The Silk Road of Uzbekistan

Resort: Uzbekistan
Operator: Explore
Destination: Uzbekistan
Price From: £1196.00

Why book this trip?

Travel along the fabled Silk Road past ancient caravanserais and across the remote Central Asian landscape on this trip that takes in the highlights of Uzbekistan. Marvel at incredible Islamic architecture and learn about a history that crosses cultures and spans millennia.

  • Khiva– Step back in time as you walk the streets of this ‘open air museum’
  • Yurt stay– Sample nomadic life with when sleeping in a traditional felt tent
  • Samarkand– Discover Timur’s city, where Registan Square lies as its stunning blue mosaicked centrepiece.

 

Itinerary

DAY 1– Join trip Tashkent. Afternoon city sightseeing; ride the flamboyant Metro

Arrive in Tashkent, the fusion city of Uzbekistan. The modern Tashkent Tower looms over the city with an observation deck taking in both the distinguished soviet-era and cosmopolitan architecture laying below.

For those arriving on time today our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 1pm for the welcome meeting and to take us on the afternoon sightseeing tour. We head out with a local guide to explore Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, which has been on this site for over 2000 years. Our sightseeing tour includes various points of interest around the city, like the Independence Square, Navoi Theatre, Old City, Abu Khasim Madrassah and the Earthquake Monument. We also take a ride for 2-3 stops on the Tashkent Metro, which boasts some flamboyantly decorated stations.

If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you’ll need to arrive into Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport (TAS), which is 20 minutes’ from the hotel. For those arriving on flights in the early hours of this morning, we’ll arrange for your hotel room to be available immediately upon your arrival. For anyone arriving before today please contact us to book additional nights accommodation.

Please note that if you wish to join the afternoon sightseeing tour today, you must arrive at the hotel by 1pm. If you are booking your own flights, we recommend giving yourself at least 20 minutes’ to clear the airport. From the airport to the hotel is around 20 minutes’ drive, so therefore the latest your flight can arrive is 11.30am.

DAY 2– Fly to Urgench in western Uzbekistan and drive to the ancient city of Khiva

We rise early this morning for our flight to Urgench. A further 40-minute bus journey will take us to the remarkable ancient city of Khiva, which will be our base for the next two nights.

The early history of this area is sketchy. We do know that, by the time the Arabs arrived in the 8th century, Khiva was one of three important cities which dominated the region. The city’s strategic location on the Volga branch of the Silk Route made it a much sought-after imperial asset, with the British and Russians vying for sovereignty throughout the 19th century as part of the ‘Great Game’. In 1873, it fell to the Russians as both Samarkand and Bokhara had already done. A 1970s Soviet conservation programme restored much of the city, turning it into what is effectively an open air museum.

DAY 3– In Khiva, visit the Old Citadel; free afternoon

On this morning’s walking tour, we may well feel like we are stepping into a scene from the film ‘Arabian Nights’ as we explore the majestic Old Citadel. This 12th century fortress dominated the city before a palace, harem, barracks and mosques were constructed. It is worth climbing the steps of the Dzhuma Minaret for a panoramic view of the maze of streets below.

The rest of the afternoon has been left free to explore the mosques, tombs and palaces of this well-preserved city, which has hardly changed since ancient times. This evening, you may choose to explore a bit more of the city after dark, when magical moonlit silhouettes make it even more spectacular.

DAY 4– Scenic drive through vast plains to Bokhara

Today’s drive to the fabled city of Bokhara will take up the day, but is broken up with plenty of stops as we travel through expansive plains and past old caravanserais. As home to the famous Islamic poets, Firdausa and Rudaki, Bokhara is considered by some to be the ‘Bastion of Islam’. The town retains much of its Uzbek character and has more than 140 unique monuments. We will spend the next three nights here to explore this fabulous city.

DAY 5– In Bokhara, discover blue-tiled domes and minarets; learn about the city’s history

Today’s day of sightseeing starts off with a walking tour. Highlights include the Lyab-i Hauz which once supplied the city’s water; the striking blue-tiled Abdul Khan madrassah and the 9th century Mghoki Arrar Mosque. We will also visit the Kalyan minaret, which, as the tallest monument in town, is known as the ‘Tower of Death’ because prisoners were once hurled to their death from here. In addition, we will take in the trading domes that are the most famous symbol of Bokharan architecture.

This afternoon, we will drive to The Ark – a massive citadel which was used as a fortress from the 5th century until its fall to the Russians in 1920. Today it houses several small museums connected with Bokhara’s history. Bokhara was the site of the imprisonment for two British soldiers during ‘The Great Game’ – an epic battle fought between Victorian Britain and Tsarist Russia across the vastness of Central Asia.

We also plan to visit the summer palace of the Emirs of Bokhara, which is known as the ‘Palace of Moon-like Stars’. Here, we will see the famous White Hall, which took 30 architects two years to construct. Finally, we will take in the Char Minar Mosque – the impressive entrance to a now-demolished madrassah, and wander the backstreets of the old town maybe stopping off at a ‘chaikhana’, a local tea house.

DAY 6– Free day to explore Bokhara’s sights further

Today has been left free for you to spend as you wish. You may choose to climb the 46 metre-high Kalyan minaret for stunning views over the city. Alternatively, you may like to explore the Taqi-Sarrafon market – one of the four domed bazaars in Bokhara. Used as a money exchange during the height of the Silk Road, it is now home to plenty of souvenir shops.

DAY 7– Drive to Yangikasgan desert camp for overnight in a yurt; optional camel ride

This morning, we will drive a short distance to Gijduvan – a town celebrated for its crafts and trade since the 10th century. Here, we will visit the famous ceramic centre. Our next stop is Karmana, where we plan to visit the 10th century Mir-Said Bakhram Mausoleum. Heading off the main highway, we continue our journey north across the desert to Nurata. Famous for its sacred Chashma Spring, the town attracts visitors from across the Islamic World. According to legend, this healing spring, containing gold, silver and bromide, was formed by a meteorite hitting the ground. Whilst in Nurata, we plan to have lunch in a local house and see the remains of Alexander the Great’s Karazy Fortress, affording excellent views of the desert landscape.

This afternoon, we head to our overnight base in Yangikasgan, where we have the opportunity to go on a short optional camel ride, or simply relax and take in the remote surroundings. Tonight’s desert camp accommodation is in yurts, typical of those used by the nomadic people of Central Asia. Yurts are circular dwelling structures made from felt and insulated with sheepskins, traditionally made to be portable.

DAY 8– Drive to Samarkand; afternoon exploration of the city’s monuments including Registan Square

We spend this morning driving to Samarkand. Stormed by Alexander the Great and reduced to ashes by Genghis Khan, Samarkand was nevertheless transformed into the most glittering city in Transoxiana by Tamerlane, who made it his capital in the 14th century. Even today, the monumental scale of the buildings overwhelms visitors. This afternoon, we will visit Registan, a majestic square framed on three sides by huge blue tiled madrassahs. We will also visit the Gur Emir, the gold-ceilinged tomb of Tamerlane himself.

DAY 9– In Samarkand, discover magnificent mosques and mausoleums; free afternoon to explore further

This morning’s sightseeing is accompanied by a local guide and takes us to the Shah-i-Zinda – a beautifully-tiled necropolis of tombs, mosques and mausoleums belonging to Tamerlane’s family, friends and the prophet Mohammad’s cousin. We will also visit the Ulug-Beg Observatory, considered to have been one of the finest observatories in the Islamic World. It was here that Ulug-Beg, the great medieval astronomer, built his gigantic sextant which enabled him to calculate the length of a year to within just 10 seconds. We see the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once the largest in Central Asia; it was built by Tamerlane with loot from Indian campaigns and named after his favourite Mongolian wife.

This afternoon has been left free to explore more of the city at your own pace. You may choose to soak up the atmosphere of the charming old town by wandering its winding, narrow alleys whilst traditionally-dressed locals perform their daily rituals. A stop-off at a tea house offers the opportunity to relax with a cup of traditional ‘kokchai’ tea. Alternatively, you may choose to visit ancient Afrosiab – the original site of the town in north east Samarkand, dating back to the late Stone Age.

DAY 10– In Samarkand, free morning; afternoon high-speed train to Tashkent

Today, there is more free time for further exploration. Later this afternoon, we transfer to the train station for our modern high speed train back to Tashkent. Arriving just after 7pm, we will have time to enjoy our last evening of the tour.

DAY 11– Tour ends in Tashkent

The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Tashkent.

There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Tashkent at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you’ll need to depart from Islam Karimov Tashkent International Airport (TAS), which is 20 minutes\ drive from the hotel.

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