Pearls of Uzbekistan Tour
Tour the great sites and cities of Uzbekistan and follow the Silk Route visiting Tashkent, Termez, Samarkand, Shakhrisabz, Bukhara, Khiva, Nukus, Muynak (optional extension) and Fergana. This is a tour that immerses the traveller into the culture and history of the Uzbek people, experiencing the everyday working life, the markets, shopping, eating and living.
Day 1 (Saturday)
Tashkent – Termez (B/D)
You will be met at the airport after your overnight flight and assisted through immigration and customs before being transferred to the domestic terminal for your onward flight to Termez. On arrival you have a short transfer to the hotel to freshen up and rest. Your guide will then take you for a light lunch (not included) before a quick introductory tour and the rest of the day at leisure to recover from the long flight. In the evening you enjoy dinner and overnight in Termez.
After breakfast you start your city tour. The city sits in the corner of a bend on the left bank of Amu-Darya River, a major river of Central Asia that flows down from the Pamir Mountains and into the Aral Sea and which, during the Roman and Greek eras, was known as the Oxus river. An ancient centre of Buddhism in Central Asia, the city is at the southernmost and hottest point of Uzbekistan. It is rich with ancient archaeological sites and some of the artefacts are on display in the Archaeology Museum. We visit the Mausoleum of Al-Hakim at-Termez, one of major pilgrimage sites in Central Asia, as well as the Buddhist temples of Fayaztepa, and Karatepa built on three hills in the Northwest corner of Termez, still used as places of worship. Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight Termez.
Termez – Shakhrisabz – Samarkand (B/D) (380km – 5-6 hours)
This morning your journey continues along the Great Silk Road to the green city of Shakhrisabz, the birthplace of the 14th century Turco-Mongol conqueror, Timur or Tamerlane. The translation of Shakhrisabz means “Green City” which sits in the south of Uzbekistan some 90km from Samarkand. Here, in Shakhrisabz (UNESCO-World Heritage Site) you will tour the monumental memorials of the barbaric Mongol Prince and also have the opportunity to watch the thriving bustle of this lively town. Visit ruins of Ak-Saray palace (“the White Palace”) – Tamerlane’s summer residence. Then you are driven on to Samarkand where you check in to the hotel, followed by dinner and overnight in Samarkand.
After breakfast you start your city tour of Samarkand. The historical part of Samarkand consists of three main sections. In the north-east is the site of the ancient city of Afrosiab, founded in the 7th century B.C. and destroyed by Genghis Khan in the 13th century, which is preserved as an archaeological reserve. Excavations have revealed the ancient citadel and fortifications, the palace of the ruler (built in the 7th century displays important wall paintings) and residential and craft quarters. There are also remains of a large ancient mosque built in the 8th to 12th century. To the south there are architectural wonders and the medieval city of the 14th and 15th centuries. Other major sites include Gur Emir Mausoleum, Bibi Khanym Mosque built in the mid 15th century,and Rukhabad Mausoleum (“The Spirit Abode”) in whose dome, it is said, there is a box containing seven hairs of the Prophet Mohammed. Registan Square (“Sandy Place”) is the most visited place of Samarkand, which consists of three magnificent monuments: Ulugbek Madrasa (XV c.), Sherdor Madrasa (XVII c.), and Tilla-Kari Madrasa, along with richly decorated and historically significant mosques that contributed to the beauty of this culturally important period of civilization. Finally to the west there is the area that corresponds to the 19th and 20th century expansions.
A full day to explore more of this beautiful city. Your guide will take you to the Ulug Bek Observatory and Shah-i-Zinda to explore the blue-domed necropolis, with tombs dating back to the XI c. After a break for lunch, you then have the opportunity to take a short drive out of the city to visit the Mausoleum of Imam Bhukhari and to see a paper-making facility and a silk carpet factory before returning to the city for a rest and dinner in a local restaurant.
Samarkand – Bukhara (B/D) (280 km – 5h)
Today you head to Bukhara, a beautiful city situated in the middle of the Kyzyl Kum desert, with a lunch stop planned en route. You pass through small villages and towns, where children are curious of visitors and always happy to practice their English, saying hello and engaging in a little conversation. A small handful of sweets serves as currency for all, and it is worth investing in a packet before commencing this tour. You enjoy a welcome dinner in a local restaurant before checking in to your hotel. Overnight Bukhara.
Today, you experience Bukhara in a full-day tour programme. Bukhara is a large, unique and authentic art museum that maintains its old oriental face. In the morning, we guide you to the magnificent Mire-e-Arab Madrasah and one of the most beautiful buildings in Central Asia, the Samanid Mausoleum. You then take a tour through the fortress Royal Ark to see the coronation hall and visit the summer residence of the last Emir. You enjoy dinner at a local restaurant before returning to the comforts of your hotel. Overnight in Bukhara.
Bukhara features about one thousand monuments, which recall the halcyon days of the Great Silk Road. Foreign spices, furs and especially silk fabrics were stored and handled in the caravansaries. In the UNESCO-recognised old city you can see the Kalyan Minaret and its Po-i-Kalyan complex, as well as the Lyabi-Hauz Ensemble, and its Magok-i Attari Mosque. In front of his monument you can listen to some anecdotes about the legendary character of Nasreddin Hodja. Some of European culture and heritage can be traced back to these parts from The Great Silk Road and the Empire carved out by the Moghul Emperor Genghis Khan. Other sites to visit if time permits include the Abdulaziz Khan Madrasah and the Char Minar, northeast of Lyabi-Hauz. Overnight in Bukhara.
Bukhara – Khiva (B/L/D) (480 km – 8 hrs)
After an early breakfast you transfer to Khiva across the mysterious red Kyzul-Kum desert (480 km, c. 8 hrs). Enjoy a prepacked picnic lunch taken at one of the few resting places along this route and view the old Amu Darya river (ancient Oxus) before arriving in Khiva, a “Museum under the open sky” in Central Asia, a title given to this amazing thriving city. Check-in at the hotel where you stay for three nights.
After breakfast your tour continues to the southern border of the seven river lands, in the oasis of Khiva. When you look upon the mighty city wall of Khiva with its gates and bastions of clay, you will be taken to another world: Around the Kalta Minor Minaret life still pulses today as it did in ancient times. The tour will take you to palaces, mosques, minarets, mausoleums and Koran schools to demonstrate what medieval oriental urban development must have been like. You have some free time followed by dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight in Khiva.
Another day to explore Khiva. The city tour revolves around the architectural complex “Ichan Kala”; Kunya Ark, the khan’s fortress – the internal citadel which seems to have stood still in time. You can spend some time bartering over goods and choosing from an abundance of products before a visit to the Islom Khodja Residence (1910) –the residence of the main vizier of the last Khiva khan. You have some free time followed by dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight in Khiva.
Khiva – Nukus (optional extension to Muynak) (B/D)
Breakfast is followed by a drive to Nukus. A stop is planned at the archaeological complex of Mizdakhan Necropolis before you continue driving to Nukus where you can visit the stunning and fascinating Igor Savitsky Museum. Instead, you can opt to extend your day with a 4-hour onward drive to a former fishermen’s village, Muynak, which used to be situated on the shores of the Aral Sea, now devoid of water. You visit the local museum and explore the skeletons of abandoned ships now resting on sands that were once one of their anchorage havens. You return to Nukus late in the evening for your overnight stay.
Nukus – Tashkent (B/D)
After breakfast you are transferred to the airport for a short flight to Tashkent. You are met on arrival and driven to your hotel to check in before a city tour around Tashkent with a visit to The Khast Imam complex, the library of Koran and other ancient manuscripts, Kukeldash Madrasa, followed by a trip on the magnificent metro to the local market “Chorsu”, and the Museum of Applied Arts. You enjoy dinner in a traditional Uzbek restaurant and then overnight in Tashkent.
Tashkent – Beldersay – Chimgan – Charvak – Tashkent (B, D)
You set off after breakfast on your day excursion to the Tashkent mountain region area (80 km) heading for Beldersay in the western Tian Shan mountains. You have the option of taking a chair lift to the upper station 3 km away, where you can enjoy the serentity of this vast range. After the chair lift you have the chance to stretch your legs, with an easy walk up to Kumbel summit at 2200m. From here you can admire the stunning view across the Tian Shan range from west to east. You are then driven via Chimgan village to Charvak water reservoir where there are many historical and archaeological points of interest as this area was once occupied by a primitive race. Once back in Tashkent, you can rest before you transfer to dinner at a local restaurant.
Tashkent – Kokand – Rishtan – Fergana (B/D)
This morning you set off on a drive to the Fergana Valley (4 hours) through Kokand, with stops to visit the Khan Palace, Mosque and necropolis. After lunch you drive to Rishtan and visit pottery workshops for which this area is famous. You then continue to Fergana where you check in and overnight.
Fergana – Margilan – Andijan (B/L/D)
Today your sightseeing of the Fergana Valley continues with a tour of the city and the Silk Making Factory in Margilan. You then drive to Andijan via Quva to see the ruins of the old city of Quva. This city dates back to the 1st century AD and the surrounding area still produces silk in the old fashioned way with machines unchanged in centuries. In Andijan, you visit the Bobur museum, and the Juma mosque central bazaar which is the main centre for traders during the melon-growing season, and where knife-grinders, pigeon fanciers, carpenters, and embroiders ply their trade side by side, creating a buzz, and an atmosphere of excitement. There is free time to explore this spectacle before dinner back in Fergana.
Andijan – Tashkent (B/D) (352 km – 4-5h)
After breakfast you drive through the mountains and valleys back to Tashkent. Free time for leisure on arrival. Overnight Tashkent.
A morning at leisure prior to packing your suitcase and checking out and heading to the airport to board your flight home to London. Arrival London Heathrow terminal 4 early evening, same day.
- International and domestic flights in economy class
- Accommodation in hotels with early check-in in Termez (17 nights)
- Meals as indicated (17 breakfasts; 2 lunches, 17 dinners)
- Transportation services in air-conditioned car through the tour
- Professional local English speaking escort guide throughout the tour
- Entrance fees for all mentioned monuments (except photo and video charges)
- Water during the trip (1 litre per day per person)
- Green hall in Tashkent airport
- ATOL protection
Regional UK departures
Additional hotel nights
Bespoke tour variations
Highbridge House | 581 Bath Road | Longford | UB7 0EW | Company registration 4939093