Central Asia - “Land of the Caravans”. The Silk Road Caravan routes influenced the local cultures, as the routes of communication and trade opened previously isolated societies. We follow these historical trails on our Route of the Caravans journey covering the five “stans”, a Persian suffix meaning "home of", "place of". The region is famous not only for its many branches of the Silk Road, but also as the birthplace of great builders of empires, such as Tamerlane of the Timurids and Babur, founder of the great Moghul Empire. This artistically tailored journey includes visits to 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Bazaars depicting the times of the silkroad, home visits, meeting locals folks, enjoying local cuisines as we journey through time.
|UNESCO World Heritage Sites covered in this tour|
|1.||Historic Centre of Bukhara, Uzbekistan||6.||Petroglyyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly, Kazakhstan|
|2.||Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz, Uzbekistan||7.||Samarkand – Crossroad of Cultures, Uzbekistan|
|3.||Itchan Kala – Khiva, Uzbekistan||8.||Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor – Site of Burana, Kyrgyzstan|
|4.||Kunya-Urgench, Turkmenistan||9.||Silk Roads: the Routes Network of Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor – Talgar, Kazakhstan|
|5.||Parthian Fortresses of Nisa, Turkmenistan||10.||State Historical and Cultural Park “Ancient Merv”, Turkmenistan|
|Tour Duration||:||18 days|
|Min. Tour Size||:||02 persons|
|Max. Tour Size||:||12 persons|
|Includes international air|
|Tour Price (from)||:||US$|
Day 01: Arrive Ashgabat (TURKMENISTAN)
We are cordially welcomed upon arrival at Ashgabat Airport and then transferred to our hotel. Balance of the day is free at leisure. An ex Soviet state, Turkmenistan is a one party state. Ashgabat, relatively a very small city, offers very interesting sites to see. Resource rich Turkmens have invested in beautifying their capital with a lot of marble of immense size and shapes. Ashgabat was recently noted by the Guinness Book of World Records as having the highest number of white marble-clad buildings in the world - 543 new buildings lined with white marble covering a total area of 4.5 million square meters.
Overnight: Nusay Hotel (3 nights)
Day 02: Ashgabat
Our study into the heritage of Central Asia starts as we explore the Parthian Fortresses of Nisa*. The site is of one of the earliest and most important cities of the Parthian Empire, a major power from the mid-3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD. Archaeological excavations in two parts of the site have revealed richly decorated architecture, illustrative of domestic, state and religious functions. Situated at the crossroads of important commercial and strategic axes, this powerful empire formed a barrier to Roman expansion while serving as an important communication and trading centre between east and west, north and south. We then head to the Spiritual Mosque, one of the biggest mosques in Central Asia, visit the National Museum of History and continue to Arch of Neutrality. In the afternoon we drive to Geok Depe to visit Arkadash stud farm (subject to opening) to see Akhalteke horses, the pride of Turkmen nation. Our tour concludes with visits to Presidential Square, Ertogrul Ghazy Mosque, drive through some of the marble structures and the newly built Independence Park. Dinner tonight will be at the Poytagt Restaurant introducing us to food and cuisines of Central Asia. (B, D)
Day 03: Ashgabat/Mary (Merv)/Ashgabat (Flights)
An early morning short flight gets us to Mary to visit the State Historical and Cultural Park Ancient Merv*, which is the oldest and best-preserved of the oasis-cities along the Silk Route in Central Asia. The remains in this vast oasis span 4,000 years of human history. A number of monuments are still visible, particularly from the last two millennia, such as the Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum, the Large and Small Gyz Gala, Erk Gala, Gyaur Gala, Keshk Fortress, among others. On our way back to Mary we visit an artist’s home to see a demonstration of carpet weaving, embroidery, painting, cooking of local bread (the visit is only applicable when the group has 10 or more passengers). After lunch we take our flight back to Ashgabat. Evening free. (B, L)
Day 04: Ashgabat/Dashoguz (Flight)/Kunya Urgench/Nukus (Drive 160 Kms/3 hours) (UZBEKISTAN)
After a short flight to Dashoguz we head to Kunya-Urgench*, situated in on the left bank of the Amu Daria River. The old town contains a series of monuments mainly from the 11th to 16th centuries, including a mosque, the gates of a caravanserai, fortresses, mausoleums and a 60-m high minaret. The monuments testify to outstanding achievements in architecture and craftsmanship whose influence reached Iran and Afghanistan, and later the architecture of the Mogul Empire of 16th-century India. After our visit of Kunya Urgench we drive to the Turkmenistan-Uzbekistan border point at Khojeyli, where we go through border formalities on both checkpoints, whilst being an interesting experience they do lack modern facilities. A short drive viewing the countryside gets us to Nukus – a place that is almost lost in the middle of the desert.
Overnight: Jipek Joli Hotel (1 night) (B, D)
Day 05: Nukus/Khiva (Drive 180Kms/3 hours)
Morning we visit the Savitsky Karakalpakstan Art Museum, which hosts the world's second largest collection of Russian avant-garde art applied arts objects. It is also home to one of the largest collections of archeological objects and folk, applied and contemporary art originating from Central Asia. Drive through rural Uzbekistan to the historical city of Khiva. Here we explore the Ichan-Kala* - the inner town (protected by brick walls some 10 m high) of the old Khiva oasis, which was the last resting-place of caravans before crossing the desert to Iran. Although few very old monuments still remain, it is a coherent and well-preserved example of the Muslim architecture of Central Asia. There are several outstanding structures such as the Djuma Mosque, the mausoleums and the madrasas and the two magnificent palaces built at the beginning of the 19th century by Alla-Kulli-Khan. Dinner at the popular Yassaulbashi restaurant.
Overnight: Grand Abdi Malik Hotel or Malika Kheivak Hotel, Khiva (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 06: Khiva/Urgench (Drive 32 Kms/½ hour)/Bukhara (Flight)
A short drive to Urgench the capital of Khorezm province. It has a population of 150,000 inhabitants. We will have a drive through of the city before talking our flight to the historical Silk Road city of Bukhara. Upon arrival at Bukhara the most well known of the Silk Road oasis dating back to over 2,000 years. It is the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia, with an urban fabric that has remained largely intact. Monuments of particular interest include the famous tomb of Ismail Samani, a masterpiece of 10th-century Muslim architecture, and a large number of 17th-century madrasas. Afternoon we enjoy a walking tour of Bukhara, visiting several mosques, madrasas and the hat seller’s market. Evening we enjoy a folklore show at the Devanbegi Madrasa. End the day the Bukharan style with dinner enjoying Bukharan cuisine at the Minzifa Restaurant located in the Old Town.
Overnight: Omar Khayyam Hotel or Minzifa Hotel, Bukhara (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 07: Bukhara
Today we continue our tour through the Historic Centre of Bukhara* which houses over 140 architectural monuments. Bukhara had narrow streets will remind us of the Arabian Nights. After seeing the historical sites we visit Akbar’s Gallery where one can see a rich collection of old carpets and suzzane – his display center is like a museum assisted by UNESCO – his collection is well known to the Metropolitan Museum. To culminate our Bukhara experience we visit a miniaturist house where we see the workshop of the painters and his students all trying to retain the traditional art. Miniature painting was introduced here from Persia and the same tradition continued for many years but is facing its challenges with modernity. We join in for a home cooked meal. (B, D)
Day 08: Bukhara/G‘ijduvon/Samarkand (Drive 272Kms/4 hours)
Yet another tour of the historical city visiting the Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace followed by the residence of the Emir of Bukhara, the Mausoleum of the Sufi Bakhoutdin Naqshbandi and the Chor Bakr Necropolis. As we continue to Samarkand we stop at G'ijduvon to visit a famous madrassa built by Ulugh Beg the Timurid Sultan, astronomer and mathematician. We also visit the tomb and memorial of the prominent philosopher Abduholik Gijduvoni, after whom the city is named. An interesting insight to the arts of Uzbekistan as we visit the famous pottery works of Alisher well known for his unique style and color. Past famous visitors include Prince Charles, Lady Diana and Hillary Clinton. Arrival Samarkand late afternoon. Evening, after some free time to stroll through the lanes of this historical city we are treated to dinner at the famous Old City Restaurant of Samarkand.
Overnight: Grand Samarkand Hotel or Sultan Boutique Hotel, Samarkand (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 09: Samarkand
This day is dedicated to explore the historic town of Samarkand* - a crossroad and melting pot of the world's cultures. Founded in the 7th century B.C. as ancient Afrasiab, Samarkand had its most significant development in the Timurid period from the 14th to the 15th centuries. The major monuments include the Registan Mosque and madrasas, Bibi-Khanum Mosque, the Shakhi-Zinda compound and the Gur-Emir ensemble, as well as Ulugh-Beg's Observatory. Time permitting we visit a family home to learn how the most popular Uzbek meal, the pulao, is cooked. Evening is free and you may visit the local Afghan carpet makers, the local winery, the Kunhil paper makers or just back into time. (B, D)
Day 10: Samarkand/Shakhrisyabz (Drive 85 Kms/1 ½ hour)
Morning we tour the Afrosiyob Museum and the tomb of Saint Daniel. Then we drive to Koni Ghil village to see the traditional way of making Samarkand paper from mulberry leaves. Continue to the Historic Centre of Shakhrisyabz*, the birthplace of Tamerlane. The city contains a collection of exceptional monuments and ancient quarters that bear witness to the city's secular development, and particularly to the period of its apogee, under the rule of Amir Temur and the Temurids, in the 15th-16th century. Dinner will be a local experience at Alisher’s House. Evening free.
Overnight: Shakre Sabz Star Hotel, Shakhrisyabz (1 night) (B, D)
Day 11: Shakhrisyabz/Dushanbe (Drive 364 Kms/6 hours) (TAJIKISTAN)
An early morning departure as we drive to the capital city of Tajikistan. Upon arrival at the border we first complete exit border formalities of Uzbekistan and then a short walk across to the Tajik side to do the entry border formalities. Change of vehicles as we drive to Dushanbe. We arrive at Dushanbe and are transferred to our hotel. Tajikistan is a double landlocked country, which was part of the Soviet Union and now has a Presidential form of government. It has a population of 8 million. Evening we are treated to Turkish/Tajik local cuisine dinner at the Café Merve Turkish.
Overnight: Serena Hotel, Dushanbe (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 12: Dushanbe
Our day in Dushanbe is spent visiting the National Museum of Tajikistan, the Gurminj Musical Instruments Museum, Statue of Ismail Samani and Rudaki Park. Subject to permit we also visit the recently built and an architectural marvel, the Ismaili Jamatkhan and Centre. Lunch is at the Traktir Restaurant known for its speciality of Ukranian cuisine. We then visit the Botanical Gardens and culminate with an experience of the local bazaar. Evening is free to stroll the street and meet the friendly Tajiks at the teahouses. (B, L)
Day 13: Dushanbe/Khujand/Tashkent (Drive 450 Kms/7 hours) (UZBEKISTAN)
A whole different scenery as we drive to Khujand on a mountain road that traverses the picturesque Anzob pass (3,300 m above sea level). We visit the Republican Historical-Ethnographic Museum, Timur Malik Fortress, the Archeological Museum, the Mosque and Madrasah of Sheikh Muslehiddin and explore Panjshanbe Bazaar. Continue to the Uzbekistan-Tajikistan border point Oybek (100 km, 2 hrs), complete border formalities and drive to Tashkent. Evening we take a ride on the Tashkent Metro to Amir Temur Square and visit Independence Square followed by grilled dinner at the Jumanji Restaurant.
Overnight: Lotte Hotel, Tashkent (1 night) (B, D)
Day 14: Tashkent/Almaty (Flight) (KAZAKHSTAN)
We explore Uzbekistan’s capital visiting the Old City, including the Khast-Imom Complex where the world famous Quran of Caliph Uthman/Ottoman has been preserved, the Madrasah of Barak-Khan, Tilla Sheikh Mosque, the Mausoleum of the Saint Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi, the Islamic Institute of Imam al-Bukhari and explore Chor-Su Bazaar. An evening flight gets us to the largest and until recently the capital city of Kazakhstan. Upon arrival at Alma Aty we are welcomed and transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Otrar Hotel, Almaty (1 night) (B, D)
Day 15: Almaty/Tamgaly/Bishkek (Drive 285 Kms/5 ½ hours) (KYRGYZSTAN)
We start early today on what is going to be a long day. Our tour begins with a visit to the Panfilov Park, followed by Zenkov Cathedral, St. Nicholas Cathedral and the Green Bazaar. From here we drive through Chang'an-Tianshan Corridor*. We visit the Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly*. Set around the lush Tamgaly Gorge, amidst the vast, arid Chu-Ili Mountains, is a remarkable concentration of some 5,000 petroglyphs (rock carvings) dating from the second half of the second millennium BC to the beginning of the 20th century. Distributed among 48 complexes with associated settlements and burial grounds, they are testimonies to the husbandry, social organization and rituals of pastoral peoples. From here we drive to the border to Kyrgyzstan and continue to our hotel in Bishkek. Known alsos as Furunze, Bishkek is the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. Lunch will be at the Arzu Restaurant.
Overnight: Ak-Keme Hotel, Bishkek (1 night) (B, L)
Day 16: Bishkek/Burana/Issyk Kul Lake (Drive 248 Kms/4 ½ hours)
We enjoy our tour of Bishkek which includes visits to Oak Park, Ala-Too Square, Statue of Manas, the Philharmonic Hall and Victory Monument. Drive to Balasagun and visit the historical Burana Tower* which dates back to the 9th century AD. We will also visit the nearby museum. We then proceed eastwards into the mountains to Cholpon-Ata where we visit the local rock drawings of the Bronze periods, the local museum and a small local bazaar before arriving at our resort at Central Asia’s most popular will known resort. The Four Season’s Karven is known also for its impressive views of the imposing alpine ranges of the Tian Shan across the lake. For the balance of the day we have optional opportunities to walk around the valley and enjoy some of the boat rides being offered at the enchanting Issyk Kul Lake. Evening we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant attached to the Lake.
Overnight: Four Seasons Karven Resort, Issyk Kul Lake (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 17: Issyk Kul Lake
Morning we visit the Preshevalsky Museum and Monument on the eastern edge of the Lake. A landmark museum, dedicated to the memory of Nikolai Michailovich Preshevalsky, who was an enthusiastic explorer accredited for his excellent works on the flora and fauna of the region. In the afternoon we visit the Annanaeva village where we get the opportunity to hike and visit local families and see their yurt accommodation and enjoy soup and tea with them. Evening for dinner we taste the cuisine of yet another of the popular restaurants at the Issyk Kul Lake. (B, D)
Day 18: Depart Issyk Kul Lake for Bishkek for flight back home
Enjoy our time at the lake. Afternoon we drive to Bishkek and enjoy a farewell dinner at the Capt.Nemo Restaurant. We are then transferred to the airport and after an enjoyable trail following the Central Asian portion of the Silk Road, we bid farewell to the land of the Stans. (B, D)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
English Speaking Departures (Please contact us for information on French, German, Italian and Spanish speaking departures).
Apr 05, May 10*, July 05, Sep 06 & Oct 04*
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Tour PriceWe accept payment in US $ (US Dollars), CA $ (Canadian Dollars) or equivalent EURO (for clients outside North America). Bestway Tours & Safaris offers conversion rate protection. Once full payment has been received, and no modification has been made to the tour itinerary, we will honour that rate. For complete payment procedures, please click here
|Departure(s)||Per Person on Twin Sharing||Single Room Supplement|
|2017||US$ 5680||US$ 1080|
Estimated International Airfare (International airfare is NOT included in this tour)
This tour operates on a minimum of 02 and a maximum of 12 participants
If you would like to have a tour on dates other than the above ones or with a customised itinerary, please contact us and we will be happy to work out an exclusive program for you.
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