Other Countries

We have carefully selected these destinations as they are places we love to travel to ourselves. Many are so remote that the cost and travel arrangements would just not make it practical to arrange yourself so we make sure we arrange all of this for you- you just need to sit back and enjoy the journey. A thread of common history and culture connects them but above all all else we love to take people to meet our friends, family and just share our enthusiasm for these amazing places. Have a look below and explore where your next journey will be. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions at all.

February 18 - February 23 2018

Mongolia - Land of the Winter Horse

5 night winter tour
including 3 in a Ger!

Join us as we uncover the stories surrounding this
enigmatic country, through city tour and grassland
adventure!

From 1,150 USD per person

Please apply by 1st March, 2018.

Mongolia - Land of the Winter Horse

5 night winter tour
including 3 in a Ger!

Join us as we uncover the stories
surrounding this enigmatic country,
through city tour and grassland adventure!

From 1,150 USD per person

  • Overall

    This tour will be accompanied by Koryo Tours’ expert staff, as well as local guides who will act as translators, and give us an insider’s view into this remarkable country, thereby offering an unparalleled engagement opportunity. Starting in the historical capital of Ulaanbaatar this short winter break will give you an introduction to the history of this former Communist state before allowing you the chance to ride, photograph or relax on the Mongolian steppes. You will be able to visit museums, drop in to local markets, travel across picturesque countryside, sleep in a traditional Mongolian ger (yurt), and watch the stars from your bed.

    Highlights

    • Historical capital of Ulan-Bator
    • Sleep in a traditional Mongolian ger (yurt)
    • Mongolian countryside and local town
    • Erdenesant Sum, and the Tov and Khentii Provinces
    • A deep insight into Mongolia’s fascinating nomadic culture
    • See and ride among 1500 wild horses
    • Horse Riding and Dogsledding
    • Untouched woodland, frozen rivers, and granite mounts
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 6
    1. Sunday 18th February

      Arrive in Ulaanbaatar

      When arriving into Ulaanbaatar, we meet early evening for a Pre-Tour Briefing followed by a group meal; those not feeling too jet-lagged can join us in one of UB’s famous bars.

      Meals: Dinner

      Overnight: standard hotel; single room available







    2. Monday 19th February

      Out to the Grasslands


      After an early start, we begin our city tour visiting UB’s largest Buddhist monastery, “Gandan”, where we learn more about Buddhism within Mongolia, and watch the monks go about their morning prayers. We leave after a blessing for our journey and drive from the city out into the countryside, east towards Erdenesant Sum, and Khentii Provinces.This 4-5 hr drive will take us into the stunning Mongolian countryside where rolling hills blanketed in snow offer vistas of unparalleled natural beauty.

      We will arrive at a local Ger camp for lunch, which will be prepared for us by our local family. Here we will begin to gain a deeper insight into the country’s fascinating nomadic culture. Then it’s back on with those warm jackets and off outside to see the herd, of around 1,500 horses. A horseman will demonstrate to us how to rope and tame a horse. Later, if you’re feeling confident enough, you can have a chance to try your hand. This is an amazing experience, and one not to be missed. Never again will you have the chance to see and ride amongst so many semi-wild horses. This is Mongolia at its best. Riding alongside Mongolians in traditional dress while a herd of horses thunder along is a truly special scene that’ll make you feel like you’re in the movies. Just don’t try and outdo the Mongolians as they show off for you with their urga (lassoes). We’ll ride until the sun sets on what will be the most beautiful of poetic days.

      Dinner will be prepared by the family, during which time we’ll be able to ask questions about life out here in the wilderness and away from the city. After dinner, we can play some traditional Mongolian games, enjoy a few drinks, or take some time to study the stars in the clear night sky.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

      Overnight: Basic Ger (yurt).

    3. Tuesday 20th February

      National Parkland, Temple Visit, Horse Riding and Dog-sledding


      After breakfast we drive from our Ger camp to the famous Turtle Rock in Gorkhi-Terelj National Park and its picturesque scenery. Next up is Erdene Sum temple. Upon arrival, we’ll hike up the steep hillside entrance before spending some time with the resident monk. Before breaking for lunch, we’ll take the opportunity to stop at a small local town, which is known, amongst other things, for its dog sledding. If we’re lucky, and the weather is with us, there is the chance to ride.

      After lunch, it’s back on the horses, and an enjoyable ride out to Mt Shargalt, which is said to have been used by Chingis Khan’s military committee, and is still honored by local people to this day. During and after the ride, we’ll be able to take in amazing views of the surrounding countryside, with its untouched woodland, frozen rivers, and granite mounts.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

      Overnight: basic Ger (yurt).


    4. Wednesday 21st February

      Drive to Hustai national park


      After breakfast we depart our gers and drive for around 4 hours to Hustai National Park on the way will see Mongolia’s biggest statue of Chinggis Khaan atop his Horse we will climb to the top for amazing views over the winter landscape.

      Hustai National Park is a Specially Protected Area earning this designation in 1993 shortly after Mongolia’s independence. Later in 2002 it earned its UNESCO certificate as a member of the world biosphere, due to its diverse wild life. Upon arriving we will visit a small biodiversity museum.

      Eventually we will head out and track Mongolia’s wild Takhi (Przewalski) horses although cold the winter months give us the best opportunity to view these amazing animals as they herd together. It is now estimated that there are 170 living in this area after being brought back from the brink of extinction.

      Later we will also watch the parks native red deer before returning to our gers for a nice evening meal and relax.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.

      Overnight: Ger (yurt).

    5. Thursday 22nd February

      Return to Ulaanbaatar


      After breakfast, we spend the morning enjoying the our final views of the wildlife and walking before its back into our vehicles for our return to Ulaanbaatar.

      In Ulaanbaatar itself we will be able to have a look around the city, as well as visit the National History Museum, thereby walking back through the ages of Mongolian History. You may also want to stretch your legs walking though the famous Sukhbaatar Square and on to the State Department Store for some souvenir shopping.

      On this final evening our dinner will be followed by live Mongolian music.

      Meals: breakfast and lunch.

      Overnight: Standard hotel; single room available.




    6. Friday 23rd February

      Departure day


      The tour finishes in UB. Time to follow your own adventures!

      Please note that those who have taken the option to return to Beijing by plane will arrive the same day; those who have taken the option to return to Beijing by train will arrive on the morning of 25th February.

  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      English speaking guide
      Western tour leader
      All meals outside Ulaanbaatar
      Camels for luggage
      Internal flights
      Horse riding
      All included sight seeing
      All taxes & entrance fees to protected areas
      All camping equipment (not sleeping bags.)
    • Not included
      Optional extra 1: + $550 Flight from Beijing to Ulan Bator, and return by train
      Optional extra 2: + $650 Return flights Beijing–Ulan Bator and Ulan Bator–Beijing
      Sleeping bags
      International flights
      Any alcoholic beverages
      Meals where specified
      Medical insurance (can be arranged.)
      Visas if needed
      Items of personal nature
  • Notes

    We meet and say goodbye in Mongolia/ Ulaanbaatar. You will need to make your own way to and from Ulaanbaatar.

    Please note!

    This tour has been specifically arranged to visit these areas it may have elements of an expedition about it due to the nature and ruggedness of the terrain. As such any change in itinerary at the time cannot be helped. We will keep to the advertised itinerary as closely as possible, although please be aware that things are subject to change, especially if we encounter any extreme weather conditions. Along the way all tour decisions will rest with Rich (tour manager) and an expedition leader. We will also be taking advice from local people on the ground whose expertise will far exceed our own.

Please apply by 1st March, 2018.

March 22 - March 31 2018

Tajikistan - Persian New Year Tour

Nowruz and Buzkashi + Sogdia
and the Fergana Valley

9-night fully guided tour through this fascinating country. timed to visit during
Persian new year, seeing local dances, wrestling and Buzkashi one of the most dangerous
sports in the world.

From 2,200 USD per person

Please apply by 1st March, 2018.

Tajikistan - Persian New Year Tour

Nowruz and Buzkashi + Sogdia
and the Fergana Valley

9-night fully guided tour through this fascinating country.
timed to visit during Persian new year, seeing local dances,
wrestling and Buzkashi one of the most dangerous sports
in the world.

From 2,200 USD per person

  • Overall

    Dushanbe - Hissar Fortress - Varzob Valley - Buzkashi Event - Khoja Ob Garm Spa - Khujand - Zarafshan Valley and Panjikent - Dushanbe

    Highlights

    • Travel north across the stunning landscape of the Fann Mountains.
    • Drive through the infamous 5-km Anzob Tunnel.
    • Experience Buzkashi (goat-pulling), Central Asia's most dangerous sport
    • Explore the ancient Sogdian culture and the history of the Fergana Valley, crossroads of the world and once the farthest outpost in Alexander the Great’s empire.
    • Get a taste of Czarist Russia at the Arbob Palace, a recreation of St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace in the heart of Central Asia.
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 10
    1. Thursday 22nd March

      AM

      this morning is a free morning for settling in/exploring/acclimatizing as the rest of the tour group arrive.

      PM

      Afternoon meeting up as a group we drive to the Hissar fortress. This large fort is said to date back to Cyrus the Great (600BC) and to have been captured 21 times by invading forces. Much of this area has been restored, but it has a lovely museum that is a nice introduction to this fascinating country - a great chance to learn about the country's history and catch up with local people.
      Upon our return to Dushanbe we will stop by a local school to photograph an interesting statue of Lenin.

      Meals: Lunch and welcome dinner in Dushanbe

      *Overnight:


      Hotel Vatan
      a new hotel located within 5 minutes walk of the main city. this comfortable hotel has beautiful rooms located on a designated floor with free laundry facilities, kitchen area and reading room. Breakfast provided buffet style in the main restaurant area.
    2. Friday 23rd March

      AM

      We begin our day with a Morning walking tour of Dushanbe, we will travel with a mix of driving and on foot visiting the following sites:

      Victory Park: Built in 1975 commemorating the Victory in the Great Patriotic War of 1941-1945, this Soviet built monument offers great views of Dushanbe.
      Rudaki & Somoni Avenues: the two main streets in Dushanbe formally known as Lenin street and Putovskiy street. These grand avenues were renamed in the early 1990s after the poet Rudaki and the ancient king Ismail Somoni. Lined with a mixture of past Soviet architecture and modern Tajik grand buildings.
      Rudaki Parks: A beautifully laid out park with a grand statue of the poet Rudaki, located opposite the brilliant national library building.
      Ismaili Somoni Monument: This amazing statue of the the ancient king stands on the former site of Lenin. it is said that Somoni's crown contains 10 kilograms of Tajik gold.
      Mehrgon market building: With many of the cities old market places now closed in Dushanbe's drive for modernization we visit one of the new areas where local people travel to buy fruit and vegetables as well as other necessities.

      PM


      National Museum of Antiquities: this museum gives us a more in-depth look at the complicated history of Tajikistan and the surrounding countries.
      Botanical Gardens: Popular for wedding groups as well as housing a vast range of Central Asian flora.
      National Tea house: for end-of-day relaxation this was once the largest tea house in the world, but it has now been remodeled as an entertainment facility for local people. now holding a cinema, bowling alleys and various shops. we can still visit to view the amazingly intricate work carried out in its construction. 

      Meals: Breakfast and Lunch.

      *Overnight

      Hotel Vatan.















    3. Saturday 24th March

      AM

      After breakfast we drive out of Dushanbe following the Varzob river north to the stunning Varzob Valley along the way we pass scenic lakes, stunning geological formations and bizarre palatial residences of the Tajik elite. Our destination the small village of Anzob where we join our friends for some traditional Tajik hospitality at their home. After lunch for those whom wish to we can hike into the mountains for amazing views of the surrounding valley.
      upon return to Dushanbe if there are any local events such as holiday wrestling, dancing  or singing we will stop making the most of our time.
      PM

      Late afternoon is left free for your own explorations and adventures in Dushanbe - holiday decoration will be up by now and a lively atmosphere on the weekend can be expected

      Meals. Breakfast and Lunch

      *Overnight:

      Hotel Vatan.


    4. Sunday 25th March

      • Today we go to see the most remarkable sporting event imaginable – Buzkashi!
      • This is a flamboyantly violent and aggressive game played by hundreds of men on horseback, wrestling over a goat carcass to try to score ‘goals’ with it. It simply has to be seen to be believed, the photos you will get will blow the mind of anyone you show them to!
      • The day will be spent at the sports fields, in addition to Buzkashi there is wrestling, people-watching, mingling with the friendliest people in all of Central Asia, and snacks and drinks available for sale. An incredible day is assured!

      Meals. Breakfast and Lunch

      *Overnight:
      Hotel Vatan.






    5. Monday 26th March

      • Today we head into the mountains, for some stunning views on a long drive that brings us through tunnels and valleys, over peaks and ridges of the amazing mountains of Tajikistan!
      • The destination in the end is Khoja Obi Garm Spa, a vast sanatorium built into the side of a mountain above natural hot springs – like a James Bond villain’s lair meets the hotel from The Shining!
      • A full range of ‘treatments’ can be enjoyed here, from radon baths to massages, leeches to swimming, or simply explore and relax. This is one of those great Soviet-era buildings that are hard to find these days, you will love this experience!
      Meals. Breakfast, Lunch and dinner 

      *Overnight
      Khoja Obi Garm spa, the rooms in this soviet monster are a little more basic and older. although they are warm and comfortable. use of many of the health facilities is included whilst also giving us to opportunity to explore this surreal complex late into the evening (if your brave enough.)





    6. Tuesday 27th March

      AM

      • Drive onwards to the northern city of Khujand
      • Driving through the Hissar mountains the route itself is part of the adventure including a pass through a 5km long Iranian-built Anzob Tunnel
      PM
      • Lunch at Iskander Kul – Alexander Lake –where Alexander the Great himself stopped for lunch during his advance through Central Asia
      • Cross into the Fergana Valley – the ancient crossroads of cross-continental trade and home to some of the great cities of the silk road
      • Arriving in Khujand (previously known as Leninabad) we’ll stop at a giant Lenin statue at a hydro-electric dam. Communism personified! 
      Meals. Breakfast, Lunch and dinner

      *Overnight:
      Bahoriston Hotel this hotel resort is located in Qayraqqum around 15 mins drive from Khujand. Nestled on the banks of the Kayrakum reservoir. the hotel is a comfortable yet bizarre option combining pseudo Romanesque architecture whilst reliving the cult seventies show the prisoner. it has health spa facilities on site, restaurants a bar, night club and even bowling.      







    7. Wednesday 28th March

      AM

      • Khujand Market and the sights, sounds, smells of this fascinating city which once market the eastern edge of Alexander’s Empire
      • Local Museum to learn the history of the area
      • Local Mosque, lined with stunning wood panels on the inside
      PM
      • See more of the city – local parks, statues, and mix with the locals too, one of the highlights of any trip to Tajikistan
      • The bizarre Arbob Cultural Palace - a recreation of the St. Petersburg Winter Palace built during the Soviet 1950s, a fantastic local curiosity!
      Meals. Breakfast, Lunch and dinner

      *Overnight:
      Bahoriston Hotel


    8. Thursday 29th March

      AM

      • Departing Khujand we drive through the Zarafshan Valley, all the way to Panjikent to have lunch
      PM
      • Panjikent is the centre of Sogdian Culture in Tajikistan. Sogdians were an ancient power in this region, active until the Arab invasion of the 7th Century.
      • See the remains of a Sogdian city – foundations, royal palace, Zoroastrian Temple, and the city bazaar
      • Rudaki Museum – dedicated to the hometown hero and founder of Persian Poetry, the great Central Asian polymath Rudaki
      Meals. Breakfast, Lunch and dinner

      *Overnight:
      Sugd hotel This locally owned and run hotel is a small guest house with comfortable rooms, beds and warm showers. the local owner is always happy to engage guests in conversation, often sharing his travel stories of his visits to Europe.  




    9. Friday 30th March

      • We’ll spend the day driving back to Dushanbe, stopping at scenic and historic sites & towns along the way
      • We will get back to the city for a last bit of free time and a final group farewell dinner
      Meals. Breakfast, Lunch and dinner

      *Overnight
      Hotel Vatan.









    10. Saturday 31st April

      • Tour ends and all group members will be taken to the airport for their individual flights.
  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      Airport pick up and drop off to and from Hotel Lotus, Dushanbe.
      Hotel accommodation
      Tajiki tour guides
      A driver per group
      A member or Koryo Tours
      All transportation in the country
      All entry fees for attractions and sights
    • Not included
      Flights to Tajikistan
      Single room supplement unless otherwise specified (US $45 per night)
      Spending money for drinks and souvenirs
      Tajikistan visa fees at other embassies vary
      Tip for the guides (approx. US $10 per day)
      Not all meals are covered but we will make recommendations if needed
      We occasionally have the opportunity to visit a performance which is extra
  • Notes

    VISA APPLICATION TO TAJIKISTAN

    It is now possible to purchase your visa online, which makes our visit to Tajikistan a lot easier.
    Please see the following link for more information: https://www.evisa.tj
    Upon booking we will help should any further information be required.

    IMPORTANT NOTE TO TOURISTS

    This tour is a group trip but designed to have a good amount of free-time. We will give you ideas if you want to go out exploring or just take it easy at a café.Please be on time and return to that the hotel in the evening.

    Please note we will be driving relatively long distances and seats can be hard so we suggest bringing a travel pillow/neck support – the view and experience more than make up for a little discomfort though.

    Khoja Obi Gharm Spa - please note this is a Radon spa which has radioactive properties. There are various thoughts on whether this is good for you or not! - please read up beforehand and make your own decision. The various types of treatment with steam sauna and water jets, massage etc. It is in a beautiful mountain area and worthwhile even for those not taking the spa treatments. The spa was built by the Russians over a religious shrine – for those of you not taking a sauna go pop out and try and find it in this beautiful mountain scape. Massage is 60 somoni head body arms, just need to wear pants or towel provided (radon shower included if you want! )

    Carry a colour photocopy of your passport with you at all times.

    USEFUL TIPS

    Taxis – In 2017 most journeys cost around 20-30 somoni, but make sure you agree a price beforehand.

    Segafroid Café in Dushanbe is a good place for internet and Western food- open for billiards and ten pin bowling cost 120 somoni per hour. The Segafroid Café is about a 20 somoni taxi ride from the Hotel Lotus.

    Dushanbe has the the world’s largest tea house is open for billiards and ten-pin bowling cost 120 per hour.

    Bring sun protection cream.

    Bring hand sanitiser and toilet paper.

    WEATHER

    Early Spring weather so bring a light jumper and jacket, however, we will be heading into the mountains so have some warm clothing also as there will be snow.

Please apply by 1st March, 2018.

April 19 - April 26 2018

Run Dushanbe

Tajikistan Half Marathon
Tour - NEW FOR 2018!

7-night tour exploring unknown Tajikistan and run in the AIMS certified Dushanbe
Half Marathon. Marvel at its scenery, discover its history and meet the friendliest
people we know!

From 1,250 USD per person

Please apply by 1st April, 2018.

Run Dushanbe

Tajikistan Half Marathon
Tour - NEW FOR 2018!

7-night tour exploring unknown Tajikistan and run in
the AIMS certified Dushanbe Half Marathon. Marvel at
its scenery, discover its history and meet the friendliest
people we know!

From 1,250 USD per person

  • Overall

    Incredible, yet relatively unknown, Tajikistan is one of the most unique countries in the world. Sitting in Central Asia, it not only has fascinating history as a former Soviet bloc country, but the friendliest people you will ever meet and the most incredible breath taking scenery. This tour will not only get you there to experience all of this, but to also join in the local Tajik celebrations for their 'Day of the City' running in the 2018 Dushanbe International Half Marathon - an AIMS certified race.

    Learn more about the marathon and Tajikistan at www.rundushanbe.com

    Highlights

    • Participate in the little known Dushanbe half marathon, as the streets are lined with locals cheering you on
    • Explore the UNESCO-listed ruins of ancient Panjikent
    • Journey across the beautiful snow-capped Fan mountains
    • Camp on the shores of stunning glacial Lake Alexander
    • Get a massage at the surreal Soviet health spa of Khoja Obi Garm, which looks like something straight from a movie
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 8
    1. Thursday April 19th

      AM

      • The tour group meets at 13.30 in the hotel reception for an orientation & introduction meeting.

      PM

      • Afternoon drive to Hissar Fortress. This large and impressive site is said to date back to the days of Cyrus the Great (around 600BC) and to have been captured 21 times by invading forces – making one question how effective a fortress it is!. Much of this area has been restored over the years and there is a lovely museum offering a nice introduction to the country and history- a great chance to learn about the country's history and catch up with local people who also visit the site.

      • Upon our return to Dushanbe we will stop by a local school to photograph an interesting statue of Lenin, a soviet remnant, and learn a bit about the educational system too

      Overnight:


      Hotel Vatan – newly built and with an excellent location. This comfortable hotel has beautiful rooms located on a designated floor with free laundry facilities, kitchen area, and reading room. Breakfast provided buffet style in the main restaurant area.


    2. Friday April 20th

      AM

      • We begin with a half-day walking tour of the sleepy capital of Dushanbe, including Victory Park, Rudaki Street, Central Park, Monument of Ismaili Somoni. We will also follow the route of the Dushanbe Marathon. Along this route we will learn about the development of the city over the years. From its ancient origins, to the Soviet-era (when it was called Frunze), to modern day Dushanbe

      PM

      • This afternoon is free for further exploration or for training for tomorrow’s big event, we have secured the use of Dushanbe’s premier gym should you wish to work out and get ready for the adventure ahead!

      Overnight: Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe 


    3. Saturday April 21st

      AM

      • Today is our main event! We make an early start for this unique opportunity; The Dushanbe International Half Marathon! Running with local athletes and amateurs, winding through the city, a life-changing experience – medals and prizes for finishers and winners!

      PM

      • After the morning’s exertions you deserve some rest! Therefore the afternoon will be free for relaxation or for further exploration with your tour leader visiting the nearby local market for some local flavours and experiences.
      • We also expect celebrations in some local parks to mark the City Day Holiday. So we will find them and join in, the most welcoming people in the world will definitely show you a good time on this occasion – be ready for some socializing and great photo opportunities too!

      Overnight: Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe


    4. Sunday April 22nd

      AM

      • The tour continues as we depart Dushanbe and follow the Varzob river into the mountains, driving up through the Varzob Gorge where we will stop on the way for photos of this scenic area. Our goal for this morning is the small village of Takob. Upon arrival we will hike for 30 minutes through this hamlet where we will be rewarded by a visit to a local family whose home has amazing views of the surrounding area

      PM

      • We will have lunch given to us in the local Tajik way; sitting on the floor. You will lose count of the number of courses!
      • We continue our drive through the mountains until we reach our destination;  the Khoja Obi Garm Spa, a vast sanatorium built into the side of a mountain above natural hot springs – like a James Bond villain’s lair meets the hotel from The Shining! A true relic of the USSR days.
      • A full range of ‘treatments’ can be enjoyed here, from radon baths to massages, leeches to swimming, or simply explore and relax. This is one of those great Soviet-era buildings that are hard to find these days, you will love this experience!

      Overnight:

      Khoja Obi Garm Spa - the rooms in this Soviet monster are a little more basic and older, although warm and comfortable. Use of many of the health facilities is included whilst also giving us to opportunity to explore this surreal complex late into the evening (if you’re brave enough.)


    5. Monday April 23rd

      AM

      • We begin with a long drive from the health resort over mountain roads out across the Fan Mountains working our way up through the ‘Tunnel of Death’ – an Iranian-built long road tunnel burrowing under he mountains, the nickname overstates the danger but it can be nerve-wracking although it is very safe in reality. We stop along the way from breathtaking shots of this beautiful mountain range. Our destination is Panjikent. We will make a detour en route to visit the tomb and Museum of Rudaki – (Panjikent is the birthplace of Abu Abdullah Rudaki, considered by many to be the father of Persian poetry)

      PM

      • This afternoon we have a historical tour of ancient Panjikent, viewing ruins of the Sogdian town founded in the 5th century and finally abandoned in the 8th century by the Arabs after their conquest of the region. Foundations of houses, a citadel city bazaar, and Zoroastrian fire temples are all visible as we walk around this UNESCO listed site. Dinner tonight will be a traditional style in a beautiful local home.

      Overnight:

      Sugd Hotel - this locally owned and run hotel is a small guest house with comfortable rooms, beds and warm showers. The owner is always happy to engage guests in conversation, often sharing his travel stories of his visits to Europe.

    6. Tuesday April 24th

      AM

      • This morning we bid farewell to Panjikent but not before a stop as its interesting and colourful local market. Driving out back to the Fan Mountains we will stop at an old Soviet Cognac factory we have the opportunity to sample its produce and photograph this large partially abandoned site.

       PM

      • We drive along small mountain roads past local villages, abandoned factories, and scenic and stunning views. Eventually arriving at the remote and secluded Iskanderkul (Alexander Lake – named for Alexander the Great). We have the option of hiking or relaxing by its beautiful shores. The lake sits at an altitude of 2195 metres; a stunning alpine body of water.

      Overnight:

      Alexander Lake Chalets - we stay in small holiday cabins on the shores of this amazing lake, for those whom wish to you may watch sunset and sunrise (recommended!)


    7. Wednesday April 25th
      • Overnight: Hotel Vatan, Dushanbe

        • After a relaxing morning for photos, further hiking or sleeping, we return over the mountain pass to Dushanbe. We should arrive into the capital mid afternoon. You can make the use of your free afternoon for some last minute sightseeing into one of the history museums, local shopping or browsing one of the unique Soviet-era antique shops

    8. Thursday April 26th

      End of tour. All group members will be taken to the airport for their individual flights as we bid each other a fond goodbye after this eventful epic journey!

      Extensions are possible – please speak to your Tour Manager to discuss options.


  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      Airport pick up and drop off to and from Vatan, Dushanbe.
      Hotel accommodation
      A Koryo Tours leader, Tajiki tour guides and a driver per group
      Warm up in Dushanbe's no 1 Gym pre-marathon
      All transportation in the country
      All entry fees for attractions and sights
      All meals on the tour
    • Not included
      Flights to Tajikistan
      Single room supplement (unless otherwise specified, US $45 per night)
      Spending money for drinks and souvenirs
      Tajikistan visa (visa fees vary at different embassies)
      Tip for the guides (approx. US $10 per day)
      We occasionally have the opportunity to visit a performance - this is to be paid on the spot

Please apply by 1st April, 2018.

May 2 - May 11 2018

Kazakhstan Tour

Enigmatic Central
Asian Giant

Where a vibrant multi-cultural society meets the dark legacy of deportations,
gulags, and nuclear weapons. Come with us and see all of the above and
much more!

From 2,100 USD per person

Please apply by 20th April, 2018.

View package Tour Full

Kazakhstan Tour

Enigmatic Central
Asian Giant

Where a vibrant multi-cultural society meets the
dark legacy of deportations, gulags, and nuclear
weapons. Come with us and see all of the above
and much more!

From 2,100 USD per person

  • Overall

    On this incredible adventure we will start in the new capital (Astana) and finish in the old (Almaty), in between these two fascinating cities we will travel by road, rail, and air between the industrial base of Karaganda, the infamous Semipalatinsk (in two words; Gulags and Nukes), Kurchatov – the Los Alamos of the USSR, where the Red Bomb was developed and tested – over and over again, we will even get to ground zero in ‘The Polygon’; the vast nuclear testing range full of abandoned measuring platforms, bunkers, craters, buried machinery, and the scenic yet chilling ‘Atomic Lake’. We’ll get a history lesson on the darker side of this little-known land, as well as updates on what’s been going on in the cities and countryside as we pass between them seeing local life, industry, and so much more. Nobody offers a trip like this – so come along and experience something very special indeed!

    Highlights

    • Astana - once the centre of the Virgin Lands campaign, now national capital
    • Semipalatinsk – fascinating small city and once home to an exiled Dostoyevsky
    • Nuclear Polygon – USSR’s testing range for atmospheric and underground nukes
    • Chagan – Abandoned long-range bomber base, and garrison town
    • Kurchatov – Home of the bomb-boffins and Beria. Semi-abandoned these days
    • Karaganda – in the heart of Kazakhstan, also the heart of the old Central Asian Gulag system
    • Almaty – Serene and charming – the old capital nestled against the Tian Shan Mountains
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 10
    1. Wed 2nd May

      Arrival Day

      • Flights to Astana (airport code TSE) arrive from many international destinations – let us know which flight you will be on and we will arrange your pick-up and transfer to the hotel. Arriving even earlier is of course fine and can be accommodated
      • Today we start the tour with a group dinner of some excellent local food, coordination and briefing session, before the adventure ahead!

      Overnight:

      Astana - Kazakhstan's shiny new Capital City!

    2. Thurs 3rd May

      Astana

      • Astana is a new city rightly famed for its unique approach to architecture; in that it piles together a wide range of different styles and forms with the end result being either a glimpse at the future of post-modern cities, or a horrifying un-curated mish-mash of clashing buildings. One this day we will get the chance to decide for ourselves!
      • Bayterek Tower – now the icon of the city, this ornate monument has a viewing platform 97 metres above the ground (1997 is when Astana become the capital city) and is designed to evoke a folk tale about a bird laying an egg in a tree. Amazing views over the city from here
      • Palace of Peace and Reconciliation – glass Pyramid from the eminent architect Norman Foster with the vague but noble aim of reconciling the world’s faiths and ideologies and bringing an end to violence. Even if this goal remains elusive it is a stunning building and worth exploring!
      • Hazret Sultan Mosque – the biggest in Kazakhstan (and second in the region only to the monstrous Gypjak Mosque in Turkmenistan). Classically Islamic in style and Kazakh in décor, this impressive building can house up to 5000 worshippers at once
      • Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre – perhaps the building that architecturally sums up modern Astana more than any other. Another Carbuncle/work-of-genius (delete as you prefer) from Norman Foster, this ingenious structure looking somewhat like a lop-sided tent maintains an even temperature year round and provides leisure facilities, shopping, entertainment in general to local people
      • River Ishim – we’ll stroll the banks of this waterway in the centre of town, a good way to see a slice of local life and people enjoying their time. Remember that almost all of Astana’s population are recent arrivals so a big mix of people from around the country and beyond can be met with here – before we take the chance to sample some evening entertainment as well

      Overnight:

      Astana - Kazakhstan's shiny new Capital City!

    3. Fri 4th May

      Astana & Train Ride

      • We take a drive out of the city to the nearby village of Akmol; home of the chilling Museum of the Camp for Wives of Traitors to the Motherland – A sensitively-done spot telling the story of the loyal (going to such a place could often be avoided with a divorce and public denunciation) women sent here when their husbands were persecuted.
      • We see a little more of this settlement on a walk around; church, mosque, and apartment buildings now occupying this former gulag site before stopping for a final lunch and supermarket visit in Astana
      • All aboard! We jump onto a sleeper train making its way through the night and across the country to the city of Kurchatov - home of the soviet atomic weapons program. Comfy beds and a clean restaurant await us as well as rolling steppe outside the windows for this 800km journey

      Overnight:

      On board the train – 4 beds in each room. Comfortable and clean

    4. Sat 5th May

      Kurchatov/Nuclear Test Epicentre

      • We arrive very early in the morning in Kurchatov and head for an early check-in at a local hotel as well as breakfast and freshening up after the train ride. Then our atomic adventure begins! Kurchatov was founded in 1947 simply to make Soviet Nuclear weapons a reality. Under the control of the KGB Chief Lavrentiy Beria and scientist Igor Kurchatov this is where the arms race became a two-horse event.
      • Museum of the Semipalatinsk Test Site – a detailed and deep explanation of what this place is, what happened here, and what affect their inventions can have. Some machines from that time are displayed here too
      • We board our vehicle and take a drive, deep into a formerly off-limits (very off limits!) area; the Semipalatinsk Polygon – nuclear testing ground chosen due to its remoteness, lack of population, and because it seemed like a good spot to blow a few things up.
      • Our target is the Nuclear Epicentre - where the first Soviet Atomic Bomb was tested: Ground Zero. We stop at markers, increasingly-destroyed bunkers and towers, as we make our way to ground zero; the epicentre of this bang heard around the world. Radiation is only higher than normal in one spot and we provide protective gear of course.
      • We spend some time checking out more of the relics of this ground-breaking (literally) test before returning to the Kurchatov once more
      • Next stop is Chagan – once a deeply secret long-range bomber base. Now a deeply abandoned former long-range bomber base. See the massive runways, the remaining ammunition hangars, and the collapsing main buildings of the base. Plus the garrison town nearby which housed the base staff from 1954 to 1994 and now stands completely stripped like a spooky post-apocalyptic warning. A bit of UrbEx here to finish the day

      Overnight:

      Mayak Hotel – not named for the site of another nuclear disaster - see here. Mayak means ‘Beacon’ and was a common name for places and institutions in the USSR. This 1980s beauty belongs to the Kazakh Institute of Atomic Energy. Fans of the Soviet Aesthetic will adore this place!

    5. Sun 6th May

      Atomic Lake/Kurchatov

      • We again go deep into the Polygon, this time we head for the sinister-sounding Atomic Lake
      • We’ll make a few stops on the way through but most significantly Atomic Lake – caused by a deep underground nuclear blast – this was in fact made deliberately and is known as the world’s first and only use of industrial nuclear weapons. Find out what on earth they were thinking and also meet some fishermen looking for three-eyed fish in the 180m deep lake
      • We’ll have a Roadside Picnic (note to non-literature lovers, this is a joke – read this book and you will find some eerie similarities to this part of the trip) and continue to see some relics of the testing program. A local expert will also be with us to explain in detail, answer questions, etc
      • We arrive back in Kurchatov where we’ll have a walking tour of this semi-abandoned settlement dotted with monuments, fascinating buildings, and of course locals going about their lives
      • A free evening to explore the town – there are cafes and bars, the locals are friendly and curious. It’s walkable and hospitable (one shop even has town souvenirs). Get out there and enjoy it!

      Overnight:

      Mayak Hotel

    6. Mon 7th May

      Semipalatinsk/Semey

      • Back to Kurchatov Railway Station for a 2 hour ride in comfort across the steppe to the nearby city of Semipalatinsk
      • Semipalatinsk is actually the former name of this city, correctly it is now referred to as Semey, we explore with a city tour of this little-visited settlement.
      • Once upon a time Semipalatinsk was a wealth trading city, situated between China and Russia, as well as acting as a gateway to the Central Asian territories added to the Russian Empire in the 19th Century. We will explore mainly on foot and see buildings from various eras, statues and monuments, mosaics and a little-known part of history. All explained to us as we make our way around this unexpectedly-charming place.
      • Dostoyevsky Museum – the titan of Russian Literature was exiled out here in Semipalatinsk and this museum explains the importance of his works. Pro-tip: read Crime and Punishment before your visit.
      • Fine Arts Museum – not just the best collection in Kazakhstan but also a display of abnormal anatomy, something quirky and troubling (especially with our trip to the nuclear test site coming up)
      • Stronger Than Death Monument – in the Tatar section of town (itself an attraction we will explore some more) – shows the resilience of those who live and have lived in this remote part of the world.
      • We’ll also take the chance to see what the locals get up to in free time – some places of relaxation and leisure to get an idea of what life is like here in the modern day.

      Overnight:

      Semey Hotel – very Soviet-style place with an aesthetic unlike what you may be used to! All the charm of the late-USSR but with free wifi! You’ll love it!

    7. Tues 8th May

      To Karaganda

      • We rise early and drive a mere 250km east to Ust-Kamenogorsk. Our destination is simply the airport where we board a local flight to take us over the test-sites, abandoned gulags, coal mines, fields, and miles of endless undulating grasses that make up eastern Kazakhstan. Our final destination today is the city of Karaganda
      • A walking tour of the city centre - focusing on the architecture, history, and local culture of this city (all of which is varied and fascinating), we’ll visit the central park as well and see and mix with locals spending leisure time here
      • Karaganda is a large city but with a very walkable centre – the Russian/Soviet influence here is strong and our guide (a local to this place) will tell us all about the city, you’ll find it fascinating for sure! He can also recommend good spots for dinner/evening socialising/etc

      Overnight:

      Chaika Hotel – amazing brutalist Soviet monstrosity. Real time-warp stuff. One part of the hotel was built specifically for the visit of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. The rooms are comfy and modern, the building itself is timeless!

    8. Wed 9th May

      Karaganda/Victory Day

      • We drive an hour out to the museum of KarLag, the local gulag system – a dark part of history indeed told through the rooms of this former NKVD HQ. State ‘enemies’, departed nationalities (a vast number of whom were dumped in central Asia due to Stalin’s paranoia about enemies within – the largest numbers being Germans from the west and Koreans from the east. Their stories are told here in this chilling memorial to the all-too-recent evils
      • The village around this museum is made up largely of former Gulag barracks, admin buildings, and medical centres, we will take a look around and also visit the depressing cemetery for children who died in this cruel system
      • The nearby town of Shahtinsk hosts us for lunch and some views of local industries; coal mining primarily, but also steel production and agriculture
      • In the afternoon we offer the choice between free time to further explore Karaganda city or a trip to a former execution ground (what a choice, we know!) marked by tasteful and meaningful memorials to the various nationalities whose people were among the unfortunate souls to perish here
      • Today is also Victory Day – the anniversary of the German surrender to the victorious Red Army. Events happen across the former USSR on this occasion and whatever will be happening in Karaganda we will go along for a look. In true soviet style there will likely be a drink or two involved, plus some flag waving and nostalgic nationalism to join in with or simply observe
      • In the evening we will board the modern Spanish-made overnight train for a trip to the south of Kazakhstan, and the largest of the nation’s cities - Almaty, 1000km away through the night

      Overnight:

      On the train. Comfy beds in small, but modern and spotless rooms

    9. Thurs 10th May

      Almaty

      • We arrive in the morning in the cultural capital (and former actual capital) or Kazakhstan. The beautiful city of Almaty. Nestled against the precipitous Tian Shan Mountain range and dotted with parks, theatres, boulevards, and much more, this is a modern multi-cultural city wrongfully ignored too little-known
      • We’ll check into the hotel to freshen up and then hit the town for a city tour;
      • Almaty Metro – one of only two subway systems in the whole of Central Asia (the other is the Moscow knock-off in Tashkent) this system opened in 2012 and strikes a balance between Moscow opulence and modern efficiency
      • Green Bazaar & Rakhat Chocolate Factory – these neighbouring sites are local institutions. You can smell the sweetness from the latter all across this part of the city. Banter and barter with sellers in the market, pick up the apples that Almaty if known for as well as all manner of other delicious local delicacies. Get your sweet tooth into action with the terrific and very affordable selection at the chocolate factory (ideal for gifts too!)
      • Panfilovets Park – Almaty's main place of leisure. Very pleasant and marked with stunning and evocative monuments to the Kazakh soldiers who fell while fighting to defend Moscow from the Nazi invasion. Zenkov Cathedral is also located in this park. 
      • Central Mosque – With its broad ethnic mixture and clear secularism it is easy to forget that Kazakhstan is a majority-Muslim country. We’ll have a look at the main mosque in Almaty to see how the locals worship and what their faith means to them
      • Arbat Street – every good former USSR town has one; a pedestrian area ideal for promenading, window shopping, café culture, public art sales, and so on. This one is very modern and it lined with some great examples of brutalist apartment buildings
      • Kok-Tebe – a cable car ride up to a mountain overlooking the city. Amazing views, a statue of the Beatles, A Ferris Wheel and toboggan ride, small zoo, bars, and entertainment in general. Simply put this is the city’s best spot and a very popular area for local families, youths, and everyone really. We’ll have a final dinner of the tour here. A fitting relaxing end to an intense, mind-blowing week!

      Overnight:

      Hotel Kazakhstan – a towering monstrosity offering great views over the city as well as faded-luxury. An iconic structure in an iconic city; ideal for finishing off our Kazakhstan adventure

    10. Fri 11th May

      Departure Day

      Flights leave from Almaty airport to various destinations both international and domestic. Let us know where you are going and we will get you there in time!

      Don’t forget that Almaty is also very close to the border with Kyrgyzstan – the capital city of Bishkek is just a few hours away and there are buses and shared taxis plying this route very frequently. We can help with this if you like and can recommend a visit to Bishkek too

      TOP RECOMMENDATION – however this is the best choice – Join our tour to Turkmenistan! If you take this option not only do you join the ranks of Koryo Tours’ extra-special veterans but you also get an extra night in Ashgabat. We fly from Almaty to Turkmenistan this afternoon and when there we meet our local partners and have time to relax, explore, do whatever you like really, until the Turkmenistan Tour (more info on this here) begins on Saturday 12th May. Continue your Central Asia adventure with us – it’s the best way to see the most amazing parts of the region!

  • Extras

    • Upgrade to your own room in Kazakhstan

      All hotel rooms on our all-inclusive group tours to Kazakhstan feature twin beds, and will be shared. If you'd like a room to yourself then you can upgrade for an extra $30 USD per night

  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      English-speaking local guide
      Western tour leader
      Meals other than those taken at leisure
      Accommodation
      Internal flight
      Internal train
      All included sight - seeing
      All taxes & entrance fees to areas where special permits are required
      Airport transfers
      An amazing time in a fascinating country!
    • Not included
      Tips for local guides and drivers
      Incidentals, extra drinks, etc
      Optional single supplement: USD 30 per night
      Visa fee - depending on nationality – most western nationalities do not need visas to Kazakhstan. Please do check first to be sure
      International flights to/from Kazakhstan not included
  • Notes

    How to Apply:

    To apply simply click on the application button listed with this tour and fill out the online form, upload a passport copy and photo (or send to us by email) and you can consider yourself to be booked on this adventure! For any questions, comments, etc about this trip get in touch with Simon Cockerell at simon@koryogroup.com
    We ask for application to be complete a minimum of one month in advance of the tour, ideally six weeks or more if possible:

    Please also indicate where you plan to join the tour from and finish the tour by going (we can offer advice on this, drop us a line to discuss it)
    We also require a deposit to be paid at this time as we start taking on administrative costs as well as an obligation to pay for the visa invitation as soon as we send off an application. We ask for a deposit of 50% of the tour fee.

    Cancellation & Refunds:

    Please note that if you require a visa for Kazakhstan you will need to pay this fee yourself. Most visitors do not require visas though. Check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Kazakhstan
    We practice the same cancellation policy with this tour as we do with our DPRK tours. This is listed on our website T&C. However we do not seek profit from people who cannot go on tours but we do make arrangements and commit to payments in good faith once a booking is received and payment is made. So we always try to refund more than the minimum. As with any trip it is best to be as sure as possible that you will be able to attend the trip when making the final booking. If the tour is cancelled by Koryo Tours for any reason then a full refund is of course made. In all cases we return as much as we can and we do not take a fee for client's cancellation. Please be sure that you will definitely be joining the tour when you send all application details.

Please apply by 20th April, 2018.

May 12 - May 19 2018

Turkmenistan - May Tour

7 nights exploring
Turkmenistan

Featuring the white marble fantasy-capital of Ashgabat, a night camping
at the bizarre Darzaza gas crater, the ancient silk road ruin of Konye-Urgench,
and more!

From 2,300 USD per person

Turkmenistan - May Tour

7 nights exploring
Turkmenistan

Featuring the white marble fantasy-capital of Ashgabat,
a night camping at the bizarre Darzaza gas crater,
the ancient silk road ruin of Konye-Urgench, and
more!

From 2,300 USD per person

  • Overall

    Koryo Tours continues its amazing Turkmenistan adventures (since 2004) – On this epic journey to Central Asia’s most enigmatic and least-visited country we will see history unfold as we travel from ruined ancient cities to gleaming modern marble-clad towers. From flaming pits deep in the desert to deep subterranean pools of health-infusing water. Meet local people, learn about their lives and history, their differences and commonalities. As we journey through the country we will see the serious and the sublime, the freaky and the frivolous – join us on this amazing adventure that Koryo Tours simply does better than anyone else – we’ve built this special experience through dozens of visits and the best local contacts and relationships. We look forward to sharing it with you in Turkmenistan!

    Highlights

    • Ashgabat - All the highlights and local colour
    • Darvaza Gas Crater - The ‘Mouth of Hell’
    • Kow Ata Underground Lake - Natural hot spring 80m under the ground
    • Nisa Fortess – UNESCO listed archaeological site
    • The Ancient ruins of Konye-Urgench
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 9
    1. May 12 - Saturday

      Arrival


      • Assemble in Ashgabat - Airport pickups will be arranged wherever you fly in from and we will have a group dinner to get introduced and start the adventure!


      Overnight: Hotel Ak Altyn, Ashgabat - A comfortable hotel that has escaped the marble-isation of the main city center. Situated around 15 minutes walk from the main area it has easy access to the local regions of the city such as the Teke bazar and good restaurant options.




    2. May 13 - Sunday

      Ashgabat

      • Tolkuchka Bazaar - The nation’s largest market, built outside the city and home to various sections selling household goods, clothes, the famous Turkmen carpets, camels & other animals, and much more!
      • Ashgabat Hippodrome – Sunday is a day at the races, with the sacred Ahal-Teke horses in full display.
      • Afternoon city tour including Independence Park and Monument, Arch of Neutrality topped by the gold statue of Turkmenbashi, Ahal-Teke Horse Monument, Earthquake Monument and Museum.
      • Free evening for a night out in the city.
      Overnight: Hotel Ak Altyn, Ashgabat















    3. May 14 - Monday

      Darvaza Gas Crater & Bokhurdag

      • Desert adventure! We head off in a fleet of 4x4s into the deep desert today.
      • Bokhurdag semi-nomadic village for a look at what desert life is like today and lunch at a local family home.
      • Onwards to the bizarre mud and water craters, scenes of accidents that opened sinkholes in the desert.
      • Finally we arrive at the stunning and unforgettable Darvaza Gas Crater, in the centre of the country and the scene of a 40 year old industrial accident that ended with a giant flaming pit burning to this day. A hypnotic sight and one of the strangest and most spectacular things you can possibly see!
      • We camp tonight besides the crater, it is best seen at night, dinner cooked on the spot.

      Overnight: Camping at Darvaza Gas Crater - Tents, sleeping bags and roll mats provided. we will also provide tents based on your rooming options. This affords us the best opportunity to view the amazing gas crater from before sunset to sunrise.











    4. May 15 - Tuesday

      Ashgabat

      • We return to Ashgabat, driving through the morning with a stop at a monument to the Soviet defeat (or suppression) of the Basmachi Rebellion, guerillas who resisted first Russian Imperial and then Soviet rule in Central Asia.
      • Once back in the capital the rest of the day is yours to do with as you please; explore, relax, shop, take a side-trip (drivers are available for hire), we and our local guides can give advice on the spot.

      Overnight:
      Hotel Ak Altyn, Ashgabat.




    5. May 16 - Wednesday

      Dashoguz & Konye-Urgench

      • We take a morning 1 hour flight from Ashgabat to the northern city of Dashoguz, in the Uzbek-majority part of the country.
      • We’ll see the local bazaar and a taste of life in this very different city.
      • The ancient silk road ruined city of Konye-Urgench, ravaged by successive invaders over the centuries and now hope to minarets, impressive mausoleums, and all manner of historical tales and stories – one of the most important sites on the old silk-road.

      Overnight: Hotel Uzboy, Dashoguz - This local hotel may be basic although there are not many options in this far flung town. It does offer us the chance to walk out into the local streets and experience life away from the marble city of Ashgabat.









    6. May 17 - Thursday

      Ashgabat & Kow Ata

      • We’ll fly back to Ashgabat and get on with some more touring activities straight upon arrival.
      • Ahal-Teke horses are considered as heavenly and sacred beasts in Turkmenistan, this stud farm visit will show you why. Have a ride on one of the horses if you like.
      • We then drive on to the bizarre Kow-Ata underground lake. A Sulphur-heated lake 100m deep underground. Take a swim, explore the cave, and then have lunch at a shashlik restaurant on the spot.
      • After lunch we will visit a couple of large mosques; first the Geok Deppe Mosque, built on the site of a late 19th Century massacre that marked the beginning of Russian dominance in the region.
      • Then we see the even more massive Gypjak Mosque, built on the site of the 1949 Earthquake that devastated the city, this is also home to the Turkmenbashi Mausoleum which we will visit.
      •  Back to the city for relaxing evening before beginning the final day of this adventure!

      Overnight: Hotel Ak Altyn, Ashgabat.




    7. May 18 - Friday

      Ashgabat & Kopet Dag Mountains

      • A free morning in Ashgabat for any final shopping, wandering, relaxing that you want to do and then we meet for a packed final afternoon.
      • Cable car ride into the Kopet Dag mountains to see a view of the city from above.
      • The world’s largest indoor Ferris Wheel – yes indeed! A very weird and quite fun trip to this oddity at the edge of town.
      • An evening drive around the marble city, stopping at some viewpoints for some great photos of the nighttime illuminations which are very impressive.
      •  Final dinner of the tour, time for goodbyes and a last night out if you’ve got the energy!

      Overnight: Hotel Ak Altyn, Ashgabat.





    8. May 19 - Saturday

      Departure day

      •  Airport transfers provided for everyone regardless of the time of flight or where you are going.
      OR

      Extension Day 1: Flight to Mary
      • Take a plane from Ashgabat to the central city of Mary, we will have a look around the town and stay overnight in a local hotel. Free time to explore this small city in the evening.




    9. May 20 - Sunday

      Extension Day 2: Ancient Merv

      •  Excursion to ancient Merv, probably the most important city in the world at certain times of its history and a place where you will learn a great deal about the history of Central Asia, the rise and fall of dynasties and cities, the silk road, and human civilization in this part of the world in general. This vast area is roamed by animals, explorers, extant buildings, ruins, etc. All contributing to a sense of the dynamism of the ancient silk road.
      • In the afternoon you fly back to Ashgabat for a final rest/night out before departure.
      Please let us know if you wish to book an extra night in Ashgabat. the flight should return to the capital at around 8PM - 9PM.







  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      English speaking guide
      Western tour leader
      Meals
      Accommodation
      Internal flights
      All included sight seeing
      All taxes & entrance fees to protected areas
    • Not included
      Optional extension to Merv is USD 550
      Optional single supplement: USD 50 per night
      Visa issuing fee - USD $80 to USD $140 depending on nationality
      Room extension - USD 120
      International fights to/from Turkmenistan not included
      Return flights from Beijing to Ashgabat cost approximately USD 780
      Return flights from London to Ashgabat cost approximately USD 1040
      (Estimates only, we can book these tickets for you or you can purchase separately)
  • Notes

    HOW TO APPLY

    Please email Rich Beal at rich@koryogroup.com the following information a minimum of one month in advance of the tour, ideally six weeks or more if possible:

    Full Name
    Gender
    Date of Birth
    Passport Number
    Address
    Job Title
    Company
    Details of any previous visits to Turkmenistan
    Please also indicate where you plan to join the tour from (London, Beijing, Istanbul etc).

    We also require a deposit to be paid at this time as we start taking on administrative costs as well as an obligation to pay for the visa invitation as soon as we send off an application. We ask for a deposit of 50% of the tour fee.

    You must apply at least 4 weeks before the tour departure date as the Letter of Invitation that we need to obtain in order to facilitate the visa can take several days to be issued by the Turkmenistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We can arrange to have the visas issued on arrival at Ashgabat airport or any other point of entry to the country, but if you would prefer to have it issued at the Turkmenistan Embassy in your home country or have any questions at all about the visa process (it is rather complicated!) please contact us early!

    If you are joining the tour from somewhere other than Beijing and buying a ticket via our offices we email the e-ticket voucher to you and also inform you if anyone else is joining the tour from your place of departure so that you can meet up on the way to join the tour.

    It is entirely possible to join the tour by flying in from other destinations also. We can also accommodate people joining the tour after entering by land or sea, and a range of exit methods are available to those joining this tour. Single supplement is available on this tour at 40 Euros per night, if you are travelling alone and wish to share a room to avoid this fee we will attempt to match you up with another traveller. You will also have to pay the visa issuing fee, at Ashgabat airport this ranges from US$80 to $130 (depending on nationality) payable in cash only.

    CANCELLATION & REFUNDS

    Please note that for this tour you are required to pay the fee for the issuance of the visa yourself. Due to the extended amount of time that it takes to have a visa authorised and sent to an Embassy of Turkmenistan it is much simpler to collect the visa on arrival at Ashgabat Airport, the fee payable here varies according to your nationality, its usually around US$100. The visa is stamped in your passport and is the same as it would be if issued at a Turkmen Embassy. If you insist on having your visa issued at an Embassy then please be sure to apply for the tour as early as possible.

    The deposit is non-refundable if the tourist cancels himself. If however we cannot arrange visas or for whatever reason it is not possible to travel at the specified time (or you cannot make rescheduled dates) a full refund will be made. Should the client wish to cancel after visa application has been made, charges imposed on us will be paid out of the 50% deposit with the balance being returned to the client. If you have paid in full we will return 50% plus the balance of what is left after the cancellation fee we pay to our partners in Turkmenistan. If you book and cancel a plane ticket through us we charge only the airline’s cancellation fee.

    In all cases we return as much as we can and we do not take a fee for client's cancellation. Please be sure that you will definitely be joining the tour when you send all application details.

July 1 - July 13 2018

Mongolia - Beyond the Steppe

12 unforgettable Mongolian
summer nights

Ulaanbaatar - Hovd - Altai Tavan
Bogd and many adventures in between!

From 2,900 USD per person

Please apply by 23rd June, 2018.

Mongolia - Beyond the Steppe

12 unforgettable Mongolian
summer nights

Ulaanbaatar - Hovd -
Altai Tavan Bogd and
many adventures in between!

From 2,900 USD per person

  • Overall

    Highlights

    • Experience Nadaam -- the biggest festival of the year for Mongolians
    • Visit Mongolian Kazak and Tuva nomadic families
    • Enjoy horseback riding with the possibility to hire a camel
    • Hike the great mountains (with views across to Russia and China)
    • Swim in mountain lakes and rivers
    • Explore the Altai and Bayan Ulgii region of Mongolia
    • Construct and sleep in a traditional Mongolian ger (yurt)
    • Marvel at the skill of local eagle hunters
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 13
    1. Sunday 1st July

      Arrive in Ulaanbaatar

      Upon landing in Mongolia’s capital, we make our way to our centrally located hotel to recharge before our adventure begins. If you’re feeling energetic, you can take our optional walking tour to get your first taste of this fascinating city, before returning for our 4pm hotel briefing.

      Here we’ll give you an overview of the country and culture, along with some etiquette tips for visiting the homes of the shamans, Kazakhs, and Tuvan people we’ll meet along the way. Then join us for another city walk, this time by night. Get a glimpse of Sükhbaatar Square, named for revolutionary hero Damdinii Sükhbaatar; its perfect geometric angles make this – technically – the world’s largest square. The statues of Genghis Khan and other Mongolian generals are even more impressive when all lit up.

      Meals: dinner

      Overnight:

      Hotel 9: A local hotel situated in the heart of Ulaanbaatar, within 5 minutes walk from the main square. this hotel offers a great location from which to walk out and explore the city.  


    2. Monday 2nd July

      Tour of the city, and then fly to Hovd Province

      We start our day at Gandantegchinlen, Ulaanbaatar’s largest Buddhist monastery, where we can see practicing monks and learn about the role of Mongolia’s largest religion. Then it’s back to the city centre, where we’ll stop off for supplies at the State Department Store. Today privately owned, this is a throwback to the old Soviet sales system, where everything is under one roof, and you pay with multiple receipts before returning for your purchases. This is an ideal time to stock up on trip supplies, even outdoor gear, so if you’ve discovered your sleeping bag has a hole, now’s the time to upgrade. We’ll see Sükhbaatar Square by day, and then head to the National Historical Museum, which takes us through Mongolian history from the Stone Age right through to the collapse of Communism. We’ll also see the Natural History Museum, filled with those dinosaur artifacts the country is known for.

      After lunch, we’ll take a two-hour flight to Hovd province, and pile into Russian jeeps to visit a local Uriankhai shaman and his family. Here we can witness some of the ancient and mysterious rituals the community still holds dear, such as mirrors that repel evil spirits, or sacred fire and water. His son is trained in the incredible art of Mongolian throat singing – he’s a bit modest, but can usually be talked into an impromptu performance. After dinner with the family, we’ll drive to our camp, and spend our first night in a ger, or traditional Mongolian tent – the way most locals still do.

      Meals: breakfast, dinner

      Overnight:
      Tourist Ger camp: One of only 2 camps found around the city of Hovd. This camp has amazing views over the surrounding countryside whilst being situated on the outskirts of the main city. it has a separate shower block and facility for our chief to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner.  

    3. Tuesday 3rd July

      Drive to Tolbo Lake

      After a hearty breakfast, we’ll stop at Hovd (also Khovd) and check out the local market, formerly the Soviet-era black market, where you can buy traditional fabrics, textiles, Mongolian buttons, and other souvenirs, all sold out of shipping containers. There are few Westerners in this area, so be prepared for curious locals. We’ll also take in the local Hovd museum to get a sense of the area, and then drive to Tolbo Lake. With an altitude of 2,080 meters, Tolbo is famous not only for its remote beauty, but as the site of a crucial 1921 battle between the Bolshevik and White Russian forces – the locals still find belt buckles and buttons in the field. We will stop for photographs along the way, as nomads lead their herds across the vast lands, or make their way to the Naadam festival, then we’ll spend the night in a lakeside tourist camp where you can swim or bathe in the clear waters, or just unwind and take in the mountain views.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

      Overnight:
      tourist Ger camp: This amazing camp is situated on the shores of Tolbo lake. For those whom wish, can swim in the chilly waters of the lake or enjoy a drink watching the sun set over its crystal waters. There are also some great walks to be had in the surrounding hills. It has a separate shower block and facility for our chief to prepare breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

    4. Wednesday 4th July

      Khar Us (Little Black Lake) and Khar Nuur (Black Lake)

      After breakfast, we head towards Sagasi village, near Khar Us Lake and the magnificent Altai Mountains. Bayan-Olgii (or Uglii) province, known locally as the ‘Roof of Mongolia’, is a remote land of glaciers and mountain peaks; travellers can go for days without seeing a soul. This area is home to the Kazakh people, practicing Muslims and Mongolia’s largest ethnic minority; here we’ll learn about how nomadic life in the mountains differs from life in the steppes.

      We’ll stop by mud brick winter houses Kazakhs use when the temperature drops below minus-30 when even their felt-lined gers can’t keep out the cold. We can also ride horses and learn about eagle hunting – not what you think! Up here, food is scarce, and the locals need a little help. Most families keep their own golden eagles that hunt for rabbit, hare, and even small deer, and they’re happy to show us how it’s done. Then we’ll pitch our tents next to the local families and share a traditional dinner.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

      Overnight:

      Camping/ Tent: All camping equipment will be provided, tents, roll mats and sleeping bags (upon request.) We will build tents as a group with the assistance of our local team. All tents are on a two persons bases but single options are available upon booking. Camping next to local family on this night.

         


    5. Thursday 5th July

      Khurgan and Khoton Lakes

      Today’s journey takes us through wild lands, over moraines (glacial debris) and past ancient burial sites, with stone-age rock carvings of animals and hunting scenes covering the mountainside. The spectacular Khurgan and Khoton Lakes lie at an altitude of 2,073 metres, and are surrounded by snow-capped mountains.

      We set up camp on the shores of Khoton Lake, and spend the afternoon relaxing, exploring, or swimming in crystalline waters. After dinner, we meet the local Kazakh people and see the comparative affluence (by Mongolian standards) of lakeside Kazakhs, with their multiple Ger's and fertile land.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

      Overnight:

      Camping/ Tent: Camping next to local family on this night.

    6. Friday 6th July

      Tsagaan Gol and Shiveet Khairkhan Mountain

      After breakfast we work our way through the mountains to reach the mouth of Tsagaan Gol (White River), a mighty water source with enough limestone deposits to give the milky river its name. We’ll stop for pictures at the stunning Shiveet Khairkhan, with more rock carvings and an unforgettable view of Tavan Bogd (Five Saints), a mountain massif on the border of Mongolia, China and Russia. To the indigenous minority Tuvan, Shiveet is sacred – as are the 400 mountain ibex, which are never hunted. Each year the Tuvan climb Shiveet’s summit and perform shamanistic rituals, making offerings to the local ghosts and paying ancestral respects. The Tuvan are herders, and known for their archery skills; tonight, they’ll teach us to cook some of their favorite dishes. And after days of having the locals watch us pitch our tents – and comment on how long it takes us, how thin the material is, and how we’ll never survive the night – today we’ll build our own felt-lined ger (with a little help), to see how the nomads do it.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

      Overnight:
      Camping/ Tent: Camping on this night will be based around a pre booked Ger, offering us the chance to prepare meals and equipment ready for tomorrows hike. The scenery here is amazing surrounded by snow capped mountains, whilst listening to the roar of the white river. 



    7. Saturday 7th July

      Hike to base camp of Altai Tavan Bogd

      Today we leave our vehicles and heaviest luggage behind, load everything else onto camels, and then trek up Tavan Bogd with a local Tuvan guide. It’s about 15 kilometres to our base camp (camels can also carry tired trekkers), which is located at the edge of Potanin Glacier, the longest in Mongolia – listen carefully, you might hear it cracking. Potanin is at the foot of Malchin Peak, one of Tavan Bogd’s five sacred mountains. This hike will take us through lush alpine tundra, and past herds of camels, providing fantastic views across the glacier to the peaks. Our camp is a great starting point to other area hikes in one of the world’s best trekking areas. We’ll also meet another Tuvan family, who can teach us more about raising and training golden eagles.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

      Overnight:
      Camping/ Tent:  Camping at the Tavan Bogd base camp we stay tonight in a designated  site. toilet facilities are provided we will build a restaurant tent for dinner and breakfast. this area is remote yet beautiful being at the base of the main mountain range and only a stones throw from the main glacier. 

    8. Sunday 8th July

      Soak up the scenery

      Today we absorb the natural wonder that is Tavan Bogd, either by hiking with local guides to neighboring mountains, glacier fields, or Potanin Glacier River, or by just relaxing and soaking up the scenery.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

      Overnight: 
      Camping/ Tent:  Camping at the Tavan Bogd base camp

    9. Monday 9th July

      Return trek to Tsagaan Gol (White River)

      Today we follow the camels back down to our camp in Tsagaan Gol. Passing through Tavan Bogd’s numerous valleys, we can see how the melting glacier transforms into the roaring White River. Upon arrival, we celebrate our adventure with a traditional feast – a reward for all our hard trekking work. Here we’ll try a Kazakh delicacy called beshbarmak, or “five fingers”, a delicious assortment of stewed meat, vegetables and flour we eat with our hands.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

      Overnight:
      Camping/ Tent:  Tonight we pitch tents with another local family located near to the town of Tsengle in a low river valley. We look at life here and experience yet another regional variation in hospitality.

    10. Tuesday 10th July

      Drive through Bayan Olgii

      Today we bid farewell to our Tuvan friends and take a relaxing drive back to Olgii, where we’ll spend the night in a Kazakh tourist camp, stopping for pictures and greeting nomad families along the way.We may also catch a local festival nestled in this mountainous region.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

      Overnight:
      tourist ger camp: We stay in one of the tourist Ger areas found on the outskirts of Ulgi city. This camp offers a shower block with warm running water and wash facilities as well as a restaurant area from where our chief can provide   

    11. Wednesday 11th July

      Experience the Kazak Naadam

      We end our adventure with one of the world’s most fascinating festivals, an annual event that draws tribes from all over Mongolia to compete in traditional skills and feats of strength – especially wrestling, horseracing and archery. Here, families reconnect, share their news and favourite foods, have parties, and compete in games together. Naadam has become a world-famous tourist draw, but while Ulaanbataar is filled with tour busses and day visitors, Bayan Olgii’s event is still a local affair, virtually unchanged over generations.

      Here we’ll learn the secrets of Naadam, such as the unusual wrestling costume of undershorts and an open waistcoat. Legend has it that a woman in disguise once outwrestled all the men, and to prevent future humiliation, outfits were altered – these tops have no secrets. Also, if you see a sumo-sized wrestler defeated by a delicate youth, don’t be surprised; the loser is probably from another area, and it’s disrespectful to beat others at their own Naadam.

      Tonight we sleep in Kazakh Ger's but you can enjoy cold beers and hot showers, easing you back into civilization.

      Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner

      Overnight: ger (yurt)


    12. Thursday 12th July

      Fly to Ulaanbataar

      Leaving our horses, camels and Russian jeeps behind for good, we board a plane and return to Ulaanbaatar. This is a free day where you can shop ‘til you drop at the city market – you’ll never find cheaper cashmere, and you might pick up a shamanistic or Buddhist artifact or a relic from Soviet times. History lovers can stop by the winter palace of the Bogd Khan (1869-1922), who became Khagan (theocratic ruler) when the country split from China in 1911. Or you can simply relax with a coffee or cocktail at an outdoor café and watch this fascinating city unfold before you. Then we’ll meet up for dinner at a local family’s home, so we can see Mongolian home life away from the steppes.

      Meals: breakfast, dinner with city family

      Overnight:

      Hotel 9:





    13. Friday 13th July

      Departure day

      We end our adventure in the morning, with transfers to the airport for international flights. Pack your souvenirs, your dirty clothes and your memories, and have a safe trip home!



  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      English speaking guide
      Western tour leader
      All meals outside Ulaanbaatar
      Camels for luggage
      Internal flights
      Horse riding
      All included sight seeing
      All taxes & entrance fees to protected areas All camping equipment (not sleeping bags.)
    • Not included
      Sleeping bags
      Optional camel riding
      International flights
      Any alcoholic beverages
      Meals where specified
      Medical insurance (can be arranged.)
      Visas (if needed)
      Airport pick up 25 USD one way
      Helmet rental 30 USD
      Sleeping bag hire (incl cleaning 30 USD for tour)
      Items of personal nature
  • Notes

    Please note!

    This tour has been specifically arranged to visit these areas it may have elements of an expedition about it due to the nature and ruggedness of the terrain. As such any change in itinerary at the time cannot be helped. We will keep to the advertised itinerary as closely as possible, although please be aware that things are subject to change, especially if we encounter any extreme weather conditions. Along the way all tour decisions will rest with Rich (tour manager) and an expedition leader. We will also be taking advice from local people on the ground whose expertise will far exceed our own.

Please apply by 23rd June, 2018.

July 11 - July 21 2018

Abandoned Russia tour
2018

Abandoned
Russia

Epic trip at the edge of the world. Magadan
- Yakutia and all kinds of madness in
between !

From 6,800 USD per person

Please apply by 31st May, 2018.

Abandoned Russia tour 2018

Abandoned
Russia

Epic trip at the edge of the
world. Magadan - Yakutia and
all kinds of madness in between
!

From 6,800 USD per person

  • Overall

    For fans of adventure, history, the obscure, and the evocative - this is the experience of a lifetime! - see remote settlements, people living all kinds of lives across the region, abandoned gulags, abandoned towns and cities, stunning landscapes, enormous diamond pits, and so much more - see the unexpected and the unbelievable

    Highlights

    • Magadan City - evocative settlement at the edge of Russia - famous for being a transit point for prisoner transfers
    • Dneprovsky Gulag - once a tin ore mine and home to thousands of 'zeks'. closed in 1953 and left for the tundra to reclaim. See what is left and camp in this saddest of places. Hear tales of how this dreadful system came to be
    • Kadykchan - once-thriving pioneer city from the early 1960s. home to thousands of optimistic young adventuring families. Not an abandoned ruin and testament to Russia of the 1990s. not a soul remains, but the city's structure is all there to see and explore
    • Ust-Nera - remote settlement halfway along the 'road of bones' (the Kolyma Highway). surrounded by stark mountains and stunning views. see life in this unexpected place
    • Yakutsk - the largest city in the world built on permafrost, capital of the vast Sakha Republic and home to native people as well as descendants of European settlers. a cosmopolitan city in the middle of nowhere
    • Mirny - home to the second largest hole ever dug by man, and key to the diamond-drive wealth of the region. deep in the forests. see this once-closed city and learn how it came to be that people could live here from settlement to this day
  • Itinerary

    Briefing Day
    1. Wednesday July 11th. The tour begins in Magadan – it’s up to you to get here but we offer as much support as possible. There are flights from various places in Russia such as Moscow and Khabarovsk, easy connections from Vladivostok, from Harbin and Beijing in China, and we can help with those coming in from elsewhere. Regardless of your arrival time we provide a transfer from Magadan airport to the city centre for check-in so please look into flights and contact us for advice. It is not a problem to arrive a day early if this suits you better, we can arrange extra nights at the hotel for anyone who needs them.

      On arrival in the city the group will meet our lovely local partners Vika, and Volodya. They will explain some basics about the history and geography of the region – we’ll learn more in detail later on. We’ll check in to the VM-Tsentr Hotel. The location is terrific and it’s a very comfortable place (the voucher the staff gives you when you check in is for one free drink in the hotel bar – it's only written in Russian). We’ll have a group dinner and then you’re free to wander the city. Our local friends can recommend places to go, things to see and do. Remember that it stays light late into the night here so you don’t have to worry about getting lost in the dark. The city isn’t huge and can easily be wandered around on foot without too much difficulty; you’ll find it a very interesting place indeed!

    2.  Thursday July 12th. Today we take a tour of the highlights of Magadan City; we’ll visit the Mask of Sorrow (Gulag monument dedicated to the victims of the Dalstroy forced labour system, a deeply moving monument on a hill overlooking the city), the local museum (which has a terrific display about the gulags as well as the local wildlife, both extinct and extant – the mammoth exhibit is particularly good), the workshop of a local bone carver (one of the quirkier businesses in this area is mining for mammoth ivory! This gentleman has a stock of the tusks as well as the bones of other extinct creatures in his basement workshop, he carves them into trinkets and works of art, it’s quite unique!), an observation point over the main bay of Magadan City (great for photos, also this is where the ships docked that brought prisoners to this place at the edge of the world, a chilling location), we’ll also go to a local beach (in true Magadan style there is an abandoned factory on the beach!) – where in the brief flowering of summer the locals like to sunbathe (the water is very cold, swim if you dare!).

      Along the way we will stop for a group lunch and finally at the end of the day we’ll go to the local souvenir shop for all our Magadan-themed goodies and then you’re free for the evening. A big day tomorrow!

    3. Friday July 13th. We head off along the Kolyma Highway (known in the west as the ‘road of bones’) – the longest road in the world and one built by prisoners to ease the passage of many more unfortunate souls into the inner-depths of the Kolyma area, from where many would never return. We’re heading for the Dneprovsky Gulag Camp – one of the most complete remaining camps in the area (note that these camps are not preserved as museums, they are left to crumble and decay, in a few years almost nothing will be left to see of this dark place). The drive will be done in a Kamaz truck – a large multi-axle Russian vehicle that can traverse the 20km of deep forest we need to drive through to make it to the Gulag site. Along the way we’ll make some stops for rest and refreshment including at the abandoned town of Atka, which we will have time to explore.

      We should arrive at the Gulag in early afternoon and then we’ll set off on a hike around the area; we’ll be guided by a local gulag historian and expert, he’ll give us a fascinating insight into what went on here and has many a heart-breaking story to tell, and some amazing statistics, feel free to ask anything you like about the Gulag, he knows a great deal indeed! Bears do pass through this area but fear not! We also take a couple of local hunters and drivers with us who know the Russian outdoors very well, they will ensure our safety and security on this part of the trip, and also pitch camp for us to rest and eat a terrific meal of local specialties after we have finished exploring the Gulag site. Some of the highlights of this exploration include guard towers, the mine entrance (it was a tin mine), the cemetery, bread making buildings, officers houses. It’s a chilling and fascinating place to visit, let alone spend the night. The sun will be up until about 2AM here but get some sleep if you can we surge onwards the next day!
    4. Saturday July 14th. We’ll break camp and head for a few more Gulag sites here, including a demolished factory site. Then we’ll make our way back to the highway and switch from the Kamaz truck to some comfortable mini-buses that we will now use along the Road of Bones. In the buses we’ll drive onwards enjoying some amazing scenery and surroundings for most of the rest of the day, stopping at a truck-stop for lunch and finally arriving in the remote and unusual city of Susuman in the late afternoon.

      Susuman is very run down and some parts even seem abandoned, but thousands of people live here, there are shops, a restaurant (where we will have dinner), and a guesthouse run by a local factory (where we will spend the night), it also has some interesting things to see on a wander around the town such as a young scientists institute which for some reason has an airplane sticking out of an apartment building, some soviet-era apartment building murals and signs, a church, and often curious locals who are happy to chat and interact with the rare visitors to their city. If you want a night out in Susuman then go right ahead but it’s definitely a good idea to get some rest, something truly amazing awaits us the next day!

    5. Sunday July 15th. Up early, first we hit the shops for supplies, then we drive on a further 90 mins to the largest abandoned city in this region; Kadykchan. This truly is the ideal abandoned town (if such a concept even exists!) – it’s the right size to spend a whole day wandering around without going through the same buildings twice, but small enough to know where you are all the time, the buildings haven’t been inhabited in two decades but most of the apartment blocks have held up very well. We can explore apartments, the city government building, schools (the highlight we believe, just for the murals alone), hospitals, restaurants, shops, etc. all left to the ravages of nature. It’s spooky and mind-blowing and we can guarantee that you’ll never forget this day! On previous visits some amazing souvenirs such as old school books, license plates, signs, etc. have been found too, so you’ll definitely be able to get yourself some amazingly unique mementoes of this fascinating day. Trust us when we say this will be among the most memorable days of your life – it has to be experienced to be believed!

      We’ll eat a picnic lunch on the spot and then in the evening you have a choice of accommodation; either return to Susuman for another night in the hotel there, or occupy an abandoned apartment and become one of the very few Kadykchan residents of the 21st Century. If taking the second option then expect no electricity, no running water, no furniture (we will have camping equipment) and a general sense of post-apocalyptic living. It’ll be a night like no other; you’ll almost not want to sleep at all! 

    6. Monday July 16th. Those who stayed overnight in Susuman will head back to Kadykchan to collect those who camped out with the ghosts and memories, for the latter group if you get up in good time you can squeeze in a couple more hours of Kadykchan exploration (after comparing notes with what everyone else discovered this is a very good idea), otherwise have a lie-in until pick-up and we’ll head off along the highway mid morning, stopping for lunch at a rest-stop along the way.

      Our destination today is Ust-Nera, a riverside settlement on the northern edge of the Road of Bones. We’ll arrive here late afternoon and we’ll try out a Central Asian cafe very far from the 'Stans! There will be free time to relax or to explore the city today as well (remember it gets dark very very late!) and we’ll stay overnight in a local hotel.

    7. Tuesday July 17th. A free morning in Ust-Nera! Our local partners can show us around or you can go off on your own to see what there is to see in the town. We’ll have lunch at leisure and then assemble again to go to the small local airport. Here we will board one of the few flights that leaves Ust-Nera and take the 2 hour flight out of Magadan province and to the city at the other end of the Road of Bones, the capital of the vast Sakha Republic; Yakutsk! 

      On arrival in this city we’ll get picked up and head for the city centre, our hotel awaits so we will check in and then have a brief orientation with a local expert about what Yakutsk is all about; its history, ethnography, geography, and more. Look for Yakutsk on a map – it’s nowhere near anything else so the very fact of its existence is an oddity, one that we will learn all about! Also (for trivial fans) it’s the largest city in the world built on permafrost – see the stilts that hold up all of the buildings around the city for a quirky architectural feature here. Tonight have a free evening to do whatever you like (our local friends will advise if you need some help, it’s a safe town with plenty of nightlife options for drinks, wandering around, restaurants, and so on).

    8. Wednesday July 18th. After a leisurely morning (a rare thing on this fast-paced and action-packed tour!), we will have a tour of the highlights of Yakutsk in the afternoon, including old and new buildings so we can see the evolution of the architectural style, a truly remarkable church, a massive war memorial along the mighty Lena River, and much much more – including the Kingdom of Permafrost – a subterranean look at frozen ground, much more interesting than it sounds, as well as the mammoth museum where you can see how specimens of this extinct beast are recovered from the area, and meet a local expert who travels around digging them up from the ice. The evening will be free for us to have a night out in the quasi-European local bars and restaurants and to wander the city, interacting as much as possible with the very diverse local population, a highlight in and of itself!

    9. Thursday July 19th. We’ll take a flight from Yakutsk to a place even more remote and obscure; a town called Mirny, about 2.5 hours deep into the heart of Siberian Russia, a place remote even by the standards of Russians. A place that exists for one reason only; Diamonds! In the heart of the town is the second deepest pit ever dug by man, a giant hole from whence untold tons of diamonds have been hauled from deep within the earth. The raw statistics tell one story (you can read all about it here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mir_mine) but getting to visit the site is something else entirely. The exact level of access we can gain is not finalised yet but we’ll have gone somewhere very unusual and somewhere to shame the holiday destinations of your friends! We’ll spend as much time here as possible and stay the night in Mirny too. It will be a long, expensive, and arduous journey, but one that will provide an unbeatable experience in deepest Russia, something that will stick in the mind forever!

    10. Friday July 20th. The morning is spent exploring the town of Mirny, even though the mine may not operate any more there is still a population of people living in this seemingly unlivable remote place, we’ll see what life here is all about and see what local businesses and people are up to. Human interaction is important on any holiday and we’ll get as much as we can at this point. We’ll have lunch at a local restaurant before taking the flight back to Yakutsk, on arrival in the city everyone is set loose for the last bit of freedom of the tour, so explore with great gusto, or settle down in a café to think about all that we have experienced in the last days, there will be much to think about, and you’ll have taken more photos that you would think, that’s for sure! We’ll find a good spot for a final dinner of the trip.

    11. Saturday July 21st. Departure Day – There are flights this day to Moscow (from where almost anywhere in Europe can be reached, as well as North America), and to Harbin (in Northern China, from where you can easily move on to anywhere in China or East Asia and down to Australasia), and other destinations too. So head home, continue to explore Russia, or embark on even more adventures! The end of the trip but the start of remembering the trip for many years to come!

  • Extras

    • Upgrade to your own room

      All hotel rooms on our all-inclusive group tours feature twin beds, and will be shared. If you'd like a room to yourself then you can upgrade for an extra 40 EUR per night.

      See more
  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      Accommodation throughout the trip - in hotels, camping at the gulag, and sleeping rough in Kadykchan! (tents and sleeping bags where needed)
      Meals apart from during free time
      Transportation by various means - mini-bus, Kamaz truck, etc
      Internal flights on the tour; Ust-Nera - Yakutsk, Yakutsk - Mirny - Yakutsk
      Entry fees at attractions visited
      Airport transfers
      Russian visa support (LOI)
      Guide and translation services throughout
      The most amazing travel experience of your life - hard roads, tough travel, invaluable memories and experiences!
    • Not included
      Flights to start and finish the tour (start in Magadan, end in Yakutsk)
      Meal expenses during free time (approx 3 evenings)
      Russian visa fee (varies according to nationality and place of issue)
      Single room accommodation (it is optional. $40 supplemental per person per night)
      Tips for the local guides, drivers
      Camera fees where charged (usually around $1 in museums)
      Incidentals such as souvenirs, laundry, alcoholic drinks, phone calls, etc

Please apply by 31st May, 2018.

August 18 - August 27 2018

The Mountain Crossroads

Travel across the roof
of the world - NEW FOR 2018!

10-night tour following the route of the ancient Silk Road and the adventures
of Marco Polo starting in Kyrgyzstan before heading into Tajikistan - a
Koryo Tours first!

From 2,300 USD per person

Please apply by 1st August, 2018.

The Mountain Crossroads

Travel across the roof
of the world - NEW FOR 2018!

10-night tour following the route of the ancient
Silk Road and the adventures of Marco Polo starting
in Kyrgyzstan before heading into Tajikistan - a
Koryo Tours first!

From 2,300 USD per person

  • Overall

    This tour starts in Osh, Kyrgyzstan. Following the route of the historical M41 Pamir Highway, we cross into Tajikistan over high passes and past beautiful lakes and snow capped mountains. Staying in small towns and villages along the way, this journey will take you to some of this region’s most remote but rewarding destinations, to ultimately arrive in Dushanbe — Tajikistan’s lovely, laid back capital.

  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 10
    1. Saturday August 18th

      After arrival in Osh, Kyrgyzstan all group members will be met at the airport and be taken to the tour hotel. We will gather at 13:00 in the hotel reception for our tour briefing and orientation.

      In the afternoon, we will tour the city and visit the Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain and its various sites. This beautiful area has amazing views over Osh and was once a place of worship for Muslims as well as earlier pre-Islamic people. It is also one of Kyrgyzstan's first UNESCO listed sites.

      At the top of the mountain we will view the Babur's house, which is now a mosque. The history of this small building is fascinating, and we'll learn about the stories surrounding it. Other sites that we will visit on the mountain are the Tahti Suleiman Mosque, a cave complex and the Museum of Sulaiman.

      Meals: Lunch and dinner.

      Overnight:

      The Classic hotel: this aptly named hotel is conveniently located in the heart of this thriving city within walking distance of some of the main city sites.









    2. Sunday August 19th

      This morning we visit the Jaima Bazaar, an amazing market that is one of the largest in Central Asia and sells everything you could possibly need and a lot you wouldn’t! Locals say Jaima Bazaar has been in existence for over 2000 years. We will have some time to explore the stalls and see trade being conducted from the backs of old shipping containers and the remains of Soviet-era trucks. Practice your haggling skills before lunch.

      This afternoon we begin our adventure with a drive to the village of Sary-Tash through the high Taldyk Pass. This road was constructed between 1930 and 1932, and offers some grand views as we snake up over 3615 meters.

      After our first day of driving we stay in this remote village with a population of only 1500 hardy souls. This backwater is surrounded by high mountains, seemingly cut off from the world outside.

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

      Overnight:
      Sary Tosh(village) guest house: Along the route this accommodation is a real mix of local home stay and traditional style guest house.






    3. Monday August 20th

      After an early start we leave heading out back onto the highway, driving up through the Kyzyl Art border point up to 4,280 m. We say goodbye to our Kyrgyz guides and drivers and greet our Tajik hosts at the Kizil Art border point. The stark landscape on our route will make for some great photography as we make stops along the way. We are now in the Republic of Tajikistan!

      After lunch we continue on to Karakul Lake. This high altitude lake was formed millions of years ago after a meteorite impact. We will stop here to enjoy the stunning views of the lake with the snow-capped Lenin Peak (which reaches 7134m, but is considered one of the easiest 7000m peaks in the world to climb) as its backdrop.

      We drive upwards over the 4650m Ak-Baital Pass, the highest point on the M41 (Pamir) highway. In Tajikistan it is said that you are closest to the moon here, not only for the height of the place, but also due to the scenery looking like a lunar landscape. We eventually arrive in Murgab — formerly known as the Pamirsky Post, which was founded by the Russians in 1893 as their most advanced military outpost and remains the highest town in Tajikistan at 3,618 metres. The town is now home to around 4000 inhabitants. In Murgab, we will pay an afternoon visit to the local bazaar, the nearby Lenin statue and some Soviet reliefs.

      Before dinner we will stop by a local yak herder's house to see what life is like in these remote regions of the country as well as learning just one herds yak!

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

      Overnight:
      Hotel Pamir: in this small town the hotel Pamir may be basic but offers us hot showers and relatively comfortable beds. whilst nestling among a backdrop of mountains akin to a lunar landscape.










    4. Tuesday August 21st

      Today we drive to Langar village, continuing along the Pamir highway over the Khargush Pass at 4344 meters, driving past mountain lakes and arid lunar landscapes. We will stop for photographs as we go.

      The pass leads us out to the Wakhan Valley, which runs for about 350km sandwiched between the Pamir and the Karakorum mountain ranges. This valley supports around 12,000 inhabitants in Tajikistan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. Along the route we will follow the Panj River as it flows along the border with Afghanistan. We will regularly stop to take photos of the beautiful landscapes; time permitting we will also view some ancient petroglyphs (rock carvings).

      We will stay the night in Langar village, (not to be confused with the village of the same name just across the border in Afghanistan)

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

      Overnight:
      Local guesthouse:




    5. Wednesday August 22nd

      After breakfast and a short walk though the village, we continue along the Panj River and the border with Afghanistan following the Wakhan corridor.

      We will stop at Vrang village to see Osorkhonai Abdullo Ansori and its museum. This once-important site is well worth the visit to view the ancient cave dwellings of Buddhist monks who lived here in the past, at the fringes of Buddhist civilisation.

      As we continue onwards after lunch, we will tour the  Kahkaha Fortress — to view the remains of this 4th century A.D fortress. This once-great, clay-built fortification is said to be named after a legendary epic hero; a king of fire worshippers. Its ruins now offer views of the surrounding countryside as well as a history lesson.

      Our aim today is to make it to the town of Khorogh, the regional capital of the GBO area (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region) with a population of 28,000. We will be able to squeeze in a chance to relax or soak in the outdoor Garm Chashma Hot Springs and the grave of Nosiri Khisrav Qabodieni.

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

      Accommodation:
      Hotel LA'L: This newly built hotel offers us a welcome break on our journey, within a great setting and comfortable rooms. A little heavy on the decoration of carpets and rocks but it certainly has a quirky feel.







    6. Thursday August 23rd

      We continue our journey along the Panj River bordering Afghanistan, following the route of the old Silk Road and tracing in the footsteps of explorers such as Marco Polo.

      On our drive today we will visit the many small towns and villages that line this well trodden path. In Rushan, Dekh, Amun, and Kevran we will visit local family homes and catch a glimpse of life in this remote corner of the world. Local people across this region are very friendly and welcoming. We will not be there to exoticise them but to interact, the hear what their lives are like, to learn and experience even in brief moments a little bit of commonality – you’ll see when we are there what a treat this can be!

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

      Overnight:
      Karon Palace hotel: A jewel in this interesting gateway town. This hotel looks out of place with its gold trim and blue shaded windows. Although with its soft beds, warm showers and clean rooms it offers a relaxing stay.



    7. Friday August 24th

      As we continue to trace the Panj River, we eventually bid farewell to the Pamir territory and enter Khatlon Province - Located in the Southeast of the country and one of the least visited parts of Tajikistan.

      During the Soviet period, this was also one of the country's poorest regions, We will stop to view towns and cities along the way while looking out for the Soviet architecture dotted around this area. One of these towns is Shurobod, where very few changes have taken place since independence was achieved in 1991. Here we will stop here to see impressive mosaics of Lenin that remain on the side of the buildings.

      We will also stop at Kulyab, the center of Khatlon province and fourth biggest town in Tajikistan. Kulyab has a history stretching back over 2500 years and borders Afghanistan. We will walk around the city, stop in at the local museum, and visit the market (one of the best ways to mix with the locals and their culture).

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.



      Overnight:
      Khatlon Hotel: This hotel offers us a hotel designed during the period of the Soviet Union. Giving us the chance to relax after our long day in a traditional soviet hotel.









    8. Saturday August 25th

      Today is our final drive on the M41 Pamir Highway as we drive to towards the national capital, Dushanbe. En route we will stop to see the amazing Khulbuk Fortress, built in the 9th - 12th centuries AD and once a governor's palace. The fortress has been shortlisted at UNESCO as a place of "outstanding universal value to the world".

      Later, we will also stop to view Norak Basin - a large reservoir that was created in 1961 when the 300 meter Nurek Dam was constructed. The dam is currently the second highest in the world. Unfortunately, we cannot get right next to it, but we can view it from a distance.

      We make our final leg driving into the Dushanbe city for a well-deserved rest! We'll have dinner, and afterwards will have the opportunity to have a much needed drink in one of Dushanbe's bars – the first one is on us!

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

      *Overnight:
      Hotel Vatan: a new hotel located within 5 minutes walk of the main city. this comfortable hotel has beautiful rooms located on a designated floor with free laundry facilities, kitchen area and reading room. Breakfast provided buffet style in the main restaurant area.




    9. Sunday August 26th

      This morning we begin our day with a city tour of Dushanbe. We will visit Victory Park on the hills above Dushanbe, where we'll have great views of the city. We will then stop on Rudaki Street to walk to Dushanbe's Central Park, stopping for photos at the Monument of Ismaili Somoni that is situated on the site of the old Lenin statue. Passing Rudaki Park, we will then walk on to the entrance of the National Museum where we will learn a little more about the beautiful country we have been visiting.

      After lunch we will drive to the Victory tank monument (“Oslinie Ushi” — “The donkey ears", the local name for this monument), and visit the botanical gardens, before finishing our day with a visit to the world’s largest tea house with its amazingly decadent interior.

      Meals: Breakfast, lunch, dinner.

      *Overnight:
      Hotel Vatan:




    10. Monday August 27th

      Departure day! Airport transfers are provided for everyone regardless of the time of flight or where you are going.

      There is also the option of extending your room until a later date – contact us to discuss this

      End of Tour



  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      Airport pick up and drop at the start and end of tour.
      Hotel accommodation
      Tajiki tour guides
      A driver per group
      A member or Koryo Tours
      All transportation in the country
      All entry fees for attractions and sights
    • Not included
      Flights to Tajikistan
      Single room supplement unless otherwise specified (US $45 per night)
      Spending money for drinks and souvenirs
      Tajikistan visa fees this must include GBAO travel permit
      Tip for the guides (approx. US $10 per day)
      Not all meals are covered but we will make recommendations if needed
      We occasionally have the opportunity to visit a performance which is extra

Please apply by 1st August, 2018.

September 19 - September 28 2018

Kazakhstan Tour

Epic Journey in
Remote Central Asia

Where a vibrant multi-cultural society meets the dark legacy of deportations,
gulags, and nuclear weapons. Come with us and see all of the above and
much more!

From 2,100 USD per person

Please apply by 1st September, 2018.

Kazakhstan Tour

Epic Journey in
Remote Central Asia

Where a vibrant multi-cultural society meets the
dark legacy of deportations, gulags, and nuclear
weapons. Come with us and see all of the above
and much more!

From 2,100 USD per person

  • Overall

    On this incredible adventure we will start in the new capital (Astana) and finish in the old (Almaty), in between these two fascinating cities we will travel by road, rail, and air between the industrial base of Karaganda, the infamous Semipalatinsk (in two words; Gulags and Nukes), Kurchatov – the Los Alamos of the USSR, where the Red Bomb was developed and tested – over and over again, we will even get to ground zero in ‘The Polygon’; the vast nuclear testing range full of abandoned measuring platforms, bunkers, craters, buried machinery, and the scenic yet chilling ‘Atomic Lake’. We’ll get a history lesson on the darker side of this little-known land, as well as updates on what’s been going on in the cities and countryside as we pass between them seeing local life, industry, and so much more. Nobody offers a trip like this – so come along and experience something very special indeed!

    Highlights

    • Astana - once the centre of the Virgin Lands campaign, now national capital
    • Semipalatinsk – fascinating small city and once home to an exiled Dostoyevsky
    • Nuclear Polygon – USSR’s testing range for atmospheric and underground nukes
    • Chagan – Abandoned long-range bomber base, and garrison town
    • Kurchatov – Home of the bomb-boffins and Beria. Semi-abandoned these days
    • Karaganda – in the heart of Kazakhstan, also the heart of the old Central Asian Gulag system
    • Almaty – Serene and charming – the old capital nestled against the Tian Shan Mountains
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 10
    1. Wed 19th Sept

      Arrival Day

      • Flights to Astana (airport code TSE) arrive from many international destinations – let us know which flight you will be on and we will arrange your pick-up and transfer to the hotel. Arriving even earlier is of course fine and can be accommodated
      • Today we start the tour with a group dinner of some excellent local food, coordination and briefing session, before the adventure ahead!

      Overnight:

      Astana - Kazakhstan's shiny new Capital City!

    2. Thurs 20th Sept

      Astana

      • Astana is a new city rightly famed for its unique approach to architecture; in that it piles together a wide range of different styles and forms with the end result being either a glimpse at the future of post-modern cities, or a horrifying un-curated mish-mash of clashing buildings. One this day we will get the chance to decide for ourselves!
      • Bayterek Tower – now the icon of the city, this ornate monument has a viewing platform 97 metres above the ground (1997 is when Astana become the capital city) and is designed to evoke a folk tale about a bird laying an egg in a tree. Amazing views over the city from here
      • Palace of Peace and Reconciliation – glass Pyramid from the eminent architect Norman Foster with the vague but noble aim of reconciling the world’s faiths and ideologies and bringing an end to violence. Even if this goal remains elusive it is a stunning building and worth exploring!
      • Hazret Sultan Mosque – the biggest in Kazakhstan (and second in the region only to the monstrous Gypjak Mosque in Turkmenistan). Classically Islamic in style and Kazakh in décor, this impressive building can house up to 5000 worshippers at once
      • Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre – perhaps the building that architecturally sums up modern Astana more than any other. Another Carbuncle/work-of-genius (delete as you prefer) from Norman Foster, this ingenious structure looking somewhat like a lop-sided tent maintains an even temperature year round and provides leisure facilities, shopping, entertainment in general to local people
      • River Ishim – we’ll stroll the banks of this waterway in the centre of town, a good way to see a slice of local life and people enjoying their time. Remember that almost all of Astana’s population are recent arrivals so a big mix of people from around the country and beyond can be met with here – before we take the chance to sample some evening entertainment as well

      Overnight:

      Astana - Kazakhstan's shiny new Capital City!

    3. Fri 21st Sept

      Astana & Train Ride

      • We take a drive out of the city to the nearby village of Akmol; home of the chilling Museum of the Camp for Wives of Traitors to the Motherland – A sensitively-done spot telling the story of the loyal (going to such a place could often be avoided with a divorce and public denunciation) women sent here when their husbands were persecuted.
      • We see a little more of this settlement on a walk around; church, mosque, and apartment buildings now occupying this former gulag site before stopping for a final lunch and supermarket visit in Astana
      • All aboard! We jump onto a sleeper train making its way through the night and across the country to the city of Kurchatov - home of the soviet atomic weapons program. Comfy beds and a clean restaurant await us as well as rolling steppe outside the windows for this 800km journey

      Overnight:

      On board the train – 4 beds in each room. Comfortable and clean

    4. Sat 22nd Sept

      Kurchatov/Nuclear Test Epicentre

      • We arrive very early in the morning in Kurchatov and head for an early check-in at a local hotel as well as breakfast and freshening up after the train ride. Then our atomic adventure begins! Kurchatov was founded in 1947 simply to make Soviet Nuclear weapons a reality. Under the control of the KGB Chief Lavrentiy Beria and scientist Igor Kurchatov this is where the arms race became a two-horse event.
      • Museum of the Semipalatinsk Test Site – a detailed and deep explanation of what this place is, what happened here, and what affect their inventions can have. Some machines from that time are displayed here too
      • We board our vehicle and take a drive, deep into a formerly off-limits (very off limits!) area; the Semipalatinsk Polygon – nuclear testing ground chosen due to its remoteness, lack of population, and because it seemed like a good spot to blow a few things up.
      • Our target is the Nuclear Epicentre - where the first Soviet Atomic Bomb was tested: Ground Zero. We stop at markers, increasingly-destroyed bunkers and towers, as we make our way to ground zero; the epicentre of this bang heard around the world. Radiation is only higher than normal in one spot and we provide protective gear of course.
      • We spend some time checking out more of the relics of this ground-breaking (literally) test before returning to the Kurchatov once more
      • Next stop is Chagan – once a deeply secret long-range bomber base. Now a deeply abandoned former long-range bomber base. See the massive runways, the remaining ammunition hangars, and the collapsing main buildings of the base. Plus the garrison town nearby which housed the base staff from 1954 to 1994 and now stands completely stripped like a spooky post-apocalyptic warning. A bit of UrbEx here to finish the day

      Overnight:

      Mayak Hotel – not named for the site of another nuclear disaster - see here. Mayak means ‘Beacon’ and was a common name for places and institutions in the USSR. This 1980s beauty belongs to the Kazakh Institute of Atomic Energy. Fans of the Soviet Aesthetic will adore this place!

    5. Sun 23rd Sept

      Atomic Lake/Kurchatov

      • We again go deep into the Polygon, this time we head for the sinister-sounding Atomic Lake
      • We’ll make a few stops on the way through but most significantly Atomic Lake – caused by a deep underground nuclear blast – this was in fact made deliberately and is known as the world’s first and only use of industrial nuclear weapons. Find out what on earth they were thinking and also meet some fishermen looking for three-eyed fish in the 180m deep lake
      • We’ll have a Roadside Picnic (note to non-literature lovers, this is a joke – read this book and you will find some eerie similarities to this part of the trip) and continue to see some relics of the testing program. A local expert will also be with us to explain in detail, answer questions, etc
      • We arrive back in Kurchatov where we’ll have a walking tour of this semi-abandoned settlement dotted with monuments, fascinating buildings, and of course locals going about their lives
      • A free evening to explore the town – there are cafes and bars, the locals are friendly and curious. It’s walkable and hospitable (one shop even has town souvenirs). Get out there and enjoy it!

      Overnight:

      Mayak Hotel

    6. Mon 24th Sept

      Semipalatinsk/Semey

      • Back to Kurchatov Railway Station for a 2 hour ride in comfort across the steppe to the nearby city of Semipalatinsk
      • Semipalatinsk is actually the former name of this city, correctly it is now referred to as Semey, we explore with a city tour of this little-visited settlement.
      • Once upon a time Semipalatinsk was a wealth trading city, situated between China and Russia, as well as acting as a gateway to the Central Asian territories added to the Russian Empire in the 19th Century. We will explore mainly on foot and see buildings from various eras, statues and monuments, mosaics and a little-known part of history. All explained to us as we make our way around this unexpectedly-charming place.
      • Dostoyevsky Museum – the titan of Russian Literature was exiled out here in Semipalatinsk and this museum explains the importance of his works. Pro-tip: read Crime and Punishment before your visit.
      • Fine Arts Museum – not just the best collection in Kazakhstan but also a display of abnormal anatomy, something quirky and troubling (especially with our trip to the nuclear test site coming up)
      • Stronger Than Death Monument – in the Tatar section of town (itself an attraction we will explore some more) – shows the resilience of those who live and have lived in this remote part of the world.
      • We’ll also take the chance to see what the locals get up to in free time – some places of relaxation and leisure to get an idea of what life is like here in the modern day.

      Overnight:

      Semey Hotel – very Soviet-style place with an aesthetic unlike what you may be used to! All the charm of the late-USSR but with free wifi! You’ll love it!

    7. Tues 25th Sept

      To Karaganda

      • We rise early and drive a mere 250km east to Ust-Kamenogorsk. Our destination is simply the airport where we board a local flight to take us over the test-sites, abandoned gulags, coal mines, fields, and miles of endless undulating grasses that make up eastern Kazakhstan. Our final destination today is the city of Karaganda
      • A walking tour of the city centre - focusing on the architecture, history, and local culture of this city (all of which is varied and fascinating), we’ll visit the central park as well and see and mix with locals spending leisure time here
      • Karaganda is a large city but with a very walkable centre – the Russian/Soviet influence here is strong and our guide (a local to this place) will tell us all about the city, you’ll find it fascinating for sure! He can also recommend good spots for dinner/evening socialising/etc

      Overnight:

      Chaika Hotel – amazing brutalist Soviet monstrosity. Real time-warp stuff. One part of the hotel was built specifically for the visit of Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space. The rooms are comfy and modern, the building itself is timeless!

    8. Wed 26th Sept

      Karaganda

      • We drive an hour out to the museum of KarLag, the local gulag system – a dark part of history indeed told through the rooms of this former NKVD HQ. State ‘enemies’, departed nationalities (a vast number of whom were dumped in central Asia due to Stalin’s paranoia about enemies within – the largest numbers being Germans from the west and Koreans from the east. Their stories are told here in this chilling memorial to the all-too-recent evils
      • The village around this museum is made up largely of former Gulag barracks, admin buildings, and medical centres, we will take a look around and also visit the depressing cemetery for children who died in this cruel system
      • The nearby town of Shahtinsk hosts us for lunch and some views of local industries; coal mining primarily, but also steel production and agriculture
      • In the afternoon we offer the choice between free time to further explore Karaganda city or a trip to a former execution ground (what a choice, we know!) marked by tasteful and meaningful memorials to the various nationalities whose people were among the unfortunate souls to perish here
      • In the evening we will board the modern Spanish-made overnight train for a trip to the south of Kazakhstan, and the largest of the nation’s cities - Almaty, 1000km away through the night

      Overnight:

      On the train. Comfy beds in small, but modern and spotless rooms

    9. Thurs 27th Sept

      Almaty

      • We arrive in the morning in the cultural capital (and former actual capital) or Kazakhstan. The beautiful city of Almaty. Nestled against the precipitous Tian Shan Mountain range and dotted with parks, theatres, boulevards, and much more, this is a modern multi-cultural city wrongfully ignored too little-known
      • We’ll check into the hotel to freshen up and then hit the town for a city tour;
      • Almaty Metro – one of only two subway systems in the whole of Central Asia (the other is the Moscow knock-off in Tashkent) this system opened in 2012 and strikes a balance between Moscow opulence and modern efficiency
      • Green Bazaar & Rakhat Chocolate Factory – these neighbouring sites are local institutions. You can smell the sweetness from the latter all across this part of the city. Banter and barter with sellers in the market, pick up the apples that Almaty if known for as well as all manner of other delicious local delicacies. Get your sweet tooth into action with the terrific and very affordable selection at the chocolate factory (ideal for gifts too!)
      • Panfilovets Park – Almaty's main place of leisure. Very pleasant and marked with stunning and evocative monuments to the Kazakh soldiers who fell while fighting to defend Moscow from the Nazi invasion. Zenkov Cathedral is also located in this park. 
      • Central Mosque – With its broad ethnic mixture and clear secularism it is easy to forget that Kazakhstan is a majority-Muslim country. We’ll have a look at the main mosque in Almaty to see how the locals worship and what their faith means to them
      • Arbat Street – every good former USSR town has one; a pedestrian area ideal for promenading, window shopping, café culture, public art sales, and so on. This one is very modern and it lined with some great examples of brutalist apartment buildings
      • Kok-Tebe – a cable car ride up to a mountain overlooking the city. Amazing views, a statue of the Beatles, A Ferris Wheel and toboggan ride, small zoo, bars, and entertainment in general. Simply put this is the city’s best spot and a very popular area for local families, youths, and everyone really. We’ll have a final dinner of the tour here. A fitting relaxing end to an intense, mind-blowing week!

      Overnight:

      Hotel Kazakhstan – a towering monstrosity offering great views over the city as well as faded-luxury. An iconic structure in an iconic city; ideal for finishing off our Kazakhstan adventure

    10. Fri 28th Sept

      Departure Day

      Flights leave from Almaty airport to various destinations both international and domestic. Let us know where you are going and we will get you there in time!

      Don’t forget that Almaty is also very close to the border with Kyrgyzstan – the capital city of Bishkek is just a few hours away and there are buses and shared taxis plying this route very frequently. We can help with this if you like and can recommend a visit to Bishkek too

      TOP RECOMMENDATION – however this is the best choice - Join our tour to Turkmenistan! If you take this option not only do you join the ranks of Koryo Tours’ extra-special veterans but you also get an extra night in Ashgabat. We fly from Almaty to Turkmenistan this afternoon and when there we meet our local partners and have time to relax, explore, do whatever you like really, until the Turkmenistan Tour (more info on this here) begins on Saturday 29th September. Continue your Central Asia adventure with us – it’s the best way to see the most amazing parts of the region!


  • Extras

    • Upgrade to your own room in Kazakhstan

      All hotel rooms on our all-inclusive group tours to Kazakhstan feature twin beds, and will be shared. If you'd like a room to yourself then you can upgrade for an extra $30 USD per night

  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      English-speaking local guide
      Western tour leader
      Meals other than those taken at leisure
      Accommodation
      Internal flight
      Internal train
      All included sight - seeing
      All taxes & entrance fees to areas where special permits are required
      Airport transfers
      An amazing time in a fascinating country!
    • Not included
      Tips for local guides and drivers
      Incidentals, extra drinks, etc
      Optional single supplement: USD 30 per night
      Visa fee - depending on nationality – most western nationalities do not need visas to Kazakhstan. Please do check first to be sure
      International flights to/from Kazakhstan not included
  • Notes

    How to Apply:

    To apply simply click on the application button listed with this tour and fill out the online form, upload a passport copy and photo (or send to us by email) and you can consider yourself to be booked on this adventure! For any questions, comments, etc about this trip get in touch with Simon Cockerell at simon@koryogroup.com
    We ask for application to be complete a minimum of one month in advance of the tour, ideally six weeks or more if possible:

    Please also indicate where you plan to join the tour from and finish the tour by going (we can offer advice on this, drop us a line to discuss it)
    We also require a deposit to be paid at this time as we start taking on administrative costs as well as an obligation to pay for the visa invitation as soon as we send off an application. We ask for a deposit of 50% of the tour fee.

    Cancellation & Refunds:

    Please note that if you require a visa for Kazakhstan you will need to pay this fee yourself. Most visitors do not require visas though. Check https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Visa_policy_of_Kazakhstan
    We practice the same cancellation policy with this tour as we do with our DPRK tours. This is listed on our website T&C. However we do not seek profit from people who cannot go on tours but we do make arrangements and commit to payments in good faith once a booking is received and payment is made. So we always try to refund more than the minimum. As with any trip it is best to be as sure as possible that you will be able to attend the trip when making the final booking. If the tour is cancelled by Koryo Tours for any reason then a full refund is of course made. In all cases we return as much as we can and we do not take a fee for client's cancellation. Please be sure that you will definitely be joining the tour when you send all application details.

Please apply by 1st September, 2018.

September 29 - October 6 2018

Turkmenistan - October Tour

An amazing Turkmenistan
adventure!

7 nights in Turkmenistan with an optional tour extension - Travel to the most
amazing parts of this incredible and complicated country - cities, canyons,
seas, gas craters, more!

From 2,500 USD per person

Please apply by 1st September, 2018.

Turkmenistan - October Tour

An amazing Turkmenistan
adventure!

7 nights in Turkmenistan with an optional tour extension
- Travel to the most amazing parts of this incredible
and complicated country - cities, canyons, seas, gas
craters, more!

From 2,500 USD per person

  • Overall

    Koryo Tours continues its amazing Turkmenistan adventures (since 2004) – On this epic journey to Central Asia’s most enigmatic and least-visited country we will see history unfold as we travel from ruined ancient cities to gleaming modern marble-clad towers. From flaming pits deep in the desert to deep subterranean pools of health-infusing water, from colourful desert canyons to the Caspian Coast. Meet local people, learn about their lives and history, their differences and commonalities. As we journey through the country we will see the serious and the sublime, the freaky and the frivolous – join us on this amazing adventure that Koryo Tours simply does better than anyone else – we’ve built this special experience through dozens of visits and the best local contacts and relationships. We look forward to sharing it with you in Turkmenistan!

    Highlights

    • Ashgabat - All the highlights and local colour
    • Darvaza Gas Crater - The ‘Mouth of Hell’
    • Kow Ata Underground Lake - Natural hot spring 80m under the ground
    • Nisa Fortess – UNESCO listed archaeological site
    • The stunning Yangykala Canyon, known as the ‘Grand Canyon of central Asia’
    • The Caspian Sea city of Turkmenbashi & the unique & Weird Awaza Area
    • Extend the tour to visit the Capital of the Silk Road – Ancient Merv
  • Itinerary

    Day 1 of 10
    1. Saturday 29th September

      Arrival in Ashgabat
      • Assemble in Ashgabat, airport pickups will be arranged wherever you fly in from and we will have a group dinner to get introduced and start the adventure!
      Overnight: Hotel Ak Altyn, Ashgabat - A comfortable hotel that has escaped the marbalisation of the main city center. situated around 15 minutes walk from the main area it has easy access to the local regions of the city such as the Teke bazar and good restaurant options.



    2. Sunday 30th September

      Ashgabat City Tour
      • Tolkuchka Bazaar – The nation’s largest market, built outside the city and home to various sctions selling household goods, clothes, the famous Turkmen carpets, camels & other animals, and much more!
      • Ashgabat Hippodrome – Sunday is a day at the races, with the sacred Ahal-Teke horses in full display.
      • Afternoon city tour – Including Independence Park and Monument, Arch of Neutrality topped by the gold statue of Turkmenbashi, Ahal-Teke horses monument, Earthquake Monument and Museum.
      • Free evening for a night out in the city.
      Overnight: Hotel Ak Altyn, Ashgabat





    3. Monday 1st October

      Darvaza Gas Crater & Bokhurdag
      • Desert adventure! We head off in a fleet of 4x4s into the deep desert today.
      • Bokhurdag semi-nomadic village for a look at what desert life is like today and lunch at a local family home.
      • Onwards to the bizarre mud and water craters, scenes of accidents that opened sinkholes in the desert.
      • Finally we arrive at the stunning and unforgettable Darvaza Gas Crater, in the centre of the country and the scene of a 40 year old industrial accident that ended with a giant flaming pit burning to this day. A hypnotic sight and one of the strangest and most spectacular things you can possibly see.
      • We camp tonight besides the crater, it is best seen at night, dinner cooked on the spot.
      Overnight: Camping at the Darvaza Gas Crater -  Camping in the desert with tents, sleeping bags and roll mats provided. we will also provide tents based on your rooming options. this affords us the best opportunity to view the amazing gas crater from before sunset to sunrise.



    4. Tuesday 2nd October

      Ashgabat
      • We return to Ashgabat, driving through the morning with a stop at a monument to the suppression of the Basmachi rebellion.
      • Once back in the capital the rest of the day is yours to do with as you please; explore, relax, shop, take a side-trip (drivers are available for hire), we and our local guides can give advice on the spot
      Overnight: Hotel Ak Altyn, Ashgabat.



    5. Wednesday 3rd October

      Nisa Fortress and Kow Ata Underground Lake
      • Nisa Fortress - a UNESCO site and former capital of the mighty Parthian state in ancient times.
      • Ahal-Teke horses are considered as heavenly and sacred beasts in Turkmenistan, this stud farm visit will show you why. Have a ride on one of the horses if you like.
      • We then drive on to the bizarre Kow-Ata underground lake. A Sulphur-heated lake 100m deep underground. Take a swim, explore the cave, and then have lunch at a shashlik restaurant on the spot
      • We will drive in our 4x4 fleet on to the remote city of Balkanabad, this sleepy town is a easily explored on foot in a couple of hours of free time before dinner and overnight in a hotel shaped like a giant yurt.
      Overnight: Hotel Niebitchi, Balkanabat - Yurt-shaped curiosity in the centre of town, well-situated for wandering around and exploring.








    6. Thursday 4th October

      Yangykala Canyon & Turkmenbashi
      • We drive to the stunning Yangykala Canyon, known as the ‘Turkmen Grand Canyon’ little-known but an absolutely beautiful area with shifting colours in the rocks, amazing formations, and some wonderful photos to be taken.
      • Through the afternoon we make our way across country, stopping at scenic areas, pilgrimage sites and so on until we reach our destination; the Caspian sea city of Turkmenbashi and the bizarre ‘touristic zone’ of Awaza. This place has to be seen to be believed and we will have a look around the hotel-covered peninsular before checking in for a relaxing evening at the coast.
      Overnight: Yelken Yacht Club - The most relaxing and well-equipped place in the whole country. A great way to finish the day!



    7. Friday 5th October

      Awaza
      • A free morning to relax at the coastal resort, try swimming (although the Caspian is a cold sea) or some watersports, wandering around, or even sleeping in!
      • Late morning we will take a boat ride down a canal stretching the length of the Awaza area, see the different architectural styles of the buildings here, all of which have sprung up in the last few years.
      • We will drive to Turkmenbashi city for lunch, the oldest city in the country and one settled by Russians during their invasion from across the sea during the late Great Game.
      • A city tour of Turkmenbashi – the local bazaar, railway station, Oil Workers’ Square, various monuments, and even a cemetery for Japanese POW’s who were brought here to labour after their capture at the end of WWII, and never got home again.
      • Flight back to Ashgabat for the final dinner of the tour, time for goodbyes and a last night out if you’ve got the energy!
      Overnight: Hotel Ak Altyn, Ashgabat.




    8. Saturday 6th October

      Departure

      • Departure day – airport transfers provided for everyone regardless of the time of flight or where you are going 
      End of tour, OR;

      OPTIONAL EXTENSION (+450 EUR)

      Extension Day 1: Mary & Margush
      • Flight from Ashgabat to Mary, in the centre of the country and the nearest city to the ancient silk road metropolis of Merv
      • Visit Gonur-Deppe (Margush); another ancient city in this area, with some lovely extent architectural features 
      • Back to Mary City and explore this modern town, mix with the locals, go to parks, bars, etc as you like, a sleepy area with welcoming and friendly locals


    9. Sunday 7th October

      Extension Day 2: Ancient Merv
      • Excursion to ancient Merv, probably the most important city in the world at certain times of its history and a place where you will learn a great deal about the history of Central Asia, the rise and fall of dynasties and cities, the silk road, and human civilisation in this part of the world in general. This vast area is roamed by animals, explorers, extant buildings, ruins, etc. All contributing to a sense of the dynamism of the ancient silk road.
      • In the afternoon you fly back to Ashgabat for a final rest/night out before departure.
        Please let us know if you wish to book an extra night in Ashgabat. the flight should return to the capital at around 8PM - 9PM.
  • What is / is not included?

    • Included
      English speaking guide
      Western tour leader
      Meals
      Accommodation
      Internal flights
      All included sight seeing
      All taxes & entrance fees to protected areas
    • Not included
      Optional extension is USD 550
      Optional single supplement: USD 50 per night
      Visa issuing fee - USD $80 to USD $140 depending on nationality
      Room extension - USD 120
      Return flights from Beijing to Ashgabat cost approximately USD 780
      Return flights from London to Ashgabat cost approximately USD 1040
      (Estimates only, we can get these tickets for you or you can buy them yourself )
  • Notes

    HOW TO APPLY

    Please email Rich Beal at rich@koryogroup.com the following information a minimum of one month in advance of the tour, ideally six weeks or more if possible:

    Full Name
    Gender
    Date of Birth
    Passport Number
    Address
    Job Title
    Company
    Details of any previous visits to Turkmenistan
    Please also indicate where you plan to join the tour from (London, Beijing, Istanbul etc).

    We also require a deposit to be paid at this time as we start taking on administrative costs as well as an obligation to pay for the visa invitation as soon as we send off an application. We ask for a deposit of 50% of the tour fee.

    You must apply at least 4 weeks before the tour departure date as the Letter of Invitation that we need to obtain in order to facilitate the visa can take several days to be issued by the Turkmenistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs. We can arrange to have the visas issued on arrival at Ashgabat airport or any other point of entry to the country, but if you would prefer to have it issued at the Turkmenistan Embassy in your home country or have any questions at all about the visa process (it is rather complicated!) please contact us early!

    If you are joining the tour from somewhere other than Beijing and buying a ticket via our offices we email the e-ticket voucher to you and also inform you if anyone else is joining the tour from your place of departure so that you can meet up on the way to join the tour.

    It is entirely possible to join the tour by flying in from other destinations also. We can also accommodate people joining the tour after entering by land or sea, and a range of exit methods are available to those joining this tour. Single supplement is available on this tour at 40 Euros per night, if you are travelling alone and wish to share a room to avoid this fee we will attempt to match you up with another traveller. You will also have to pay the visa issuing fee, at Ashgabat airport this ranges from US$80 to $130 (depending on nationality) payable in cash only.

    CANCELLATION & REFUNDS

    Please note that for this tour you are required to pay the fee for the issuance of the visa yourself. Due to the extended amount of time that it takes to have a visa authorised and sent to an Embassy of Turkmenistan it is much simpler to collect the visa on arrival at Ashgabat Airport, the fee payable here varies according to your nationality, its usually around US$100. The visa is stamped in your passport and is the same as it would be if issued at a Turkmen Embassy. If you insist on having your visa issued at an Embassy then please be sure to apply for the tour as early as possible.

    The deposit is non-refundable if the tourist cancels himself. If however we cannot arrange visas or for whatever reason it is not possible to travel at the specified time (or you cannot make rescheduled dates) a full refund will be made. Should the client wish to cancel after visa application has been made, charges imposed on us will be paid out of the 50% deposit with the balance being returned to the client. If you have paid in full we will return 50% plus the balance of what is left after the cancellation fee we pay to our partners in Turkmenistan. If you book and cancel a plane ticket through us we charge only the airline’s cancellation fee.

    In all cases we return as much as we can and we do not take a fee for client's cancellation. Please be sure that you will definitely be joining the tour when you send all application details.

Please apply by 1st September, 2018.

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info@koryogroup.com | + 86 10 6416 7544
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Chaoyang District. Beijing 100027. P.R China

中国北京市朝阳区北三里屯南 27 号 (东侧院),
邮编:100027
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