Uzbekistan Tour in Two Weeks

Uzbekistan in Depth

Guided tour to explore Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, Karakalpakstan, and the Fergana Valley

Days

14

Price

€2890

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12

Countries: Uzbekistan

Route:

  • Tashkent
  • Fergana
  • Karakalpakstan
  • Khiva
  • Bukhara
  • Samarkand
  • Tashkent

Themes: Cultural Tours

Experience the best of the Silk Road cities during Kalpak Travel’s two weeks Uzbekistan tour. Now protected as UNESCO World Heritage Sites, these ancient settlements were formed by nomads and conquerors, and the flourishing of Islam and the great Timurid Empire left a permanent architectural legacy. Mosques, madrassas, fortresses, and unforgettable landscapes await, with views ranging from fertile valleys to open steppe and never-ending deserts…

highlights

  • Tour modern Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan and the largest city in Central Asia
  • Visit the Fergana Valley to learn about the strong local traditions of ceramics and silk production
  • Visit the famous Savitsky Museum in Nukus, capital of the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan
  • Explore remarkably well-preserved Khiva, a museum city surrounded by mud-brick walls
  • Spend time in the charming Old City of Bukhara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Be wowed by the spectacular Registan and other architectural wonders of ancient Samarkand
  • Meet master craftsmen, who will share with you their expertise in papermaking, ceramics, and silk production.

ITINERARY & MAP

Amir Timur statue in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Arrive at Tashkent Airport in the morning (for example, the Uzbekistan Airways flight from London Heathrow arrives at 3:10 AM; the Turkish Airlines flights from Istanbul arrive at 2:00 AM and 8:05 AM; and FlyDubai from Dubai arrives at 2:40 AM). Transfer to the hotel and rest after your flight. Take some time to relax before we meet for an introductory session and walk to lunch. We will enjoy our first meal of Uzbek cuisine and discuss the journey ahead of us. After lunch, we will set out on an orientation tour of Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan and the largest city in Central Asia. We will walk to Independence Square, which is a symbol of freedom for the Uzbek people, who declared their independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. We also will wander through Tashkent’s artists’ corner, locally known as Broadway. Finally, we will have our first encounter with Uzbekistan’s national hero, Emperor Timur (Tamerlane) in Amir Timur Square, and also see the Alisher Navoi Theatre from the outside. Together we will enjoy a lively welcome dinner and celebrate the start of what will no doubt be a captivating journey through Uzbekistan.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hampton by Hilton 4* or similar

Following breakfast, we will travel by train to the Fergana Valley. Surrounded by the Tien Shan Mountains and watered by tributaries of the Syr Darya River, this is the most fertile part of Central Asia. Since the time of Alexander the Great and throughout the heyday of the great Silk Road, it was a rich oasis. We will arrive in Kokand by train around noon. This was the capital of the Kokand Khanate which fought for power with Bukhara and Khiva before the arrival of the Russians. First we will have lunch in the house of Master Hasan, who is a well-respected blacksmith. He will show us his process of forging knives and then chat with us over our meal. In the afternoon, we will visit the Palace of Khudayar Khan, once a 113-room royal court which housed the ruling families in charge of vast lands stretching between the Kazakh Steppe and the Pamir. We will also visit the Juma Mosque, which is famous for its 100 meter-long iwan, one of the finest examples of wood-carving in Uzbekistan. After this sightseeing we will drive to the town of Fergana, where we check in at the hotel for two nights and have dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Asia Fergana Hotel 3*  or similar

This is our second day exploring the Fergana Valley. The region is famous in Uzbekistan not only for agriculture, but also for its artisans and markets. After visiting the local market in Fergana, we will drive around one hour to Rishtan, which is celebrated as a center of ceramics. It is no coincidence that pottery became such a prominent industry here: the local red clay and pigments are of excellent quality. We will have the chance to visit the studio of a master potter, and to learn more about his job and passion, which has been passed down from generation to generation. After lunch, we will visit a village where many ethnic Kyrgyz families live. Our host this afternoon is Bahromjon, a Kyrgyz man whose family keeps alive the craft of felt-making. After conversation and tea we will see and participate in the creation of a felt carpet. We will return to Fergana this evening.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Asia Fergana Hotel 3*  or similar

After breakfast, we will visit the neighboring town of Margilan. The economic life here is still dominated by the large-scale production of silk and other textiles. We will learn firsthand about the manufacturing process during a visit to the Margilan Yodgorlik Silk Factory. At Yodgorlik, silkworms are raised on mulberry leaves, and the cocoons are unraveled to yield the raw material. The artisans use natural dyes and Uzbekistan’s traditional ikat technique to produce stunning pieces. Several different grades of fabric are produced, from the pure silk khon atlas, to cotton and silk blends called adras. After the factory visit, we will have a look around the town before departing for Tashkent.  The journey to Tashkent takes about five hours, but we will make a few stops to have lunch, take some photos, and stretch our legs. Arrival in Tashkent will be in the early evening, when we will check-in at the hotel. Independent dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch
Hampton by Hilton 4* or similar

Tashkent is not only the biggest city in Central Asia, but also one of the oldest. Unfortunately, most of its historic buildings were destroyed in a catastrophic earthquake in 1966, after which Tashkent was rebuilt as a model Soviet city. Amongst the historic buildings which did survive are those of the Khast Imom Complex, which is where we will head first on today’s city tour of Tashkent. The complex’s library contains the Quran of Caliph Uthman, which dates from the 7th century and hence may be the oldest Quran in the world. In the same place is the mausoleum of an Islamic saint, Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi. We will then join traders at the vibrant Chorsu Bazaar before taking a ride on the stunningly decorated Tashkent Metro. There will be free time in the afternoon. In the evening we will get together to have a chat about the next day’s trip to Nukus, and then have dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hampton by Hilton 4* or similar

We will start the day early to catch our domestic flight to Nukus, the capital of the autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan. Due to its remote location near the Aral Sea, Nukus was a ‘closed city’ throughout the Soviet era, as the Red Army researched and developed chemical warfare weapons here. We will drive to the famous Savitsky Museum, officially known as the State Art Museum of the Republic of Karakalpakstan. An art curator from the museum will give us a special tour of the collection. The museum showcase the life’s work of Russian painter and collector Igor Savitsky, whose legacy includes thousands of archeological and ethnographic treasures, along with the world’s second-largest collection of Russian avant-garde art. Many avant-garde artists were purged by Stalin, but Savitsky acquired their artworks and kept them hidden from the vigilant eyes of the KGB in this isolated desert location. We will have lunch together and then more time to explore the collections further on our own. We will also have a walk around the local vicinity to see life in Nukus. This evening we will organize a folklore show with traditional Karakalpak music and dance.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel Jipek Joli 3*

Our destination for today is Khiva. On the way, we will visit the ruins of Toprak Kala and Ayaz Kala, two ancient fortresses in the Kyzylkum (Red Desert). First, we will drive about two hours to Toprak Kala, which was the capital of Khorezm in the 2nd century AD. From there, it is just half an hour’s drive onto the Ayaz Kala. According to archeological excavations, the oldest parts of the Ayaz Kala fortress date from the 2nd century BC. It was one of a chain of border fortresses which stretched from east to west and defended the Khiva oasis from attack. At Ayaz Kala we will have a lunch prepared by locals inside a traditionally built yurt. Then we will drive about two hours to Khiva. Upon arrival, we will check-in at the hotel and meet up again for dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel Zarafshan Boutique 3* or similar

Kalta Minor or blue tower of Khiva in Uzbekistan, Central Asia

A jewel of desert architecture, Khiva is one of the most important centers of ancient Khorezm. Locals believe that Shem, son of Noah, founded the city when he discovered a fresh water spring in the middle of this vast desert. Archeologists believe the city was founded some 2,500 years ago. Today, Khiva is the most architecturally intact and tightly packed of Central Asia’s Silk Road cities. Its intense blue-and-green tile work ranks as some of the most ornate in Uzbekistan, and the entirety of the Ichan-Kala – the inner city – is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It also has the feel of a movie set or open-air museum.

Khiva is full of incredible architecture, and today we will get the chance to see it all. The focus of our tour is  the walled Ichan-Kala, within which are preserved more than 60 historic monuments and hundreds of centuries-old houses. You will also have time on your own to wander around this fabled town. Make sure you join the tour manager for the sunset walk where you will have the chance to go up onto the city walls and see Khiva at dusk. Dinner will then be with the group.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel Zarafshan Boutique 3* or similar

Bukhara trading domes

After breakfast, transfer to Urgench Airport to catch the domestic flight to Bukhara (9:20 am – 10:10 am). Transfer to the old town of Bukhara.

Bukhara was a key trading post on the Silk Road. This UNESCO-listed city has numerous zigzagged backstreets, bustling bazaars, and historical monuments. The city is also known as Bukhara Sharif, which translates as “Holy Bukhara”, because of its hundreds of mosques and mausoleums. The city has seen various dynasties battling for influence as it has always stood as a center of trade, culture, and scholarship. Similar to Khiva, Bukhara’s Old City is quite small and compact, and so can be comfortably explored on foot.

Today we will visit the Ismail Somoni Mausoleum, which was built in the 10th century and is the oldest surviving monument in Central Asia. More than 16 styles of decorative brickwork adorn the face of this cubic memorial. The Chashma Ayub Mausoleum is a pilgrimage site for locals, who believe the site was visited by the Prophet Job. We will then visit the Bolo Hauz Mosque, which functions as Bukhara’s central mosque. Across from the mosque is the Ark citadel. This is the original fortress of Bukhara and likely dates back 2,000 years or more. After lunch, we will visit the Poi Kalon, the complex at the heart of the city which includes the Kalon Mosque and Minaret, and also the Mir-i-Arab Madrassah. These buildings surround an open plaza teeming with local merchants selling handicrafts.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel Devon Boutique 3* or similar

Today we visit a few more interesting sights on the outskirts of Bukhara. The first of these sites is the Mausoleum of Naqshbandi, an important order of Sufism that is well represented in Uzbekistan and has had a long-lasting influence. This memorial place is still a popular place of pilgrimage for Sufis, many of whom visit from abroad. From here, we will then visit the summer residence of the last Emir of Bukhara. In Persian it is called Sitorai Mokhi Khosa, “the place where the moon meets the stars”. Next, we visit the Chor Bakr memorial complex. In the afternoon, return back to Bukhara and have some free time before dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel Devon Boutique 3* or similar

Free time in the morning to relax, and explore on your own the old town with its narrow streets or have some coffee or tea by the Lyabi Hauz Complex. In the afternoon, transfer to the train station and take the bullet train to Samarkand (3:50 PM – 5:20 PM). We will transfer to the hotel for check-in and dinner.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel Platan 3* or similar

Sublime Samarkand was the imperial capital Emperor Timur, one of history’s greatest conquerors. His vast empire rivaled any, stretching across the Eurasian steppe and as far away as Ankara and Delhi. Timur 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 a glimpse of how the city might have looked at the peak of his power.

Today is devoted to exploring Samarkand. We will start the day at the Gur-e-Amir, the gilded mausoleum where Timur is buried. We will hear stories about his life and how he began the construction of Samarkand. Then, we will go on to the Registan, the most famous (and arguably most impressive) landmark in Uzbekistan. This square is the historic focal point of Samarkand, and it is framed by three beautiful madrassas, Ulugbek, Sherdor, and Tillya Kori. We will stroll from here through the spacious courtyard of the Bibi-Khanum Mosque, a structure which legend says was gifted to Timur by one of his wives. After lunch, we will have time to explore the Siyob Bazaar, where fruit and vegetables grown in the rich soils of the Zarafshan Valley are sold in a colorful market. After lunch, we will explore Shahi Zinda, a tile-rich street of turquoise and blue domes, where family members of Timur are buried. We will finish the day with a visit to bakery in one of the backstreets of the old town, where a family prepares bread for the local community. You may try making a loaf of bread after watching the process.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hotel Platan 3* or similar

shahi zinda samarkand

Day 13:  Samarkand – Tashkent (train ride, c. 2h)

After breakfast, we will drive to a nearby village situated in the lower foothills of the Hissar mountain range. Upon arrival, we will visit a local house to use the bathroom facilities and then go for a walk in the mountains. The hike is about two miles and it takes you through village streets, along mountain trails, and through meadows. During this short walk we will talk about various subjects such as local village life and the nature around us, and it is likely we will meet people and chat to them along the way. This is a good chance to have a rest from architecture and history, and to get an introduction to rural Uzbekistan with its natural beauty and hospitality. We will return to the city in time for lunch, and continue exploring the city with a visit to Ulugbek’s Observatory, once the biggest research center in Central Asia. Ulugbek was decades ahead of the West with his observations of the solar system and the Earth, and we will learn more about his story in this prestigious setting. We will also visit the Afrasiyab Museum to learn more about the ancient city of Samarkand – then known as Afrasiyab – which was destroyed by the Mongols in the early 13th century. This evening we will take the high-speed train back to Tashkent. On arrival, we will enjoy a farewell dinner and then check-in at the hotel.

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Hampton by Hilton 4* or similar

departure passport with stamps

We will arrange a complimentary transfer to Tashkent International Airport for you.

Meals: Breakfast

Inclusions

Transport
Minibus, Train, Airplane
Meals
14 breakfasts, 13 lunches, 13 dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (14 nights)
Included Activities
  • Tashkent city tour
  • Fergana valley tour
  • Nukus city tour
  • Samarkand city tour
  • Bukhara walking tour
  • Khiva walking tour
Download PDF

dates & price

You can choose to join a small group on a guaranteed departure or book a private tour on the date of your choice
*
*
*
Total trip price

€2890

Euro

14

Days

Single supplement available for €650

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
24 Sep 2022
7 Oct 2022
+ Available
15 Oct 2022
28 Oct 2022
+ Available
1 Apr 2023
14 Apr 2023
+ Available
15 Apr 2023
28 Apr 2023
+ Available
29 Apr 2023
12 May 2023
+ Available
2 Sep 2023
15 Sep 2023
+ Available
16 Sep 2023
29 Sep 2023
+ Available
30 Sep 2023
13 Oct 2023
+ Available
Price includes
  • All transfers by minibus according to the itinerary, including airport pickup and drop off
  • Accommodation based on double/ twin room sharing, incl. early check-in on Day 1
  • English-speaking local tour guide accompanying the group
  • All entrance fees as per the itinerary
  • Train tickets as per the itinerary
  • Economy class flight ticket from Tashkent to Nukus and from Urgench to Bukhara
  • Meals as per the itinerary
Price does not include
  • International air fares
  • Hotel charges for additional services
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Personal expenses, e.g. souvenirs

Important notes

  • For 2022 departures we require all travelers on our group tours to be fully vaccinated against Covid-19
  • Travel insurance is required for this tour. You are free to choose any insurance company.
  • All listed departures are guaranteed
  • The maximum group size is 16 people
  • A €500 per person deposit is required at the time of booking, and the balance is due 15 days prior to departure. Terms & Conditions: https://kalpak-travel.com/terms-and-conditions/
  • One local English speaking tour leader will accompany the group for the whole trip
  • You can opt to book the whole itinerary as a private tour. We can also arrange extra nights before or after the trip, and suggest private tour extensions in Uzbekistan or neighboring countries.
  • Citizens of most countries do not need a visa to visit Uzbekistan (US citizens do need an electronic visa, though). If you do need an electronic visa, we will get it for you. The official fee is 20 USD: there is no extra charge from our side. We will send the visa to you as a PDF; you just need to print it out and take it with you.
  • We are happy to suggest flights to get to Tashkent and back home: please contact us
  • Read more about food in Uzbekistan
  • Read more about the best time to travel to Uzbekistan

UZBEKISTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Uzbek currency is called the Som (UZS). There are few ATMs in Uzbekistan and even then, most do not accept any card other than Visa. Stores and restaurants typically do not accept credit cards. We recommend you bring all money in cash, preferably carrying new USD bank notes of different denominations. They will be easy to exchange – for the best rates ask your guide – and you will be able to pay directly with USD for some souvenirs. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Uzbekistan is a safe country and most trips are trouble-free. There is a visible police presence and most citizens are law-abiding. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, steer clear of dark streets at night and avoid taking rides in unofficial taxis alone. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Uzbek partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of most countries do no longer need a visa to visit Uzbekistan for a period of up to 30 days. A notable exception is the United States - US citizens need to apply for an electronic visa to visit Uzbekistan. You can get the visa yourself through the official government website for 20 USD per person: https://e-visa.gov.uz/. If you book a trip to Uzbekistan with us we will get the visa for you.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Uzbekistan is continental and dry. The best season to visit is during spring and autumn, from mid-March until early June and then again from September until early November. Autumn is drier than spring, but even in spring chances are high you can enjoy the bluest sky you have ever seen. Autumn is also the time when the country goes to harvest, meaning markets are full of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you don’t mind the dry heat of 40°+ Celsius, summer is the best time to go. There are few tourists and the sky is blue every single day. If you consider visiting Uzbekistan in winter, having the country all to yourself, we recommend going in December, when day temperature is still around 10° Celsius and the chill wind that characterizes January & February has not yet reared its ugly head.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use it for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for travelers to Uzbekistan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Uzbekistan are basic at best.
As soon as we receive your deposit, we will confirm your booking and send you additional pre-departure information.

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