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.