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including Nawruz

Available tour dates:
20 March - 2 April 2024 (available)
This is Yuri's favourite tour, and for a reason! It retraces some of the places Yuri got to intimately know while working on his Kyrgyz doctorate. And it joins the Nawruz (Persian New Year) celebrations in Bishkek - when people of more than 120 nationalities come and celebrate together on the street!
The tour focuses on the ruins of ancient civilisations, on Soviet utopia, and on Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan's rich tapestry of ethnicities and cultures, while immersing us in glorious Silk Road nature, architecture, history, art and music.
The tour starts in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's green capital. We head east, across the fertile Chui valley, stopping at the remains of Balasagun, an ancient Silk Road city. We spend a night at the historic Aurora Sanatorium on Issyk Kul lake, then make our way to Karakol, a former imperial outpost from the days of the Great Game. We dash to Inylchek, an abandoned Soviet town in the heart of the Tian Shan, the Celestial Mountains. We stop at Tamgaly, a UNESCO Site that contains Central Asia's most stunning petroglyphs. Then we are off to Almaty, Kazakhstan's former capital, where we enjoy colourful modernist and wooden vernacular architecture, bustling bazaars and mineral baths. We catch a short domestic flight to Kyzylorda, and explore Baikonur, the Soviet Union's historic space port, which launched the first man in space. We dash to the shores of the almost dry Aral Sea, and catch a train to Mangystau, a barren peninsula on the Caspian Sea, mostly under sea level. We explore Mangystau's fascinating ancient underground mosques, the rocky Caspian shore, and end the tour in Aktau, capital of Kazakhstan's oil and gas industry.
14 days, 13 nights

BISHKEK/1 night - CHUNKURCHAK/1 night - CHOLPON ATA/1 night - KARAKOL/2 nights -
CHON KEMIN/1 night - ALMATY/2 nights - BAIKONUR/2 nights - NIGHT TRAIN TO MANGYSTAU PENINSULA/1 night - AKTAU/1 night
€4380 per person, sharing double or twin room, €630 single supplement.
The number of participants is limited to 10.
Price includes
  • Accommodation in Central Asia's best, most atmospheric hotels: from a cosy, warm guesthouse, to one of Soviet Union's most unique sanatoriums, to a Ritz Carlton.
  • Transport with a new, comfortable bus on the main sections of the road, and 4WDs for the bumpy detours. And not least, great drivers!
  • Driver and guide lodging and food.
  • An unusual, knowledgeable and curious guide.
  • All meals according to programme, in carefully selected places.
  • Border permit to Inylchek, for which we apply in three separate places: the Regional border force detachment command, the Regional government, and the Regional police. A real Soviet-era bureaucratic experi-ence!
  • Vintage Soviet cars and trucks up one of the highest (and most spectacular) motorable passes in Central Asia. We will go far up and beyond other tourist trails.
  • Clearing of the high mountain pass from snow.
  • Renting of a vintage Soviet train.
  • One of Central Asia's best folk bands for a private concert.
  • All taxes and fees.
  • Bottled water, refreshments and sweet treats while on the bus and while exploring sights.
  • A comprehensive information pack with maps, literature, useful knowledge and gifts.
  • Tips for pretty much everyone but guide and driver.
  • All activities according to the program: yurt making, singing, visits to various homes, and more.
  • Entry tickets to all sights that are ticketed.
  • And much, much more.
Price does not include
  • International air fares.
  • Medical and travel insurance.
  • Personal expenses such as phone calls, laundry, internet, drinks apart from those included.
Important information and booking conditions
Reservations and payment

Please fill in the Reservation Form with all details needed and send it to or A deposit, upon booking, at the amount of €500 per person is required to assure your place. The final payment is to be made no later than three months prior to the start of the tour.

Extra nights in Bishkek and/or Aktau and transfers

If you want to spend a night or two prior or after the tour, we can make a reservation for you or you can make a direct arrangement with the tour hotel or another hotel. We can also recommend a nearby hotel which is cheaper. Please note that we have included transfers in the price - advice us of your arrival and departure times. Which brings us to...

... flights

We love arranging flights, but in this case, we won't. You are responsible for booking your flight ticket. We can always help you with an advice. We've flown on all the airlines, and we've made all the airport connections, so we can share some tips, if you need them. Also, we are happy to share tips on stopovers, if you decide to take one on the way to or from Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. Stopovers are fun!

For this journey we recommend Turkish Airlines, flights from various American cities connecting via Istanbul, and Aeroflot, connecting via Moscow. But there are other connections, too. Drop us a message, we will advice.

Tour information

Once we get your deposit, us folks at Lyuba Tours will immediately send a confirmation of space by e-mail. We will also send reading materials, music and more information about the country: what to bring, what to
expect, money, weather, food and other wise. We will send all this by snail mail or email.

About a month before the tour, we will send you hotel and rooming lists, emergency numbers and any last-minute notes. We will be happy if you meet payment and document submittal deadlines to insure we have time to post your materials. Upon arrival in Kyrgyzstan, you will find even more stuff awaiting you: maps, phrasebooks, postcards, and more.

Customs and entry requirements

For this trip you require a passport with validity six months beyond the last day of the tour. That passport should have a blank page for a stamp.

No visas are required for U.S. citizens traveling to Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan for up to 60 days. If you don't happen to be a U.S. citizen, please make sure you have whatever documents are necessary to enter (and exit) Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. We can help with this as well. Regulations are subject to change, and we will try to inform you of the latest changes.

Travel insurance

We strongly, strongly, strongly advise you to have a travel insurance for the trip. Situations may arise, voluntarily or involuntarily, in which the traveler cancels. We can recommend a comprehensive travel insurance plan, if you don't have one already. Insurance should cover trip cancellation, lost or damaged baggage, medical needs, and certain travel-related accidents. We highly recommend trip-cancellation insurance. Although please do read the insurance company's fine print, especially the section on 'pre-existing conditions'.

Ground transportation

We will travel across Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan in comfortable, air-conditioned private minibuses. For some sections we will use 4WD and 6WD vehicles. Smoking is NOT permitted on any of the vehicles.

Health regulations

You are adviced to get a Hepatitis A and B vaccines. Please see the CDC's website for recommendations: We suggest you check with your doctor for medical advice regarding the trip and your health. It is also suggested you discuss updating your tetanus and diphtheria booster.

Health considerations

To get the most out of a tour, a traveler should be in good physical and mental health, able and willing to walk, climb steps, and participate in group events. This trip requires moderate walking, sometimes over un-even streets or paths. If assistance is needed, a participant should travel with a companion. You must also be able to carry your own hand luggage, so please go light! Any physical or mental disability requiring special help or assistance must be noted in writing on the reservation form.

Opportunities for adventure

This tour is designed for those interested in learning everything about Kyrgyzstan and Central Asia. We will present you with all sorts of perspectives, and you will see many shades of Kyrgyzstan.

Also, this is a moderately active program ('soft' adventure). Since some of the travel will be in remote areas, travel participants need to be flexible concerning time schedules, food and weather. Roads may be bumpy. No! Roads will be bumpy. Don't expect to find things exactly as they are at home! If that were the case, why travel? Occasionally, we may experience delays, alterations in the plans, some discomforts and inconveniences. But we will also experience a different culture and our minds and souls will be expanded! A spirit of adventure and tolerance is absolutely fundamental to participation in any of our tours.

Wandering Policy

We encourage everyone to partake in all the sightseeing and special activities. We've spent months research-ing and preparing a full and exciting program. However, if you would like to venture out on your own, or take personal time for rest or shopping, you may do so. This is your trip! We only ask that you alert our group leader and guide when you will be separating and rejoining the group. Please take extra security pre-cautions with your belongings and yourself.

Changes in itinerary

Every effort will be made to operate this tour in accordance with the itinerary shown, including all activities as advertised. Museums and features are subject to scheduling. Occasionally, changes are made to improve an itinerary or enhance a certain feature. Unforeseen local conditions beyond our control may prevent the completion of an itinerary or require alterations in an itinerary. These local conditions can include inclement weather, seasonal variations in climate, changes in airline schedules and equipment, government appropriation of hotel space, and other events beyond our control that would jeopardize the traveler's comfort, safety, health, or enjoyment. In these cases, the right is reserved to substitute hotels, and to alter the itinerary for the comfort and safety of the travelers. The right is also reserved to cancel the tour prior to departure.

Cancellations and refunds

Should Lyuba Tours cancel a departure for the reason of insufficient number of participants to operate the tour with no increase in cost, a full refund of all monies paid will be made.

On the participant's part, cancellation or change of date will result in a per person cancellation fee of €500, irrespective of reason up to 90 days before the tour. Cancellation made 89 days to 30 days before the tour will result in a cancellation fee of €750. From 29 days before the tour, the cancellation fee will be at the amount of the tour. Should your cancellation cause the number of participants to fall below the required number to operate the trip, and a replacement member cannot be found, the full portion of the trip will be forfeited. If a person requests a room share to avoid the single supplement and then cancels after final payment is made and a roommate has been assigned, then the person canceling forfeits the single supplement if a share cannot be found.

Should a person cancel a trip voluntarily, and if payment was made by a bank wire, the amount of bank wire expense charged to Lyuba Tours will be deducted from the refund amount.

Once the tour begins, no refund may be claimed for all or any part of the tour fee. Unused or changed hotel accommodations, transportation, or other services or features of the tour are neither refundable nor ex-changeable.

Cancellations will only be accepted via e-mail, at or


A large part of what we make goes back to the community. We support disadvantaged kids and isolated, rural communities. We plan to invest even more time, effort and money on this. We also have plans to support, each year, one artist, in return for artwork we can use in our work. And not least, one day, hopefully soon, open a school for disadvanted kids.
Questions and answers
What is Nawruz?
Nawruz is the Persian New Year. The start of spring. It is a time when trees turn green, days get long, and people put their smiles on. Nawruz is the jolliest time of the year in Central Asia. The day unites people from all communities and religions to celebrate.
Meet your guide
Yuri is Lyuba's son. Travel is in his blood. He's been on the road since 28 days old. Ever since, he's visited 130 countries on all continents. He is enormously passionate about the world, about art, architecture and history. He is eager to show you some of the Caucasus' and Central Asia's most splendid and least known corners, which he has explored for years. Yuri has a PhD in History.