Our 36 day Central Asian Madventure is a popular budget tour that takes you through the incredible ‘Stans’ visiting ancient Silk Road towns and beautiful natural landscapes, suitable for all ages and anyone with a passion for true adventure travel!
On this expedition you will visit iconic sights as well as remote areas of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.
Price: £1995 Expedition Payment + $1000 Local Payment
Length: 36 days
Accommodation: 50% camping, 50% hotels/guest houses/hostels
Transport: 100% custom-built Madventure overland truck
Age restrictions: none, all ages are welcome
Group size: 25 is average, minimum is 20, maximum is 40
For those travelling from Almaty to Ashgabat the itinerary below will be reversed.
Our proposed itinerary is here to give you an idea of where we will be going and what we will be doing during this expedition. This itinerary is the ideal route we would like to take providing all political and natural situations are acceptable during the time of our travels. Situations sometimes change during an expedition so please be prepared to take an alternative route in the event we encounter any problems. It’s all part of the adventure!
Our tour starts in the capital city Ashgabat where it seems the current president is using the country’s wealth to build an entire city out of white marble – you have to see it to believe it! Bring your sunglasses as exploring the city’s monuments and palaces is a brilliant experience.
Close by and worth a visit is Geok-Depe, site of the Turkmen’s last stand against the Russians, and today home to the futuristic Saparmurat Hajji Mosque which also contains the mausoleum of the eccentric ex-president Niyazov.
Heading north into the blistering heat of the Karakum (black sand) desert we camp in the dunes and have the opportunity to take a 2 hour walk to the unusual Darvaza Gas Craters. More commonly referred to as the ‘Gates of Hell’ this burning crater makes for a surreal desert experience and is best viewed at night.
Leaving the harsh desert behind our last stop is at Konye-Urgench, beautiful ancient ruins that were once the centre of the Islamic world.
The perfectly preserved world heritage town of Khiva is our first stop here where we have time to explore the blue-tiled Mosques, ancient mausoleums, glorious palaces, sky-high minarets and thriving bazaars that make this town a firm favourite.
We continue to Bukhara, Central Asia’s holiest city where it is possible to get a glimpse into the past by viewing the architectural preserve of the royal fortress and vast market complex.
Our journey now takes us through the Kyzylkum (red sand) desert where we have a chance of spotting the Uzbek nomads before arriving at the Silk Route city of Samarkand. This city of domes and minarets has some fantastic attractions including the beautiful Registan, Guri Amir Mausoleum and Bibi-Khanym Mosque.
Our first couple of days in this mountainous country are spent at the beautiful lake Iskandar Kul where you have the chance to enjoy some of Central Asia’s most beautiful scenery.
With a cool backdrop of mountains, lazy tree-lined avenues and pastel-hued neoclassical buildings, we move on to Dushanbe, Central Asia’s best-looking capital.
Our journey east now takes us to an area that has been off-limits to travellers until recently – the Pamir Highway. Regarded as one of the world’s most scenic drives we now wind our way along this extremely remote high-altitude road and take in the mountain scenery of a region populated by yurts and yaks and studded with deep-blue lakes. This is wild-camping at its best!
This is a land of magnificent mountains and ice-blue lakes and we spend our first couple of days making our way through fantastic scenery and camping in the valleys.
A winding dirt track takes us up to the alpine lake Song-Kol where we get our first experience of staying in a yurt with a nomadic tribe who set up camp here every summer on the green pastures surrounding the lake. Horse riding, hiking and fishing are popular activities in this remote area.
We now head for the beautiful lake Issyk-Kol, the world’s second largest alpine lake. Working our way around the lake we spend a couple of days at Jeti Oguz where you have the option of trekking into the lush surrounding mountains to explore the area’s natural beauty.
Bizarre Bishkek is the capital where you can sing Karaoke at a street stall, beat yourself with a birch branch at the local baths and do vodka shots at the expats bar.
Our first day here is spent visiting bronze-age petroglyphs in a lushly vegetated canyon at Tamgaly.
Our tour ends in Almaty, a modern city with great museums and wonderful restaurants but should you wish to escape the rat-race then take the popular cable-car up to the top of a nearby hill for a fantastic view over the region, a fitting farewell to Central Asia.
If you would like to extend your trip to include Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan or China we are happy to create a bespoke itinerary and price for you so please feel free to contact us to discuss all options.
How to Book
To make a booking please fill in our online booking form and then pay a £300 deposit by direct transfer or Paypal, or call us to pay using your credit or debit card over the phone. Once we receive your online booking form and deposit we will confirm your booking by email and send you all relevant information necessary for your expedition preparations.
The Expedition Payment of £1995 is the main bulk payment for your expedition and is payable in the U.K. in GBP (£ Sterling). In order to reserve a place on this expedition you must pay £300 as a deposit. The balance of your Expedition Payment (£1695) must then be paid in full at least four months prior to the expedition start date. If you book within 4 months of the departure date the full Expedition Payment of £1995 should be paid upon booking. The Expedition Payment can be paid by direct transfer or via Paypal.
Bank Details for Direct Transfers
NOTE: Please use your full name as a reference when paying by direct transfer.
Account name: Madventure Ltd.
Sort code: 400810
Account number: 91618415
IBAN : GB14HBUK40081091618415
Swift/Bank BIC: HBUKGB4B
Branch BIC: HBUKGB4116A
Bank address: HSBC Bank, 6 High Street, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX14 5AZ, United Kingdom
Paypal account name: email@example.com
This is a cash payment of USD $1000 that must be paid to your expedition leader at the beginning of your trip and will be used to pay for all expenses while you are on the road.
Please bear in mind that this is not a kitty and is not refundable. The local payment is simply a way for us to get cash to the expedition leaders so they can run the trip.
Please bring your local payment in new unmarked $100 bills if possible.
Although all local payment amounts are advertised in USD you may be asked to bring the equivalent amount in either Euros or GBP.
We realise that not everyone is going to visit every site or partake in every activity along the way so we have left most of these activities as optional and therefore kept the expedition payment to a minimum.
Below is a list of the most popular optional excursions along with the most recent prices. Prices can of course change and are not controlled in any way by Madventure so please use the list below as an approximate guide only.
Saparmurat Hajji Mosque, Ashgabat Free
Hike to Darvaza Gas Crater Free
Jeep to Darvaza Gas Crater £10
Konye Urgench ruins £5
Khiva highlights pass £12
Bukhara walking tour Free
Registan, Samarkand £7
Hike round lake Iskander Kul Free
Pamir Highway Free
Yurt stay, Lake Song Kol Free
Horse riding (per hour), Lake Song Kol £3
Jeti Oghuz hike Free
Tamgaly petroglyphs £10
Cable Car, Almaty £3
We will be travelling in a purpose-built Madventure overland vehicle 100% of the time on this expedition. A standard bus simply wouldn’t be able to tackle many of the roads we travel on.
The overland vehicle we use is a custom-built 8×4 Scania expedition truck which can accommodate up to 40 people although most of our expeditions travel with approximately 25 people.
Comfort and safety is of course a big factor during expeditions of this length and nature so all our vehicles have high-backed coach seats with safety belts. The seating is on the upper level of the vehicle giving you an almost 360° view of the surrounding scenery.
Our vehicles are designed to allow sufficient luggage storage and are also equipped with lockers to keep all your all your gear safe.
Our long range diesel and water tanks ensure our self sufficiency in remote areas and the equipment we take with us is also of vital importance. In case of a breakdown we are equipped with a good selection of spare parts as well as a comprehensive tool kit to undertake any necessary repairs on our own as and when we need to.
There may also be times when we get stuck in the sand or mud when travelling off road so all necessary recovery equipment such as sand mats, cables, ropes, shovels and pickaxes are also on board.
We spend a lot of nights around the campfire so we take along good axes and saws for the times when we have to replenish our wood supply.
We usually carry 500 litres of treated drinking water and we are equipped with a good kitchen which includes all cutlery, plates, cups, pots and pans, utensils, gas cooker, BBQ grate, etc.
Comfortable fold up chairs are provided for outdoor seating and we also have a large tarpaulin to keep us dry on those rainy days.
Our vehicles have a 12V and a 240V power supply for charging any of your personal travel equipment such as cameras, laptops, batteries, etc.
We carry solar showers and a toilet tent with us for those times when we are bush camping without amenities.
We carry a comprehensive first aid kit for emergencies but we do recommend you bring your own for general use.
Eating well is a very important factor on our expeditions and good food is vital for everyone’s health and well-being so we always strive to prepare healthy, wholesome and plentiful meals.
We will be cooking a lot of meals from our own kitchen on the truck. When we are camping we usually eat breakfast and the evening meal from the truck. For lunch we usually stop at a cheap local restaurant giving you a chance to taste the local fare too. Lunches are at your own expense. When we are staying in hotels/guest houses/hostels (usually in cities) it is often impractical to cook on the truck so we do not provide any meals at these times.
When it comes to shopping and cooking we will divide ourselves up into groups of 3 or 4 people (depending on group size) who will shop for and prepare the day’s meals and clean up at the end. This will work out that you roughly get to cook once a week (depending on numbers).
Fresh food is generally available daily so we try and eat meat and vegetables for every main evening meal. We do also cater for vegetarians but we cannot cater for fussiness. In these group situations everybody must appreciate we cannot cater for individual likes and dislikes.
Don’t worry if you are not a gourmet cook as your crew are also always there to give advice.
Cleanliness plays an important role throughout this expedition and your crew will make sure an acceptable level of general hygiene is maintained throughout your journey to ensure the wellbeing of the group.
You will spend 50% of your time on this expedition in your tent camping and 50% of your time staying in local hotels, guest houses and hostels.
Quite often we will camp by ourselves out in the bush or in the desert and other times we will use designated campsites with amenities. The majority of our bush camp locations are usually very scenic and we always strive to find the perfect spot on the banks of a river, overlooking a canyon, behind a dune in the desert, etc. but sometimes we just have to camp wherever we can find a spot.
From past experience on expeditions of this length and nature we have found that people prefer to supply their own tents as they are then not forced to share and they can pick a tent that suits their needs. As a general rule, try and choose a good quality lightweight and waterproof free-standing tent that is easy to erect, take down and carry.
When we are not camping (usually in cities) we always try to use decent, clean budget hotels, guest houses and hostels, however, taking into consideration the sometimes unpredictable nature of this expedition and the remoteness of some of the areas we visit, please be aware that in some circumstances we just have to take what we can get – good or bad. When staying in hotels/guest houses/hostels you can expect to share your room with other expedition members of both sexes.
1. A deposit of £300 is payable at the time of booking. The deposit is non-refundable unless Madventure is unable to offer you a place or you cancel within 14 days of the initial booking date. Madventure guarantees not to increase the trip price once the deposit has been received.
2. A booking is made in the name of the client and is not transferable to another person. You are only permitted to transfer your deposit once to a future expedition, after that a further £300 non-refundable deposit will be required. Please note that you will be affected if you have transferred and there is a price increase as you will have to pay the ‘current expedition price’ at the time that the expedition balance payment is due.
3. The balance of the expedition payment is due no later than 4 months before the date of departure. If the full payment is not received 4 months prior to departure Madventure may deem the booking cancelled and the deposit forfeited. If you book within the 4 month period prior to departure the full expedition payment must be received upon booking.
4. Cancellation of a booking must be notified in writing and when received by Madventure the deposit is forfeited. You acknowledge that payment for the trip is an intrinsic part of the trips income and contributes towards the overall costs of equipment, vehicle running costs, staff administration etc. and Madventure will have incurred a large part of its costs before the actual departure date. You will not receive a refund of any amount after the balance of your expedition has been paid (which is due no later than 4 months prior to the expedition departing), nor are you able to transfer to another expedition therefore we recommend you take out your travel insurance from the date you make your expedition balance payment, 4 months prior to departure, so you are insured if you have to withdraw off the trip. If the reason for your cancellation is covered under the terms of your insurance policy you may be able to reclaim these charges but it is your sole responsibility to do so and we accept no liability for any acts or omissions of your insurance company.
5. It is unlikely that we will have to make any changes to your trip, but we do plan all trips many months in advance. Occasionally, we may have to make changes and we reserve the right to do so at any time. Most of these changes will be minor and we will advise you of them at the earliest possible date. We also reserve the right in any circumstances to cancel your trip. For example, if the minimum number of clients required for a particular trip is not reached, we may have to cancel it. However, we will not cancel your trip less than 60 days before your departure date, except for reasons of Force Majeure or failure by you to pay the final balance. If we are unable to provide the trip, you can either have a refund of all monies paid or accept an offer of an alternative trip of comparable standard from us, if available (we will refund any price difference if the alternative is of a lower value). It is understood that a minimum of 20 expedition members are required to run this Madventure expedition and less than that may result in the cancellation of the expedition. In the event of this happening, all monies paid by you towards the expedition cost only will be refunded. Madventure is not responsible for reimbursing equipment, flights, cost of visas, vaccinations and medication etc. purchased by yourself in the event of a cancellation.
6. We reserve the right at any time prior to the departure date, without prior consultation with yourself, to merge your trip with one or more other trips travelling at the same time. This will not constitute a major change and would usually just mean swapping vehicles.
7. In the unlikely event of Force Majeure we will not pay you compensation if we have to cancel or change your trip in any way because of unusual or unforeseeable circumstances beyond our control. These can include, for example, war, riot, industrial dispute, terrorist activity and its consequences, natural or nuclear disaster, fire, epidemics or health risks, closed or congested airports, ports or stations, poor local infrastructure, changes imposed by re-scheduling or cancellation of transport by the transport supplier such as flights by airlines or main charterer, the alteration of transport or transport types, adverse weather conditions (actual or threatened), avalanche and technical failure with transport, Foreign and Commonwealth Office advice changing and advising against travel to the trip destination.
8. The expedition payment and local payment cover transport, accommodation, some relating ferry and train tickets, meals and national park entry fees as specified on the website as well as the repair and replacement of camping equipment including stools, cooking equipment & utensils.
9. The expedition leader has sole responsibility for the local payment. Any local payment monies or stock remaining at the trip end are non-refundable.
10. You undertake to comply with the laws and regulations, whether in respect of health, immigration, currency exchange control or any other matter of all the countries visited during the expedition.
11. You undertake to obtain a valid passport and have enough blank pages in the passport for the trip and your specific passport and visa requirements, and other immigration requirements are your responsibility and you should confirm these with the relevant embassies and/or consulates. We do not accept any responsibility and shall not be liable if you cannot travel or cannot participate in any part of the trip because you have not complied with any passport, visa or immigration requirements. You are responsible for obtaining and having available the necessary documents (including but not limited to full, current passport with enough blank pages to complete the trip and valid for at least 9 months from the last day of the trip and visas for all periods, countries and territories within the trip) enabling you to participate in the trip and shall comply with all local legislation and regulations of the countries in which the trip takes place (including immigration requirements, customs regulations and currency exchange). You shall indemnify us against any loss or expense that we may incur or suffer as a result of breach of this condition by you. We cannot guarantee visa prices and availability of visas. Ultimately visas are your own responsibility to obtain.
12. Madventure reserves the right to deviate from the advertised expedition route if in their reasonable opinion such deviation is necessary for the safety or wellbeing of any or any one of the members of the expedition or for the satisfactory progress of the expedition. In the event of it becoming necessary to fly over a country or countries in order to satisfactorily and safely continue the expedition, all costs of your flights will be borne by yourself.
13. Madventure accepts no responsibility for matters arising out of political disputes, border closures, epidemics, natural disasters, climate, armed robbery, terrorism, etc. Should it become necessary to abandon an expedition because of such an event Madventure will be entitled to retain such monies received as is necessary to cover costs incurred.
14. You accept that owing to the nature of countries visited, all expeditions involve an element of personal risk and are of a potentially hazardous and unpredictable nature. In many countries visited the basic infrastructure, such as roads, is very poor and therefore less safe than that familiar to people from many western countries. In particular, lack of road markings or warning signs, unmarked speed bumps, seasonal flooding of roads and bridges, local vehicles which are poorly maintained and driven and which are hazardous to other road users etc. are factors beyond the control of Madventure. You accept that in some areas we drive off-road and that this involves personal risk when the expedition vehicle can be negotiating rough terrain. Madventure owns and operates many of its own expedition vehicles and employs its own crew. Where stated, locally arranged transport and crew, including trains, ferries, buses or coaches are used. Where Madventure’s own vehicles and/or crew are not used for the above services, you agree that the obligation of Madventure to yourself is to select normally competent, independent sub-contractors to provide the necessary services related to the trip and to exercise reasonable care in selecting such suppliers to provide these. You also accept that you undertake this expedition at your own risk and your participation is your own decision and does not form any part of your contract with Madventure. Madventure does not take responsibility for cancellations, unreliability of services or safety of operators, agents or contractors.
15. You accept that local emergency facilities are usually of a very limited nature. Hospitals outside of large cities often have no accident and emergency facilities and emergency transport facilities can be non-existent.
16. If you have a problem during your trip please inform the expedition leader immediately who will endeavour to put things right. If your complaint is not resolved locally please follow this up by writing to our registered office giving all other relevant information and, where possible, evidence. We must receive any such complaint not later than 28 days from the date of completion of your trip. Please keep your letter concise and to the point. This will assist us to quickly identify your concerns and speed up our response to you. We do not accept any liability or responsibility for any personal possessions (including but not limited to cameras, jewellery, valuables and money) which is carried on or in our vehicles, carried on public transport or transport supplied by independent subcontractors, left in accommodation provided by us or our suppliers during a trip or left in our care during a trip. Such items are carried and/or left at your own risk.
17. Excursions or other tours that you may choose to book or pay for whilst you are on a trip are not part of your trip arrangements provided by us. For any excursion or other tour that you book your contract will be with the operator of the excursion or tour and not with us. We are not responsible for the provision of the excursion or tour or for anything that happens during the course of its provision by the operator. You accept that the prices quoted for optional activities are approximate as local prices can and do change. Any of the optional activities listed are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Madventure. You also accept that you undertake any activity at your own risk and your participation is your own decision and does not form any part of your contract with Madventure. Madventure does not take responsibility for cancellations, unreliability of services or safety of operators, agents or contractors.
18. Whilst a trip is in progress you will at all times be expected to act in accordance with all reasonable instructions from us and/or the expedition leader. We may exclude you from the trip or any part thereof at any time (including during the trip itself) if we are of the opinion that you are likely to prejudice the good order, discipline or safety of the trip, including as a result of failing to comply with the expedition leader’s instructions, breaking any law or regulation of any country where the trip takes place or failing to adhere to the trip code of conduct, provided that we exercise our discretion reasonably in this regard. In such an event you shall reimburse to us any reasonable costs, losses or expenses which we incur or suffer as a result of our decision to exclude you from the trip, and Madventure shall cease to have any responsibility to/for you. No refund will be given for any unused services.
19. By completing the declaration on the booking form you confirm that you appreciate the risks involved in the trip and that you do not suffer (or have ever suffered) from any pre – existing medical condition that may actively prevent you from actively participating in the trip other than those that have been declared to us. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are medically fit enough to undertake the trip and to ensure that you have received the necessary inoculations and medications (and taken them as prescribed by your doctor) relevant to the destination country. Unless informed otherwise in writing we will assume that you are in good health and are not aware of any reason why you may be unsuited to taking part in the trip. We recommend that you consult your doctor before making a booking to ensure that you are medically fit and are fully aware regarding the immunizations and medical issues related to your destination countries. If you have any pre-existing medical condition, illness or disability, are undergoing medical treatment or, since entering into the contract, develop any medical condition, illness or disability or undergo any medical treatment; you will give us full particulars at the earliest opportunity and at the latest sixty (60) days before the departure date. If it is later discovered that a pre-existing condition was not declared within the specified time, and such condition would, if we had knowledge of it, have led to our refusal to accept or to cancel your booking, we reserve the right to withdraw you from the trip without any refund or recompense. In such event, you shall reimburse to us any reasonable costs, losses or expenses which we incur or suffer as a result. In the event of you being withdrawn from a trip, no refunds will be given and we will not be responsible for (and you agree to indemnify us against) any costs, claims, losses and expenses arising including costs of repatriation e.g. flights and legal expenses. By agreeing to these conditions, you provide your consent to us and our insurers obtaining your medical records should we consider it necessary. You will be responsible for any charges for the provision of the information. We reserve the right to inspect your vaccination book at any time and to withdraw you from the trip in the event that you have not received and/or taken all the requisite inoculations and/or medication. If the information provided by you is incorrect and we discover that the correct information affects your suitability to take part in the trip, we may terminate the contract and withdraw you from the trip without refund or recompense, including during the trip. You agree and acknowledge that certain activities undertaken whilst you are on the trip may be inherently hazardous and have risks associated with them. You agree to abide by all instructions given to you whilst you are on the trip and you acknowledge that we cannot be held responsible for any injuries that may arise as a result of you failing to comply with such instructions.
20. You must be covered by personal travel insurance. This must cover you fully against the cost of cancellation by you, medical care and repatriation should you become too ill to continue and must above all cover you against the cost of air evacuation should sickness or injury necessitate such a course of action. You should also note that passenger liability insurance covering vehicles, particularly in third world countries, may be inadequate. It is therefore important that your insurance cover makes sufficient provision for your dependants in the event of an accident. Please note however that we have no control over the availability or standard of medical and repatriation services and facilities in the areas we visit and these do not form any part of our contract with you. Please remember that many of the areas we visit are not as developed as the UK and the availability and standard of such services may well be lower. Please read your policy details carefully and take them with you when you travel. It is your responsibility to ensure that the insurance cover you purchase is suitable and adequate for your particular needs. We do not check individual insurance policies for suitability.
21. In many countries we visit, the local vehicle accident insurance includes either very limited passenger liability or none at all. Madventure has passenger liability insurance for some countries through which we travel but the client acknowledges that in many countries the expedition vehicle does not have the benefit of passenger liability insurance. The client agrees to indemnify Madventure against any claim or demand made in respect of any accident, personal injury or loss of life caused to, contracted or suffered by the client during the course of the expedition.
22. We shall ensure that appropriate security measures are in place to protect your personal data (as defined in the Data Protection Act 1998). When you make a booking, you consent to all the information you provide being passed on to our suppliers, agents, subcontractors, employees or volunteers whether based inside or outside of Europe for the purposes of us providing you with the trip.
23. By agreeing to these terms and conditions you consent (unless otherwise stated on your application form) to our staff taking photographs and or video footage of you during the trip and that these images may be used by us for publicity and training purposes including, but not limited to, brochures, websites, marketing material and in the media.
24. We shall be entitled to novate or assign the contract or any part of it to any third party. You shall not be entitled to assign the contract or any part of it. This contract is made on the terms of these conditions, which are governed by English law, and subject to the provisions of condition you agree to the exclusive jurisdiction of the English courts. If any of these conditions is found by any court or other competent authority to be wholly or partly unfair or unenforceable the validity of the rest of the booking conditions and the rest of the condition in question shall not be affected and shall remain valid and enforceable to the extent permitted by law. A reference in these conditions to a statute, convention or regulation shall be as a reference to that statute convention or regulation as amended, re-enacted or extended at the relevant time. The headings in these conditions are for convenience only and shall not affect their interpretation. Where the context otherwise requires, words importing the singular meaning shall include the plural meaning and vice versa and words denoting the masculine gender shall include the feminine and neuter genders. Where the context so admits, words denoting persons shall include natural persons, companies, corporations, firms, partnerships, limited liability partnerships, joint trips, trusts, voluntary associations and other incorporated and/or unincorporated bodies or other entities (in each case, whether or not having separate legal personality) and all such words shall be construed interchangeably in that manner.
25. The information given in the brochure and other literature supplied is given in good faith but no warranty is given that it is correct.
26. No servant, agent or authorized representative of Madventure has authority to commit Madventure to any liability whatsoever and Madventure will not be bound by any statement or representation unless it is in writing and signed by one of the directors.
27. Your contract is with Madventure Limited, a company registered in England and Wales whose registered office is at 93 Lashford Lane, Dry Sandford, Abingdon, Oxfordshire, OX136EB (Company No. 6809461 ).
We recommend a budget of £100 – £120 per person per week to live comfortably during this expedition. This budget should cover day to day things like lunches, snacks, soft drinks, meals when not camping, the odd few beers, etc.
Budget approximately £400 for your visas, security clearances and letters of invitation.
Souvenirs are something that can be very cheap or very expensive so if you are going to be buying things like silk carpets you should budget for it.
Please also have a look at our Optional Excursions list as you may want to budget for a few of those activities too.
We recommend you bring 1/3 of your money in cash US Dollars and the rest of your money on your Visa or Mastercard credit/debit card.
They generally accept all major currencies for exchange but US Dollars are accepted everywhere.
ATM’s are widely available for you to draw local currency using your Visa or Mastercard credit/debit card except in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan where it is recommended you have US Dollars available for exchange.
To keep your money/credit cards/ipod/camera/laptop safe we recommend you purchase a ‘Pacsafe Travelsafe’ product. They offer various size portable anti-theft bags that can be attached to the vehicle when travelling and also attached to the toilet/bed/closet in your hotel room when off the vehicle.
Below is general information and recommendations regarding visas and passports. Visas are ultimately your own responsibility to obtain and visa requirements may vary according to your nationality and place of application, so use the information below as a guide only. Madventure is in no way responsible for obtaining your visas or passports.
We recommend you obtain the following visas in your passport before departure – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan (if required).
We recommend you obtain the following visa online before departure or during the tour with the assistance of the tour leader – Tajikistan (including GBAO permit).
All other visas can be obtained en-route.
You can either obtain visas yourself or use the services of a visa agency such as www.thevisamachine.com
Those who are travelling on non-European passports may require additional visas to travel through Central Asia so please check your requirements with the relevant embassies.
Most nationalities also require Letters of Invitation in order to apply for certain visas such as Turkmenistan. We can provide these for you for a fee.
Approximately 3 months prior to departure you will be sent the information required in order to complete your applications and apply for your visas (there are often time restrictions on visas so you can not apply earlier). We recommend that you make your passport available 2 months before departure in order to obtain your visas comfortably.
Budget approximately £400 for all your visas and letters of invitation.
Please ensure you have 7 free pages in your passport in order to accommodate all the visas and ensure your passport is valid for at least 8 months after your departure date.
You will need approximately 4 passport photos for the duration of the expedition.
Vaccination requirements are constantly changing so we recommend you seek the latest professional medical advice at least 8 weeks before departure to ensure you allow yourself enough time to obtain all necessary vaccinations. Nomad Travel’s website has up-to-date information on vaccinations, malaria and other general medical advice for all the countries we will be visiting and they also administer vaccinations at their Travel Clinics in various locations within UK.
Alternatively speak with your local Health Professionals for current accurate information. You will need to make an appointment with your GP or Travel Clinic and take a list of the countries you are visiting and the approximate dates when you will be there.
Medically Fit & Able
You need to be in good general health for this expedition and be reasonably fit and able. The main concern is that everyone is able to pitch in equally and do their fair share when it comes to group activities like the communal cooking and cleaning up, packing gear in and out of the truck, erecting your own tent, etc. You do not need to be super-fit by any means and all ages are welcome. We always attract a very broad age range on these expeditions, from people in their 20’s through to people in their 70’s.
Please inform us of any medical conditions that you have before departure so that your crew know how to deal with a medical situation if it should arise. All information will be kept confidential unless you request us to inform your fellow travelers. For example, it may be wise to inform fellow travelers if you are allergic to something like bee-stings so they know what to do if you get stung.
First Aid Kit
We carry a comprehensive first aid kit aboard the vehicle but it is recommended that you bring your own basic first aid kit for general use.
It is compulsory that every person who travels with Madventure obtain travel insurance for the complete duration of the expedition. Proof of travel insurance must be shown before joining an expedition.
There are various travel insurance companies to choose from and a Google search will bring up a vast selection but for clients who are resident in UK we recommend a London based company named Campbell Irvine, www.campbellirvine.com, tel. 020 7938 1734. They are familiar with what we do, so mention our name and the expedition you are travelling on and they will provide excellent cover for you.
If you choose to obtain your travel insurance through another company please ensure you read the small-print and make sure you are covered for Medical Repatriation.
Tent: A good quality lightweight and compact waterproof free standing tent is recommended for this expedition. A removable fly-sheet will help you stay cool on hot dry nights. If you are travelling on your own you are restricted to a 1-2 man sized tent. If you are sharing a tent, you are restricted to a 2-3 man sized tent.
Sleeping bag: Any good quality 2/3 season sleeping bag will be fine but one with a ‘Mummy Hood’ is a good idea for the times that it will be cold. Please make sure that your sleeping bag has a ‘crush bag’ so it can be compacted down.
Sleeping bag liner: A Thermal Fleece or Silk Liner will bring your sleeping bag up a season when it’s cold and they are good to use on their own when it’s too hot for your sleeping bag.
Roll Mat: A compact inflatable Thermarest roll mat is recommended. A non-compact mat will not be permitted as they take up too much room.
Pillow: If you do wish to take a pillow (although most just bring a pillow case and stuff their fleece in it at night) then Thermarest do a good stuff pillow that compacts down small.
Backpack/sports bag/suitcase: We recommend you carry your luggage in a backpack but irrespective if you prefer a sports bag or a suitcase you are restricted to a maximum 100 liter volume.
Day bag: You are also permitted to bring a day bag with a maximum 40 liter volume that you can carry in the overhead luggage rack on the back of the truck with you.
Pacsafe: in order to keep your valuables safe we recommend a Pacsafe product. They make a range of anti-theft bags which vary in sizes and can accommodate your money, credit cards, passport, camera, laptop, etc. They can be attached to the overhead luggage rack on the back of the vehicle when travelling and/or to a fixed item in your hotel.
Headtorch: an invaluable investment! Check out the Petzl Tika Plus.
Water purifier – quite a handy thing to have to purify contaminated water and avoid ‘Delhi Belly’. Check out the range of Lifestraw products.
Kindle: optional but great to keep all your travel guides and books in 1 place.
Laptop: certainly not necessary but many places have wifi available these days so having your own laptop will save you hanging around internet cafes.
Camera: completely up to you but most people bring one.
Toiletries: available everywhere but start with some toilet paper, toothpaste, toothbrush, dental floss, deodorant, soap and shampoo.
Towel: a microfiber travel towel is a good option as it dries quickly and packs down small.
First aid kit: only a basic one is recommended but should include plasters, antiseptic cream, bandage, pain relief tablets, scissors and safety pins.
Passport photos: please bring along 4 passport photos for the duration of the expedition.
Clothes & shoes:
1 pair of flip flops
1 pair of walking shoes, trainers or boots
4 pairs of socks
4 pairs of undies
4 t-shirts and/or vest tops
2 pairs of zip-off trousers which can be worn long or short
1 swimming trunks/bikini
1 lightweight long sleeve top
1 decent fleece top or fleece jacket
1 beanie/woolly hat for the cold days
1 wet weather jacket
1 light-weight dress/skirt for the ladies
1 collared shirt for the blokes
A pair of thermal gloves
As our expeditions are not your average run of the mill overland tours we would like to go through every aspect of the trip with you to ensure that you are as informed and prepared as possible. At Madventure we believe in giving you the nitty-gritty details as well as the obvious highlights, as in our opinion these are just as important and we want to explain the expedition in as much detail as possible so you can be sure you are suited and prepared for one of our overland adventures. If after reading this, you decide that this expedition is not for you then, as long as it is within 14 days of your initial booking, you can cancel off the expedition and receive a full refund of your deposit.
The following may sound a little negative at times, but it’s just so we are secure in the knowledge that we have provided you with as much information as possible, the good and the bad, to ensure everybody is completely aware exactly what type of trips we run for the benefit of you, us and your fellow expedition members as there is nothing worse than getting someone booking on the trip when it is not what they actually wanted or expected as our expeditions are too long and too full on. You need to know what you are in for and be able to handle it!
At times you will be exposed to all the elements, from extreme cold to intense humid heat and high altitude. And, for example, as wonderful as places like Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are, they do not have a western infrastructure and their acceptable level of hygiene standards are very different to ours.
Mucking In: This is a full participation expedition so you need to be able to participate fully in all aspects of the trip including cooking, cleaning, truck security, carrying water, collecting firewood, digging your vehicle out of bogs and clearing and rebuilding roads – sometimes for several days at a time! (It’s not ‘planned’ to happen but if it does then it’s all hands on deck).
We get everyone to agree that you are medically fit and able and can physically participate fully in all aspects required. Don’t worry, you don’t need any prior experience or knowledge or to be a fitness freak, just to be happy to do your share and have a willingness to get stuck in when necessary.
When things go wrong: The only thing we can guarantee is that at some point things will not go according to plan! We have to follow the legislation of each individual country and they may all have different regulations and attitudes towards us. Generally everyone is always friendly and it’s usually obstacles such as breakdowns, bad roads and natural disasters that have a bearing on the expedition. Everything changes from trip to trip depending on what the current situation or problem is, so it’s not ‘if’ something goes wrong, it’s ‘when’.
Please be prepared to expect the unexpected and accept that things will go wrong from time to time. These instances are usually the stories that remain with everyone so enjoy the experience. An easy-going approach will help the situation immensely. Moaning about every little thing that doesn’t go our way will not!
Attitude & Group Living: A good, easy-going attitude will help you get through this trip and ensure you are liked by your fellow travelers as well as the locals. The one thing that is extremely detrimental to an expedition such as this is your common ‘moaner’. It has nothing to do with age, sex or nationality, it just matters that although they signed up for this ‘in theory’ they cannot cope ‘in practice’ and it’s always got to be someone’s fault. It sounds a bit harsh but by weeding out any moaners early on we can have a chat with them and ensure your expedition is as good as it can be. It’s hard enough at the best of times without in-house problems so by ensuring everyone is on the same page from the get go will start us off in good stead.
We have no age restrictions and if there is one thing we have come to realize, through experience, is that it’s the mental attitude that counts the most and a broader age range is better on a long trip as it stops the stereotyping – the more in the mix the better.
There will be parties and there will be quiet nights. There are no set rules and it always sorts itself out depending on the individual personalities of who’s on board.
Laziness and selfishness will also be spotted early on so we advise everyone to pull their weight. We can guarantee that at some stage during the expedition you will have to just fit in and go with the flow when it’s not what you personally wanted to do. When situations arise where we can’t please everybody we always aim to please the ‘majority of the group’ not the individual.
Please be aware that if any particular person is constantly causing the rest of the group (or the crew) grief due to their behavior they will be warned and then asked to leave the expedition if nothing improves and no refund will be given. This is obviously the most extreme situation but we will not let one or two lazy or selfish individuals spoil it for everybody else. Everybody knows the score from the start and this is for everyone’s benefit. Usually everybody who does our trips has a relaxed approach and everybody gets on very well and any unsuitable people do not last long and leave on their own accord.
This is a once in a lifetime experience so let’s all enjoy it!
Drive times, routes and proposed itineraries: We are driving a fair distance in a restricted time frame, so yes, there are going to a lot of drive days and some of them will be long. This is where you have to be able to take pleasure in the scenery or a good book from time to time.
As a general rule on a drive day we leave in the morning around 7-8am (after breakfast) and pull up just before dusk in order to set up camp in the daylight, but this really depends on the distance between destinations.
Sometimes it will be a full day’s drive between destinations and you’ll have the following day free. On rare occasions it will be a 2-3 day long drive where you’ll leave early, stop late and bush camp in-between, then have a few free days at your destination. Sometimes it’s only a few hours between locations. Driving is a huge part of the trip so be prepared for a lot of it and expect the odd long drive into the night.
Please note: At times we may placed under military or police escort when travelling through troubled areas. If this occurs then we are at their mercy and they make the decisions with regard to driving hours and routes. We do not argue with those who are trusted to ensure our safety so please be aware that sometimes the pace will be much faster than we would personally choose and the route they pick will be the one we follow, regardless of our proposed itinerary.
Delays: We always strive to arrive at our destinations on time but if we experience any delays we will adjust our itinerary accordingly. If we experience any major delays our end date can be extended to suit our needs.
The proposed itinerary is just that, ‘proposed’, and can and will change at the crew’s discretion if need be.
Drugs: In a lot of the countries we travel through drugs such as marijuana and hashish are in abundance and readily available. Please be aware that they are still illegal and some countries hold the Death Penalty as punishment for being caught in possession. Obviously you are free to do whatever you want to do in your own free time but there is NEVER to be any illegal drugs onboard the expedition vehicle at any time.
If you are caught with any kind of illegal drugs on the expedition vehicle, regardless of the amount, you will be asked to leave the expedition immediately and no refund will be given. This is a very serious rule as any inconsideration can lead to the vehicle being impounded, the expedition cancelled and other innocent party’s arrested. We will not hesitate to remove someone if we have to so please respect your other expedition members.
Your Crew: You will normally have a crew of 1 experienced person who fills the role of being the driver/expedition leader. Sometimes our crew prefer to work with a partner so there may occasionally be 2 crew who share the roles of driver and expedition leader. On some expeditions we may also have a cameraman who is there to help market our tours and update our social media accounts.
Your crew member will drive and maintain the vehicle as well as sort out all the accommodation, permits, border crossings and generally ensure the smooth running of the expedition. Your crew member is not a tour guide and will not be giving you the history and facts of every country you travel through. Apart from the odd optional extra that needs to be organized in advance, we leave most of that stuff to you guys, this way ensuring you get to do what you want, at the price you are happy to pay.
You do the reading up on the places we are going to in advance and decide how you want to spend your time and what activities you want to do. Apart from some basic truck rules this is not a trip where we hold your hand, it’s an expedition and we expect that you will want to be as independent as possible when it comes to your free time.
Your crew will be hand-picked and trained by Madventure and will have experience of overland travel but they may or may not have done this expedition before. They will however have detailed notes from previous expeditions and backup from the office in UK.
Tipping: Tipping the crew at the end of your expedition is always appreciated. As this is a long expedition, but also a budget one, we recommend you tip your driver/expedition leader a minimum of £100 at the end of the trip. Thank you.
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