Turkestan is the most revered pilgrimage site in Kazakhstan, with a medieval mausoleum equivalent in size to Samarkand’s Bib Khanum Mosque that sits, quietly imposing in its stateliness, in the middle of the Kazakh steppe. Likewise, Otrar and Sayram are some of the oldest cities in Central Asia, whose ruins will transport you back in time to their glory days as key settlements along the Great Silk Road.
The 2-Day Turkestan and Otrar Tour is a convenient and well-planned extension tour from Tashkent into South Kazakhstan’s most historically fascinating cities – Sayram, Otrar, Arslanbob and Turkestan. Your driver and English-speaking guide will help to make your inter-city travels seamless, all while providing in-depth explanations at each stop on this history-packed tour.
Meet your driver and guide on the Kazakh side and drive to Sayram (130 km, 2 hrs). In Sayram, visit the Ibrahim-Ata and Karashash-Ana Mausoleums (16th-17th centuries), the burial sites of Ahmed Yasawi’s father and mother. Continue the drive to Otrar (170 km, 2 hrs). In the Otrar area you’ll tour the following:
- Ancient settlement of Otrar (10th - 12th сenturies) which includes various archeological excavations: a medieval bath, mosque, residential area and fortification.
- Arslanbob Mausoleum, the burial place of Ahmed Yasawi’s spiritual teacher.
- Small museum displaying artefacts from the region.
Overnight in the Turkestan hotel.
- Akhmed Yassawi Khanaka Mausoleum (12th - 14th centuries), the complex’s main attraction, including a gigantic cauldron and a deep well revered by religious pilgrims;
- Hazrat Sultan, a historical and archeological center;
- Great Fortress Wall (18th-19th centuries) - city wall which you can still explore and walk on today;
- Khilovat Underground Mosque (12th – 15th centuries) – a partially underground mosque near Khoja Ahmed Yasawi’s final dwelling place;
- Traditional Turkish baths (16 -18th centuries) – this public bath house was designed so skillfully that heat and cold were maintained in separate sections of the bath despite no door or partitions separating the rooms;
- Kultobe (14th century) – archeological site of an ancient settlement;
- Esim Кhan Mausoleum (16th century) – burial site of a prominent Kazakh khan;
- Rabiga Sultan Begim Mausoleum (15th century) – burial grounds of Tamerlane’s great-granddaughter (daughter of Ulugbek the astronomer);
- Big Khilvet (12th century) - where Hodja Akhmed Yassawi lived out the last year(s) of his life;
- Chillyakhana (14th century) – an ancient monument;
- Gallery of stone statues;
- Archaeological museum.
Go through border formalities at both checkpoints. A driver will meet you at the Uzbekistan border to transfer you to your Tashkent hotel. End of Turkestan and Otrar Tour.
- Transportation for the duration of the 2-day tour: 1-2 people by car, 3-8 people by minivan (excluding border zones);
- Private, local English-speaking tour guide for your entire time in Kazakhstan;
- Accommodation based on 2 people per double/twin room; breakfast included (1 night, 3-star hotel);
- Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary on both days;
- 1L of bottled water per person per day.
Price does not include:
- Full board (lunches and dinners);
- Hotel charges for additional services;
- Consular fees for Kazakhstan or Uzbekistan tourist visa;
- Camera fees, charged separately at museums;
- Travel insurance;
- All services not mentioned above as included in the tour price.