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Experience
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In Search of the Silk Road

Central Asia’s intriguing Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.

The quiet chill of the morning is broken by the call of the Mu’adhan calling the faithful to prayer and welcoming the new dawn. The majestic skyline of brightly colored minarets and sand-coloured towers all contribute to the ultimate atmospheric setting. We are in the company of some of history’s greats, Marco Polo and Tamerlane, of beautiful buildings and exotic peoples.

 

Our central Asian journey begins in Kazakhstan; little known by westerners, but a land of wild natural landscapes, of mighty canyons and ‘singing’ sand dunes. In contrast, the cities, such as Astana and Almaty, are home to the most unusual and futuristic architecture. Our time here will be spent exploring natural wonders such as Big Almaty Lake, Altyn Emel National Park and Charyn Canyon as well as visiting the city highlights in Astana and Almaty.

 

We follow the Silk Road further into neighbouring Uzbekistan, with some of the most precious opulent buildings in the Islamic world. We begin in Tashkent and briefly explore the city before continuing to Khiva, the best preserved of the Silk Road cities.

 

Travelling south to Bukhara, we experience how life might have been lived by the Silk Road traders. Adopting the Nomad life, we will sleep for two nights in a Yurt Camp in the desert. We stop at Nurata to explore Alexander the Great’s castle then onto our camp at Yangikazgan on the shores of Lake Aidarkul. Then on to Samarkand, a wonderful place and home of the impressive Registan Square (described by Curzon in 1899 as “the noblest public square in the world”). Finally we return to Tashkent where we will enjoy some free time before our return flight home, stopping in Astana overnight enroute.

Activity Level
alt
You enjoy the great outdoors and possess a moderate spirit of adventure. For you, nothing beats exploring the natural world, whether by foot, wheels or water. You enjoy filling your days with great scenery and a range of different experiences. You are moderately fit. Previous outdoor activity experience is preferable.



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  • Dates, Prices & Holiday Information Sheet (PDF)
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    Date
    Nights
    Grades
    Depart From
    More Info
    Status
    Price From
    Date
    24 Aug 2017
    Nights
    15
    Grades
    Level B
    Depart From
    London (Heathrow)
    More Info
    Status
    Limited
    Price From
    £2,675
    Date
    14 Sep 2017
    Nights
    15
    Grades
    Level B
    Depart From
    London (Heathrow)
    More Info
    Status
    Available
    Price From
    £2,675
  • Itinerary & Map
    24 Aug 2017 - 08 Sep 2017

    Day 1 - In Flight
    We fly overnight from London Heathrow to Astana (Kazakhstan) with Air Astana.

    Day 2 - Astana, Kazakhstan
    On arrival we transfer to our hotel in Astana where we can relax before an afternoon tour of the city. Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan and one of the fastest changing cities in the world. Many of the buildings have been newly constructed and world renowned architects have contributed to their design; modern, but by no means characterless, many buildings have a unique and often futuristic design. Some traces of the distant past can still be found, such as the ruins of Bozok, a medieval settlement, which makes for a stark contrast. Other sights that we will see include; the Bayterek Complex, this unique construction is a symbol of Astana, and at a height of 97m there is observation deck from where a panoramic view of the city unfolds. Sights include, the House of Ministries, Pyramid of Peace, Akorda; the “White House of Kazakhstan”, Hazret Sultan Mosque, and Khan-Shatyr entertainment centre.

    Day 3 - Almaty, Kazakhstan
    We take an early morning flight to Almaty (Kazakhstan). On arrival we travel to our hotel where we have time to relax before a sightseeing tour of the city. First we travel to Big Almaty Lake, known locally as Zhasylkol, which means "Blue Lake". It is situated in the middle of a canyon of the same name, and lies at an altitude of 2511m. The lake is used as natural reservoir storage. We can admire its beauty , the surrounding mountains, get acquainted with the flora and fauna and the history of this region. Almaty is the former capital of Kazakhstan and still remains the commercial, financial, scientific and educational capital of the country. Its located at the bottom of Zailiysky Ala Tau at an altitude of 900m, and surrounded by a necklace of emerald-blue mountains with snow-covered tops. During our tour we will visit the historical center, the park of 28 guardsmen of Panfilov, the Memorial of Glory, Saint-Voznesensky cathedral, and the best-known squares of the city, Republic Square with the monument of Independence, and the old administrative centre.

    Day 4 - Altyn Emel NP, Kazakhstan
    Today we travel to Altyn Emel National Park. The largest national park in Kazakhstan featuring spectacular landscapes of multi-coloured mountains. It is home to wildlife including the golden eagle, mountain partridge, Siberian mountain goats, wolfs, foxes and much more. Also located here is a miracle of nature; singing Barchan Sands, known as the “Singing Sand Dunes”. The sand creates a sound similar to a melody of an organ, audible for several miles. This evening we stay in a guest house in the national park.

    Day 5 - Almaty, Kazakhstan
    Before travelling back to Almaty we will spend much of the day at Charyn Canyon; an amazing creation of nature. Numerous ravines and gullies were carved through centuries of wind and rain erosion. All along the valley you are surrounded by towers of eroded sedimentary of fantastical forms, such as one that resembles a majestic castle.

    Day 6 - Tashkent, Uzbekistan
    Early afternoon we will travel to Almaty Airport for our flight to Tashkent. On arrival we transfer to our hotel, where we can leave our luggage and continue on for a city tour of Tashkent. Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, is a fascinating place. During our tour of the city we will discover the Old City, including the Khastimom complex, Tillya Sheikh mosque, Kaffal Shashiy Mausoleum; home of the Holy Koran, Kukaldosh Madrassah, Chorsu bazaar and the Applied Arts Museum. We will also visit ceramist Akbar Rahimov’s workshop and have a tea break with oriental sweets. You will have the opportunity to make your own ceramics at an additional cost. We return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.

    Day 7 - Khiva, Uzbekistan
    We will fly from Tashkent to Urgench; from here we will transfer by road (40 minutes) to Khiva. Khiva has preserved its architectural heritage well from the days of the Silk Road, and now referred to as a ‘museum city’. Our sight seing will include such sights as Madrassah Allakuli Khan, Madrassah Muhammad Amin Khan, Kunya Ark, Kelte Minar, Pakhlavan Mahmud Mausoleum, Islam Khoja Minaret and Madrassah, Madrassah Muhammad Rahimkhan, Juma Masjid and Tash Hovli Palace. After we will visit a silk carpet workshop, which is under UNESCO sponsorship. A lunch will be included today and will be taken at a local restaurant. Later we return to our hotel for dinner and overnight.

    Day 8 - Bukhara, Uzbekistan
    Today we fly from Khiva to Bukhara. On arrival we will discover this magnificent city, also a major stop on the Silk Road and steeped in medieval Islamic architecture, theology and culture. It still contains Uzbekistan’s finest and best-preserved mosques, madrassas, and bazaars. We will visit sites such as Chor Minor, Ark fortress, Bolo Hauz Mosque, Ismail Samani mausoleum, Chashmai Ayub. We can enjoy some refreshments in the Silk Road Spices Tea House, and in the evening we have dinner with a local family, where we can participate in plov cooking (a traditional Uzbek method of cooking).

    Day 9 - Bukhara, Uzbekistan
    Today we will continue with our city tour and see such wonderful sites as the Poi Kalyan complex with Kalyan mosque, Miri Arab madrassah, Ulugbeg and Abdulazizkhan madrassahs, Trade Domes, the ancient Silk Market, Magokki Attori mosque and Labi Hauz complex. We'll also visit Sitorai Mokhi Hosa-summer residence. This evening we hope to enjoy a Folk Show and dinner at a local restaurant.

    Day 10 - Yangikazgan, Uzbekistan
    Today we depart by road (4 hours) to Yangikazgan, en route we visit the ruins of Rabbat Malik Caravansaray and Nurata, a small town near Aydarkol Lake and the border of Kyzyl Kum desert. This place is famous for the holy spring 'Chashma Ayub'. According to the old traditions the Alexander the Great built a small fortress to watch the enemy from the north. Here we visit ruins of two old castles which dates back to an unknown period, and Nurata mosque from the eight century. Then we travel to Aydarkul Lake, where we have some free time to relax or just stroll along the lake shores observing the bird life. We will then continue to Yangikazgan where our accommodation will be in Yurts. We will enjoy dinner round a fire with local Akin (musicians).

    Day 11 - Yangikazgan, Uzbekistan
    After breakfast we walk to a local farm, here we can observe Uzbek farm life and enjoy lunch with the shepherd and his family. After lunch we'll take a walk to the desert village Dungalak to get to know about the daily life of the desert inhabitants. We may visit a local school (if open). Then return to the yurt camp for camel rides. Tonight we stay in Yurts once again.

    Day 12 - Samarkand, Uzbekistan
    After breakfast in our Yurts, we have a full day transfer by road (6 hours) to Samarkand. Today and tomorrow we will visit the most spectacular sights of Samarkand, and perhaps the pinnacle of the architecture we have seen so far, the Gur Emir Mausoleum, Registan Square, where we enjoy a mini concert and lecture about national music instruments at Sherdor Medrassah. Before dinner we visit the Khovrenko wine factory and sample some local Uzbek wines.

    Day 13 - Tashkent, Uzbekistan
    We continue exploring Samarkand including Ulugbek Observatory, Afrosiab Museum, Shakhi Zinda necropolis, Siyab bazaar. Then we will visit Koni Ghil Silk Paper Center, to see the process of silk paper production and bread baking. We will enjoy freshly baked bread with tea and some traditional sweets. Late afternoon we will take a train (2 hours) to Tashkent. This evening we enjoy dinner in a local restaurant in Tashkent.

    Day 14 - Astana, Kazakhstan
    Our morning is free at leisure before an early afternoon flight to Astana (Kazakhstan). We arrive in the evening and travel to our hotel for dinner and overnight.

    Day 15 - -
    After breakfast we have some free time, before an afternoon transfer to Astana airport for our flight to London Heathrow.


  • Accommodation

    We stay in good three and four-star hotels and two nights in a yurt in Uzbekistan. We will sleep five in each tent with segregated sleeping. Showers and flushing toilets are available but not en suite. The slight discomfort is in our opinion more than compensated for by the thrill of a night out in the desert under the magnificent star-scape. As is the number of single night stops – the only way to see as much as possible during our time here.

  • What's Included

    Holiday Price Includes:

    • Return flights, internal flights & transfers.
    • En-suite accommodation.
    • On a half board basis with 4 lunches included.
    • All activities and excursions as advertised in the itinerary.
    • Services of a local guide.
    Supplement for single room: £180

  • Holiday Highlights

    Holiday Highlights:

    • Untouched, wild beauty of Kazakhstan.
    • Discover architectural beauty, in the unique cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand.
    • Experience a night in a traditional Yurt, sleep under clear skies and stars in the desert.
    • Explore a divine contrast of landscapes, from quirky, ancient cities to alpine beauty.

  • Travel Information & Regional Departures
    • Arrival transfer by road (c30mins).
    • Flights: Heathrow – Astana (c6hrs 45mins) Air Astana.
    • Provisional times: outward depart/return arrival  1805/1650.
    • UK add-ons available from £150 return British Airways.
    • Visa is required.

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  • Private Group Enquiry

    Planning a holiday for a group? For a quote or to simply enquire about the possibility of booking this holiday for your Walking Group please fill out the enquiry form below and our dedicated Private Group Department will get in touch with you shortly to discuss your options.

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Activity Level
alt
You enjoy the great outdoors and possess a moderate spirit of adventure. For you, nothing beats exploring the natural world, whether by foot, wheels or water. You enjoy filling your days with great scenery and a range of different experiences. You are moderately fit. Previous outdoor activity experience is preferable.



YOUR STORY STARTS HERE ...

Please select a departure date






 
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