Uzbekistan once formed the very backbone of the ancient Silk Road trading route, with its cities of grandeur a welcoming destination for weary travelers and shrewd traders who would congregate in its caravanserais. Today, these very cities welcome visitors from the world over to admire their enduring splendor and recollect their history, a past filled with powerful dynasties, magnificent cultural development and the echo of silk road caravans plodding through their streets.
On the Silk Road Caravan in Uzbekistan Tour, you will retrace the steps of these ancient merchants, crossing expansive desert and hilly terrain to reach the famed cities of Urgench, Khiva, Bukhara, Gijduvon, Samarkand and Tashkent. This extensive 10-day Uzbekistan tour includes unhurried time to tour each major city plus an overnight stay in a yurt camp, visit to off-the-beaten-path petroglyphs and tour of a fortress built by Alexander the Great. You’ll be traveling by plane, train and car, but for those truly anxious to relive the Silk Road lifestyle, even camel rides will be provided!
Your guide and driver will pick you up from your hotel to begin your Tashkent city tour. Your private tour will include:
- Excursion to the Old City, including the Khazret-Imam Architectural Complex, which holds the oldest known Quran in the world.
- Visit to Chorsu Bazaar, Tashkent’s most well-established bazaar that includes a large selection of traditional Uzbek ceramics, jewelry, handbags, garments and more.
- Ride on the Tashkent Metro, an immaculate subway system with each station decorated in colored mosaics and ceramics to depict a specific theme.
- Walk through Amir Temur Square, with a massive statue of none other than Tamerlane himself at the center.
- Independence Square, including the touching World War II Mourning Mother Monument and the Eternal Flame.
- Drive to the Sacred Heart Cathedral, a 20th century Roman Catholic Church with beautiful stained-glass windows and Gothic-style architecture.
- Tour of the Applied Arts Museum, an informative collection of Uzbekistan’s finest handicrafts housed in an ornately decorated villa.
Tour duration: approximately 4-5 hours
After beginning your excursion at Kunya-Ark Fortress, the inner citadel of Ichan-Qala, you’ll continue on to some of Khiva’s most famous sites:
- Kalta Minor Tower, once destined to be one of the tallest minarets in Central Asia;
- Muhammad Amin-Khan, the biggest medieval madrassah (educational institution) in Khiva;
- Muhammad Rahim-Khan Madrassah, a sprawling complex that once stood as one of the largest in all Central Asia;
- Juma Mosque, built with 212 wooden columns and a minaret 32.5 m high;
- Tash-Hauli Palace (Stone Courtyard Palace), which resembles a fortress with high battlements, towers and garrisoned gates;
- Necropolis of Pahlavan Mahmud, the ancient religious center of Ichan-Qala;
- Minaret and madrassah of Islam Khodja, personal advisor of the last khan. The complex consists of a madrassah and a minaret whose top platform has a height of 45m, the highest observation point in town.
Tour duration: 6-7 hours
Arrive in Bukhara in late afternoon. Check in to the hotel and enjoy a free evening in the Old City, the picturesque heart of Bukhara. Overnight at the hotel.
*Since there is only one cafe on the way, you might want to consider preparing a packed lunch before this trip.
- The Lyabi-Hauz ensemble holds the largest artificial reservoir of medieval Bukhara (14th-17th centuries). This ensemble includes some of the largest madrassahs in Bukhara: the Khanaka Madrassah, Kukeldash Madrassah and Nadir Divan Beghi Madrassahh (all 16th century).
- The Magoki-Attori Mosque is the oldest mosque in Bukhara (12th century).
- Walk through the four Trade Domes (15th-16th centuries).
- Continue your city tour of Bukhara to the Poi Kalyan Ensemble (12th-16th centuries), consisting of the Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque, Emir Alim Khan Madrassah and Mir-i-Arab Madrassah.
- Explore the relatively untouched Ulugbek Madrassah (15th century) and Abdulazizkhan Madrassah (17th century).
- Head to the Ark Fortress (4th century), the ancient center of Bukharin statehood and currently home to a small museum.
- Stop by the Bolo-Khauz Complex, consisting of an artfully decorated 18th century mosque, a minaret and reservoirs that once provided water for the entire city.
- Complete your city tour of Bukhara at the Samanids Mausoleum (9th-10th centuries), the most ancient brick building in Central Asia, and the Chashma Ayub Mausoleum.
Tour duration: 6-7 hours
- Chor Minor (Four Minarets), an unusual madrassah built by Niyazkul in the 18th century;
- Emir's Summer Residence, Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa (19th century), a unique site boasting of a blend of Oriental and Russian architecture;
- Bakhautdin Naqshband Mausoleum, an ensemble dedicated to the founder of the Sufi Order "Naqshbandia"; the site includes a mausoleum, mosque, pond, and museum.
Tour duration: 3-4 hours
Your next stop along the way is Sarmish (100 km, 1 hr 30 min), an open-air museum of petroglyphs.
Continue to the yurt camp (150 km, 2hrs). After arriving to the camp, you’ll have free time for camel rides, resting or walking among the dunes.
Enjoy dinner around a campfire in the evening while a Kazakh akin (skilled improvised singer) entertains with folk songs.
Overnight in the yurt after star gazing in the endless desert sky.
Have lunch at the yurt camp before leaving for Samarkand via Nurata. Arrive in Nurata village (70 km, 1 hr) to visit a local mosque known for its holy spring waters and to explore the ruins of a fortress built by Alexander the Great.
Continue the drive to Samarkand (200 km, 3 hrs). Upon arrival, check in to the hotel and have a rest. Overnight at the Samarkand hotel.
- Registan Square, the commercial center of Samarkand for centuries and Samarkand’s most famous site today. The square includes three madrassahs: Ulugbek Madrassah (15th century), Sher-Dor Madrassah (17th century) and Tilla-Kori Madrassah (17th century);
- A boulevard lined with workshops and souvenir stores;
- Bibi Khanum Mosque built by Tamerlane for his favorite wife;
- Siab Bazaar, a multi-level complex where you can shop for souvenirs and sample sweets, fruits and Samarkand’s famous bread;
- Shakhi-Zinda, a burial complex built between the 9th-14th centuries. Climb the blue-domed path and explore more than twenty small mausoleums that line the broad alleyway;
- Gur Emir, the imposing burial site of Tamerlane and Mirzo Ulugbek;
- Ulugbek Observatory, where you can see the remains of a 14th-15th century sextant and tour the Ulugbek Museum.
Tour Duration: 6-7 hours
- Visit to the excavation site and museum of the ancient city Afrosiab.
- Tour of the mausoleum of Khodja Daniyar, believed to be the tomb of the prophet Daniel, whose remains were brought here by Tamerlane.
- Drive to Konigil Village to observe the traditional way of making Samarkand paper from mulberry leaves.
- Excursion to the Oriental Silk carpet factory to see firsthand how top-quality carpets are created. You can even learn basic skills from the masters and try carpet weaving yourself!
Overnight in Tashkent hotel.
Tour duration: approximately 4 hours
- Airport and train station transfers;
- Accommodation based on double/twin room in 3-star hotel with breakfast (9 nights);
- Accommodation in a yurt camp, shared room, with lunch, dinner and breakfast (1 night);
- Private, local English-speaking guide and entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
- Transportation during the city tours and transport between Khiva-Bukhara-Gijduvan-Nurata-Sarmish-Aydarkul-Samarkand (1-2 ppl in sedan; 3-8 in minivan);
- Economy class flight tickets from Tashkent to Urgench (flight times subject to change based upon availability);
- Economy class train tickets from Samarkand to Tashkent (on rare occasions when the high-speed train is unavailable, we will replace it with a reservation on the regular train).