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Uzbek & Turkmen: Cities of the Silk Road

Group Tour

14 Days From C$6,116

Overview

This outstanding trip takes in four of the most important cities of the old Silk Road and is perfect if culture and history are your reasons for travel.

Starting our trip in Uzbekistan, we will first visit the splendour of Samarkand and Bukhara before crossing the famous River Oxus and entering Turkmenistan. We then travel on to Merv, one of the great emporiums of the Silk Road (until a certain Genghis Khan flattened most of it) and Margush, where the bronze age archaeological site of ...

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HIGHLIGHTS

At a glance

MEALS

13 x Breakfasts
13 x Lunches
12 x Dinners

TRANSPORT

On this tour we will use coaster buses, 4WD Jeeps and internal flights.

GROUP SIZE

Maximum: 12

CARBON CONTRIBUTIONS

A carbon-offsetting contribution to Eco Act for all bookings

EXPERT TEAM

The full services of a Wild Frontiers Tour Leader with local guides where appropriate

ACCOMMODATION

6 nights x Premium
10 nights x Mid-Range
1 night x Simple

ACCOMMODATION

As an overall ethos, wherever possible we aim to use characterful accommodation that enhances the overall travel experience, not just offers a bed for the night. This can obviously vary dramatically from country to country and from trip to trip. On this particular trip we will be in comfortable hotels and guesthouses with western style bathrooms, and there is one night of wild camping. In the main cities we stay in good hotels. Please note that the accommodation mentioned in the itinerary is intended as a guide only and is always subject to availability.

ENTRANCE FEES

All entrance fees for sights mentioned in the itinerary

FITNESS RATING

Low

FITNESS RATING

LOW: You should be comfortable walking around towns and cultural sites. May include some optional walks (typically 1-2hrs).

LOW/MODERATE: May be of a long duration and/or involve numerous border-crossings. May include easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-3hrs/day). You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle.

MODERATE/HIGH: May include several easy/moderate day walks (up to 2-4hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You should be relatively fit and lead a generally active lifestyle. Previous experience of similar trips helpful.

HIGH: May involve several days of moderate hiking (up to 3-5 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

VERY HIGH: May involve several days of moderate/strenuous trekking (up to 5-7 hrs/day) possibly at altitude. You must be a very fit and active traveller with appropriate trekking experience.

Map & Itinerary

Individual departures may vary so please refer to the information in the tour specific links in the Dates and Prices section below

Uzbek & Turkmen: Cities of the Silk Road
EXPAND ALL ITINERARY DAYS
COLLAPSE ALL ITINERARY DAYS

DAY 1: IN TASHKENT (UZBEKISTAN)

DAY 1: IN TASHKENT (UZBEKISTAN)

The tour begins at our hotel late this morning. We will head into town to have lunch at an open-air restaurant, followed by a relaxed look around some of the main sights of this capital city including the Museum of Applied Arts to give an insight into the regional decorative styles and cultures. We’ll also visit a few of the Tashkent Metro Stations; these previous stunning house bunkers and military installations are similar to those found in Moscow and St Petersburg.

City Palace Hotel or similar
Lunch, Dinner

DAY 2: TASHKENT - SAMARKAND

DAY 2: TASHKENT - SAMARKAND

Early morning we catch the high-speed train which travels through four provinces to Samarkand. Once we have checked in to our hotel in Samarkand, we take our first look at this amazing city with a short visit to the Registan at sunset. There may also be time to enjoy a quick drink before dinner at a local restaurant this evening.

Malika Prime Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 3: IN SAMARKAND

DAY 3: IN SAMARKAND

We’ll enjoy a full day wandering through this incredible city, taking in such sights as the Bibi Khanym mosque, Tamerlane’s tomb and, of course, a full guided visit to the magnificent Registan.

Malika Prime Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 4: SAMARKAND - BUKHARA

DAY 4: SAMARKAND - BUKHARA

After breakfast, we drive along the “Royal Road” to Bukhara. We aim to arrive early afternoon and check in to our guesthouse close to the famous Labi Hauz plaza and pool. This afternoon there will be free time to explore the streets and alleyways of this ancient town before meeting up for dinner.

Sasha & Sons Guesthouse or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 5: IN BUKHARA

DAY 5: IN BUKHARA

This morning we visit the famous Arc – or town citadel – in front of which the British officers Connelly and Stoddard lost their heads in what was one of the most infamous events of the Great Game. We’ll also visit the Kolan Minaret – or Tower of Death, from which Amir Nasirulla Khan threw his enemies – as well as the rest of the beautiful old town. The rest of the day is free to explore Bukhara at your leisure, with opportunities to wander through the bazaar and maybe do a little souvenir shopping, before enjoying dinner at your own expense.

Sasha & Sons Guesthouse or similar
Breakfast, Lunch

DAY 6: BUKHARA - MARY (TURKMENISTAN)

DAY 6: BUKHARA - MARY (TURKMENISTAN)

An early start today to drive to the Uzbek border and enter Turkmenistan. After customs formalities followed by the thrill of crossing the great Oxus – Amudarya River – we will have lunch in Turkmenabat before continuing on to Mary, our base for the next two nights. Arriving in Mary late afternoon will give us time to relax and prepare ourselves for tomorrow’s adventure, and our first familiarisation with the life and culture of the Land of Turkmen.

Mary Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 7: MARY - MARGUSH - MARY

DAY 7: MARY - MARGUSH - MARY

After an early breakfast we drive northeast from Mary to ancient Margush and the archaeological site of Gonur Depe (40km off road). Fertile silt brought by waters of the Murgab River delta and a moderate climate created favourable conditions for Bronze Age settlements known as the Margiana Oasis deep in the desert. This is an amazing site said to be the fifth great civilisation of ancient times where, it is believed, the Zoroastrian culture was born.

Mary Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 8: MARY - ASHGABAT

DAY 8: MARY - ASHGABAT

After breakfast we’ll drive to Ancient Merv to see remaining traces of the glorious “Maru Shahu Jahan” – “Queen of Cities”. Due to its size and historical importance, Merv is one of the most significant sites in Turkmenistan, indeed in all of Central Asia. It consists of a series of towns each succeeded by another throughout the course of history. We’ll see the remains of Erk Kala (6th C BC) with its citadel, Gayur Kala (3rd C BC), Sultan Kala (8-11th C AD), Abdullakhan Kala and Bairamalikhan Kala (15th C AD), Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar – the last ruler of a great Seljuk Empire (12th C AD), Great Kala and Little Kyz Kala (6-7th C AD), and the Mausoleum of Muhammed Ibn Zeid (12th C AD). We’ll return to Mary this afternoon to visit the local History Museum, presenting a wide array of archaeological finds (dating back to the 3rd millennium BC through to the late 19th century) from both Ancient Merv and the Bronze Age sites of Margush. Late this afternoon we’ll take a short flight to Ashgabat, checking in to our hotel for the next two nights.

Grand Turkmen Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 9: IN ASHGABAT

DAY 9: IN ASHGABAT

We start the day exploring Ashgabat, a wonderfully bizarre city of fountains and lavish white marble buildings, and its surrounds. We will travel out to Nissa, the 3rd Century BC capital of the Parthians, and visit the famous site of Geo Tepe where the Turkmens made their last stand against the Russians. There is an opportunity to swim in a vast underground lake, Kow-Ata, with water at a constant temperature of 36C. We’ll also visit a nearby stud farm to see some of the beautiful pure-bred Akhel Teke, or ‘heavenly’ horses. Finally ending a busy day with a visit to the largest mosque in Central Asia and the mausoleum of their first President “Turkmenbashy”. Dinner will be at a stunning rooftop restaurant back in the city.

Grand Turkmen Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 10: ASHGABAT - DARVAZA

DAY 10: ASHGABAT - DARVAZA

This morning we’ll visit the Carpet Museum, which exhibits the world’s biggest carpet, before making the journey to Darvaza. A 4-hour drive from Ashgabat by four wheel drives, it is one of the more bizarre "100 places to visit before you die". Set in an unforgiving and magically bleak desert environment, the Darvaza gas crater is like looking down into the bowels of hell. We camp in the shelter of the sand dunes by the edge of the crater and enjoy the experience not only at sunset and sunrise, but at night when the passing birdlife is attracted to its warmth and light and circles the crater. On the way, we also visit two smaller craters filled with boiling black water and mud geysers: all in all a pretty surreal experience.

Wild Camp
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 11: DARVAZA - KONYA URGENCH - NUKUS (UZBEKISTAN)

DAY 11: DARVAZA - KONYA URGENCH - NUKUS (UZBEKISTAN)

After breaking camp, we’ll continue our journey north through the desert to Konya Urgench to explore the site of Khorezm. For thousands of years Khorezm was an important oasis of civilisation in the Central Asian deserts, said to be the true centre of the Islamic world. The fortunes of this city rose and fell; invaded by the Mongols in one of history’s bloodiest massacres, it later became one of the Silk Road’s most important trading cities, finally finished off by Timur in 1388. We will then continue to the border, saying goodbye to our Turkmen team, and cross back into Uzbekistan, where we drive on to Nukus to spend the night.

Jipek Joli Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 12: NUKUS - KHIVA

DAY 12: NUKUS - KHIVA

This morning we will have the chance to visit the Savietsky Museum with artefacts displaying the area’s Karakalpakstan culture, but mostly famous for its extraordinary collection of early 20th century avant-garde Russian artwork, rescued and brought here by the former Director of the museum. After lunch we will drive on to infamous Silk Road city of Khiva. Once redolent of slave caravans and barbaric cruelty, Khiva’s ancient romance and historic heart lives on, contained within its magnificent city walls.

Khiva Madrasah Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 13: KHIVA - TASHKENT

DAY 13: KHIVA - TASHKENT

We’ll spend the day exploring Khiva, with its bewildering choice of mosques and palaces at every turn. We have an expert local guide to take us to many of the city’s famous sights, but those that wish to go it alone will be free to do so. We plan to visit the Kukhna Arc, the Mohammed Khan Madrassa, the Jama Majid mosque with its amazing wooden pillars, and the Alloquli Khan Madrassa, bazaar and caravanserai. We also have a chance to climb the Kalta Minor Minaret. We plan to take a late flight from nearby Urgench back to the capital after dinner this evening.

City Palace Hotel or similar
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

DAY 14: TOUR ENDS IN TASHKENT

DAY 14: TOUR ENDS IN TASHKENT

Those on the suggested group flight will have an early morning transfer to the airport. For anyone not on the group flights, the tour will end this morning after breakfast.

Breakfast

ACCOMMODATION USED ON THIS TOUR

Mid-Range

Good quality service and overall comfort

Mid-Range

Good quality service and overall comfort

Premium

Excellent standards without the big price tag

Simple

No frills, basic accommodation, but often in the most exciting of places

Mid-Range

Good quality service and overall comfort

Mid-Range

Good quality service and overall comfort

Accommodation displayed here should be taken as a guide only. *Please refer to the Detailed Itinerary of your individual departure for more information.

PRIVATE HOLIDAYS: DATES DON’T FIT?

All group tours can be taken on a private basis.

Additional Details

Responsible Travel

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that Wild Frontiers has been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to itineraries and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit. For more information, please see our responsible travel page.

Darvaza and Bukhara

In Turkmenistan, twice a year our local team organizes a clean-up at the Darvaza Gas Crater which we visit on this trip, ensuring that we are doing our part to “leave it better” for future visitors, and helping to preserve a unique and very important site. Additionally, on this trip we usually stay in a family-owned guesthouse in Bukhara, offering us a unique glimpse into the traditions and customs of local life. Not only does using this form of accommodation provide a good, clean and interesting experience for our travellers, it also allows our local hosts to gain an additional income and improve their standard of living. The wonderful thing about this kind of interactive tourism is that everyone gains – the families financially and us with the wonderful welcome and experience they give us. Wherever possible we stay in locally-owned accommodation, eat in locally owned establishments and purchase supplies from the local nomads when in rural areas.

 

Getting There

If you would like us to send you a quote for the suggested tour flights or on any alternative flight that may suit you better, please let us know, noting that for our US clients, we will most likely refer you to one of our preferred partners. For this trip our suggested flights from the UK (subject to change) are shown below.

If you wish to arrange your own flights you are completely free to do so and in this case we can arrange any transfers or supplementary accommodation that you may require. However please note that if you are planning on making your own flight arrangements, we recommend that you first check with us to see if the trip is guaranteed. We then suggest that you purchase flights that are flexible and ideally refundable as due to the nature of adventure travel, itineraries and destination accessibility can change at any time. For more information, please refer to our booking conditions.
 

Flight Code Departing Arriving
TK 1986 London Heathrow (LHR) 16:30 Istanbul (IST) 22:20
TK 368 Istanbul (IST) 00:55 Tashkent Airport (TAS) 07:10
TK 369 Tashkent Airport (TAS) 08:50 Istanbul (IST) 12:05
TK 1971 Istanbul (IST) 14:35 London Heathrow (LHR) 16:40

Visas

Visas are necessary for many of the destinations we travel to and while we aim to provide you with the most up-to-date information, requirements frequently change and as such for the latest advice we advise that you check with the relevant embassies or contact our recommended visa agency, Travcour www.travcour.com 

Before departure UK passport holders do not currently require visas for Uzbekistan in advance; your passport is simply stamped on arrival at the airport. UK passport holders currently require a visa for Turkmenistan.   If you are travelling on a non-UK passport, please contact your nearest consulate/ embassy for up to date visa information.   Further details will be sent out to you on booking, however ensuring that correct and valid visas are obtained remains the sole responsibility of the client.

Extensions

If you have more time available, why not arrive early to adjust to a new time zone or just to get a feel for the country before your tour starts? Or alternatively you might choose to allow a few extra days after the tour to relax or to undertake some further exploration.

The choice is completely yours and we can usually arrange anything from simply additional accommodation and transfers to full tailor-made itineraries.

Below is just a small sample of what you could do. Please contact the office for more details and to discuss your individual requirements.

Uzbekistan in depth

See more of Uzbekistan with possible extensions out to the Aral Sea, the Fergana Valley, or experience a homestay option in the beautiful Yangikishlok region. Allow 3-6 days.

Governmental Travel Advice

Many governments issue advice which highlights potential hazards their citizens might experience when travelling abroad. We strongly suggest you refer to your country’s particular advisory site before booking and contact us if you have any queries or concerns. Click to follow links to the advice of the British Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) or the US State Department.

Non-UK citizens should consult the travel advice of their respective governments.

Key Information

CLIMATE

The weather conditions on this trip can fluctuate quite significantly as the seasons change. In spring and autumn it should be warm and pleasant with clear skies. In the deserts of Bukhara and Khiva the temperatures can reach 30C but equally plummet  to around 10-15C and when camping in the desert it can get very chilly at night. Summer and winter temperatures are likely to be much more extreme.

IS THIS TRIP FOR ME?

It may sound obvious but Wild Frontiers tours are not always for everyone and it is important to us that the tour you choose is the most suitable. All our tours have a fitness rating as a guideline but you should check the day-by-day itinerary carefully. In certain instances we may ask you to complete a travel questionnaire before confirming your booking in order to ensure your suitability. Should you have any concerns about your ability to partake in any aspect of the tour then please contact the office.

KEY ASPECTS TO CONSIDER

Anyone in a reasonable state of health, with an open mind and a sense of adventure should be perfectly able to cope with this tour, as many of the activities are optional. However, please note that on this trip vegetarians can be catered for, but the selection and variety may be limited.

THE NATURE OF ADVENTURE TRAVEL

We feel that it’s worth pointing out that while we will always strive to stick as close to the stated itinerary as possible, it may be necessary from time to time to make changes to our itineraries or services (due to weather, political and religious influences etc.) and this can happen with little or no notice. This unpredictability can be one of the most exciting aspects of adventure travel and for many of our clients often leads to unexpected highlights as the tour-leader necessarily adapts the tour to the changing conditions. However we are aware that this lack of assuredness may not suit everyone. As such, with the greatest respect, if you are someone who needs to know that everything will happen exactly as planned, we would kindly suggest that perhaps our tours are not for you. Adventure travel can be infectious and once you’ve caught the bug, it is likely to never leave you, but especially if this is your first such tour we would strongly urge you to give us a call if you have any concerns whatsoever about your suitability for this trip.

TRAVELLING SOLO AND SINGLE SUPPLEMENTS

As a company approximately 70% of our clients are solo travellers, so it’s very unlikely you’ll be alone!

Our prices are typically based on twin-share accommodation but single supplements are not compulsory for any Wild Frontiers tour. If you prefer not to pay a single supplement we’ll pair you with someone else of the same sex for you to share with throughout the trip.

On this trip, if you do opt to pay for a single supplement then please note that it will cover you for all nights of the tour including all camping nights, when you would get your own tent.

Please note that paying a single supplement entitles you to lone occupancy of a single room. In many cases these rooms will be of the same size as a double/twin room, but in some cases they may be smaller.
 

INSURANCE

Insurance that provides cover for emergency repatriation in case of a medical emergency is compulsory for all tours. You should be aware that due to some of the geographical areas visited and some of the activities included on certain of our trips some standard insurance policies may not always provide adequate cover. As such we strongly recommend that you purchase a policy that adequately covers your trip. If you choose to purchase the Wild Frontiers bespoke policy through Travel & General (currently available to UK residents only) then please note for this trip the minimum required level of cover will be the Standard policy. Please see the Insurance section for more details.

General Information

TOUR PRICE

All our tours are priced on a land-only basis, giving you maximum flexibility when deciding how to get to and from your tour.

DEPOSIT

A £200 (or equivalent) deposit is required to confirm your booking.

PROTECTION FOR YOUR MONEY

For further details please see our travelling with peace of mind page

WILD MILES

This tour will earn you 6518 Wild Miles

WHAT'S NOT INCLUDED

We believe in a completely transparent approach to pricing with no hidden extras. As such, please note that the following are not included in the cost of the tour.

Visas & Travel Insurance: Visas will always be tour/nationality dependent but travel insurance is mandatory
Tips: Always optional but some guidance will be given in the pre-departure information documents
International Flights: Please ask us for an obligation-free quote for flights which originate in the UK
Beverages & any costs of a personal nature: This will include items such as laundry and souvenirs

WILD FRONTIERS COMMUNITY

If you’re still not sure if this trip is right or just want to see get some different perspectives, then why not have a look at the wide variety of resources we have on our website? Browse our community section to read our blogs, watch videos and find out about our events. 

WHY WILD FRONTIERS?

We are frequently asked what makes Wild Frontiers different from other tour operators. Visit our Why Wild Frontiers page to find out.

INSPIRATION

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