Legends of the Silk Road

A 5 Stans tour of Central Asia

On this 5 Stans tour in the veiled heart of Central Asia, a tapestry of secrets unravels across a timeless expanse. Each of the 5 stans of Central Asia is different to the last. Uzbekistan, a land of history, blue domes and conquering heroes. Kyrgyzstan, a land of untouched wilderness and natural beauty. Kazakhstan, the mother of ‘dark tourism’. Tajikistan, home to the open road of the Pamir Highway and Turkmenistan, a place closed off and at times utterly bizarre.

Each Stan, whispers tales of ancient Silk Road caravans that carried desires and dreams through hidden valleys and towering peaks. A mystical dance of cultures unfolds, where nomadic echoes intermingle with forgotten legends, and the winds themselves whisper cryptic verses of distant conquerors and celestial patterns etched in the stars.

In this magical region know where you are from the moment you wake up by staying in locally owned and operated hotels, yurt camps and even take an overnight train in Kazakhstan to give you a real chance to mingle with the locals on this 5 stans tour.

26 Days


$12 985 AUD*

Departure Dates: 15 August 2024, 20 April & 1 September 2025

OR CONTACT US for more information

Trip code: LRDB *from


  • Wander the streets of the ‘two ladies’ of Uzbekistan, Bukhara and Samarkand, ‘City of Legend’; wander the blue domed mosques and fortresses and stand on the shoulders the of giants of the ancient world
  • Explore the vast natural beauty of Kyrgyzstan with its Alpine ‘jailoo’ meadows, stunning lakes, pretty waterfalls and the impressive Jeti Ozguz and ‘fairy-tale’ gorges
  • Camp out at the Darvaza Crater, the legendary ‘Gate to Hell’ and explore the sites of the strange city of Ashgabat
  • Visit the ruins of the ancient Sogdian town of Panjakent and wander the streets of cosmopolitan Dushanbe in Tajikistan
  • Discover the ex-Soviet legacy of the 5 Stan’s in Kazakhstan and explore the horizons of the vast steppe.
  • Stay in traditional hotels, guest houses and yurts set up in the picturesque countryside and experience the overnight train in Kazakhstan

The Basics

Start: Dushanbe

Finish: Bishkek

Trip style: Unique

Max group size: 15

What's this?

Reasons you’ll love this tour

  • The thought of following in the footsteps of some of the worlds greatest travellers & explorers excites you
  • You enjoy learning about local crafts and industry
  • You have an interest in the history of the Silk Road and some interest in the former Soviet Union
  • You’re looking to visit a varied destination that is likely outside your comfort zone
  • You enjoy local transport and meeting local people
  • You’re enjoy everything from inspiring architecture to the remote wilderness
  • Authenticity is important to you when travelling


Arrive in Dushanbe and make your own way to the trip hotel. Meet your trip leader and travel companions for a welcome meeting and introduction to your 5 Stans tour at 17.00. After the meeting, head out into the city to a local restaurant for a special dinner.

Dushanbe - 5 Stans Tour

The first official day of our 5 Stans tour begins with a visit to the renowned National Museum of Tajikistan, where ancient artifacts and exhibits unveil the fascinating history and diverse heritage of this enchanting nation. After immersing ourselves in the past, we stroll through Rudaki Park, a serene oasis adorned with blooming flowers and majestic trees, offering a tranquil retreat in the heart of the city.

For a delightful lunch experience, we indulge in the flavors of Tajik cuisine at the esteemed Rokhat tea house, savoring aromatic teas (for which this region is famous) and delectable local dishes.

In the afternoon, we embark on a scenic drive to Panjakent, a historic city brimming with archaeological wonders. Along the way, we are treated to breathtaking vistas of the rugged Tajik landscape, as we traverse through picturesque valleys and towering mountains.

On arrival in Panjakent we will check into our hotel

Get ready for a captivating morning as we explore the legendary city of Panjakent. Our day begins with a visit to the bustling Panjakent local market, where vibrant colors, aromatic spices, and lively chatter create a sensory feast for the senses.

After absorbing the vibrant energy of the market, we proceed to explore the ancient city of Panjakent, where the echoes of history whisper through the remnants of its impressive archaeological site. Walk in the footsteps of ancient civilizations as we marvel at the intricately preserved ruins, unveiling stories of past glory and cultural significance.

We bid farewell to Panjakent (and Tajikistan) and embark on a picturesque drive towards the border with Uzbekistan, taking in the breathtaking landscapes that seamlessly connect these two captivating nations.

On arrival we will cross the border and then begin our journey to the Samarkand, where we will have lunch.

After lunch we will visit one of many strange sites on this 5 Stans tour, the Observatory of Ulugh Beg. Ulugh Beg was a prominent astronomer, mathematician, and ruler of the Timurid Empire in the 15th century. At the observatory we will visit the museum showcasing Ulugh Beg’s contribution to astronomy and his mysterious astronomical device, a huge sextant built in 1420, 134 years prior to the birth of Galileo.

In the afternoon we will visit one of Samarkand’s local wineries to sit back, relax and enjoy a tasting after our busy day. After our Uzbek wine appreciation session, we will check in to our hotel.

We wake up this morning in Samarkand. “City of Legend.” So, it’s only fitting we begin our day with a pilgrimage to the tomb of Uzbekistan’s national hero Amir Timur – you’ll probably know him as Tamarlane. Amir Timur, was a powerful Central Asian conqueror and statesman who established the Timurid Empire, known for his military campaigns and cultural patronage in the 14th century.

As you enter the small burial chamber which contains Tamarlane and his relatives, be sure to watch your feet! Many an unsuspecting traveller has tripped while entering owing to being completely bowled over by the spectacular dome overhead.

Our next stop for the morning is Samarkand’s most famous site – Registan Square, sure to be a highlight of your 5 Stans tour. Registan Square, is a magnificent plaza adorned with stunning madrasas showcasing intricate tilework and serves as a vibrant hub of trade, learning, and cultural exchange.

After exploring the Registan, we will have some free time for shopping and lunch near the Siab bazaar. Why not write yourself into history by bartering for something at this historic market which has been in use since the days of the Silk Road.

In the afternoon we will view the city from the Afro Siab Hill, the place where according to legend, Alexander the Great stood and viewed the city for the first time.

We will also take a walk-through Shah-i-Zinda, a breathtaking necropolis featuring a series of dazzling mausoleums and tombs, showcasing intricate tilework and serving as a sacred pilgrimage site.

This evening we are in for a real treat as we are invited to dine at the home of Ilkhom Ibragimov, one of Samarkand’s prominent citizens.

We depart Samarkand this morning and travel to the city of Shahrisabz, the birthplace of Amir Timur. On our way to Shahrisabz we will pass through Shaitan Djiga, the ‘Plateau of the Demons’. The vast plateau stretches out from the creeks of Mirankul, its rocks look like sculptures, demons in the distance.

On arrival in Shahrisabz we will visit the ruin of the Aksaray Palace, the Dorus Tilavat seminary, the Kok Gumbaz and Friday Mosques. If the day is clear, we might get to see a bonus ‘Stan’, as the mountains of Afghanistan are sometimes visible from Shahrisabz main street.

In the afternoon we will continue onto Bukhara and check in to our hotel where we will stay for the next 3-nights on our 5 Stans tour.

Embark on a captivating journey through the ancient city of Bukhara as we explore its architectural gems and immerse ourselves in its rich history and culture. Our day begins with a visit to the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, a masterpiece of Islamic architecture, revered as one of the oldest and most impressive mausoleums in Central Asia.

Continuing our exploration, we proceed to the Bolo Hauz Mosque, a charming 18th-century mosque known for its elegant wooden columns and serene courtyard, offering a tranquil oasis amidst the bustling city.

Next, we journey to the Ark of Bukhara, an imposing fortress that once served as the residence of emirs, filled with stories of dynasties and intrigues. Immerse yourself in the historical grandeur as we traverse its towering walls and hidden chambers. Make sure you check out the ‘bug-pit’ another strange and rather dark site on our 5 Stans tour.

After a morning filled with wonder, we treat ourselves to a delightful lunch overlooking the Kalon Ensemble, a remarkable architectural complex that includes the Kalon Mosque, Kalon Minaret, and Mir-i-Arab Madrasa. As we savor our meal, we take in the breathtaking views of these iconic landmarks which we will explore after lunch.

5 Stans tour - Ark of Bukhara

Embark on an immersive journey through the vibrant arts and crafts scene in Bukhara as we explore the UNDP-assisted workshops near Lyabikhauz. Discover the ancient techniques of block printing, metal chasing, carving, and miniature painting, witnessing skilled artisans at work. You may even have the opportunity to create your own masterpiece under their expert guidance. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Bukhara while supporting local artisans and taking home unique, handcrafted souvenirs.

The remainder of the day is yours to explore the city of Bukhara on your own. You may wish to explore more local monuments, take a relaxing hammam or just use this opportunity to rest before continuing on your 5 Stans tour tomorrow. The choice is yours!

Silk Road Uzbekistan tour | Trip to Central Asia | 5 Stans tour

Early this morning we depart Bukhara and take a drive into the desert to cross the border into Turkmenistan, the 3rd Stan on our 5 Stans tour. This border is what we call a ‘doozy’, and it will likely take the best part of our day to get across, with lots of paperwork to fill out and lots of border officials to smile at.

When we arrive in Turkmenistan, we will travel to the town of Turkmenabat for lunch in a local restaurant before proceeding on to the archaeological site of Merv which we will likely be visiting at dusk – don’t worry this is actually the best time to visit.

Testament to the grandeur of the ancient Silk Road, Merv will impress us with its well-preserved architectural marvels, including stunning mausoleums, mosques, and fortifications. Settlement at Merv dates back as far as the 3rd millennium BCE, but it is most famous for its previous name of ‘Alexandria’ one of many envisioned by Alexander the Great.

After exploring Merv, we will check in to our hotel in the city of Mary.

This morning we will explore the city of Mary as we visit two remarkable sites. Our journey begins at the Gurbanguly Hajji Mosque, a magnificent architectural gem adorned with intricate designs and exquisite craftsmanship, where we immerse ourselves in the serene atmosphere and appreciate the spiritual significance of this sacred place.

Next, we venture to the Zelyony Bazaar, a bustling market filled with vibrant colours, aromatic spices, and a wide array of fresh produce, where we engage with friendly locals, sample delicious fruits, and experience the lively ambiance of this bustling hub of trade and culture.

We depart Mary for the capital, Ashgabat in the late morning stopping en route for lunch and at the bronze age archaeological site of Namazga-Tepe.

In the afternoon we will check into our hotel in Ashgabat where we will spend the next 2-nights on our 5 Stans tour.

We will discover the strange city of Ashgabat on a morning tour. Ashgabat is the gleaming capital city of Turkmenistan, where modernity meets tradition. Marvel at the futuristic architecture and grandiose monuments that adorn the cityscape as we explore its vibrant streets and squares.

After our insightful tour, we treat ourselves to a delectable lunch at a local restaurant, savoring the flavors of authentic Turkmen cuisine.

Following our meal, we visit the Akhal-Teke Horse Farm, where we have the opportunity to witness the beauty and grace of the world-famous Akhal-Teke horses, known for their sleek coats and endurance. Immerse yourself in the equestrian culture of Turkmenistan and learn about the significance of these majestic creatures.

To conclude our day, we visit the Carpet Museum, where we delve into the rich heritage of Turkmen carpet weaving, admiring the intricate designs and vibrant colours of these masterpieces. To understand how important carpet weaving is to the Turkmens, we only need to look to the country’s flag, the only national flag featuring a carpet.

We leave Ashgabat behind today as we pay a visit to the ancient site of Nisa. Nisa holds great significance as the former capital of the Parthian Empire and as a major strong hold of the Zoroastrian region and the god Mithra.  

After our visit to Nisa we will have lunch in a nearby local restaurant  and then head off into the vast horizons of the Karakum Desert to witness possibly the strangest site on our 5 Stans tour – the Darvaza Gas Crater or the ‘Door to Hell’ as it is more commonly known.

The crater is the result of the ignition of a sinkhole during soviet drilling for gas. We will spend the night at the crater in yurts near the rim.

If you have ever thought about visiting the crater now is the time to do it, the Turkmen government is currently trying to find a way to extinguish it (not their first attempt) so it may not be around forever. You can find out more about this plan HERE.

Darvaza Crater - 5 Stans tour

This morning we will wake up in our yurts and then head for the town of Dashoguz and the border with Uzbekistan. Once we arrive in Uzbekistan we will head for the city of Khiva where we will have lunch in a local restaurant.

After lunch we will have a short orientation of the old town – Ichon-Qala before checking in to our hotel where we will spend the next 2-nights on our 5 Stans tour.

Experience a captivating morning in the enchanting city of Khiva as we delve into its rich history and architectural marvels. Embark on a journey to the Kutli Murad Medressa, a stunning 19th-century masterpiece adorned with intricate tilework and serene courtyards, and then explore the captivating chambers of Tash Chauli, a beautiful palace that was once home to the rulers of Khiva.

The remainder of the day is yours to explore Khiva on your own. You may wish to further explore the old town of Ichon-Kala, relax in a coffee shop or just get some rest before continuing on your 5 Stans tour tomorrow morning.

After breakfast this morning we will transfer to the airport for our short flight to Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital.

On arrival we will visit the immense Chorsu Bazaar one of the biggest markets on our 5 Stans tour. Browse the local produce, chat with the sellers and inspect the array of local handicrafts on offer. A short walk from the bazaar is the Kukeldash Madrassa, a centre for Islamic learning, this beautiful structure was also converted into a caravanserai, a lodge for Silk Road traders in the 18th century.

Next, we will admire Tashkent’s main attraction, the blue domed Hazrati Imam complex. The religious heart of Tashkent, the buildings are beautiful examples of Uzbek medieval architecture. One of the madrassas also contains a courtyard with local shops selling unique handicrafts.

For lunch today, we are in for a real treat as we visit the Central Asian Plov Centre. You will no doubt have tried plov by now, which is popular in all countries on our 5 Stans tour, however this dish comprising rice, carrots, lamb, spices and sometimes chili is especially celebrated in Uzbekistan.

After lunch, we will head underground for a short tour of the Tashkent metro’s most beautiful stations. During the Soviet period, the Russian’s built opulent metro systems in some of the satellite states of Central Asia.

After our metro tour we will check in to our hotel.

This evening we may have the option to see a ballet or an opera at the Navoi Opera House.

** Please note, ballet or opera in Tashkent is not included in the tour price and will be at an additional cost once in Tashkent. Seeing a ballet or opera is dependent on the schedule of the opera house and what is on while we are visiting. This information will be released closer to the tour date.

We say goodbye to Uzbekistan today and head for the border with Kazakhstan, where we will spend the best part of the morning crossing the border. Once in Kazakhstan we will head for the town of Shymkent where we will visit the so-called ‘White Mosque’ so named because it looks like a giant yurt.

After visiting the mosque, we will have our first taste of Kazakh food on our 5 Stans tour with lunch in a local restaurant.

We will then continue our journey on to Turkestan where we will spend the next two nights.

We will spend the morning visiting the sights of Turkestan, starting with the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. Khoja Ahmed Yasawi was a 12th-century Turkic poet, philosopher, and Sufi mystic, he founded a Sufi order known as the Yasawiyya, which blended elements of Islam and Turkish tribal traditions.

Our next stop will be the mausoleum of Rabia Sultan Begim, the daughter of Ulugh Beg, the astronomer we met in Samarkand at his observatory. We will visit the city’s Friday Mosque, fortress and other monuments in the open air Hazrat Sultan Reserve Museum.

The remainder of the day will be yours to explore Turkestan on your own. Take in more of the city’s monuments, enjoy a meal in a local restaurant, make some new local friends or choose to rest up and recuperate before we move on to Taraz tomorrow.

5 Stans tour - Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi

We will get back on the road today and head east to the city of Taraz. Along the way we will stop at the archaeological site of Otrar. The remnants of a once prosperous Silk Road city, Otrar offers a glimpse into the rich history, trade, and cultural exchange that thrived in the region.

Next we move along to the Arystanbab Mausoleum. Built over the grave of a religious mystic by Amir Timur, legend tells us that Timur dreamed that the mausoleum had to be built to enable him to construct a mosque over the grave of Ahmet Yesevi – another Turkic poet and Sufi mystic.

After lunch in a local restaurant, we will continue our drive to Taraz, arriving in the late afternoon.

Today is a big day on our 5 Stans tour as we head out to explore the city of Taraz. After checking out of our hotel we will visit the Aisha Bibi Mausoleum, a sacred site nestled amidst the picturesque landscapes. Marvel at the exquisite architectural beauty of this 12th-century mausoleum, dedicated to a legendary woman.

Continuing our exploration, we make our way to the Abdykadyr mosque, an architectural gem that stands as a testament to the rich Islamic heritage of the region. Step inside and admire the intricate designs, vibrant colours, and the tranquil atmosphere that envelopes this spiritual haven. Learn about the religious significance of the mosque and its role in the local community.

Next, we head to the Tekturmas Architectural complex, where we have the opportunity to marvel at the breathtaking panoramic views of Taraz. The view from the complex offers a glimpse into the vibrant past of the city and its significance as a major trading hub along the Silk Road.

As we continue our city exploration, we take a leisurely walk through Zhengis Park, a serene oasis in the heart of Taraz. Enjoy the peaceful ambiance as you stroll along the paths, surrounded by lush greenery and blooming flowers.

To immerse ourselves further in the local lifestyle, we visit the vibrant Shakhristan Bazaar. This bustling marketplace offers a feast for the senses, with its colourful array of stalls selling spices, textiles, handicrafts, and traditional Kazakh delicacies.

The remainder of the afternoon and evening are free in Taraz. Late tonight we catch the overnight train to Almaty. You may want to use this time to explore more of Taraz or even to grab some snacks for the train.

Wake up on the tracks this morning in your sleeper car on the train before disembarking in Almaty.

The train will arrive early so our first stop will be a local café where you can buy some breakfast.

After we have eaten, we will head out to explore Almaty with stops at the beautiful Zenkiv’s Cathedral and Central Mosque of Almaty. We will also visit Almaty TV tower for a bird’s eye-view of the city.

In the early afternoon we will check in to our hotel and have some free time to freshen up and grab some lunch.

In the evening we will visit the Arasan Baths for a traditional hammam. A hammam, or Turkish bath is a communal bath house (men and women are separate) where people used to congregate to get clean (in previous eras, not every house had running water) and to socialise – the tradition of socialising at the bath house has been an integral part of community life since Roman times. Today a hammam is a unique spa experience and will no doubt hit the spot after our night on the train.

After our decadent spa experience, we will head to a local restaurant to sample the local dishes of Almaty.

Another long day awaits us as we head for the final Stan on our 5 Stans tour – Kyrgyzstan. It is a long drive to the border, but once there we should be able to cross easily. Once in Kyrgyzstan we will head for the shores of the country’s biggest lake – Issyk Kul. We will have lunch in a local restaurant on the shore and try some local Kyrgyz food.

After lunch we will continue our journey along the shores of the lake to the lakeside town of Cholpon-Ata where we will check in to our hotel.

At dusk we will take to the water with a short cruise on the lake for sunset.

Prior to departing Cholpon-Ata this morning we will discover some of Kyrgyzstan’s most ancient past at the open-air Petroglyph Museum. Some of the Petroglyphs date back over 4000 years, however most can be dated to the bronze age (around 1500 BCE) and were carved by the Saka-Usun tribes.

In the mid-morning we will start our journey to the wilderness of the Jyrgalan region, a place where very few outside travellers have ventured. This evening’s accommodation will surely be a highlight of your 5 Stans tour, with a stay at a farm where they breed Kyrgyz racehorses. The use of horses in Kyrgyzstan is still of vital importance in a country which still has a large nomadic population, and which participates in many difference horse sports including horse racing and the traditional game of Kok-Boru.

Lunch and dinner will be served at the farm and after dinner we will be treated to some ‘frog therapy’ at a nearby pond.

Later we are in for a treat with a traditional display of folk dancing and music at the farm.

Horse Farm with 'Frog therapy' - Into the Wild. Kyrgyzstan Tour

This morning we will leave Jyrgalan and travel to the eastern shore of Issyk Kul Lake to the town of Karakol. On arrival we will visit the wooden Russian Orthodox Church and Dungan Mosque, as well as take a stroll through the local bazaar.

Lunch today will be served in the house of a local Dungan family. The Dungan people are a mix of peoples of Arab and Chinese ethnicity and who emigrated to Karakol in the 1880’s to escape religious persecution.

After lunch we will transfer to Jeti Oguz gorge where we will see the enormous stone formations of the ‘Seven Bulls’ and ‘Broken Heart’.

This evening we will sleep in traditional nomadic yurts in Jeti Oguz, surrounded by the stunning scenery.

This morning we will emerge from our yurts, instantly surrounded by nature. We will enjoy a view of Terskey-Ala-Too ridge and after breakfast we will begin the journey to Bokonbeyevo on the southern shore of Issyk-Kul Lake.

Our first stop along the way will be the so-called ‘fairy-tale’ gorge. Solid clusters of limestone and sandstone form colourful castle like structures, fairy figures and churches making for a magical experience.

On arrival in Bokonbeyevo village we will visit the house of a local eagle hunter to meet the eagles and learn all about the nomadic practice of eagle hunting, before arriving at our yurt camp on the southern shore of Issky-Kul Lake. You will have gathered by now than nomadic living is still very much alive in all the countries on our 5 Stans tour, but it is still the most prevalent in Kyrgyzstan.

We will arise early this morning and head to the town of Tokmok where we will have some free time for lunch before heading to the archaeological site of Burana.

The site of Burana is all that remains of the ancient city of Balasagun, which was established by the Karakhanids, a Turkic khanate which ruled over Central Asia in the 9th century CE. The site contains grave markers called ‘balbals’, three mausoleums, the remnants of a castle and most famously the enigmatic ‘Burana Tower’, a large free-standing minaret.

After exploring Burana we will transfer to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan and check into our hotel for the final two nights of our 5 Stans tour.

Burana Tower - Kyrgyzstan tour / 5 Stans tour

This morning we will begin our exploration of Bishkek. We will start with a walk through the colourful Osh bazaar where we will have the opportunity to buy fresh produce such as fresh fruit and nuts directly from the local people.

After the bazaar we will continue on to Ala-Too square, built in 1984 to celebrate the soviet republic of Kyrgyzstan. Our next stop will be ‘Old Square’ which is home to a giant statue of soviet hero Vladimir Lenin. We will visit the Kyrgyz National Philharmonic Hall and Manas complex, dedicated to one of Kyrgyzstan’s national heroes.

The afternoon is free for you to explore Bishkek on your own, you may wish to use this time to see more of the city or to relax after the days adventure.

This evening we will head out into the city for a special farewell dinner to say goodbye to your trip leader and travel companions and to reflect on the amazing time you had on your 5 Stans tour.

Your 5 Stans tour comes to an end this morning after breakfast.

Trip Map - 5 Stans Tour
Trip Map – Legends of the Silk Road

Details – 5 Stans tour

Duration: 25 Days

Trip style: Unique

Group size: Minimum 6 / Maximum 15

Trip code: LRDB

Cost: $12 985.00 AUD twin share

Single supplement: $1259.00 AUD


  • 25-nights’ accommodation in historic and traditionally inspired hotels, guest houses, yurt camps and overnight train.
  • Meals as specified in itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)
  • One-way flight from Khiva to Tashkent
  • Sleeper train from Taraz to Almaty (4-berth accommodation)
  • Invitation letter for Turkmenistan visa
  • All other transport as specified in the itinerary
  • Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader and local guides

Optional Extras (not included)

  • Tashkent: Night at the Opera or Ballet

Trip price does not include

  • International airfares
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Visas for Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan (if required)
  • Meals not included as per trip itinerary including drinks and mini bar
  • Additional accommodation before or after the tour
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
  • Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas

Journey Rating – Quest

This 5 Stans tour travels through Central Asia, a region which can be highly unpredictable and you should expect that things will not always go exactly to plan (that’s all part of the adventure, right?). Central Asia is a region that is not overly accustomed to tourists and travelers. The friendly local people have one of the most welcoming and hospitable attitudes toward visitors in the world, however, it does mean that tourist type infrastructure and service standards may not be of the quality you expect at home.

This trip does involve a lot of walking during the sightseeing, to get the most out of this trip you should be able to walk confidently across uneven surfaces and climb stairs.

There are a few long travel days and most of the time we will be checking into an immersive hotel of a comfortable standard. On occasion we will be staying in rustic yurt camps, which will have shared facilities and accommodation.

There is no dress code on this 5 Stans tour, however these are moderate Islamic countries, and you should dress conservatively to avoid causing offense culturally. Woman may be required to cover their shoulders, heads and knees while exploring religious institutions and men should wear long trousers on these days.

Trains in Uzbekistan often stop at stations where the platform is quite low and require a step or ‘scramble’ up into the train, trains also often do not stop for long periods of time giving the group very little chance to get on and get settled before departing. Good quality hospitals, pharmacies and other public amenities will be limited to big cities but should never be too far away.

A note about fitness

This 5 Stans tour requires a good level of physical fitness. You should be able to walk up to 4km over uneven surfaces during sightseeing, which will sometimes be at an incline. In addition, you should be able to climb up to 200 stairs unassisted and use an eastern style squat toilet (beware if you have knee issues). Squat toilets are common in public places, trains and at some of the yurt camps – don’t worry all hotels have western upright toilets.

You will need to be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach and on and off the train. (Due to OH&S regulations our trip leaders are not able to assist with luggage.) Train accommodation in Kazakhstan is in a 4-berth bunk style compartment (2 up / 2 down), you will need to be able to climb into a top bunk on the train as a lower berth can not be guaranteed.

In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip often travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions. If you are unsure about your ability to participate fully and safely on this trip please give us a call and we will happily discuss this with you.

Single supplement

Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travellers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveller of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!

Please note that in this instance, the single supplement payable does not include the yurt camps which are in shared style accommodation or the train from Taraz to Almaty which is in a 4-berth compartment in which you may be sharing with local people.

Trip leader description

Accompanying you along on your 5 Stans tour will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:

  • If you lose your passport or other travel documents
  • If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
  • If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
  • Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
  • Questions regarding the itinerary

Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.

Itinerary disclaimer

The itinerary for this 5 Stans tour is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.

While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.

Age requirements

Minimum Age: 18 years

Due to the shared nature of some of the accommodation and remote locations on this trip children under 18 years of age are not permitted on this 5 Stans tour.

There is no upper age limit for this trip, but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over, you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are in good health and able to participate safely on this trip.

Travel insurance

Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.

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