Uzbekistan Trip December 2021

Silk Road cities of Uzbekistan

Visit Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva, Nukus , and watch the traditional horse game Buzkashi

Days

11

Price

€2280

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12 persons

Countries: Uzbekistan

Route:

  • Tashkent
  • Nukus
  • Khiva
  • Samarkand
  • Bukhara
  • Tashkent

Themes: Cultural Tours

Uzbekistan is a country filled with the romance of the Silk Road, yet despite documentaries and books about its conquerors (Alexander the Great, Tamerlane, and Genghis Khan) and explorers (Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, and Sven Hedin to name just three), to many people, this country remains an enticing and mysterious blank on the map. This is part of its appeal. Lacking the mass tourism found in many parts of the world, a journey here offers true adventure.

Join us on an unforgettable journey to the very heart of Central Asia and the Silk Road – Uzbekistan. Together, we will explore its most remote areas and captivating cities and in doing so we will travel in the footsteps of some of the world’s most magnificent travelers, traders, conquerors, and explorers.

We start the journey in the country’s modern capital – Tashkent. As we travel through the oasis cities of Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand – we will walk in the shadows of soaring minarets, mosaic-tiled arches, and turquoise domes. We will travel across deserts, little changed since the days of Genghis Khan, and as we go along we’ll discuss the fascinating histories of the mighty khanate states and walk through their architectural legacies. We will conclude our journey in legendary Samarkand.

This tour is led by Abdu Samadov, a local of Samarkand, who lived and studied in the UK and the USA before settling down in the country he loves most – Uzbekistan. The trip is fully immersive, so you will get up close to traditional life, prepare a meal with a local family, dance with a folklore band, and climb the city walls for the best possible sunset views. On this trip, you will meet the curator of the world-famous Savistkiy collection in Nukus, and watch the famous horse game called Buzkashi in the mountains by Samarkand.

highlights

  • Tour modern Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital and the largest city in Central Asia
  • Visit the Autonomous Republic of Karakalpakstan with its capital Nukus
  • Explore the remarkably well-preserved city of Khiva, an open-air museum surrounded by mud-brick walls
  • Be wowed by the spectacular Registan and the other architectural wonders of Samarkand
  • Watch a real game of “Buzkashi”, the traditional Uzbek horse games
  • Visit the charming Old City of Bukhara, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Experience the hustle and bustle of Uzbekistan’s bazaars

ITINERARY & MAP

Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan

Welcome to Uzbekistan! Arrive at Tashkent International Airport and transfer to our centrally located hotel. Take some time to relax before we meet for an introduction and walk to lunch. We will enjoy our first meal of Uzbek cuisine and discuss the journey ahead of us.

With a population of over 3 million people, Tashkent is the largest city in Central Asia. The city’s history dates back to the first century BC. A major caravan crossroads, it was taken by Arabs in the 8th century and by Genghis Khan in the 13th century and Tamerlane feasted here in the 14th. The Russian Empire arrived in the 19th century, and Uzbekistan was not an independent country again until the end of the Soviet Union 1991. In a major earthquake in 1966, the entire city was destroyed and rebuilt. Today, Tashkent is a curious blend of Islamic and Soviet influences, and home to some excellent museums.

Following the lunch, we set out for an introduction to the city. Starting the day at the earthquake Monument of Courage would help us to understand the city. Flattened by a devastating earthquake in 1966, the city was reinvented by the Kremlin to represent the very epitome of the socialist ideal. Then we’ll drive out to Barak Khan Madrassah, a historical monument that has become a center for local artists and craftsmen. We’ll also get to see Islam’s most holy relic, the world’s oldest Koran. After lunch, we’ll enjoy a walk to Independence Square, which represents a symbol of freedom for the Uzbekistan people who declared their independence from Russia in 1991. We also will walk in Tashkent’s artists’ corner – locally known as Broadway. We will have an introduction to the national hero – Tamerlane, in the square of Amir Temur and see the Alisher Navoi Theatre from outside.

Overnight: Hotel City Palace 4*
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Central Asia spices in bazaar

After breakfast, we start the second day in the capital city with a visit to Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent’s famous green-domed market featuring acres of spices, produce, and traditional crafts. Tashkent metro stations are among the most beautiful in the world. Leading Uzbek architects and artists designed the stations, and each is an original work of art, devoted to a certain theme. To see for ourselves, we ride the metro a few stops. Today, we would visit the Museum of Victims of Political Repression, which tells the history of Uzbekistan during the time of the Soviet Union, in particular, that of the people killed by the government at that time. After lunch, we drive to the craftsmen section of the city to meet the family of the Rahimovs and with the family, we have a chance of seeing the process of ceramics creating, and we will spend time designing our own plate or bowl for taking home.

In the evening, we will get together to have a chat about the Nukus trip, and then we go to have dinner.

Overnight: Hotel City Palace 4*
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

nukus savitsky museum in karakalpakstan uzbekistan travel

We set out the day early to catch our flight to Nukus – the capital of the autonomous Karakalpakstan Republic. Due to its secluded location near the Aral Sea, Nukus was a ‘restricted city’ throughout the Soviet era, when the Red Army researched and developed chemical warfare weapons. We drive to the famous Savitsky Museum, also 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 portrays the life work of Russian painter and collector Igor Savitsky, whose legacy includes thousands of ancient to modern artistic treasures, along with the world’s second-largest collection of Russian avant-garde art, which he kept hidden from the vigilant eyes of the KGB in this isolated desert location. Afterward, we will have lunch and watch the traditional Karakalpakistan folklore. Then, we drive to Khiva – that is a three-hour journey to the south on the lower reaches of the Oxus river. Upon arrival, we will have dinner and rest for the day.

Overnight: Zarafshan Boutique Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Khiva is a Silk Road city in Uzbekistan

Today Khiva is the most architecturally intact and tightly packed of Central Asia’s Silk Road cities. Its intense blue-and-green tilework ranks as some of the most luxurious of Uzbekistan. It also has the feel of a movie set or open-air museum city. We explore the highlights of the inner fortress – Ichan Kala and then have time for our own to wander around this fabled town. Make sure you join the tour manager for the sunset walk where you may have the chance of going on the walls, to see the town during dusk, then we walk do dinner with the group.

Overnight: Zarafshan Boutique Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Khiva's famous blue minaret known as Kalta Minor

Spend the morning wandering the old capital of Khiva Khanate that is the biggest surviving walled city in Uzbekistan with many labyrinth-like alleyways, mosques, madrassas, and bazaars. We will spend the morning discovering this Silk Road stop and have lunch before driving to the airport in the nearby city of Urgench. Our flight to Samarkand from there takes an hour. After arriving in Samarkand, we set out on the walking tour of the fabled city and have dinner.

Sublime Samarkand was the capital of the empire of Timur, one of history’s greatest conquerors. His vast empire rivaled 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.

Overnight: Rabat Boutique Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Registan square in Samarkand

We start the day with the visit of Gur-Emir mausoleum, where Timur is buried. We will hear the stories from his life and how did he start the construction of Samarkand. Then, we go to Registan Square – Samarkand’s and arguably Uzbekistan’s most famous landmark. The focal point of ancient Samarkand is framed by three beautiful madrassas (religious schools) – Ulugbek, Sherdor and Tillya Kori.

Next, we will stroll through the spacious courtyard of the Bibi-Khanum Mosque—a structure that legend says was a gift to Tamerlane by one of his wives, and we will have time to explore the Siab Bazaar, where fruit and vegetables grown from the rich soil of the Zarafshan Valley are sold in a colorful market. After lunch, we would explore Shahi Zinda – the necropolis where family members of Timur are buried. We finish the day with a visit to a bakery in one of the backstreets of the old town, where a family prepares bread for the local communities. You may try to make a loaf of bread after seeing the process. Tonight’s dinner is in a local restaurant not far away from our hotel.

Overnight: Rabat Boutique Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Uzbekistan horse game

We drive to the rural town of Urgut – the home of the ancient merchants and very strong Kupkari players. Kupkari, also known as buzkashi, a sport originating at least 1,000 years ago with the nomadic Turkic groups who inhabited the Central Asian steppes. Today we are projecting to witness the game in the foothills of the Gissar mountain range.

We return to the city in time for lunch and continue the exploration of the city with a visit to the studio of a well-known designer – Lena Ladik. Our next stop would be Konigil Paper Mill – where you may see the process of paper production from mulberry tree bark – just like in 8th century Samarkand.

In the evening we are hosted in a local house – Farida & Olim, where we prepare the central dish of the country – Plov. Then we will enjoy dinner with the family.

Overnight: Rabat Boutique Hotel
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Buchara

After leisurely breakfast, we go to the train station to take the high-speed train to Bukhara. Upon arriving we start the touring of this ancient city.

Bukhara is an old Silk Road city with buildings dating back thousands of years. We’ll explore the old city, marveling in the ancient mosques and the baroque brick-layered Mausoleum of Ismail Somoni, who founded the powerful tenth-century Somoni dynasty. We also visit the Poikalon Complex, which has become the symbol of Bukhara. During the day our guide will take us to meet masters of different crafts, such as calligraphy, miniature, blacksmith, and perhaps a puppet maker. We will have time to freely wander on our own, or shop for spices, silk scarves, or exquisite jewelry before regrouping for the dinner in a local house.

Overnight: Safiya Boutique Hotel 3*
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Bukhara markets with its clay domes in Uzbekistan

We begin this morning at Labi-Havuz Plaza, located in the heart of the old town. The plaza is at the center of Bukhara’s old town and is a place to meet friends, eat, drink, and relax in the shade for locals. Today we will explore the surroundings with a visit to Nodir Devon Begi Khonakoh – the place of abode for the Sufi dervishes. Next, we go to the famous Trading Domes of the city that once housed the best merchants of the Silk Road in them. In the afternoon you will have time for yourself to soak up the experiences and explore the city on your own. We will get together in the evening to enjoy dinner in a local house.

Overnight: Safiya Boutique Hotel 3*
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Uzbekistan tour in Bukhara

Today we drive out of the city to visit the Mausoleum of Naqshbandiy. There are many orders in Sufism and representatives of all the orders were present at different times in what is Uzbekistan today. The Sufi order Naqshbandiyya had the greatest and longest-lasting influence and the memorial place is still well visited by pilgrims. Next, we visit the summer residence of the last Emir of Bukhara – Sitorai Mokhi Hosa. ‘The place where the moon meets the stars’ is what the name of the palace means in Persian.

We will go to a local restaurant to enjoy the great performance arts of Uzbekistan as we are hosted by the Bukhara Philharmonic band. We will have our farewell meal as a group. Then we drive to the station to take the high-speed train to Tashkent to end our ten-day trip. After many days packed with novel experiences, new sights, new smells, and new sounds, it’s time to say goodbyes.

Overnight: Hotel City Palace 4*
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

departure passport with stamps

Our guide and driver will meet you in the morning for your transfer to the airport or join one of the post-trip extensions we are offering.

 

Inclusions

Transport
Minibus, Train, Airplane
Meals
11 breakfasts, 10 lunches, 10 dinners
Accommodation
Hotel (10 nights)
Included Activities
  • Tashkent – city tour
  • Nukus – city tour
  • Khiva – walking tour
  • Bukhara – walking tour
  • Samarkand – city tour

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

€2280

Euro

11

Days

Single supplement available for €400

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
6 Dec 2021
16 Dec 2021
Available
Price includes
  • All transfers by minibus according to the itinerary, as well as your airport, pick up and drop off
  • Accommodation based on double room sharing, incl. early check-in on Day 1
  • English-speaking expert guide Abdu Samadov accompanying the group
  • All entrance tickets as per the itinerary
  • Full board (breakfasts, lunches, dinners)
Price does not include
  • International airfares
  • Hotel charges for additional services
  • Travel insurance
  • Personal expenses, e.g. souvenirs
  • Tips for guides and drivers

Important notes

  • Travel insurance is required for this tour. You are free to choose any insurance company.
  • There are no covid-related travel restrictions inside Uzbekistan at the moment and everybody working in tourism is fully vaccinated.
  • To enter Uzbekistan, you are required to have a negative Covid-19 PCR test result, not older than 72 hours at the time of arrival to the country.
  • The minimum group size is 4 people, maximum group size is 12 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/
  • Expert tour guide Abdu Samadov from Samarkand will accompany the group for the whole time.
  • 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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