Central Asia Journey

tours / Adventure

Central Asia Journey information and booking

from
$2790
  • Duration
    14 days
    Days
  • Group size
    6-16
    Persons
  • Difficulty
    Adventure touring
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Schedule Details

Summary
  • 14 day trip
  • 13 nights hotel
Equipment Required
Specialist gear required include walking boots and day pack (a comprehensive gear list is provided in the pre-departure information provided on booking).

Highlights

  • Exploring Tashkent
  • Ancient walled city of Khiva
  • Registan Square, minarets and medressas in Samarkand
  • Sightseeing in Bukhara
  • Impressive archaeological site of Merv

Tour description provided by World Expeditions

A truly inspirational journey across Central Asia. We weave our way through the cultural highlights – including the famous museums of Tashkent, the Registan of Samarkand, the sprawling archaeological site of Merv, the magnificent Summer Palace of Bukhara and the ancient city of Khiva, with an opportunity to appreciate the contrasting desert and mountain landscapes that characterise this fascinating region. While appreciating the entwined history and rich legacies of the Silk Road there are also opportunities to have a night at the opera or ballet, and to witness a Turkmen horse race, or visit the colourful markets and handicraft centers where the locals skillfully produce their wares.

What's included

  • 13 breakfasts, 12 lunches
  • Local english speaking tour leader and local city guides
  • 3 to 4 star accommodation on a twinshare basis except in remoter towns where the best available hotels are used
  • Internal flights valued at approx. us$180
  • All internal transport by private bus, jeep or car
  • Airport transfer on day 1
  • Local sightseeing, including entrance fees to monuments
  • Assistance in arranging visas
  • Emergency medical kit

Itinerary

Day 1 Join Tashkent
On arrival in Tashkent, you will be greeted by our representative who will transfer you to your centrally located hotel. We will have an important tour briefing, so check with reception for the time and location.
Day 2 In Tashkent. Drive to Samarkand
Tashkent is a modern city of three million people and is the arts centre of the region. Museums and the opera house are perhaps its best known attractions. It has a relaxed pace and charming street side cafes. Trams amble beside green parks and the wide tree-lined roads give a sense of space. In the morning we’ll visit the Tashkent underground, where each station displays a specific architectural and artistic decoration. In the afternoon we follow the Silk Road past old caravanserai to the ancient city of Samarkand. Over the centuries this road has been travelled by Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane as they travelled the route to extend their knowledge and influence.
Day 3 to 4 In Samarkand
Samarkand is a wondrous city showcasing the legacies of the great ruler Timur Lane, contemporarily referred to as Tamerlane; the most influential military leader of the middle ages. He set about making it the richest city on earth by pillaging and destroying all other cities and removing their wealth and skills to Samarkand. Covering the tomb where he lies in the city today is a large single slab of green jade, said to be the largest such stone in the world and symbolic of the extravagance of the ruler and the city he built as his capital. A visit to the tomb reveals an impressive piece of work, but his legacy, the Registan, the market place of ancient Samarkand, is his greatest achievement. It is enclosed by spectacular medressas (Islamic centres of learning) on three sides. These huge buildings with domes and minarets covered in a mosaic of azure tiles were built from the 1400s. The Registan is deserving of its title as one of the wonders of the ancient world. We will also visit the huge mosque, bazaar and observatory during our two days of exploration in and around Samarkand.
Day 5 Travel to Bukhara
Our Silk Road journey continues as we travel between Samarkand and Bukhara in our private vehicle, passing through the desert along the ancient trade route. The road trip takes about four hours which allows the afternoon to be free for exploring Bukhara or to relax at the hotel.
Day 6 to 7 In Bukhara
Bukhara boasts 2500 years of vibrant history. Capital of the Samanid state in the 9th and 10th Century’s, Bukhara became the centre of an intellectual, religious and commercial renaissance of Central Asia until the city succumbed in 1220 to Genghis Khan and then to Tamerlane in 1370, after which Samarkand became the regions most important city. Bukhara had a second lease of life in the 16th century when it became the capital of what we now know as Bukhara Khanate during which time it had more than 300 mosques, 100 medrasses with over 10,000 students. In 1868 it became the protectorate of the Tsar and later became incorporated into the Russian and then Soviet Empires. Over two days we’ll immerse ourselves in the tapestry of this uncomplicated city with its rich history, taking in sights such as The Ark, the former royal city and fortress that was the focus of the city for 2000 years, the Summer Palace of the last emir, mausoleums and mosques and of course the exotic bazaars and markets that make Bukhara famous amongst shoppers. It is in these enclaves where bold rugs and intricate carpets, gold and an assortment of jewelry, tapestries, musical instruments, carved boxes, hats from provinces all over Central Asia and embroidered garments provide endless interest.
Day 8 Travel to Mary (Turkmenistan)
The road journey from Bukhara to Mary takes around 8-9 hours, depending on the border crossing times. We will have to cross the border on foot, the walk is about 2kms and is without vehicle support so please ensure you are able to carry or wheel your luggage along a dusty road. Once border formalities are complete, we will pass through the industrial city of Turkmenabat and continue on to Mary.
Day 9 Travel to Ashgabat via Merv
We commence the day with a short distance drive out of Mary to Merv, an ancient Silk Road staging post. Its origins date back more than 8000 years; the city was at its height during the 11th and 12th centuries when it was considered to be the second most important city in the Islamic world (after Baghdad), being the capital of the Seljuk Turks. Under their domination of the region stretching from Afghanistan to Egypt, the Seljuk’s created a city full of treasures and palaces, irrigation channels and fertile gardens. The Mongols all but destroyed the city under the rule of Genghis Khan in the 13th century and it lay dormant for a century. Whilst parts of the city were resettled over the next few centuries it was not until the 18th century that the dam and some of the former riches were restored. Again, this did not last long, as the Emir of Bukhara opened the dam and his army reduced the city to rubble in 1795. The remains of the city are spread over an area of 100 square kilometres, and the site contains five walled cities from different periods. We spend a few hours exploring the remains of these cities, collect a packed lunch and travel by road for five to six hours through the Karakum Desert to Ashgabat;Turkmenistan’s modest capital.
Day 10 In Ashgabat
Today we visit the main city sights of Ashgabat including the Palace of Turkmenbashi, the National Museum which houses a rich collection of ancient artifacts from Turkmenistan, and the Archaeological site of Nissa including the remains of Old and New Nissa. The city was an important centre of the Parthian State, which existed from the 3rd century BC up to the 3rd century AD. As the archaeological research shows, the township of New Nissa was the centre of the Parthian City. It was inhabited up to the 16th - 17th centuries. Old Nissa was a royal residence of the Parthian kings with the palace and temple, the depositories and the treasury. During the archaeological excavations about 2700 texts inscribed with black paint on the clay vessels fragments were discovered. The written language used in Nissa was of the Aramaic origin, which dates back to the 2nd century BC. We also take in the sights of the Presidential Palace, Lenin Square, Ertogrul Ghazy, and Turkmenbashynyn Ruhy Metjidi which is largest mosque in Central Asia.
Day 11 Fly to Dashoguz and drive to Khiva
Today we transfer to the airport for the short flight to Dashoguz (Tashauz). From here we are accompanied by an English speaking driver who will brief you and assist with the border formalities. Once across the border you will be met by your guide for Khiva. The drive to Khiva is about 1 hour and upon arrival we check into our hotel. Subject to flight timings, the afternoon is free to explore this historical town.
Day 12 In Khiva
The ancient walled city of Khiva is a stunning monument to the rich history of the region. Slave caravans, wild tribesmen and a harsh and unrelenting desert are all part of its tumultuous history. We spend the day exploring the mazes of mosques, tombs, alley ways, palaces and medressas. The following day will be for leisure in this fascinating town.
Day 13 Fly to Tashkent
We transfer to the airport for our flight back to Tashkent. Subject to flight timings we hope to have some free time this afternoon to explore Tashkent.
Day 14 Trip concludes in Tashkent
Today is departure day, there maybe some free time before you need to transfer to the airport for your onward connection. If your onward travel is later in the day, remember that check out time is 12:00 noon. You can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.