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Exploring Uzbekistan

Alternative Uzbekistan

This comprehensive 14 day tour goes way beyond the usual sights of this fascinating country and is perfect for those looking for a real Silk Road adventure. Walking in the Nuratau Mountains and camping in the desert in a traditional yurt will take you back to a period when the Silk Road was among the most important trading routes in the world.  Add in the UNESCO sites of Bukhara and Samarkand as well as Khiva and Nukus – famous for its art museum displaying works from dissenting Russian artists during the Soviet era.

Your Itinerary

DAY 1 - WELCOME TO TASHKENT

Upon arrival you will be met by your private driver and guide who will then drive you through the bustling capital to your centrally located hotel where you can relax after your flight.  Today with your guide you will explore the Old Quarter of Tashkent with the impressive Khast Imam Complex and see Barak Khan Madrasah, Till Sheikh Mosque and mausoleum of Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi. There is also time to wander around Chorsu Bazaar, before taking the Metro to the city centre and walk around Tamerlanes’s central square, Independence Square and visit the Museum of Applied Arts.

DAY 2 - HIGH SPEED TRAIN TO SAMARKAND

This morning transfer to Tashkent North train station and board the Afrosiyob passenger train south to Samarkand. The historic town of Samarkand lies at a crossroads and melting pot of world culture. It was Tamerlaine’s capital and contains some of Asia’s most stunning architecture.  On today’s tour visit the  ancient settlement of Afrosiab and its museum as well as Ulugbek’s observatory and Bibi Khanum Mosque, built by Tamerlaine for his favourite wife. Later, see Gur Amir, the mausoleum of Tamerlaine and of course the famous Registan Square, which has extraordinary blue tiled madrassas, minarets and shimmering mosaics on three sides. No trip to Samarkand would be complete without a stop at the colourful Oriental Bazaar-Siya.

DAY 3 - GUIDED TOUR OF EXQUISITE SAMARKAND

Your second day of excursions include the Shah-i-Zinda mausoleum complex, where a medieval street is lined with sparkling blue coloured tombs and mausoleums on each side that were built in the 14th and 15th century. Later, drive out of the city to Konigil village to experience a paper-making workshop. For many years, Samarkand has been widely revered as the centre of high-quality paper manufacture. The workshop is run by a talented master, who will demonstrate how the rind of the mulberry tree is transformed into crisp sheets of paper. Later head back to Samarkand via Kalandarov’s House Museum, an old Jewish merchant’s house.

DAY 4 - TRAVEL TO NURATAU MOUNTAINS

Today leave the splendours of Samarkand behind and drive to Hayat village in Nuratau Nature Reserve, stopping on route to visit 11th century Khonbandi dam. The road winds up into the mountains, passing through many small towns that look down towards Lake Aydar in the distance until it reaches your guesthouse. This afternoon walk through the village finding out about local customs and traditions and see the endangered Severtzov sheep and ruined fortresses that can be found in the region. In the evening enjoy a regional dinner that you can take part in preparing

DAY 5 - DISCOVER NURATAU MOUNTAINS

Nuratau Nature Reserve is situated in the Nurafshan Mountains and is a great destination for those interested in birds as it is home for over 160 species of birds, including  rare black vultures. Over 630 types of plants grow here, most of which are unique and found nowhere else. Spend the day with your guide hiking through this wild landscape and trek to the village of Uhum, passing through other settlements along the way.  This area has been inhabited for millennia and you can still see ancient irrigation channels and petroglyphs.

DAY 6 - WALKS IN NURATAU MOUNTAINS

Continue your hike today setting off on foot after breakfast to Asraf village.  Your luggage will be transported by donkeys and en route you can visit a community watermill and the ruins of a Mongol fortress.  This evening learn about traditional bread making and stay with a family in a guesthouse where you will also have dinner.

DAY 7 - DRIVE TO YANGIKISLAK DESERT CAMP

Start the day with a walk through the mountain villages and then drive to Yangikislan Desert camp where you will spend the night.  This fertile area between Lake Aydarkul and the Nurafshan Mountains is part of the Nurata-Kyzyikum Bio-Reserve.  Spend the night in a yurt – accommodation that has been used by the nomadic people of Central Asia for millennia.  Made from felt, these circular structures are insulated with sheepskins and provide a very cosy stay!  At the camp you can either relax or go on an optional camel ride

DAY 8 - EXPLORE MEDIEVAL BUKHARA

After a camp breakfast, drive to Aydarkul Lake where you can swim before heading to Nurata city to visit Alexander the Great’s fortress ruins, a holy spring and mosques. Then it is on to Gijduvan which is famous for its crafts, particularly its pottery. Visit the ceramic centre and a family workshop where five generations have been producing finely crafted pottery. Travelling onwards towards Bukhara visit Rabbat Malik Caravanserai, Ulug Beg Madrassah and the shrines and tombs of Vabkent, which towers above to an impressive 39 metres and wasa built by the Karakhanids in 1196 and is also a sister tower to the Kalyon Minaret in Bukhara which you will see tomorrow

DAY 9 - CONTINUE DISCOVERING BUKHARA

One of the great trading cities along the Silk Road, Bukhara’s layout and architecture has remained largely unchanged for centuries and brings its past to life making for a truly fascinating visit. Go on a full day tour through the narrow streets of the old Bukhara, where you will have the opportunity to explore the main sites with your local guide. Visit the stunning Chor Minor Madrassa, the Ark Citadel, residence of the Emirs of Bukhara and the Zindan prison in which two 19th century British officers were kept before being executed in Registan Square. Continue to Bolo-Khauz Mosque and the Ismael Samani Mausoleum which dates from the 10th century. Highlights also include Kalyan Square with its great minaret, Miri Arab and a mix of ancient mosques and trading domes

DAY 10 - JOURNEY NORTH TO KHIVA

Today travel to Khiva following the main road through the extensive Kyzl Kum or Red Sand Desert. You will be tracing the route of the ancient Silk Road which followed a similar route across the desert from Khiva to Bukhara. Enjoy the arid desert flora and fauna and pause at the banks of the Amudaraya River to take photos. There may be an opportunity to take the train to Khiva instead of driving.

DAY 11 - CITY TOUR OF MEDEIVAL KHIVA

Khiva, a delightful, small walled city, is often overlooked on tours through the region but its labyrinth of side streets and small squares have a very particular charm that evokes the centuries of history the city has witnessed.  Stroll through the main gate Ota-Davaza and some of the highlights include the Madrassah of Mukhamad Amin-Khan, Kalta-Minor Minaret, the Emir’s Palace and Harem as well as the Kunya Ark or old citadel where the Emir lived. In the afternoon visit the Friday Mosque with its 200 carved wooden pillars and the Tash Khauli Palace – built as a royal palace in the 19th century. Finally visit a local silk carpet workshop, currently under UNESCO sponsorship. Overnight in the hotel.

DAY 12 - VISIT DESERT CASTLES & TRAVEL TO NUKUS

Today your adventure will continue in the arid plains of Khorezm. Once densely populated marshland, this area was inhabited by Messagetae Scythians –  feared nomadic archers who rode on horseback horseback defeating even the Persian emperor Cyrus the Great in  529BC.

Visit the dramatically located 2000-year-old ruined city fortress of Toprak-Qala, where the Sultan Vais Mountains form an impressive backdrop. Three large round towers and an impressive portion of the citadel still remain, and extraordinary parchments and paintings were found which are now in St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum. You will also visit Qizil-Qala, once an important oasis where much still remains and finally Ayaz-Qala, an imposing hilltop fortress dating from the Sixth century. After exploring this site continue to Nukus to spend the night.

DAY 13 - TOUR OF NUKUS

After breakfast visit the famous Savitsky Art Museum of Nukus. The Museum is well known for its huge collection of Russian avant-garde paintings and Karakalpak folk art. Savitskiy’s collection of avant-garde paintings were banned by soviet regime and only escaped destruction due to its remote location. In the same building you will also have a chance to see the exposition of Karakalpak applied arts items. Having finished visiting Savitskiy Museum, drive around Nukus to see the local sites such as the statue of the famous Karakalpak poet Berdakh, Nukus City Hall and local Bazaar. This evening fly to Tashkent and transfer to you hotel.

DAY 14 - FLY TO TASHKENT

This morning we will ensure you are taken to the airport in good time for your onward flight.

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DETAILS:

This itinerary costs from £2690 per person B&B based on 2 sharing and including all private transfers but not international flights.

You can get flights from as little as £570 per person return and do ask us for advice. Alternatively we can book the flights for you but a booking fee may apply.

What's included?

INCLUDED:
  • Prices start from £2690 per person
  • 14 nights accommodation on B&B basis
  • Accompanied by an English speaking guide throughout.
  • Private vehicle and transfers (air-conditioned car)
  • Internal flights (one)
  • All entrance fees for excursions
  • Lunch on Days 4, 5, 6 & 7
  • Dinner on Days 4, 5, 6 & 7
  • Local taxes
  • Meals for guides and drivers
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are financially protected
Make a booking

This comprehensive 14 day tour goes way beyond the usual sights of this fascinating country and is perfect for those looking for a real Silk Road adventure. Walking in the Nuratau Mountains and camping in the desert in a traditional yurt will take you back to a period when the Silk Road was among the most important trading routes in the world.  Add in the UNESCO sites of Bukhara and Samarkand as well as Khiva and Nukus – famous for its art museum displaying works from dissenting Russian artists during the Soviet era.

Tashkent
Tashkent is one of the oldest cities on the Great Silk Road between China and Europe and the capital of Uzbekistan. You will be able to explore the Old Quarter of Tashkent with its impressive Khast Imam Complex, wander around Chorsu Bazaar and take the metro to the city centre.

Nukus
The remote town of Nukus is only a short flight away from Tashkent and is surrounded by three deserts - the Kara Kum, Kyzyl Kum and Ustyurt. It is home to the famous Savitsky Art Museum, boasting a huge collection of Russian avant-garde paintings.
Khiva
Khiva, a delightful, small, walled city, is often overlooked on tours through the region but its labyrinth of side streets and small squares have a very particular charm that evokes the centuries of history the city has witnessed.
Nurata
The Nurata Mountains, home to the Nurata Nature Reserve with lush green river valleys, is becoming the main eco-tourism destination in Uzbekistan, and you can stay in homestays and immerse yourself with the local culture. Our handpicked guesthouses are situated in Khayot and Yahshigul villages.
Bukhara
One of the great trading cities along the Silk Road, Bukhara’s layout and architecture bring its past to life and make for a truly fascinating visit. During your visit you can stay in stunning boutique hotels that are perfectly located in the old town of medieval Bukhara.
Samarkand
The historic town of Samarkand lies at an ancient caravan crossroads and is a melting pot of world cultures. It was Tamerlaine’s capital and contains some of Asia’s most stunning architecture. There are plenty of traditional hotels to choose from, featuring classic Uzbek décor, that are close to Registan Square.
Shakhrisabz
Shakhrisabz, Tamerlaine’s birthplace, is a pleasant provincial town located in a small valley surrounded by the Pamir Mountains. You can enjoy fantastic views from the portal of Tamerlaine’s Arksarai Palace and visit his mausoleum, a unique architectural structure.

Fergana Valley
Lying a day’s drive south-east of Tashkent and encircled by the snowy peaks of the Tian Shan range, the Ferghana Valley is a lush, fertile area where many generations of artisans have continued to make silk, ceramics and wood carvings in the traditional way.


Termez
Termez, a remote city in the south of Uzbekistan, is an ancient centre of Buddhism and a fascinating, little-visited destination - in fact during the Soviet era travel to this area was forbidden for foreigners. Highlights include the Fortress Kyrk-Kyz and the Mausoleum of Al-Hakim at-Termezi.

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