The Silk Road was collectively an ancient network of trade routes that were central to Cultural Interaction through regions of the Asian continent connecting the West and East from China and India to the Mediterranean Sea. You can witness first-hand the sights, hardships, cultural diversity, and culinary delights that are unparalleled in this world.
We have also chosen the warm summer season for this visit. You will be able to capture some of the awe-inspiring landscapes, people, and culture Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan have to offer. This year we are journeying along the famous Pamir Mountains of Central Asia.
Photosafari has organised four journeys on the Old Silk Road in China and Central Asia on four different occasions.
We have journeyed from Xian to Hotan and Kashgar across the Taklimakan Desert from three different starting and ending points. Last year, we continued to follow the Old Silk Road from Kashgar, across the Chinese Border to Kyrgyzstan. This involves driving through the Torugart Pass (3,752m) at the border between China and Kyrgyzstan.
This year, we will journey from Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan to Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan. Our journey will be from Bishkek to the Dushanbe through the Kyzyl-Art Pass (4,280m) in the Pamir Mountains. This journey will be about 2,600km.
The Pamir Mountains, or the Pamirs, are a mountain range in Central Asia at the junction of the Himalayas with the Tian Shan, Karakoram, Kunlun, and the Hindu Kush ranges. They are among the world’s highest mountains. The mountainous landscapes in the Pamirs are out of this world.
On this Old Silk Road, it is the whole experience of the journey rather than the destination is the objective. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in Central Asia used to be part of USSR. USSR has since broken up and all these countries have obtained their independence and are now self-ruled.
Kyrgyz forms the majority of the 5.7 million population. The minorities are Uzbeks and Russians.
Kyrgyz are Muslims, hence, it is easy to find halal food along this journey.
Kyrgyz along the route are traditionally nomads. They move from place to place depending on the seasons and pastures. You will experience first-hand how nomads of Central Asia lives.
- Osh City
Osh is one of the oldest city along the Old Silk Road with a history of about 3,000 years. It is a city where 250,000 people called home. Osh is a lively place with an outdoor market, Great Silk Road Bazaar. This bazaar is reputed to be the largest in Central Asia.
Osh used to serve as a centre of the Silk Trade Route from Kashgar to Central Asia through the Alay Mountains.
Tajikistan is a landlocked country with a population of about 8 million people. It has an area of 143,100 sq km. It is bordered by Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and East Pakistan. Tajikistan was part of the USSR. It has since obtained its independence. Russian and Tajik are widely spoken here. It is the least developed of the former USSR countries and also the poorest. The majority of the people is Muslims.
Dushanbe is the capital city of Tajikistan. The name literally means Monday in Tajik. There are about 700,000 people staying in this city.
- Kyzyl-Art Pass
We will journey from Kyrgyzstan across the border of Tajikistan via the Kyzyl-Art Pass (4,280m). The road will cross the Trans-Alay Range onto the Pamir Highway on the Pamir Plateau. The landscape here is awe- inspiring.
It is not easy to find modern day accommodation along the route from Kyrgyzstan to Tajikistan. What we will be staying is a two or three person yurts (traditional round tents) on a part of the journey. All yurt are based on twin or tri sharing. There is no single accommodation available. In some areas, we will be staying in guesthouses or homestays operated by the locals. In the major towns, we will provide hotel accommodation where you can get your own single room if you desire. Please check the schedule of accommodation at various places.
- What is a Yurt?
A yurt is the traditional dwelling of pastoral nomads in Central Asia. Yurts are portable, sturdy, round felt-covered tents that you’ll see often as you are taking tours of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. A nomadic family can set up one yurt within a matter of 4-5 hours. The walls of a yurt are made of wooden latticework and the roof of curved poles that run from the latticework to a central circular wooden piece up above. This circular opening provides an outlet for smoke as well as the entrance of sunlight. The yurt is central to nomads life in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan; it provides a place to eat, sleep, host guests, and provides protection from the elements.
Staying in yurts will ensure that you will be served lots of tea and authentic Kyrgyz and Tajik cuisine. There is no better way for you to immerse yourself into this nomad culture.
Our main will be 4 wheel drive Mercedes Sprinter vans which can accommodate 18 persons. However, we will only take a maximum of 9 persons including the tour guide so that we can have room for your photography equipment. We will be changing vehicles at the Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan Border.
- Food and meals provided
Not all meals are provided. This is to allow our participants to sample local food and cuisine of your choice. All foods provided are halal food, as the majority of the population along the Old Silk Road are Muslims. The meat of choice is mutton and if you have any problem with this meat, please bring along some canned food. Restaurant meals along the route are not expensive. Please check the itinerary for the meals you have to pay on your own.
July is a good month to visit the Pamir Mountains, the temperature here would be around 0-10 deg C while the lowlands will be about 23-30 degC. After September, it snows heavily and some of the mountain roads will be blocked and one can be stranded for days.
Kyrgyzstan – Malaysian and other nationalities are exempted from applying for a Kyrgyzstan visa. Please check whether you are required to apply for a visa here: http://www.kyrgyzconsuae.org/en/visas/. We will be able to help you apply for a tourist visa if required. You will have to pay for the Visa fees.
Tajikistan – Malaysians and citizens of most countries are required to apply for a Visa. You can apply for an e-visa online here before departure: https://www.evisa.tj/index.evisa.html
- Getting to Bishkek and back from Dushanbe
Here are some of the flight schedules from Kuala Lumpur to Bishkek and from Dushanbe to Kuala Lumpur.
Our proposal is to fly to Bishkek on the 14th July and reach there in the evening. The tour starts on the 15th July. We will fly back from Dushanbe on the 29th July. That will give us a day’s rest before starting on your usual daily routine.
Day 1 (14.07.2017) Arrival in Bishkek.
- Transfer to the hotel.
- Check-in at Silk Road Lodge. (hotel and airport transfer included)
- Meals on your own
Day 2 (15.07.2017) Bishkek (B,D)
- City tour. Lunch in a café.
- Ala-Archa gorge. Return to Bishkek.
- Dinner and folklore show (national musical instruments and singing).
- Overnight in Silk Road.
Day 3 (16.07.2017) Bishkek- Chychkan (250km) (B)
- Visit Osh market.
- Drive to Chychkan (250 km).
- Stop for photography along the way
- Overnight in Oson hotel.
Day 4 (17.07.2017) Chychkan- Arslanbob (340 km) (B,D)
– Drive to Arslanbob.
– Stop for photography along the way
– Dinner and overnight at Homestay.
Day 5 (18.07.2017) Arslanbob- Osh 185 km (B,L)
– Visit the first waterfall (if there is enough time, rent military jeep in the center.
– Transfer to the second waterfall. Hike to the waterfall)
– Lunch in a home stay.
– Drive to Osh. Explore the city upon arrival.
– Dinner in a café.
– Overnight in a Homestay
Day 6 (19.07.2017) Osh-Sary-Tash (B,D)
– Explore Osh City. Visit Suleiman Too and Bazaar.
– Lunch in a café.
– Drive to Sary-Tash.
– Dinner and Overnight in a Homestay.
Day 7 (20.07.2017) Sary-Tash- Bor-Dobo border (Kyzyl-Art pass) 190 km- Karakul Lake 60 km (B,L,D)
– Drive to the border with Tajikistan.
– Border Crossing.
– Meet up with the Tajik driver and guide.
– Drive to Karakul Lake.
– Dinner and overnight in yurts.
Day 8 (21.07.2017) Karakul lake- Murghab 130 km (B,L,D)
– Drive to Murghab.
– Stop for lunch in a local Oshhona.
– Enjoy picturesque landscapes upon arrival.
– Dinner and Overnight in a homestay.
Day 9 (22.07.2017) Murghab- Bulunkul 150 km transfer. (B)
– Stop for lunch in Alichur. In Alichur you will need to get the permit to the National Park Bulunkul-Ishilkul.
– After check-in to the guesthouse you will have an excursion around the lakes.
Day 10 (23.07.2017) Bulunkul- Langar 130 km (B)
– Drive via Hargush pass (4344 m).
– Stop for lunch-picnic en route.
– Visit petroglyphs upon arrival to Langar.
– Dinner and overnight in a guest house.
Day 11 (24.07.2017) Langar- Ishkashim 120 km (B)
– It will take 8-9h with stops to explore fortresses, bazaars, hot springs and the surrounding areas.
– Stop for lunch in Yamga or Yamchun.
Day 12 (25.07.2017) Ishkashim-Khorog. 120km (B)
– Explore Ishkashim.
– Drive to Khorog.
– Visit Gar-Chashma hot spring on the way. Relax in a bath.
– Lunch at the sanatorium Garm-Chashma.
– Dinner and overnight in the guest house Zumrad.
Day 13 (26.07.2017) Khorog- Kalai-Humb 240km (B)
– Drive to Kalai Humb and takes 8-9 h via the Vomar (Rushan) village, where you will have lunch.
– Dinner and overnight in a homestay.
Day 14 (27.07.2017) Kalai-Humb- Dushanbe 370km (B)
– Drive to Dushanbe and will take 8-9 h.
– Lunch in Vose village or Kulyab town.
– Dinner in a café in Dushanbe. Overnight in the Mercurii hotel or equivalent
Day 15 (28.07.2017) Dushanbe. (B)
– Dushanbe City tour.
– Lunch and dinner in cafes.
– Overnight in the Mercurii hotel or equivalent
Day 16 (29.07.217) Depart from Dushanbe
– Transfer to Airport.
– End of Trip
If you are interested, please email for further details: [email protected]