7 nights from: $2495 Single Supplement: FREE
Journey to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan, two Turkic states nestled in the heart of Central Asia’s rugged mountain ranges. Witness nomadic tribes and untouched alpine lakes, explore the post-Soviet cities of Bishkek and Almaty, and discover a coalescence of cultures thriving in a series of European- and Asian-inspired villages and towns.
- It's Included:
- Airfare from Almaty, Kazakhstan, to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
- Accommodations for 3 nights in Bishkek, 2 nights in Cholpon-Ata (for Lake Issyk-Kul), and 2 nights in Almaty
- 19 meals—7 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 5 dinners (including 1 Home-Hosted Lunch)
- 9 small group activities
- Services of a local O.A.T. Trip Leader
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
- All transfers
You depart the U.S. for your flight to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, via Istanbul, Turkey.
Today you’ll arrive in Istanbul, where you’ll meet your connecting flight to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. Depending on your flight schedule, you’ll arrive late on Day 2 or very early on Day 3.
After breakfast and time to relax from your journey, we’ll gather for lunch at a local restaurant. Then, we’ll begin a walking tour of Bishkek, the former Silk Road trade town that was under the thumb of Russian rule for more than a century. Discoveries include Ala Too Central Square, Victory Square, and a stroll through Dobovy (Oak) Park, Bishkek’s pleasant central park. We’ll also enjoy a visit to the campus of the American University of Central Asia, which was founded in 1993 as an international, multi-disciplinary learning community in the American liberal arts tradition.
Dinner is included at a local restaurant this evening.
After breakfast, we visit the Dordoi Bazaar, one of Central Asia’s largest markets. This sprawling bazaar featuring all manner of local and imported goods was built from shipping containers stacked atop each other (Please note: Depending on the weather, we may visit Bishkek's colorful Osh Bazaar instead of Dordoi). Then, we’ll witness some of the country's alpine wilderness during a brief hike in Ala-Archa National Park (weather permitting), followed by a stop in the village of Chong-Tash to visit the Aya-Beyit Memorial Complex. Meaning “graves of our fathers” in Kyrgyz, the site honors dark episodes in Kyrgyzstan’s history, including mass murders that occurred here in 1938 at the hands of the NKVD during Stalin’s purges. After lunch at a local restaurant, the rest of the day is at leisure. Restaurants and cafés line the streets of Bishkek, and your Trip Leader can make recommendations for dinner on your own this evening.
We’ll leave Bishkek this morning bound for the stunning site of Lake Issyk-Kul—one of the largest mountain lakes in the world. We’ll skirt the northern shore of the lake, stopping to visit the open-air museum and ancient city of Balasagyn. We'll also discover some of the region's traditional horse games, including an unusual form of polo and some horse-mounted wrestling. Then, we'll enjoy lunch with a local Kyrgyz family. Afterwards, we travel to the resort town of Cholpon-Ata, where we’ll explore the extensive collection of petroglyphs carved into the large, lakeside boulders. After checking in, we’ll gather at the hotel’s restaurant for dinner.
We’ll travel to Karakol this morning, where we’ll first visit the Przhevalskiy Museum and Memorial—dedicated to the memory of Nikolai Mikhailovich Przhevalskiy, a noted Russian explorer. Then, we'll meet the famous Golden Eagle hunters of the region and learn how they train their majestic golden eagles. Next, we’ll have lunch in the home of a local Uyghur family, one of the small ethnic minorities living in Kyrgyzstan. Afterwards, we’ll explore the impressive Dungan Mosque, which was built over a century ago without a single nail, and stop for a brief visit at a Russian Orthodox Church. We’ll return to Cholpon-Ata this evening and enjoy dinner together in our hotel.
After breakfast, we’ll begin the day-long journey to Almaty, Kazakhstan. Our drive will take approximately eight hours, but we’ll pause along the way for lunch at a local restaurant, arriving at the Kyrgyzstan/Kazakhstan border in the early afternoon. Our journey into Kazakhstan continues to Almaty and after checking in, we’ll gather in a nearby restaurant for dinner.
Today we discover Almaty on an all-day tour. With the scent of apple blossoms in the air, and the striking Tien-Shan Mountain range rising from the verdant countryside, it’s easy to forget you’re in the Kazakhstan’s largest, most modern city. We’ll witness all that this inviting metropolis has to offer as we motor between its many public squares and monuments, including Panfilov Park, the Independence Monument and Zenkov Cathedral, one of the few tsarist-era buildings to survive a devastating 1911 earthquake. We’ll spend time learning about ancient musical instruments at the Museum of National Musical Instruments, and take a cable car up Kok Tobe, the hill overlooking Almaty, for views of the city and surrounding mountains. Tonight we will celebrate together with a Farewell Dinner and folk show at a local restaurant.
Please note: Due to flight schedules from Kazakhstan to Turkmenistan, some groups will depart Almaty late this evening for an overnight flight to Ashgabat..
After breakfast, you may wish to visit Almaty's Green Market on your own. Later, we'll fly to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, arriving in time for an included dinner.
Begin discoveries in Ashgabat on Day 3 of the main adventure.
Please note: If you make your own international air arrangements, or if you purchase our international airfare from certain U.S. departure cities, your extension price will increase due to the cost of internal flights. This extension may not be available on all departures. Additional taxes and fees apply.