24 Day Silk Road & Stans Adventure dep Tashkent

16 May, 2023

Trip price: $8,640

Deposit $1,500

Special Note: We also have a ‘Bishkek to Tashkent’ version (same trip, but in reverse) that will run in September 2023.

Each ‘Stan’ is special and unique, with distinct languages, cultural traditions and landscapes. You’ll be blown away. Add to that the magic of the Silk Road history and you’ve really got an adventure.

Our concept is simple – a small gang of like-minded women seeing the sights, cities, villages, deserts, and mountains worth seeing – and avoiding the tourist traps.

We’ll also make time to stop and just take it all in, and you’ll enjoy the freedom to enjoy things your way.

This trip is for genuine adventurers only. This trip does go way off the beaten path; there will be moments where you’ll be miles away from comfortable Western infrastructure. If you bring an explorer spirit, you’ll love it.

Highlights

Kyrgyzstan: Multiple hikes through jaw-dropping mountains scenery

Taijikistan: Cook a feast with Tajik women villagers before eating and dancing

Kazakhstan: Explore the city of Almaty and its rich heritage

Uzbekistan: Take in the highlights of the Silk Road and learn the history & stories

Trip Details

Price

$8,640 AUD (twin share)

  • $1,500 AUD deposit.
  • 2 week cooling off period applies.
  • Lifetime Deposit. If you need to cancel, your deposit is transferable to other trips.
  • Twin Share: we’ll match you with a roomie if you’re travelling solo.
  • Private supplement available: $1,662 AUD

Trip length

24 days, 24 nights


Dates

Starts: Tashkent, May 16, 2023

Finishes: Bishkek, June 8, 2023

This trip is timed to coincide with the end of our Iran trip that starts on May 3 and finishes May 14. Combine the two for an epic journey!


Meeting point

Hotel Inspira, Tashkent


Ending point

Hotel Navat, Bishkek


Group size

Maximum 12


Participation requirements

Please see our “Is this trip right for you?” section to see the participation requirements


Included

  • Airport transfers
  • Transportation: All trains, private vehicles
  • Dushanbe-Almaty
  • English speaking Trip Leader
  • All meals
  • All listed activities and entrance fees, and accommodation

Not included

  • Visa fees – although we will help you organise them.
  • International flights
  • Travel Insurance – This must be obtained in order to join a Patch Adventures trip
  • Additional nights
  • Tips & Gratuities: Please bring the equivalent of $200  USD for our guide & driver. (We know that tipping is not part of the Australian way of life, but it has become a de rigeur part of travel.)

Our accommodation

Every step of the way, we’ve sought out fun, unique accommodation wherever possible. We’ve also got a few stops in Western-style hotels for you to refresh and regroup for the next adventure.

You’ll sleep in:

  • a Kyrgyz yurt camp
  • a Tajik community guesthouse
  • a comfortable 4 star hotel in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

The majority of the accommodation – especially in Uzbekistan – is simple, comfortable 3 star hotels. In all cases we’ve worked hard to find the right balance of comfort and keeping the price reasonable. Just remember that when you get off the tourist trail, that means there isn’t much in the way of actual tourist infrastructure. We think that’s a good thing, but it’s not without its drawbacks…. the ‘best’ place in some of these towns can have its faults. Just come prepared!

Why Choose This Tour?

See the biggest highlights of the Silk Road and get a feel for what it was like to travel this route centuries ago

One trip leader for all countries, with local guides who speak the language in each destination!

Lots of chances to get under the tourist layer and meet real people, have genuine interactions, and eat traditional local food

Click the tabs to find out more

Itinerary

DAY 1: TASHKENT

All amazing adventures begin somewhere. For you, that’s Tashkent, Uzbekistan. The best way to arrive is to fly via Dubai; no matter when you arrive you’ll be met at the airport by a welcoming face who will drive you to your accommodation.

Meet the group in the hotel before heading for lunch, followed by a gentle walking tour of Tashkent city. The group welcome dinner will be in one of our favourite local restaurants.

Accommodation: Hotel Inspira (or similar)
Included: Dinner

DAY 2: TASHKENT CITY TOUR

Tashkent has a different vibe to most Central Asian cities, due to a huge earthquake in 1966. The city was rebuilt in the Soviet style as a result, designed to be a reflection of the best of Soviet town planning and architecture.  Not all buildings were ruined in the quake; some did survive and the group will visit some highlights today, before taking a ride on the famous Tashkent Metro – one of the most beautiful in the world. If you thought metro stations had to be dirty and boring, well, the Uzbeks would like to have a word with you!

Following lunch, a special treat as you visit the craftsmen section of the city and meet a local artisan family, the Rahimovs. They’ll show you the inner workings of their ceramics business.

And then, just like that, the Tashkent visit winds to a close as you head to the airport to fly on to the next adventure: two nights in the historic city of Khiva.

Accommodation: Hotel Zarafshan (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: KHIVA

Khiva is a UNESCO destination and a favourite of many Silk Road travellers. Smaller in scale, with just 80,000 people, it has an exceptional atmosphere that obscures its dark history.

You’ll love Khiva; a labyrinth of alleyways and blue mosaics. As magical as it is today, the Khiva of old was a local slave market hub. This is a reminder that the Silk Road may be magical today, but it hides many skeletons in its shadows.

Accommodation: Hotel Zarafshan (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: TRANSFER TO  BUKHARA

Drive through the Kyzylkum desert to Bukhara, with a lunch stop on the way.

This 5 hour journey is a relaxed way to zoom through the Uzbek countryside before arriving in the early evening to our destination. Note: The major cities of the Silk Road – Samarkand, Bukhara and to a lesser extent Khiva are very much discovered. The Silk Road is quite popular! We’ll do our best to time our visits to avoid crowds but just be aware that we’re not going to be the only show in these towns.

(Note – today will be a road trip, but if it is possible that the group will take a fast train. The train schedule has not been published yet.)

Bukhara is home for the next two nights.

Accommodation: Hotel Kavsar (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: BUKHARA

Bukhara is one of the crown jewels of the Silk Road trade route. A UNESCO listed city, it is a zigzag of backstreets, bustling bazaars and historical monuments.

Today, you’ll visit famous sights such as the Samanid Mausoleum (one of the most important monuments in Central Asia), the Ark of Bukhara, and the Bolo Hauz Mosque.

And then in the evening, we’ll meet with Makshuma Niyazova, a local historian and archaeologist who received her PhD in 2007. During a short walk and over dinner, she’ll explain the rituals and history of this ancient Silk Road city. Feel free to ask her any question you like – about history, yes, but also about what life is like for a professional woman in modern Uzbekistan.

Accommodation: Hotel Kavsar (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 6: THE EMIR’S RESIDENCE

The visit to Bukhara continues today with a relaxed visit to Sitorai Mokhi Hosa – summer residence of the last Emir of Bukhara. Take a wander around and see for yourself how the rulers of old lived in style.

Return back to Bukhara for lunch and some free time.

Then, in the afternoon, you’ll transfer to the train station to catch the high-speed Afrosiyob train to Samarkand (15:50 – 17:20) where you’ll be spending 3 nights.

On the way back home after dinner, we stop at Registan Square (below) to see the illuminated square by night.

Accommodation: Hotel Rabat Boutique (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: WELCOME TO SAMARKAND

Samarkand is one of the most popular sites of the Silk Road. Conquered by both Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, this key trading post is dripping with history.

Registan Square is the focal point of ancient Samarkand framed by three beautiful madrassas (religious schools) – Ulugbek, Sherdor and Tillya Kori. Today will be full of exploration of this and other important local sites, accompanied by your local expert guide.

Dinner is a highlight as we join the family of Farida Apa, a local primary school teacher. She’ll teach the group how to make the local dish ‘Plov’ before we eat with her family and enjoy the evening with them.

Back in the city once more, Registan Square is resplendent in the evening and we’ll go to bed with hearts and bellies content.

Accommodation: Hotel Rabat Boutique (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: MYSTERY DAY

At Patch, we like to think that not every detail needs to be listed in an itineraryy.

That’s why today is going to be a mystery day. Yes, there’ll be more exploration of Samarkand. You’ll see the most beautiful tilework in Uzbekistan, meet a local family, and try some local food, too. That’s all you need to know, for now.

This is the last day in Uzbekistan and after just a week, the distractions of the West will feel like a world away.

Accommodation: Hotel Rabat Boutique (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: SARAZM

Your time in Uzbekistan may be over, but that can only mean one thing: another Stan awaits! This morning, your group will drive across the border of Tajikistan and straight to another UNESCO World Heritage site; this time that of Sarazm.

Then, a complete change of pace as you roll through beautiful scenery into the village of Noffin, situated in the heart of the stunning Fann mountains, for a community stay.

Tonight, we’re going to prepare a big feast together – all hands on deck with some local villagers. Eat your handiwork while the group enjoys a night of Tajik music and laughter.

Accommodation: Noffin Community Guesthouse (no single supp)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: PENJIKANT

Get ready to stretch your legs this morning for a hike. Noffin is located in the 7 Lakes region and today you’ll be walking to the 7th – and highest – lake, Hazorchsahma (now try saying that with your mouth full!) Enjoy the mountain scenery and take photos before the group moves on to Penjikant.

Penjikant is a drive of several hours and its name translates as “the city of five villages”. Located on the lush Zeravshan river valley, it was once a thriving regional hub on the Great Silk Road and we’ll get some time to check it out.

Penjikant is not a major tourism hub, so the hotel tonight is quite basic, but enough for a restful night.

Accommodation: Hotel Penjikant Plaza (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: ISKANDERKUL LAKE

Road trip day today, with over 7 hours on the road!

The drive itself is a major highlight as you wind our way through the rugged valleys and mountains of Tajikistan. On the way, we’ll stop at Iskanderkul Lake (named for Alexander the Great) for a lunch stop and waterfall visit, before continuing on to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan.

Dushanbe was born as a market village. Every Monday, traders from the local area would come to sell their wares. This is, in fact, why it is called Dushanbe, the Persian word for Monday.

It’s been a long day of driving, so this evening will be relatively relaxed. Unwind, check your emails, and send some photos to friends and family.

Accommodation: Hotel Atlas (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: NAVRUZ PALACE & DUSHANBE

Dushanbe city tour. A Tajik guide will be with the group as you visit the National Museum of Antiquities, Rudaki Park and Navruz Palace.

Navruz Palace was conceived of as a spectacular tea house, but the owners got carried away and ended up with a monument to total excess. Described by one person as ‘opulence gone wild’, it is now the Presidential Palace of Tajikistan.

The photo above does not do it justice.

Accommodation: Hotel Atlas (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: FLIGHT TO ALMATY

Day 13 is here, which means you’re now past the half-way point of the trip.

Tajikistan is rapidly gaining fame for its magnificent mountain scenery, and now you fully understand why.

But, this morning it’s time to switch to your third Stan of the trip: Kakazkhstan. After a morning spent in Dushanbe, you’ll fly to Almaty, Kazakhstan in order to spend several days in this country.

Once checked into the hotel, the afternoon is open for you to take a breather, or explore the area.

Accommodation: Hotel Kazzhol Park (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 14: ALMATY CITY TOUR

Almaty is the cultural and business capital of Kazakhstan. In the morning, we’ll take a tour of the city, visiting Panfilov Park and the unique Zenkov Cathedral (pictured above). This is a more relaxed day and this afternoon you’ll get to meet a local artistic guide who will give you a hands-on demonstration of Kazakh quilt-making.

In each country, we will have a local expert guide in addition to our trip leader. This means that every step of the way, you’ll have someone with you who can translate any of your questions and help you understand the local culture more deeply.

Accommodation: Hotel Kazzhol Park (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 15: CHARYN CANYON

A big road trip today through unique scenery including beautiful rock formations.

The highlight for today is a stop at the Charyn Canyon, pictured above (remind you of anything?) This will make for a great place to have lunch as you walk down to the river (3km) for a picnic, before getting back on the road towards the village of Saty.

It’s a lot of driving – 9 hours total – so there are no plans for tonight besides dinner and a deep sleep.

Accommodation: Simple Guesthouse
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 16: KOLSAY LAKES REGION

Kazakhstan is the largest country by area of the Silk Road, and while it has a reputation for broad open spaces, you’ll be travelling in the picturesque mountain region of the South East.

The Kolsay Lakes region is one of the most beautiful in all Kazakhstan, with blue lakes edged by fir forests. By this time, you’ll have run out of adjectives to describe the scenery of these last days.

That is the end of a very quick visit to Kazakhstan; necessarily so in order to maximise the group’s time in the next Stan, this evening you’ll roll across the border into Kyrgyzstan, your very final Stan of the trip.

Our local guide will meet the group as they cross the border and take you to the town of Karakol, where you’ll spend two nights before gearing up for a cross-country jaunt across the Kyrgyz Steppes to close out the adventure.

Accommodation: Green Yard Hotel (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 17: JETY ORGUZ

Karakol is the fourth last city in Kyrgyzstan. Here, the group has an option of a sightseeing tour of the town’s most interesting sights.

These include the wooden Russian Orthodox Church, which has been standing since 1869.

This afternoon involves an easy hike in the valley of Jety Oguz, famous for its two red rock formations called “Seven Bulls” and “The Broken Heart.”

Accommodation: Green Yard Hotel (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 18: ISSYK KUL

As you travel across Central Asia you’ll notice the gradual change of cultures. Kyrgyzstan is where this becomes especially noticeable, as many consider it to be the Stan that retains the strongest cultural connection to its past. A large percentage of the Kyrgyz people are still nomadic, living in yurt camps under open skies, an experience you will share in the coming days.

Issyk Kul is the second largest mountain lake in the world, and that’s where you’re headed tonight. The afternoon has a few surprises in store as you explore the beautiful Kyrgyz countryside on the way to the lake.

The hustle and bustle of the West will feel like a different universe as you contemplate the spectacular countryside, miles away from any distraction.

Accommodation: Local Guesthouse
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 19:  FELT CARPETS

This morning, your group will continue on to Kochkor. Kochkor is now home to artisans who specialise in traditional Kyrgyz art, and who revive the traditions of the region and make sustainable souvenir

This afternoon is memorable as you stop to meet a local women’s cooperative who craft artisanal Kyrgyz ‘Shyrdak’ felt carpets. Learn how they’re made; you can even try making your own to take home (no added cost)!

MEALS INCLUDEDBreakfast, Lunch, Dinner
ACCOMMODATION: Nomad Lodge Hotel (or similar)

DAY 20: LAKE SONG KUL

After breakfast, your group will start its ascent towards the high altitude (3016m) Lake Song Kul.

The lake is not very far , but due to bad road conditions, it will still be a quite long and bumpy ride to the lake (c. 4-5 hours), which is where nomads pass their summer on the “jailoo” (summer pasture) with their animals.

Arrive in time for lunch, which will be served in the yurt camp. From there, you’ll have free time in the afternoon to go on a walk to the shore or optionally horse ride and observe nomadic life. Our local guide will be on hand to translate your questions.

Later, sleep in a yurt camp on the lake side (where else?) as you find out what nomadic living is all about. Note: the camp is very simple, and not all mod cons will be available, but that’s part of the fun.

Accommodation: Yurt Camp
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 21: CHON KEMIN

The Kyrgyz Steppes experience continues today.

The valley of Chon Kemin is wild and beautiful, and the group will arrive here at lunchtime, where you will be staying the night in a simple guesthouse. Activities may include a local horse ride and exploring the nearby village. 

Before dinner time, we learn how boorsok (deep fried bread, a speciality of Kyrgyzstan) is made and will taste it for dinner.

Accommodation: Kemin Guesthouse
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 22: BURANA AND BISHKEK

It’s now day 22 of the Silk Road trip, and today is the final day in the Kyrgyz countryside as the group travels towards Bishkek. On the way to Bishkek we will stop at Burana Tower near the town of Tokmok, 60km east of Bishkek.

Burana’s 11th-century minaret is the only remaining building from the ancient city of Balasagun, once the capital of the mighty Karakhanid empire.

The final hotel of the trip will be one of the most comfortable – Hotel Inspira.

Accommodation: Hotel Navat (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 23: BISHKEK

Bishkek is our final city and a great way to finish as the group engages in a walking exploration of the local highlights.

We will also visit the central market of Bishkek, Osh Bazaar, a great place to do any final shopping.

In the evening is the farewell dinner. What an epic trip, and now time to reflect on memories and recall the highlights together as a group.

Accommodation: Hotel Navat (or similar)
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 24: SAY GOODBYE

Kyrgyz yurts. Kazakh steppes. Tajik mountains. Uzbek history. You’ve lived it for yourself and now have dozens of stories to tell. You will have witnessed each country’s precious culture, rich history and unique heritage.

And, just like Marco Polo, you are now an official veteran traveller of the Silk Road.

Many hugs and tears will most likely ensue as the group says goodbye and exchanges email addresses for the sharing of photos and organising of future trips.

And of course, if you’d like an extra night in Bishkek, we can easily sort that out for you.

Hiking & Fitness

Fitness

You’ll need a reasonable fitness level to participate in this trip, regardless of whether to choose to hike.

If you can walk for 4-5 hours – ie 10-14km – at a moderate pace on undulating terrain, you’ll be fine. All activities are optional, meaning that if you don’t feel like it, you can skip it but it will be impossible to enjoy this trip if you’re not able to do a walking tour that lasts for a full afternoon, for example. (better to be honest!)

The longest hiking day involves 5.5 hours of walking. It’s not a race, though, and we’ll take as long as needed. If you’re not confident with your fitness, we’d recommend doing training hikes in your local area so you come to this trip ready to rock!

Frequently Asked Questions
This is the most frequently asked question we get!

Nearly everyone is in their 50s and 60s, with some people above and below (but of course, everyone is welcome!)

Most Patchies come alone and are matched with a room-mate. Remember, you don’t need to pay for a single supplement if you come solo. We will place you with a similarly-aged roommate.

The typical Patchie has travelled a LOT, is a well-seasoned adventurer, and is not easily thrown by small things. However, many Patchies tell us that this is their first ever group tour. Many of our guests have avoided tours to this point as they’re not attracted to being herded around in large groups.

Oh, and one last thing:
Patchies are warm, generous, and kind. We knew it would be like this, but we weren’t expecting it to be *quite* like this. We’re so blessed as a business to have the customers we do; we consider ourselves to be some of the luckiest people in the world.

A deposit of $1,500 is required to hold your spot. Payment can be made by credit card (fees apply) or bank deposit.

There is a cooling off period of 2 weeks. We have implemented a ‘lifetime deposit’ guarantee. Deposits are not refundable, but they are transferable at any time, right up until the first day of the trip.

The final balance of the trip is required 95 days in advance of the departure date. Our suppliers require upfront payment well in advance to guarantee availability.

Note: prior to the payment of your full balance, the final price may change if there is significant variation in the AUD:USD exchange rate; this trip pricing is based on an exchange rate of 1 AUD:0.71 USD.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions for further information.

 

Airfares are not included. We recommend Flight Centre!

Yes!

Don’t try to bring local money. If you want to bring cash, don’t bring AUD; USD is preferred.

Our guide will assist you to change money while on the ground. In all major cities, there are ATMs where you can easily take money out! The exceptions is Tajikistan, but you’ll have ample opportunity to get cash before entering.

We’ll regularly communicate with you to let you know when you’re headed into an area without much money available.

 

Private transport, specifically designed for Central Asia-like conditions, will be our primary mode of travel.

They are modern, spacious, comfortable, air-conditioned.

Our hand-picked local drivers are safe, experienced, and friendly.

There’s no need to wear hijab, but we do encourage you be a bit more conservative in general. Our typical recommendation is to cover shoulders and knees. Tajikistan is more conservative than the other countries. You’ll be provided with a headscarf if you need one.

Feel free to bring your bathers, as there will be limited opportunities to be swim.

Some days do involve long stretches of driving and you need to be the kind of person who enjoys road trips. Any such necessary long drives are offset by photo stops, picnic lunches, roadside pitstops, tea/coffee breaks, and of course seeing points of interest, leg-stretching walks.

Our vehicles are comfortable, well-maintained, and not prone to breaking down.

You’re visiting the Stans at the perfect time, with warm days and cool evenings. The potential for days over 30 is real, however, so be ready with layers. Rain showers are not uncommon; please come prepared.

On the long driving days, it’s recommended to wear blouses with long sleeves and pants for your comfort. For cool mornings and evenings, we recommend you bring at least one warm jacket or sweater, and a light sweater.

Comfortable hiking shoes are fine, no need for boots. Please be ready to dress conservatively in general but on hiking days, dress how you please.

Fixed Line Internet & Wi-Fi Internet access will be available in nearly all hotels. However, in Kyrgyzstan, it’ll be restricted to larger towns and villages which you will have the opportunity to pass through every few days. In the countryside, you’ll have little access. If you must stay in reach, speak with your guide about getting a local sim card.

YES! We can accommodate vegetarian, vegan and gluten free diets no problems, or any variation of the above. Just let us know in advance. Note: this food is often very simple and may get repetitive. We cannot cater for those with severe nut allergies. Any other medical conditions get in touch.

A deposit of $1,500 is required to hold your spot. Payment can be made by credit card (fees apply) or bank deposit.

There is a cooling off period of 2 weeks. (Applicable to all bookings made 110 days in advance.)

We have implemented a ‘lifetime deposit’ guarantee. Deposits are not refundable, but they are transferable at any time, right up until the first day of the trip.

The final balance of the trip is required 95 days in advance of the departure date. Our suppliers require upfront payment well in advance to guarantee availability.

Note: prior to the payment of your full balance, the final price may change if there is significant variation in the AUD:EUR exchange rate; this trip pricing is based on an exchange rate of 1 AUD:0.65 EUR.

Please refer to the full terms and conditions for further information.

 

 

 

We recommend flying through Dubai, both for arriving to Bishkek and leaving Tashkent. If you join the Iran trip, you’ll need to organise flights to Tehran.

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