Days
12
Price from
€2,015EUR

Journey through Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand and the Nuratau Mountains

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.

TRIP CHANGES FOR 2017:
Due to current popularity of Turkmenistan, from 1st January 2017 this trip will be combined with destinations in Turkmenistan to make a new 19 day Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan Discoverer overland itinerary. Further details will be available in coming months. The itinerary is outlined below:
1 Tashkent
2 Tashkent
3 Samarkand
4 Samarkand
5 Bukhara
6 Bukhara
7 Bukhara
8 Khiva
9 Khiva
10 Nukus
11 Kunya Urgench/Dashoguz
12 Darwaza
13 Ashgabat
14 Ashgabat
15 Mary
16 Mary
17 Ashgabat
18 Ashgabat
19 Depart


Start
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Finish
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Country
Uzbekistan
Style
Peregrine
Theme
Explorer
Code
PCJU
Physical rating
Traveller’s rating
3 reviews
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1, Max 16

Why we love this trip

  • Enjoy a full day of guided exploration in Tashkent. The outstanding Chorsu Bazaar is one of Asia's oldest markets and a testament to the warmth and friendliness of the Uzbeks

  • Steeped in Silk Road history and immortalised in many a great tale, the UNESCO-protected town of Khiva is as photogenic as it is legendary

  • With two full days and an array of included activities in Bokhara, there's plenty of time to absorb the magic of Central Asia's 'holiest city'

  • Enjoy a home-cooked meal made by your ethnic Tajik hosts in the Nuratau Mountains – an excellent way to interact with the locals and get a sense of this region

  • Witness the extraordinary medressas of Registan. This public square is one of the true pinnacles of Islamic architecture

Is this trip right for you?

  • This trip takes you right off the beaten track – well away from cities and into remote areas. You will need a good level of general health and fitness.

  • Some accommodation (such as your guesthouse/homestay in the Nuratau Mountains and your yurt in the Ayaz Qala) will be basic. However, the rewards of these experiences are immeasurable.

  • There are some very long days of driving over rough terrain, and shower and toilet facilities are limited in some places. Your patience will go a long way towards your enjoyment here.

Itinerary

Xush kelibsiz! Welcome to Uzbekistan. On arrival at Tashkent Airport, meet your Peregrine representative and transfer to your hotel. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm on Day 1. 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.

Notes: Your details will be registered with the Uzbekistan Tourism Authority, who will be available at the airport to assist travellers through customs and immigration. These representatives will be easily identifiable with uniforms and a badges and will have your name on a sign. Using the tourism authority assistance is not mandatory – the decision is yours. You can choose to proceed through customs and immigration independently if you wish.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Uzbekistan or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar
  • Tashkent - Kukeldash & Barak Khan Madressas
Optional Activities
  • Tashkent - Amir Timur Museum - UZS5000
  • Art Gallery of Uzbekistan - UZS500
  • Tashkent - Museum of Applied Arts - UZS6000
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Enjoy a leisurely buffet breakfast at the hotel, then spend a full day exploring Tashkent on a city tour. A highlight is the Chorsu Bazaar, 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 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. This is also a good place to browse for 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. Also visit the History Museum of the People of Uzbekistan for an introduction to the country and the region in general, from the Silk Road era to Soviet times. A brief tour of Tashkent’s metro system reveals some beautiful stations (note that photography is not allowed in the subway). After a full day of sightseeing, perhaps go to the ballet or opera at the stunning National Theatre in the evening. Your leader can assist you with what's on and buying tickets.

Notes: There will be private transport for the tour today, but there's also a lot of walking involved, so be sure to bring sturdy footwear and adequate sun protection. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel Uzbekistan or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Rise early for your transfer to the airport, where you’ll catch a flight to Urgench (approximately 1.5 hours). Once you land, you will be picked up by a private vehicle and head to the fabled city of Khiva (approximately 40 minutes). The town's colourful procession over the years (conquering khans, Silk Road traders, Great Game spies and Russian invaders) has long captured the imagination of writers and poets. The city is also a photographer's delight, particularly in the evenings when the sun begins to set. It's beautifully preserved and perfect for exploring on foot, with impressive walls that mark the boundaries of the old city. Upon entering its gates you will see towering minarets and numerous medressas. Your guide will take 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. Your hotel for tonight is located opposite the main Ata Darvaza gates of Ichon Qala.
Accommodation
  • Asia Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Khiva - Guided tour of UNESCO World Heritage sites
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Khiva is enchanting at dawn, with its empty streets and the palpable weight of thousands of years of history. It's well worth getting up early to see the sunrise while you're here. Enjoy a free morning to explore Khiva before driving to Ayaz Qala (approximately 2 hours), which lies to the 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 2,000 years ago. You will spend the day exploring the area, seeing sights like the Toprak Qala which was settled in the 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. Dinner is included at your camp tonight.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
Set off early today and drive 450 kilometres to Bukhara (approximately 10 hours including photo stops and lunch). Along the way you’ll travel through the Kyzyl-Kum (Red Sands Desert), the largest desert area in Central Asia. It's inhabited by various nomadic people. You will also encounter the Amu Darya River, which was once known as the Oxus. This river bubbles up far to the south-east in the Pamirs, 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! On the way, you will stop for lunch at one of the only cafes in the region. Arrive in the holy city of Bukhara and enjoy a free afternoon to absorb its magical ambience. Trading domes near here still offer an intriguing and 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 merchants.
Accommodation
  • Asia Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Bukhara - Guided city tour
  • Bukhara - Kalon Minaret & Mosque
  • Bukhara - Ismail Samani Mausoleum
  • Bukhara - Ark Fortress
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
A UNESCO World Heritage-listed site, Bukhara is widely regarded as Central Asia’s holiest city. With more than 100 officially preserved monuments, there is a lot to see. Your extensive sightseeing program here is 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 discover. 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. Start by visiting the ruins of the 5h-century Ark Fortress. This is the ancient heart of the city and the scene of several gruesome events. You'll also see the Bolo-Khauz Mosque, the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, 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 around the central Lyabi-Hauz and its surrounding areas. Perhaps stop in for a traditional ‘chaikhana’ (tea-house) style dinner (this is optional).
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Start the second full day of sightseeing in Bukhara on a different note, visiting the Tim Abdulla Khan, 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. Experience 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 by night.
Accommodation
  • Asia Hotel or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Say goodbye to beautiful Bukhara and continue east toward Samarkand. Your next destination is Nurata (approximately 4 hours), an ancient town once regarded as the frontier between the cultivated lands and the steppes. The ruins of Alexander’s hilltop citadel stand as a testament to its ancient history. The city was also an important Muslim place of pilgrimage. 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 might change to smaller vehicles here to navigate the narrow local roads as you climb into the mountains to reach one of the tiny villages (approximately 2 hours). You will be staying in either Sentyab, Forish, Asraf or Uhum village. Here, as part of a UN Development Program project, local families have established small private guesthouses and they welcome visitors to their homes. As your 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. Ask your hosts about the numerous local walking trails waiting to be explored. Dinner is included here tonight.

Notes: 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 basic but manageable, with very simple shower and toilet arrangements. Such things are minor inconveniences though, as you'll soon be lounging on a ‘tapchan’ (day bed) under the walnut trees with the sound of the stream running nearby. It's also a chance for a once-in-a-lifetime cultural exchange.
Accommodation
  • Guesthouse or similar (multi-share with shared bathroom) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
This morning you will have more time to relax and explore the village. After lunch in the guesthouse you will embark on the drive to Samarkand (approximately 4 hours). Arrive in the evening and enjoy some free time. This is 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.
Accommodation
  • Asia Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Samarkand - Registan
  • Samarkand - Ulug Beg Observatory
  • Samarkand - Guided city tour
  • Samarkand - Shakh-I-Zinda Mausoleum Complex
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
Enjoy a day of sightseeing and exploration in Samarkand. 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. Join a local family for a master cooking class on the classic Uzbek meal known as Plov (this is subject to change). Afterwards, enjoy your makings over dinner together. Uzbek men pride themselves on their ability to prepare the most unique and scrumptious Plov. Plov is cooked over an open flame in a traditional cauldron and is made up of fried and boiled meat, onions, carrots, rice, raisins, berries and chickpeas.
Accommodation
  • Asia Hotel or similar (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Samarkand - Plov cooking class & family visit
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Dinner
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. Your adventure in Uzbekistan is almost complete as you leave Samarkand and travel by high-speed train (approximately 2 hours) to return to the capital for your final night. Bid farewell to your group and leader over an (optional) final dinner.
Accommodation
  • Hotel Uzbekistan or similar (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
Your journey comes to an end today and you are able to depart the hotel at any time. Check out time is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.
Meals Included
  • Breakfast

Meals

11 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Plane, Private van, Taxi, Train

Accommodation

Hotel (9 nights), Homestay (1 night), Yurt (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar
  • Tashkent - Kukeldash & Barak Khan Madressas
  • Khiva - Guided tour of UNESCO World Heritage sites
  • Bukhara - Guided city tour
  • Bukhara - Kalon Minaret & Mosque
  • Bukhara - Ismail Samani Mausoleum
  • Bukhara - Ark Fortress
  • Samarkand - Registan
  • Samarkand - Ulug Beg Observatory
  • Samarkand - Guided city tour
  • Samarkand - Shakh-I-Zinda Mausoleum Complex
  • Samarkand - Plov cooking class & family visit

Reviews

Our Jewels of Uzbekistan trips score an average of 4.67 out of 5 based on 3 reviews in the last year.

Jewels of Uzbekistan, June 2016

win bailey

Jewels of Uzbekistan, June 2016

Gabrielle Della-Bosca

Dates & availability

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Important notes

1. A complimentary arrival transfer is included.
2. Gratuities included for the essential services only that you will receive as part of your tour package. Please see our Tipping section of these trip notes for more information.
3. Destinations visited on this trip do not have consulates in Australia and New Zealand. Please see Visa section of the Trip Notes for more information and allow sufficient time to obtain your visas prior to travel.
4. In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, Peregrines local ground representative Silk Tours can be contacted on Tel: +998 90 1852547 and +998 91 5206833.
5. Please make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
6. Central Asia is a developing region whose infrastructure, values, customs and standards differ from what you are used to at home. Please bear this in mind as you are travelling in this exciting area and respect the fact that you should not impose your standards and expectations on the culture there.

Essential Trip Information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.