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Uzbekistan: Secrets of the Silk Road - Times Expert Traveller

TOUR IN

ASIA

  • 23 Apr
  • -
  • 03 May 2022
  • |
  • 11 days

$3360

per person

Availability: 18 places

    If one country defines the Silk Road more than any other, it is Uzbekistan, a country which has lain at the crossroads of cultures and customs for over two millennia. A product of war and commerce since ancient times, it lies at the heart of the fabled trading route and holds many of its greatest treasures.

    On this insightful and memorable trip, we’ll visit the wonderful city of Samarkand with its dazzling array of architectural and cultural treasures, and see holy Bukhara’s UNESCO monuments, mosques and madrasahs. We’ll also explore the bustling capital of Tashkent, as well as Khiva, with its beautifully preserved walled old town.

    This itinerary, exclusively created for The Times, also allows for time to experience traditional village life in the Naratau Mountains, sample the local cuisine, and hopefully see a traditional horse game of kupkari – all in the company of expert guides.

    Day 1

    DAY 1: TOUR STARTS IN TASHKENT

    The tour starts mid-morning in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s vibrant capital which sat at the heart of the old Central Asian trading routes, gaining prominence under the Mongols and the Shabanids, before finally being absorbed by the expansionist policies of the Russian empire during the 19th century. Flattened by a devastating earthquake in the mid-1960s, the city was reinvented by the Kremlin to represent the very epitome of the socialist ideal. This afternoon provides us with an opportunity to discover a little more of the Uzbek capital, with a tour of some of its highlights. including the Khast Imam Complex, the stunning edifice of the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre and the Chorsu Bazaar, a vast open-air market that sits in the heart of the old part of the city.
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    Day 2

    DAY 2: NUKUS - AYAZ KALA

    This morning we take an early flight to Nukus, home to the world renowned Savitsky Museum and one of the finest collections of Soviet art in the world. Indeed, this stunning museum can boast a remarkable collection of Russian avant-garde work that is surpassed only by the Russian Museum in St Petersburg. After a chance to visit its collection, we then travel by road on to the town of Ayaz Kala where we’ll spend this evening in the shadow of the ancient Khorezm fortress.
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    Day 3

    DAY 3: AYAZ KALA - KHIVA

    Built as part of a chain of defences against the marauding raids of desert nomads, the towering walls of Ayaz Kala sit on the edge of the Kizilkum Desert. Built over a period that spanned from the 4th century BC to the 7th century AD, these haunting remains are in fact three fortresses in one. After a morning’s tour of the ruins, we’ll then continue by road on to Khiva, stopping to visit the Khorezm ruins of Toprak Kala en route, before enjoying a late afternoon walk around Khiva.
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    Day 4

    DAY 4: KHIVA

    Considered a pearl of eastern architecture, Khiva is one of the oldest cities of ancient Khorezm. Legend has it that is was founded by Shem, the son of Noah, and archaeological records can trace its origins back to the 4th or 5th century BC. We will spend today exploring its madrasahs and museums, wandering the narrow streets of the Ichan Kala (inner city) and enjoying the atmosphere and sights of a city that can boast some 50 historic monuments.
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    Day 5

    DAY 5: KHIVA - BUKHARA

    Continuing our journey down the old Silk Road we depart Khiva this morning and head next for Bukhara, whose historic centre has been described by UNESCO as the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia. More than 2,000 years old and home to some 140 architectural monuments, we will arrive in the city later this afternoon, affording us time hopefully for a late stroll around the old city before dinner.
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    Day 6

    DAY 6: BUKHARA

    Considered to be Central Asia’s holiest city, Bukhara is liberally sprinkled with an architectural legacy that spans a thousand years of history. A centre of trade, culture and scholarship for centuries, under the Samanids the city became a major intellectual centre of the Islamic world. Today we’ll take in some of its highlights, with visits planned to the imposing Ark of Bukhara, the Kunya Ark Complex and the Samanids Mausoleum, the Friday Mosque and Lab-i Hauz, home to the 16th century Kukeldash Madrasah, the largest in the city.
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    Day 7

    DAY 7: BUKHARA - YANGIKISHLAK

    Departing Bukhara this morning our next stop is the village of Yangikishlak, located between Lake Aydarkul and the Nurafshan Mountains. Occupying a fertile valley that forms part of the Nurata-Kyzyikum Bio-reserve, this area is home to a number of traditional villages, unique plant life and the highly endangered Severtzov wild sheep. On arrival we will have a chance to settle into our family guest-house, before enjoying an afternoon’s introduction to the family and to village life.
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    Day 8

    DAY 8: NURATAU RESERVE

    A day in and around the village provides an opportunity to discover something of the natural beauty of this area, enjoying the views of the mountain scenery and of Lake Aydar in a distance. We will visit the reserve by walking through some of the local villages. Offering up a mix of natural and cultural highlights, the area is home to an array of unique plant life and some 160 species of birds. Today will afford us a unique glimpse into the traditions and customs of local life. We will also have a chance to experience the daily life of our hosts including how they make their home-made bread. We’ll end the day by enjoying some of the region’s traditional music and dance, a wonderful way to learn more about local folklore and legends.
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    Day 9

    DAY 9: YANGIKISHLAK - SAMARKAND

    Leaving after breakfast this morning we wish our hosts a fond farewell and continue our journey east, towards one of the oldest continually inhabited cities in Central Asia. Once one of the greatest cities on earth, Samarkand is a name that resonates with the commerce and colour of the old Silk Road. On arrival we’ll spend this afternoon paying a visit to Registan Square, the ancient heart of the city, as well as the Sherdor, Tillya Kari and Ulugbek Madrasahs.
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    Day 10

    DAY 10: IN SAMARKAND; TRAIN TO TASHKENT

    Our tour of the city continues today with a visit to the Gur Emir Mausoleum, the final resting place of Tamerlane, the founder of the Timurid Empire. We’ll also take in the Shah-i Zinda Necropolis and the 15th century Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once considered one of the most magnificent mosques in the Islamic world. After a chance to explore the bustling Siyob Bazaar, we can then learn more about the art of silk papermaking as we visit a traditional factory and witness the process from start to finish. The early afternoon is then free to continue discovering the city before we take a late afternoon train (2hrs) to Tashkent, arriving in time for a final night's dinner in the Uzbek capital.
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    Day 11

    DAY 11: TOUR ENDS IN TASHKENT

    The tour ends this morning after breakfast.
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