18 day Grand Uzbekistan tour on the route of Silk Road. You will see all the pearls of Uzbekistan, including Muynak, Aral Sea, Termez, Nurata and famous handicrafts workshops in Fergana Valley- Rishtan & Margilan.
Transfer to Aral Sea lake shore with sightseeing and photo stops en-route.
The Aral Sea is the former fourth largest lake in the world bordering on Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In 1960-s the construction of melioration canals for cotton irrigation from the Amu Darya River began, the Aral Sea began to shallow. The area of the Aral Sea is rapidly decreasing, towns and villages that once the seaports are now far away from the present sea line.
The same is with Muynak, once located on the shore of the Aral Sea, now it is separated from the sea by 200 kilometers.
Photo stop in Ustyurt Plateau to enjoy unusual landscapes.
Arrival in the yurt camp, located the nearby Aral Sea.
09:00Transfer to Muynak via beautiful Red Canyons with the beautiful and unusual Martian landscape. Arrival in Muynak city that used to be one of the richest cities in the delta of Amu-Darya,” the gates to Uzbekistan from the sea”. Nowadays there is only the cemetery of the Aral Sea.
- Visit Mizdakhan necropolis on the way back to Nukus (about 20 km from Nukus), an ancient cemetery, and located next to the remains of the Gyaur-Kala fortress (4-3 Century BC).
- Gaur Kala (translated as the fortress of pagans) was a Zoroastrian town with the citadel, the fire altar, and a large cemetery nearby. Even after the Arab invasion and Islam expansion, the town was inhabited until 14th Century and people continued to bury their relatives in Mizdakhan as they believed the place was a sacred place.
- Visit Savitsky Museum exhibiting a unique collection of antiques of Khorezm and Karakalpak, Uzbek fine arts, and second-largest collection of Russian avant-garde works after the Russian Museum in Saint Petersburg.
The founder of the museum, Igor Savitsky devoted his life to piece-by-piece collecting of the finest works of modern artists of Uzbekistan and Russian avant-gardists. In the 70s it was quite risky to become an anti-Soviet propagandist. During perestroika and first years since Uzbekistan independence, the museum earned world recognition and deserved rightfully the must-see site status in Central Asia.
Transfer to Khiva (180 km, ~ 3,5 hours) en-route photo stops at the ruins of fortresses of ancient Khorezm.
- Ayaz-kala and Toprak-kala, the fortresses of Kushan period of Ancient Khorezm that used to be mighty border forts protecting the residents from raids of nomadic tribes. The forts were built in ~4-7th century BCE, during the ages when Khorezm achieved its independence. The fortresses are located on the hills quite close to each other and visitors are welcome to have a short overview tour in the monumental forts that currently are drowning in sands.
Arrival in Khiva. Check-in the hotel.
Resting time in the evening. Overnight at the hotel
Transfer by car Khiva - Bukhara (475 km, ~7hrs) via Kyzylkum desert with short stops en-route Or by TRAIN (depending on train schedule /Dep.: 08:57/ Arr.: 14:50 / Tue, Fri, Sun)
Kyzylkum desert - Kyzylkum (from Turkic means «red sand») – is a sandy desert between the rivers Amudarya and Syrdarya in Central Asia. Its area is 300 thousand sq. km. On the north-west the desert is limited by hollow of Aral Sea, on the north-east by Syrdarya and on the south-west is limited by Amudarya. In ancient time, Great Silk Road passed through the Kyzylkum desert. Thanks to it, such famous cities as Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva prospered. People of different professions worked here: sellers, interpreters, guarder of caravans, tax collectors. It is very strange but there was hectic life in the desert.
Arrival in Bukhara. Transfer to the hotel, check-in.
Start WALKING sightseeing program in Bukhara (5-6 hours):
- Ensemble Lyabi Hauz (Nadir Divanbegi Madrassa, Khanaka, Kukeldash Madrassa and the monument of Khodja Nasreddin);
- Magoki Attari Mosque is one of the oldest mosques survived in Bukhara from the time before the Mongolian invasion;
- Abdullakhan’s Tim with numerous handicraft shops of souvenirs, ceramics, national clothes, and carpets;
- Caravanserai Sayfuddin (the Center of Handicraft Development of Bukhara);
- There are three trading domes or so-called covered bazaars Toki Sarrofon, Toki Telpak Furushon, and Toki Zargaron preserved from the XVI century and these bazaars were the centers for trade of silk, jewelry and even for money exchange. Today as well, one can enjoy and purchase different souvenirs of a wide range, from small souvenir magnets to the famous Bukhara carpets;
- Visit Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan Madrassas or so-called Kosh (pare) madrassas opposite each other with the distinctive style of facade ornamental decoration;
- Poi Kalon Square with Kalon Minaret and Mosque, Mir Arab Madrassa – the heart of Bukhara, a monumental complex impresses the imagination;
- Ark Fortress – the oldest citadel dating back to I century BC where one can feel the history of the great fortress covered in beautiful legends and myths.
-The famous pottery workshop of Gijduvan, where visitors are invited to take a tour of the workshop and observe the process of ceramic production and painting.
The owners demonstrate the stages of pottery making, from turning the potter's wheel to making colors from natural ingredients, decorating the pottery in a distinctive style, drying, and firing. Take a tour of the Museum Hall of Ceramic Masterpieces with a unique collection of ceramic items from Gijduvan and other regions of Uzbekistan.
- Rabat-I Malik and sardoba.
Driving to Nurata.
Aydarkulis a unique place called “The blue pearl”, a beautiful lake in the Kizil Kum desert which is famous for its breathtaking landscapes, an abundance of fish, and a relaxing atmosphere. The camp offers to take a camel/horse ride, a trekking tour over the surroundings, or fishing (by request).
Dinner near the campfire with the accompaniment of akyn’s songs, where you can listen to national Kazakh songs with the string instrument dombra.
– Gur Emir Mausoleum – a burial vault of Timur the Great and his descendants decorated with gold ornaments and considered as one of the most significant places in the world;
– Continue to the famous Registan Square – the heart of Samarkand and a real masterpiece of Central Asian medieval architecture consists of three grandiose buildings: Ulughbek Madrassa, Madrassa Sherdor, and Madrassa Tilla Kori.
– Bibi Khanim Mosque – the biggest medieval building in the city which was one of the most magnificent mosques in the Islamic world in 15th Century;
– Shahi Zinda Necropolis – unique complex of Mausoleums formed by standing on both sides of the cenotaph (an imaginary grave) belonging to the Muslim person named Saint Abbas ibn-Kussam;
– Ulugbek’s Observatory – the finest astronomical centers in the medieval world was built by order of Ulugbek, an outstanding scholar and astronomer;
Excursion tour in Shakhrisabz includes visiting (2.5 hrs)
- Ak Saray Palace (“White Palace”), the ruins of the summer palace of Tamerlane. The palace was constructed and decorated by deported from conquered Khorezm skillful builders, masters and artisans. Some parts of the gate tower survived to the present day;
- Mausoleum of Dorus-Saodat ("The Place of Power", XIV century) contains the tomb of Eldest and favourite Tamerlane’s son Jahongir;
09:00 Meet a guide in the hotel’s lobby and start sightseeing program.
Termez, one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, is located in the Surkhan Oasis, where ancient Buddihst monastery complexes coexisted along with monumental Islamic architectural masterpieces of the region. Tour around the city includes visiting:
- Kokildor-Ota Khanaka, Sultan Saodat Ensemble, a summer residence of Samani governours.
- Fortress Kyrk-Kyz; - the unique "Kirk Kiz" building ("forty girls”) which has attracted the attention of researchers for a long time, has been variously considered as a palace, an abbey, a caravansarai, Hanaqoh, or just simply a civil construction.
- Zurmala – Buddha’s stupa, Buddha complex Fayaz – Tepa – one of the museums in the open air under the protection of UNESCOl
- Mausoleum of Al – Hakim at – Termezi, the founder of the dervish order, an outstanding theologian who wrote numerous religious works and a leader of Islamic mysticism.
Resting time in the evening. Overnight at the hotel.
Continue excursion in Temrez and its suburbs visiting
- Kampyr – Tepe – Greco – Bactrian Kingdom fortress;
- Jarkurgan Minaret - The decoration of the minaret is not mosaic of colored tiles but masonry on ganch solution. The design is notable for that the tower consists of 16 half-columns in the shape of a flower or a star.
Drive back to Termez, of picturesque views of Surkhan oasis and Friendship Bridge, which connects Uzbekistan and Afghanistan;
Meet with your guide and driver at the meeting zone.
Kokand (mentioned as Khavakand or Kokan derived from a tribal name) is an ancient city that due to favorable location was one of the convenient fortified points of caravan routes in the Great Silk Road.
Nowadays, Kokand is a modern town at the crossroads of Tashkent, Fergana valley to Andijan and the other route to Khujand (Tajikistan) and is considered as one of the most important pre-border points.
Start sightseeing tour around Kokand visiting:
- Khudoyar-Khan Palace of 19th century is listed in the world heritage of UNESCO, at present days houses Kokand Regional History Museum that exhibit a unique collection of more than 3000 artefacts from ancient, khanate and tsarist periods of the region. The large palace was built in several stages from 1822 to 1867 and the facade was decorated with exquisite ceramic patterns by Rishtan and Kashgar masters.
- Norbut-Biy Madrassah, the largest madrassa in Kokand. The madrassa was built in XVIII century by captured architects as well as the famous Bukharian architect Usto Muhammed Salih Kasim, so the design and construction is quite typical to some monuments of XVIII Century in Bukhara.
- Modari Khan Mausoleum ( Modari-khan means Mother of Khan”) was built in 1825 by order of the widow of Umarkhan, famous poetess Nodira to honor the tomb of her mother-in-law. Since then the mausoleum became the family mausoleum where most of the female members of khan family were buried.
- Rishton (50 km west of Fergana) famous all over the world for its pottery that is decorated according to ancient tradition that is more than 800 years. Masters hand down their trade secrets from father to son. The unique red clay ceramic masterpieces are decorated with naturally made ultramarine, turquoise and azure ornaments known as blue glaze "ishkor",
- Workshop of the famous potter Rustam Umarov where visitors are welcome to observe the finest Rishtan ceramics in wonderful handmade and painted tea sets and lagans and beautifully decorated jugs and vases.
09:00 Meet the guide and driver at the hotel's lobby.
Start sightseeing tour of Tashkent (5-6 hrs) visiting old and new parts of the city:
- Amir Timur Square, founded in 1882 and originally called Konstantinovsky Square, was renamed on August 31, 1994 after the Amir Timur to honor the cultural and historical contribution of the great conqueror. Around the Square, there is the Museum of History of Timurids, Uzbekistan hotel, Forum Palace, and famous Tashkent striking clock.
- Tashkent striking clock,one of the major symbols of Tashkent.
- Theater Square with the Opera House: State Academic Theater of Uzbekistan named after Alisher Navoi built-in 1947 is one of the best opera theater of the world performs both classical and national repertoires.
- Independence Square, the main square of Uzbekistan reflects the past, present, and future of the country. There are fountains standing for the life energy of Uzbek people, the Cabinet and the Senate, the “Eternal flame" in honor of soldiers who died during the Second World War. - Earthquake Memorial, the composition is devoted to the tragic date of earthquake in Tashkent on April 26, 1966, and is erected in the approximate place of the earthquake epicenter. Residents still come to the monument to honor those people who took a part in the reconstruction of Tashkent;
- Khast Imam Square – a religious center of the city consisting of the Barakkhan madrasah; Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum and the library of Islamic Literature with the Holy Koran Book of the VII century (original Quran Othman). Khast Imam is one of the most significant spiritual centers in Central Asia and attracts pilgrims and visitors all over the world.
- Chorsu bazaar – the ancient bazaar of Tashkent. “Chorsu” means “four waters”, symbolically meaning the conjunction of four major parts of the old city in the bazaar where people come for trades. The bazaar beautiful blue dome, built in traditional style after the Tashkent earthquake, is often depicted in postcards and international magazines and became one of the major sights of interest both for locals and guests – one can see oriental tiled bazaar from different souvenir shops with ceramics, handicraft works, carpets and jewelry, the whole pavilion full of delirious fruits to the finest textiles and colorful fabrics.
- Tashkent Metro (the first line was launched in 1977) with beautiful train stations each decorated in thematic style with traditional ornaments and special lightning.
Transfer to the hotel.
Resting time in the evening. Overnight at the hotel.