GRAND TOUR UZBEKISTAN

Length

17 DAYS

Type of tour

CULTURE/NATURE

Type of service

PRIVATE

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TRIP OVERVIEW

  A Grand Tour in Uzbekistan to explore the culture and ancient traditions.

Explore the caravan cities on the Great Silk Road: Tashkent, the former commercial oasis today the eclectic capital of the Uzbek Republic; the legendary Samarkand, known as the “crossroads of cultures”, one of the oldest cities in the world; Bukhara, with its architecture that has hardly changed over time and for centuries an important religious centre; Khiva, one of the best-preserved ancient cities in all Central Asia.

Visit the remote Muynak on the ‘Aral Sea‘ and the charming, abandoned fortresses in the Kyzylkum Desert.

Immerse yourself in the nature of the Nuratau Mountains and learn about the rural lifestyle at Sentyab village.

Spend the night in an authentic Uzbek yurt, the typical round nomadic dwelling decorated with local carpets.

The itinerary can be customised to suit your travel needs and can also be combined with other routes.

Itineraries-Gran-tour-in-Uzbekistan © In Asia Travel

DOWNLOAD ITINERARY

Length : 17G 16N
From : URGENCH
To : TASHKENT
Destinations  : Urgench, Khiva, Nukus, Moinaq, Khorezm, Bukhara, Nurata, Sentyab, Fazilman, Aydar Kul, Samarkand, Kokand, Fergana, Margilan, Tashkent

ITINERARY

01. ARRIVE IN URGENCH - VISIT KHIVA

Kunya Ark fortress © Gabriele StoiaKunya Ark fortress – Khiva

Arrival in Urgench and transfer to Khiva, the most isolated of the caravan cities on the Silk Road, considered to be one of the best-preserved ancient historical cities in all Central Asia.

We wander through the maze of narrow streets of the World Heritage-listed Itchan Qal’a city centre and let ourselves be carried back in time surrounded by the exciting artistic contrast of mud houses alternating with the turquoise decorations of minarets and madrasas.

Walk through the walls of Kunya Ark fortress and explore the mythical citadel with its impressive architectural masterpieces including the Muhammad Amin-Khan madrasa, the largest in Central Asia, the famous Kalta-Minor minaret made of turquoise enamel with brick and majolica, and the Muhammad Rakhim-Khan II and Alla-Quli-Khan madrasas.

We visit the minaret and mosque of Islom-Khodja. We explore the corridors and courtyards of the Tosh Khauli Palace and admire the turquoise dome of the mausoleum of the famous warrior Mahmud.

Included : Private pick up from them airport, tour guide, tickets, private transportation and hotel

02. TRASFERIMENTO A NUKUS

Nukus_Art_Museum © ChanOJ / CC BY-SAArt Museum Nukus © ChanOJ / CC BY-SA

Free time in the morning to stroll around Khiva’s delightful old town.

During the afternoon we head to Nukus, the capital of the Karakalpakstan Autonomous Republic.

Visit the Museum of Art, or Savitskiy Museum, named after the renowned painter, archaeologist and collector Igor Savitskiy. With over 82,000 fine objects ranging from Khorezm antiquities to Karakalpak folk art and Uzbek fine art, the museum houses the second largest collection of Russian avant-garde art in the world.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

03. ARAL SEA

  Moinaq © Gabriele Stoia - In Asia TravelAral Sea, Muynaq

After breakfast we drive to Muynaq. Once home to a lively community of thousands of fishermen, Muynaq was Uzbekistan’s only port city on the Aral, the lake in north-western Uzbekistan, which crosses the border into Kazakhstan, so vast that it is called the Aral Sea. The lake’s abundance of fish has ensured the region’s economy for decades, thanks to industrial fishing and canning.

However, the diversion of the Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers in the 1960s by the Soviet government to benefit the cotton industry, resulted in the depletion of a large part of the lake and an extreme increase in the salinity of the remaining water, causing an economic disaster and the collapse of the fishing industry.

We visit the suggestive “graveyard of ships“, the fishing fleet of rusty ships stranded in the sand of the Ustyurt plateau for decades.

At the end we reach the yurt camp near the lake.

Included : Yurt, breakfast, picnic lunch, dinner, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

04. TRANSFER TO NUKUS AND VISITS

After breakfast we return to Nukus following an alternative route through incredible landscapes.

Visit the settlement of Kurgancha in the Kungrad district, whose history dates to the 13th century, once an important trading centre on the Great Silk Road. We stop at Sudochye Lake to admire the picturesque landscape.

In the afternoon we visit the necropolis of Mizdakhan, once the largest city in the Khorezm region, inhabited from the 4th century BC to the 14th century AD. Nearby rests on a hill the impressive remains of the Gyaur Qala fortress dating back to the 4th-3rd centuries BC.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

05. KHOREZM FORTS - BUKHARA

Ayaz Qala fortress © Gabriele Stoia - In Asia TravelAyaz Qala fortress

After breakfast visit the fortresses Toprak Qala, Qavat Qala and Ayaz Qala, the latter built on a hill overlooking the Kyzylkum desert in the 2nd century AD by the Kushan Empire, probably part of a chain of fortresses guarding the desert borders. Interesting residential structures can be found within the surrounding walls.

Afternoon transfer to Bukhara, once the intellectual and cultural centre of the Islamic world, and a flourishing city on the Silk Road, which has hardly changed since the days of the merchant caravans.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, picnic lunch, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

06. BUKHARA

Magok-i-Attari-mosque-Bukhara © Gabriele StoiaMagok i Attari Mosque, Bukhara

After breakfast we visit an authentic Tea House to taste local teas and coffees.

Visit the Ark citadel, the massive fortress built in the 5th century for military purposes and used as the residence of the royal courts until 1920.

We continue to the Lyabi Khauz architectural complex in the city centre where we admire the marvellous mosaics of the Divan Beghi madrasa, the Khanaqa Divan Beghi and the Kukeldash Madrasa.

We continue to the Po-i-Kalyan religious complex whose bright blue domes are visible from afar, overlooking the iconic square dominated by the Kalyan MosqueMiri-Araba Madrasa and Kalyan minaret, symbol of Bukhara, used for centuries as a beacon to guide the caravans arriving from the desert. 

Next, we visit the Samanid mausoleum, the oldest funerary building in Central Asia and an icon of early Islamic architecture; the Chashma Ayub mausoleum, where we find a water spring named after the Prophet Job (Ayuba); the Ulug bek madrasa, an important Islamic school built in the 15th century; the Abdul Aziz Khan madrasa; and the Magok-i Attari mosque, one of the oldest in Central Asia, predating the Mongol invasion.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

07. BUKHARA

Sitori-i-Mokhi Khosa © Gabriele StoiaSitori-i-Mokhi Khosa Complex

We visit the Chor Bakr necropolis, the Samanid mausoleum, the oldest funerary building in Central Asia and an icon of early Islamic architecture.

We continue to the Sitorai Mohi Hosa Palace, the countryside residence of the last emir Said Alim Khan, and the mausoleum of Bahauddin Naqshband, the founder of the Naqshbandi order of Sufism and one of the most revered figures in the Muslim world.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

08. NURATA - YURT CAMP

Yurta Uzbeka © Gabriele StoiaUzbek yurt

After breakfast we drive to Nurata and visit the Sarmish Gorge, or ‘Sarmishsay’, on the southern slopes of the Karatau mountain range, a crossroads of seasonal migration routes for people and animals since ancient times.

Flint quarries, mines, ancient settlements, burial mounds, cemeteries of ancient nomads, pagan altars, crypts and some 4,000 petroglyphs, including monuments from the Middle Ages, the Iron Age, the Bronze Age and even the Stone Age, can be found in the area.

Afternoon excursion to Chashma, the religious complex known throughout Asia, at the centre of which is a sacred spring (‘Chashma’), according to a legend it was created by a meteorite.

Transfer to the yurt camp, the typical nomadic dwelling, circular in shape and decorated with locally made sherdoke carpets. It is possible to participate in the making of local dishes or to take a camel ride into the desert to see the local flora and fauna, and to admire a beautiful sunset.

Included : Yurt, breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

09. AYDAR KUL LAKE - SENTYAB

After breakfast walk along the shore of Lake Aydar Kul where you can take a swim or simply relax and enjoy the peaceful landscape.

Afterwards we travel to Sentyab village (4h) in the foothills of the Nuratau Mountains. The village (650m above sea level) has been inhabited for over 2000 years and is set in a fertile valley off the beaten track, thus offering a special opportunity to experience the rural lifestyle of the place.

Afternoon hike in the area with a local experienced guide. We visit the ruins of ancient houses built of flat stones on steep walls.

As we continue the hike along the gorge, we reach a small waterfall where we can enjoy a relaxing break.

Included : Guesthouse, breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

10. TREKKING SENTYAB - FAZILMAN

Lago Fazilman © Carpodacus / CC BY-SA - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Fazilman_lake_and_Kichik_Fazilman_mountain.jpgFazilman Lake © Carpodacus / CC BY-SA

In the morning we continue the excursion by following the path that leads to the pass under the majestic peak of Mount Gaukum (1516 m.).

Along the route we admire the view of Sentyab village, the Sentyabsai river gorge, the peaks of the Nuratau mountain range and Aidar Kul lake in the background.

After about 1h30′ we reach the small mountain lake Fazilman, at an altitude of 1640 meters, where we stop for a packed lunch.

If you wish, you can extend the hike by climbing to the peak of Kichik Fazilman Hill at an altitude of 1833 metres.

Afterwards, return to Sentyab village (2h30′) following the path along the old abandoned road.

Included : Guesthouse, breakfast, lunch, dinner, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

11. SENTYAB - SAMARKAND

Transfer to Samarkand, one of the oldest cities in the world, a cultural crossroads and a key stop along the Silk Road.

Stops along the way. Check-in at the hotel upon arrival.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

12. SAMARKAND

Registan Samarqand © Gabriele StoiaRegistan Square – Samarcanda

Visit the iconic Registan Square, home to some of the world’s finest examples of Islamic architecture, dominated by the impressive Sher-Dor, Ulugbek and Tilla-Kori madrasas.

Afterwards we explore the enchanting Shakhi Zinda complex adorned with an extraordinary array of blue tiles, the Tomb of Timurids – Guri Amir, burial ground of the Timurid dynasty, a unique architectural monument, and the sparkling turquoise dome of the Bibi Khanum cathedral mosque dedicated to Timur’s favourite wife.

We continue to the colorful Siab Bazaar, the largest and oldest in Samarkand, of strategic importance for the commercial development of the Great Silk Road. A special place where the exotic atmosphere of the ancient city is palpable. 

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

13. SAMARKAND - TASHKENT

Hudjum carpet factory © Gabriele StoiaCarpet factory – Hudjum

Visit the ancient observatory of Ulugbek built in 1420 by the Timurid astronomer Ulugh Beg, considered by scholars to be one of the best in the Islamic world.

We continue to “Hudjum” carpet factory where we can admire the production process of the splendid oriental hand-embroidered rugs.

Visit to the “Merospaper mill, where the famous Samarkand paper is produced using mulberry bark. An interesting fact is that all the production is done by hand following ancient traditions.

In the afternoon transfer to Tashkent, the ancient commercial oasis now eclectic capital of the Uzbek Republic.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

14. TASHKENT - KOKAND - FERGANA

Fergana market © Gabriele StoiaLocal market, Fergana

After breakfast transfer to the Fergana Valley, through Kamchim Pass towards the Kyrgyzstan border, known for its massive cotton production.

We stop at Kokand for a visit to the Khudoyor Khan Palace, residence of the last ruler of the Khanate of Kokand. Built in 1871 following the traditions of Central Asian architecture with a high portal at the centre decorated with four minarets, the Palace is without any doubt one of the greatest architectural works in the area.

We visit the Jami Mosque, an important symbol of Kokand located in Chorsu Square, and the Norbut-biy Madrasa built in the 18th century, an important religious and educational centre in the city.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

15. FERGANA - MARGILAN - TASHKENT

Yodgorlik Silk Factor - Margilan © Gabriele StoiaYodgorlik Silk Factor – Margilan

We continue our journey to Margilan, the town in the Fergana valley which, according to some European legends, was founded by Alexander the Great. It was a key stop on the Silk Road along the route through the Alay mountains to Kashgar in China.

Visit Yodgorlik Silk Factory known around the world for its sublime silk manufacturing. The reputation gained over the centuries has guaranteed Margilan the nickname full title of “capital of Central Asia’s Silk”.

We continue to Rishtan, one of the most famous and oldest pottery towns in Uzbekistan, with traditions handed down from generation to generation for over eight centuries. The town owes its fortune to the substantial deposit of clay at the base of most of the town area.

Afterwards, transfer to Tashkent.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

16. TASHKENT

Khast Imam mosque © Gabriele StoiaKhast Imam mosque

We spend the last day of this long journey visiting the capital, Tashkent.

Visit the Khast Imam complex, the capital’s religious centre located in the oldest part of the city, and the Muyi Mubarak library which houses thousands of manuscripts including the 7th century Uthman Quran, one of the oldest copies of the sacred book in the world.

Afterwards, visit Amir Temur Square, in the modern part of the capital; in the centre stands the equestrian statue of the famous undefeated Turkish-Mongolian conqueror, known in the West as Tamerlane.

Not far away we find the remarkable Mustaqillik Maydonila, or “Independence Square“, symbol of Uzbekistan’s exit from the Soviet Union on August 31, 1991, surrounded by monuments, fountains and impressive public buildings.

We end the day at the exotic and colourful Chorsu Bazaar market surrounded by the scent of spices, dried fruits and delicious Uzbek bread.

Included : Hotel, breakfast, tour guide, tickets and private transportation 

17. TASHKENT - DEPARTURE

Free time until the transfer to the international airport in time for your departure flight.

Included : Breakfast, private transportation to airport

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