Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan: Ancient Trade Routes of Central Asia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021)

The mountains and deserts of Central Asia are the backdrop for this extraordinary adventure to the heart of the ancient Silk Road.

Journey Overview

The mountains and deserts of Central Asia are the backdrop for this extraordinary adventure to the heart of the ancient Silk Road. This is one of the world’s most remote and untouched areas and was, during the Middle Ages, the epicentre of a powerful empire. On this journey, you’ll explore Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, two countries steeped in antiquity with a lasting legacy from the warriors and emperors who made their mark. Visit some of the oldest cities in the world such as the legendary Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, each boasting a glorious architectural legacy that is simply dazzling.

Journey Highlights 

  • Walk in the footsteps of emperors and priests and discover the ancient civilisations of the Silk Road 
  • Marvel at some of the world’s most impressive and intricate tile work at the region’s famous mosques and minarets
  • Take a behind the scenes tour and meet artist of the impressive Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre
  • Learn the culinary secrets behind the perfect plov, a classic Uzbek dish 
  • Breathe in the dramatic landscapes of the vast Central Asian steppe 
  • Meet with Russian Orthodox icons artist and restorer Aleksander Galak at Porkrovski Church 
  • Discover the rich handicraft traditions of Central Asia meeting artisans and craftsmen in their workshops 
  • Appreciate the world’s second largest collection of Russian avant-garde art in remote Uzbekistan 
  • Soak up the atmosphere in exotic markets, bazaars and caravanserais
  • Typically features a small group size of 10–12 guests

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Arrive into Tashkent, the Uzbek capital to a warm A&K welcome and a transfer to your hotel. 

Tashkent is a Central Asian hub known for its many museums and mix of modern and Soviet-era architecture. The city’s skyline is distinguished by Tashkent Tower, and is one part newly built national capital, thick with the institutions of power, and one part leafy Soviet city. However it manages to remain a traditionally sleepy Uzbek town, where classically clad farmers cart their wares through a maze of mud-walled houses to the grinding crowds of the bazaar. Tashkent is a fascinating jumble of contradictions that's well worth exploring. 

This evening, your Resident Tour Director will deliver a briefing on the journey ahead before a welcome dinner with your fellow travellers.
Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace | Meals: D

Day 2: Tashkent | Mosques & Madrasas

Today, explore 2,000 years of history in the sprawling city of Tashkent with an expert city guide, including the Hazrat Imam Islamic complex with mosques and madrasas constructed from as far back as the 11th century. Explore the Madrasah of Barak-Khan, Tilla Sheikj mosque, the mausoleum of St Abu Bakr Kaffal Shashi, the Islamic Institual and the Spiritual Administration of Muslims in Central Asia. The library holds one of the most important oriental scripts, the Quran of Caliph Uthman-Ottoman, the primary source of the Islam holy book.  

Afterwards, stroll through the open-air Chorsu Bazaar before visiting the Museum of Applied Arts, which showcases regional ceramics, textiles and artworks by Uzbek artists. The remainder of the day is yours to enjoy at leisure, exploring the wonders this city has to offer before returning for dinner at your hotel.
Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace | Meals: BLD

Day 3: Tashkent | Heart of the City

Today, begin at the History Museum exploring Zoroastrian and Buddhist artefacts, ethnic art and costumes from different parts of Uzbekistan. 

After lunch, stroll around Independence Square, previously named 'Lenin Square', home to several monuments and fountains, surrounded by impressive public buildings and filled with trees and flower beds. 

Then take a ride on the Tashkent underground before visiting the ceramic workshop of the Rakhimov family, where six generations of master potters have practiced their art, and who export beautifully glazed pieces to many countries around the world. 

Visit Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre, the national theatre in Tashkent which was opened to the public in November 1947, and take a behind the scenes tour to meet some of the performing artists.
Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace | Meals: BL

Day 4: Samarkand | Gleaming Domes of Cerulean Blue

Journey by high-speed train to the ancient city of Samarkand, widely considered Uzbekistan's most magnificent city. Its long history is most famously linked to the legacy of the great 14th century ruler Tamerlane whose aim was to create the richest city on earth. Visit his famous mausoleum and Registan Square, both architectural marvels. 

Visit a local home for lunch and learn the secret to making Uzbekistan's signature rice dish, plov. The afternoon is yours to explore with your expert city guide, visit one of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites, unique masterpieces of ancient architecture, glittering minarets, dazzling turquoise domes and hypnotic mosaics for which the city is famous. 
Hotel Dilimah | Meals: BL

Day 5: Samarkand | Uzbek Artistic Traditions

Today begins with an immersion into local traditions, as you enjoy a fascinating encounter with local artisans at a paper making workshop and silk carpet factory. Witness all stages of production behind the region's famed silk carpets. Watch is awe as each step is undertaken delicately by hand using only the most primitive tools to create these renowned works of art. 

After lunch at a local teahouse, make a stop at Pokrovskaya Russian Orthodox church to meet the famous local painter and icon restorer – Alexander Galak. 

Next, visit the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis which sits on a hill overlooking the city, and marvel at the impressive Bibi Khanym Mosque, one of the largest in Central Asia, before heading to the Ulugh Beg Observatory, built in the 1420s and once one of the finest in the region. 

This afternoon, visit the local bazaar where stalls are bursting with colourful handicrafts and mounds of fresh fruits, spices, nuts and freshly baked bread.
Hotel Dilimah | Meals: BL

Day 6: Bukhara | Medieval Jewel

Today, journey west by high-speed train to the magical city of Bukhara, a major centre for trade in the Middle Ages. Begin your introduction to the city at the ancient trading domes, stretching in procession from Lyabi-Khauz to the Miri-Arab madrasah. 

Later, revel in the majesty of the spectacular Ark, a royal citadel dating to the 5th century. It stands as Bukhara’s oldest structure, occupied from the 5th century right up until 1920, when it was bombed by the Red Army. 

After lunch, explore Bukhara with a local guide, discovering the religious and architectural wonders of the Lyabi-Haus region. After your journey back in time, return to your hotel with the remainder of your day at leisure.
Omar Khayyam Hotel | Meals: BL

Day 7: Bukhara | Architectural Marvels

Immerse yourself in historical and architectural wonders as you explore the early 18th century Bolo Hauz Mosque and Ismail Samani mausoleum. The mosque, the emirs’ official place of worship, boasts stunning painted wood and carved columns, some of the most beautiful in Central Asia.

The Ismail Samani Mausoleum is the town's oldest Muslim monument and one of its most architecturally interesting. Built for Ismail Samani (the founder of the Samanid dynasty), its intricate baked terracotta brickwork disguises walls almost 2m thick, helping it survive without restoration (except of the spiked dome) for 11 centuries.

This evening you will savour dinner and delight in a private folk show at a local restaurant.
Omar Khayyman Hotel | Meals: BL

Day 8: Bukhara | Design Your Day

This morning, visit the glorious Summer Palace of the last Bukhara emirs which dates from the beginning of last century. Also known as Sitorai-Mohi-Khosa, which means ‘Palace of Moon-like Stars’ contains several buildings, courtyards, and gardens. 

Plot your own course this afternoon with a choice of Design Your Day activities:

  • Meet a local ceramics artist for a private master class.
    Journey to Gijduvan, one of the famous ceramics centres of Central Asia for a private master-class with famous local artist Mr. Alisher Narzullayev, a 6th generation potter, to learn the secrets of crafting ceramics. Afterwards, enjoy tea in the family museum with the chance to admire the rich collection of state-of-the-art fine ceramics.
  • Discover the city's Jewish heritage on a stroll through the old Jewish quarter.
    Take a deep dive into the city's layered history with an expert local guide. Explore the architecture and many religious buildings including Avicenna Synagogue and the local school, before a stroll along the rows of 19th century houses, and a stop to admire the famous Akbar house & museum, housing a selection of Jewish artefacts.
  • Experience a traditional Bukhari hammam in the Old Town.
    Immerse yourself in the literal sense, as you partake in the tradition of a Bukhari Hammam, or bath. Experience every step of this cleansing process, from real steaming, skin peeling, massage, and washing. Note that men and women will visit a separate hammam.

Omar Khayyman Hotel | Meals: BL

Day 9: Mary, Turkmenistan | Silk Road Oasis Town

Journey to the Uzbek-Turkmen border at Farab, and continue on the road to the oasis city of Mary. 

Mary, formerly named Merv, Meru and Margiana, is a city on an oasis in the Karakum Desert, located on the Murgab River, and was once an oasis city on the famed Silk Road. 

Enjoy an evening at leisure exploring the city or taking a stroll along the Murgab River. The modern city of Mary is the base from which to discover the nearby ancient sites of wonder. The city's museum contains exhibitions and displays to give visitors a good foundation for exploring the surrounding area. Each city (or ‘kala’) within the vast complex of historic Merv tells its own part of Turkmenistan's amazing history from the 7th century BC until well past the Medieval period.
Hotel Mary | Meals: BL

Day 10: Merv | One of the World’s Great Vanished Cities

This morning explore Merv, once believed to be the largest city in the world, with an expert guide. The entire ancient city has World Heritage status and its beautiful monuments bear witness to the glory of days past. The most famous is the Sultan Sanjar mausoleum, which dates to the 12th century and stands alone on the open plain. 

Visit the Regional Mary Museum located in the centre of the city with artefacts and stories which reflect the history and culture of Mary from ancient times to the present day, and the local bazaar, bursting with vibrant colours, smells, flavours and handicrafts. 

Afterwards, board your evening flight to the Turkmen capital Ashgabat, whose bright white skyline rises starkly from the surrounding desert. Upon arrival you will receive a warm A&K welcome and be transferred to your hotel.
Oguzkent Hotel | Meals: BL

Day 11: Ashgabat | The White City

Today, visit the heritage listed fortress of Old Nisa, a beautiful landmark at the foot of the Kopet-Dag Mountains. With its ancient structure surrounded by high defensive earthen ramparts, and its impressive palace complex, the ancient Parthian city is one of Turkmenistan’s most significant cultural sites. 

Afterwards, take an exclusive tour of the Arkadash stud farm, home of the famous Akhal-Tekke horse. The breed is one of the oldest in existence. Even with modern methods of transport available, Turkmen still unwaveringly cherish their renowned Akhal-Teke horses. Returning to Ashgabat, visit the Russian Market for a vivid taste of life in the capital, as you witness locals sourcing their fruits, vegetables, and household items as they go about their day. 

Finish up at the National Carpet Museum with its rare collection of hand-made Turkmen carpets, spanning 20 centuries and including the world's largest handwoven carpet. Afterwards, return to your hotel to relax, with the remainder of the day at leisure.
Oguzkent Hotel | Meals: BL

Day 12: Dashoguz | Ancient Capital of the Achaemenid Empire

Start the day with an early morning flight to Dashoguz, the ancient capital of Khorezm. Travel to world heritage listed Kunya-Urgench and explore the old town monuments including the mosque, caravanserai gates, fortresses, mausoleums and a 60-metre-high minaret. 

This afternoon, cross the Uzbek border and travel on to the city of Khiva, often referred to as a 'living museum’ due to its incredible preservation. The city was established around 1500 years ago, and Itchan Kala in Khiva was the first site in Uzbekistan to be inscribed in the World Heritage List (1991).
Erkin Palace Hotel | Meals: BL

Day 13: Khiva, Uzbekistan | Ancient Citadel and Caravanserais

Today, ready yourself for a full day touring this medieval wonder, where brilliant blue tilework embellishes the rich ochre of the mudbrick architecture. Wander through the twisting alleyways of the city, visit the Kunya Ark founded in the 17th century by Muhammad-Erenk Khan, the Emir's Palace, the magnificent 16th century Juma Mosque which sits atop the ruins of an older mosque, the caravanserai and the local bazaar, bustling with spices, local delicacies, and eye-catching handicrafts. 

This evening, soak up the sunset and some amazing views of Khiva from the old city walls, before savouring local delicacies for dinner in a local family home.
Erkin Palace Hotel | Meals: BD

Day 14: Nukus | Avant-garde Russian Art Collection

Today journey northwards to the ancient site of Ayaz-Kala, one of the largest surviving castle fortresses, with a short trek will deliver breathtaking views over the desert landscape followed by a picnic lunch. 

Afterwards, head to the ancient settlement and castle ruins of Toprak-Kala, admiring its historical architecture, before arriving into the remote city of Nukus. Marvel at the Savitsky Museum's extraordinary collection of Russian avant-garde art, amassed by Igor Savitsky during the 1950s and '60s. 

After your day of historical and artistic appreciation, relax into your hotel, drinking in the sights and sounds of Nukus' city centre.
Jipek Joli Hotel | Meals: BLD

Day 15: Tashkent | Sprawling Uzbek Capital

Return by air to Tashkent with the rest of the day at leisure to explore more of the Uzbekistan capital. Perhaps visit the State Fine Arts museum, or you may wish to explore the Chorsu bazaar for those last souvenirs, fresh spices or delicious local treats. 

In the evening, savour a farewell dinner with your group.
Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace | Meals: BD

Day 16: Depart Tashkent

This morning transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
Meals: B

Journey Details

Internal air included: Mary–Ashbagat/Ashbagat–Dashoguz/Nukus–Tashkent
Maximum Group Size: 18
Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 2 guests.

Tour Inclusions

  • All accommodation as detailed with private facilities
  • Meals as specified in itinerary, including welcome and farewell dinners
  • Internal flights as mentioned in itinerary
  • Services of English speaking A&K Resident Tour Director (Separate for Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan)
  • Airport welcome
  • Porterage
  • Group transportation by private air-conditioned vehicle
  • High-speed train ticket (in business class): Tashkent-Samarkand-Bukhara with UZ Railways
  • Bottled water during transfers and touring
  • Assistance and fast-track services at TAS airport on arrival and departure
  • Turkmenistan (Single entry) visa fee (for Australian passport holders only)
  • Immigration fee in Turkmenistan
  • Wine & beer during lunch and dinner (selected by Resident Tour Director)
  • All entrance fees - Planning, handling, operational and communication charges - All tipping

Tour Exclusions

  • International flights to the tour start point and from the tour end point
  • Visas and other border fees, other than included
  • Insurance coverage of personal loss, injury, illness or damages incurred during your trip
  • Items of a purely personal nature such as drinks (unless specified), laundry, dry cleaning, internet, fax or phone charges
  • Transfers, sightseeing or meals not specified in itinerary
  • Excess baggage charges

Please Note
Accommodation used on this journey is not luxurious, from both a facility and service perspective. Hotels are a mix of 3-star and 4-star (rather than 5-star), but have air conditioned rooms, swimming pools (generally), Wi-Fi and buffet breakfast, and comply with key international health and safety regulations. The use of 3 and 4-star hotels is due to a genuine lack of choice and the relative under-development of the destinations and their tourism industries. We do request that guests understand in advance that the basic nature of accommodation used on this journey (which can sometimes be very atmospheric) can make for a unique, memorable stay. Please do note that at all times, A&K endeavours to use the best accommodation available.

For further information please contact A&K and speak to one of our groups specialists.

Tailor-Made Travel with A&K

If scheduled departure dates don’t work for you, or you would prefer to travel privately, please talk to one of our expert Journey Designers or your travel agent about creating the perfect bespoke tailor-made journey for you, or your own small group with family or friends.

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Preferred Accommodation

Preferred Accommodation

This journey features the following Preferred Accommodations:

Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace

Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan: Ancient Trade Routes of Central Asia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021)

Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace is located in the centre of the city and within close proximity to some of the major sights and attracti ... Read more

Hotel Dilimah

Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan: Ancient Trade Routes of Central Asia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021)

The new Hotel Dilimah is ideally situated in the heart of Samarkand and offers accommodation in 41 comfortably furnished rooms decorated ... Read more

Omar Khayyam Hotel

Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan: Ancient Trade Routes of Central Asia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021)

With a unique location in the heart of Bukhara’s Old City, Omar Khayyam Hotel is within walking distance of the most important ancient mo ... Read more

Jipek Joli hotel

Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan: Ancient Trade Routes of Central Asia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2021)

The Jipek Joli hotel is located in Nukus, close to the renowned Savitsky Museum. It is a small hotel which has been decorated in Karakalp ... Read more

Dates & Prices

Journey Dates & Prices

Prices are per person, based on double occupancy

Oct 8, 2021 - Oct 23, 2021
Price AU$10,855pp Single Supplement AU$1,585 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Enquire

* You must be a Qantas Frequent Flyer member to earn points. Membership and points are subject to the Qantas Frequent Flyer program terms and conditions, available at Eligible Product(s) means any new International and Domestic private tour land itinerary or Limited Edition Small Group Journey with a land itinerary of seven nights or more* created by Abercrombie & Kent Australia.

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