviet-style capital of Uzbekistan. We must pass over the Kamchik Pass in local transport, as our truck must cross without passengers. We'll be reunited later today in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. The evening is free to explore the clean and modern city independently.
Overnight: Tashkent | Breakfast
Free time in Tashkent
Today is free to explore Tashkent as you please. You may wish to head to the religious centre of the city at Hast Imam Square, where you'll find the world's oldest surviving copy of the Koran. We may be joined by new travellers today for the next leg of our journey.
Overnight: Tashkent | Breakfast
Tashkent - Samarkand. Today we head towards the jewel in Uzbekistan's crown - the incredible Silk Road city of Samarkand. On arrival, the evening is free to head out and explore.
Overnight: Samarkand | Breakfast
We enjoy a guided tour of Samarkand on day 18, taking in highlights including the central Registan Square. The Registan is dominated by three towering madrasahs which rise up against the skyline - madrasah is Arabic for 'school'. We also take in the Ulug Beg Observatory, Shah-I-Zinda necropolis and the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque. The mosque was once the jewel in the empire of the warlord Timur, who was born here.
Day 19 is free to explore Samarkand further or join optional activities including an excursion to the ancient city of Shakhrisabz.
Overnight: Samarkand | Breakfast x 2
Nurata & the Kyzylkhum Desert
Samarkand - Nurata. Today we say goodbye to Samarkand and head into the striking Nurata Hills. Opt for a refreshing dip in Lake Ajdar Kul before we drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert. There’s an optional camel ride over the rolling dunes of the desert and we spend the night in yurts near the town of Nurata.
Overnight: Nurata | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Nurata - Bukhara. Today we head out of the desert to the beautiful and historic Silk Road city of Bukhara, where we'll be staying for the next three nights. We make a quick stop in Nurata en route.
On day 22 we enjoy a guided tour of Bukhara, taking in highlights including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque and Ark Fortress. You’ll also get to see the Kalyan Minaret. This beautiful tower hides a sinister past - it’s nickname of “Death Tower” has been earned due to its former use as a place of execution.
Day 23 is free to explore or join some of the optional excursions available. Perhaps visit the gruesome Zindon Prison, home to the infamous Bug Pit. Prisoners would be thrown into the pit and rats, lice, scorpions and other creatures would be dropped on their heads.
Bukhara - Khiva. On day 24 we say goodbye to Bukhara and embark on a long drive to the welcoming city of Khiva. The next day there’s a guided tour of the city, taking in highlights including the incredible city walls, the turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret and the blue palace of Tash Khovli. There are also included visits to the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassa museum, the 12th century Kukhna Ark fortress and Juma Mosque. The ceiling of the mosque is held up by 213 columns of ancient elm, some dating back to the 10th century.
Overnight: Khiva | Breakfast x 2
Khiva - Kunye Urgench (Turkmenistan). Today we leave Uzbekistan behind and cross the border into the closed off country of Turkmenistan. Browse the markets in the border town of Dashoguz before we explore the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day.
Once an important Silk Road city due to its location in the remote Karakum Desert, Kunye Urgench was spared by Genghis Khan during his invasion and the ruins remain well-preserved today. Admire highlights including the Kutlug-Timur Minaret, which is the highest minaret in Central Asia. Tonight, we camp in the desert close to the city.
Overnight: Kunye Urgench | Breakfast, Lunch
The flaming Darvaza Gas Crater
Kunye Urgench - Darvaza Gas Crater. We continue our journey through the desert today, reaching the incredible Darvaza Gas Crater, known locally as the 'Door to Hell'.
The crater was created by accident in 1971 when Soviet oil drillers released gas into the atmosphere, causing the ground to collapse. The Soviets then set fire to the gas to try and burn it all off. However, there was much more gas present than they realised and the crater has been burning away ever since. After we’ve admired the site, we find a suitable spot to camp for the night.
Overnight: Darvaza | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Darvaza Gas Crater - Ashgabat. On day 28 we climb aboard our overland truck for the final time to complete our drive to Turkmenistan's bizarre capital city of Ashgabat. The city holds the world record for the highest concentration of marble clad buildings anywhere in the world.
On day 29 we embark on a minibus tour of this off the beaten track and bonkers capital city. Look out for the bizarre marble architecture and some of the golden statues of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. The president has a fascination with collecting world records and some of the more unusual architecture you may spot includes the worlds largest indoor Ferris wheel.
Overnight: Ashgabat | Breakfast x 2
Today our Silk Road journey comes to an end. Consider booking a few more nights accommodation in Ashgabat to further explore the city - speak to our Sales team if interested.
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 - $1100pp, paid in USD
Please note that this is payable locally on day 1 of your trip in the currency specified.