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  • Golden Compass New Zealand Freephone number 0800-132-385
  • 0800-132-385

Journey to the 'Stans' in Central Asia
Commences Almaty 04 September and ends Tashkent 01 October 2021

  • Song Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan
    Song Kul Lake, Kyrgyzstan
  • Bukhara Mosque, Uzbekistan
    Bukhara Mosque, Uzbekistan
  • Samarkand, Uzbekistan
    Samarkand, Uzbekistan
  • The Aral Sea, Uzbekistan
    The Aral Sea, Uzbekistan
  • Zenkov Cathedral, Almaty, Kazakhstan
    Zenkov Cathedral, Almaty, Kazakhstan
  • Program Status Places Available
  • Price $13,590
  • Program Code GCTSTA21
  • Single Supplement $1,630
  • Activity Rating Advanced
  • Program Leader Mark Goodwin

Tour Itinerary

  • 27 Nights
    • 2 - Almaty 
    • 1 - Altyn-Emel
    • 2 - Kol-Sai Lakes
    • 2 - Karakol 
    • 1 - Issyk–Kul 
    • 2 - Son-Kul Lake
    • 2 - Bishkek 
    • 1 - Tashkent
    • 1 - Nukus 
    • 1 - Aral Sea
    • 1 - Nukus
    • 2 - Khiva
    • 1 - Dashoguz
    • 1 - Ashgabat 
    • 2 - Mary 
    • 2 - Bukhara 
    • 2 - Samarkand 
    • 1 - Tashkent 

Commences Almaty 04 September and ends Tashkent 01 October 2021

Tour Highlights

  • The great trading cities of the ancient Silk Road: UNESCO-listed Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent
  • The World Heritage historic site of Itchan Kala in Khiva
  • The ancient UNESCO-protected city of Merv, also on the Silk Road, now modern-day Mary in Turkmenistan
  • The post-Soviet Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek and impressive capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgebat 
  • Learn about the environmental issues of the Aral Sea in Uzbekistan
  • Discover the outstanding natural beauty of Kyrgzstan at Son Kul Lake and of Kazakhstan at Kolsai Lake

Tour Overview

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are an idiosyncratic collection of ex-Soviet republics which became independent when the USSR collapsed after 1991. 

Due to their strategic location, the ‘Stans’ of Central Asia were sought after and conquered by some of the world’s great empire-hunters, such as the Huns, the Persians, the Ottomans and the Mongols.

Two millennia ago, traders and caravans of pack animals laden with silk, porcelain and spices followed a westward route from their homeland in ancient China over the steppe of Central Asia into the fertile lands of Europe. When inquisitive Europeans travelled the Silk Road to China, they came back with knowledge, ideas and culture that altered the destiny of Western Civilisation.

Our 27-night program explores the heart of the great golden trade route across Central Asia. Our program is designed with multi-night stays in the historic cities of Bishkek, Khiva, Mary, Bukhara, Samarkand and Tashkent. These open-air museums are beautifully preserved Silk Road wonders, filled with mosques, tombs, monuments and bazaars. 

We will also enjoy the stunning scenery at Altyn-Emel National Park and Kol-Sai Lakes in Kazakhstan and be immersed in nomadic culture on the shores of Son-Kul Lake in Kyrgyzstan. A visit to the mysterious Aral Sea in Uzbekistan is also included. 

This fascinating program is restricted to 16 participants.

Tour Inclusions

  • 21 nights in en-suited hotel accommodation
  • 3 nights in comfortable guest houses (shared bathroom)
  • 2 nights in an exotic yurt camp on the shores of stunning Song-Kul Lake (shared bathroom)
  • 1 night in a yurt on the shores of the Aral Sea (shared bathroom)
  • Typical local breakfast daily, 26 lunches and 27 dinners
  • 4 internal flights:  Bishkek - Tashkent, Tashkent - Nukus, Dashoguz - Ashgabat, Ashgabat - Mary
  • Touring by comfortable coaches, mini-coach and 4WD. All with A/C. 
  • Train journey from Samarkand to Tashkent
  • Transport, lectures and field trips as indicated
  • Visa Fees, applicable entry fees and services of local guides
  • Services of a Program Leader
  • Gratuities and necessary tips
  • Detailed program information booklet

Mark Goodwin

Mark Goodwin has been in the travel profession for over 35 years, first as a tour guide, then rising to Director of Operations with SAGA Holidays, the UK's leading tour operator for the senior market, as Commercial Director with Rank Education, one of Britain's leading educational operators, as Director of Operations with the Travel Organisation, the UK's then leading conference and incentive Operator and the last 20 years as President and CEO of Golden Compass. Mark has now retired from his role as CEO but still enjoys arranging and leading specialist groups for Golden Compass Tours.

Mark is double Honours graduate from King's College London in Modern Languages – French and German, an Associate of Kings College (Divinity) and a Fellow of the Institute of Travel & Tourism, as well as a past Member of the Institute of Directors.

He has taught in France as well as spending significant periods of time in Germany, Italy and Austria as well as travelling extensively through almost all of Europe and North Africa. He has led a number of tours through Scandinavia, the Baltics and the Balkans. 


These are the programs planned for the more active mature adult which involve some more strenuous activities such as walking between 5km and 10km a day on uneven surfaces or on gradients or which involve some other form of organised physical activity.
All our programs naturally involve some walking in order to discover bet­ter the places visited and, although we arrange porterage where this is available, participants are expected to be able to handle their own bags. Our program leaders will always try to make as much of the program as possible available for those who find walking longer distances, uphill or down steps difficult but, in same places, this cannot always be avoided.
If you have any concerns at all about your level of fitness, please do not hesitate to talk to us and discuss further with the experts who know the particular demands of each program.

Make an Enquiry

Follow these simple steps to secure your place on one of our unique tours:

  1. Select the program or programs you are interested in joining and make a note of the program code that appears next to the program price (eg: GCTAD14).
  2. Access the Golden Compass booking form here.
  3. Complete the details you have available (we understand your flights and travel insurance details may not be confirmed when you make your booking).
  4. Print and sign your form, then simply scan and email your form direct to info@goldencompasstours.co.nz. If you prefer you can fax your form to +44 (0) 1494 431 144, or post it to our New Zealand postal address at:

  Golden Compass, P O Box 3452 Shortland St. Auckland 1140, New Zealand.

Please note we require a deposit of NZD500 per person per program with the full balance for each tour being due 70 days prior to the start of your program or programs in the UK, Europe, North Africa or Asia. 

Once the deposit payment has been taken you will then be sent your confirmation letter either by email or post (as you prefer). An invoice for the balance will be issued to you 12 weeks prior to the departure of your first tour or tours. Full payment by MasterCard, Visa or electronic bank transfer is required 70 days prior to the start of your tour. 

If you need any assistance please call our Freephone number on 0800 132 385.