|Aktivitets nivå :||Blandede aktiviter - Historieturer - Kultur & Tema reiser (standard)|
The group flights arrive early. Land only passengers can arrive any time this morning. This afternoon we head out on a sightseeing tour of Tashkent, including visits to Independence Square, flanked by public buildings and fountains, and the old town with its mausoleums and bazaar. Much of the city was destroyed by earthquakes in the 1960s and was rebuilt in true Soviet style with pleasant leafy boulevards and numerous fountains to keep the heat down in summer. In contrast to some of the country’s better known Silk Road cities, architecture in Tashkent is influenced by the brutalist movement and Ladas are still very common adding to the city’s ‘back in the USSR’ feel. *Arien Plaza or similar*
We catch the early fast train to Samarkand arriving midmorning and spend the rest of today and part of tomorrow exploring the Silk Road city. Samarkand is steeped in history, dating back 2,500 years and impacted by such figures as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, who made it the capital of his empire in the 14th Century. Its central position on the Silk Road meant that it was an important stop on the route from Istanbul to Peking (now Beijing). At its heart is the grand Registan Square flanked by the three grand madrasahs of Ulughbeg (15th C), Sherdor (17th C) and Tilya Qori (17th C). We visit the grand square as well as the Gur Emir Mausoleum, burial place of Tamerlane, his sons and his grandson, Ulughbek. The Ulugbek Observatory built in 1420 by Tamerlane's grandson who was not just a ruler but also a well-known astronomer. We move on to the oversized Bibi Khanum Mosque and Shakhi Zinda - the 'Living King' necropolis - with its series of mausoleums dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Our final visit is to the exotic Siab Bazaar with its fresh and dried fruit and nuts and other local food produce. The leader may shift the order the sites are visited. *Dilshoda Hotel or similar*
After exploring Samarkand further, we head into the countryside and experience what life would have been like during the days of the Silk Road and what it’s still like for numerous nomads across Central Asia. We spend tonight in a Kazakh yurt camp. Yurts are round, felt tents (known as gers in Mongolia) which are spacious and comfortable inside. *Yurt camp*
Today we go for a walk and have the opportunity to ride camels on the way to Aidarkul Lake. The lake stretches through the desert towards the Nuratin Mountains and, once by the lake, we have time to explore the shoreline and go for a swim. Later, we drive on to 2,000-year old city of Bukhara. *Aist Hotel or similar*
We have two days sightseeing in Bukhara, the next of our great Central Asian cities. Bukhara boasts over 900 historical monuments, here we will spend time visiting many sites and wandering at leisure amongst the old city streets. Unlike Samarkand the district of the old town has remained separate from the rest of Bukhara and has undergone lots of restoration and preservation in recent years. In addition to its importance as a trading centre, it is the perfect setting to just sit and watch the world go by much as it has been for hundreds of years. Of particular interest is the Fortress Ark where, in the 19th century, the Emir of Bukhara had the English officers Stoddart and Connolly imprisoned and killed and the mausoleum of Ismail Samani, a beautiful example of early Islamic architecture dating back to the 10th century. We will also visit the Emir's rather kitsch Summer Palace, the old town with its domed bazaars and khauz (stone pools which used to be the city's only water supply), and the attractive 12th century Char Minar. One of the great landmarks of Bukhara is the Kalyan minaret, known as the death tower, where many an unfaithful wife has met a sticky end. *Aist Hotel or similar*
We spend a 2nd day exploring the great Silk Road city of Bukhara. This evening we head to the train station to board the overnight sleeper train back to Tashkent. Train travel has long been a common mode of transport in the ex-Soviet Union and Central Asia and a great experience. The 1st class carriage, which we use, is divided into 2-berth cabins. *Aist Hotel or similar and overnight train*
Our train arrives in Tashkent early this morning. We will transfer to the hotel where we have access to day-use rooms. There is free time to relax or explore a bit more of Tashkent before those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport in the afternoon arriving back in London this evening. Land only passengers are free to leave the trip any time today or make use of the day-use rooms. **
* Travel by private bus or minibus and train * Group normally 4 to 16, plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs * 4 nights standard hotels and 1 night yurt with shared facilities * 5 breakfasts, 1 lunches and 1 dinner included
5 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner Common dishes in the region include shish-kebabs and plov which you’ll probably see plenty of. The kebabs can be from different meats including lamb and beef whilst plov is a rice-based dish (variants elsewhere are known as pilaf or pilau rice). Another main food is bread, which is baked and sold everywhere. Tea is also plentiful, both black and green and is drunk with most meals as well as throughout the day. Please note that vegetarian food choices may be rather limited. If you are strictly vegetarian or have any specialist dietary requirements please notify us well in advance. In Uzbekistan the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, (e.g. gluten-free or dairy-free) is minimal or non-existent and we strongly recommend you bring these specialised dietary items from home.
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