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Where East meets West

Step back in time and discover one of the world’s new “must-see” destinations - a millennia-old cradle of civilisations and their astonishing legacies

Journey to a part of the world that, for centuries, formed part of the greatest trading route ever known – the Silk Road. Along it riches flowed from China to Europe, and great cities rose, filled with culture and learning, trading and craftsmanship to rival any in history. Nomadic peoples, great caravans and the conquering armies of Tamerlane once roamed its length. Now you’ll uncover its secrets, and discover desert landscapes that conjure romantic visions of Arabian Nights, and scenic wonders that more than match the man-made glories of each astonishing city.

What does this price include?

  • Nine nights’ bed and breakfast accommodation in Tashkent (3 nights), Khiva (1) Bukhara (3), and Samarkand
  • Five dinners
  • Return flights to Tashkent (overnight on the way out)
  • An internal flight from Tashkent to Urgench
  • A high-speed train ride from Samarkand to Tashkent
  • Coach travel and transfers throughout
  • Fully escorted by a friendly, experienced tour manager

Your Itinerary

  • Board an afternoon flight to the Uzbek capital, the largest city in Central Asia, and your base for the first two nights of your tour.

  • Upon arrival, meet your tour manager and transfer to your hotel, where you’ll have the chance to rest and relax after the journey.

    This afternoon, board the coach for a guided tour of Tashkent’s extraordinary old city. Highlights will include the Khast-Iman complex – home to ancient mausoleums, the Tellya-Sheykh Mosque that housing the world’s oldest Koran, and the 16th-century Madrasah (learning centre) of Barak-Khan – and the History Museum of the People of Uzbekistan, which has some marvellous artefacts that provide additional background to the country and its capital. Many of Tashkent’s major sights have been lovingly restored following a devastating earthquake in 1966, and life in this former Soviet city is still widely influenced by Russian culture and traditions. The everyday business of shopping and socialising goes on unchanged in places like colourful Chorsu Bazaar.

    You'll return to the hotel for dinner.

  • Post-Soviet construction in the Uzbek capital has been rapid and dynamic, and though some evidence of the previous rulers remains – especially in the city’s grandiose metro stations – the atmosphere today is of a modern progressive capital. Here the 21st century meets the ancient Silk Road head on. Designer stores have opened under the watchful eye of Tamerlane’s equestrian statue, and in addition to Central Asian foods and Russian specialities, you can expect to find western-style restaurants, cafés and coffee shops in abundance.

    After your included introduction to the modern city, you’ll be free to explore under your own steam, or join this afternoon’s scenic optional excursion into the Chimgan Mountains, a popular skiing and hiking region with predictably splendid views. A walk here rewards you with views of the Beldersay River Valley.

    Later, enjoy a last night in the city, and make the most of the opportunity to dine out this evening.

  • You’ll have an early start this morning, as you transfer to the airport and fly to Urgench. From here you’ll continue by coach to the mesmerising Silk Road city of Khiva, with its ochre mud walls, and its domes and minarets of startling azure blue. Wonderfully preserved – so much that it seems less a lived in, thriving city and more a movie set – Khiva is a welcoming, friendly, unforgettable place. Here many traditions, like bread making in clay kilns, carry on as they have for centuries. A fascinating included tour featuring mosques, mausoleums and richly decorated madrasahs, as well as ancient markets, introduces the city. Dinner at a local restaurant, tonight, is accompanied by folk music and dancing.

  • After breakfast, you’ll board the coach for the extraordinary journey through the mysterious red sands of Kyzyl Kum, the desert set between two great Central Asian rivers, following the Silk Road route taken by countless caravans and camel trains through a land known as the State of a Thousand and One Hundred Cities, and a happy hunting ground for archaeologists searching this barren landscape for secrets of the past.

    After a stop at the bank of the Amudarya River, you will arrive in the 3000-year-old city of Bukhara, at the heart of the Silk Road, in the late afternoon to begin an unforgettable three-night stay. Begin your Bukhara experience with an included dinner in the company of some master miniaturist painters.

  • Join your guide for a memorable introduction to the city, which for hundreds of years was a trading post and seat of learning, as well as Central Asia’s holiest city. Stand enthralled at the entrance to the Ark, a great, walled “city within a city” that served as fortress home to successive emirs, and explore its museums and restored royal apartments. Discover the 1100-year-old mausoleum of the Samanid dynasty rulers, gaze in awe at the incredible 150ft-tall Kalon (Great) Minaret, and the adjacent mosque where 10,000 worshippers can gather at once. Wander through the Dome Bazaars – medieval marketplaces grouped by crafts or wares, here cap-makers, there jewellers, there silk weavers – each sheltering beneath its own blue dome.

    This evening you’ll enjoy a special included dinner at a guesthouse where a cookery demonstration will reveal the secrets of preparing Plov – the national dish of lamb, rice and onions.

  • This morning you’ll journey a short distance out of the city, to the striking Mausoleum of Bahauddin Naqshband, built over the grave of the 14th-century Sufi scholar and thinker and a place of pilgrimage for the faithful from across the globe.

    Return to Bukhara for a last afternoon of exploration, perhaps dining out or enjoying an evening’s optional folklore show.

  • Leave Bukhara after breakfast and travel across Central Uzbekistan to the Green City of Shahrisabz. Amir Timur (better known as Tamerlane), the warrior founder of the Timurid Empire that conquered vast tracts of Europe and Asia, was born here in 1336. It’s now a rebuilt, remodelled modern city, with verdant parks and several wide plazas, but it still boasts remnants from Tamerlane’s time, including his summer palace and the burial crypts of his sons.

    From here you’ll continue north to the final stop on the great Silk Road, Tamerlane’s great capital of Samarkand. An optional journey by 4x4 vehicle through the mountains is available for those wishing to “take the high road” to the city. This evening, enjoy dinner in the hotel.

  • Join your tour manager for an introduction to a city that, perhaps more than any other, reflects the riches and grandeur of the Silk Road. Highlights will include majestic Registan Square and its monumental, ornately decorated madrasahs – originally fashioned by Tamerlane and his descendants. Among other breath-taking sights, the astonishing Gur-e-Emir, Tamerlane’s family mausoleum, is not to be missed.

    Modern Samarkand is no less staggering, and the city’s rich cultural heritage is reflected in the many museums and concert halls.

  • Enjoy a last morning’s sightseeing that will include visits to the excavations of the ancient city of Afrasiyab, Samarkand’s original hilltop fortress, to the Ulugbek Observatory founded by Tamerlane’s astronomer-mathematician grandson, and to the supposed tomb of Old Testament prophet, Daniel. After a last opportunity to learn about the ancient art of silk paper making, you’ll head to the station to board the high-speed train back to Tashkent. Relax on the two-hour journey north and then spend a final night in the Uzbek capital. You’ll be transferred straight to the hotel from the station.

  • Bid farewell to Uzbekistan and the Silk Road, and transfer to the airport to board your daytime flight home, at the end of a truly extraordinary journey.

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Hotels

Uzbekistan and the Silk Road’s Jewels Touring Hotels

You will be staying in a series of comfortable hotels that are conveniently located for your tour itinerary.

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Further Information

  • The transfer time from the airport to your hotel is approximately 20 minutes.

  • We sometimes need to combine transfers to and from your hotel. We always try to keep any wait to a minimum, but you may be asked to wait at the airport for up to an hour, while other incoming flights arrive, before the transfer to your hotel. Similarly, we may need to transfer you back to the airport up to three hours before your flight home departs.

  • If you have notified us of any special requirements, please check that they have been noted and acknowledged. This is especially important with any dietary needs you may have.

  • The majority of our tours involve a certain amount of walking, including a short walk from the coach stop to the town, attraction or venue you're visiting. If you are bringing a wheelchair, please let us know at the time of booking so that appropriate arrangements can be made.

  • Occasionally, for operational reasons, we may have to change the order of the excursions on your holiday. The final day-by-day itinerary will be confirmed on your Final Travel Documents, which you will receive approximately three weeks prior to your departure.

  • Should circumstances require, we reserve the right to accommodate you in alternative hotels, of a similar standard, nearby. Full details of your hotels will be sent with your Final Travel Documents.

  • Visit www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice to find out the latest Foreign And Commonwealth Office travel advice for your holiday destination, as well as information about passports and visas.

  • All the flights are via Istanbul, except for London Heathrow which is a direct flight.

  • Visas are not required by British Citizens travelling to Uzbekistan. Citizens of other countries should check with the Uzbekistan Embassy.

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