Our People
  • Amy Waters snow biking Our Team

    Steppes Travel is made by the people who work here. Incredible holidays are made possible because of their vast travel experience and the great enthusiasm they bring to their work.

  • William Dalrymple Our Tour Experts

    We carefully select our experts based on their knowledge, companionship and influence, ensuring that you can travel with the most knowledgeable leaders in the field.

  • Liz Bonnin Heroes and Heroines

    The people who lead the way when it comes to those things which matter to us: exploration, the environment, women’s empowerment and education.

Ala Archa, Kyrgyzstan

Five Stans

  • EXPERT-LED GROUP TOUR
Start dateEnd dateDays
Prices from
Single SupplementTour ExpertGroup SizeStatus
05/19/21 06/04/2117 days $6,987 ex. flights $796Chris Alexander15 Max AVAILABLE Reserve place

Key Highlights of this Itinerary

Mountain scene, Kyrgyzstan 1

Central Asian Stans

Enjoy remarkable contrasts of a region that is remains largely undiscovered.

Zenkov Cathedral, Almaty, Kazakhstan 2

Alamaty and Khujand

Explore the historic cities of Almaty, former capital of Kazakhstan, and Khujand, one of the oldest cities in Central Asia.

Statue of Mana Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan 3

The Great Game

Discover the world of the intrigue of the Russo-British relations in Central Asia during the 19th century.

Registan, Samarkand, Uzbekistan 4

Samarkand and Bukhara

Visit the colourful bazaars and architectural wonders of Samarkand and Bukhara.

Explore our suggested itinerary

  • Day 1

    Bishkek

  • Day 2

    Bishkek - Cholpan Ata

  • Day 3

    Cholpan Ata - Bishkek

  • Day 4

    Bishkek - Almaty

  • Days 5-6

    Almaty

  • Day 7

    Almaty - Dushanbe

  • Day 8

    Dushanbe - Khujand

  • Day 9

    Khujand - Oibek - Tashkent

  • Day 10

    Tashkent - Samarkand

  • Day 11

    Samarkand

  • Day 12

    Samarkand - Bukhara

  • Day 13

    Bukhara

  • Day 14

    Bukhara - Turkmenabat - Mary

  • Day 15

    Mary - Ashgabat

  • Day 16

    Ashgabat

  • Day 17

    Ashgabat

Day 1

Bishkek

White House Parliament Building, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Arrive into Bishkek at any time as this day is at leisure. The capital of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, was built on a grid system with many tree-lined streets. This approach to city planning has made central Bishkek a pleasant area to explore, with wide boulevards and impressive architecture.

Day 2

Bishkek - Cholpan Ata

Burana Tower, Kyrgystan

Explore Bishkek and some of the various monuments that dot the city. In the afternoon, en route to Cholpan Ata, stop to see the conically shaped, 13th Century Burana Tower.

Day 3

Cholpan Ata - Bishkek

Rock with ancient art of two carved creatures on.

Visit the region’s renowned petroglyphs in the morning. Return to Bishkek in the afternoon. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Day 4

Bishkek - Almaty

Spires of Zenkov Cathedral, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Depart this morning and travel to Almaty, the border between Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Cross the border where your Kazakhstan local guide will be waiting to meet you to drive to Almaty.

Days 5-6

Almaty

Charyn canyon, Charyn National Park, Kazakhstan

Explore the city of Almaty and take a day trip to Charyn Canyon. Red sandstone cliffs have been forged into imposing formations, offering dramatic landscapes and breath-taking views.

Day 7

Almaty - Dushanbe

Front Gate of Hissor Fort, Dushanbe, Tajikstan

Fly from Almaty to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. After lunch, travel outside the capital to see Hissor Fort, formerly capital of Eastern Bukhara province.

Day 8

Dushanbe - Khujand

Kyrgyz nomad by yurt, Bulunkul, Tajikistan

Travel by road from Dushanbe to Khujand, the oldest cities in Central Asia dating back to the 7th century BC.

Day 9

Khujand - Oibek - Tashkent

Museum of Applied Art of Uzbekistan ceiling, Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Depart this morning and travel to Oibek, the border between Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. Cross the border where your Uzbekistan local guide will be waiting to meet you to drive to Tashkent.

Day 10

Tashkent - Samarkand

Ulug Beg Observatory, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Depart by train from Tashkent to Samarkand. On arrival, explore the beautiful Shah-i-Zinda, before continuing to Ulugh Beg’s Observatory and the Shah-I-Zinda Ensemble.

Day 11

Samarkand

Registan Square, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Samarkand full day city tour. Wander the vast Registan Square, arguably the most spectacular architectural ensemble in Central Asia.

Day 12

Samarkand - Bukhara

Chor Minor Mosque, Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Travel by train to Bukhara. On arrival, visit Lyab-i-Khauz, meaning ‘ensemble near the pool’. Bukhara’s most spectacular and oldest square comprises of the Kukeldash Madrasa, the Nadir Devanbagi Madrasa and the Nadir Devanbagi Mosque.

Day 13

Bukhara

View to Mir i Arab madrassa thru the old wooden carved door, Bukhara

Full-day sightseeing including the Ark Citadel and Bolo Hauz Mosque.

Day 14

Bukhara - Turkmenabat - Mary

Mosque and Kyz Kala at Sunset, Merv, Turkmenistan

Depart your hotel in the morning and travel to Turkmenabat, the border between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Cross the border where your Turkmenistan local guide will be waiting to meet you to drive to Mary.

Day 15

Mary - Ashgabat

Mary, Merv, Turkmenistan

Drive to Merv. Once known as the pearl of the East, between the 8th and 13th centuries, Merv was the second city of Islam after Baghdad, before it fell victim to the most horrific slaughter by the Mongols. In the evening fly to Ashgabat.

Day 16

Ashgabat

Saparmurat Niyazov Mausoleum, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Full day sightseeing of Ashgabat. Visit the Carpet Museum and the new National Museum of History and Ethnography.

Day 17

Ashgabat

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

Depart Ashgabat and transfer to the airport.

Includes / Excludes

Important Information

Activity Level
Very Active
Single Supplement

Travelling on your own? Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places provides security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour expert.

Flexibility

To allow flexibility, our group tours do not include international flights as standard. We can arrange international flights on your behalf, please get in touch with our travel experts for a quote. All international flights from the UK are ATOL protected.

What is included

  • Accompanied by Dr. Richard McClary throughout
  • Accompanied by English speaking local guides
  • Airport transfers
  • All accommodation as detailed in the itinerary
  • All meals mentioned in the itinerary
  • Transport as detailed in the itinerary
  • Entrance fees to sites visited
  • Gratuities for local guides, drivers and porters
  • £25 to help fund the communities, conservation agencies and NGOs that we work with
  • £25 contribution to ‘Trees and Science’ in mitigation of your carbon emissions

What is excluded

  • International flights
  • Visas
  • Travel insurance
  • Drinks with meals
  • Items of a personal nature
Mountain scene, Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
Central Mosque, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Men, Kyrgyzstan, Central Asia by Paul Craven
Kyrgyzstan
Scenery on road Sary Tash and Irkeshtam border, Southern Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan
View of lime green grassland leading to shores of curved lake and snowy distant mountains.
Kyrgyzstan

Kyrgyzstan

The mountain vistas alone are reason enough to visit Kyrgystan but, while visitor numbers are increasing gradually, a short tourist season and the relative difficulty of reaching it have ensured that Kyrgyzstan is unlikely to ever become a mainstream travel destination. This means that those adventurous travellers who do make the effort to come are guaranteed a unique and unforgettable experience.

Astana, Kazakhstan
Astana , Kazakhstan
Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasavi, Turkistan, Kazakhstan
Turkestan, Kazakhstan
Voznesensky Cathedral, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a mineral-rich country with a tiny population in relation to its size, and yet it has built itself a new capital, Astana. However, most visitors to Kazakhstan prefer to visit the more interesting old capital of Almaty, meaning valley of apples, which sits nestled under the snowy peaks of the mighty Tien Shan (Celestial) Mountains. The splendid Zhenkov Cathedral is made entirely of wood, interlocked with such skill that no nails have been used in the construction. The markets are a delight and there is a fine museum of musical instruments.

Tajikistan Mountains and Koulikalon Lakes, Tajikistan
Tajikistan Mountains and Koulikalon Lakes, Tajikistan
Kyrgyz nomad by yurt, Bulunkul, Tajikistan
Kyrgyz nomad in Tajikistan
Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan
Pamir mountains, Tajikistan
Front Gate of Hissor Fort, Dushanbe, Tajikstan
Tajikistan

Tajikistan

Lying along Afghanistan’s northern border, most of Tajikistan’s population belong to the Persian-speaking Tajik ethnic group, who share language, culture and history with both Afghanistan and Iran. Starkly beautiful, remote and beguiling, mountains cover more than 90% of the country and include such famous names as Peak Lenin and Peak Communism both over 7,000m. While accommodation is at best adequate and the roads diabolical, all is made up for by the hospitality of the local people.

Amir Temur square, Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
View of Islamic buildings through blue mosaic archway.
Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Inner courtyard of the Kalyan Mosque, part of the Po-i-Kalyan Complex in Bukhara
Kalyan Mosque, Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Full frame close up of patterned red carpet.
Uzbekistan
Registan, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan possesses the cream of Central Asian architecture, epitomised by the magnificent ensemble in Registan Square in Samarkand. Its buildings and architecture, dating from the 13th and 15th centuries, are truly magnificent and one can only wonder at the skills of the craftsmen who laboured with such primitive tools. The markets are a delight and a photographic paradise while outside the cities the dusty, isolated villages with their flocks of woolly, fat-tailed sheep have changed little over the years.

Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Gypjak Mosque, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Gypjak Mosque, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Old Lady Baking Bread, Nokhur, Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan
Mary, Merv, Turkmenistan
Mary, Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan has transformed itself from a forgotten Russian satellite state to a major player on the world stage. The wealth is obvious and the contrast between life in the cities and life in the remote villages is striking. Much of Turkmenistan is desert, but you will find lush green mountains, natural gorges and a diverse range of fauna and flora ranging from the bustard to the Central Asian gazelle. Ashgabat is a relatively new city, but Kunya Urgench was one of the greatest cities on the Silk Road, and along with Merv and Nisa, provides some insight into the vast wealth that once defined the region.

Group Tour FAQs

Why should I travel with Steppes Travel to Central Asia?

Our group tour to Central Asia has been created to allow you to see the highlights of each of the five countries visited. For the geographer, this region offers everything from congregations of mountains, steppe grasslands and deserts. There will also be the opportunity to meet the local nomadic peoples, who call this region home.

What are the roads like in Central Asia?

Generally, good tarmac roads throughout but there may be times where roads are slightly bumpy.

What is the standard of accommodation on this tour?

Accommodation will vary along the route. There are a couple of smaller guesthouses, with private bathrooms, through to larger more sophisticated 4-star hotels in the major towns and cities.

Is this tour suitable for solo travellers?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour expert.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

Is there a dress code in Central Asia?

No, there is no dress code for any of the countries visited. You should be prepared for possible colder weather when crossing the mountains. You should dress for comfort taking some additional clothes so these can be layered. Good, worn-in shoes are advised.

What is the food like in Central Asia?

Meals will vary throughout and will include western-style breakfasts and local cuisine in all countries for lunch and dinner. Therefore, you will not need to worry about the ‘extreme’ dishes you may have read about.

Do I need to be physically fit to enjoy this tour?

You do not need to be particularly fit to participate, there are no long walks involved but there will be a certain number of stone steps and uneven surfaces.

Can I extend my stay in Central Asia?

Yes, this can easily be arranged at the end or the beginning of the tour. Private travel arrangem