Type: Adventure Tour
Duration: 13 Days
Best Time to Travel: May – October
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Uzbekistan Adventure - Itinerary
Meet upon arrival and transfer to the hotel.
An afternoon sightseeing tour of Tashkent’s Old City with its Hast Iman complex and the Tila Shaikh Mosque which contains rare 7th century manuscripts from the Usman Koran. Next we go to the covered Chorsu Bazaar and the 16th century Kukeldash Madrassah. At various times the madrassah has served as a caravanserai, a fortress and even a museum of atheism during Russian communist times!
Tashkent – Nukus
We have an early departure for the flight to Nukus. Upon arrival in Nukus we drive to our hotel. Then we proceed by road to Muyinak and the Aral Sea. Once a thriving port, Muyinak now lies more than 100kms from the rapidly receding sea. We visit the museum and also the ‘graveyard’ of rusting ships which litter the area.
The Aral Sea was once the world’s fourth largest salt lake. In the 1960s the Soviet authorities decided to divert the rivers that fed the lake with disastrous consequences. The lake has now shrunk to a tenth of its original size, to the extent that the eastern basin has now become the Aralkum Desert. The shrinking of the Aral Sea has been called "one of the planet's worst environmental disasters".
Return to Nukus and the hotel.
Nukus - Khiva
This morning we have an excursion to the town of Chimbay which is known for its ancient tradition of yurt making. Here family run businesses make and sell their yurts to the nomadic communities in the Steppes of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. On our way back to Nukus we stop to explore an underground necropolis at Mizdakhan where various local rulers and spiritual leaders are interred.
We depart for Khiva. Along the way we stop at Shilpyk Kala – the Tower of Silence and Toprak Kala – a former royal fortress dating back to the 2nd century BC and build in the Persian style. Continue to Khiva and check in to our hotel.
In its heyday Khiva was a major staging post on the Silk Route but by the 19th century it had become synonymous with wild tribesmen and the slave trade. Today the old walled city is wonderfully preserved and Ichan Kala, the historic centre is a UNESCO listed World Heritage Site.
We have a full day exploring this amazing open air museum including Ichan Kala with the Kalta Minor (literally short minaret) and the Kunya Ark (old fortress) founded in the 17th century. We also see the Pakhlavan Mahmoud Mausoleum, the holiest site in Khiva. It is the shrine of Khiva's patron saint, Pakhlavan Mahmud, who was a fur hat maker and a famous poet of Khiva.
Later we visit the Islam Khodja Minaret and the Djuma Mosque (Friday Mosque) and round off the day with the Tashauli Palace Harem.
Khiva - Bukhara
We depart the walled citadel of Khiva and head to another magical city on the Silk Road, Bukhara. The short flight to Bukhara takes approx. one hour and after we have checked in to our hotel we begin exploring Bukhara.
Located on the Silk Road Bukhara has been a centre for trade, learning, culture and religion. At one time it was the intellectual epicentre of the Muslim world. It can trace its roots back 2,500 years and is rightly proud of its many mosques and madrassas. This afternoon we explore some of the old city’s best known sites including Lyabi Khauz, Ulugbek Madrassah and Chor Minor.
A full day’s exploration of Bukhara begins at Bolo Khauz – the Emir’s mosque located opposite the Ark Fortress and dating back to the 17th century. We also go inside the Ark. We also see the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, one of the oldest monuments in Bukhara dating back to the 10th century.
We find out all about the Kolon Minaret, a beautiful example of early Central Asian Islamic architecture built in 1127. The nearby mosque was raised to the ground during the Mongol invasion in 1225 but thanks to height of the minaret (45 metres) it was spared destruction and instead used as a watchtower. There will be free time later to walk around the old city at your leisure.
Bukhara - Aidorkol
Today we head off the beaten track as we take to jeeps and make our way to Aidorkol. En route we have a stop at the town of Gijduvan, known for its potters where we visit a third generation pottery family.
We later have a break at Nurata – a desert town which has seen many invading hordes in its time. Here there is a shrine dedicated to a former foot soldier of Alexander the Great. We have lunch with a local family before proceeding to Aidorkol reservoir. Our accommodation is at the nearby Oxus Resort where we have a choice of either a cottage or a yurt for the two nights.
We have an excursion to Ukhum Valley nestled in the Nuratau mountain range. We explore some of the local villages and visit the national park which is inhabited by the world’s largest sheep – the Argali. After lunch at a local house we drive back to the resort.
Free time at the resort to either relax walk around or take a horse ride.
Enjoy a barbeque dinner at the Oxus Resort.
Aidorkol - Samarkand
We take a jeep ride through the Steppes and head for Samarkand.
Arrive in Samarkand and check in to hotel. Later we visit the majestic Registan Square. This huge public square flanked on three sides by Madrassas with huge portals is a sight to behold.
Today is a full day’s guided sightseeing of old Samarkand. This former capital of Timur’s empire, Samarkand was at the heart of the Silk Road where ideas as well as commerce were traded. The scale and beauty of its numerous monuments are truly breath-taking. We start at the giant Bibi Khanum Mosque initiated by Timur and the Shahi Zinda necropolis.
After lunch we visit the Afrosiab Museum and Ulugbek’s Observatory followed by Gur Emir, Timur’s mausoleum considered by many to be the architectural highpoint in Samarkand.
Today we have a full day’s excursion around Samarkand’s rural countryside. We stop at the secluded village of Langar Ota with its 16th century mosque with its beautiful mosaics and tile work – this is a living mosque and has never been restored. The village also contains the mausoleum the Muslim saint Mohamed Sadik Cheikh. We also visit Shakre Sabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane (Timur) and home to the ruins of his vast Ak Saray Palace. We return to Samarkand via the Takhtakarcha Pass.
Samarkand - Tashkent
Free time in Samarkand. If we are here on a Sunday we can explore the Urgut Sunday Market where we will be the guests of a master embroiderer and can see his impressive embroidery collection.
Transfer to the railway station for the fast train to Tashkent. The journey takes just over 2 hours. Upon arrival, transfer to our hotel.
Transfer to Tashkent Airport for your onward flight.
- Room accommodation in twin share
- Private transportation by car/ minivan
- Experienced English speaking Uzbek guide
- Domestic flights: Tashkent – Nukus / Khiva - Bukhara
- Drinking water in car / minivan
- Full board (Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner) throughout
- Train tickets Samarkand - Tashkent
- Entrance and sightseeing fees as mentioned in the itinerary
- Airport arrival and departure transfers
What's Not Included?
- International Flights
- Drinks during meals
- Optional tours
- Uzbekistan visa
- Any personal expenses such as laundry, hotel phone etc
- Tips and gratuities
- Tashken – Hotel Shodlick
- Nukus – Hotel Jipek Joly
- Khiva – Hotel Malika Khiva
- Bukhara – Hotel Zargaron Boutique
- Airorkol – Oxus Resort by the Lake
- Samarkand – Hotel Grand Samarkand