Uzbekistan: March 29 - April 07, 2020
Tashkent (2 nights) - Nukus (2 nights) - Bukhara (2 nights) - Samarkand (2 nights) - Tashkent (1 night)
Day 1, March 29, Sunday
Land in Tashkent. Check in at the Hyatt hotel, right on the main square of town. We will have an afternoon orientation walk, followed by welcome dinner in a good restaurant. Overnight in Tashkent, Hyatt, two nights. Dinner.
Day 2, March 30, Monday
After breakfast we will go out to have a look at three of the most interesting metro stations in town, then go to see the oldest Russian building in Central Asia (the tiny St George chapel), and the legendary Chorsu Bazaar, with its amazing architecture, bread makers, open food court, and abundance of colours and faces. We will have a fast traditional plov lunch in the city’s most popular restaurant - where they cook more than three tons of plov, or rice, every day! In the afternoon we will go to a nearby village, where the Tian Shan mountains begin, for a game of buzkashi, or horse polo, with mountains the background. Depending on weather this year, we may still be able to see grape pickers. We will have a walk in one of Central Asia’s prettiest villages, with old mud and adobe houses, have a glimpse at the second largest solar furnace in the world, and around sunset head back to Tashkent. Dinner in the best restaurant in town. Overnight in Tashkent, Hyatt, second night. Breakfast, dinner.
Day 3, March 31, Tuesday
An early breakfast at the hotel. We will take a domestic flight to Nukus, the capital of the Autonomous Karakalpakstan Republic. After landing we will go to our hotel, Jibek Joli (“Silk Way”), and some time to rest. Then we will go out to the nearby fish market, and then the stunning ancient Mizdarkhan cemetery. Lunch in town. In the afternoon we will have a look at the nearby Savitsky museum of Avant-garde art (with the second largest collection of Soviet avant-garde art in the world!). Free time to rest or take a stroll along the town’s dusty streets. Dinner in town. Overnight in Nukus, Jibek Joli, two nights. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 4, April 01, Wednesday
We will take an early breakfast, and around sunrise go out to see the animal market in Nukus. We will then drive north, to the ruins of the once mighty Ichan Kala fortress, then the workshop of the last Karakalpak yurt maker, in the town of Shimbay. On the way we will stop to see the cotton harvest as well. Lunch in a Karakalpak home. In the afternoon we continue to the shores of the Aral Sea. Most tourists go to Muinaq, where once rusted ships could be seen. No more - there are only two left, the rest have been taken for metal. Muinaq is also seeing big changes as it’s now a tax-free area, and people are starting to build resorts and casinos (!). We will thus head to the virtually unknown village of Kazakhdarya which still has a small lake left, its villagers still fishermen (whereas in Muinaq and elsewhere they had to change their lifestyles completely as the sea dried, or simply leave). We may be the first group to ever set foot in Kazakhdarya, which literally feels like the end of the world. We will visit the fishermen and then head back to Nukus (a two hour ride) in time for our dinner. Overnight in Nukus, Jibek Joli, second night. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 5, April 02, Thursday
After breakfast we head south. We will stop at the ruins of an ancient Zoroastrian citadel and fire temple, and then cross the Amu Darya (the Oxus) at an old pontoon bridge, which still holds a ship cemetery with boats that used to go along the Oxus - perhaps the last ship cemetery in Uzbekistan. We will stop for lunch and a walk in the old town of Khiva. In the afternoon, instead of driving on more bumpy roads, we we will take a train to Bukhara. We will have our own sleeper compartments, and al- though we are not taking the train for a night ride, you can still take a nap. It will be a long and slow ride, around 7 hours, but an interesting one - we will watch the sunset over the Kyzyl Kum desert. The train is the proper way of experiencing the vastness and emptiness of this land - rather than rushing on a potholed, busy, drab highway. We will enjoy a packed dinner onboard the train. At around 22 hours we will arrive in Bukhara, transfer to our brand new Lyabi House hotel, inside an old Jewish merchant’s home, with the town’s best restaurant - which will be open to grab a drink and a dessert. Overnight in Bukhara, Lyabi House, two nights. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 6, April 03, Friday
Breakfast in our exquisitely decorated dining hall, and then we head out to explore the narrow winding streets of the oldest surviving neighbourhood of Bukhara - the Jewish quarter. We will have a look at a couple of abandoned Jewish homes, the small but interesting Jewish market, and then the oldest synagogue in town, which few tourists know about. We will then make our way to the Muslim part of town, stopping to see a couple of beautiful mosques and medresses. Lunch, and free time to wander around Bukhara your own: there is much to explore! Overnight in Bukhara, Lyabi House, second night. Breakfast, lunch.
Day 7, April 04, Saturday
After breakfast we check out and head to nearby Kagan, which is where the train station is. Kagan was the Russian colonial settlement, and has a completely differ- ent feel and character to old Bukhara. Kagan today is settled by Russians, Iranians and Lyuli gypsies. We will stop to see the German, Japanese and Russian cemetery, with its forest of iron metal crosses, visit an Iranian family for lunch, and have a look at some of the most interesting Russian colonial architecture - including the modern palace of the last emir of Bukhara. We will then hop on a fast new comfortable high speed train to Samarkand. In Samarkand we will go straight to the spectacular Registan, at the time of sunset, to take some photos when the Registan is at the most beautiful. Then check in at our comfortable L’Argamak hotel, and go out for dinner in the city’s best restaurant. Overnight in Samarkand, L’Argamak, two nights. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 8, April 05, Sunday
After breakfast we will head out to Langar village, the prettiest village in Central Asia, tucked in the foothills of the Hissor Mountains. We will have a look at the interesting old mosque, then the salt mine. Village lunch in Langar. On the way back we will stop to see the UNESCO-listed heritage in the town of Shahrisabz, and a paper factory in Samarkand. Dinner in a modern restaurant in Samarkand. Overnight in Samarkand, L’Argamak, second night. Breakfast, lunch.
Day 9, April 06, Monday
After breakfast, a morning tour of Samarkand. We will start behind the Registan square, which is where we left yesterday. We will walk the narrow streets behind the big and imposing Bibikhanum mosque, visit the Siab bazaar (which is no longer as bustling as it once was, but you can still see some unique produce from Samarkand, not least the colourful breads!), and then the stunning Shah-i- Zinda cemetery with the most ornate tile decorations in Central Asia. We will then wander through three old small mahallas, or neighbourhoods: Muslim, Jewish and Lyuli gypsy. We are still seeking permission to visit and photograph some unique parts of the Lyuli neighbourhood, which no foreign tourist has ever seen, but author- ities are a bit reluctant as it’s not the most representative part of town! Lunch, and then back to the hotel to rest. For those who still want to experience more of Samarkand, you can wander in the mahalla around our hotel, which is another old area of town, and perhaps visit Tamerlane’s mausoleum, if you want to see more impressive Islamic architecture. The mausoleum is just next to the hotel. In the later afternoon transfer to the railway station for our fast train to Tashkent. In Tashkent we will have our dinner in a great Georgian restaurant. Check in at the Hyatt hotel. Overnight in Tashkent, Hyatt, one night. Breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 10, April 07, Tuesday
End of tour. Breakfast, and transfer to Tashkent airport for your flights back or where the heart takes you next. Breakfast.
- Accommodation in Uzbekistan’s best lodgings: from a Hyatt, to a traditional guest house.
- Transport with a new, comfortable minibus and a number of trains: the fast Afrosiyob from Bukhara to Samar- kand to Tashkent, and the slow train from Urgench to Bukhara.
- Drivers and guides lodging and food.
- Domestic flight from Tashkent to Nukus.
- All meals according to programme: 9 breakfasts, 7 lunches, 7 dinners in carefully selected places.
- All taxes and fees.
- Bottled water, refreshments and sweet treats while on the bus and while exploring sights.
- A comprehensive information pack with maps, literature, useful knowledge and gifts.
- Tips for pretty much everyone but guide and driver.
- All activities according to the program.
- Entry tickets to all sights that are ticketed.
- And much, much more.
Price does not include:
- Medical and
- Personal expenses
such as phone
internet, drinks apart from those
€2640 per person, €420 single supplement.
The cost is per person sharing double or twin room.