The hospitable Central Asia
Central Asia is a landscape characterized by steppes and mountains, the legendary Silk Road, millennia-old cultures, and hospitable people. During this high-contrast journey, majestic minarets, turquoise domes of the mausoleums, ancient madrasahs, and impressive caravanserais tell you about the former power and wealth of Uzbekistan. Even you do not catch a transition from city life to beautiful mountain scenery, untouched nature of Kyrgyzstan, and the Son Kul Lake. The Asian coloring and the modern infrastructure gobble up in these countries. You remember the impressions from this trip for a long time.
Day 1: Arrival in Tashkent
You fly to Tashkent and arrive by TK, HY, or SU in the evening on the first day or early the next day (at 7:10 A.M.) (Depends on the flight connection). Transfer to the hotel. Overnight stays in Tashkent. (Hotel: Navruz Hotel or similar)
Day 2: The Fascination of the Capital of Uzbekistan (B, D)
Tashkent became known as an important center on the Silk Road after the October Revolution, which became the capital of the Soviet Republic of Turkestan. The city almost had to be rebuilt after the 1966 earthquake. In the old town, we visit the Khasti Imam complex, in which the most ancient version of the Koran is kept. On the large square, we visit Tilla Sheikh Mosque, Barak Khan Madrasah, and Mausoleum Kaffal Shashi and experience the hustle and bustle at the Chorsu Bazaar, which was already known in the middle ages and was located at the intersection of the caravan processions of the Great Silk Road. In the afternoon we visit the Museum of Applied Arts. Then we take the underground to the city center, where we walk through the modern city of Tashkent and visit Independence Square on the way with the building complex of the “grieving mother” and walk to the Amir Timur green area. With the evening flight, you fly to Urgench. From there we go to the beautiful oasis city of Khiva. Have dinner in a local restaurant. During the meal, our guide introduces us to Uzbek hospitality and tea traditions in Uzbekistan today. Tea is a symbol greeting to guests which are first presented in Uzbekistan and play a very crucial role in Uzbek cuisine. The preparation and serving of tea also have certain traditions. Overnight stays in Khiva. (Hotel: Shohjahon or similar)
Remarks: Domestic flight is included.
Day 3: Fairy-Tale of Khiva
Khiva, the medieval city, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a tale of a thousand and one nights obtained from adobe or otherwise said to be stone. It is not for nothing that the old town “Ichan Kala” is called a massive “open-air museum”. Today we intensively explore the winding streets with their simple houses made of unfired bricks and the many richly decorated mosques, madrasahs, mausoleums and palaces. We visit the madrasah of Muhammad Amin Khan, Kalta Minor – according to legend, the builder promised the Emir of Bukhara a higher minaret and therefore did not want to complete it in Khiva; Juma Mosque, whose wooden beam ceiling is supported by 212 wooden columns decorated with elaborate carvings; Kuhna Ark and Tosh Hovli Palace – the Khan’s residences; Islam Khoja minaret – the tallest minaret in Uzbekistan and the PaKhlavon Makhmud Mausoleum – a place of pilgrimage especially for the locals. In this beautiful, oriental ambiance always you can find new motifs for taking photos and places to stay in this fairy-tale city. In the evening we enjoy the sunset over the oasis. You have dinner in the local restaurant. Overnight stays in Khiva. (Hotel: Shohjahon or similar)
OPTION: Princely dinner with the choral musical folklore show in the summer palace of the Khans “Toza-Bog”. Let the fairy tale impressions of the day work their magic on you.
Day 4: Through the Desert and Steppes on to Bukhara (B, D)
Today you say goodbye to Khiva and follow the traces of the caravans on the Silk Road. You travel through the vastness of the desert landscape and your tour guide gives information about the history and culture of the country as well as the 120 different ethnic groups of Uzbekistan. Look forward to resting on the banks of the right Amudarya distinguish the official landscape. Bukhara was the city of traders, the former contact stage of the caravan’s war. The rest of the day is available to explore on your own. Overnight stays in Bukhara. (Hotel: Komil Boutique or similar)
Day 5: “Noble” Bukhara (B, D)
Bukhara today presents itself as a unique authentic museum. Let yourself be enchanted by the magic of the old town (UNESCO World Heritage Site) with its imposing palaces, mosques, mausoleums, and madrasahs. There is almost everything a tourist’s heart desire: Today you can explore the old town on foot from the Lyabi Hauz complex in the southeast through the domed bazaars, the madrasahs from Ulugbek and Abdulaziz Khan to the Ark and the Registan in the northwest. The small Samanid mausoleum and the huge Kalon minaret are absolute highlights. In addition to the relaxed sightseeing, the day is filled with strolling, looking, and shopping. You feel like you are in the world of fairy tales of a thousand and one nights. Later you visit the exhibition of Uzbek photographer Shavkat Boltaev which is housed in an old caravanserai in his studio. If you are lucky, the artist may be there himself and can tell you about the stories behind the pictures. Your day ends with a tasty dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight stays in Bukhara. (Hotel: Komil Boutique or similar)
Day 6: Magnificent Palaces, Mosques, Mausoleums (B, D)
Today you continue your sightseeing around Bukhara. As is well known, Bukhara is one of the seven holy cities of the Islamic world. Sufism has a large number of directions, and representatives of all orders acted in the area of what is now Uzbekistan at different times. They visit the tomb of the founder of the Sufi order “Naqshbandia”. Outside the city, the wonderful summer residence of the last ruling emir – Sitorai Mohi Khosa – awaits you. You can see how wealthy merchants and traders lived in Bukhara 100 years ago in the house of the merchant F. Khojaev, which today serves as a museum. A visit to the wonderful little Chor Minor building concludes your tour. Then start your free afternoon. Stroll through the oriental bazaar, relax with a hammam in the old town, or visit an Uzbek puppet theatre (optional). If you have already bought your souvenirs and would like to save another bumblebee stroll for Samarkand, we recommend a visit to the “German corner” of the Wishbone café. Have a cup of tea with Uzbek students. During dinner in a restaurant in the old town, you can enjoy Uzbek specialties with classical live music. Overnight stays in Bukhara. (Hotel: Komil Boutique or similar)
Day 7: Shakhrisabz – The Birthplace of Tamerlane (B, D)
In the morning, say goodbye to Bukhara and follow the course of the Great Silk Road through the fertile valley of the Amudarya, where cotton is grown and apricots, figs, and melons grow in its moist, shady oases. Once we reach Shakhrisabz, the “green city”. Timur (Tamerlane) built his magnificent palace Ak Saray here, which means “White Castle”. Even the ruins that have survived today give an overwhelming impression of its size. You also visit the Kuk Gumbas Mosque, which with its turquoise dome is visible from far and has incredible acoustics. Over the mountain pass (reimbursed only for cars) we continue to Samarkand and are rewarded with a wonderful panorama. Today you have dinner in the restaurant “Samarkand”, where you can experience the culture of the country and people up close. Overnight stays in Samarkand. (Hotel: Ideal Hotel or similar)
* The trip over the mountain pass at Samarkand is only possible for 2 people; the total distance is 350km (approx. 5 hour 50min.). From 3 people you drive with a minibus and take the detour, a total of approx. 405km (approx. 6hours 20 minutes)
Day 8: The Pearl of the East (B, D)
The fairy tale of a thousand and one nights begins again for you in Samarkand. It is one of the oldest cities in the world and at the same time the center of the famous Silk Road. In the Afrosiyob Museum, you can get a closer look at the old Samarkand. Then visit one of the largest pilgrimage sites in the Islamic world – the tomb complex of St. Daniel and Ulugbek observatory, once the largest research center in Central Asia. After a rest break, drive to a tissue paper factory founded by master brothers Mukhtarov. Thanks to their efforts, the old tradition of paper production using Samarkand technology has been revived on this factory. Interestingly, the whole production is done manually and every guest can watch the process of production. Then we visit the Shakhi-Zinda complex, a magnificent ensemble of various mausoleums clad in the Timurid style with majolica and mosaic tiles. Today we are preparing the traditional food of the Uzbeks, Plov together. This is the Sultan of the Uzbek national dishes. Enjoy local dinner with a local family. Overnight stays in Samarkand. (Hotel: Ideal Hotel or similar)
OPTION: In the evening you will experience the theatricalized performance for historical oriental costumes in the theatre “El Merosi”. This theatre demonstrates costumes of the peoples of Central Asia in different epochs – from the ancient times to the 19th century – the times of the massages, Akhamanids, Anahita, Sogdian, and Timurid.
Day 9: Samarkand, the Train Journey to Tashkent (B, D)
Samarkand is considered the Pearl of the Orient. The whole day is available for the many sights of the city, which is over 2,700 years old. During your visit, firstly you are impressed by the palace-like mausoleum of the ruler Amir Timur, the Gur Emir mausoleum. Today you enjoy the highlight of your trip – Registan Square with three impressively massive and artistically decorated madrasas. Afterward, you visit the once largest mosque in Central Asia – Bibi Khanum Mosque. To demonstrate his unlimited technical and financial possibilities, Timur wanted to build the most beautiful mosque in the eastern world. Afterward, visit the Siab Bazaar, which takes you through the hustle and bustle and the oriental fragrances into a world of 1001 nights. At 6:00 pm, take the “Afrosiyob” express train towards Tashkent. We have dinner in the local restaurant. Transfer to the hotel. Overnight stays in Tashkent. (Hotel: Navruz Hotel or similar)
Remarks: The train ticket is included.
Day 10: Tashkent – Bishkek (B, D)
Transfer to the airport in the morning (flies only on Sunday and Thursday) to Bishkek with HY-779 or HY-777. The whole day is devoted to Bishkek City Tour. The tour includes visiting Pobeda Square (Victory Square), Duboviy Park (Oak Park), and central Ala-Too Square, Museum of Fine Arts, National Philharmonic, and many other attractions. Overnight stays in Bishkek. ( Hotel: My Hotel Bishkek or similar)
Remarks: Domestic flight is included.
Day 11: Bishkek – Сhon Kemin (B, D)
After breakfast, we drive to the Сhon Kemin Gorge. On the way, we visit the 11th century Burana Tower. The next visit is an open-air museum of the Balbals (stone warriors). These stones, which look like warriors, were made in honor of the brave soldiers who died for family safe. After an incredible excursion and climbing on the top of the tower, the journey to the Chon Kemin Gorge continues. Today you stay with a local family (inn). Traditional dinner and overnight stay with the family. (Hotel: Guesthouse)
Day 12: Chon Kemin – Kochkor – Son Kul Lake (B, L, D)
In the morning we start our trip to the second largest lake in Kyrgyzstan Son Kul. Which is surrounded by mountains and it is the highest Alpine sea in Kyrgyzstan, which lies at 3,013 meters above sea level. Visit of a local family in the Kochkor village, where we observe the manufacturing process of the national felt carpets. Dinner and overnight stay in nomadic felt apartments – yurts on Son Kul Lake. (Hotel: Yurt Camp or similar)
Day 13: Son Kul Lake (B, L, D)
Today we meet with real nomads. It is a good opportunity to get to know nomadic traditions and culture. All nomads are very hospitable. They always invite us to a tea break in their yurts. The locals do not see the tourists very often, so they are happy to talk with them. Hospitality is one of the most important laws among nomads. There is a saying: “Guest sent by God”. So they cannot just let us go on without having a quick talk with us – with the guests. Today we enjoy traditional dinner in the yurt again. Overnight stays in Son Kul Lake. (Hotel: Yurt Camp or similar)
OPTION: An opportunity to get to know the most popular equestrian game in Kyrgyzstan, Kok Boru. It is unbelievable how agile and agile the riders are. Not a game for beginners!
Day 14: Son Kul Lake – Suusamir – Bishkek (B, D)
After interesting discussions with the population, we return to Bishkek. The path leads us to our destination via Suusamir, a high steppe plateau (2200 m), which is only 160 km away from Bishkek. It belongs to one of the most remote and rarely visited regions of Kyrgyzstan. Our trip is being prepared for a breath-taking view of the impressive mountains and gorges. Today we enjoy the amazing panoramic views of the Ashuu Pass, more than 3,000 meters high! This path is considered one of the most beautiful in Kyrgyzstan. We make many photos stops to commemorate this day. Fantastic roads, wonderful views, nomads, high mountains ensure that these impressions of Kyrgyzstan are remembered for a long time. Dinner and overnight stay in Bishkek. (Hotel: My Hotel Bishkek or similar)
Day 15: Bishkek – Flight Back Home (B)
Check out at the hotel in the afternoon. Transfer to the airport. End of the trip.
Specification: The hospitable Central Asia
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