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Silk Road Tours offer tailor made holidays through Central Asia, The Caucasus, Middle East and North Africa
A comprehensive tour of mountainous Kyrgyzstan and neighbouring Kazakhstan’s fascinating south. Ala Archa and Aksu Djabagly National Parks offer the chance to journey deep into the beautiful Tien Shan, while the ruins of Otrar and the profusion of ancient monuments scattered throughout Kazakhstan speak of its importance along the Silk Road. The vast landscapes of this remote region mean that long journeys are inevitable, but the scenery and sights along the way make the travel worthwhile, and the overnight train from Turkistan to Almaty allows you to experience a slice of local life.
Covering four of Central Asia’s five “Stans”, this comprehensive tour takes in the iconic Silk Road cities in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan before exploring the Islamic cities and former trading posts of southern Kazakhstan. In complete contrast to these historical delights, the journey finishes with time spent in the spectacular mountains of Kyrgyzstan, where you will discover a country steeped in ancient nomadic traditions.
Roughly the size of Western Europe, Kazakhstan emerged from the post-Soviet period as the ninth largest country in the world. It is a country of incredible geographical contrasts, bounded to the east by the Tien Shan mountains and encompassing the world’s largest expanse of steppe. Its beautiful landscapes can be explored in the Aksu Zhabagly and Altyn Emel National Parks, as well as in the impressive Charyn Canyon which cuts through the sandstone of the Tien Shan.
The northern route of the Silk Road passed through Kazakhstan, and Turkestan remains its most impressive monument from this period, while the city of Otrar incurred the wrath of Genghis Khan and sparked the Mongol invasion of Central Asia. Modern Kazakhstan’s economy is fuelled by its vast mineral wealth, and the gleaming new capital of Astana is adorned with the work of world renowned architects such as Norman Foster.
The old capital, Almaty, remains at the heart of Kazakh culture and trade, and the people remain close to their nomadic roots, with the yurt still a potent symbol in spite of the country’s rush to modernity. The local cuisine reflects this too, with horse meat considered a great delicacy and fermented mare’s milk being the national drink. Beshbarmak, the national dish, is steeped in the traditions of Kazakh herders, and at its finest consists of boiled mutton or horse meat served with layers of pasta and onion on a large platter, topped off with garlic and parsley. Holidays to Kazakhstan leave a lasting impression.
Time Zone – GMT + 5 and GMT + 6
Best Times to Visit – May to June, September and October
Visas – UK passport holders obtain before travel, Letter of Introduction not required
Currency – Kazakhstan Tenge (KZT) obtainable on arrival