Uzbekistan Mir-i-Arab Madrasah

Uzbekistan: Exploring along the Silk Road


For any traveller, Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva evoke the romance of the Silk Road and the long and complex history of Central Asia. Genghis Khan, Tamerlane, Zoroastrianism, Scythian and Mongol horsemen, Russian Imperialism and the Great Game are just some of the threads that weave an extraordinarily rich and fascinating history.

Our tour not only covers the main Silk Route cities of Uzbekistan, but also includes a day walking in the Chatkal Mountains northeast of Tashkent; an excursion into the Kyzylkum desert to see impressive forts dating back to the 4th century BC; and a visit to the fertile Fergana Valley, filled with pomegranate and apricot orchards and famed for its ceramics and silks.

HIGHLIGHTS of our Uzbekistan walking tour include:  

  • Expert guiding to the great Silk Road cities of Samarkhand, Bukhara and Khiva, with insights into more recent politics  
  • Crossing the fabled Oxus river to visit the ancient UNESCO-listed desert forts of Ayaz-Kala and Topraq-Kala  
  • A day walking in the Chatkal mountains, with walnut & wild plum trees ablaze with autumn colours  
  • Shopping in the atmospheric bazaars and markets for silks, carpets and exquisite ceramics  
  • Exploring the Fergana valley on foot at grape, cotton and melon harvesting time

 

Guests’ comments on this trip:

'It was stunning. Having read, commissioned, edited and published books on the Silk Road, Islamic art and architecture and the Great Game for years it was just wonderful to be there. To see the Registan in Samarkand as the sun was beginning to go down with the swifts swirling before heading upwards for the night is something I shall never forget.'

'An excellent trip with plenty of activity. The people of Uzbekistan couldn't have been more helpful and hospitable. I liked the variety of activity too.'

'A very good trip with 2 excellent guides. Sarah went way beyond expectation and Rustam’s knowledge was bottomless!'

DAY 1 
Brunch, D included  

After arriving early in the morning at Tashkent airport, a brief transfer takes us to our comfortable 4-star hotel in the centre of this vibrant capital. Once we have rested and had a late brunch, we drive across the city to the Museum of Applied Arts. Housed in the former home of an Imperial Russian diplomat, the museum contains fine textiles, carpets, ceramics and jewellery. We proceed to the monuments of Hazrat Imam Square, including the 16th century Kukeldash Madrassa and the Muyi Muborak library, containing the world’s oldest Qu’ran. Dinner this evening introduces typical Uzbek dishes – spiced rice with mutton, grilled shashlik and piles of autumn grapes, peaches and figs.

DAY 2 
B, L, D included
 

A morning’s drive (4 hours) takes us over the Kamchik Pass, the ancient Silk Route, now a tarred and busy road from China. We descend into the wide Fergana valley, bounded to the north by the Tien Shan mountains and to the south by the Pamirs. Fruit harvesting is in full swing and mounds of melons, grapes and watermelons fill roadside stalls. Our small modern hotel (3 star) is well situated in the centre of pedestrianised Kokand. We walk to the royal residence of Khudyar Khan and the Djami Mosque.

DAY 3
B, L, D included

We drop in on the studio of renowned ceramic master Alisher Nazirou, who continues an 800-year-old tradition in the village of Rishton. We investigate silk making in Margilan: the silk products of Fergana are famed. A walk and tea in a grape producing village brings us into contact with local people and their traditional houses centred round an interior courtyard.

DAY 4
B, L, D included

We return to Tashkent via the Kamchik pass and stop at the Museum of Fine Art with its fine textiles, furniture, ceramics and paintings. We have time to walk in the park or swim in the hotel pool, before dining in a local Uzbek restaurant accompanied by traditional music.

DAY 5 
B, L, D included

We spend the day exploring and walking through the Chatkal mountains in the Ugam – Chatkal National Park, 1½ hours drive from Taskent, where autumn has already coloured the walnut and wild plum trees and birds of prey soar on the thermals. We enjoy lunch in a traditional Uzbek riverside restaurant before returning to Tashkent.

DAY 6
B, L, D included

An early flight to Urgench in Khorezm province, west of the Kyzylkum ‘Red Desert’, enables us to see two of the ancient UNESCO desert forts, Ayaz–Kala and Topraq-Kala. These date back as far at the 4th century BC and were once supported by fertile lands around the Amu Darya, the fabled Oxus river. After lunch – perhaps in a yurt - we drive (2 hrs) to Khiva, once one of the most important cities on the Silk Road, where we stay in a boutique hotel with a charming courtyard within the incredibly atmospheric Ichon Qala.

DAY 7
B, L, D included

Khiva, a successfully restored walled city, once notorious for its slave market, gives a real feel of the past. We explore the Ichon Qala, a labyrinth of madrassas, mosques and blue tiled minarets. Wandering in the lanes below the minarets and domes, one can readily imagine caravans entering by one of the four gateways, laden with silk and spices. Dinner may include grilled aubergine salad and manti, the little steamed dumplings filled with cheese and vegetables that are found all over Asia.

DAY 8
B, L, D included

Khiva is a photographer’s dream: catch the early morning light playing on the blue tiled domes and massive 18th century mud walls. There is time to buy fur hats and bargain for carpets in one of the many bazaars. Just outside the city walls, stands the late 19th century house of a former Russian governor and after visiting it, we set off by road (7 hours) bound for Bukhara. We have a fried fish lunch en route, observe huge fields full of cotton being picked by hand, and enter mediaeval Bukhara by sunset.

DAY 9
B, L, D included
After breakfast in our boutique hotel, we commence our explorations of this extraordinary place, well established by the 6th century BC. Waves of invaders have passed this way – the Achaemenids, Alexander the Great, the Seleucids, the Graeco-Bactrians and the Kushans. The Golden Age of Bukhara flourished under the Samanid dynasty in the 9th and 10th centuries AD when science, poetry and the arts were encouraged. Mercifully, under the Soviets the old city was spared ‘modernisation’. We see the Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, where the Prophet Job struck earth and a spring burst forth, then continue to the simple but intriguing Ismail Samani Mausoleum with its complex brick patterns. We admire the mud and brick walls of the Ark Fortress and, after lunch, visit the Lyabi Hauz complex and the reservoir with its mulberry trees. We move on to the Jewish quarter with its 500-year-old Torah, before immersing ourselves in the famous bazaar with its exquisite domed brick roof.

DAY 10
B, L, D included

In the heart of old Bukhara, the Kalyon Minar (minaret) rises some 45 m above the city juxtaposed with the huge Kalyon Mosque built in 1514 with its beautiful columned courtyard and the turquoise tiled Kok Gumbaz. Nearby is the Mir-i-Arab Madrassa, an important Islamic educational establishment and the unusual Chor Minor, with its 4 minarets. In the afternoon, we travel out of the city to see the holiest Sufi shrine in Asia, the Mausoleum of Bakhauddin Naqshbandi, and also the summer palace of the Emirs of Bukhara. There is time for handicraft shopping or relaxation in a hammam before dinner.

DAY 11
B, L, D included
A morning’s train journey (3 hours) takes us to Samarkand, a city famous for its masterpieces of Timurid architecture. It is one of the world’s oldest cities, already established by the 6th century BC. Tamerlane (Timur) made it his capital in 1370 and mosques, madrassas, caravanserais, palaces and bazaars were built as the city flourished. Our exploration of this fascinating city begins with the remains of the famous astronomical observatory built by Ulan Beg, grandson of Timur. We walk around the ruins of Afrosiab fort before we proceed to the museum containing remarkable 7th century murals.

DAY 12
B, L, D included
An early tour of the superb monuments of the Registan, with some of the most mesmerizing architecture of the Silk Road, gives us beautiful morning light for photography and there is another opportunity to return here at sunset. We have a memorable walk through the blue and turquoise tiled alley of 14th century tombs, known as Shah-i-Zinda. The name translates as ‘Living King’ and refers to a cousin of the prophet Mohammed who came to Uzbekistan to preach Islam.

DAY 13
B, L, D included

We tour a traditional handmade paper factory before we enter Bibi Khanym mosque and mausoleum. Bibi Khanjm was Timur’s wife and is said to have ordered the construction of the mosque as a gift for her husband. A 3-hour train journey returns us to Tashkent and to our original 4-star hotel before a memorable farewell dinner in one of the city’s best restaurants.

DAY 14
B, L included 

We explore the Chorsu Bazaar, a sprawling complex that still conveys echoes of the Silk Road trade, despite having been covered with blue and turquoise ‘space bubbles’ by Soviet architects! Piles of dried fruit and nuts are juxtaposed with Central Asian musical instruments, Chinese silks, used car parts, chai stalls and plastic buckets – fascinating and photogenic. After lunch, we transfer to the airport for flights home.

Per person sharing:
£3,043.25 until 1st January 2019
£3,125.50 until 1st April 2019
£3,207.75 until 1st July 2019 
£3,290 after 1st July 2019
https://www.kudutravel.com/faq#discounts 

£500 deposit per person
£480 
single room supplement

Please note that the single room supplement is imposed by the hotels and not by Kudu Travel. If you are willing to share but no other suitable guest books on the trip, we regret that the supplement will be payable. We shall endeavour to obtain double rooms for single occupancy whenever possible, but hotels in some countries do have single rooms that are small and less well positioned. In this case, the supplement is simply ensuring your privacy and comfort.

Price includes
  • All accommodation for Days 1 through 14, on a twin shared basis
  • All meals (with beer and soft drinks at lunches and dinners) as listed in the daily notation
  • Internal flight Tashkent to Urgench
  • Train journey from Samarkand to Tashkent
  • Train journey from Bokhara to Samarkand
  • All land transportation in private air-conditioned minibuses, except during free periods
  • All entrance and sightseeing fees, except during free periods
  • Services of Kudu tour leader, specialist local guide and driver throughout 
  • Tips for driver, specialist guide and local guides, porters, restaurant & hotel staff (appreciation for Kudu tour leaders is at your discretion)
 
Price does not include
  • Flights to and from Tashkent airport
  • Trip cancellation, medical or other insurance
  • Immunisations, prescriptions or other medical requirements
  • Passport, visa and health documentation
  • Personal expenses (laundry, alcohol besides beer at group lunches/dinners, free time activities, etc.)
  • Meals noted as excepted in the daily notation
  • Transport and transfer of excess baggage
  • Uzbek departure tax (domestic and international), if any      

VALUE FOR MONEY - SO MUCH IS INCLUDED

On Kudu trips, you will only need money for postcards, presents to take home, the odd G & T or an irresistible ice cream. Festival and opera tickets, museum and gallery entrances, National Park fees, all meals (with a very few exceptions specified in individual itineraries), wine with lunch and dinner, access to specialist books carried by the guides, gratuities for porters and hotel and restaurant staff, boat rides, train trips, internal flights, wine tastings, 4WDs with drivers, the services of skilled local guides and trackers etc are ALL INCLUDED in the cost of your holiday. 

We are confident that, like previous very satisfied guests, you will discover that our tours give you excellent value for money.

  • 1+2+1 nights in Tashkent, in a comfortable 4 star hotel in the centre

  • 2 nights in a small 3 star hotel in Kokand, in the Fergana valley

  • 2 nights in Khiva, in a boutique hotel within the atmospheric Ichon Qala

  • 3 nights in Bukhara, in an historic, boutique hotel

  • 2 nights in Samarkand, in an historic hotel in the city centre

 

Visa and Health Requirements

Visitors from the UK, EU, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand require a valid passport and a visa for entry to Uzbekistan. A single entry tourist visa for British passport holders costs £ 67. We will send you the latest information about the visa application procedure approximately 3 months before your departure for Uzbekistan or you can check the London Embassy page on www.uzbekembassy.org/e/visas_for_tourists/.

At present, there are no specific and compulsory health requirements for entry to Uzbekistan but you may wish to consult your doctor (at least 6 weeks before you travel) about updating your immunisation against Hepatitis A, polio, tetanus and typhoid, or anything else they consider advisable. A dental check-up is also a good idea. You may also wish to check the advice given to travellers by the Department of Health and the FCO

Insurance
It is essential, and a condition of booking, that you protect yourself with a suitable travel insurance policy as soon as you book a trip. Follow this link for a quote for a policy available to UK residents.

If you are already insured or a non-UK resident, please inform us of your policy at the time of booking.

Size of party 
This trip will run with a minimum of 4 and a maximum of 14 guests.


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