Heart of the Silk Road

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan

Tour Highlights

• Kazakhstan  • Kyrgyzstan  • Uzbekistan
More than 2,000 years ago the great trade routes that linked Europe and China opened Central Asia to foreign cultures and religions. Surprisingly well-preserved evidence of these original explorers remain today in the ancient cities, towns and villages of the region. On this epic journey we’ll visit three of the most fascinating countries in the region. We will admire masterpieces of Islamic architecture, interact with locals in vibrant bazaars, visit awe-inspiring UNESCO World Heritage sites and view incredibly diverse landscapes from red sand deserts to dramatic mountain ranges. Although the people of these countries have at times faced challenging circumstances, hospitality remains an essential element of daily life and you’ll be made to feel genuinely welcome. 

We begin in Kyrgyzstan, defined by its landscape of unspoilt mountainscapes, stark craggy ridges and deep valleys, all brought to life by semi-nomadic, yurt-dwelling shepherd cultures. Our sightseeing here includes the changing of the guard ceremony at the Presidential House, the open air “Museum of Painters” and beautiful Ala Archa National Park.

Then we travel to Kazakhstan, the world’s largest landlocked country. It’s history dates back to the Bronze Age with tribes roaming the steppes and mountains and it was the last country of central Asia to declare independence in 1991.  The capital city, Almaty, is the major cultural centre.  

Lastly we visit Uzbekistan - Central Asia’s biggest draw,. Known as the region’s “cradle of culture”, Uzbekistan is home to a treasure trove of ancient cities. Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, once key stopovers for traders, never fail to impress visitors with their awe-inspiring mosques, madrassas and mausoleums. The Uzbek capital, Tashkent, was completely destroyed by an earthquake in 1966 and the rebuild was said to have started the very next day, resulting in a charming juxtaposition of restored 12th century mosques and classic Russian architecture. The entire country is deeply infused with the fascinating (and often bloody) history of the Silk Road.

We will fly with Emirates Airlines with hotel stopovers in each direction, and a city tour of Dubai on the way home. 

* Those joining any of our tours to Asia must be able to walk fairly long distances and climb stairs easily.

Tentative Itinerary

We depart for Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, via Dubai.
We arrive in Dubai and transfer to our hotel where a day-room has been arranged. Dinner will be at a local restaurant before we return to the airport to continue our journey to Bishkek on an overnight flight.
We arrive in Bishkek in the early morning and transfer to our hotel. After some time to relax we will embark on a city tour starting in Ala-Too Square - the city’s main square and a favourite place for local festivals and meetings. We also see the Changing of the Guard Ceremony at the Presidential Palace and visit Tsum Market - the oldest in Bishkek. Tonight is our Welcome Dinner.
We take an excursion to Ala Archa National Park in the Tian Shan Mountains. The park is known for skiing, hiking and beautiful snowy peaks. We will enjoy guided walks through the park before returning to Bishkek. Later in the city we visit the open air “Museum of the Painters” and explore a local bazaar. Tonight’s dinner features traditional Kyrgyz music.
We travel to Almaty - Kazakhstan's largest city. After an orientation tour of the city we will enjoy a spectacular photo opportunity at the top of Kok-Tube Mountain, overlooking Almaty. Tonight’s dinner will be at a restaurant on the mountain offering stunning views.
On today’s city tour we will visit the intricately beautiful Zhenkov’s Cathedral - an extraordinary Russian Orthodox Church built entirely of wood. We will stroll through Panfilov Park and visit the Museum of Musical Instruments. Later we visit the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan, which houses the largest collection of Kazakh historical, modern cultural and political artifacts.
After a morning at leisure we fly to Tashkent - Uzbekistan’s capital. This evening we will enjoy a performance at the Navoi Theatre followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
We fly to Nukus, capital of the Karakalpakstan region. We’ll visit the Karakalpakstan Region Museum, renowned for its Savitzky Gallery - an astounding collection of Soviet Avant-Garde Art. Then we visit the Mizhda Khan necropolis and spend some time in a local bazaar.
Our first stop is Toprak Kala - a mud built fortress from the 1st century BC which was once a royal residence in the desert. We proceed to Khiva where our hotel is a short walk from Ichan Kala - the walled inner town of the city.
We enjoy a walking tour of this fascinating walled city (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and see the Kalta Minor, Madrassah Rakhimkhon and the Hunarmand workshops. Afternoon at leisure.
We enjoy a rail journey across the Kyzylkum Desert to Bukhara, enjoy the scenic views of desert landscapes and village life along the way. Lunch is served on board.
Our walking tour will take in the Poi Kalon minaret and mosque, a variety of madrassahs and the Jewish quarter. We will enjoy a traditional Uzbek “plov” lunch prepared by a local artist in his studio. Then we visit the Arg Fortress - home of former rulers of the Bukhara Khanate, followed by a visit of the notorious Zindan Prison (now a museum) and the Ismail Samanid Mausoleum - one of Bukhara’s oldest monuments.
We take an excursion to Sitorai-Mokhi-Khosa, or “Palace of Moon-like Stars” - the summer residence of the last emir of Bukhara. The palace now houses the Museum of Arts and Crafts. Then we proceed to Gijduvan and visit a local master potter and enjoy lunch at his workshop. The afternoon is at leisure to explore Bukhara’s covered markets.
Morning at leisure to relax or further explore Bukhara. Later we board a train for Samarkand.
Sightseeing in Samarkand includes the Bibi Khanum Mosque, the bustling Siyob Silk Road Bazaar, Gur-e-Amir (mausoleum of the Asian conqueror Tamerlane) and a traditional paper making factory which produces paper from mulberry bark. This evening we have a cocktail party at Kalantarov House - a mansion built by Jewish merchant Isaac Kalantarov in 1911, followed by dinner at a local restaurant.
We visit the oriental Siab Market to absorb the lively atmosphere of the ancient city - a great place to interact with the locals. Uzbek people are very sociable and love to engage in conversation (especially with visitors!) After some time at leisure, we board our train to Tashkent arriving in the evening.
Our touring includes the Old City, the Khast Imam complex, Tilla Sheikh Archives, Chorsu Bazaar, Akbar’s Pottery House, Mustaqlik Square, Gospitalny Church and a visit of the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan - one of Central Asia’s oldest museums.
We fly to Dubai and on arrival embark on a city tour of Dubai including Bastakiah, the oldest traditional Emirati neighbourhood, and the Dubai Museum. We will take a water taxi to the Spice & Gold Market followed by lunch at a local restaurant. Day-rooms and dinner have been arranged before we transfer to the airport in the late evening.
We fly home to Canada

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