Wonders of Uzbekistan

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23
13 Nights / 14 Days
Tashkent
Tashkent

Unravel the ancient past of the cities along the Silk Road in Uzbekistan during this 14-day guided tour. Wander through the streets of Tashkent, the capital city, discover the world inside the medieval walled town of Ichon-Qala and drive through the desert to the famous city of Bukhara, once regarded as the bastion of Islam and the holiest Islamic city in Central Asia.

Visit the remote Uhum village, located in the Nuratau Mountains. Enjoy hiking in the Uhum Valley and learn more about the life of the locals. After that, it is time to head for yet another famous Central Asian city, Samarkand, located on the Silk Road and known for its mosques and mausoleums.

Day 01: Tashkent arrival
Arrive in Tashkent Airport in the afternoon. You will be met by our driver on arrival and he will transfers you to the hotel. There is no sightseeing planned for today. Depending on your arrival time you are free to take rest in your hotel or explore the city on your own. Your Uzbekistan tour begins with a welcome meeting held by our representative in your hotel at 6pm.

Your overnight accommodation in Tashkent.

Day 02: Tashkent city tour
Explore Tashkent during a city sightseeing tour. Tashkent was completely rebuilt by the Soviet government after the earthquake of 1966. Start the city tour by visiting Independence Square followed by the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan and Earthquake Monument.

The second half of the day involves visiting the Khast Imam complex which contains one of the oldest known copies of Koran dating from 655 AD. From Khast Imam, the tour continues to the nearby Kukaldosh Medressa, Juma Mosque and Chorsu Bazaar – one of the largest and oldest markets in Central Asia.

Day 03: Tashkent – Khiva
Catch the early morning flight to Urgench. From there, the journey to Khiva takes another 40 minutes by bus.

Archaeological findings testify that people have been living for two millennia in the territory of present-day Khiva. According to legend, the city of Khiva came into being after people discovered Kheivak well in present-day Ichan Qala (inner city) fortress. The name of Khiva is believed to be derived from the name of this ancient well.

Strategically located on the Silk Road, Khiva was an important trading centre as well. In the 19th century, this place was a capital of Khiva Khanate which hosted the most infamous slave market on the Silk Road.

Start exploring the Unesco World Heritage site of Ichan Qala. Find yourself surrounded by beautiful, blue-tiled medieval mosques, minarets and madrasas that take you back in time. See Mohammed Aminkhan Madrasa, Kalta Minor minaret, Kuhna-Ark citadel, Juma Mosque, Tosh-Hovli palace, Pahlavon Makhmud Mausoleum, Mohammed Rakhimkhon Madrasa and the minaret of Islom-Hoja.

*Please note: On occasions it might not be possible to secure seats for the group on the flight to Urgench. In this case we will take the flight to Nukus instead. If this happens at all, the activities on days 3 and 4 will be reversed.

Day 04: Around Khiva
Your full-day excursion starts after breakfast as you head for the ancient fortresses in the neighbouring Karakalpakistan.

Two thousand years ago, people who lived in the fertile Amu-Darya delta built many fortresses to defend themselves against the invasions of nomadic tribes who lived with their herds in the Kyzylkum Desert.

Today’s journey will take you from Khiva past the towns of Urgench, Beruni and Boston to reach Topraq-Kala. This rectangular fortress dates back to the second and the third century AD and was built on a nine-metre high platform and includes a temple, a residential area and gardens.

Continue to Ayaz-Kala, passing the nearby Kizil-Kala fortress, a small but well preserved fortresses that might have been an army base. Ayaz-Kala is one of the most spectacular fortresses of the region and consists of three fortress complexes. The view of the Kyzylkum from the fortress is stunning. Return to Khiva late afternoon.

Day 05: Drive through the desert to Bukhara
Follow the route used by caravans in ancient days and drive through the Kyzylkum Desert to fabulous city of Bukhara (450 km/ approximately eight hours). The Kyzylkum is populated by nomadic people and driving through this desert you will see odd shepherd’s huts and herds of camels.

The road to Bukhara runs alongside the Amu Darya (the Oxus) which starts far away in the snow-capped Pamir Mountains. We will have stops along the road and move at a relaxed pace.

Arrive in Bukhara and enjoy a free afternoon wandering through busy markets full of embroideries, handicrafts, jewelery and spices.

Day 06: Bukhara
With more than one hundred monuments, Bukhara was once regarded as the bastion of Islam and the holiest city in Central Asia. You will be staying in Bukhara for two days.

Start today’s city sightseeing tour with a visit to Lyab-i Hauz pool, the ninth century mosque of Magok-i-Attari and Nadir Divan-begi Madrasa. Pass by medieval trading domes to visit the madrasas of Abdul Aziz Khan and Ulugbek.

Then continue to the Kalon ensemble that consists of a minaret and a mosque. The 47 metre tall Kalon minaret was built by Bukhara’s ruler Arslan Khan in 1127 AD. The minaret is also called the “tower of death” since prisoners were once flung to their death from the top of the minaret on market days.

Opposite the Kalon Mosque is the 16th century Mir-i-Arab Madrasa which is still in operation. Proceed further west to visit the Ark of Bukhara, a massive, imposing fortress dating back to the fifth century AD. This fortress was the ancient centre of Bukhara and the scene of many historical events.

Upon leaving the fortress, continue through Registan Square towards Samani Park to visit the mausoleums of Ismail Samani and Chashma Ayub.

Day 07: Explore Bukhara
Your second day in Bukhara starts with a visit to Sitorai Mohi Hosa – the summer palace of Bukhara’s last emir who involved both Russian and local masters to build this summer residence.
Continue to the village of Kasri Orifon stopping on the way at Chor-Bakr necropolis.

Visit the complex of Baha-ud-Din Naqshband on arrival in Qasri Orifon. Baha-ud-Din Naqshband founded one of the most influential Sufi orders in Central Asia. This complex has a couple of mosques, a minaret and the mausoleum of Bakhautdin Naqshband and is one of the most famous places of pilgrimage in the country.

Return to Bukhara in the afternoon. You are free for the rest of the day. Explore Bukhara on your own.

Day 08: Bukhara – Gijduvan – Nurata – yurt camp
Leave Bukhara and drive through the Kyzylkum to your yurt camp located in the desert, stopping at the towns of Gijduvan and Nurata. The small town of Gijduvan (46 km east of Bukhara) was an important trading and crafts centre on the Silk Road. Visit the workshop of the Narzullayev family. Learn more about the ceramic producing process and see the family’s ceramics museum. Continue your journey to Nurata after that.

The origin of this town’s name is often linked to the the fortress Nur built in the third century BC by Alexander the Great. Arrive in Nurata by lunchtime and, after having your lunch, start exploring the ruins of the fortress built by Alexander the Great.

Drive for another hour from Nurata to reach your desert yurt camp. There are twenty yurts (traditional nomadic felt tents) in the camp. Washing and toilet facilities are situated separate to the yurts.

Settle in the yurt on arrival (four travelers to a yurt). You have the option to take a short camel ride or just walk around to explore the surrounding dunes if you want to. Enjoy a traditional dinner and listen to the songs of a local bard (akyn) around a fire.

Day 09: Yurt camp – Aydar Lake – Uhum village
Drive via Aydar Lake to the village of Uhum located in the Nuratau Mountains, located north of Samarkand and south of Lake Aydarkul stretching across approximately 180 km. Hayotboshi, the highest peak of the mountain range, is 2169 metres above sea level.

Along with a stunning mountain landscape, you will also enjoy the overwhelming hospitality of local mountain farmers during your stay in Uhum. Your accommodation will be a mountain homestay, which provides you with the opportunity to observe the daily life of the local people.

You will be sleeping in traditional rooms (four people to a room according to your gender) furnished with beds. Like all other houses in the village, this homestay also has a large shady garden with a river nearby. Relax on tapchans (comfortable tea beds) under walnut trees before its time for lunch.

Then take a stroll through the village to see the local mosque, school and the village shop. Wandering through the village is also a fantastic way to meet friendly locals.

Join your hosts in preparing traditional Uzbek plov from home-grown vegetables and mountain spices in the evening.

Day 10: Explore Uhum
Enjoy an easy hike from the homestay up to Nuratau Nature Reserve (four kilometres one way / two hours). Hiking up through the Uhum Valley, you will see local women baking bread in tandir ovens and doing other household chores.

Women in the village spin yarns, weave carpets and make kurpacha mattresses. Also see ancient irrigation channels still used by local farmers during the hike. In two hours’ time, we arrive at the borders of Nuratau Nature Reserve and visit the petroglyph site that is an indicator of the area’s ancient history. Return to the homestay for lunch.

After having our traditional lunch in the homestay, its time to hike to the village of Hayat, three kilometres one way (one and a half hours) to see the breeding enclosures of the highly endangered Severtzov’s wild sheep. Return to the homestay late in the afternoon.

In the evening you may join the host family in preparation of manti, a traditional dish.

Day 11: Uhum village – Samarkand
Leave the Nuratau Mountains and drive to the majestic city of Samarkand (four hours). Arrive in Samarkand and settle into your hotel. Enjoy a sightseeing tour of the Registan ensemble that also includes Ulugbek, Sher Dor, Tilla-Kari Madrasa and the Registan Square.

Among the world’s oldest surviving madrasas, these three edifices were medieval academies from where the region’s renowned scientists graduated. Wander through blue tiled and majolica decorated madrasas of Registan, probably Central Asia’s most captivating monument.

Leave Registan to pay a visit to the Gur Amir Mausoleum, originally built by Timur for his grandson that later became the resting place for himself and sons.

You are free in the evening.

Day 12: Samarkand city tour
Go out on a sightseeing tour of the legendary Samarkand. Visit Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Siob Bazaar, Sha-i-Zinda necropolis, Afrosiab Museum and Ulugbek’s bbservatory.

Start with the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, located near the Siyob Bazar. Legend has it that it was Bibi Kahanym, Timur’s beloved wife, who ordered this grand mosque with its huge cupola to be built in order to surprise Timur, who was far away in the battlefield. The mosques was biggest in the empire and was meant to accommodate over 10,000 worshippers.

On the opposite side of the bazar is Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, home to a row of beautiful mausoleums decorated with blue tiles and majolica. Your tour then continues to Ulugbek’s observatory with a stop at the Afrosiab Museum en route. Timur’s grandson Ulugbek was more famous as astronomer than as a ruler. This great medieval astronomer built an extraordinary observatory that enabled him to calculate the length of a year to within one minute of what we now know it to be.

Your Samarkand city tour comes to an end with a visit to Ulugbek’s observatory.

Day 13: Samarkand – Tashkent
Drive to the village of Konigil to see the traditional way of producing Samarkand silk paper in a small family workshop. Explore local markets, artisan shops, etc, in Konigil before taking a high speed train from Samarkand to Tashkent late in the afternoon.

Please note that due to a limited number of daily departures, high speed train tickets cannot be guaranteed. In case the tickets are not available, we will drive to Tashkent instead.

Day 14: Tashkent
Our tour ends after breakfast on this day.

City Night (s) Hotel
Tashkent 02 Royal Residence Tashkent
Khiva 02 Erkin palace
Bukhara 03 Malika Bukhara Hotel
Yurt Camp 01 Yurt Camp
Uhum village 02 Guesthouse
Samarkand 02 Hotel DiliMah Premium Luxury
Tashkent 01 Royal Residence Tashkent

– Meeting and assistance by our representative.
– Welcome with fresh flower garlands.
– 13 Nights accommodation
– Daily Breakfast, Lunch and Dinners.
– Local English-speaking guide
– Economy class Tashkent – Urgench flight tickets
– Economy class Samarkand – Tashkent train tickets (if available)
– All transfers, sightseeing, excursions as per the program by private vehicle.
– Entrance Fees as per program
– Transport, Parking, Gasoline & Toll ways.
– All present government taxes.

– International Airfare.
– Tips, gratuities, Portage, laundry, telephone calls, table drinks, camera/ video camera charges, or any other expenses of a personal nature.
– Visa fees, personal insurance.
– Any item not specified under cost includes.

– Accommodation in good hotels.
– Check-in / out time is 12 noon at most of the hotels.
– Extension to other places is also possible with a minimal extra cost.
– Additional nights are available at each place with minimal supplement.
– A visa is required and must be obtained prior to your departure from your Country.
– If quoted hotel is not available, we will provide one of a similar category and standard.
– Small deviations in the tour program are sometimes necessary, depending on weather, road conditions, flight schedules and room availability.
– In case the government changes presently applicable taxes, increase in airlines prices, fuel surcharge our rates will need to be adjusted accordingly.
– Sometimes, there is no relevance between the distance and time of travelling, as it depends upon the condition of the roads and congestion of the traffic.
– While every effort will be made to maintain the itinerary, in view of local strikes etc that are beyond our control all schedule and itineraries are subject to last moment changes.
– Clients must be fully insured, as the company cannot accept liability for loss or damage to client’s property, medical emergencies or any other loss suffered by them whilst on tour.
– In Case of issuing Domestic or International air tickets, SGV is not responsible for any refund if the flight is delayed or cancelled, as it is the responsibility of airline.

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