Travel with a local leader who will share the magic of Uzbekistan’s “holiest city” in Bukhara, tell the ancient tales of historic Khiva, and guide you through the extraordinary architecture of Samarkand.. Uncover Tashkent’s Soviet legacy and its contemporary culture. Explore the vast Chorsu Bazaar and embrace the hustle and bustle in this one of Asia’s oldest markets.. Immerse yourself in Uzbek culture when you visit a typical local village, learn the art of sewing suzani, chat to the friendly villagers and enjoy a traditional lunch together.. Stay within in the walls of Uzbekistan’s history during feature stays in an old Jewish house converted into a gorgeous boutique hotel in Bukhara, and a centuries-old medressa turned opulent and elegant hotel in Khiva.
Journey back to the days of the Great Silk Road on a 10-day Premium adventure through Uzbekistan. Explore the cosmopolitan capital of Tashkent, marvel at glorious architecture in Samarkand, discover the holy sites of Bukhara and visit the ancient monuments of Khiva. Encounter a friendly welcome at every turn, join a local family for a traditional cooking class and get to know the ins and outs of a traditional Uzbek village. From medieval cities to charismatic communities, Uzbekistan has so much to uncover.
Breakfast Included: 9 Lunches Included: 1 Dinner Included: 4
Xush kelibsiz! Welcome to Uzbekistan. The largest city in Central Asia, Tashkent is a mix of Russian and Uzbek style, an indication of the fact that for many years it was a key city of the USSR. Extravagant mosques, both ancient and new, sit alongside modern highways and Soviet monuments. On arrival at Tashkent Airport, meet your Intrepid representative and transfer to your hotel. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6pm today. If you have time beforehand, take a walk to see some of the contemporary architecture that sets this city apart from many other Silk Road destinations. After your meeting, join your leader and fellow travellers for a welcome dinner at an excellent local restaurant serving traditional Uzbek food such as laghman noodles, norin noodles and fried dumplings.
Explore Tashkent on a city tour with your leader. First, make your way to the Khast Imom Complex including the Barak Khan medressa (a college for Islamic instruction), Kaffal Shashi mausoleum, Quran Library and Mosque, which holds what’s said to be one of the oldest and holiest Koran in the world. Then leave behind the spiritual world and venture into the real-life hustle and bustle of Chorsu Bazzar, one of the largest and oldest markets in Central Asia. Wandering through this giant marketplace is a fantastic way to see locals going about their daily lives. Uzbeks are some of the friendliest people in the world and with your leader on hand to bridge any language gaps, you will soon find yourself chatting to many locals who are keen to get to know you. Your leader will show you some of Tashkent’s beautiful metro stations, then you’ll finish the tour at Amir Temur Square. With a free afternoon, you may like to visit the striking Kukeldash medressa.
Early this morning, take a high speed “Afrosiab” train to the ancient Silk Road hub of Samarkand. The city has long been a centre of artisans and traders as well as the prize for many a conquering army, leaving behind a rich and complex history. On arrival, join your leader for a guided tour of this intriguing city. Make a visit to the Gur Amir Mausoleum – your leader will tell you all about the mighty ruler Timur, and this is his final resting place. Stand on the iconic Registan Square with three mosaic adorned medressas towering over you. Visit the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, overlooking the busy and colourful Siob Bazaar, full of bustling stalls and friendly local traders. Continue to the holy Shah-i-Zinda complex, the so-called ‘Town of the Dead’ necropolis, with more than 20 beautifully decorated unique buildings. After your city tour, transfer to your hotel and enjoy a free evening to soak up the magic of this historical city.
Today you’ll dig deeper into Samarkand’s fascinating cultural heritage during another city tour. Visit the workshop of a local artisan and discover one of the few people in Central Asia who continues to produce paper using a 1000-year-old method. Continue to the Afrosiab Museum, home to a treasured 7th-century fresco of the Sogdian King Varkhouman, then stop by the gorgeous remains of the Ulugbek Observatory – built by a Muslim prince, your leader will explain how this unpopular ruler had a controversial passion for astronomy. Head out of the city to the Bagizagan winery, considered the best wine producer in Uzbekistan. Get a special insight into the production of Uzbek wine, and of course try a few drops yourself. In the evening, enjoy an intimate Uzbek experience – join a local family for a cooking demonstration on the traditional meal known as plov. Uzbek men pride themselves on their ability to prepare the most unique and scrumptious plov, a tasty rice dish cooked over an open flame in a traditional cauldron. Sit down together for dinner and chat about daily life.
This morning, make your way to the holy and historical city of Bukhara. Stop along the way in Gijduvan, famous for its ceramic pottery, where you’ll have the chance to visit a pottery workshop. Witness the pottery process from start to finish and visit a small museum to uncover the centuries-old history of ceramics in this area. Continue to Shofirkon and visit a traditional Uzbek village. Meet with a lovely local family and learn how to make suzani, a beautiful silk fabric, each with a different story. Take a walk around the village, chat to the friendly neighbours and see how bread is cooked in a clay oven. If you’re here at the right time you may even catch an Uzbek wedding! Enjoy a classic Uzbek lunch with a local family before continuing to Bukhara. This evening, enjoy an Uzbek folklore and music performance at one of the city’s medressas before heading for dinner at a wonderful local restaurant. Tonight’s feature stay accommodation is the stunning Minzifa Boutique Hotel. Converted from an old Jewish house, this boutique property features a charming terrace and spacious rooms decorated with a kaleidoscope of traditional colours and patterns.
A UNESCO-listed site, Bukhara is widely regarded as Central Asia’s holiest city. With monuments dating from the 8th to the 18th century AD, your leader will help you understand the vast span of history and architecture during a tour of the city. The meticulous restoration of many of the mosaic and majolica decorations give you a true sense of how these buildings looked in their original glory. Visit the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, the Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, the Bolo-Khauz Mosque, the ruins of the 5th-century Ark Fortress and the imposing Poikalon complex. Taki Zargaron and the trading domes near here still offer a colourful array of goods including embroideries, jewellery, spices, handicrafts and all manner of Silk Road treasures. This is the place to test your haggling skills and share a joke or two with local craftsman and merchants. Enjoy a free evening here – the twilight hours lend themselves to wandering around the central Lyabi-Hauz and its surrounding areas.
Make a morning visit to Sitorai Mohi Hosa, the summer Palace of Alim Khan, Uzbekistan’s last emir. Your leader will share stories of the emir’s extravagant lifestyle as you explore the luxuriously decorated compound. In the afternoon, take the train to Khiva. You’ll travel through the Kyzyl-Kum (Red Sands Desert), the largest desert area in Central Asia. It’s long been inhabited by various nomadic people and on the way you might pass cowboys on their camels. Arrive in Khiva in the evening and check in to your feature stay accommodation for the next two nights, the gloriously grand Orient Star Hotel. This is no ordinary hotel – the incredible property was once the largest medressa in Khiva, and its walls hold hundreds of years of history. Traditionally decorated brick rooms are small yet comfortable, and frame a shady courtyard, elegantly embellished with arches and mosaics. Don’t forget to look up – the intricately carved ceilings and crystal chandeliers are a sight to behold. Spend the evening relaxing in this magnificent building where the past is always present.
Take a full day to explore this enchanting city with your leader. Khiva is beautifully preserved and perfect for exploring on foot, with impressive walls that mark the boundaries of the old city. Your leader will guide you through the city’s ancient monuments, sharing their histories along the way, including the turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret, the Khan museum, the 17th-century Juma Mosque and the Islom-Hoja Minaret and Medressa. Visit the Kuhna Ark, which was the main fortress, and look over the city from the hill of the Ak-Sheikh Baba observation platform, once used as a patrol tower of the citadel. Finish with the tranquil 19th-century Tosh-Hovli Palace. Late afternoon, head to one of the city’s delightful roof terraces for a glass of champagne as you watch the sun set over thousands of years of history. This evening, join a cooking class and learn the secrets of Khorezmian cuisine. Make traditional dishes like shivit oshi (green noodles) and tuhum-barak (egg dumplings) then tuck into your creations for dinner.
Transfer to the airport in the morning for a flight to Tashkent, arriving in the Uzbekistan capital in the late morning. Admire the façade of the Navoi Theatre, named for one of the nom de plume’s of Ali-Shir Nava’I, a 16th-century writer and mystic. The multi-arched building was partially constructed by Japanese prisoners of war. Next, take a walk down the buzzing Broadway Alley, where there’s always something happening. Take some time to wander the street lined by shady trees and works from local artists. Tonight, join your fellow travellers for a final dinner and say farewell to this spectacular Silk Road country.
Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast today. If you would like to spend some more time in Tashkent, extra accommodation can be arranged in advance (subject to availability).