Rating in Tajikistan
$ 5050

Journey Through The 4 Stans

Universal
Universal
min $ 5050
Per person
Tour details
Destinations: Dushanbe
Guide language: English
Price: min $ 5050
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  • Overview & dates
  • Itinerary
  • What's included

Overview & dates

INTRO

Begin your journey in Tajikistan, where you will experience the bustling capital of Dushanbe and uncover ancient ruins at the archaeological site of Penjikent. Visit the stunning mountain landscapes in Zerafshan Valley and the tumbling waterfalls of Zarob Gorge. Marvel at the mesmerisingly turquoise waters of Iskanderkul Lake. Venture on to Kyrgyzstan and see the magnificent rock formations of Skazka Canyon. Scale the heights of the northern Tian Shan mountains to the alpine lake of Issy Kul. See the striking red sandstone of Sharyn Canyon in Kazakhstan, before visiting Medeu - the highest speed skating rink in the world. Journey on to Turkmenistan. Learn the rich history behind the walled ruins of the ancient city of Merv. Experience the regal atmosphere of Ashgabat, discover its sparkling white marble palaces and journey through its beautifully manicured parks.


DATES

  • 10 Sep 2018 to 27 Sep 2018 - £ 3,995 - GD
  • 29 Apr 2019 to 16 May 2019 - £ 3,995 - GD
  • 09 Sep 2019 to 26 Sep 2019 - £ 3,995 - AV

If these dates do not suit you but you are interested in this tour, please contact us for alternative dates.

AV - Available
GD - Guaranteed
LM - Limited places left
OR - On request (contact us for status)
CL - Closed for bookings


All tours in Kazakhstan

All tours in Kyrgyzstan

All tours in Tajikistan

All tours in Turkmenistan


HIGHLIGHTS

The bustling capital of Dushanbe

Archaeological site of Penjikent

Stunning mountain landscapes in Zerafshan Valley

Sublime beauty of Issy Kul Lake

Rock formations of Skazka canyon

Remarkable rock formations at Jety-Oguz gorge

Intricate wooden carvings of Karakol's Cathedral

The sparkling white marble eeriness of Ashgabat

The ruins of the ancient city of Merv


PLACES VISITED

Dushanbe - Hisor Town - Khujand - Istaravshan - Zerafshan Valley - Penjikent - Sarazm - Iskanderkul Lake - Bishkek - Karakol - Issy Kul Lake - Kyzil Tuu - Skazka canyon - Chon-Kemin valley - Almaty - Sharyn Canyon - Nisa - Ashgabat - Ancient Merv - Mary - Kipchak Dushanbe
Hisor Town
Khujand
Istaravshan
Zerafshan Valley
Penjikent
Sarazm
Iskanderkul Lake
Bishkek
Karakol
Issy Kul Lake
Kyzil Tuu
Skazka canyon
Chon-Kemin valley
Almaty
Sharyn Canyon
Nisa
Ashgabat
Ancient Merv
Mary
Kipchak

Itinerary

ITINERARY

Short | Detailed | PDF


Choose departure date10 Sep 2018 -- 27 Sep 201829 Apr 2019 -- 16 May 201909 Sep 2019 -- 26 Sep 2019

Day 1 : Arrive in Dushanbe (Tajikistan)

Arrive in Dushanbe, where you will be met by a Travel the Unknown representative and transferred to your hotel. Spend the morning at your leisure. Later, visit Hisor, where you will see the ancient fortress. Visit Medrassah Kuhna, Museum of Tajik Way of Life and the mausoleum of Sufi Saint Mahdumi Azam. Visit the Museum of Musical Instruments. Overnight in Dushanbe. 

Meal plan : Dinner


Dushanbe means "Monday" in Tajik and was named after the popular Monday market that was once held here. Excavations in the area unearthed artefacts that date back to the 5th century BC. Dushanbe was little more than a village until the early 20th century, but today it is the capital city of Tajikistan.

The Museum of Musical Instruments, or Gurminj Museum, is located in the centre of Dushanbe. The museum was founded by Tajik actor and musician, Gurminj Zavkibekov in 1990. It houses about 100 musical instruments which represent the Pamiri and Badakhshani musical tradition. These include the tar, rubab, tanbur and setor. 

The city of Hisor lies at an altitude of 799 to 824 metres between the Gissar, Babatag and Aktau Mountain Ranges. The old fort of Hisor is said to date back to the time of Cyrus the Great - the founder of the Achaemenid Empire who reigned between 559 and 530 BC.

Day 2 : Dushanbe - Khujand

Depart Dushanbe and travel to Khujand, stopping en route to enjoy beautiful mountainous views at Varzob Gorge. Spend the day touring the city, with key sights including the Mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddin memorial complex, Panjshanbe Bazaar and Arbob Palace. Later visit the Sughd Museum. Overnight in Khujand. 

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Founded between the 7th and 8th centuries, Khujand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia and the second largest in Tajikistan. Located along the Silk Road, it connects Samarkand with Fergana Valley. It was destroyed by the army of Genghis Khan during the 13th century, but quickly revived due to its strategic location and significant transport links, becoming one of the largest commercial, cultural and scientific centres in Tajikistan. 

Set within a reconstructed bastion in Khujand's city wall, Sughd Museum holds a variety of regional artifacts showcasing the history of the Sughd region. The basement houses a collection of Graeco-Roman-style stone reliefs and murals of prehistoric life, while a statue of Timur Malik takes centre-stage in the main hall.

Built on the tomb of Khujand's 12th century ruler, Muslihiddin Khudjandi, the Mausoleum of Sheikh Muslihiddin lies in the historical centre of Khujand. It has been rebuilt several times throughout the centuries, creating a distortion between the buildings not just in style but in purpose (the 16th century reconstructed mausoleum was no longer used for just burials, but also for prayer and ritual ceremonies). Today, the mausoleum is an architectural complex consisting of a cathedral mosque, a 20-metre-tall 19th century minaret and ancient burials.

Meaning "Thursday" in Persian, Panjshanbe Bazaar is Khujand's central market and one of the oldest in Tajikistan. Located in a Silk Road city, the market has always been popular with traders and travellers, selling a variety of goods, from fruit and vegetables to meat and bread.

Showcasing beautiful Soviet neo-classical architecture, Arbob Palace symbolises the historical bridge between Soviet Tajikistan and independent Tajikistan. Particularly significant in 1992, it was the meeting place of the Tajik Society who officially declared independence from the Soviet Union, as well as the site where the Tajik flag was chosen.

Varzob Gorge is a beautifully mountainous region north of the capital city. The region boasts striking views of lush green forests, tumbling waterfalls and winding rivers. 

Day 3 : Khujand - Istaravshan - Penjikent

Travel to Istaravshan, where you will visit Mugtepa Fortress and Kok Gumbaz. Later visit a local bazaar, where you will see metal and wood craftsmen at work. Continue through Zerafshan Valley to Penjikent. Overnight in Penjikent.

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


The Kok Gumbaz Mosque was constructed in 1435 on the site of the Dorut Tilovat Ensemble. Also known as the Friday Mosque of Shahrisabz, the structure can be found opposite the tomb of Shamsiddin Kulal. "Kok Gumbaz" translates to "blue dome", after its crowning dome which is covered with blue ceramic tiles. 

Existing for more than 2,500 years and previously known as "Kiropolis", Istaravshan is one of the oldest cities in Tajikistan. Located in the northern foothills of the Turkistan mountain range, it was the ancient centre of trade and crafts, famous for its carving, glazed pottery and embroidery. Though some crafts still survive today, its economy is now based on fruit processing and wine making.

Situated in northern Tajikistan between the western Pamir-Alai mountain ranges, Zerafshan Valley is famous for its stunning mountain landscapes and beautiful lakes. The Tajik ancestors, the Sogdians, lived along the valley for over 1,500 years. Primarily entered from Samarkand, it contains little-travelled branches of the ancient Silk Road. 

Day 4 : Penjikent - Haf Kul - Penjikent

Travel to the Seven Lakes, via the settlement of Sarazm. See lakes including Mijgon, Soya, Khurdak and Marguzor. Return to Penjikent. Overnight in Penjikent. 

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Established in the 5th century AD by the Sogdians, the ancient town of Penjikent is famous for its millennium archaeological site. Strategically located along the route from Samarkand to Khuhistan, it was an important stop on the Silk Road and the cultural, industrial and trade centre of Soghd. It was destroyed by Arab invaders in the 8th century AD, though archaeological excavations in 1946 revealed the remnants of residential areas, administration buildings, a citadel with a palace and churches. Most impressive are the surviving colourful wall paintings displaying various scenes and stories, from battles and hunting to feasts and dancing. 

Located in the west of the Fan Mountains, the Seven Lakes of Marguzor each has its own colour, varying from calming turquoise to mesmerising purple. At 2,139 metres lie the lakes of Mijgon, Soya, Hushyor and Nophin, while the lakes of Khurdak, Marguzor and Hazorchashma are found further up at 2,400 metres.

Sarazm is an ancient town in Tajikistan dating back to the 4th century BC, that has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage site. At around 3000 BC it was the major metallurgical centre in Central Asia. It was later abandoned and then revived again as a base to mine turquoise.

Day 5 : Penjikent - Dushanbe

Begin the day in Penjikent, where you will visit Rudaki Historic-ethnographic museum and the Ancient Penjikent settlement. Later, depart Penjikent and travel to Dushanbe, en route seeing the magnificent Iskanderkul Lake. Overnight in Dushanbe. 

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Located in the Hissar mountain range and surrounded by the Fann mountains, Iskanderkul Lake sits at 2,255 metres above sea level. It was named after the conqueror Alexander the Great, who allegedly passed the lake on his way to India, with "Iskander" being the Persian equivalent to his name. Due to the high concentration of minerals in the turquoise water, there is almost no aquatic life in the lake.

Day 6 : Dushanbe

Spend day exploring Dushanbe. Visit the Museum of National Antiquities and the National Museum. Later see the monument of Ismoili Somoni, Rudaki Park and a local bazaar. Overnight in Dushanbe. 

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Rudaki Park commemorates  Tajiki poet, Rudaki. It is home to an array of beautiful flower gardens, scenic lakes and water fountains. The statue of Rudaki stands beneath an arc of blue mosaic stars in a rose garden at the centre of the park.

The Ismoili Somoni Monument was designed in celebration of the 10th-century founder of the Samanid dynasty. The statue was designed in an art-deco style and stands in Friendship Square in the city of Dushanbe. 

Opened in 2001, the Museum of National Antiquities in Dushanbe houses archaeological finds from Tajikistan with an array of artefacts from Islamic and pre-Islamic history. Its most valuable exhibit is the original Buddha from Ajina Teppa.

Opened in 2013, Dushanbe's National Museum houses a range of exhibits revealing the history of Tajikistan from the stone age to present day. With 22 exhibition halls, the museum showcases both real and recreated archaeological artefacts. Displays include unique frescoes and burned wooden statues from the Penjikent excavation site, as well as a reconstructed Ajina-Tepe Buddhist monastery site.

Day 7 : Dushanbe - Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)

Transfer to the airport for flight to Bishkek. Upon arrival, take a tour of the city. Highlights will include the Manas Monument, Ala Too Square, Independence Monument and Parliament House. Later visit Victory Square. Overnight in Bishkek. 

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Ala-Too Square is in central Bishkek. It was built in 1984 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Kyrgyz SSR. An iconic statue of Lenin once stood in the middle of the square, which was formerly known as Lenin Square until Kyrgyzstan gained its independence in 1991. Following this, the statue was moved and a new statue called 'Erkindik', meaning freedom, was installed in its place. 

Bishkek lies in the shadow of the Kyrgyz Ala-Too range, an extension of the Tian Shan mountains. It is Kyrgyzstan’s capital and biggest city with a population just under one million. It was named “Frunze” by the Bolsheviks in 1926 after a military leader born there. Following its independence in 1991 it was renamed “Bishkek”, after the fortress of “Pishpek“ in the area.

The Eternal Fire monument, also known as 'Victory Square' and 'Victory monument', was constructed in 1984. The statue depicts a woman who is standing over the eternal flame, waiting for the return of her son or husband to return home from the Great Patriotic War (as they call their participation in World War II, from 1941 to 1945). 

Day 8 : Bishkek - Karakol

Drive to Karakol along the shore of Issy Kul Lake, stopping en route in Skazka Canyon. Other optional stops include Kyzil Tuu Village and Bokonbaevo Village. Overnight in Karakol. 

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


The saline Issy Kul Lake, located in the northern Tian Shan mountains, is the second highest alpine lake in the world after Lake Titicaca. Its name means 'warm lake' in Kyrgyz and despite the surrounding snow-capped mountains, the lake itself never actually freezes. The circumference of the lake is around 440km and its depth reaches around 700m at its deepest point. Ancient Ussuni settlements, that are thought to date back 2,500 years, remain submerged beneath the water of this giant lake.

The village of Kyzil Tuu, situated in the Naryn province, specialises in making yurts by hand, the traditional Kyrgyz way. It lies at an altitude of over 2,000 metres above sea level, providing scenic views across the rolling valleys.

Skazka canyon is a valley off the Southern coast of Issy Kul lake near the village of Tosor. It has some beautiful rock landscapes carved out by erosion, featuring a multitude of colours and shapes.

Day 9 : Karakol - Jety-Oguz - Karakol

Visit a Chinese mosque and Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral. Later, travel to the Valley of the Flowers and Jety-Oguz gorge, where you will take a light hike through the magnificent canyon. Overnight in Karakol.

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


The scenic Jety-Oguz gorge is located just outside of the city of Karakol. 'Jety-Oguz' translates to 'seven bulls'. It is named after the seven dramatic cliffs that span a length of 35km and are thought to resemble seven bulls. The surrounding hot springs, mountain lakes, forests and grasslands boast a rich biodiversity. It makes for a beautiful walking area.

Constructed in 1907 by a Chinese architect and 20 artisans, Karakol's Chinese Mosque showcases distinctive decoration and bright colours in the style of a traditional Chinese temple, created for the local Dungans. However, it was actually built in the Kyrgz wood-feathering style, in which only wood is used for construction without the use of a single nail. 

Located in the centre of Karakol, the Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral is a fine example of a Russian Orthodox church. Built on the site of an earlier church in 1895, it served as a dance hall under the Soviet rule before being used as a school during World War Two. It was renovated in the late 1980s and now serves as an active church. Constructed using wooden walls on a stone foundation, the facade is decorated with intricate carvings.

Day 10 : Karakol - Chon-Kemin

Travel to Chon-Kemin Valley, driving along Issyk Kul Lake and stopping en route to visit the Nikolai Przhevalskii museum. Overnight in Chon-Kemin.

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Chon-Kemin is a beautiful natural valley where the Chon-Kemin River flows between the Kungei Ala-Too and Iliysky Ala-Too mountain ranges. The valley is a combination of both wild and pastoral landscapes, dense conifer forests and sparse mountains. Its Tien Shan fir forests are famed for their medicinal herbs, mushrooms and edible berries. The area offers excellent hiking, rafting, horse riding and fishing opportunities.

The Nikolai Przhevalskii museum was opened in 1957 in Karakol to commemorate the Russian explorer-scientist, Nikolai Prezhevalskii. During his lifetime, he undertook 4 expeditions to Mongolia, China and Tibet. He researched the geography, flora and fauna of these Central Asian countries, discovering over 200 plant species, as well as doing a little spying for the government, most probably. The museum displays his extensive research alongside a zoological collection that is comprised of various plant, bird, fish and animal samples.

Day 11 : Chon-Kemin - Almaty (Kazakhstan)

Proceed to Almaty, en route visiting Burana Tower, before crossing the border into Kazakhstan. Overnight in Almaty. 

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Burana Tower is a minaret in the Chuy Valley that marks the 9th-century Karakhanid town of Balasagun. The town was believed to have been once considered the centre of the world, but was lost in the mists of time until quite recently. The minaret was originally 45m tall, though only 25m remains due to earthquakes.
 


Day 12 : Almaty

Take a tour of Almaty, with highlights including Central State Museum, Republic Square and Zenkov Cathedral. Later, travel to Medeu and see the famous skating rink. Overnight in Almaty. 

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Zenkov Cathedral, also known as The Ascension Cathedral, is a Russian Orthodox cathedral situated in Panfilov Park. The structure is made from wood, although no nails were used to construct the striking cathedral. It was completed in 1907 and stands at a height of almost 60 metres tall, making is the second tallest wooden building in the world. 

Almaty, formerly known as 'Alma-Ata', is the largest city in Kazakhstan. It is located in the foothills of the Trans-lli Alatau mountain and has become the major commercial and cultural hub for the country. 

The Central State Museum in Almaty was originally housed within the former Almaty Cathedral when it opened in 1931. In 1985, a new structure was constructed to properly exhibit the rich history of Kazakhstan. It presents the history of Kazakhstan across four exhibition halls, from the Bronze Age to contemporary times. Exhibits include an archaeological gold collection, ethnographic displays of yurts and exotic costumes, and information on Kazakhstan's many ethnic groups during the 20th and 21st centuries. 

Almaty's Republic Square was constructed in 1980 and was used throughout the rule of the Soviet Union as a place for mass demonstrations, celebrations, festivals and military parades. It was also the site of the infamous 1986 uprising known as Jeltoqsan that occurred in protest over the dismissal of the Kazakh Soviet leader Kunayev.

The Medeu is an outdoor speed skating rink situated at an elevation of 1,691 metres above sea level in the Medeu mountain valley. It has become known as the highest skating rink in the world. 

Day 13 : Almaty - Charyn - Almaty

Drive to Sharyn Canyon, where you will enjoy a light hike to Sharyn River. Overnight in Almaty.

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Sharyn Canyon lies in the open plains of Almaty. The red sandstone was cracked open and enlarged by the Sharyn River. After many years of weathering and erosion, the striking canyon and its impressive rock formations were formed. Visitors can walk, raft and take jeep tours through the distinct landscape.

Day 14 : Almaty

Spend the day at your leisure in Almaty. Later transfer to airport for overnight flight to Ashgabat. 

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Day 15 : Ashgabat (Turkmenistan)

Arrive in Ashgabat, where you will be transferred to your hotel. Later, visit Old Nisa Fortress and see monuments including The National Independence Park. Stop at the National Museum of History and Ethnography. Overnight in Ashgabat.

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


The National Independence Park is located in the south of the city of Ashgabat. The park contains striking gold monuments and statues of eagles and national heroes. The elaborate design features marble stairs and a 118 metre tall column, which is topped with a crescent moon and five stars - symbolising the unity of five Turkemn tribes. 

The UNESCO-listed ruins of Nisa can be found near to Ashgabat. The settlement was originally founded under the rule of the Parthian king Arsaces I in the 3rd century BC. Excavations of the site have uncovered mausoleums, shrines, ornate ivory rhytons (drinking cups) and Hellenistic works of art, indicating that the site was one of the earliest and most important cities of the Parthian empire. It was destroyed by an earthquake in the 1st century BC.

Ashgabat translates to "the city of love" in Arabic. This city is relatively young, being founded and developed by the Russians at the end of the 19th century. A massive earthquake in 1948 completely destroyed the city and killed two thirds of its population. It was rebuilt by the Soviets in their inimitable style, but the grand white marble palaces, domes and manicured parks seen today have mostly been built in the last 15 years to showcase the country’s oil and gas wealth.

The National Museum of History and Ethnography is a great place to get a feel for Turkmenistan’s long and complex history. It houses over 500,000 artifacts and relics from the country's main archaeological sites, as well as examples of national dress, traditional household equipment, a couple of enormous carpets and some traditional musical instruments

Day 16 : Ashgabat - Mary

Transfer to the airport for flight to Mary. On arrival, travel to Ancient Merv where you will take a tour of the archaeological site. Later, travel back to Mary where you will visit the local History Museum. Overnight in Mary. 

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


Ancient Merv was once a major oasis city on the Silk Road, where evidence of civilisation dates back to the 3rd millennium BC. The ancient site held significant cultural and political importance and is believed to have been the largest city in the world in the 12th century. The walled ruins of Merv have since been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. It is believed that Genghis Khan slaughtered a million people here when conquering the city.

The city of Mary is located on the Murghab River in the Kara Kum Desert. Formerly known as "Merv", the oasis city was an important stop on the Silk Road. The modern settlement of Mary was founded in 1884, when it became a Russian military administrative centre. It remains a centre for the production and trading of cotton and gas. 

The History Museum in Mary was founded in 1968. It contains over 40,000 exhibits that document the culture, history and heritage of the region. These include traditional clothing, tapestries, manuscripts and historic weapons.

Day 17 : Mary - Ashgabat

Transfer to the airport for return flight to Ashgabat. On arrival, visit the Russian Bazaar before travelling to Arkadash stud farm near Geok Depe. See Geok Depe mosque before touring the complex of Kipchak. Overnight in Ashgabat. 

Meal plan : Breakfast & dinner


The Russian Bazaar, or Gulistan, was built between 1972 and 1982, making it one of the oldest covered markets in Turkmenistan. The building was designed in the Soviet Modernism style and decorated by the Turkmen sculptor, Klych Yaramamedov, who created beautiful abstract sculptures. The bazaar houses a wide range of goods, shops and eateries, which is still popular among tourists and locals alike. 

Geok Depe, also known as Geok Tepe, is a former fortress in the oasis of Ahal, on the Transcaspian railway. The walled fortress was attacked by Russians in a siege that lasted 23 days, after which the city was defeated. Saparmurat Hajji Mosque was built to commemorate the defeat.

Kipchak was the home village of the first President of Turkmenistan, Saparmurat Niyazov, and the site of the impressive white marble Kipchak Mosque. Also known as the Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque, it is the largest mosque in Central Asia, with an overall capacity of 10,000 people. It was built between 2002 and 2004 for Niyazov, who is buried in the mausoleum aloongside his family. It cost Turkmenistan $100,000,000 to constrcut and its image is featured on the national 500 TMT banknotes.

Day 18 : Departure

Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

Meal plan : Breakfast


What's included

INCLUDED Arrival & departure transfers Ground transport with driver Regional flights  Accommodation Meals (refer to itinerary for meal plan) English-speaking guides Entrance fees to sites & parks
All tour descriptions and conditions are given in accordance with the information of Travel The Unknown
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From low-key to loud and subtle to extreme The director of Travel Land LLC, Artem Kozdrovich is a guide that makes it his job to possess a vast amount of knowledge about the landscapes he takes travelers to. Being a local and having a first-hand exper…
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