Acclaimed as the "greatest route in the history of mankind", the ancient Silk Road (300 BC - AD 100) formed the first bridge between East and West. It was an important vehicle for trade between the ancient empires of China, India, Persia & Europe. The route was a channel for contact between people and cultures, inspiring the exchange of dialogue, art, religion, ideas & technology. With its richly diverse cultural heritage and its wealth of natural tourism attractions spanning across 12000Kms. of ancient routes, the Silk Road today offers visitors the opportunity to experience a unique network of destinations, following the footsteps of some of the world's most acclaimed explorers such as Alexander the Great, Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta. The Central Asia to the Caucasian portion forms, for many, the one area today that even today reflects the heydays of the Silk Road. Explore the Silk Road with like-minded people in a small group.
|Tour Duration||:||30 days|
|Min. Tour Size||:||02 persons|
|Max. Tour Size||:||12 persons|
|Includes international air|
|Tour Price (from)||:||US$|
Day 01: Arrive Tashkent (UZBEKISTAN)
Xush kelibsiz – welcome in Uzbek language. Our exciting journey on the Silk Road: Tashkent-Isfahan-Baku starts in Uzbekistan - the most prominent part of the Silk Road. We are warmly received at Tashkent Airport and transferred to our hotel. Balance of the day is free. Evening we treated to a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Overnight: Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace, Tashkent (1 night) (D)
Day 02: Tashkent/Samarkand (Train 1350 hrs – 1600 hrs)
Tashkent Old City still reflects medieval times and one can feel the aura from the days of the silk trade. We visit many of the historical and cultural sites including the Khast-Imom Complex, Madrasah of Barak-Khan, Tilla Sheikh Mosque. We also explore the famous Chor-Su Bazaar and join the Uzbeks on a ride on Tashkent Metro before being dropped off to the railway station, where we take a deluxe train to Samarkand. Early evening, we arrive at the historical city of Samarkand - one of the most famous on the Silk Road.
Overnight: Grand Samarkand Hotel, Samarkand (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 03: Samarkand
Samarkand is known to be the crossroads of cultures. We start with the spectacular Registan Square – a UNESCO World Heritage Site (WHS). We have a full day exploring sites like the Bibi Khanum Mosque, Siyob Bazaar, Ulugbek Observatory, Shakhi-Zinda Necropolis and Gur Emir Mausoleum/authentic shrine of Tamerlane. Evening is free to enjoy this historic town and stroll in the local bazaar. (B, D)
Day 04: Samarkand/Shakhrisyabz*/Bukhara (Drive)
Leaving Samarkand, we head for another historic centre of Shakhrisyabz (WHS). It contains a collection of exceptional monuments and ancient quarters, which 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. Continue onto the historic centre of Bukhara. Evening we are treated to a musical and folk dance performance over dinner.
Overnight: Omar Khayyam Hotel (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 05: Bukhara
Bukhara houses 140 architectural monuments. We start with a guided walking tour in the Old City. We explore Lyabi Hauz Ensemble, Magoki-Attori Mosque, Chor-Minor Madrasah, trade domes, Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque and Miri-Arab Madrasah. Afternoon tour includes Ulugbek madrasahs, Ark Fortress, Bolo-Khauz Mosque, Ismail Samani and Chashma-Ayub mausoleums. Bukhara had a large Jewish settlement and the narrow streets will remind us of the Arabian Nights. Bukhara is also a WHS. (B, D)
Day 06: Bukhara/Khiva (Drive)
This morning we head through the Kyzlkim desert to the historic city of Khiva. Enroute we stop at various places and also are entertained the to the famous Uzbek breads which are colorfully displayed on the road. We see villagers with their handicrafts fruit sellers, etc. Late afternoon arrival at the walled city of Khiva. Evening we take a stroll of this unique city – a WHS. An ideal opportunity to meet the local folks and discussing matters over chai.
Overnight: Asia Hotel, Khiva (1 night) (B, D)
Day 07: Khiva/Nukus (Drive)
Khiva is said to have been founded by Shem – the son of Prophet Noah. A walking tour reveals the mysteries of this legendary town going piece by piece from one corner to another. Time has still not changed the character and culture of this walled city, which still thrives on its past glory. Afternoon we drive to Nukus. En-route we shall see the last stages of the Amudarya before its final destination to the Aral Sea. Nukus can best be described as a lost city in the middle of nowhere. Evening free.
Overnight: Jipek Jolly Hotel, Nukus (1 night) (B, D)
Day 08: Nukus/Dashoguz/Ashgabat (TURKMENISTAN) (Flight)
The highlight of our Nukus visit is the Krakalpakstan Regional Museum, which is also known as Savitsky Museum. Here we see rare Russian avant-garde period paintings of known and unknown masters. The collection was in hiding in the cellar of the museum for a long time. We then head to the border where after the formalities we bid goodbye to our Uzbek guide and take a short walk on no man’s land to the Turkmen customs where we are met by our Turkmen guide. We visit Kunya Urgench a WHS the ancient capital city of powerful Khorezm State before flying to the capital city of Ashgabat.
Overnight: Grand Turkmen Hotel or Ak Altyn Hotel, Ashgabad (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 09: Ashgabat
Ashgabat is probably the most unique city in Central Asia with more marble buildings then anywhere in the world. Our morning tour starts at the Tolkuchka Bazaar – a weekly Sunday bazaar where people from the neighbouring hamlets bring in their ware. Nex, we visit the State Museum of History. Afternoon we visit the archaeological site of Nisa dating back to 1st century of BC located in the foothills of Kopetdag mountain range. Nisa is a WHS. Evening free to stroll the streets on Ashgabat. (B, D)
Day 10: Ashgabat/Mashhad (IRAN) (Drive)
We bid farewell to the Central Asian portion of the Silk Road and head south into the Middle Eastern portion. We drive to the Iranian-Turkmen border and again through no man’s land on a shuttle to the Iranian checkpoint, where after entry formalities, we are warmly greeted by our Iranian guide. Khush Amded - welcome to Iran! We drive toward the historical city of Mashhad and first pay respects to Iran’s greatest epic poet Ferdowsi, author of the Shah-nameh or Book of Kings and visit his tomb in Toos (Tus). At Mashhad, we visit Imam Reza Mosque & Mausoleum. We visit the huge square surrounding the mausoleum which houses many museums including a philatelic one with a collection of over 300,000 stamps. The square is always full of pilgrims from different parts of the world. The mausoleum and the nearby mosque are lit up at night – a majestic site to see. We are then transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Ghasr Hotel, Mashad (1 night) (B, D)
Day 11: Mashhad/Nishapur/Yazd (Flight)
This morning we take an excursion to visit the ancient town of Nishapur, an important stop on the Silk Road. The town was destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th-century. Today it is famous for its ceramics and pottery. On the way visit the lovely Safavid shrine and gardens at Qadamgah, an important pilgrimage site, with beautiful decoration. We will learn about Omar Khayyám, mathematician, astronomer and poet whose 1000 quatrains came to be known as the Rubáiyát; Kamal-al-Molk, Iran’s greatest contemporary painter whose works include “The Fortune Teller of Baghdad”; and Farid al-Din Attar, the 12th century Sufi poet and mystic are also buried in Nishapur. Return to Mashhad for a flight to Yazd-with a history of over 5,000 years, Yazd is the capital of the Zoroastrians. In 1272 when Marco Polo visited Yazd, he remarked of the high quality of silk weaving. Transfer to our hotel. Evening we stroll through streets of Yazd.
Overnight: Daad Hotel or Safiyeh Hotel, Yazd (2 nights) (B, L)
Day 12: Yazd
Today we will be touring the city of Yazd. Visiting the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence and the Fire Temple. It is here that the original Zoroastrian fire can be seen – it has been burning since the 5th Century AD. We also visit the magnificent Masjed-e Jameh and Amir-Chakhmaq Mosques and then tour Doulat Abad Garden with its traditional ventilation shaft (wind tower). We are treated to a local Yazdi cuisne tonight. (B, D)
Day 13: Yazd/Pasargadae/Shiraz (Drive)
A day into the history of ancient Persia as we visit WHS site of Pasargadae - the capital of Cyrus the Great. Its palaces, gardens and the mausoleum of Cyrus are outstanding examples of the Achaemenid art and architecture. We visit his tomb before continuing on to Shiraz - the city of Roses and Nightingales. Rightfully so, it is the home of the finest Persian lyrics as well as the cradle of the Persian Civilization. We take a drive through Shiraz before settling in for the night at our hotel. Evening time free to enjoy chai at the local cafés.
Overnight: Pars Hotel, Shiraz (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 14: Shiraz
Our day is spent exploring Shiraz where we start with a visit to the picturesque Eram Garden, famous for its cypress trees. Next we visit the tombs of Persia’s best-known poets: Saadi and Hafiz. While there, why not enjoy a cup of chai at the wonderful atmospheric teahouse where one sits on a floor of cushions and mingle with the locals. Our next stop takes us to the “modern” Nasirol-Molk mosque and the pretty Afif-Abad Garden followed by a visit to the Church of Saint Simmon the Zealot with the famed stained glass windows. (B, D)
Day 15: Shiraz/Persepolis*/Isfahan (Drive)
Another day into ancient Persia. Persepolis (WHS) is the last and ultimate expression of the ancient Middle East. Nearly 2500 years ago, construction for its magnificent structure was begun by Darius the Great with the intent to make it the focus of the mighty Achaemenian Empire. The morning’s tour also includes Naqsh-e-Rustam where hewn out of a cliff rest the tombs of Darius I and II, and Xerxes I. We then continue our drive to the enchanting city of Isfahan - a highlight and a not-to-miss city in any tour of Iran. Isfahan was founded at the time of Tahmourass or Keykavous. During the Safavid Era (16th/17th Century AD.), Isfahan was a city of Gardens and Palaces; a trade center recognized by the saying, "Isfahan is half of the world" (in beauty).
Overnight: Abbasi Hotel, Isfahan (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 16: Isfahan
Our morning begins with a visit to Meidan Emam (WHS), built by Shah Abbas I the Great at the beginning of the 17th century, and bordered on all sides by monumental buildings linked by a series of two-storeyed arcades, the site is known for the Royal Mosque, the Mosque of Sheykh Lotfollah, the magnificent Portico of Qaysariyyeh and the 15th-century Timurid palace. They are an impressive testimony to the level of social and cultural life in Persia during the Safavid era. Next stop is the Masjed-e Jameh or Friday Mosque (WHS), which can be seen as a stunning illustration of the evolution of mosque architecture over twelve centuries. It is the oldest preserved edifice of its type in Iran and a prototype for later mosque designs throughout Central Asia. If time permits, we end this day of exploration with a trip to the most famous bazaar in Iran followed by dinner of Isfahani food. (B, D)
Day 17: Isfahan/Kashan/Tehran (Drive)
A scenic drive to Kashan, an attractive oasis town. We visit Tabatabaie Houses and Khan-e Borujerdi, built as a private residence, now a charming museum with a lovely courtyard. At the famous Fin Garden (WHS) we witness its breathtaking pools, orchards and natural springs. Next we visit Agha Bozorg Mosque famous for its lovely portals and minarets. After lunch, we visit the exquisite Shrine of Fatima in Qum and later we view the Tomb of Ayatollah Khomeini. Drive to Tehran. Evening is free.
Overnight: Espinas Hotel (1 night) (B, D)
Day 18: Tehran/Tabriz (Flight)
Morning visit to the Golestan Palace (WHS), which is a masterpiece of the Qajar era, embodying the successful integration of earlier Persian crafts and architecture with Western influences. The walled Palace, one of the oldest groups of buildings in Teheran, became the seat of government of the Qajar family, which came into power in 1779 and made Teheran the capital of the country. Carpet Museum, which has an excellent collection of Iranian hand woven carpets. Time permitting we visit the Museum of Reza Abbasi. This museum named after the most famous miniaturist in the Safavid’s era exhibits artifacts dating back to prehistoric, ancient and Islamic periods and is particularly rich in Islamic calligraphy. Transfer to the airport for our flight to the western city of Tabriz where we are met and transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Pars Hotel, Tabriz (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 19: Tabriz
Today’s tour of Tabriz includes a visit to the city’s Historic Bazaar Complex (WHS), which consists of a series of interconnected, covered, brick structures, buildings, and enclosed spaces for different functions. Tabriz and its bazaars were already prosperous and famous in the 13th century, when the town, in the province of Eastern Azerbaijan, became the capital city of the Safavid kingdom. The city lost its status as capital in the 16th century, but remained important as a commercial hub until the end of the 18th century, with the expansion of Ottoman power. It is one of the most complete examples of the traditional commercial and cultural system of Iran. The rest of the day is to visit other sites in the city like St. Mary Church, Qajar Museum & etc. Evening is free before we are treated with a farewell dinner at a local restaurant. (B, D)
Day 20: Tabriz/Tatev/Goris (ARMENIA)
We head north for the Caucasus. Cross the Iranian border and enter Armenia – a different part of the Silk Road. The Caucasus comprises of the States of Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan – all three were part of the USSR till the breakup in the early 1990’s. We start with a visit of the 9th Century Tatev Monastery, one of the largest and the most famous monasteries in Armenia. The monument "Gavazan"("Stick"), erected in the yard, near the dwelling premises of the monastery, is a unique work of Armenian architecture. Time permitting an optional activity of admiring the Vorotan Gorge through “Wings of Tatev” ropeway - the world’s longest cable car (5750m). Evening free.
Overnight: Mirhav Hotel, Goris (1 night) (B, D)
Day 21: Noravank/Khor Virab/Yerevan
As we drive to the capital of Armenia we visit the 12th Century Monastery of Noravank set in a canyon rich with rare flora. Lunch in Noravank. We take an excursion to Khor Virap Monastery, one of the most popular tourist destinations in Armenia. It is located near the closest point to Mount Ararat within Armenia and offers a spectacular view of the mountain - the national symbol of Armenia. It is also significant as being the place of Gregory the Illuminator's 13 years imprisonment, after which Gregory made Armenia the first country to accept Christianity as its official religion in 301 AD. Evening free to enjoy the city and strolling at the local markets.
Overnight: Royal Golden Tulip Hotel, Yerevan (2 nights) (B, L)
Day 22: Yerevan/Geghard/Echmiatsin/Zvartnots/Yerevan
An interesting day ahead as we visit the Monastery of Geghard and the Upper Azat Valley (WHS), which contains a number of churches and tombs, most of them cut into the rock that illustrate the zenith of Armenian medieval architecture. The complex of medieval buildings is set into a landscape of great natural beauty, surrounded by towering cliffs at the entrance to the Azat Valley. Next is an excursion to the Cathedral and churches of Echmiatsin and the Archaeological Site of Zvartnots (WHS) that graphically illustrate the evolution and development of the Armenian central-domed cross-hall type of churches, which exerted a profound influence on architectural and artistic development in the region. Evening free to enjoy the bazaars of Yerevan. (B, D)
Day 23: Yerevan/Bavra/Vardzia/Akhaltsikhe (GEORGIA)
Bidding farewell to Armenia, we drive to the Armenian - Georgian border of Bavra via Gyumri, the second largest city of Armenia. In about 3 hours we should reach Bavra and have an interesting visit of Vardzia - a 13story cave town built between 1186-9 by Georgia’s famous Queen, Tamar. It stands out as a unique example of the Georgian renaissance in an area of many medieval sites. Akhaltsikhe is a small town of some 50,000 inhabitants and goes back to over 800 years in age. A sleepy town but the Old Town is certainly worth a visit and is what we will do in the evening with an optional dinner at a local pub.
Overnight: Hotel Lomsia, Akhaltsike (1 night) (B, L)
Day 24: Akhaltsikhe/Gori/Uplistsikhe/Gudauri
After breakfast we drive to Gori known more as the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. It is this Georgian who controlled the USSR from 1928 till his death in 1953. We start our visit here with the Stalin Museum (may not be opened due to Victory Day on May 09) followed by the Uplistsikhe (‘the Lord's citadel’), a cave town hewn into the living rock, 8 Kms from Gori. The citadel dates back to the 7th Century BC. It served as a strategic point on the ancient Silk Road and even after till the 15th Century AD. It contains a large central hall for pagan rituals, living rooms and a 9th Century church. A rural Georgian scenic drive gets us to Gudauri.
Overnight: Marco Polo Hotel (1 night) (B, D)
Day 25: Gudauri/Kazbegi/Stepantsminda/Mtskheta/Tbilisi
Another day of scenic drive. This time over the Jvari Pass (2395m) and down into Kazbegi (1700m). The adventure continues as we change transport to 4X4's all-wheel drive to go up the Sameba (Trinity) Church at Gergeti. After that, we drive back to Gudauri and continue drive on the sides of the dramatic Aragvi River Valley. En route to Mtskheta visit Ananuri Fortress (16th – 17th cc). The one time home of the tyrannical Aragvi dynasty it sits in a green valley overlooking the Aragvi Valley and Zhinvali Reservoir. Arrive in the town of Mtskheta (WHS), which lies in a lush valley on the confluence of two rivers, the Aragvi and the Mtkvari. Here we also visit the 11th Century Svetitsikhoveli Cathedral, Georgia’s largest remaining Cathedral and burial place of the Georgian kings, notably members of the Bagrationi family. Late afternoon we arrive at the Georgian capital city of Tbilisi. Evening is free to loiter into the streets of Tbilisi.
Overnight: Tbilisi Marriott Hotel, Tbilisi (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 26: Tbilisi
A relaxed start for our visit today. We start with the Old Town which includes Sioni Cathedral the heart of Georgian Orthodoxy. The Anchiskhati Church is an even more ancient style of Georgian church with a choir to match. We then visit the State Museum of Georgia and then take a walk along Rustaveli Avenue – the main 1500 meter-long artery of the city decked out with elegant renaissance and neoclassical buildings. Funicular, Mtatsminda (Holy Mount or Father David’s Mount) Pantheon & Park – railway built in 1903 with two stations – the lower stopping at St. David's church and the Pantheon of Writers and Public Figures and the upper station takes you to the Panoramic Park which provides spectacular views of the city. We end the day with visit to Sameba (Holy Trinity) Cathedral – Recently built magnificently dominating Cathedral of Georgian Orthodox Church. Balance of the day is free. (B, L)
Day 27: Tbilisi/Kvareli/Lagodekhi/Sheki (AZERBAIJAN)
We start our day early by driving to Kakheti region via the enchanting Gombori Pass. Kakheti region - Georgia’s famous wine district. En-route to the border we visit the Gremi architectural complex, which consists of the Church of the Archangels Michael and Gabriel (16th c.), a three-story castle, a bell tower and a wine cellar. Visit unique wine cellar ‘gvirabi’ (tunnel) of the ‘Khareba Winery’ carved into the rock. These several kilometers long tunnels were opened in 1962 to host the World Wine Congress. Sample some of the finest wines while enjoying the beautiful views of the Alazani Valley and Kvareli vineyards. Drive to the Georgian - Azerbaijan border checkpost of Lagodekhi. After the border crossing procedures, once again we will meet our Azeri guide and transport. Our destination is to the picturesque slopes of the Caucasus Mountains at the town called Sheki. Evening we enjoy the relaxed and calm atmosphere on the valley.
Overnight: Sheki Saray Hotel, Sheki (1 night) (B, L, D)
Day 28: Sheki/Shamakhi/Baku
A leisurely start for Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. We first head for Shamakhi situated on the foothills of the Greater Caucasus. It is in the famous Azerbaijani wine-producing region. Located 1400 meters above sea level, near Pirgulu village is the Shamakhi astrophysical observatory (SAO) known also as Nasireddin Tusi. The first of the largest telescopes in the USSR was mounted here. In Shamakha we visit the historical Jume Mosque, the mausoleum of Yeddi Gumbez (Seven Domes) and graveyard of the Shirvan Shahs’. At Baku we take a drive through the city and are treated to an Azerbaijani dinner.
Overnight: Atropat Hotel, Baku (2 nights) (B, D)
Day 29: Baku/Gobustan/Baku
Baku has a lot to offer especially to do with medieval period. Lonely Planet records Baku as: Few cities in the world are changing, as quickly and nowhere else in Eurasia do East and West blend as seamlessly or as chaotically. Battered Ladas race SUVs and shiny Mercedes past illuminated stone mansions, shiny glass towers and tatty old Soviet apartment blocks. In Baku’s elegant centre, pedestrianised tree-lined streets are increasingly filled with exclusive boutiques. Unesco World Heritage status has helped kerb the corporate gentrification of the fascinating Old City (İçəri Şəhər), hemmed in by an exotically crenellated arc of fortress wall. And romantic couples defy Islamic stereotypes by canoodling their way around wooded parks and handholding on the Caspian-front bulvar (promenade), whose greens and opal blues make a mockery of Baku’s desert-ringed location. We visit the WHS including Old City, Icheri Sheher, Maiden Tower the Complex of Shirvan Shahs’ Palace, medieval Caravansary, medieval Market square, handmade carpet’s workshop art studio. Afternoon we visit Gobustan, an Outdoor Museum. The rocks of Gobustan (WHS) also retain the evidence of the presence of Roman legionnaires crossing this attractive region in the 1st Century BC. A rock has been found here with the carved inscription in Latin written by Roman centurions of the XII Legio Fulminata. The inscription reads that the Emperor Domitianus Caesar Augustus Germanicus ruled in Rome at the time. We end the day and our journey with a farewell dinner followed by a folk show. (B, D)
Day 30: Baku/Depart
As our unique Silk Road journey comes to an end we are transferred to the airport for our departure flight. Hotel check out time is 1100hrs. (B)
B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner
English Speaking Departures (Please contact us for information on French, German, Italian and Spanish speaking departures).
This is a suggested program for private tours. Please contact us for details.
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|
|Leg 1: Central Asia & Iran (Days 01 – 19)||from US$ 7395||from US$ 765|
|Leg 2: Iran & the Caucasus (Days 10 – 30)||from US$ 9075||from US$ 1265|
|Full tour Central Asia, Iran & the Caucasus (Days 01 – 30)||from US$ 12,395||from US$ 1580|
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.
You may e-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-604-264-7378. Residents of U.S.A./Canada may call us toll free at 1-800-663-0844.