ITINERARY & MAP
Welcome to Central Asia! Our driver will be waiting to meet you for the trip to your hotel. Meet your group and the tour leader in the hotel lobby after breakfast. Today it is time to begin a genuine journey deep into the remarkable history of Uzbekistan.
Tashkent, the largest city in Central Asia, is a curious blend of Islamic and Soviet influences. Visit the Old City area of Tashkent where you will discover ancient historical sites: the Khast Imom Complex, which contains ancient Quran book of Caliph Uthman and the mausoleum of the Islamic saint, Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi. Join the animated throng of traders at Chor-Su Bazaar before taking a ride on the former-Soviet Tashkent Metro, which features some of the most ornately decorated stations in the world. Exit the metro at Amir Temur Square Station to view the statue of Timur, the great conqueror and founder of the Timurid Empire, and, next to that, the grand Independence Square. Complete the day with a visit to the Applied Arts Museum to immerse yourself in the vibrant Uzbek art scene. During dinner at one of the top restaurants in Tashkent, you will be regaled with stories of Uzbekistan by your tour leader: its rich history, its customs, its traditions, and its people. We will have a welcome dinner at one of the finest eateries in Tashkent. The evening will be a great opportunity to discuss the adventures that lie in store, and you can ask any questions you might have about your tour.
A very early day begins at 4.30 with a trip to the local airport for your flight to the western part of Uzbekistan. Once you arrive in the city of Urgench, you will take a thirty-five-minute drive to your hotel in Khiva. Khiva is bursting with historical sites – and today you will get a chance to see them all after the breakfast and little rest.
Today you will visit the walled inner city section of Khiva called Ichan-Kala. This old section of town preserves more than fifty historic monuments and hundreds of old houses dating back hundreds of years. The fortress is protected as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you walk through the enormous city gates, you are confronted by the glistening Islamic beacon, the Kalta-minor Minaret. Delve deep into the town on a guided tour that embraces all of the city sites, and includes an ascent of the Islam Khodja Minaret, the highest minaret in Khiva. Enjoy broad views of Old Khiva atop the Kunya-Ark Citadel. Invest your free time during the afternoon to enjoy more of the city and shop for souvenirs. Or enjoy a drink at one of the many cafes around the ancient city.
Leaving Khiva will be a drag, but as our destination today is the equally delightful Bukhara, we’re sure you’ll forgive us. Heading west, we’ll follow the highway that takes us right into the Kyzylkum desert, just as the ancient Silk Road traders once did. The mighty Amudarya River cuts through the desert and we will stop on route to see this important waterway that flows into what remains of the Aral Sea. It’s a long day on shaky roads, so prepare yourself with plenty of snacks and charge up your devices so the music doesn’t run out. At the end of this arduous drive, the reward will be Bukhara, where we’ll arrive late into the night and ready to rest.
The second of our UNESCO World Heritage stops, even the very name Bukhara conjures up images of the exotic Orient. Today, as for centuries, it’s an important trading post and you’ll have numerous opportunities to see traditional Uzbek products being bought and sold. The Old Town has been well preserved and is crammed full of minarets, mosques, and madrassas. Its once notorious canals and pools, the source of many an epidemic, have now been drained but the most famous, Lyabi-Hauz, is still there, an oasis shaded by mulberry trees at the heart of the city.
Your guide will show you the city’s unmissable sights, after which there’ll be plenty of time for you to wander Bukhara’s labyrinthine alleyways to soak up the atmosphere by yourself. In the evening we will visit national folklore show and get to know ancient culture of modern Uzbekistan.
A single day isn’t enough to do Bukhara justice and so we devote a second to exploring this fascinating place. This morning, we’ll take you to the summer residence of Bukhara’s last Emir, a unique site which blends Oriental and Russian architecture. In the afternoon, hit the road, as tonight’s destination is the exotic city of Samarkand. Stop on the way to see caravanserai dating back to 11th century.
Sublime Samarkand evokes an almost mythical past full of romance and intrigue. This was the domain of Timur, one of history’s great conquerors. His vast empire rivalled any, stretching across the Eurasian steppe, who ruled his kingdom with an iron fist while at the same time patronizing the arts and literature. Much of his architectural heritage has been preserved, allowing us to see how the city might have been at the peak of his power. We’ll begin in spectacular Registan Square, the focal point of ancient Samarkand and framed by three beautiful madrassas.
We’ll explore one of the city’s unmissable sights, the Bibi Khanum Mosque, before delving into the Siyob Bazaar to haggle for dried fruit and souvenirs to take home. Finally, our guide will show us the well-preserved Ulugbek Observatory. Uzbek astronomer Ulugbek was decades ahead of the west with his observations of the solar system and the earth and we’ll learn more about his story in this prestigious setting. After this sightseeing, you’ll retain some leisure time before we visit Samarkand Theatre of historical costume.
Transport: Minivan with A/C for city tour
Accommodation: Hotel 3* by Western standards, 702 m altitude
Duration of sightseeing tour: 6-7 hours
Today, we’ll pay a visit to the Afrasiab Museum and the Tomb of Saint Daniel. Later, we’ll drive to Koni Ghil village to explore the traditional way of making Samarkand paper from mulberry and silk carpet factory. You’ll have the chance to try this for yourself; with expert tuition, it’s not as hard as it looks. After this sightseeing, it’s time to depart Samarkand as we take the fast-speed Afrosiyob train departing to Tashkent at 17:00
Today we say good bye to marvelous cities of Uzbekistan and go with an early morning transfer to Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border Oybek-Fotekhobod (100 km, 1 h. 30 min.). Go through border formalities on both checkpoints and meet Tajik local guide drive to Khujand for another hour.
In Khujand, you will be visiting museums, central mosque and Panjshanbe Bazar that is located at the heart of Khujand. City Park and Khujand Museum will also be visited before having dinner in a traditional restaurant.
Transfer ca. 3 hours
After breakfast, your day will begin with a scenic drive to Dushanbe through mountainous Anzob Pass which reaches 3300m altitude.
We will drive to the historic Hissar Fort (VII – XVII cc), just outside Dushanbe. The once an official residence Bukhara Emir delegates, it has 1m thick walls with numerous gun and cannon slots. Though on ruins, you can still feel and experience the grandiosity of Hissar Fort. Post this historic visit, you will be guided to the 16th century Madrassa-i Kuhna that faces the entrance of the Hissar Fort; the Mahdumi Azam Mausoleum will also be visited.
We start the day with a guided tour of the city with the first stop at the National Museum of Tajikistan. The museum contains exhibits of history, nature, and art. Continue from there to Gurminj Musical Instruments Museum and get to know the rich musical history of the region from its roots during the golden age of the Silk Road.
The main square of the capital features a monumental statue of the founder of the Samanid Empire, Ismail Somoni, with his crown of gold. Before you enjoy dinner and a restful evening, stroll around in Rudaki Park, where famous Persian scientists and poets are memorialized with impressive statues. After sightseeing, you will have some time to buy souvenirs and enjoy some free time.
After breakfast, you will make your way to the Dushanbe International Airport and check in for your flight to Almaty. Upon arrival in Almaty you will be met by our driver and transferred to your hotel for check-in. During dinner at one of the top restaurants in Almaty you will be regaled with stories of Kazakhstan by your tour leader: its rich history, its customs, and its people.
Transport: Flight to Almaty – 860m, ca. 1,5 hours/ Minivan with A/C for transfer/ city tour
Accommodation: Hotel – 3* by Western standards, altitude 500 m
During the Soviet Rule, Almaty was a capital city with settlements dating back to pre-historic times. Today it has a rich history as Kazakhstan’s largest metropolis, and it boasts many interesting places to visit. See examples of colonial Russian architecture like the wooden Orthodox Church – the Zenkov Cathedral – and the National Musical Instruments Museum.
After a visit to the museum, walk in the cooling shade of the verdant Panfilov Park, named for the Panfilov division that defended Moscow in World War II. Next, feel the hustle and bustle of the oriental market in Green Bazaar, where you can buy anything from dried fruit to fresh meat to fermented camel milk. Go on a funicular ride to Kok-Tobe Hill and enjoy the sweeping view of the “Green City.”
Today we drive to Issyk lake and on the way, we will visit the Tomb of the Golden man, that became a symbol of Kazakhstan. Enjoy stunning lake located one hour away from Almaty and opt for short hikes around. When evening comes, you make your way to the Bishkek International Airport and unwind on an evening flight to Bishkek.
Transport: Minivan with A/C for transfer and excursion to Issyk lake – 2-3 hours. Flight to Bishkek – ca. 1 hour
Your guide and driver will greet you at your hotel after breakfast. After a fifty-minute drive, you will arrive at your first destination for the day: Ala-Archa National Park. This alpine wilderness attracts visitors with its breathtaking mountain vistas and scenic hiking trails. The raging Ala-Archa River runs through the alpine gorge, surrounded by snow-covered mountain peaks and steep, forested slopes. Enjoy your morning either resting or hiking in the park before returning to Bishkek for an afternoon tour.
Sightseeing in Bishkek includes stops by the museum, Oak Park (the oldest park in Bishkek), Central Square, and Philharmonic Hall. Later, amble through more of the city’s charming parks and listen to the stories behind its most beloved landmarks and monuments. Today we will have a farewell evening to remember the best moments from our trip.
Today it’s time to say a fond farewell to Central Asia. After breakfast, we will bring you to the Bishkek International Airport for your departure. We hope you have enjoyed your journey and that you will consider a return trip to explore in depth your favorite state of Central Asia.