13 days

Jewels of Uzbekistan

Jewels of Uzbekistan

Central Asia’s holiest city - UNESCO World Heritage-listed Bukhara

Chorsu Bazaar of Tashkent - one of the largest and oldest farmers' markets in Central Asia

Khiva's thousands of years of history

Sentab village - guesthouse stay in a UN Development Program project in the Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve

The Chashma beneath the fortress of Alexander the Great in Nurata

Traditional central Asian yurt stay near the mud-walled Ayaz Kala ruins on the edge of the Kyzyl-Kum Desert

UNESCO World Heritage-listed 5th Century BC Samarkand - the crossroads of cultures, religions, peoples and languages

Bukhara

Trip rating
  • Welcome to Uzbekistan! With its medieval cities, stunning architecture and colourful history, this is a Central Asian gem just waiting to be discovered. We uncover all facets on our journey - from modern, cosmopolitan Tashkent to 2000-year-old fortress cities lost in the sands of time. Stand awestruck - as Genghis Khan once did - in front of Bukhara's Kalyan Minaret, gaze upon Samarkand's mighty Registan Ensemble, and camp at desert oases as Silk Road travellers have done for centuries.

    Why we love it

    • With its medieval cities, stunning architecture and colourful history, this is a Central Asian gem just waiting to be discovered.
    • Uncover all facets of this fascinating place on this journey - from modern, cosmopolitan Tashkent to 2000-year-old fortress cities lost in the sands of time.
    • Stand awestruck - as Genghis Khan once did - in front of Bukhara's Kalyan Minaret, gaze upon Samarkand's mighty Registan Ensemble, and camp at desert oases as Silk Road travellers have done for centuries.

    Itinerary

    Day 1 - Tashkent

    • On arrival in Tashkent you will be met by one of our representatives once you’ve passed through immigration and will be transferred to your hotel.
    • In the evening you will meet your tour leader and the other group members for a pre-tour briefing. This is generally followed by an optional group dinner at a local restaurant.
    • We highly recommend you try the national dish, plov, a mixture of rice, vegetables and pieces of meat. It is something you are going to see a lot of on your journey!
    Uzbekistan Hotel or similar

    Day 2 - Tashkent

    • You will spend a full day exploring charming Tashkent on a city tour.
    • A highlight of a trip to Tashkent is exploring the Chorsu Bazaar, one of the largest and oldest markets in central Asia.
    • Wandering through the giant market is a fantastic way to see locals going about their daily lives. Uzbeks are some of the friendliest people in the world and you will find yourself chatting to many locals who are keen to get to know you.
    • Be sure to try some of the fresh produce on offer, it’s a great place to find some quirky Uzbek souvenirs.
    • After wandering through the bazaar, you will start to explore some of the rich cultural history of Uzbekistan, including the 16th century Kulkedash Medressa – an Islamic school that sits beside the 15th century Juma (Friday) Mosque.
    • The History Museum of the People of Uzbekistan will offer you a great introduction to the country and the region in general, from the Silk Road era to Soviet times.
    • Amir Timur Square is the main square in town and used to contain a statue of Karl Marx, but a statue of Uzbekistan’s 14th century national hero, Timur, on horseback, has replaced him.
    • A tour of Tashkent’s metro system reveals to us some strikingly beautiful stations, but please note that you are not permitted to take photos in the subway.
    • The Bara-Khon Medressa is the headquarters of the Sunni Muslim religion in the region and has interesting mosaics and Arabic calligraphy that dates back to the late 16th century.
    • After a full day of sightseeing and getting to know the people of Uzbekistan, you can relax at one of the city's many cosmopolitan restaurants or see a ballet or opera at the stunning National Theatre.
    Uzbekistan Hotel or similar
    Breakfast

    Day 3 - Khiva

    • This morning will be a very early start, as you will be leaving the hotel to be transferred to the airport, where you’ll catch a flight to Urgench.
    • Once you land, you will be picked up by a private vehicle and driven to the fabled city of Khiva.
    • A settlement was established here by the 8th century AD and began to flourish in the early 16th century. A colourful procession of conquering khans, Silk Road traders, Great Game spies and Russian invaders has long captured the imagination of writers and poets.
    • It is also a photographer's delight, particularly in the evenings when the sun begins to set. This beautifully preserved town is perfect for exploring on foot, with impressive walls that mark the boundaries of the old city.
    • Upon entering through its gates you will be greeted by towering minarets and numerous medressas. Your guide takes you through many of these monuments including the Kalta Minor Minaret and Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa, the 17th century Juma Mosque, the Islom-Hoja Minaret and Medressa (built in 1908 and the highest structure in Khiva), the Kuhna Ark, which was the main fortress, the Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum complex (the Persian-style resting place of Khiva’s patron saint) and Toza Bog Palace, which between 1893-1913 was the summer palace of Mohammed Rakhim Khan II.
    Malila or Isaak Guesthouse
    Breakfast

    Day 4 - Khiva - Ayaz Qala

    • Khiva is enchanting at dawn, with its empty streets and the weight of thousands of years of history omnipresent. An early-morning stroll is well worthwhile, so we highly recommend you make the effort to see sunrise while you’re here.
    • You will enjoy a free morning to further explore Khiva before embarking on an 80 kilometre journey to Ayaz Qala (Ayaz Kala), northeast of Khiva on the fringes of the Kyzyl-Kum Desert.
    • Ayaz Qala and its sister ruins of Toprak Qala are relics of the Khorezm towns that existed here in the Amu-Darya Delta some 2000 years ago.
    • You will spend the day exploring the area, seeing sights like the impressive Toprak Qala, settled in 1st century BC and the capital by the 3rd century.
    • Your desert adventure continues this evening as you stay in traditional Central Asian yurts and swap tales under the stars.
    Yurt or similar
    Breakfast | Dinner

    Day 5 - Bukhara

    • You will leave very early today and drive 450 kilometres to Bukhara.
    • Along the way you’ll travel through the Kyzyl-Kum (Red Sands Desert), the largest desert area in central Asia and inhabited by various nomadic people.
    • You will also meet the Amu Darya River, which was once known as the Oxus. This river bubbles up far to the south-east in the Pamirs and then runs west through the area now bordering modern Afghanistan - once famous throughout the ancient world for its lapis-lazuli mines.
    • With the impressive sights of Bukhara and Samarkand ahead of you, this long journey is an ideal opportunity to catch up on some reading, or simply sit back and imagine you are a trader - relieved to have made it safely through the desert!
    • You will arrive in the holy city of Bukhara and enjoy a free afternoon to absorb its ambience.
    • Trading domes near here still offer an intriguing and colourful array of goods including embroideries, jewelry, spices, handicrafts and all manner of Silk Road treasures.
    • This is the place to test your haggling skills, as well as share a joke or two with friendly local merchants. This is truly a magical place and it is sure to cast its spell on you too.
    Atlas or Lyabi Guesthouse
    Breakfast

    Day 6 - Bukhara

    • A UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, Bukhara is widely regarded as Central Asia’s holiest city. With more than one hundred officially preserved monuments, there is a lot to see and you have an extensive sightseeing program here spread over two days to make the most of your time.
    • With many monuments dating from the 8th to the 18th century AD, there is a vast span of history and architecture to uncover and 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.
    • You will start by visiting the ruins of the Ark Fortress. Dating back to the 5th century AD, it is the ancient heart of the city and the scene of several gruesome events.
    • Today you will also endeavor to visit Bolo-Khauz Mosque, which dates back to 1718 and was the emirs’ official place of worship, the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, resting place of the founder of the Saminid Dynasty, the Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, the imposing Poikalon complex (comprising the Kalon Minaret, Kalon Mosque and Mir-i-Arab Medressa), and Ulugbek and Abdul Aziz Khan Medressa.
    • The twilight hours lend themselves to wandering the areas around the Lyabi-Hauz Pool, a central gathering place where you can enjoy a traditional ‘chaikhana’ (tea-house) style dinner (optional).
    Atlas or Lyabi Guesthouse
    Breakfast

    Day 7 - Bukhara

    • You will start the second full day of sightseeing in Bukhara on a different note, visiting the Tim Abdulla Khan. Built in 1577, this is one of the most elegant medressas.
    • All manner of things can be found on sale in the covered bazaars. There are three of these trading domes left and you will wander through in search of bargains and experiencing the spirit of trade, which has driven this region since the halcyon days of the Silk Road era.
    • In the midst of these bazaars is the Maghoki-Attar, reputed to be the oldest mosque in central Asia. Sitorai Mohi Hosa means star and garnet garden, and was the summer palace of the last emir.
    • Its opulence is also reflected in the combination of local and European influences in its designs and furnishings. The halls are richly decorated with carpets and paintings.
    • The evening is again free to explore Bukhara’s by night.
    Atlas or Lyabi Guesthouse
    Breakfast

    Day 8-9 - Nuratau Mountains - Samarkand

    • With regret, you will leave captivating Bukhara and continue east towards Samarkand.
    • Your next destination is Nurata, formerly known as Nur and founded in the 3rd century BC by Alexander the Great.
    • This ancient town was once regarded as the frontier between the cultivated lands and the steppes, and the ruins of Alexander’s hilltop citadel stand testament to its ancient history.
    • The city was also an important Muslim place of pilgrimage, reaching its peak in the 10th century AD as devotees flocked to its many significant graves and memorials. You will visit the Chashma, a complex of religious constructions that serves as the central point for such pilgrimages.
    • After lunching in a local teahouse you will continue on to the Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve just south of Aiderkul Lake. You may change to smaller vehicles here to navigate the narrow local roads as you climb into the mountains to reach one of the tiny villages.
    • You will be staying in either Sentab, Forish, Asraf or Uhum village. Here, as part of a UN Development Program project, local families have established small private guesthouses and welcome visitors to their homes.
    • As our hosts are ethnic Tajiks, this is a unique opportunity to hear another regional language, eat delicious home-cooked local specialities, and see the day-to-day life of the village.
    • Accommodation is in the traditional style - the group will sleep on mattresses in communal rooms (usually divided by gender), a similar experience to staying in a yurt. The bathroom facilities are also basic, but manageable - with very simple shower and toilet arrangements.
    • Such things are minor inconveniences though, as you lounge on ‘tapchan’ (day beds) under the walnut trees, with the sound of the stream running nearby, and an once-in-a-lifetime cultural exchange unfolds.
    • This is the perfect place to relax, or for those wanting to stretch their legs there are numerous local walking trails nearby which your hosts will be happy to show you.
    • You have more time to relax the following morning. After lunch you will depart on the drive to Samarkand.
    Homestay or similar
    Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

    Day 10 - Samarkand

    • You will enjoy two days of sightseeing and exploration in Samarkand, a city that evokes the romance of the Silk Road perhaps more than any other.
    • From its foundation in the 5th century BC, Samarkand has been a centre of artisans and traders as well as the prize for many a conquering army. From Alexander the Great who stormed its walls in 329 BC, to the Soviet occupiers who declared it the original capital of the Uzbek SSR in 1924, Samarkand’s history is as rich as it is complex.
    • Today you will visit the Gur Amir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the mighty Timur and his sons and grandsons. For a man of his stature, it is quite a simple tomb.
    • A highlight of the trip is standing on the iconic Registan Square with the three medressas (Ulugbek, Sher Dor and Tilla-Kari) towering over you.
    • You will complete your tour for the day with a visit to a handicraft centre before enjoying a free afternoon to wander around and make your own discoveries in this special place.
    Zarina or Caravan Guesthouse
    Breakfast

    Day 11 - Samarkand

    • After breakfast you will embark on another half-day sightseeing tour.
    • Close to the Registan is the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, built by Timur. It is often compared to the Taj Mahal as it was built as a grand and timeless symbol of a man's love for his wife.
    • This mosque overlooks the busy and colourful Siob Bazaar, where photographers will delight in taking photos of the many bustling stalls and the huge array of produce, as well as encountering friendly greetings from the local traders.
    • Your next stop is the Shah-i-Zinda Mausoleum complex. Also known as the ‘Town of the Dead’ this is a row of more than 20 mausoleums, some of them with stunningly colourful tile work.
    • Ulugbek was an emir in the early 15th century, but he was also a renowned astronomer. The discovery of the ruins of his observatory tells of an amazing story from a bygone era.
    • This afternoon is left free for you to enjoy just a little more time in Samarkand. You might like to visit to the local bazaar where you can sample delicious fresh produce, or you may prefer to return to the many stalls nestled in the Registan Ensemble to find that perfect souvenir.
    Zarina or Caravan Guesthouse
    Breakfast

    Day 12-13 - Samarkand - Tashkent

    • Your adventure in Uzbekistan is almost complete as you leave Samarkand and drive five hours to return to the capital for your final night.
    • You will enjoy a free afternoon in Tashkent and tonight you can choose to gather for an optional farewell dinner to mark the end of your travels together, and to reflect on all you have seen.
    • The trip will come to an end in Tashkent after breakfast on the morning of Day 13.
    Uzbekistan Hotel or similar
    Breakfast
  • What to Know

    What's Included

    • Arrival transfer.
    • Authentic Accommodation includes: Comfortable Hotels (9 nts), Homestay (1 nt), Yurt (1 nt)
    • Meals: 12 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
    • An experienced, English-speaking local Peregrine leader and specialist local guides at some sites
    • Domestic flight from Tashkent to Urgench (Khiva)
    • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where applicable): City tours of Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent & Khiva
    • A night in a yurt camp in the desert
    • Homestay in a village guesthouse located in the Nuratau Mountains

    Not Included

    • International flights
    • Airport departure taxes
    • Departure transfer
    • Visas
    • Meals unless specified in the itinerary
    • Insurance
    • Laundry - may be available at locations where we stay two or more nights
    • Optional tours or activities during free time
    • Tips - this is something to consider, and it might be worthwhile speaking to your group about making a group contribution at the end of the trip

    Safety Information

    Uzbekistan is generally a very safe place to travel. Policemen, or sometimes those pretending to be policemen, may seek to impose an on-the-spot fine. If you are any doubt you should ask for an ID or pay any fines at the nearest police station. Keep valuables out of sight and avoid unlit or remote areas. Avoid obvious displays of wealth, especially in rural areas. Avoid walking alone at night.

    Taxis

    A new regulation has been introduced allowing only licensed taxis (with certain colour and signs and card payment equipment) to operate in Uzbekistan. However, unlicensed taxis continue to operate. You should use official taxis where possible.

    Political situation

    The political situation in Uzbekistan is stable. You should avoid any demonstrations or large gatherings of people.

  • Map Itinerary

  • Past Travellers' Ratings & Comments

    At the end of each trip, we ask our travellers to provide feedback. We publish the positive, negative and neutral feedback on this page to give you an overall idea of what to expect on this trip.

    Jewels of Uzbekistan

    Shinichi - United Kingdom, 29 Apr, 2012
    5
    Overall Rating

    A person sat next to me on my flight back
    was on another tour with nearly identical itinerary. Looks like we both rated respective tour 'excellent'. Good destination.

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Trip at a glance

Trip Code PCJU
Group size 4 - 16
Start City: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
End City: Tashkent, Uzbekistan

What to know

Some accommodation and facilities may be basic but the rewards are immeasurable.

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