Silk Road Safari Tour
This busy tour takes you on an adventure across the boundless deserts, immense steppes, little oases, beautiful mountain ranges, the dried seabed of the Aral Sea, local villages and national settlements. You also visit the pearls of Uzbekistan – ancient cities Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Shakhrisabz, included in the UNESCO World Heritage list. In 14 days you cover a route from the modern capital Tashkent to the shores of the Aral Sea.
TASHKENT – TIAN SHAN – SAMARKAND – SHAKHRISABZ – BUKHARA – KHIVA – NUKUS – ARAL SEA – TASHKENT
Arrival in Tashkent (D) (SATURDAY)
You are met at the airport after your overnight flight from London and transferred to your city hotel. En route your guide will give you a short introduction to Uzbekistan, and the rich history and cultural heritage of Tashkent. After check in you have some free time until noon. You are then to a local restaurant for lunch, after which the remainder of the afternoon is free. In the evening you proceed to a welcome dinner followed by an evening sightseeing tour of the city. 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. Taking a chair lift to the upper station 3 km away, 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. Lunch is at a local restaurant, followed by a transfer back to your hotel in Tashkent. After some rest at the hotel a transfer is organized for dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight in Tashkent.
Tashkent – Samarkand (B, D)
Today you leave Tashkent to catch the “Afrosiab” train (subject to availability) for your 2 hour journey to Samarkand. After lunch you enjoy a short sightseeing tour to familiarize yourself with the city and then you check in to your hotel. You have time to freshen up before heading for a local restaurant to enjoy the cuisine that Samarkand has to offer.
Samarkand (B, D)
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 15thcentury,andRukhabad 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.
Samarkand (B, D)
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 – Shakhrisabz – Bukhara (B, D) (110 km – 3h + 260km 4h)
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 Bukhara, a beautiful city situated in the middle of the Kyzyl Kum desert. You enjoy a welcome dinner in a local restaurant before checking in to your hotel. Overnight Bukhara.
Bukhara (B, D)
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 (B, D)
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-iAttari 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)
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 two nights.
Khiva (B, D)
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: You can visit the Mohammed Amin Madrassah, Juma Mosque and its minaret and the Tash Khauli (Stone) Palace. 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. 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 – Ayazkala – Nukus (B,L,D)
After breakfast you are driven to Ayazkala famous for its three remaining fortresses which were part of a series of forts located at the edge of the Kyzul-Kum Desert, which provided defence against raids by nomads. After exploring the fortresses a further 2km drive along a sand road takes you to the nomadic Yurt camp for a picnic lunch. You then continue on to Nukus where we have arranged accommodation at a hotel with dinner.
Nukus – Aral Sea (B, D)
Nukus is the closest major city to the Aral Sea and a good place to start trips to the shore and to Muynak. This former fishing town is now some 200km away from the edge of the water and is witness to the dying Aral Sea. Its main “attraction” is the infamous ship graveyard. You stop for lunch (not included) en route in Kungrad town and upon arrival camp is set up on the plateau Ustyurt occupied by semi nomadic people raising sheep, goats and camels. A traditional dinner is prepared on an open fire and is taken seated around the campfire, where under the stellar sky there is time to recount your adventures and share tales of personal experiences.
Aral Sea – Nukus – Tashkent (B, D)
We continue the customs of the nomads and breakfast is prepared after rekindling the dying embers of the previous night’s campfire. There is ample opportunity to relax after breakfast to enjoy the surrounding wilderness of the uninhabited landscape in the area of the Aral Sea. If time permits you can visit the archaeological complex Mizdakhan and the Igor Savitsky Museum before catching the domestic flight from Nukus to Tashkent. Meet and transfer on arrival for a late dinner and then to your hotel.
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 flights
- Domestic flight
- Accommodation in hotels/yurt with early check-in in Tashkent (14 nights)
- Meals as per itinerary board (13 breakfasts; 3 lunches; 13 dinners)
- Transportation services through the tour / 4X4 jeeps for a trip to Aral Sea and back
- Professional English speaking escort guide throughout the tour
- Entrance fees for all mentioned monuments (except photo and video charges)
- All taxes
- Spring water (1 litre) per person per day
- Green corridor in Tashkent airport
- ATOL protection
- Hotel/flight taxes
- Flight upgrades
- Regional UK departures
- Tour extensions
- Additional hotel nights
- Bespoke tour variations
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