Bishkek to Ashgabat
from $7970
Duration: 26 Days
Be entranced by the beauty and the wonder of Central Asia on this overland journey from the capital of Kyrgyzstan through the heartland of Uzbekistan to the forgotten yet futuristic Ashgabat. Take in the tranquil landscape of Son-Kol Lake, watch for wild boar and deer around Chychkan Gorge, hike up the sacred Sulumain-too Mountain in historic Osh, and get your fill of mosques and museums in Samarkand. Venture into the mysterious Turkmenistan, camp out by the 'gate of hell', and explore Ashgabat with architectures from a scifi movie. Abounding with ancient culture, divine natural beauty, intriguing relics, and welcoming people, this is a journey that will leave you eager to discover more of Central Asia.
  • Central Asia is a fascinating and unique mix of ancient Silk Road culture, post-soviet culture and striving to redefine nations post independence. Geographically and for a time historically, it is the real centre of Asia
  • The much-photographed Registan in Samarkand is one of the true pinnacles of Islamic architecture. You'll be wowed by the scale, grandeur and beauty of the monuments to iconic figures such as Tamerlane and the Persian influenced madressas, mosques and mausoleums
  • Experience for yourself the legend that is Central Asian hospitality - there's really nothing like being welcomed into a local home or yurt for a meal, chatting with stall holders at bazaars or simply marvelling at the sights alongside locals
  • Kyrgyzstans mountains are its monuments and its majesty. The landscapes here will stay with you long after the journey is over
  • Marvel at the beautiful Son-Kol Lake, where in mid-summer you may see flocks of sheep, goats and herds of horses watched over by nomadic herdsmen and their families
  • Stay overnight in a yurt lakeside and live like the locals have for centuries in these portable, felt lined traditional tents
  • Reflect on the important role horses have played in the traditional Kyrgyz nomadic life style while witnessing horseback sports like odarysh (wrestling on horseback), tiyin-enish (where riders try to pick up coins at full gallop) or kok-baru (goat polo)
  • Explore sprawling ruins of Mary, Merv and others with a local guide and contemplate these remnants of empires that once ruled this vast land
  • Witness the eternal flames of the Darvaza Crater, aka the 'Door to Hell' as you camp nearby – one of the strangest, most mesmerising geological oddities on earth
  • Ashgabat rose from the devastation of an earthquake in 1948 and has enjoyed a surreal and futuristic makeover
  • Bishkek - City Tour
  • Shamsy Valley - Burana tower
  • Don Aryk - Local home visit & horsemanship demonstration
  • Kochkor - Market
  • Kochkor - Women's Felt Co-op
  • Uzgen - Uzgen Minaret & Complex
  • Osh - Sulaiman-Too Mountain
  • Osh - National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex
  • Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar
  • Tashkent - Khast Imom Complex & Moyie Mubarek Library Museum
  • Tashkent - History Museum of the People of Uzbekistan
  • Samarkand - Bibi-Khanym Mosque
  • Samarkand - Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum
  • Samarkand - Shakh-I-Zinda
  • Samarkand - Registan
  • Samarkand - Paper making workshop & home cooked lunch
  • Shakhrisabz - Ak Saray Palace
  • Shakhrisabz - Kok-Gumbaz Mosque
  • Shakhrisabz - Dor-ut Tilovat Memorial Complex
  • Shakhrisabz - Dorus Saodat Complex
  • Day 1 Location: Bishkek
    Welcome to Kyrgyzstan! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.
    Day 2 Location: Bishkek
    Take a trip down memory lane today with a city tour showcasing the country's fascinating history. The centre of the city is Ala-too Square, which was known as Lenin Square in Soviet times. Lenin used to stand in his concrete overcoat in the middle of this square, proudly gesturing towards the mountains. A great place  for a wander is Dubovy (Oak) Park, where you'll find a few open-air cafes. The century-old oaks here and all along Freedom Avenue make Bishkek one of the greenest cities in Central Asia. In the afternoon, you'll have some free time to further explore Bishkek. Quite the contrast to the relaxed quiet streets, square and parks in the city center, Osh Market is noisy, crowded, and a perfect peek into local life. You'll find all kinds of things on sale here from spices and fruits to clothes and carpets. Get together with your travel mates and enjoy an optional final dinner together tonight to celebrate a great journey through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
    Day 3 Location: Don Aryk - Issyk Kul - Kochkor
    Drive 60 km to the 11th-century Burana tower, an ancient minaret from the Silk Road period. In the nearby village of Don Aryk, visit a local home. Reflecting the important role horses have played in the traditional Kyrgyz nomadic life style, the country is famous for at least four types of horse games such as odarysh or wrestling, tiyin-enish, where riders try to pick up coins at full gallop and kok buru or buzkashi, a type of goat-snatching polo. We'll take the chance here to watch the how the locals play some of these horse sports here and enjoy a tasty lunch with the family. Continue to Issyk Kul lake – the second largest alpine lake in the world. This beauty is one of the biggest natural water reservoirs in the world, at 170 km long and 70 km wide. A combination of extreme depth, thermal activity and mild salinity means the lake never freezes. Next, continue to Kochkor. Explore a small local market in the centre of the village, and, depending on our arrival time, a local co-op that provides training for local women in traditional handicrafts.
    Day 4 Location: Son-Kol
    Make the 130 km drive to Son-Köl, one of the largest lakes in the country. This beautiful alpine lake is considered a sacred place for many Kyrgyz people as well as one of the best summer pastures for nomadic herders. In the middle of the summer, you'll see nomadic herdsmen and their families watching over goats, sheep, and horses. Enjoy exploring your surroundings for the rest of the day. There are many beautiful lake trails to hike along. Alternatively you may be able to visit some ancient petroglyphs in the local area, or visit a nomad camp for a first-hand look at nomadic life. Simply sit and take in this beautiful corner of the world. Tonight we stay in yurts set up along the lake shore. Made of felt and tarpaulins on a round frame, yurts are the traditional dwellings of the Kyrgyz people. Sleeping arrangements are on a multi-share, mixed-gender basis with mattresses on the floor. It can get very chilly in the evenings, so there's a stove for heating and plenty of blankets. There are no bathroom facilities inside the yurts, so outdoor toilets are to be expected. Those daring enough for an invigorating morning splash can use the lake nearby. All meals are included during our stay here.
    Day 5 Location: Kyzyl-Oi
    Today you travel along gravel roads to the tiny village of Kyzyl-Oi squeezed between the mountains. On our way, we will pass large coal deposits and travel along the Kökömeren river which feeds into the Syr Darya - one the major rivers of Central Asia that used to fill the Aral Sea. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the river in the shade of the trees and use your free time to explore the village once we arrive. 
    Day 6 Location: Suusamyr Valley - Chychkan - Kok-Bel
    A full day of driving though big, beautiful landscapes today. As the roads in Kyrgyzstan see little regular maintenance, even short distances on a map can take hours. The road crosses the Suusamyr Valley – a high steppe plateau situated at around 2,200 metres above sea level. The mountainous, lush surroundings are often photogenically dotted with yurts. We then follow the Chychkan river that cuts through the Tien Shan range. Stop here for a while and soak up the amazing scenery. You will arrive at tonight's accommodation in Kok-Bel sometime in the early evening. 
    Day 7 Location: Osh
    After breakfast, get ready for another all-day journey to the second-largest city in Kyrgystan – Osh. Located in the Fergana Valley in the south of the country, Osh is often referred to as the 'Capital of the South'. With a history that dates to the 500 BC. Stop en route at Uzgen, an ancient trading town and handicrafts center on the Silk Road. Although much of the ancient city has been destroyed, a minaret and three mosques that have survived to this day remain important examples of medieval Central Asian architecture.
    Day 8 Location: Osh
    Rise and shine for a visit to the only World Heritage Site in Kyrgystan – Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain, also known as Solomon's Throne. For centuries Silk Road travellers have sought out the mountain's caves and their petroglyphs in the belief that they would be blessed with longevity. Visit the National Historical & Archaeological Museum Complex. In the afternoon, enjoy some free time. Perhaps visit the Jayma Bazaar, where you might pick up an interesting souvenir or two. Or maybe take a self-guided tour of the remnants of Osh's soviet past with a walk to the giant Lenin statue in the city square. The many murals praising the Soviet Union also give an idea of just how deeply these ties went.
    Day 9 Location: KGZ/UZB border crossing - Andijan - Tashkent
    This morning we drive to Kyrgyz – Uzbek border which is just outside of the city. After passing through the border (approx. 1-2 hours), we meet farewell our Kyrgyz guide, meet our new Uzbek guide and transfer to Andijan. From here we take a local train to Tashkent (approx. 5.5 hrs). Arrive at our Tashkent hotel in the evening.
    Day 10 Location: Tashkent
    Begin your introduction to Uzbekistan by exploring the capital today. Our sightseeing today in Tashkent will include a visit to State History Museum, the Abdul Khasim Medrassah with its hujra cells used as metalwork craft workshops to produce jewellery and other goods, and the Khast Imom Complex. After lunch, lose yourself in the exciting Chorsu Bazaar, browsing traditional wooden cradles, handmade musical instruments, and the extensive vegetable and spice markets.
    Day 11 Location: Samarkand
    Transfer to the station for the high speed train to fabled Samarkand (approx 2 hours). This city is located at the very centre of the ancient Silk Road. Enjoy some free time in the city on arrival, saving some of the key sights for our tour tomorrow. Maybe inspect the remains of the remarkable medieval observatory developed by Ulug Beg, Tamerlane's (Amir Timur) brilliant astronomer grandson. These days, only half of the below-ground semi-circular track can be seen, but there is an the excellent small museum close by. Or visit the Afrosiab Museum with its fine collection of treasures unearthed from the site, including world famous 10th century frescoes.
    Day 12 Location: Samarkand
    Be blown away by the sights you'll take in today. First, the great central square of Samarkand, the Registan. Then, Guri-Amir, where Tamerlane is buried, and finally the enormous Bibi-Khanum Mosque. Then we drive to Konigil village in the outskirts of the city for a special lunch with a family who have been making paper by traditional methods as long as they can remember. After lunch we'll learn about this unique way of paper making from mulberry. Returning to Samarkand, visit the impressive Shak-i-Zinda ensemble of mausoleums. This unusual necropolis has monuments from the 14th and 15th centuries, reflecting the development of the monumental art and architecture of the Timurid dynasty and is photo worthy at every turn. 
    Day 13 Location: Samarkand - Shahrisabz - Bukhara
    Continue tracing the Silk Road towards Bukhara. One of the most important portions of this ancient route connects these two major cities of the area and takes us through the town of Shahrisabz - the home town of revered national hero Tamerlane. Sadly, Shakhrisabz has recently lost much of its authentic flavour through over enthusiastic restoration works. We make a stop here, visiting the legendery Ak Saray Palace, Dor-ut Tilovat Memorial Complex, Dorus Saodat Complex and Kok-Gumbaz Mosque. Then we'll continue to Bukhara where we we stay for the night.
    Day 14 Location: Bukhara
    Today, we'll enjoy a full day of sightseeing in beautiful Bukhara. First, you'll visit the lovely Sitora-i Mohi Khosa, once the summer residence of the last Emir. Designed by Russian architects, it has lavish interiors decorated with traditional filigree plaster, mirrored surfaces and delicate floral wall paintings by local artisans. Then to the peaceful 16th century Chor Bakr necropolis, where you'll enjoy the simplicity of the Khonako-Medressa  & Mosque complex that is typical of Bukharian style. In the afternoon, visit the Ark Fortress and Kalon Mosque, the symb of Bukhara, then to one of Central Asia's oldest and most exquisite structures, the 10th century Ismail Samani Mausoleum, whose superb decorative brickwork has survived 1,000 years of rugged history. From here it is only a short distance to the Lyabi-Haus area. After dinner, there's time to wander the small craft studios tucked into the ancient nearby madrassas and trading domes.
    Day 15 Location: Gijduvan - Bukhara
    Historically, Gijduvan was one of the caravan stops on the way to Bukhara. Ulugbek, the famous astronomer ruler of Samarkand and grandson of Tamerlane, built a medrassah here, just next to the grave of a Sufi saint. The town gained further fame as a centre of glazed pottery production. Visit the private studio of a local ceramic artist, meet the family and watch them at work. Later you can have some free time to explore this small town. For lunch we recommend the juicy kebabs of Gijduvan that are famous throughout Uzbekistan. On your way back, stop to see a minaret from the late 12th century in Vobkent.
    Day 16 Location: Tashkent
    Enjoy some free time for your own optional sightseeing in Bukhara. In the afternoon, take a fast train back to Tashkent followed by an optional farewell dinner with your fellow travellers.
    Day 17 Location: Tashkent
    There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
    Day 18 Location: Khiva
    Take morning flight to Urgench (90 mins) and transfer to colourful Khiva (45 mins). Many global powers have laid claim to this city over the centuries, from khans to Silk Road traders and the Soviet Union. Get acquainted with Khiva on a tour of this walled-city. See the incredible blue-tiled Kalta Minor Minaret and the Mohammed Amin Khan Madressa. Explore the Kuhna Ark, the "citadel within a citadel" which once housed the Khan and his family in the 17th century, then get a good look at this attractive city from the Ak-sheikh Baba Observatory. Finally, visit the Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum, a complex constructed in honour of the famous 13th-century poet, craftsman and fighter. A popular pilgrimage site, the mint-coloured dome that tops the main mausoleum is stunning. Spend the rest of the day as you wish. Maybe ask your leader where to grab the best plov (rice, meat, and carrots). The city is a photographer's delight, particularly in the evenings when the sun begins to set and fading light glints off turquoise tiles, so make sure you have your phone or camera ready to snap some pictures.
    Day 19 Location: Khiva
    Khiva is particularly magic at dawn when the streets are empty. Later, you leader will guide you through some of the city’s other impressive monuments and buildings. Visit the towering Islom Hoja Minaret, the tallest building in Khiva. Explore Juma Mosque, the roof of which is propped up by 212 wooden columns and designed to let in sunlight. If you want a peek at Uzbek luxury, look no further than the Tosh-Hovli Palace, which was built in the first half of the 19th century. Wander through elaborately decorated courtyards connected by labyrinthian corridors. The rest of the afternoon is yours to relax.
    Day 20 Location: Konye-Urgench - Darvaza
    Say goodbye to Uzbekistan and cross the border into Turkmenistan at Khodjeyli (Xo‘jayli). Meet the new leader who will be your key to local secrets, food and highlights for the rest of your journey. From the border, make a 1.5-hour drive to the World Heritage-listed Konye-Urgench. Once a centre of the Islamic world, it suffered destruction at the hands of Genghis Khan and the Timurid dynasty and fell into decay until the 20th century. But it still has tonnes of monuments from the 11th to 16th centuries, including a mosque, mausoleum and the 60-metre-high Gutlug Timur Minaret. Continue your journey with a 4-hour drive by 4WD to Darvaza Crater. This astounding 70-metre-wide hole in the Karakum Desert is permanently aflame. Soviet oil prospectors started drilling in 1971 expecting to find oil, and the ground collapsed to form the crater. Worried about the gas released into the air, they deliberately set the crater on fire to burn off the excess, expecting it to last a few weeks. As you’ll see today, they were wrong, and the crater has been burning ever since. Watch the sunset over the 'Door to Hell' from your nearby camp, and enjoy a Turkmenistan-style barbecue for dinner. 
    Day 21 Location: Yerbent - Ashgabat
    Hit the sand again in the 4WD, making the 4-hour drive to Ashgabat with a stop along the way at the tiny settlement of Yerbent. The community here live primarily in yurts that are tucked between the sand dunes. Check out the local monument that pays tribute to the group of socialists that died in the Basmachi Revolt in 1931, then continue to Ashgabat. Little is left of the original Russian Imperial city as most of it was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1948, and today the city centre is a bizarre mix of futuristic and outrageous public buildings. Get a sense of Ashgabat old and new with a tour that takes in both the ancient settlement of Nisa and the National Museum of Turkmenistan. Enjoy a free afternoon in this mind-bending city. Look out for the ornate, golden telephone booths, screens broadcasting official ceremonies on a loop and imposing statues of the president.
    Day 22 Location: Ashgabat
    Take a full day to wrap your head around this desert city on an immersive guided tour taking in the four pointed minarets atop the Ertugrul Gazi Mosque and the the extravagant Independence Monument. This sculpted park is filled with statues of Turkmen heroes (and controversial politicians) that line paths that lead to a golden dome and a (surprise!) massive minaret. From this lavish ode to Turkmen identity, continue to the Neutrality Arch, which despite its name has a provocative history. Then travel outside of the city to the Turkmenbashy Ruhi Mosque, the mausoleum of former Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov, before heading further out of town to the ruins of Anau. The crumbling remains of the medieval mosque still attract the devout, who come to pray and make offerings. After a day full of sightseeing, maybe spend the evening relaxing at your hotel.
    Day 23 Location: Mary
    Rise and shine for the 5-hour drive to Mary (pronounced ‘Mah-rih’). The somewhat ostentatious displays of wealth in the city can be traced to the long-running gas and cotton industries. Stop en route for lunch and to roam through the ruins of Abiverd. This fascinating archaeological site was an important trading town from 652 AD until the 12th century, and you can still see ancient shards of pottery scattered on the ground. Arrive in Mary in the afternoon and settle into your hotel.
    Day 24 Location: Merv - Mary
    Take a 40-minute drive to Merv, also known as Margiana or Margush, and enjoy some time to explore Turkmenistan's most recognised site. This sprawling World Heritage site is home to numerous walled structures from various periods spread across a 1200-hectare area. See impressive columns smoothed by wind and time at the Greater Kizkala and walk hills that were once the fortress walls of Erk Kala. While not the most impressive visually, Gyaur Kala dates to 400 BC and has a fascinating history. Spend some time exploring these relics of grand empires and then return to Mary for a free afternoon. Maybe visit the Mary Regional Museum. Housed in a palace of white marble, the museum features archaeological displays and exhibitions on traditional Turkmen life and culture.
    Day 25 Location: Ashgabat
    Glittering Ashgabat awaits your return today, so make the 5-hour return drive to the City of White Marble. Enjoy a free afternoon to spend as you wish before an optional final night dinner with your group.
    Day 26 Location: Ashgabat
    There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the hotel at any time.
    Dates
    Prices
    Availability
    Departure Date:
    22APR2022
    Return Date:
    17MAY2022
    7970NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    10MAY2022
    Return Date:
    04JUN2022
    8290NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    27MAY2022
    Return Date:
    21JUN2022
    8605NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    14JUN2022
    Return Date:
    09JUL2022
    8290NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    16AUG2022
    Return Date:
    10SEP2022
    7970NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    02SEP2022
    Return Date:
    27SEP2022
    8290NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    09SEP2022
    Return Date:
    04OCT2022
    8605NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    20SEP2022
    Return Date:
    15OCT2022
    8605NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    08OCT2022
    Return Date:
    02NOV2022
    7970NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    08 Sep 2021

    Trip title

    Bishkek to Ashgabat

    Trip code

    KFSRC

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2021

    Introduction

    Be entranced by the beauty and the wonder of Central Asia on this overland journey from the capital of Kyrgyzstan through the heartland of Uzbekistan to the forgotten yet futuristic Ashgabat. Take in the tranquil landscape of Son-Kol Lake, watch for wild boar and deer around Chychkan Gorge, hike up the sacred Sulumain-too Mountain in historic Osh, and get your fill of mosques and museums in Samarkand. Venture into the mysterious Turkmenistan, camp out by the 'gate of hell', and explore Ashgabat with architectures from a scifi movie. Abounding with ancient culture, divine natural beauty, intriguing relics, and welcoming people, this is a journey that will leave you eager to discover more of Central Asia.

    Style

    Original

    Themes

    Explorer

    Transport

    Private Bus,Metro,High Speed Train

    Physical Rating

    3

    Joining point

    Rich Hotel

    111, Timiryazeva St

    Bishkek

    KYRGYZSTAN

    Phone: 996 312 322038

    Finish point

    Hotel Mizan Отель "Мизан"

    55 Arcabil (1939) Sayoly

    Ashgabat

    TURKMENISTAN

    Important information

    1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip, excluding nights in yurts, homestays and camping. 2. As this is a multi-country trip and a combination of two of our most popular Central Asian trips, your leader may change at the KGZ/UZB and UZB/TKM borders. Your leader as well as the composition of your group may also change in Tashkent. 3. As Central Asian immigration and customs officials are notoriously strict, please make sure you keep all forms for when you exit the country. A lost customs or immigration form could result in a fine or being detained at the border. You must also declare ALL currency when entering and exiting the country. Keep all currency exchange slips or ATM receipts. 4. Travel to Turkmenistan requires a Letter of Invitation. Please see the 'Passport and visa' section in the Essential Trip Information for instructions.

    Group leader

    All group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious, and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you are interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    Most national governments provide regularly updated foreign travel advice on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all destinations and activities on your trip. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/travel-alerts We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however, during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. Intrepid's operational safety policies can be viewed on our website at the link below. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how safety is being managed on our trips.

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safety-guidelines

    KYRGYZSTAN Few travellers will experience any safety issues in Kyrgyzstan if general precautions are followed. Take care if you go out after dark. Keep large amounts of money hidden at all times and be wary of strangers offering help or being over-friendly. Be particularly aware of your surroundings when using currency exchange offices. Thieves posing as off duty police, uniformed police or unsolicited 'meet and greet' drivers at airports are known to target travellers. Avoid walking alone at night and don’t travel in unofficial taxis. Carry your passport, or a certified copy, at all times: identification checks by police are common.

    UZBEKISTAN Uzbekistan is generally a very safe place to travel. Petty crime targeting foreigners and tourists sometimes occurs in Uzbekistan. A regulation has been introduced allowing only licensed taxis (with certain colour and signs and card payment equipment) to operate in Uzbekistan. However, unlicensed taxis continue to operate. You should use official taxis where possible. There have been reports of robberies by individuals posing as police officers. Avoid obvious displays of wealth, particularly in rural areas. Crime levels are higher at night. Avoid walking alone. It is illegal to photograph government and military buildings, and also public transport infrastructure, including metro stations. This may result in confiscation of equipment or detention. Check before taking photographs of government or security infrastructure. You should carry your passport with you at all times as this is a legal requirement in Uzbekistan. The police often carry out checks. There is a ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco to those under 20.  Homosexuality is illegal under Uzbek law and is still very much frowned upon socially. You should take care over public displays of affection.

    TURKMENISTAN Incidents of mugging, theft and pick pocketing are rare, but take sensible precautions and keep valuables out of sight. Women should avoid going out alone late at night. Please note the Government of Turkmenistan is intending to make the country free from smoking and drug taking. As a result, smoking has been prohibited in ALL public places, including streets, parks, airports, practically everywhere except specially equipped areas. If spotted smoking, you will be taken to the nearest police station and be told about their laws and the harmful nature of smoking. You will be required to sign some related forms, and as a result will have to pay a formal fine of approximately 300 manat. Those who refuse to go to the police station, pay the fine, or quarrel with police officers (swear or shout) may even end up in a temporary detention for up to 15 days. Attempts to import cigarettes into Turkmenistan or transit across the country territory of the amounts exceeding the permitted (no more than 40 cigarettes/2 packs per person for private use only) will also result in some unpleasant procedures at the arrival border port and issuance of a formal fine – 500 manat. Driving standards are poor. Road travel at night outside cities is particularly dangerous because of the condition of the roads. Seat belts, if fitted, should be worn at all times. Licensed taxis are clearly identified and yellow in colour. Although taxis have meters, drivers will usually ask foreign nationals for a set fee of around 5 to 10 Manat. Taxis from the airport cost more and drivers usually ask for US$. Most taxi drivers do not speak much, if any, English. Using unlicensed taxis is not recommended.

    Visas

    PASSPORT You will need a valid passport to travel internationally. As a general rule, most countries require that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets exactly and contact us immediately if there are any errors. We recommend taking copies of the main passport pages and other important documents with you as well as leave copies at home with family or friends. VISAS Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time. It is important that you check your government's foreign travel advisories along with the consular website of the country or countries you are travelling to for the most up to date information specific to your nationality and circumstances. Please be aware that not all visa information found online from other sources may be valid while COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Visas can take several weeks to process, so make sure you research the requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for obtaining any necessary documents as well as the application and processing time. Your booking consultant can advise on a visa processing service or you can apply yourself directly through a consulate. COVID-19 Entry and Exit Requirements Below you will find general visa advice about the destinations on your trip. Due to constantly evolving COVID-19 requirements and restrictions, please refer to your government's foreign travel advice for the most up to date information.You may also refer to our travel alert page for more info https://www.intrepidtravel.com/en/travel-alerts Make sure you are familiar with the current border measures and entry requirements as these are quite complex and changing frequently without notice. Please also ensure you have a travel insurance policy that covers your travels as well as medical or COVID-19 related expenses within the country. RETURN TRAVEL Please ensure you stay up to date with any current testing or quarantine requirements for returning to your home country or transiting through other destinations after the completion of your tour. We are able to help facilitate taking a COVID-19 test while on trip. Please ensure you have funds available to cover the cost of this test which will be payable directly to the testing site. Your Intrepid Tour Leader will provide more details at the group meeting as well as assist with booking appointments for all travellers who need to be tested. As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends. UZBEKISTAN VISAS Many nationalities no longer require a visa for stays of up to 90 days, including most European countries, Great Britain, Australia & Canada.You can check if you are eligible for the visa free scheme here: https://e-visa.gov.uz/main E-VISAS For nationalities not included in the visa exemption list, including US citizens, an e-visa is available. The e-visa is issued for a period of stay in the territory of Uzbekistan up to 30 days with a single entry and is valid for 90 days from the date of issue. Travellers must submit an online application for a visa at least three working days before the planned date of travel to Uzbekistan. The consular fee for processing and issuing an e-visa is US$20 to be paid online. Please check if you are eligible for an e-visa and apply here: https://e-visa.gov.uz/main INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR E-VISA APPLICATION - Address of your joining point hotel (or if visiting Uzbekistan mid-trip, use: Hotel Uzbekistan 45 Mirzamakhmud Musakhanov Street Tashkent) - You will need to have a scanned PDF copy of your passport to upload for your application - You will need to upload a passport photo that meet the standard of ICAO - you can check here for the standards of the photo http://www.cgiistanbul.org/frontEnd/userfiles/files/ICAO%20Guidelines%20on%20Passport%20Photographs.pdf - Your passport will need to be valid for at least three months after you’ve entered Uzbekistan to obtain a visa. REGISTRATION IN UZBEKISTAN All visitors to Uzbekistan must register with the local department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs within 3 working days after arrival. When staying at a hotel, you will be registered automatically. Please ensure you keep any registration documents issued by the hotel until you exit the country. CUSTOMS Some medications available over the counter or by prescription in other countries, such as sleeping tablets, may be illegal or restricted in Uzbekistan. You should declare all prescription medications and other restricted items on arrival in Uzbekistan, and carry a copy of the prescription with you. KYRGYZSTAN Most nationalities do not require a visa to travel to Kyrgyzstan for up to 60 days, including Australia, Belgium, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, USA and Switzerland. Other nationalities should check with their nearest embassy and obtain a visa in advance if required. Please contact us should you need any supporting documents for your visa application. If you do require a visa you will need to obtain one through your closest consulate. TURKMENISTAN All travellers to Turkmenistan require a visa. A Letter of Invitation (LOI) is also required before you can apply for the visa. We recommend all travellers plan to receive a Visa on Arrival at either the airport or land border, depending on your itinerary. Please follow the instructions below to have your LOI for visa on arrival issued before you travel. To apply for your LOI we require the following: - clear, colour scan of the photo page of your passport - digital copy of a colour passport photo (not a scan of a printed photo) - Turkmen LOI Application form (please contact your booking agent) After submitting these documents to your booking agent our local partners will process your LOI. This service is included in your trip cost. We advise that you apply for your LOI no later than 3 months before your trip to allow time for processing. Turkmenistan LOIs are processed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkmenistan and usually take around 4 weeks to be processed, with up to 6 weeks in peak travel season not uncommon. We strongly suggest submitting all documents no later than 2 months before arrival in order to allow sufficient time for processing. NOTES: - Independent travel in Turkmenistan is not permitted and your visa will only be valid for as long as tour services (including accommodation, guides, transport etc) are provided. - Make sure you have a print out of your LOI before boarding your flight or leaving for your trip. - Having an LOI doesn't mean you have a visa. You will need to apply for your visa as per the way you choose for when applying for LOI. If you've chosen to get visa on arrival, you will need to pay visa fee at approx. US$ 80 (to be paid in USD), complete a migration card and pay a US$15 migration fee on arrival in Turkmenistan. This fee could change without notice. Your leader will be able to advise you on exactly how much the visa fee will be. - You will need 2 printed passport photos for your leader to submit to the migration office after your arrival in country. CUSTOMS: - A number of medications containing tramadol, morphine, opiates or any other similar constituent component are banned in Turkmenistan and are considered narcotic drugs. Do not bring any medications containing these drugs into the country.

    Why we love it

    Central Asia is a fascinating and unique mix of ancient Silk Road culture, post-soviet culture and striving to redefine nations post independence. Geographically and for a time historically, it is the real centre of Asia

    The much-photographed Registan in Samarkand is one of the true pinnacles of Islamic architecture. You'll be wowed by the scale, grandeur and beauty of the monuments to iconic figures such as Tamerlane and the Persian influenced madressas, mosques and mausoleums

    Experience for yourself the legend that is Central Asian hospitality - there's really nothing like being welcomed into a local home or yurt for a meal, chatting with stall holders at bazaars or simply marvelling at the sights alongside locals

    Kyrgyzstans mountains are its monuments and its majesty. The landscapes here will stay with you long after the journey is over

    Marvel at the beautiful Son-Kol Lake, where in mid-summer you may see flocks of sheep, goats and herds of horses watched over by nomadic herdsmen and their families

    Stay overnight in a yurt lakeside and live like the locals have for centuries in these portable, felt lined traditional tents

    Reflect on the important role horses have played in the traditional Kyrgyz nomadic life style while witnessing horseback sports like odarysh (wrestling on horseback), tiyin-enish (where riders try to pick up coins at full gallop) or kok-baru (goat polo)

    Explore sprawling ruins of Mary, Merv and others with a local guide and contemplate these remnants of empires that once ruled this vast land

    Witness the eternal flames of the Darvaza Crater, aka the 'Door to Hell' as you camp nearby – one of the strangest, most mesmerising geological oddities on earth

    Ashgabat rose from the devastation of an earthquake in 1948 and has enjoyed a surreal and futuristic makeover

    Is this trip right for you

    Central Asia is a remote destination, perfect for intrepid travellers in the true sense of the word! You will venture well away from cities, right off the beaten track and be able to immerse yourself in local food, life and culture. There are some long days of driving over rough terrain, and shower and toilet facilities are limited (especially outside of Ashgabat). While these conditions may not be to your usual standard, the rewards of visiting a country like this are immeasurable. There is one night of camping on this trip. This is, of course, all part of your adventure in the Karakum Desert. Sleeping bags, mattresses and tents are provided, but there are no facilities at the campsite. Accommodation may on occassion be more basic than what you are used to in homestays, guesthouses and yurt stay. Shower and toilet facilities will be limited in some places and nonexistent in others. While the comfort level won't always be high, the rewards of living in true local style in this far-out part of the world are immeasurable. This is an overland journey, so there will be some very long days of travelling and driving, often over rough terrain. This can be tiring at times and will require a great deal of patience at others, especially at border crossings.  What Kyrgyzstan lacks in 'sights' compared to the Silk Road monuments and old towns of Uzbekistan, it makes up for in alpine landscapes, opportunities for interaction with local families and plenty of time spent on the road or outdoors exploring natural surroundings.

    Health

    GENERAL HEALTH All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to manage and enjoy our style of travel. Please note that if in the opinion of our group leader or local guide any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, we reserve the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained while travelling. COVID-19 The safety and wellbeing of our travellers, leaders, crew, staff, and suppliers continues to remain our highest priority as we travel. You can read more about how we will keep you safe on our trips, including our COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/safe-travels HEALTH SCREENING If you are unwell prior to travelling, please stay at home and contact us to make alternative arrangements. At the group meeting, you will be asked to complete a self-screening health form and report any COVID-19 symptoms as well as any close contact with someone who has suspected or confirmed COVID-19. If you are displaying any symptoms or have any health concerns at this time, we will follow the advice of local health authorities to determine whether medical assistance, isolation or further action is required. We ask all travellers to continue to monitor their health throughout their travels and report any relevant symptoms to their tour leader. TESTING & VACCINATION POLICY From 1st May 2021 we introduced new safety measures that apply on all of our trips, except for tours in Australia and New Zealand. On trips departing before 1st September 2021, you will need to show one of the below to your leader at the Group Meeting on Day 1 of your trip: - Proof of COVID-19 vaccination, or - Proof of negative COVID-19 test conducted no more than 72 hours before day 1 of your trip, or - Proof of recovery documentation In addition, if you’re aged 70+ or have an existing health condition that puts you at a higher risk of serious COVID-19 disease, you are also required to provide proof of vaccination before you can join a trip. MANDATORY VACCINATION POLICY From 1st of September 2021 we have introduced enhanced safety measures that apply on all of our trips, except for tours in Australia, New Zealand, and the Cook Islands. You will need to show your leader at the Group Meeting on Day 1 of your trip: - Proof of COVID-19 vaccination This policy is in addition to any specific testing or vaccination requirements for entry or exit to a destination or required by your airline. For more information, including a detailed FAQ about this policy, please visit https://www.intrepidtravel.com/covid19 HYGIENE & DRINKING WATER The diet and hygiene standards of Central Asia may be very different from what you are used to so please take care with washing hands before meals etc and bring some medication/re-hydration salts etc should you experience stomach problems. Giardia intestinalis, a parasite that can cause diarrhoea, is reported from time to time in the water supply and which may not be eradicated by purification methods such as tablets or iodine are used. For this reason we recommend against drinking unboiled tap water in all Central Asian cities. KYRGYZSTAN Malaria is endemic in the southern and western parts of the country bordering Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, particularly in Batken, Osh and Zhele-Abdskaya provinces. Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are very common from spring to autumn. Ensure you take precautions to prevent insect bites, such as covering up and using insect repellent. Medical facilities in Bishkek are limited and in remote areas the standard of medical services is very basic.

    Food and dietary requirements

    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. If you have dietary requirements and/or food allergies, please let your booking agent know prior to departure. CENTRAL ASIA The Central Asian diet relies heavily on meat based dishes.There are options available for vegetarians, however these may at times be limited to plain noodles, bread, fruit, nuts, yoghurt, cheese, eggs etc. Those with particular dietary needs may choose to supplement meals with supplies bought from home or stock up at markets and supermarkets as you travel.

    Money matters

    SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget an appropriate amount for things like optional meals, drinks, shopping, optional activities, and laundry. Make sure you have read the itinerary and inclusions thoroughly so you know what is included in the trip price and what you may need to pay for while travelling. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. We reserve the right to change an itinerary after departure due to local circumstances or a Force Majeure Event. In such emergency circumstances, the additional cost of any necessary itinerary alterations will be covered by you. Please note we are not responsible for any incidental expenses that may be incurred as a result of the change of itineraries including but not limited to visas, vaccinations or non-refundable flights. Make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last-minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result, there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however, local currency may be needed once in the country to cover these costs. KYRGYZSTAN The official currency of Kyrgyzstan is the Kyrgyzstan Som (KGS). This can only be obtained within Kyrgyzstan. Conversion of KGS back into other foreign currencies may prove difficult, even in neighbouring countries.  Kyrgyzstan is primarily a cash economy. ATMs are not widespread outside of Bishkek. Your leader will advise on the best places and times to withdraw or exchange money and suggest suitable amounts. EUR and USD are the best currencies to bring for exchange. UZBEKISTAN: The currency is the Uzbekistan som (UZS). UZS cannot be obtained outside of Uzbekistan, so you will either need to bring USD or EUR with you to exchange or use an ATM to withdraw. We recommend bringing both cash and a card for times when you cannot access an ATM or they are out of money. Visa cards are said to be the most accepted for ATM withdrawals as some Mastercard holders have reported issues. ATMs can be found within many high end hotels in Tashkent and some other cities as well as some banks. Cash can be exchanged at the Currency Exchange at Tashkent Airport or at banks. The "black market" is now obsolete and illegal following currency reforms in recent years. Some souvenir sellers and tourist restaurants may accept USD or EUR as payment but all other purchases in Uzbekistan must be made in local currency. As of 2018 it is no longer necessary to declare all cash in all currencies when entering the country. It is difficult to exchange UZS into other currencies outside of the country, so ensure you budget well or exchange at a bank before departure.  TURKMENISTAN The currency of Turkmenistan is the manat (TKM).  There are very few international ATMs in Turkmenistan. At time of writing visa cards are accepted in some of the main hotels, and can be used to obtain cash at the Vnesheconom Bank in Ashgabat, Mastercards at Senagat Bank in Ashgabat. USD can be used in major hotels and in some other tourist facilities. Carry new notes in low denominations. Notes with any additional markings are often refused even by official travel exchange offices. Other currencies are difficult to exchange. Bring enough cash to cover your entire stay in case you are not able to access funds with your credit card.  CENTRAL ASIA & MONGOLIA: If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader. The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: Restaurants: - we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill, however check if a service charge has already been added. In China tipping in restaurants is not common practice. Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest RUB30-50 (Russia)/US$1-2 (Mongolia, Central Asia)/CNY10 -15 (China) per person per activity day for local guides. Adjust the amount accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day. Porters: In some hotels in China a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters. Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of RUB50/US$2 (Russia/Mongolia/Central Asia) or CNY5 (China) per person per day is generally appropriate. Adjust the amount accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day. Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $US3-5, or the equivalent in any currency used on the trip, per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

    What to take

    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances. Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry or handles. A lockable bag or small padlock is useful as your luggage may get stowed separately and unattended while you travel on public transport or trains. Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage during included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense. Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip. ESSENTIALS: - Day pack: for carrying essentials when exploring destinations like water, camera, snacks, jacket, etc. - Lightweight clothing: A mixture of covering lightweight clothing and some warm layers (depending on the season) are recommended. It is best to check the weather and seasonal information before travelling. Please also bring clothing that covers arms and pants/skirts that go past the knee for entry into local religious sites. For women travellers, a light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms. - comfortable shoes for full day walking/trekking: Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through cities as well as bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings - Wind and waterproof jacket - Sun protection: hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and lip balm RECOMMENDED: - Personal medical kit: we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent. - Water bottle: We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. - Spare batteries. Our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras most days but we recommend you take spare batteries for your camera. - Electrical travel adapter plug - Inner sleep sheet/bag for trains or overnight stays in yurt - Money belt - Torch or flash light - Hand sanitizer OPTIONAL: - Ear plugs to guard against street noise and snorers. - A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives. - Images from home: During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc. VALUABLES: Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary. MORE! If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

    WARM CLOTHING: Temperatures can get very low overnight in Kyrgyzstan. Please ensure you have adequate warm clothing, including to sleep in during our yurt stay.

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited, and you also agree to travel in accordance with our Responsible Travel Guidelines. The decision of the group leader is final on all matters likely to affect the safety or well-being of any traveller or staff member participating in the trip. If you fail to comply with a decision made by a group leader, or interfere with the well-being or mobility of the group, the group leader may direct you to leave the trip immediately, with no right of refund. We may also elect not to carry you on any future trips booked. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information. For additional Conditions of Carriage regarding COVID-19, see here: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/conditions-carriage

    Feedback

    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

    Emergency contact

    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. Please do be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is completed, so informing us while still travelling will give us the opportunity to resolve the issue in real-time. For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below. Intrepid’s Local Operator: +99893 3337248, +99891 5206833 Intrepid’s Local Operator: +996555303025

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable, and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers, and staff are trained on these principles and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller LOCAL DRESS We recommend that you dress respectfully at all stages of the trip especially when in and around religious sites. In Central Asia both men and women generally dress very conservatively by covering their legs and shoulders. Women are advised to cover their heads when entering functioning Orthodox churches and mosques, while men should remove their hats. KYRGYZSTAN Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative in the Kyrgyzstan. Obvious displays of affection, even between married couples can offend. During Ramadan, respect religious and cultural sensitivities, rules and customs. Don't eat, drink or smoke in public or in front of people who are fasting.

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

    Accommodation notes

    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own. CHECK-IN TIME Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination. PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights. HOMESTAYS: Please note that at our homestays you might be required to share a room with people of other genders, or with your leader. Because we stay at real people's homes, beds might be pull-out couches or mattresses on the floor, or even a yurt in their backyard. Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses, yurts and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only or no bathroom facilities.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory on all our trips for those travelling internationally. We require that at a minimum you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. If you are travelling within your home country or region please confirm before travel that you are entitled to access the public medical system easily should an accident occur. We strongly recommend all travellers have a policy that also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage or personal effects. For international trips, you will not be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24-hour emergency contact number has been sighted by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number, and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and your credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. Travellers who reside within the European Union or Switzerland receive basic international health insurance, so travel insurance is not mandatory under European Union Law. However, as this does not cover situations such as emergency rescues, private health care, or repatriation to their home country, comprehensive travel insurance is strongly recommended. European Union or Swiss travellers who decline travel insurance when travelling outside of their home region must sign a Travel Insurance Waiver Form at the Group Meeting. For assistance with travel insurance or other services, please visit the link below: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/booking-resources/our-services

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons, we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SOLO TRAVELLERS This is the beauty of our style of travel: many of our travellers join because they are travelling solo and want to meet and share experiences with like-minded people. We pair up solo travellers with another traveller of the same gender as per your passport or the information we have in our booking system, so if you identify differently from the gender marker on your passport, please let us know in advance. We also have a Single Supplement available on most trips for travellers who prefer to have their own room. Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour. Pre-trip and post-trip accommodation booked through us will on a single room basis. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on an open gender, multi-share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you review this information prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays, or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in-country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any such changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and maybe on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested in the Group Meeting and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high-risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

    Accommodation

    Guesthouse/Homestay (3 night),Hotel (20 nights),Yurt/Camp (2 nights)

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