Uzbekistan Uncovered

Resort:Uzbekistan Uncovered
Operator: Exodus
Destination: Uzbekistan
Price From: £1999.00


Delve into rich and colourful Uzbekistan

Who can mention the names of Samarkand, Bokhara or Khiva without conjuring up
images of the romance and intrigue of the Great Game, of skull caps and silk
sashes, of fabulously coloured mosaic domes and minarets, or of a newly
arrived caravan train of traders just out of the deserts of the east? This
journey to the heart of Central Asia takes us back across the centuries but
also reveals a modern day Uzbekistan.


* Time to explore Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan
* A visit to the Kunya-Ark, the 12th century fortress of the Khans
* Two full days to explore Bukhara, a city with over 900 historical
* Spend the night in a traditional Yurt camp
* Explore Samarkand, the greatest city on the historic Silk Road


Day 1 Depart London.


Day 2
Start Tashkent; city tour.

Those on the group flights arrive this morning in Tashkent and transfer to
the hotel for a rest.

In the afternoon we will start our sightseeing of this Central Asian capital.
This will include visiting Independence Square flanked by public buildings
and water fountains and also the Old City with its mausoleums and bazaar.
Tashkent was largely destroyed by earthquakes in the 60’s and was rebuilt in
true Soviet style with pleasant leafy boulevards and lots of fountains to
keep the heat down in summer. There are some very interesting museums as well
as mosques.
*Arien Plaza Hotel / Samir Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel*

Day 3
Fly to Urgench; transfer to Khiva; city tour.

In the early morning we fly to Urgench, our base for our visit to Khiva and
the Desert sites. On arrival, we transfer to Khiva and visit the living
museum of the perfectly restored old city. We will see the khan’s old
residence, the Kunya-Ark 12th century fortress, the tiled base of the never
completed Kalta Minar, (which was originally planned to be taller than any
minaret in Bukhara) and the beautiful mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud (Khiva’s
patron saint) with its tiled courtyard. Many wedding parties and pilgrims
come to visit the tomb and drink the water from the well in the courtyard.

*Please Note:* On occasion, it may not be possible to secure seats for the
group on the flight to Urgench. In this instance, we will buy flights to
Nukus instead, and the activities on days 2 and 3 (land only) will be

*Malika Khiva Hotel / Malika Khorezm, or similar, Standard Hotel*

Day 4
Visit the desert castles of Toprak Qala, Qizil Qala and Ayaz Qala.

After breakfast, we head off to the arid plains of Khorezm. These plains were
once densely populated marshland, inhabited by Messagetae Scythians. These
horseback archers were nomadic and fought to retain the land, even defeating
Cyrus The Great, a Persian emperor in BC 529. We visit the 2000-year-old
ruined city fortress of Toprak- Qala, dramatically located with the Sultan
Vais Mountains acting as a backdrop. The settlement began in the first
century BC under Kushan patronage and was later devastated by Turkish raids
that led to the depopulation of the town in the sixth century. There are
still three large round towers and an impressive portion of the citadel that
still remain, but the parchments and paintings that were found there are now
in St Petersburg’s Hermitage Museum. We also visit Qizil-Qala, formerly an
important oasis with an impressive amount of remaining buildings and finally
Ayaz-Qala, an imposing hilltop fortress dating from the Sixth century. We
later return to Khiva to spend the night.
*Malika Khiva Hotel / Malika Khorezm, or similar, Standard Hotel*

Day 5
Drive across Central Asian Plateau and through desert to Bukhara.

A long day’s drive on bad roads to Bukhara (approx 10/11 hours); first we
cross the fabled Amu-Darya (Oxus) River and then the Kizilkum Desert. If time
allows we may have the chance to make a first visit to old Bukhara and have a
cup of green tea at the fascinating chai-khana (tea-house) at ‘Laby Khauz’
(one of the water-filled stone pools).We will break up the journey today with
stops en route.

*Hotel Kavsar / Hotel Sultan, or similar, Standard Hotel*

Day 6-7
Two days to explore Bukhara, including the 12 Century Char Minar, Bolo Khauz
Mosque and the old Summer Palace of the Emirs.

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 done 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.
*Hotel Kavsar / Hotel Sultan, or similar, Standard Hotel*

Day 8
Drive via Gijduvan and Rabad Malik to our yurt camp in the desert.

From Bukhara we transfer to Gijduvan, which is renowned for its ceramics
school. The skills have been passed from generation to generation and today
Gijduvan is home to the sixth generation of potters from Narzullayevs family.
There will be a chance to visit the Museum of Ceramics and perhaps you might
like to pick a souvenir at the potters shop. We’ll be treated to some tea
and Uzbek sweets here too!

Next, we drive toRabat-i-Malik (a few kilometres before Navoi city) –
mediaeval ruins of the Karakhanid epoch, where we make a short stop. This
site was a portal of the caravanserai but sadly much of the rest of the rabat
was destroyed in the 1968 earthquake. We’ll stop for lunch in Navoi and
thendrive to our Kazakh yurts. These are traditional round felt tents,
which are spacious, colourful and comfortable inside. The Kazakh nomads still
use them today. Our camp offers a glimpse into what life was like on the Silk
Road in times gone by and with a bit of luck we will watch a wonderful
sunset, and then sit around the fire listening to a local musician (akyn).

*Yurt Camp (multi-share, 3-4 people to a yurt)*

Day 9
Free time at Aidarkul Lake; visit Nurata, then continue to Samarkand.

Today we walk and there is also the chance to ride camels for a short time
towards Aidarkul Lake. The lake stretches through the desert within sight of
the Nuratin Mountains and once there we are free to explore the shoreline or

Later, we transfer to Nurata, formerly known as Nur and founded in the 3rd
Century BC by Alexander the Great. This ancient town was once regarded as the
frontier between the cultivated lands and the steppes, and the ruins of
Alexander’s hilltop citadel stand testament to its ancient history. The city
was also an important Muslim place of pilgrimage, reaching its peak in the
10th Century AD as devotees flocked to its many significant graves and
memorials. We stop at a 10th-century mosque and holy sites that have
attracted pilgrims from all over Central Asia. After a traditional lunch at a
teahouse we will drive to Samarkand.

Please note that it is not possible for the whole group to ride camels at the
same time due to camel numbers.

*Dilshoda Hotel / Malika Prime Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel*

Day 10
Full day tour in Samarkand visiting Registan Square, Ulugbek Observatory and
Mausoleum of Tamerlane.

Samarkand is truly a jewel of the ancient and modern Silk Road. We have a
busy full day taking in all the sights. There is the exquisite jade mausoleum
of Gur-i-Emir, the resting place of Tamerlane, who is now being rapidly
reinstated by the Uzbek government as a national hero. Perhaps the greatest
treasure is Registan Square, Tamerlane’s outstanding creation, a vast complex
of domes and minarets, mosques and medrassas. We will also visit the equally
beautiful necropolis of Shah-i-Zinda and the old observatory of Uleg Beg, the
greatest Muslim astronomer. Samarkand is still a major centre for textiles,
carpets and works of art and is the perfect city to try out bargaining skills
and explore the ancient site of the bazaar.
*Dilshoda Hotel / Malika Prime Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel*

Day 11
Free morning; return to Tashkent.

This morning is left free for us to enjoy just a little more time in
Samarkand. Perhaps a visit to the local bazaar where you can sample delicious
fresh produce, or you might like to return to the many stalls nestled in the
Registan Ensemble to find that perfect souvenir. Our adventure in Uzbekistan
is almost complete as we leave Samarkand and take a high-speed train back to
Tashkent in the late afternoon (please note that the train cannot be 100%
guaranteed as occasionally it is booked out by government officials or is
unavailable, in which case we will drive instead). Tonight we have a farewell
dinner to mark the end of our travels togetherand reflect on all we have
*Arien Plaza Hotel / Samir Hotel or similar, Standard Hotel*

Day 12
End Tashkent

Those on the group flights will be taken to the airport for their flight. For
land only passengers, the trip ends after breakfast.