Ancient Trade Routes of Central Asia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2022)

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 heritage 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
  • Learn the culinary secrets behind the perfect plov, a classic Uzbek dish
  • Take a behind the scenes tour and meet artists of the impressive Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre
  • 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
  • Typically features a small group size of 10–12 guests

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Arrive into the Uzbek capital. Enjoy some time at leisure, settling into your spacious Junior Suite before meeting with your Resident Tour Director who will deliver a briefing on the journey ahead before a welcome dinner. 
Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace | Meals: D

Day 2: Tashkent | Mosques & Madrasas

Explore 2,000 years of history in the sprawling city of Tashkent with an expert guide, including the Hazrat Imam Islamic complex with mosques and madrasas constructed from the 11th century to today. Stroll through Chorsu Bazaar, the fresh produce and open-air market, before visiting the Museum of Applied Arts, built at the height of the Soviet era, which showcases regional ceramics, textiles and artworks by Uzbek artists. 
Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace | Meals: BLD

Day 3: Tashkent | Heart of the City

Your day starts at the History Museum exploring Zoroastrian and Buddhist artefacts, ethnic art and costumes from different parts of Uzbekistan.

After lunch, stroll around Independence Square before taking a ride on the Tashkent underground before a private visit to the ceramic workshop of the Rakhimov family where six generations of master potters have practiced their art. Visit the Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre for a behind the scenes tour and to meet artists appearing in current performances. 
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. 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, arguably the most spectacular architectural ensemble in Central Asia. Visit a local home for lunch and learn the secret to making Uzbekistan’s signature dish, plov.

The afternoon is yours to explore with your expert city guide, visiting some of the many UNESCO World Heritage sites and unique masterpieces of ancient architecture for which the city is famous. 
Hotel Dilimah | Meals: BL

Day 5: Samarkand | Uzbek Artistic Traditions

A fascinating encounter with local artisans at a papermaking workshop and silk carpet factory. After lunch at a local tea-house, you will 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 pretty 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.

There’s time this afternoon to 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 and the most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia. Begin your introduction to the city at the ancient trading domes and, later on, the spectacular Ark, a royal citadel dating to the 5th century.

After lunch, explore Bukhara by foot with a local guide.
Hotel Minorai-Kalon | Meals: BL

Days 7–8: Bukhara | Domes, Minarets, Mosques & Mausoleums

Over the next two days, explore the early 18th century Bolo Hauz Mosque, Ismail Samani mausoleum which dates from the 10th century, delight in a private folk show with dinner at a local restaurant, and visit the glorious Summer Palace of the last Bukhara emirs which dates from the beginning of last century. 

You can also plot your own course one afternoon with a choice of Design Your Day activities:

  • Meet a Local Ceramics Artist for a Private Masterclass.
    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.

Hotel Minorai-Kalon | Meals: BLD (Day 7); BL (Day 8)

Day 9: Mary, Turkmenistan | Silk Road Oasis Town

Journey southwest today to the Uzbek-Turkmen border at Farab, and continue on the road to Mary, an oasis city in the Karakum Desert. Enjoy an evening at leisure exploring the city or taking a stroll along the Murgab River. 
Hotel Mary | Meals: BL

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

This morning explore Merv with an expert guide, believed at one time to be the largest city in the world. 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 museum and bustling bazaar before your evening flight to the Turkmen capital Ashgabat, whose bright white skyline rises starkly from the surrounding desert. 
Oguzkent Hotel | Meals: BL

Day 11: Ashgabat | The White City

Visit the World Heritage listed fortress of Old Nisa, a beautiful landmark at the foot of the Kopet-Dag Mountains. Later on, an exclusive tour of the Arkadash stud farm, home of the famous Akhal-Tekke horse. The breed is one of the oldest in existence. Back in Ashgabat, visit the Russian Market for a vivid taste of life in the capital.

Finish up at the National Carpet Museum with its rare collection of hand-made Turkmen carpets. 
Oguzkent Hotel | Meals: BL

Day 12: Dashoguz | Ancient Capital of the Achaemenid Empire

A morning flight to Dashoguz in the far north of the country, the ancient capital of Khorezm and the second city, after Bukhara, in Central Asia. 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 living museum of Khiva. 
Zarafshon Boutique Hotel | Meals: BL

Day 13: Khiva, Uzbekistan | Ancient Citadel and Caravanserais

A full day touring this medieval gem of a town where brilliant blue tilework embellishes the rich ochre of the mudbrick architecture. Wander through the twisting alleyways of the city, visiting the Kunya Ark or old citadel, the Emir’s Palace, the magnificent Juma Mosque, the caravanserai and the local bazaar.

This evening, soak up the sunset and some amazing views of Khiva from the old city walls, before dining on traditional delicacies at a local family home. 
Zarafshon Boutique Hotel | Meals: BD

Day 14: Nukus | Avant-garde Russian Art Collection

Journey northwards to the ancient site of Ayaz-Kala, one of the largest surviving castle fortresses, where a short trek is rewarded with breathtaking views over the desert landscape followed by a picnic lunch.

Afterwards, head to the ancient settlement of Toprak-Kala before arriving into the remote city of Nukus where the Savitsky Museum is the major highlight. Marvel at the extraordinary collection of Russian avant-garde art amassed by Igor Savitsky during the 1950s and ‘60s. 
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. In the evening freshen up before a farewell dinner. 
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.

Note: Proof of COVID-19 full vaccination is required for this program.

Show Full Itinerary
Preferred Accommodation

Preferred Accommodation

This journey features the following Preferred Accommodations:

Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace

Ancient Trade Routes of Central Asia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2022)

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

Ancient Trade Routes of Central Asia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2022)

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

Jipek Joli hotel

Ancient Trade Routes of Central Asia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2022)

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

May 20, 2022 - Jun 4, 2022
Price AU$9,995pp Single Supplement AU$1,685 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Book
Sep 2, 2022 - Sep 17, 2022
Price AU$9,995pp Single Supplement AU$1,685 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Book
Oct 7, 2022 - Oct 22, 2022
Price AU$9,995pp Single Supplement AU$1,685 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Book

* 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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