Travel to the Stans

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We are interested in traveling to several of the Stans. Does anyone have any experience with any of the travel companies that have trips to that area of the world?

Try contacting East-Site Travel. They specialize in travel to the Stans,are very knowlegable, provide visa service gratis, and offer some of the best itineraries/prices that I have seen. I plan to travel with them to the 5 Stans in 2013, and may add on a day or so in Afghanistan .

I traveled there with MIR a few years ago. It's not the cheapest company that goes there, but the trip was outstanding in every way (with the best trip leader I've ever had), and I'm glad I went to this complex part of the world with them instead of with one of the lower-budget options. If you have specific questions, post them here, and I'd be happy to try to answer them.

These are some companies you might look at:

Explore Worldwide (www.exploreworldwide.com)
Eldertreks (www.eldertreks.com)
Peregrine Adventures(www.peregrineadventures.com )
Adventures Abroad (www.advenetures-abroad.com)
GAdventures (formerly GAP Adventures ) www.gadventures.com
Regent Holidays (www.regent-holidays.co.uk)
Kutrubus Travel (www.kutrubestravel.com)
Bestway Tours (www.bestway.com)
Mir Corporation (ww.mircorp.com)

I've traveled with all but three of these companies. All are good so it is up to you to decide on the itinerary, price range and date.

Disclaimer, I didn't investigate every company that travels to the Stans. I went with MIR because of all the things that were included that some of the other companies I looked into didn't include. (Another disclaimer: I took the trip 3 or 4 years ago now, and I don't know if MIR still does all these things.) These included things like all meals, all tips (except for tour leader), the best hotels in each city, a trip leader who was local to the area and spoke the languages (this turned out to be very important at border crossings), complete visa support (including filling out most of the visa applications for you, which is no small thing in the complex 5-Stans visa situation), all the water you could drink, and a lot of "extras" that weren't specifically listed as being included (extra activities, snacks, stops that weren't scheduled, and so on).

Instead of being placed in hotels remote from city centers and given "free time", hotels were usually centrally located, and during scheduled "free time", the tour leader always took whoever of us wanted to go on no-cost extra activities. There was none of the nickel-and-diming I've found with other less expensive travel companies (tips, water, extra meals, "optional" excursions, and so on), which forces you to juggle money during the trip itself. (And there are five different currencies in the Stans.) I often travel with less-expensive companies than MIR and have a great time, but I'm glad I didn't on this trip. For example, I'm very fond of Adventures Abroad, and have traveled with them often, but for this destination, I'm glad I didn't have to deal with the extra tips, buying water, and buying all your lunches that travel with AA involves.

This was my experience - your mileage may vary.

I went four years ago with Christine of Baraka Journeys. It was't the cheapest tour but it included everything. All meals including wine and beer. ( on our trip there was also vodka) all tips including all guides. All entry fees. 4 and 5 star hotels or best available. Bottled water was available both on the bus and to take to your room. We flew into Frankfurt and the room and dinner was included. Complete travel insurance including trip cancellation. We also received a Lonely Planet guide book. It was a wonderful trip that included all the usual stops but some unusual ones as well. Our local guide, Risa, promoted many local artisans who's workshops we visited including a couple of interesting fashion shows. I'd be glad to answer any questions.

Please also check Original World and Speikermann Travel. Both have excellent trips scheduled to the 5 Stans., and both are excellent companies which advertise in ITN

I did Ashgabat Tashkent (STT) through Intrepid; it was run by Dragoman, an overland company. 2 nites of camping 12 or so in hotels. The overall trip itself went from Istanbul to Beijing, I just took the 2 week piece in Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan. Great trip, cheap. Intrepid is probably the opposite of MIR. You have to be into adventure travel. Ordinarily a young group on Intrepid as was this one. There was one other guy may age (66) and then the next oldest was about 35.

Kurt