Central Asian Safari: Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan
Start the day with a tour of Uzbekistan’s capital,Tashkent. Visit the Museum of Applied Arts to see beautiful embroideries, wall hangings, carved furniture, ceramics and more. Visit the Museum of Antiquities, and the old city with its mosques and madrasas. Explore the Kukeldash and Abul Khassim Medressa (16th century Muslim temples) and watch country people in traditional dress at the Chorsu Bazaar, a huge open market next to Kukeldash. Fly to Urgench in the afternoon. The evening is free.
Depart for a full-day tour of the town of Khiva, one of the most ancient settlements in the world. Your tour includes the Ichon-Qala gates, Muhammad Amin and Rakhim Khan’s Medressas, Islom-Huja Medressa and Minaret, Tosh-Khovli Palace.
Today you will go on a full-day trip to Karakalpakstan, an autonomous region within Uzbekistan spread around the dying sea of Aral. Here you take a tour of the remains of Kazakl’i-yatkan, possibly the first city of ancient Chorasmia, dating back to the 5th century. Return to Urgench for an overnight.
Today you have a long drive by coach (7-9 hours) through the moonscape lands between the Kara-Kum (black sands) and Kyzyl-Kum (red sands) Deserts to Bukhara, former capital of the once powerful Emirate of Bukhara. Overnight at hotel.
Explore the more than 2,500 –year-old city of Bukhara. You will visit one of the most elegant structures in Central Asia, Ismail Samani Mausoleum (built in 905 AD, with a Zoroastrian symbol of eternity over its door). The tour will take you to the former residence of the Emirs and the Kalyan Minaret. Enjoy a dinner of traditional Uzbeki cuisine.
Observe whole new scenery as you drive north through the Kyzyl-Kum Desert to the town of Nurata. Evoke the days of the Silk Road with a camel ride and an overnight in a traditional nomadic home, a yurt (also called a ger).
You will spend the day with the nomads, learning about their lifestyle and following camel trails in the Kyzyl-Kum Desert.
In the morning you depart by coach to picturesque Lake Aider-Kul, where you can enjoy a swim or simply relax by the water’s edge. In the afternoon, continue your journey to the legendary city of Samarkand, the ancient capital of Tamerlane’s glorious empire. The evening is free in Samarkand.
Take a full day tour of Samarkand - the “Rome of the Orient,” the city that is as old as Rome and Babylon. You will see Registan Square surrounded by three splendorous madrasas; visit Tamerlane’s burial place in a mausoleum, the famous Ulugbek Astronomic Observatory built in 1420, and Shahi Zinda Necropolis, “Tomb of the Living King”. You also visit a colorful local market where you can try some of the region’s local produce.
Your morning starts with a trip to Shakhrisabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane, where you tour Ak-Saray Palace, Kok-Gumbaz Mosque (a praying house built by another famous ruler - Ulugbek), House of Meditation and the Crypt of Timur (Tamerlane). In the afternoon, go on a trip to Penjikent in Tajikistan, and visit the ancient town of Bunjikath, an important archaeological site of the Sogdiana civilization. The reproductions of frescoes from this site and others are displayed at the Rudaki Museum, which you will also visit on this trip. Return to Samarkand for an overnight.
A coach ride across the Kamchik mountain pass will take you to the beautiful green Fergana Valley. En route, visit the city of Kokand, the most tenacious Central Asian opponent of Imperial Russia in the 19th century. See the museum in the Fort of the Last Ruler, Khodayor Khan. Overnight at a hotel in Fergana.
Take a tour of the Edgorliq Khanatlas Silk Factory in Marghilan, Fergana, to see beautiful hand-made and embroidered garments. Visit the central mosque and the local bazaar. The afternoon is free to further explore the city on your own.
Travel by coach to the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan, Osh, whose origin is associated with such famous people as King Solomon and Alexander the Great. En route you will visit Andijan, birthplace of Babur, ruler of the Moghul Dynasty in India and founder of the famous Taj Mahal, and stop at the sacred Muslim mountain of Suleiman Gora, “the throne of Suleiman.” Overnight at a hotel in Osh.
Depart in the morning for a scenic drive to Kara-Kul (“The Black Lake”) filling a crater in the Pamir Mountain Range. Enjoy picturesque scenery of the lake that was formed by a meteor 10 million years ago. It is 3915m (12,844ft) above sea level and hence too high for any aquatic life. Continue to the beautiful Suusamyr Valley for an overnight in a yurt camp.
This morning you go for another spectacular drive to Song-Kul (“The Last Lake”), which seems to be at the very end of the world in the Tian Shan Mountain Range. The lake looks like a huge bowl of pure mountain air, and the scenery surrounding it is majestic. On your way there, you will observe peaceful country landscapes, shepherds herding their livestock and local people’s traditional dwellings dotting the slopes. Overnight in a yurt.
Today’s adventure takes you to the town of Karakol, a fantastic base for trekking or more leisurely exploring. Sightseeing in this historic town will include a Tungan (Chinese Muslim) mosque and the central bazaar.
Explore Djeti Oghuz gorge, a range of odd red rock formations, also known as Seven Bulls, which local legend says were turned to stone by the gods.
Depart by coach to the town of Cholpan Ata and enjoy fascinating views of Lake Issyk Kul (“warm lake”) along the way. En route you will visit the museum of the famous explorer of this region, Przhevalsky. Tonight enjoy a wonderful barbeque dinner of Kyrgyz traditional shish kebabs in Cholpan Ata.
You cross the border to Kazakhstan and travel along the endless steppes of Central Asia to Almaty (“Father Apple”), the former Kazakh capital beautifully tucked against the Tian Shan Mountains. Accommodation at a hotel in Almaty.
In the morning take a sightseeing tour of Almaty, a city with wide tree-lined streets and a laid-back feel. Visit the Central Museum, which covers the archaeology, natural history and anthropology of Kazakhstan. See Zenkov Cathedral, one of the world’s tallest wooden structures, built in 1904 without a single nail. Complete your tour with a visit to Medeo, a nearby resort where the world’s largest speed skating rink is situated. Tonight, enjoy a farewell dinner and a folk performance at a local restaurant.
At the end of this exciting and educational journey you are transferred to the airport for your flight home.