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Help with itinerary - which route to Kyrgyzstan?

Posted: Thu Jan 17, 2019 4:55 pm
by ahart25

My boyfriend and I are traveling in late April - end of June and we're finding so many different options, so we need advice!
We hope to start in Georgia and Azerbaijan actually (for 10 days -2 weeks) and will fly to Samarkand.
Another week-10 days in Samarkand and Bukhara and around. And this is where the plans diverge:

One option is to travel from Samarkand to Penjikent (TAJ) and travel to Dushanbe and up through the Fergana Valley. From there cross into Kyrgyzstan at Isfana and continue to Osh. From there, we'd like to get to Song Kol, Chaek, Karakol and Issyk Kol and Bishkek. I'm finding it hard to understand how to get from Osh to these places. Do I have to travel from Osh to Bishkek and then back down? Is it by bus or hired car?

The other option is from Samarkand, travel to Tashkent and from there cross into Kazakhstan, go to Shymkent and hike in the Aksu-Zhabagly park. From there, is it possible to cross into Kyrgyzstan? Do we have to travel further east and cross at Bishkek? Is it possible to get to Song Kol etc. from Kazakhstan?

Final question is: Is it totally crazy to skip the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan? We're limited on time and money, but if it's totally unmissable and makes some of these travel logistics easier, we're open to it. It's just been hard to figure out what's possible and what's best!

Thank you all in advance! All your questions, answers, reports etc. have been super helpful thus far!

Re: Help with itinerary - which route to Kyrgyzstan?

Posted: Fri Jan 18, 2019 3:40 am
by bwv812
Most of your questions are answered in the subtopics accessible at:

If you look at a map, you can see that it is possible to go from Osh to Song Kol via Kazarman, but the problem is that this is a difficult road (though I believe it is in the process of being improved) with little traffic, so you basically need to hire a private car to do this route. So most people go up to Bishkek, down to Kochkor, and then up to Song Kol from there.

10 days in Bukhara and Samarkand is a bit much (you can see everything in 4-5 days), and the time would be better spent doing the Pamir Highway, imo. It's not that much more expensive.