Silk Road Cities 2014 – Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan epitomises the silk road. Empty desert highways and isolated oasis cities that stand as a reminder of the days of Timur, when half of Asia was ruled from Central Asia. On this trip, we visit three of the best preserved cities on the silk road as well as getting a feeling for what life is like in post-soviet Central Asia.
We begin in Central Asia’s largest city, Tashkent before flying to Nukus in Uzbekistan’s far west. There we will witness the sobering sight of the remains of the Aral Sea as well as visiting the Savitsky museum, one of the most remarkable modern art collections in the world. We then will follow the route that camel trains used to take through the deserts and steppe to the medieval city of Khiva and on to the narrow streets and blue tiled Timurid architecture of Bukhara before reaching Samarkand and standing in awe at the Registan, one of the world’s most most beautiful squares.
Our guides will ensure that you are fully informed on the ancient as well as modern history of the heart of Central Asia.
- Visit the awesome silk road cities of Khiva and Samarkand
- Explore the medieval back streets of Bukhara
- Experience life in Karakalpakstan
Date: 18th – 30 October 2014
Start Point: Tashkent
End Point: Tashkent
Maximum number of people: 10
Day 1 Tashkent
Saturday 18th October 2014
Arrival and briefing. Early arrivals will have time for a city tour of Tashkent. Exploring the traditional markets of the old city including the Hast Imam complex home of the giant deer hide Osman Koran, said to be the world’s oldest Koran.
Day 2 Tashkent – Nukus
Sunday 19thOctober 2014
We will take an early morning flight out to the rarely visited region of Karakalpakstan. Karakalpakstan (land of the black hats) is situated in the deserts of western Uzbekistan and we will explore it’s much neglected capital Nukus including the incredible Savitsky art museum. In the 1930’s all art in the Soviet Union which was not Socialist Realism was banned yet Igor Savitsky, the curator of this museum, managed to collect over 80,000 pieces. The museum contains almost all of the world’s examples of Soviet avant garde art form the period and even for non-art lovers is a fascinating place to visit.
Day 3 Nukus – Moynaq – Nukus
Monday 20th October 2014
Forty years ago Moynaq sat on the edge of the Aral Sea, the world’s fourth largest lake. It had a large fishing fleet, a ferry service and attracted holiday makers to it’s shores. Today it is almost a ghost town, 150km from the sea and slowly sliding into oblivion. Not a normal tourist attraction but the rusting fishing fleet on the sea bed is a haunting melancholic sight that will last long in the memory.
Day 4 Nukus – Khiva
Tuesday 21st October 2014
We will drive through the Kyzilkum desert and cross the Amu Darya river (the Oxus to those that studied classics) to the Khorezm province and the city of Khiva. En route we will stop off at Ayaz Qala, one of a set of abandoned forts abandoned centuries ago as the river changed course and the fertile landscape turned to desert.
Day 5 Khiva
Wednesday 22nd October 2014
Khiva was an essential stop on the silk road and was famed for being the centre of a slave trading Khanate in the 19th century. Nowadays it is restored as a city museum and we will take full day to explore the Ichan Kala (old city) including the sturdy Kalta Minaret, the Friday mosque and the Khuna Ark, the residence of the Khan’s of Khiva.
Day 6 Khiva – Bukhara
Thursday 23rd October 2014
The drive from Khiva to Bukhara will pass into the Kyzlkum desert towards Bukhara, the occasional camel or small town breaks up the bleak desert landscape.
In the evening we we arrive in Bukhara, Central Asia’s holiest city.
Days 7 & 8 Bukhara
Friday 24th & Saturday 25th October 2014
Bukhara has a sprawling historic centre made of narrow alleyways and great squares. Towering minarets and small local mosques. We will have two days to explore the winding streets of Bukhara, including the central pool or Lyabi Hauz, the covered bazaars, the majestic Kalon minaret as well as the ark and the jumah mosque. Of all the silk road cities in Uzbekistan, Bukhara deserves plenty of time to explore, take tea and watch life go by.
Day 9 Bukhara – Samarkand
Sunday 26th October 2014
We will head off from Bukhara in the morning allowing us an afternoon to enjoy Samarkand.
Day 10 Samarkand
Monday 27th October 2014
Samarkand was the capital of Timur’s Central Asian empire in the 14th and 15thcenturies. He brought back architects and builders from each place he conquered and set them to work in his Capital. The city is dotted with vast relics from this era including the awesome Registan complex as well as the vast Bibi-Khanum Mosque, Shah i Zinda and Guri Amir, the last resting place of Timur. We will have time to explore them all.
Day 11 Samarkand – Shakhrisabz – Samarkand
Tuesday 28th October 2014
We will head out of Samarkand for a day to the Shakhrisabz, the home town of Timur which rivals Samarkand with it’s array of fabulous blue tiled buildings. This includes the Ak-Saray Palace and Kok Gumbaz Mosque. We will head back to Samarkand that evening.
Day 12 Samarkand – Tashkent
Wednesday 29th October 2014
After a morning walk around Samarkand to see any sites we may have missed or pick up some souvenirs, we head back to Tashkent for the last night in Uzbekistan.
Day 13 End of Trip
Thursday 30th October 2014
We will ensure that you are taken to the airport to catch your flight.
You will be accompanied by 2 team leaders from Untamed Borders for the entire length of this trip.
The trip includes:
1 internal flight within Uzbekistan (Tashkent/Nukus)
The trip does not include:
Any necessary visas
Flights to Uzbekistan
Lunch & Dinner
Basic Cost – £1450
A deposit of £250 is required to reserve your place on this trip.
We do not directly arrange international flights to Uzbekistan. We can suggest routes and operators.
You can also contact the Untamed Borders dedicated team at Flight Centre for suggested routes.
Phone: +44(0) 844 560 9966
We do not arrange Uzbekistan visas directly. We will provide visa support in the form of letters of invitation to assist in your visa application.
Apart from breakfast, meals are not included as part of the trip. In our experience people sometimes want to eat different things in different places at different times. We know some great places and will also happily show you some of our favourite restaurants and tea houses. Some are luxurious, some are earthier but all have character. However, we do not pretend to be the arbiters of good taste and are equally happy for you to go off and find your own favourites.
We do not and cannot offer a uniform accommodation standard on our itineraries. We consider comfort, location, design, character, historical interest and whether the money we spend will go into the pockets of the local community when we make our choices of where to stay.
The accommodation will be based on 2 people sharing.
When we choose our vehicles and drivers we take into consideration the road conditions, the length of journey and the competence of the man behind the wheel. Your comfort and enjoyment of the journey is the first priority.
On this trip you will be accompanied by 2 team leaders from Untamed Borders. One local and one international. This means that there will always be someone on hand to help or assist you even if the other team leader is busy arranging something. Sometimes we also hire local guides. If we are a large group, we may wish to split into smaller groups for city tours to allow greater flexibility. An extra local guide allows us to do that.