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Taste of the Silk Road

Discover a land of fable and legend

From £15,635 per person


Discover a land of fable and legend. Ancient Silk Road cities, bustling markets and stunning desert scenery await as we ply the Silk Road trading routes by private train on a 14 day adventure between Moscow and Almaty.

The itinerary for your journey
Tour highlights
Days 1-3 - Almaty
Zenkov Cathedral, Kazakhstan

Upon arrival on Day 2 at Almaty Airport after your overnight flight you are met and transferred to the InterContinental hotel, a luxury 5-star hotel located opposite the Presidential Palace in Almaty's Republic Square for a one night stay. The hotel features spacious rooms, free WiFi, an indoor pool and beautiful views of the Tian Shan Mountains. 

Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan and is notable for its wide tree-lined boulevards. Surrounded by the majesty of the Tien Shan Mountains, this beautifully verdant city derives its name from 'alma' meaning 'apple'. Just a short distance from the city, apple orchards thrive in abundance.

Our city tour on Day 3  includes a visit to Panfilov Park where we have the opportunity to visit the Zenkhov Cathedral which was built entirely of wood. We'll also go out of the city to the Chimbulak resort, where a cable car ride will give you spectacular views of Almaty and the mountains.

Day 4 - Tashkent
Tashkent

Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan and we spend time touring this modern Soviet-style city which was rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1966. Our tour of the city includes the Old Town, where traditional homes and religious buildings line the narrow streets and here in a small library we'll be privileged to see one of Islam's most sacred relics - the world's oldest Koran. This is followed by a visit to the Railway Museum and the Museum of Applied.

Day 5 - Samarkand
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Just the mention of Samarkand instantly conjures up evocative images of the Silk Road, more so than any other town. Founded in the 6th Century BC, Samarkand's stunning architecture hints at its former status as one of the most important cities in Asia and is particularly noted for its architectural remains from the 14th to the 17th Century, when it flourished as the fabled capital of the Mongol empire of Timur and his successors.

Today we will visit some of its most significant sites including Registan Square, the refined elegance of the beautifully proportioned Bibi Khanum Mosque and the Ulag Beg observatory, one of the earliest Islamic astronomical observatories built in 1428. Before dinner we will return to the now illuminated and awe-inspiring Registan Square.

Day 6 - Bukhara
Bukhara

Bukhara is quite simply outstanding. Like Khiva, UNESCO sponsored the renovation of much of the city for its 2,500th anniversary in 1999. The highlight of this wonderful tour is a visit to The Ark, a fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara - the despotic and ruthless leaders who ruled until Soviet times.

We then travel out of the city to experience the Emir's enchantingly named, Palace of the Moon and Stars. This evening, weather and time permitting, we will enjoy a barbecue on the station platform before our train departs

Days 7-8 - Merv, Ashgabat and Darvaza
Darvaza, Turkmenistan

From Mary we transfer to the ancient and mainly unrestored remains of Merv. Once an important stopping point on the Silk Road, it claims to have briefly been the largest city in the world during the 12th Century.

1794 saw the demise of Merv, after the Emir of Bukhara destroyed the dam which the population depended on for its water.

Day 8 we travel to Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan is known as the 'Las Vegas of the Kara Kum'. Situated between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range, Ashgabat is a relatively modern city built upon the ruins of the Silk Road city of Konjikala and the Soviet city built after the devastating earthquake of 1948.

The city's extravagant fountains, golden domes and towering modern buildings appear strangely incongruous in this desert setting. Highlights on our visit include a visit to the National Museum and Kipchak Mosque.

The Golden Eagle makes a brief scheduled stop at Ichoguz, where we have the option to leave the train and make a short journey to Darvaza's famous gas burning crater, a spectacular sight best seen at night. Located in the middle of the Kara Kum desert where the area is rich in natural gas, the 70 metre wide crater is known by the locals as the 'Door to Hell' and has been burning for over 40 years. A unique experience that is not to be missed.

Day 9 - Khiva
Khiva, Uzbekistan

From Urgench we travel to the ancient city of Khiva, founded 2,500 years ago. As one of the Silk Road's most important trading posts and now a World Heritage Site, it lies at the crossroads of the routes between Mongolia, Russia, China and Persia.

A truly magnificent sight to behold, it rises out of the desert to reveal a wealth of impressive architecture. Stepping back in time, we discover its impressive mosques, madrassas, bazaars and minarets within Khiva's ancient walls.

Days 10-11 - On Board and Volgograd
Mamayev Kurgan War Memorial, Volgograd

Today, we enjoy a relaxing day on board as we travel across the vast expanses of Kazakhstan towards Russia. As well as experiencing the unique landscape, we can take the opportunity to chat to fellow passengers and maybe take a Russian language lesson. 

Day 11 we make our way to Volgograd standing on the banks of the Volga, Stalingrad, as the city was known in Soviet times, was the dramatic scene of one of the most important Second World War battles. The Russians heroically turned back the Nazi advance here to alter the course of the war. We visit the poignantly sobering Mamayev Kurgan war memorial, followed by an informative museum visit.

Days 12-14 - Moscow
St Basil's Cathedral, Moscow

Having travelled from Almaty we arrive into Moscow, our final destination. Included in our time spent in Moscow is two nights at the stylish five-star Four Seasons Hotel Moscow. Located in the historic building of Moskva Hotel and occupying one of the most enviable addresses in the very heart of Moscow, the hotel is a short walk from the Kremlin, Red Square and the Bolshoi Theatre. 

On Day 13  your tour of Moscow takes us to the grandeur of the Kremlin - the spiritual, historical and political heart of Moscow - and to see the treasures of the Tsars in the Armoury Chamber. We also visit Red Square, an iconic symbol of Russia's former military and political might with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture, such as the ornate St Basil's Cathedral's magnificent onion-domed spires, the beautiful facade of the world famous GUM department store, constructed in Tsarist times, and the sombre and evocative site of Lenin's tomb.

Alternatively you may instead wish to travel out of the city centre to Sergiev Posad, home to one of the most beautiful monasteries in Russia and the historical and spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church or visit the famous State Tretyakov Gallery (National Museum of Fine Art).  

After breakfast on Day 14, transfer to Moscow Airport for your onward flight home.

Departure Dates

All prices are per person and assume full occupancy of the room.
Please always refer to the website for up-to-date prices and availability.

Trains
Golden Eagle
Golden Eagle

The Golden Eagle is arguably the best quality of rail travel offered anywhere in the world. This private train offers a standard of accommodation and catering that most rail passengers crossing the globe can only dream of. The train features two beautifully appointed restaurant cars, in which meals freshly prepared by the on board chefs are served accompanied by wine and vodka. There is also a bar car which is an excellent place to relax and get to know your fellow passengers - and in the evening, enjoy the music from the resident pianist.

We include accommodation in Silver Class cabins. These cabins cover 60 square feet (5.5 square metres) and sleep two people in an upper and a lower berth. They feature a wealth of amenities including remote controlled air conditioning and heating, a wardrobe, luggage space, a safe and a DVD/CD player with LCD television screens. Complimentary tea, coffee and mineral water are available in the cabins and towels are provided. There are six cabins per carriage and all Silver Class cabins have private en suite facilities with a 'wet room' style shower, washbasin and WC.

Upgrades are available to Gold Class cabins. These are among the best available in rail travel, with an overall area of 77 square feet (7 square metres). The Gold Class cabins sleep two people in either upper and lower berths or a lower double bed. Facilities include remote controlled air conditioning and heating, luggage space, a wardrobe, a safe and a DVD/CD player with LCD television screens. Complimentary tea, coffee and mineral water are available in the cabins and towels are provided. There are five cabins per carriage and all have a private en suite bathroom with a power shower, underfloor heating, washbasin and WC. All drinks from the Bar Car's Standard Bar List are included for Gold Class passengers.

Hotels
What's included

Enhancing your tour

Upgrades

We offer a selection of upgrades and 'add-ons' designed to help you make the most of your holiday - and make it even easier!

Flight upgrades
Flight upgrades

Flight upgrades are available. Please see the information regarding the types of upgrades offered by the various airlines we use in the Add-ons section of 'Things you should know' or call us for details.

London Hotels
London hotels

Spending a night in London before your tour can make such a difference to the first day of your holiday - you can arrive in the capital in good time, relaxed and ready to join your Tour Manager the next morning. You may even want to take in a show on the West End, or dine in one of London's famous restaurants. Perhaps on your return to London, you would like to break your journey with an overnight stay before continuing home.

We are able to book a wide range of hotels in central London or, for our holidays beginning with a flight, at Heathrow, Gatwick or Manchester Airport for the night before or after your holiday. The hotels listed below are some of the more popular hotels our customers book in Central London, others are available on request.

Hotel Board Star Weekday room rate Weekend room rate
Pullman London St Pancras B&B 4-star From £240 From £220
Comfort Inn Kings Cross B&B 3-star From £150 From £150
President Hotel B&B 3-star From £110 From £110

 

The prices above are from prices and are per room per night based on 2 sharing a twin/double room, subject to availability. Prices may change without prior notice. Booking conditions apply. If you would like a quote for your particular holiday please contact us on 01904 521900

UK rail connections
UK train tickets

Buying tickets for UK train services can be a tricky business - there are so many fares to choose from, each with different rules and restrictions. As you are connecting with an international departure, we strongly recommend that you book a fully flexible ticket to ensure that should the departure times for your holiday change, your rail ticket can allow for these changes.

We can book fully-flexible UK rail tickets from your local station to join your holiday whether this be a European holiday from St Pancras or a UK holiday. The prices are competitive and tickets are not restricted to a particular train or time of day, and in most cases offer you a free choice of routes.

Estimated costs of return rail travel in the UK can be found on our add-ons page.

For an up to date quote from your local station, please ask one of our Tour Advisors.

This page was printed from www.greatrail.com/grj-independent/holidays/taste-of-the-silk-road/#INDTSR on 10 August 2020.
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