Ancient Trade Routes of Central Asia - A Limited Edition Small Group Journey (2023)

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
Itinerary

Journey Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Arrive into the Uzbek capital where you are met by A&K and transferred by private vehicle to your hotel. Tashkent is a Central Asian hub known for its many museums, bazaars, ancient mosques and mix of modern and Soviet-era architecture. Enjoy some time at leisure, settling into your spacious Junior Suite before meeting with your Resident Tour Director for a tour briefing 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 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. 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 15th century 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

Day 7: Bukhara | Architectural Marvels

Immerse yourself in Bukhara’s historical and architectural wonders as you explore the early 18th century Bolo Hauz Mosque boasting some of the most beautiful painted wood and carved columns in Central Asia, and the striking Ismail Samani mausoleum, the towns oldest Muslim monument dating back to the 10th century. This evening, delight in a private folk show with dinner at a local restaurant.

Hotel Minorai-Kalon | Meals: BLD

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

  • Meet a local ceramics artist for a private master class to learn the secrets of this fine art.
  • Explore the city’s Jewish heritage on a stroll through the old Jewish quarter, taking a deep dive into the city’s layered history with an expert local guide.
  • Immerse yourself in a traditional Bukhari Hammam in the Old Town. Experience every step of this cleansing process, including real steaming, skin peeling, massage, and washing.

Hotel Minorai-Kalon | Meals: BL

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, one of the oldest breeds 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. The remainder of your day is at leisure.

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. 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

Spend the 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 bustling 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

Transfer to the airport for your departure flight.

Meals: B

Journey Details

Internal air included: Mary/Ashgabat; Ashgabat/Dashoguz; Nukus/Tashkent
Minimum age is 10 years.
First group event: welcome briefing at 7:00 p.m. on Day 1.
Last group event: farewell dinner at 7:00 p.m. on Day 15.
Departures are guaranteed to operate with a minimum of 2 guests.

Please Note: Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan are still developing their tourist infrastructure. In some locations hotels may not meet normal A&K standards, however they are comfortable and well located. 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.

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

Included with this Limited Edition Small Group Journey

  • 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 Tashkent 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)
  • Individual Wireless Audio Systems where appropriate
  • All entrance fees
  • Planning, handling, operational and communication charges
  • All tipping

Customise this Journey

Talk to one of our expert Journey Designers or your travel agent about booking this tour as a private journey for your own small group with family or friends. Or, if you would prefer to travel privately, find out more about creating the perfect bespoke tailor-made journey based on this itinerary.

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 (2023)

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 (2023)

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 (2023)

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

Apr 21, 2023 - May 6, 2023 Special
Price AU$11,295pp Single Supplement AU$0 was AU$2,065 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Enquire
May 19, 2023 - Jun 3, 2023 Special
Price AU$11,295pp Single Supplement AU$0 was AU$2,065 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Enquire
Sep 1, 2023 - Sep 16, 2023 Special
Price AU$11,295pp Single Supplement AU$0 was AU$2,065 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Enquire
Oct 6, 2023 - Oct 21, 2023 Special
Price AU$11,295pp Single Supplement AU$0 was AU$2,065 Internal Air (From) Included Availability Available Enquire
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