Fascinating Central Asian adventure
Follow the ancient network of the Silk Road through the melting-pot of Uzbekistan, influenced by many of history's most powerful empires. Explore the historic capital of Tashkent, the bustling bazaars of Bukhara and the style and elegance of royal Samarkand, on this fascinating Central Asian adventure.
We take a direct overnight flight from London to Tashkent, Uzbekistan's capital, arriving on the morning of Day 2. After settling into our hotel, we embark on a guided tour of this 2000-year-old city. Tashkent is one of the most important financial and cultural centres in Central Asia and owes much of its economic success to its prime location along the old Silk Road route.
Our in-depth tour includes the Museum of Applied Arts, first built in the 19th century, where the building itself is the outstanding attraction, rather than its collection of works. From there we explore Independence Square, formed from the remains of the Soviet-era Lenin Square post-1991. We also visit the touching Earthquake Memorial and explore the beautiful craftsmanship of the city Metro. We then visit the Usto-Shogrid ceramic school, founded by the world famous ceramic masters, the Rakhimovs. This evening, we enjoy a drink atop the city's TV Tower, giving us delightful vistas of the streets below.
This morning we explore the awe-inspiring Khast Imam Square. It is in this area that Tashkent's turbulent cultural history is most present - with mosques, mausoleums and other ancient architectural structures all sharing the same streets. From there, we head to the city's bustling bazaar. You'll find almost anything for sale at Chorsu Bazaar and there is some time here to explore the myriad of street stalls. In the afternoon, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Urgench. Upon arrival, we take a short coach ride to our hotel in nearby Khiva. At dinner, we are treated to a traditional Khorezm folklore performance and dance.
Today we explore the vast open-air museum of Ichan Kala. Sometimes written as Itchan, the old town is a UNESCO protected site and contains over 50 historic monuments and 200 traditional houses dating from the 18th century within its fortified walls. The mighty fortress and its four looming gates are an awe-inspiring site, with the foundations said to date back to the 10th century. Later, we enjoy a daring tightrope performance within the fortress grounds. Dinner is at a local restaurant.
After breakfast we depart on a coach ride through the Kyzl- Kum desert to Bukhara. We follow the route of the Amu- Darya River, passing wonderful red sand panoramas along the way. We arrive in Bukhara, a traditional Uzbek city, in the early evening and enjoy dinner at the hotel.
The city of Bukhara is one of the finest historical cities in all of Uzbekistan. An integral stopping point on the Silk Road trade route, the city is brimming with stunning mausoleums, mosques and minarets. We embark on a guided tour of this colourful city, beginning with the resplendent elegance of the Samanid Mausoleum, the burial place of the ancient Samanid dynasty.
The mausoleum is a prime example of Central Asian architecture and is one of the most ancient Islamic monuments in the nation, if not the most. From there we pass a number of the city's other wondrous sights, including the Bolo-Khauz mosque and the colourful Chor Minor madrassah. This afternoon we enjoy a cooking master class, trying our hand at preparing some of the region's favourite dishes before sitting down to dinner with a local family.
After breakfast, we continue our exploration of Bukhara, visiting the Fortress Ark, the former residence of the ruling Emirs of Bukhara and the ancient prison of Zindan. We also pass the iconic Poi-Kalyan minaret complex.
We then take the short journey into the surrounding countryside to visit the resplendent Sitora-i-Mokhi-Khosa, the summer residence of the last Emirs and the former home of the Uzbek President. Here, we enjoy a presentation of traditional Bukharan clothing styles and fashion. Afterwards, we return to Bukhara, where the afternoon is at leisure.
After an early breakfast, we transfer to the station for the short journey by rail to Samarkand. Samarkand is a vastly important Silk Road city and is a melting pot of varying cultures and influences, having changed hands multiple times over the years, with the likes of Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane having all held the city at some point. All of these varying empires and cultural upheaval is most noticeable in Samarkand's wealth of exotic architecture, with influences from both Western and Eastern cultures.
We visit the Afrosiab museum of the city foundations and the iconic Gur-Emir Mausoleum, which holds the graves of Tamerlane and his descendants.
This morning we visit the awe-inspiring Registan Square, meaning "Sandy Place". One of the prime examples of Central Asian architecture, this ensemble of vibrantly coloured madrassahs is one of the oldest structures of its kind in the region. From there, we learn the ancient process of making paper at the Silk Paper Center. Dinner is at a local restaurant and afterwards, we head to the Samarkand Theatre of Historical Costume.
After breakfast, we visit "The Living King", Shakhi Zinda, an impressive collection of Samarkand rulers and nobles. The inner shrine of this necropolis is one of the holiest in the region and holds the grave of Qusam-ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad, and is said to have brought Islam to the area. Afterwards, we spend some time at the Siab Bazaar before visiting a local village to see the rural way of life and traditional bread making techniques. Later, we transfer to the station for the high-speed train back to Tashkent. Upon arrival, we transfer to a local restaurant for a farewell dinner before checking into our hotel for the final night.
We transfer to the airport for the flight from Tashkent to London, arriving later that day.
Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.
An escorted experience and all travel arrangements
Comfortable accommodation in your destination
Delicious meals included
Exciting excursions and free time to explore
Fascinating Central Asian adventure