Central Asia: Five Stans Express

Trip Code: KFSS

Why we love it

This trip explores the essential highlights of Central Asia and uncovers culture, nature and history while meeting some of the most hospitable people in the world, With breathtaking scenery at every turn, you’ll discover the incredible Darvaza Crater, Kolsai Lakes and Issykul Lake, Take a step back in time as you explore the Silk Road history and visit Khiva ancient town, Registan in Samarkand, Bukhrara, and Khujand, Get to know the locals as you visit a carpet-making workshop, meet a local eagle trainer (or Berkutchi), rub shoulders with the locals in the bustling bazaars and test your taste buds in a dinner of home-cooked plov (Uzbekistan's national dish), Enjoy special stays like sleeping in yurts by Lake Issykul, staying in local villages and making yourself at home in a boutique hotel that used to be an old Jewish house in Bukhara

Is this trip right for me?

This trip explores the best of Central Asia in a short time, covering a lot of ground. If you want to be far, far away from everywhere and experience the key highlights of Central Asia – this trip is for you.

In true adventure style, the trip involves some long travel days by private vehicle. The road may be bumpy and dusty, but the experience and the journey will be rewarding. This is a great opportunity to sit back, unwind and let the sweeping views roll by. Drives range from 3 to 10 hours in duration. Though the longer travel days and single night overnight stays can be tiring, you'll be in a private vehicle, and much of the scenery in this part of the world is simply stunning.

You’ll experience varying temperatures in the desert and out on the steppe or in the mountains from below zero to over 40 ºC, so check the weather forecast online before you visit and pack accordingly.

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. Please see the ‘Passport and visas’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details.

Be prepared to experience the full legacy of the Soviet era – not just in the sights and history, but also in the standards of accommodation and service! A range of different accommodations are used on this trip, including yurt camp, home stay, guesthouse, hotels and camping. The conditions at the camping, yurt stay and the home stays are basic with shared facilities. This means the group being split between different houses, multi-share rooms and the bathroom facilities are separated from your sleeping quarters. For the camping at the Darvaza Crater, sleeping bags, mattresses and tents are all provided, but there are no bathing or permanent toilet facilities at the campsite. You won't be able to take a shower every day on this trip.

Important information

1. A single supplement is bookable if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Days 2 (camping), Day 12 (home stay), Day 17 (guest house), Day 18&19 (home stay), and Day 21&22 (yurt camp), where you will be in shared accommodation. Single supplement is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
2. Please provide your full name exactly as per passport at the time of booking (including any middle names listed on your passport) for flight ticket booking no later than 45 days prior to departure. Fees may apply for amendments or failure to provide the required details within 45 days of departure.
3. This is a multi-country trip. Please read the visa section of the Essential Trip Information carefully for the visa requirement. Visa for Turkmenistan requires a Letter of Invitation in advance which needs to be organized by our local operator. Essential documents for the letter of invitation should be submitted no later than 60 days before the trip.
4. Independent travel is not allowed in Turkmenistan. If you have pre trip accommodation booked with us, you won't be allowed to leave your hotel without a guide in Ashgabat. Please consult with your booking agent if you need to book pre-trip accommodation in Ashgabat.

What to bring/pack

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

Physical rating

3

Joining your group

Sport hotel, 10 yil Abdanchylyk str Olympic complex Ashgabat Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, TURKMENISTAN

Alternate Joining Point


Joining instructions

Finishing your trip

Rich Hotel, 111, Timiryazeva St, Bishkek, KYRGYZSTAN, Phone: 996 312 322038

Alternate Finish Point


Meals & dietary information

Breakfasts included: 23

Lunches included: 5

Dinners included: 9

While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader or local representative 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.

Climate & seasonal information

UZBEKISTAN
It can get very hot in summer months, particularly in July when temperatures can be above 40C. Be prepared for cooler nights when in the mountains, desert at night or when travelling in April/May or October/November.

SEASONAL WEATHER
Tajikistan can experience extremes in temperature - from scorching heat in summer in the cities, to below freezing temperatures at altitude. Be prepared for all weather, particularly in April/May and September/October.

TAJIKISTAN HOLIDAYS & EVENTS:
International Workers Day - 1st May
Victory Day - 9th May
Ramadan - 5th May - 4th June 2019, 23rd April - 23rd May 2020
National Unity Day - 27th June 2019
Kurban Bairam (Feast of the Sacrifice) - 12th August 2019, 31st July 2020
Independence Day - 9th September

In case of emergency

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 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 or local representative may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the group leader or local representative 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 contact details please use the following page: http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/contact/

In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local office on the numbers below:

Intrepid local operator : Available for phone call on +30 697 800 6335 

Available for phone call or WhatsApp call on +996555303025

Accommodations

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.

Transportation