Tashkent to Ashgabat
from $3560
Duration: 10 Days
Travel into desert landscapes heavy with romance and mysticism on this 10-day journey through Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Watch the sun set over Technicolour minarets in Khiva, learn about life in a desert settlement in Yerbent and revel in the eastern-futurism of Ashgabat. Step off the beaten track and onto the ancient Silk Road in this revelatory tour through ancient lands.
  • This incredible journey takes you through parts of Central Asia that few people can find on a map, let alone have considered travelling to.
  • Steeped in Silk Road history and immortalised in many great tales, the UNESCO-protected town of Khiva is as photogenic as it is legendary.
  • Explore the sprawling ruins of Mary, Merv and other ancient kingdoms and contemplate the remnants of empires that once ruled these vast lands.
  • 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 - witness its often bizarre, but certainly memorable architecture on a city tour.
  • Khiva - Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum
  • Khiva - Kuhna Ark
  • Khiva - Islom Hoja Minaret & Medressa
  • Khiva - Juma Mosque
  • Khiva - Tosh-Hovli Palace
  • Darvaza - "Door to Hell" Crater
  • Konye-Urgench - City tour
  • Yerbent - Village visit
  • Ashgabat - National Museum of Turkmenistan
  • Ashgabat - Nisa ruins
  • Ashgabat - Anau ruins
  • Ashgabat - Independence Monument
  • Ashgabat - Neutrality Arch
  • Ashgabat - Turkmenbashy Ruhi Mosque & Family Mausoleum of the First President of Turkmenistan
  • Ashgabat - Ertugrul Gazi Mosque
  • Merv - Big & Small Kizkala
  • Merv - Erk Kala & Gayur Kala
  • Merv - Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum
  • Day 1 Location: Tashkent
    Xush kelibsiz! Welcome to the largest city in Central Asia. Tashkent blends Russian and Uzbek style, with extravagant mosques that sit alongside modern highways and Soviet monuments. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm today. If you arrive in Tashkent with time to spare, maybe take a walk to see some of the contemporary architecture that sets this city apart from other Silk Road destinations.
    Day 2 Location: Khiva
    Take morning flight to Urgench (90 minutes) and transfer to colourful Khiva (45 minutes). 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 3 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 4 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 5 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 6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 dinner with your travel group.
    Day 10 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:
    17APR2022
    Return Date:
    26APR2022
    3560NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    24APR2022
    Return Date:
    03MAY2022
    3625NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    08MAY2022
    Return Date:
    17MAY2022
    3700NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    15MAY2022
    Return Date:
    24MAY2022
    3700NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    22MAY2022
    Return Date:
    31MAY2022
    3845NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    26MAY2022
    Return Date:
    04JUN2022
    4025NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    12JUN2022
    Return Date:
    21JUN2022
    3840NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    30JUN2022
    Return Date:
    09JUL2022
    3560NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    01SEP2022
    Return Date:
    10SEP2022
    3770NZD
    available
    Departure Date:
    18SEP2022
    Return Date:
    27SEP2022
    3845NZD
    available
    Last modified (date)

    08 Sep 2021

    Trip title

    Tashkent to Ashgabat

    Trip code

    KFSM

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2021

    Introduction

    Travel into desert landscapes heavy with romance and mysticism on this 10-day journey through Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Watch the sun set over Technicolour minarets in Khiva, learn about life in a desert settlement in Yerbent and revel in the eastern-futurism of Ashgabat. Step off the beaten track and onto the ancient Silk Road in this revelatory tour through ancient lands.

    Style

    Original

    Themes

    Explorer

    Transport

    Private vehicle,4x4 vehicle,Plane,Metro,Taxi

    Physical Rating

    3

    Joining point

    Hotel Uzbekistan

    45 Мusakhanov street

    Amir Timur Square

    Tashkent

    700047

    UZBEKISTAN

    Phone: +998 (71)1131111

    Finish point

    Hotel Mizan Отель "Мизан"

    55 Arcabil (1939) Sayoly

    Ashgabat

    TURKMENISTAN

    Important information

    1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is bookable on this trip excluding Day 4 (Camping) and is subject to availability. 2. Please note your leader will change at the Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan border 3. Please provide your exact name and passport number as per your passport to your booking agent no later than 45 days before departure in order for us to book the domestic flight. Extra charge may apply if wrong information is provided. 4. Travel to Turkmenistan requires a Letter of Invitation for visa application. Please see 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

    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

    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. 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. 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. 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

    This incredible journey takes you through parts of Central Asia that few people can find on a map, let alone have considered travelling to.

    Steeped in Silk Road history and immortalised in many great tales, the UNESCO-protected town of Khiva is as photogenic as it is legendary.

    Explore the sprawling ruins of Mary, Merv and other ancient kingdoms and contemplate the remnants of empires that once ruled these vast lands.

    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 - witness its often bizarre, but certainly memorable architecture on a city tour.

    Is this trip right for you

    There are few places like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan on earth - isolated geographically and long secluded politically. It's probably unlike anywhere you have ever been, so be prepared to be surprised and for things to run a little differently to home. Here's some of what to expect: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-expect-on-a-trip-to-turkmenistan/ Tourism is strictly controlled in Turkmenistan, with Letters of Invitation needed in advance in order to apply for your visa (which you can then get on arrival) and guides tending to be protective of what tourists see and fiercely proud of their nation and its leaders. Those used to more freedom of exploration and tour guides with a more global perspective may find their experience here different from in other destinations. As there are a number of long travel days, plenty of time spent on your feet and days can be hot and dusty you'll need excellent general health and fitness to get the most out if this trip. There is one night of basic camping included on this trip in the Karakum Desert. Sleeping bags, mattresses and tents are all provided, but there are no bathing or permanent toilet facilities at the campsite.

    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 CENTRAL ASIA: Some medications available over the counter or by prescription in your home country, such as sleeping tablets, may be illegal or restricted in Central Asia. Ensure you have a copy of any prescriptions as well as a letter from your doctor and be prepared to declare any prescription medication at customs. Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne diseases. Ticks are very common in country areas and are most active from spring to autumn. Take precautions against insect bites, including the use of insect repellent. Medical facilities are limited in Central Asia, with doctors and clinics often requiring payment in cash prior to providing services, even for emergency care. Standards in remote areas will be very basic. 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. Malaria is endemic in the southern and western parts of the country bordering Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, particularly in Batken, Osh and Zhele-Abdskaya provinces.

    Food and dietary requirements

    FOOD IN CHINA: What IS authentic Chinese food like? Check out these articles to get a taste: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-trip-blog/ https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-stereotypes/ https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-guide-to-traditional-chinese-street-food/ VEGETARIANS & VEGANS: Vegetarians in China certainly won't go hungry as there are always plenty of meat-free options on menus including vegetable, tofu, and egg dishes. Your leader can advise on some local favourites. Dairy is uncommon in Chinese cooking, although in some regions like Tibet, Xinjiang, and Yunnan you will find milk products as part of the local cuisine. Vegans should also have few problems finding tasty meals in most locations. Nearly all cities will have vegetarian restaurants, often near to temples or monasteries that specialise in Buddhist cuisine. Check out this blog for a guide to eating vegetarian in Beijing: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-vegetarians-guide-to-beijing/ DIETARY NEEDS: Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets. Please note that some dietary requirements, such as Gluten-Free, will be uncommon in China and you may need to explain to your leader what you can and can't eat as well as research common dishes before you travel. ALLERGIES: For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic and research suitable local foods before travelling. 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. 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.  If you are happy with the services providing 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: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate. At local markets and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change. Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1 per person, per day for local guides. Your crew (including the leader and driver, and perhaps cook depending on your trip): You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 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. Budget for meals not included: 180.00 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.

    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

    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

    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.

    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.

    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

    Hotel (8 nights),Camping (1 night)

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