Days 1-3: Bishkek, Cholpan-Ata, World Nomad Games at Lake Issyk-Kul
Explore the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek, with visits to the main square, the Ata-Beyit Memorial Complex, and the Manas Monument, dedicated to the legendary Kyrgyz folk hero. Stop at one of Kyrgyzstan’s last remaining Silk Road watchtowers, then continue to Chon-Kemin, where you’ll get to know the locals and learn how to set up a yurt at a special demonstration.Days 4-7: Tepke village, Karakol, day trip to Jyrgalan Valley, Jeti Oguz, Son Kul Lake
Stop near little Tepke village to visit a working Kyrgyz farm, then drive to Karakol on the eastern end of Issyk-Kul. Admire the sky-blue mosque and the Orthodox church, and enjoy dinner with a family of Muslim Uighurs. Take a day trip to Jyrgalan Valley, and experience Kyrgyz hospitality over lunch and conversations with local villagers. Venture to Jeti Oguz Canyon, known for its trademark red sandstone cliffs. Overnight in a yurt near alpine Son Kul Lake.Days 8-9: Kochkor, Chon-Kemin, Karakol, Bishkek
In Kochkor, visit a handicrafts cooperative where women produce high-quality handcrafted goods. Spend time with a local semi-nomadic shepherd family and discover the art of traditional Kyrgyz felt-making, a craft that has survived the centuries. Continue to Chon-Kemin, where you’ll get to know the locals and learn how to set up a yurt at a special demonstration. Return to Bishkek for a performance of selections from the Kyrgyz tale, the Epic of Manas.Days 10-12: Osh, Sary Tash, Murghab
Fly to Osh and visit UNESCO-listed Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain, one of Central Asia’s holiest Islamic sites. Head south and pick up the Pamir Highway near Sary Tash, climbing 14,000-foot Kyzyl-Art Pass into Tajikistan. Enjoy commanding mountain views on the breathtaking drive over 15,200-foot Ak-Baital Pass, descending into Murghab for an overnight stay.
Days 13-16: Langar, Ishkashim, Khorog, Kalaikhumb
Continue along the Wakhan Corridor, an ancient branch of the Silk Road, stopping at Buddhist stupas, Ismaili shrinesand ruined forts. In Khorog, capital of Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region, sit in on an evening service at an Ismaili Muslim prayer house, and chat with a representative from a local Tajik NGO.
Days 16-20: Kalaikhumb, Dushanbe
Journey overland along the Panj River, overnighting in the village of Kalaikhumb. Arriving in Dushanbe, the capital of Tajikistan, explore the 18th century Hissar Fortress, and meet with young locals to discuss the city’s history, culture and current affairs as seen through their eyes.
About MIR Corporation: MIR Corporation, whose name means “peace” and “world” in Russian, has specialized in Russia (and neighboring countries) since 1986. Offering scheduled and custom journeys to Russia,along the Trans-Siberian and across the Silk Route, MIR’s Seattle-based experts design imaginative trips that take travelers far from the familiar, and work closely with local affiliates in Western Russia, Siberia, Ukraine and Uzbekistan to carry them out. MIR has twice been named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth,” and is a preferred operator for museum, alumni and special interest organizations across the country.