Tashkent Mosque

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SILK ROAD
UZBEKISTAN & TAJIKISTAN
18 DAYS - MAY 8 TO 25, 2020

PROGRAM ITINERARY

Day 1 – Tashkent
Fly from Canada to Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Most flights arrive in the late evening or just after midnight. You will be met on arrival and transferred to the hotel.

Day 2 – Tashkent
Sleep late this morning to recover from your jet lag.

This afternoon tour the Museum of Applied Arts or similar to get a sneak preview of the older architectural highlights lurking in Bukhara and Samarkand. The ceramic and textile exhibits here, with English descriptions, are a fine way to bone up on the regional decorative styles of Uzbekistan.

Dinner in the Plov Center. Plov is a savory mix of rice and meat, served in Uzbekistan on all special occasions.
Meals – B, D

Day 3 – Tashkent
This morning see the main sights of Tashkent, including Independence Square, the Khast Imam Complex, Abu Khasim Madrassah and many other sites.

Then take a ride on the Tashkent Metro, which boasts some flamboyantly decorated stations, to the Chorsu Bazaar. This enormous market sells everything from spices, dried fruits, and Uzbek fruits, to ceramics, cotton Ikat style clothing, and local souvenirs.

Dinner in a local Uighur Café.
Meals – B, D

Day 4 – Tashkent to Nukus and Khiva
Early morning flight from Tashkent to the desert city of Nukus, capital of the autonomous Karakalpakstan Republic.

Visit the world famous Savitsky Museum housing one of the most remarkable art collections in the former Soviet Union. Many paintings were brought here in Soviet times by artist Igor Savitsky, who managed to preserve by hiding away an entire generation of avant-garde work that was destroyed elsewhere in the country for not conforming to the socialist realism of the times. Nukus was, after all, literally the last place you'd look for anything! The museum also has archaeological displays, including Zoroastrian ossuaries from Shilpik and a bodhisattva statue from Guldursan. And there are ethnographic displays, with a fine collection of jewellery, camel bags and wedding jewellery.

Then transfer by bus from Nukus to Khiva. En route you will visit the desert fortress of Toprak kala.

Dinner overlooking the ancient city of Khiva at sunset. After dark the city becomes magical with moonlit silhouettes making it even more spectacular
Meals – B, D

Day 5 – Khiva
Step back in time as you walk the streets of this 'open air’ museum listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. This morning's walking tour will explore the majestic Old Citadel, mosques, tombs and palaces of this well-preserved city. Visit a silk carpet workshop where local women are happy to show you how it is done.

You will then have time to explore the many laneways, enjoy a drink, or do some browsing in the many shops.

Dinner in a historic madrassah with local dance performance.
Meals – B, D

Day 6 – Khiva to Bukhara
This morning you will drive through the Uzbek desert from Khiva to Bukhara. The drive will take most of the day, passing old caravanserais. Stops will be made along the way for lunch and sightseeing.

Dinner in the main square of Bukhara overlooking the fountains.
Meals – B, D

Day 7 – Bukhara
Central Asia’s holiest city, Bukhara has buildings spanning a thousand years of history, and a thoroughly lived-in and cohesive old centre that hasn’t changed too much in two centuries. Today's walking tour highlights include the Lyab-i Hauz which once supplied the city's water; the striking blue-tiled Abdul Khan madrassah and the 9th century Mghoki Arrar Mosque. We will also visit the Kalyan minaret, which is the tallest monument in town. In addition, we will take in the trading domes that are the most famous symbol of Bokharan architecture.

This afternoon, we will drive to The Ark - a massive citadel which was used as a fortress from the 5th century until its fall to the Russians in 1920. Today it houses several small museums connected with Bokhara's history.

Dinner at a miniaturist painter’s home with Plov tasting and folk show.
Meals – B, D

Day 8 – Bukhara to Samarkand
This morning we visit the summer palace of the Emirs of Bukhara, which is known as the 'Palace of Moon-like Stars'. Here, we will see the famous White Hall, which took 30 architects two years to construct. Finally, we will take in the Char Minar Mosque - the impressive entrance to a now-demolished madrassah.

Then enjoy a demonstration of the process of dyeing, design, drawing and embroidery of Suzani (decorative tribal textile) by a master.

Following free time for lunch, we will be transferred to the rail station for our train journey to Samarkand on the bullet train.
Meals – B, D

Day 9 – Samarkand
No name is as evocative of the Silk Road as Samarkand. Sightseeing today will take us to the Shah-i-Zinda - a beautifully-tiled necropolis of tombs, mosques and mausoleums belonging to Tamerlane's family. We will also visit the Ulug-Beg Observatory, considered to have been one of the finest observatories in the Islamic World. We see the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once the largest in Central Asia; it was built by Tamerlane with loot from Indian campaigns. And finally we will visit the Registan Square, a majestic square framed on three sides by huge blue tiled madrassahs.

Tonight we will visit an old winery for a tasting of surprisingly good Uzbek wine. A short excursion into the plantation and a discussion of the production process will be followed by a sampling.
Then participate in a Master class in cooking “Manty” at a National house with dinner to follow.
Meals – B, D

Day 10 – Samarkand
Just 40km from Samarkand is the country’s largest market in Urgut. This will be our destination this morning. The enormous covered bazaar sells the usual housewares, clothing and necessities. But out back, stalls spill wandering lanes where women in colourful ikat robes and men in black and white tubeteika caps sell their handcrafted wares. Here you will find sumptuous suzani, the finely embroidered coverlets that Uzbek women have created for hundreds of years, brilliant beaded and embroidered caps, wonderful textiles and other adornments of the Silk Road. It is also a fabulous place to people-watch, especially on a Sunday when people come from miles around.

After a morning in the market, we will stop at a paper making factory in the village of Konighil.
After dark we will return to the Registan for the spectacular sound & light show.

Dinner outside under the stars at a very special restaurant.
Meals – B, D

Day 11 – Samarkand to Pendjakent, Tajikistan
This morning we will drive the short distance from Samarkand to Pendjikent, across the border in Tajikistan. Penjikent is the old center of the Sogdian empire. It lies at the entrance to Zeravshan Valley, one of Tajikstan's main touristic attractions. Around the modern town and in its museum you will find remains of the pre-Islamic, Zoroastrian civilization. We will visit the archeological remains of this Sogdian city just outside of town, on a hill overlooking the valley.
Meals – B, D

Day 12 – Pendjakent to Khujand, Tajikistan
We are off this morning for the drive from Pendjakent to Khujand. Khujand is one of the oldest cities in Central Asia, dating back about 2,500 years. The city is home to the Khujand Fortress, Historical Museum of Sughd which has around 1200 exhibitions, and the Sheikh Muslihiddin mausoleum, located on the main square. Here we will explore the city in the afternoon, visiting the museum and a mausoleum.
Meals – B, D

Day 13 – Khujand to Fergana, Uzbekistan
This morning we will visit the Panjshanbe Market, one of the largest covered markets in Central Asia, before continuing on to the border. We will cross back into Uzbekistan and drive to Fergana.
Meals – B, D

Day 14 – Fergana
Margilan Kumtepa Bazaar is a time capsule full of weathered Uzbek men in traditional clothing gossiping over endless pots of tea. Rows of handmade khanatlas and adras silk, available from just 5000S per metre, are both the shopping and the visual highlight. It’s probably the most interesting bazaar in the country.

One of the highlights of the Fergana valley is Yodgorlik silk factory. English-language guides will walk you through traditional methods of silk production from steaming and unravelling the cocoons to the tie-dyeing and weaving of the dazzling khanatlas (hand-woven silk) fabrics for which Margilon is famous. You will have time in their extensive shop to buy some locally made fabrics.

Dinner at the silk workshop.
Meals – B, D

Day 15 – Fergana
This morning we will visit the Kokand Khudayarkhan Palace, the home of the last ruler of Kokand. The magnificent palace complex, built in 1871, is a staggering grandeur. The building facade literally dazzles visitors with its variegated colors and rich ornaments: geometric designs, arabesques, floral motifs - all made from ceramic tiles.

Then we will drive the short distance to Rishtan, known as a town of artists. It is believed that the place has been the centre of ceramics production for a continuous period of over 1000 years! Over the centuries the master craftsmen from Rishtan developed their own unique style. Hand-painted colourful ceramics feature turquoise and blue and their various shades. The craftsmen create finely painted patterns using very thin brushes.

Lunch today will be with a local farming family in their home. Three generations of the family live on the property, raising livestock and growing apricots. Their hospitality and enthusiasm will be typical of the Uzbeks.

Dinner on your own this evening.
Meals – B, L

Day 16 – Fergana to Tashkent
This morning you will travel by bus through the valley from Fergana to Tashkent. You will arrive mid-afternoon.
Meals – B, D

Day 17 – Tashkent
Today is free for some last minute shopping, a visit to one of the many museums, or just enjoying the Tashkent spring.

Tonight enjoy an Uzbek feast at your final dinner to say farewell to your travel companions
Meals – B, D

Day 18 - Depart
Transfer to the airport this morning for your return flight to Canada.

...OR take an optional extension in Istanbul for three days.

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