Archive for the 'Central Asia' Category
TotalAdventure has promoted adventure tourism all over the world, as a way for people to get to know each other’s cultures , without divisive politicians getting in the way. Indeed the last several years have been tough with the ” War on Travel” first instigated from the USA , then COVID restrictions , literally shutting down the whole world. Just as things were looking up, war began.. Until 3 weeks ago, TotalAdventure offered about 25 amazing trips , many in Siberia, Altai and even in Kamchatka. For obvious reasons they are temporarily not on offer. In addition, transport to the starting points is quite difficult , if not impossible. Governments themselves do not suffer, but the wonderful people whose lives depend on tourism , along with their families, will suffer greatly. With the cessation of hostilities we hope to offer these incredible voyages again soon. From TotalAdventure’s 1993 trip to the Russian Far East – vestiges of a more hopeful time – Please read and watch the video here at Russia’s Wild East.
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Kyrgyzstan was the final and most adventurous country on TotalAdventure’s Central Asia Expedition. Through membership in the Adventure Travel Trade Association we were introduced to Visit Kyrgyzstan. Visit Kyrgyzstan took us to amazing places impossible to get to on one’s own. Please view the video above to experience our amazing voyage.
We drove from Almaty, Kazakhstan to Karakol. We visited a Uighur inspired mosque, as Xinjiang is only about 150 km distant.
Also, a Siberian style wooden Orthodox Church. Since the demise of the Soviet Union, most Russians have left independent Kyrgyzstan.
Our first overnight stop was in a yurt village on the shores of Lake Issy Kul, a Mile HIgh ( 1607 m) and 182 km in length, ( 114 mi) .
Issy Kuul is an alpine lake in the Tien Shan Mountains, which lead into the Himalayas. Those mountains are 40 miles away.
We also explored an abandoned heavy water nuclear processing plant built in Soviet times.
The next day we went to watch Eagle Hunters. Traditional in the highlands of Central Asia, including Mongolia, young eagles are adopted and trained to hunt in a way to bring the prey to their masters, and they are given large amounts of meat in return. The prey is often rabbit or fox. Rabbit is valuable for its’ delicious, nutritious meat and fur good for making gloves. Fox skin also is prized..
The Eagles stay with their families until they are about 15 and are then returned to the wild. Eagle and master bond closely, much like people and dogs. An Eagle lives to 65 to almost 100 years of age.
The Real Adventure Begins. Four Days Journey In The Tien Shan Mountains To Lake Song Kul.
Visit Kyrgyzstan designed a trip to meet the needs of TotalAdventure. We tend to move quickly, with little time for rest. However, it would make a great trip for adventurous travelers in reasonably good physical shape. Our first day was from outside a town to small rugged yurt camp. The second and third nights were at camps with more comfortable yurts and even hot water showers heated by gas. Visit Kyrgyzstan is the exclusive provider for TotalAdventure in Kyrgyzstan.
Meals are hearty and tasty.
Hot meat dumpling soup . High in the mountains the weather is cold even in summer. Daytime temperatures were in the 50s ( 12 -14 C ) and close to freezing at night. 0 c Warm clothing is essential, but extreme winter gear is not required in summer.
Comfortable Yurts with woodburning stoves.
Kumis – Fermented horse milk with a small amount of alcohol.
Lake Song Kul. Elevation about 10,000 feet, ( 3076 m) Mountains still snow covered on July 1. Snow falls from October to May, year round in higher elevations.
Lake from a high vantage. Our highest point was around 12,500 feet, going over a ridge. Some areas were so steep the horses had to be walked.
My Horse enjoying a well deserved lunch.
Our Leader, Ernist. Also featured – the Go Pro that shoots the videos.
Our last . day was spent in the capital city of Bishkek. before returning to the USA via Istanbul.
Kyrgyzstan is a country that has overcome tremendous challenges posed by the Superpowers that surround it and adaptation to a market economy. Sustainable adventure travel and ecotourism as a big part of the economy. TotalAdventure and Visit Kyrgyzstan look forward to working together to bring travelers to this amazingly beautiful part of the world.
After being driven to the Uzbek Border we walked across a no – man’s land strip and presented our visas. From there it was a short taxi ride to Khiva.
Above, The Registan In Samarkand. Watch the Incredible Video above !
Khiva is a self-contained fortress city. Everything of interest is inside the walls . It is fascinating and can be seen in a long day by energetic explorers such as ourselves.
Hotel Orient Star , a former Madrassah, is where we stayed.
In A Tamarlane City
View From Our Balcony
After 24 hours in Khiva, TotalAdventure hired a car with driver to take us 600 km across the Kara Kum Desert to Bukhara. The cost is US $ 50. Most larger transactions are done in USD as it is 8500 Som to the dollar, requiring huge stacks of bills to be used. Watch the video above to experience the desert crossing.
10000 Som is about $ 1.20. The biggest note is 100,000. Difficult to fold the wallet. However, 3 of those notes will get you a hearty meal.
Gates like this are plentiful in Uzbekistan, neighboring . Afghanistan , Iran and Pakistan, as well as Northern India.
An Ancient Koran from the times of Tamerlane.
In The Golden Domes Of Samarkand.
Unlike many other Islamic Nations, the Call To Prayer is not audible.
Uzbekistan is just opening up to the outside world . It’s a great country to explore. TotalAdventure plans a return to explore the western regions of the former Aral Sea later in 2020.
On the 15th of June at 2 AM TotalAdventure landed in Türkmenbaşy International Airport in Ashgabat Turkmenistan after a 5 hour flight from Istanbul. We were met by our guide and driver after we passed through very rigorous immigration procedures.
Turkmenistan is one of the world’s most difficult countries to visit. In order to be admitted one must travel with a guide . at all times while in the country, with very few exceptions. The first step is to contact a guide and plan an itinerary. The guide service then applies for a letter of invitation on behalf of the client. When ( and if ) the letter is granted it is sent by email to the traveler. We presented the above letter at customs and paid US $99 for each visa to be affixed in our passports. We then underwent fingerprint scans, iris scans and questioning, but no bag check. Although there are over 100 gates at the airport, we were the only plane on the ground ! Turlmenistan receives less than 7000 tourists per year.
Ashgabat is known as the White City, a monument to Saparmurat Niyazov the first leader of Turkmenistan. Assuming power upon the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. he ruled with an iron hand, and called himself Turkmenbashi, ” Father of All Turkmen ” Billons of dollars from the nation’s huge gas reserves were used to build extravagant monuments and palatial government buildings. To this day all cars in the city have to be white. Turkmenbashi named moths of the year after himself and other family members. Seeking distance from Russia, ballet and opera were banned, along with dogs.
Turkmenbashi even rewrote the Koran ( with the help of ghost writers as he was not very literate) into his own vision, glorifying Turkmen nationals and his place in their leadership. It was required reading for everyone . In order to receive a driver’s license ,certain passages had to be . memorized.
Turkmenbashi died in 2006 and was replaced by a former dentist Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. He is very popular, appearing in all the newspapers every morning and on TV nonstop. Besides being a benevolent leader, he is a man of many talents, including race car driving, DJ, singer, author of many scientific journals, medical leader and expert horseman.
Turkmenistan is also keen on world records. Here, we have the world’s largest indoor ferris wheel !
Another Space Age Monument to the Supreme Leader. Turkmenbashi on the top rotating towards the sun.
Under A Stunning White Monument.
National TV Tower . Gurbanguly 24/7 !
Tuerkemnbashi Clock. His golden statue turns in the direction of the sun as it moves across the sky.
Turkmenbashi Mosque. $100 million to . build, with his inscriptions, rather than the Koran. Considered sacreligious , no one attends.
Ashgabat is located 10 miles north of the Iran border. We took a cable car up the Kopet Dag mountains into a No-Man’s land separating Turkmenistan and Iran. With a close up shot , we present an Iranian soldier on guard at his watchtower in Iranian territory. At that very moment . John Bolton was beating the war drums back in Washington.
An ancient Persian settlement on the Iran border.
The next day we drove North into the KaraKum Desert.
Our destination was Darvaza Gas Crater. In 1970, the Soviets were drilling for oil in a gas field and the entire rig collapsed into the ground, under which there is a virtually unlimited supply of gas. In essence Darvaza is a man made volcano.
The crater is visible from space. Please see the video above to watch the flames.
The Gateway To Hell.
Appetizers in the Desert. Caspian Sea Beluga Caviar , unobtainable in most countries, went for $ 40 for about a third of a pound !
Package price includes stay in standard three star hotel one room with twin beds adjustable for two people. We also provide breakfast, lunch and candle light dinner. Package price do not include personal expenses for beverage, tips, cloths laundry in the Hotel
Package includes vehicle facility according to need of people visiting. We can arrange car, jeep, costar and bus for the travelling. All vehicles are luxury to travel with AC
APPLICABLE FEES: Our package includes all applicable fees during seven days sight-seeing. That includes entry fee to visit Historical world heritage site, sunrise view, mountain flight, religious places visit, and educational zone visit.
PERSONAL GUIDE: An experienced package guide will be keep in touch with you once you check-in to the Kathmandu International Airport and until you check-out. Your personal guide will be available without any additional charges that excludes personal tips. They will be with you in your every new experience sharing their lots of collective information related to the complete sight-seeing package.
Sight-seeing package description:-
Day 01: arrival to Kathmandu and Check in to Hotel Mirage Lords Inn.
Kathmandu – On arrival, meet our representative at the Kathmandu Airport & transfer to hotel. Check-in at the hotel. O/N stay in Hotel Mirage Lords INN.
Day 02: Kathmandu City Tour
Kathmandu Sightseeing. After breakfast, meet at the hotel lobby for your city sightseeing in Kathmandu S/S Pashupatinath, Boudhnath, Swoyambhunath & Kathmandu durbar square. O/N stay in Mirage Lords Inn.
Day 03: Bhaktapur City Tour & Overnight Stay at Nagarkot
Kathmandu –After breakfast, from hotel to depart for Bhaktpur Old Historic UNNESCO world Heritage Site and Evening Overnight Stay Windy Hill Club Himalaya Nagarkot beautiful Sunrise and around white Mountains Panoramic View Overnight stay.
Day 04: Sunrise View & Mountain Panoramic View at Nagarkot
sunrise view from Balkoni early morning & After Breakfast drive Top of the Hill Nagarkot Tower wonderful panoramic view. And drive to Nala School visit and share Education in Local School students and Overnight Dhulikhel Mirabel resort evening Dinner.
Day 05: Dhulikhel to Namo Buddha (Pilgrims) Place Visit and back to Mir
After Breakfast Drive to Namo Budddha Buddhist Pilgrim site and visit Public School and back to Same Hotel Dhulikhel Mirable Panoramic View Resort.
Day 06: Visit to Patan Durbar Square (Ancient Royal Palace of Patan)
After Breakfast walk Dhulikhel Old City get Experience Local Nepali Culture and drive Back to Patan Darbar Square Sightseeing and Visit 600 years Old Museum wood carving Architecture and Overnight Stay Mirage Lords Inn Hotel and Evening Live Music dinner
Day 7. Mountain Flight to Mount Everest, Shopping & Departure.
Early morning Mountain Flight Panoramic view Everest, Makalu, Kanchenjunga and many more After Breakfast visit Touristic Area Thamel and make shopping for friends and Relatives and Departure Kathmandu International Airport.. See you again.
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- Burma, Canada, China, Japan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Panama, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, USA
2014 was an incredible travel year for ArcticTropic. We explored Myanmar ( Burma), European Russia,Siberia,Mongolia,China,Japan,British Colombia,Canada,Singapore,Philippines and Panama. Here’s 184 clips in 11 minutes. This version is natural sound,a musical version will be uploaded soon.
- Aeroflot, Air Bagan, AirChina, American Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Singapore Airlines, United
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- China, Germany, Japan, Mongolia, Myanmar, Panama, Russia, Singapore, USA
2014 was a busy travel year for ArcticTropic. In all, we travelled an equivalent of more than twice around the world.The voyage to Myanmar in March ,via Frankfurt and Singapore was to the opposite side of the world and back the same route. In May and June we travelled in a continuous Eastbound direction until we ended up back where we started. In contrast, the 2.5 hour hop to Panama was a mere commuter flight.
With a shorter stay in Mongolia this year, ArcticTropic and company opted for riding semi-wild horses in Terelj National Park, northeast of Ulanbataar. The small,but sturdy horses are adept at rapidly climbing and descending the steep,sometimes wooded terrain.
Mongolia – Land of Peace.
Ancient stones tower.
Climbing to Lord Buddha.
All Encompassing Wisdom.
Mongolian and Tibetan Buddhism are very close.
After a long hard day on the range, a warm comfortable yurt.
The fires burn through the icy night.
Genghis Khan Rides Again!
Special Thanks To Tour Mongolia for putting together this Great Adventure on short notice !
For adventures in Mongolia, CLICK HERE
The bus for Ulanbataar,Mongolia leaves Ulan Ude at 7:30 sharp every morning. The trip is about 12 hours including 3 hours to cross the border and several rest stops.
The landscape is steppe and high desert, with more mountains towards UB.
The border crossing is not an easy one. While Russian customs were very easy coming in by air at Moscow, leaving the Federation by land is a very different experience. About 100km before the border, a soldier boards the bus and inspects all passports. At the actual border there is a two hour wait. No photos are permitted in the border zone. There is a baggage check and individual questioning by a Russian border patrol agent before the exit stamp is issued. The same process is repeated a few minutes later going into Mongolia, minus the interview.
ArcticTropic returns to UB.
UB continues to be one of the fastest growing cities in the world, but monastery life never changes.
For adventures in Mongolia, CLICK HERE
Though ArcticTropic leaves for Southern Africa in just over a week, Mongolia is still fresh in our mind. Here, a serene sunset with a rainbow in the distance , hundreds of kilometers from Ulanbataar – one of the most peaceful parts of the Earth. This land would already be frozen and covered with snow now that it is mid- October.
For adventures in Mongolia, CLICK HERE