Designed especially for travellers who seek high adventure among the peaks and mountain passes of the Tien Shan Mountains, this journey traverses some of the least travelled routes of the Silk Road. Your adventurous spirit will be rewarded with breathtaking scenery in unspoilt wilderness.
Beginning in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, the heart of the Silk Road, take the chance to explore the old town and Chorsu Bazaar, one of the oldest and largest Bazaars in Central Asia, found in the unique complex of trade halls crowned with magnificent blue domes. In the evening of Day 1 you join your Tour Leader and fellow travellers at 5:00pm for your Welcome Meeting as detailed on your joining instructions.
After breakfast this morning we travel beyond the capital to the rarely visited oasis of Fergana Valley, the lyrical land of fruit and honey. En route we stop at one of the most ancient cities of Uzbekistan, Kokand, and the potters town of Rishton.
Continuing through the Fergana Valley we visit the silk-weaving town of Margilan – where tourists are seldom seen, and the friendly locals dress in traditional wear. The local bazaar with its seductive sights, sounds and aromas is one of the most interesting in the valley. Our journey then takes us across the border to Osh, strategically positioned at the eastern gateway of the Fergana Valley, and which prospered with Silk Road trade until the Mongol armies destroyed the city in the 13th century. This afternoon we gain an insight into its heart and soul visiting the spiritual Suleiman Mountains as well as its colourful bazaar.
The history of the Silk Road simmers below Osh’s surface. This morning we visit the city’s Russian Orthodox Church that was reopened after the demise of the Soviet Union, wander the Central Square and see the monument Kurmandjan Datka before continuing to Sary Tash around midday.
The roads leading to the Chinese frontier carry little traffic. Apart from a few small towns in river valleys, the terrain is alluringly barren and rugged. We steadily climb through the Tien Shan Mountains to the Irkeshtam Pass (3005m) bound for the legendary Silk Road market town of Kashgar. Kashgar’s unique position has made it a strategic trading post throughout history, its old city once regarded as one of the best preserved examples of a traditional Islamic city anywhere in Central Asia, is now sadly reduced in size. At the heart of the town lies the magnificent yellow-tiled Id Kah Mosque, one of the largest in Central Asia. Step back in time at the Sunday Market where trade continues in a time-honoured tradition, it is an absolute awakening for all your senses and an incredible experience.
Travelling north through barren mountains, we pass Muslim shrines and the traditional homes of Central Asia’s nomads (known as yurts), en route to Torugart Pass (3752m), and the Kyrgyzstan border. Set within a beautiful valley, near Tash Rabat we find, and stay in one of the few remaining Silk Road caravanserais with its large impressive stone walls dating from the 10th century.
Travelling north the road cuts through the rugged Kyrgyz steppe and spectacular mountains can be seen as we travel via the Naryn Valley to the quaint and friendly village of Kochkor where we stop for lunch. Surrounded by the snow-capped peaks of Tien Shan, Lake Issyk Kul (warm lake) is one of the world’s largest bodies of fresh water and, despite an altitude of 1,600 metres it never freezes. We drive along the northern shores of Issyk Kul Lake to Cholpon Ata where we will spend the night.
Leaving the lake’s glistening waters behind, we continue on to Kyrgyzstan’s capital, Bishkek. Along the way we stop to wander around the Burana Tower, before spending the evening enjoying Bishkek’s many parks and intriguing soviet buildings.
Following an excursion to the breathtaking Ala-Archa National Park and hike along the canyon, we return to Bishkek to explore the sites of the city and experience the hive of activity at Osh Bazaar before flying over nearby peaks to Tashkent.
After our city tour of Tashkent, we embark on a train journey to the exquisitely ornate cities of western Uzbekistan and arriving in Urgench the following day.
We arrive in Urgench, then head for the remote region bordering Karakalpakstan to explore the ancient forts of Ayaz Qala, before spending the night in a traditional yurt under some of the world’s most astonishing skies.
We continue our Silk Road Adventure onwards to explore the old city of Khiva – one of the best-preserved examples of a walled Khanate city with foundations dating from the 10th century. A truly magnificent sight to behold, as we draw nearer Khiva rises out of the desert to reveal a wealth of well-preserved and impressive architecture.
After a morning further exploring Khiva, we depart for Bukhara. Bukhara is alive with history, the Ark Fortress, Samanid Mausoleum; one of the world’s oldest monuments and the Kalyan Minaret are just some of the wonders not to be missed. In the covered bazaars, rugs, silks and spices are still traded as they were in the heyday of the Silk Road and exploring them gives a real sense of what it could have been like in the days of Marco Polo.
A spectacular drive through the Zerafshan Mountains takes us to Shakhrisabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane. Beside the ruined entrance towers of his Ak-Serai Palace, the pretty market town offers a relaxed atmosphere with traditional homes, tea houses and mosques. Later, we arrive in Samarkand – the most evocative city of the Silk Road, often referred to as ‘Golden Samarkand’, after the romantic poem ‘The Golden Road to Samarkand’ by English poet, James Elroy Flecker, who strangely never visited the area. Still, that is a minor detail when we consider that the city’s Registan is simply the most spectacular architectural ensemble in Central Asia. Comprised of three madrassas (places of learning) and a mosque, this beautiful square is inspiring. Other highlights include Shah-I-Zinda, with its narrow alleys of tombs and mausoleums, Bibi Khanym Mosque and the Ulug Bek Observatory.
Spend the day soaking in the glittering sites of this fascinating city before making our way to the railway station to board our final train, returning to Tashkent later this evening. Our journey concludes where it all began and you can enjoy a final day in Tashkent. Please note: Our 27/08/18 departure may run in the reverse direction. Any affected travellers will be advised of changes closer to departure. Please contact our Travel Advisors for more details.
Day 1 Tashkent - journey begins Day 2 Depart to Fergana Morning onboard train Day 3 Fergana to Osh (Kyrgyzstan border crossing) Day 4 Osh to Sary Tash Day 5 To Kashgar via Irkeshtam Pass (China border crossing) Day 6 Kashgar Day 7 Kashgar Day 8 To Tash Rabat via Torugart Pass (Kyrgyzstan border crossing) Day 9 Tash Rabat to Cholpon Ata Day 10 To Bishkek Day 11 Bishkek and fly to Tashkent Evening flight Day 12 Tashkent and depart to Urgench Evening departure Day 13 Arrive Urgench and to Ayaz Qala Late morning arrival Day 14 Ayaz Qala and to Khiva Day 15 Khiva and to Bukhara Day 16 Bukhara Day 17 Bukhara Day 18 To Samarkand via Shakrisabz Day 19 Samarkand Day 20 Samarkand Day 21 Samarkand and to Tashkent Late afternoon onboard train Day 22 Tashkent - journey concludes
20 breakfasts3 lunches 3 dinners
All transfers including to and from the airport, and your flight between Bishkek and Tashkent.
17 hotel / guesthouse (twin share) 1 homestay (shared)2 yurts (Shared)1 train (shared 4 berth) Optional single supplement available for hotel stays on this journey – prices available on request.
Comprehensive schedule of sightseeing with certified Local Guides. You’ll have a generous sprinkling of free time to relax or explore on your own.
An experienced Tour Leader accompanies the whole journey to keep your adventure on track. Local Guides are native to each destination and as certified professionals will share their immense knowledge with you. 24/7 support is available in the office and on the ground.
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