Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan
Type: Authentic Tour
Duration: 11 Days
Best Time to Travel: May – October
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Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan - Itinerary
Uzbekistan is a fascinating mix of the old and the new. Until 1991 it was part of the Soviet Union and Tashkent retains much of its Soviet era architecture. This is in stark contrast to the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, all of which were important stops on the fabled Silk Road. Here both trade and ideas passed from east to west and back again and these cities became wealthy as a result. The riches of yesteryear can still be seen in the majestic mosques and medrassas that litter these wonderful open air museums. Turkmenistan is another fascinating destination. Unlike its neighbour it is rich in natural gas and oil reserves and the shining glass and steel edifices of Ashgabat reflect this. The country can also boast an ancient past at the ruins of Mary and Nisa.
Meet upon arrival and transfer to the Hotel Dedeman or similar.
An afternoon sightseeing tour of Tashkent. The country’s capital and largest city with over 2.3 million people, Tashkent is characterised by the mixture of modern and traditional buildings. The city has wide straight avenues, parks and fountains, elegant European architecture and Soviet era concrete blocks. We visit the Old City with its Hast Iman complex and the Tila Shaikh Mosque. Next we go to the covered Chorsu Bazaar, the imposing Friendship Square, the Navoi Theatre and Applied Arts Museum.
Tashkent – Samarkand
After breakfast we drive to Samarkand via Djizzak with a short stop at a mountain pass.
On arrival in Samarkand check in to Hotel Sultan or similar. 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 Registan at the heart of the old city. 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. We re-visit the Registan at the heart of the old city. Next we venture to 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.
Samarkand - Bukhara
We depart Samarkand for Bukhara. Along the way we stop at Shakre Sabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane (Timur as he is known in Uzbekistan). This tyrannical conqueror founded a kingdom which stretched from Eastern Turkey to Pakistan, referring to himself as the Sword of Islam. We walk around the ruins of his former palace Ak Saroy and other historic monuments.
In Bukhara we check in to Hotel Omar Khayyam or similar. Later we pay a visit to Lyabi Hauz, one of the city’s few remaining ‘hauz’ or ponds. The Lyab-i Hauz survived because it is the centrepiece of a magnificent architectural ensemble, created during the 16th and 17th centuries. The Lyab-i Hauz ensemble, surrounding the pond on three sides, consists of the Kukeldash Madrasah, the largest in the city and of two religious edifices built by Nadir Divan-Beghi - a khanaka (a lodging-house for itinerant Sufis) and a madrasah.
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 morning we explore some of the old city’s best known sites including the towering 45m high Kalon Minaret and the Ulugbek Madrassah.
We explore Bolo Khauz – the Emir’s mosque located opposite the Ark Fortress and dating back to the 17th century and also go inside the Ark. Our finish visit is to the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, one of the oldest monuments in Bukhara dating back to the 10th century. Return to hotel.
Bukhara - Khiva
We depart Bukhara and head for the walled citadel of Khiva, another magical city on the Silk Road. We drive through the Kizikum Desert and make a stop at the Amudarya (Oxus River).
We arrive in Khiva in the late afternoon and check in to the Hotel Malika Kheivak.
In its heyday it 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 spend the rest of the 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 and Caravan Bazaar.
Khiva - Ashgabat
This morning we head for the Turkenistan border where you will be assisted with the customs formalities. Once in Turkmenistan you will have a new guide and car / bus.
Proceed to Kunya Urgench, the former ancient capital of Northern Khoresm. In the eighth century it was conquered by Arabs and in 995 renamed Gurgandzh to become the residence of Khorezm Shah and the second-largest city after Bukhara - the capital of the Samanid Empire. Now the site is UNESCO listed as a world Heritage Site.
Fly to Ashgabat, the Turkmenistan capital and transfer to Hotel Grand Turkmen or similar.
Ashgabat – Merv - Ashgabat
Transfer back to them airport for the short flight to Ancient Merv, one of the major archaeological sites of Central Asia. Merv played an important part in the development of the Silk Road for more than 2,000 years.
We return to present day Mary and the Regional Museum containing archaeological finds dating back to 3,000 BC from both Ancient Merv and older Bronze Age sites in the area. From here we drive back to the airport and fly back to Ashgabat and our hotel.
Ashgabat – Nissa - Ashgabat
We have a morning sightseeing tour of the capital. Begin with a visit to the Park of Independence and Neutrality Square with its bizarre Arch of Neutrality topped with a rotating gold-plated statue of the first President of Turkmenistan. From here we drive to Nissa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the earliest capital of the Parthian Empire. Later visit the National Museum of History with artefacts from some of Turkmenistan’s ancient sites including Nisa and Merv.
Visit the Turkmenbashi Mausoleum and mosque dedicated to the country’s former despotic leader Saparmurat Niyazov who passed away in 2006. We also explore the carpet museum and city mosque.
Transfer to Tashkent Airport for your onward flight.
- Room accommodation in twin share
- Private transportation by car/ minivan
- Experienced English speaking Uzbek and Turkmen guides
- Drinking water in car / minivan
- Daily breakfast and meals as mentioned in itinerary
- Flights: Tashauz (Kunya Urgench) – Ashgabat / Ashgabat – Mary - Ashgabat
- National dances and show in Bukhara
- 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 and Turkmenistan visas
- Any personal expenses such as laundry, hotel phone etc
- Tips and gratuities