Expert-Led Group Tour

Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan Group Tour - Fabled Silk Road Cities

Explore the rich history of Central Asia's two most fascinating countries

Limited OfferReceive a free signed copy of Chris Aslan's new book.

15 days

from £3,475pp
Limited Offer
  • For every client booked on our group tour to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan in 2017 receive a free signed copy of Chris Aslan's new book 'Alabaster: What is Most Precious is Also Most Fragile'.
  • This book is a beautifully crafted novel about two sisters who face the stigma of shame, the sorrow of loss, and the startling hope one can find when someone shows you a different way of seeing the world.
  • One copy per booking.
  • Explore the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Kunya Urgench and Merv.
  • Visit Samarkand's Registan Square, the most spectacular architectural ensemble in Central Asia.
  • Wander through the narrow medieval streets of Khiva and the bustling bazaars of Bukhara.
  • Receive a copy of Chris Aslan's book 'Alabaster: What is Most Precious is Also Most Fragile'

For millennia, the fabled Silk Road was the sole method of communication and trade between East and West. This tour explores the rich history of Central Asia's two most fascinating countries, linked by their shared importance along this legendary trading route.

Joined by Chris Alexander Aslan, who has travelled extensively, speaks fluent Uzbek and passable Kyrgyz, Tajik and Pamiri. Having lived in Uzbekistan for a number of years, he immersed himself in the history, culture and traditions of the region. During the group tour he will offer a number of interesting and informative lectures.

WHY JOIN THIS GROUP TOUR?

In Uzbekistan, visit perfectly preserved palaces and mosques within the high-walled oasis town of Khiva and marvel at Bukhara's colourful ancient domes. Walk through Samarkand's spectacular Registan Square and admire Tashkent, the country's 2,000-year-old capital.Discover the treasures of Turkmenistan; the ancient capital of Nisa, the mysteries of Gonur Depe and the magnificent UNESCO sites of Merv and Kunya-Urgench. 

WHY HAS STEPPES CHOSEN TO WORK WITH CHRIS ASLAN ALEXANDER?

Chris Alexander brings a fresh perspective to the country of Uzbekistan and as a non-national, he will give a different perspective of the country. He will bring you closer to the culture and the people of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as he speaks a number of local dialects and lived in Uzbekistan for a number of years. 

IS THIS GROUP TOUR SUITABLE FOR SOLO TRAVELLERS?

Our group tours are perfect for solo travellers, as travelling as part of an organised group in faraway places does provide security and peace of mind. We handle all of the arrangements for you and there will be a local tour guide on hand throughout to provide advice and help if needed, as well as the expertise of a Tour Lecturer.

If you are willing to share, we will always do our best to match you up with another solo traveller of the same sex so that you do not have to pay for a single room.

If you would prefer the privacy of your own room and would like this guaranteed, then the single room price supplement will apply.

WHAT IS THE ACCOMMODATION LIKE IN UZBEKISTAN AND TURKMENISTAN?

You will be staying in small local hotels decorated in a typical style and all have private bathrooms.

HOW FIT DO I NEED TO BE TO ENJOY THIS TOUR?

You do not need to be particularly fit and there are no long distance walks involved. However, walking can be on uneven ground so do let us know if you feel you are not particularly steady on your feet.

IS THERE A DRESS CODE IN UZBEKISTAN AND TURKMENISTAN?

Yes, it is important that you cover shoulders, midriffs and legs. Knee length skirts are fine, but no shorts.



Departing on:
  • 24th March 2017

For a detailed itinerary or to book your place on this tour, please contact us.

DEPART UKARRIVE UKPrice Excluding Flights (£)Flight cost fromSingle SupplementTour LecturerStatus 
24th Mar 2017 7th Apr 2017 £ 3,475 £ 795 £ 315 Chris Aslan Alexander Limited
  Click here to see what is included/excluded

what is included

  • Accommodation
  • Accompanied by guest lecturer throughout
  • Entrance fees to all sites as indicated
  • Gratuities
  • Local English speaking guide
  • Meals as indicated
  • Transportation throughout

what is excluded

  • Items of a personal nature
  • Travel Insurance
  • Visa

PLEASE NOTE THE ABOVE FLIGHT COST IS A SUGGESTED FROM PRICE. FLIGHT COSTS WILL BE CONFIRMED AT TIME OF BOOKING. ALL FLIGHTS ARE ATOL PROTECTED.

Itinerary at a glance

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Day 1

Fly London to Istanbul

Fly Istanbul to Tashkent

Day 2

Half Day Tour of the Museum of Fine Art and Tashkent's Sites
Visit the Museum of Fine Arts, one of the largest museums in Central Asia. It houses an excellent collection of traditional Uzbek textiles, as well as an extensive range of art from the wider region.

Afterwards, head to Mustakillik (Independence) Square, which is the centre of modern Tashkent and the largest square in Uzbekistan.

From there, take the famous Tashkent Metro with its ostentatious marble and granite architecture. One of only two operating subway systems in Central Asia, its stations are considered some of the most ornate in the world.

Although often referred to as a Silk Road city, little remains of Tashkent's old town. A 1966 earthquake and earlier modernisation work did irreparable damage to the city's architectural heritage.

Despite this, some treasures remain and modern Tashkent is a pleasant, green and open place. Dotted with monuments, parks and retaining an impressive feel, the city has undergone a successful reinvention.


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Miran International Hotel

Day 3

Travel from Tashkent to Samarkand by Train


Depart Tashkent and travel by train to Samarkand, which is approximately four hours away.


Samarkand, in Uzbekistan, is one of the world's most ancient and fabled cities. Inextricably linked with the great Silk Road, Samarkand was a famous trading city and has at various times been the capital of many a kingdom. Since 2001 it has been designated by UNESCO as one of their World Heritage Sites, and labelled 'Samarkand - Crossroads of Cultures'.


Urgut Sunday Market
Take an hour's drive to visit the bazaar at the country village of Urgut where wonderful embroideries and local crafts can be bought. This bustling bazaar is the meeting place of nomadic traders. Amongst the goods are gold-embroidered wedding hats, men’s hand quilted satin coats and soft leather boots. You will then visit the Chor Chinar mosque before returning to Samarkand.


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Sultan Hotel

Day 4

City Tour including the Gur-i-Amir Mausoleum, Registan Square and Bibi Khanum Mosque
Begin the day exploring the stunning interior of Amir Timur’s tomb (known in the West as Tamerlane). From there you walk to the stunning Registan square, arguably the most spectacular architectural ensemble in Central Asia. Surrounded by three beautifully restored Madrassas, it was built by the famous 15th century astronomer and Timurid ruler, Ulugh Beg. The square was originally used for public gatherings, which ranged from public executions to royal decrees. After lunch head to the Silk Road Bazaar and on to Bibi Khanum Mosque, another Timurid architectural masterpiece. Following Timur's successful India campaign in the 14th century, this gigantic mosque was constructed using the help of elephants. An architectural feat for its time, it slowly crumbled to ruins during the subsequent centuries. Eventually, it was reconstructed in 1974 and has been returned to its original glory.


Spend Half a Day Visiting the Ulug Beg Observatory and the Afrosiab Museum
Travel a little further outside the city to visit to the observatory of Ulugh Beg. This 15th century building is reputed to have been one of the most impressive observatories in the Islamic world. It rose to prominence due to the publication of Ulugh Beg's famous Zij-i Sultani. At the time, this was the most extensive and accurate star catalogue in existence. Nearby is the Mausoleum of the Prophet Daniel. The Biblical Prophet Daniel, known in the East as Hoja Daniyar, lived in 4-5th century BC. He was a descendant of King Solomon, revered by the three world religions. It is thought that parts of Daniel’s remains, namely a hand, were brought to Samarkand by Temur.

Afterwards head to the little known Afrosiab Museum, containing artefacts from the excavated ancient city of Afrosiab.
Among the treasures found, the murals are of particular importance. Rare examples of Sogdian art, they remain intact and give an insight into Sogdian life. Examine them, along with medieval era ceramics, inside the museum.


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Sultan Hotel

Day 5

Travel from Samarkand to Bukhara


A journey time of approximately 4 hours.


The former capital and a centre of Islamic learning, Bukhara has over 300 mosques. This, along with the city's 80 madrasas, led to its reputation as the holiest city in Central Asia.

Now renowned for its architecture, it was the beauty of Bukhara's Kalon Minaret that stopped Genghis Khan in his tracks. Unfortunately, his sense of awe failed to stop him razing the rest of the city to the ground.

In the 18th and 19th centuries Bukhara again returned to prominence, as it became one of the most important pawns in 'The Great Game' being waged between Russia and Britain.


Visit Shah-i Zinda
Meaning 'The Living King', the Shah-i Zinda necropolis is a collection of mausoleums and other ritual buildings. Gradually constructed during a nine century period, it now comprises more than 20 buildings.
Explore the narrow medieval streets that wind between the sparkling blue buildings. Highlights include the sacred tomb - but not resting place - of the Prophet Muhammad's immortal cousin, as well as a number of mausoleums for Timur's relatives.


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Hotel Minzifa

Day 6

Full Day Sightseeing including the Arc Citadel and Bolo Hauz Mosque
Once the fortified home of the rulers of Bukhara and still imposing in its appearance, the Arc Citadel now houses a museum.

After examining the relics within, head to the Bolo Hauz mosque, which stands opposite the Arc. Famous for its intricately carved porch with its brightly painted ceiling and slender wooden columns, the mosque was originally constructed as a royal place of worship.

Next, visit the Bayan-Quli Khan and Saif ed-Din Boharsi mausoleums. Built in the 13th and 14th century, these were constructed by followers of Sufism, a form of Islamic mysticism. Inside there is an excellent collection of 18th century costumes, whilst the harem contains a superb display of hand-embroidered 'Suzanis'. In the afternoon visit Sitarah-i Mah-i Khassah and the Baha al-Din Sufi Centre. Textile and craft activities are practiced in the old town and you can observe suzani embroidery, gold embroidery, jewellery making, silk and carpet weaving. There will then be free time to continue exploring at your leisure.


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Hotel Minzifa

Day 7

Drive from Bukhara to Khiva


Leave Bukhara and travel to Khiva, which is around eight hours away.


Founded when water was discovered in the desert, Khiva's importance as a well-placed oasis meant that it outlived the era of the Silk Road and remained powerful until the time of 'The Great Game'.

It was here, in 1840, that Richmond Shakespear, a young British Lieutenant, helped abolish the practice of capturing Russian slaves. This attempt to prevent the Russian conquest of Khiva proved futile, but in spite of this, Khiva's treasures still survive.

In fact, due to much of the work done during Soviet times, Khiva's monuments are in outstanding condition. The most famous of these, the Ichan Qala, is preserved as an open-air museum.


Visit Chris Alexander's Workshops and Host Family
Visit the silk carpet and suzani workshops founded by Chris. Watch a demonstration of silk dying, weaving and embroidery.
In the evening, meet the Uzbek host family whom Chris lived with for seven years. Experience the region's traditional hospitality and learn about Uzbek culture.


Optional moonlit walking tour of Khivas walled city after dinner.


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Malika Kheivak Hotel

Day 8

Full Day Tour of Khiva
The first place in Uzbekistan to be awarded UNESCO World Heritage status, the Ichan Qala is the jewel in Khiva's crown. Perfectly preserved and carefully restored in places, the Ichan Qala is Khiva's old town; a fortified citadel packed with impressive architecture.
Explore this area on foot and visit the various museums, madrassas, mosques and other buildings that make up the old town. Highlights include the six-metre-thick city walls, the squat Kalta Minor minaret, the palatial Kuhna Ark and the ornately carved columns of the Juma Mosque.
Also watch the city's various craftsmen practice traditional techniques for weaving, carving and metalwork. Their workshops are dotted throughout the old town.


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Malika Kheivak Hotel

Day 9

Drive from Khiva to Urgench


Leave Khiva and travel to Urgench, around 45 minutes away.


Savitsky Museum
On arrival in Nukus visit Savitsky Museum. The Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art named after I.V. Savitsky - also known, simply, as the Nukus Museum - hosts the world's second largest collection of Russian avant garde art (after the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg). It is also home to one of the largest collections of archeological objects and folk, applied and contemporary art originating from Central Asia.


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Jipek Joli

Day 10

Drive from Nukus to Konye-Urgench (Road Journey)


Border crossing at Hojeli Border. Border crossing formalities apply.

Drive from Konye-Urgench to Dashoguz (Road Journey)

Fly Dashoguz to Ashgabat


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Grand Turkmen Hotel

Day 11

City Tour including the Carpet Museum
Visit the Carpet Museum. Containing the biggest collection of Turkmen carpets in the world, including the largest hand-woven rug ever made, this museum exhibits the history of Turkmen carpet weaving. Examine some of the 8000 carpets housed in the museum and then set off on an orientation tour of the city, exploring Ashgabat's stunning monuments, palaces, squares and parks.

Devastated by a 1948 earthquake, Turkmenistan's capital was originally rebuilt as a bland Soviet city. Following independence and the emergence of Saparmurat Niyazov - who lost his mother in the earthquake - as president, restoring the grandeur of Ashgabat became a priority.

Now a glittering example of hydro-carbon funded architecture, what Ashgabat lacks in history, it makes up with a stunning array of marble-clad palaces, ministries, hotels and residential areas.


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Grand Turkmen Hotel

Day 12

Drive from Ashgabat to Mary (Road Journey)


The modern successor to the ancient city of Merv, Russian forces' capture of Mary in 1884 lead to British tabloids coining the phrase 'Mervousness', due to British fears about Russia's imperial ambitions.

An oasis in the Karakum desert, Merv played a key role in the development of the Silk Road, even surviving being ransacked by the Mongol Hordes in the 13th century.


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Mary Hotel

Day 13

City Tour of the Main Sites
Located 30 minutes drive from Mary, Merv covers an area of 130 square kilometres. Once known as the ’pearl of the East’, Merv was, between the 8th and 13th centuries, the second city of Islam after Baghdad before it fell victim to the most horrific slaughter by the Mongols. As no new town was ever built on top of the original, the site continued to expand westwards and now comprises the ruins of a number of different cities. Little has been excavated and there is much debate as to each settlement’s real period of existence. Sites at Merv to include (but not limited to) Great and Little Kiz Kalas, Kiz Bibi Mausoleum, Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar, Palace and keshk in the Shahriar Ark (Royal Citadel), Mosque of Yusuf Hamdani, Timurid iwans or Askhab, Mausoleum of Muhammad ibn Zaud.


Lunch and dinner included


You will be staying at Mary Hotel

Day 14

Drive from Mary to Ashgabat (Road Journey)


Afternoon at leisure


You will be staying at Grand Turkmen Hotel

Day 15

Fly Ashgabat to Istanbul

Fly Istanbul to London

Destination Experts

Our experts have unrivalled firsthand knowledge of Turkmenistan

Charles Knights, Travel Expert

"Charles was most attentive without becoming intrusive, he changed the schedule several times to meet our changing needs."

"Charles was extremely helpful, swift in replying to emails and when he was away another consultant carried on the good work."

"Charles Knights was superb. He gave us all the information we requested, was very patient with the number of queries we had running up to our trip and was extremely helpful throughout from the start thinking about our trip to taking off. Fantastic service."

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Paul Craven, Travel Expert

" I spoke to five different companies, but Paul was by far the most knowledgeable and empathetic."

"The service which I received from your Travel Expert Paul Craven was excellent, he was able to answer any queries I put to him."

"Paul must be congratulated on his expertise and great patience in dealing with all my programme changes. He must dread my phone calls!! A big thank-you from both of us to Paul and Carol."

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For a more detailed itinerary with great ideas on what to do and where to stay, please get in touch with our experts.

Tour Lecturer

Chris Aslan Alexander

Chris Aslan Alexander
Chris was born in Turkey (hence the Turkish middle name) and grew up in Ankara and war torn Beirut. In 1998 he moved to Uzbekistan to work on a guidebook. He was adopted by a local family, fell in love with the place and people, and stayed. His book 'A Carpet Ride to Khiva – Seven years on the Silk Road' tells this story. After his time in Uzbekistan, Chris then went on to live in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. A total of fifteen years in the region mean Chris has travelled extensively, speaks fluent Uzbek and passable Kyrgyz, Tajik and Pamiri, and has also immersed himself in the history, culture and traditions of the region.
Enquire about this Expert Led tour:

Group Size:

Min 6 / Max 14

Tour Expert:

Chris Aslan Alexander

Departure Date (S):

  • 24th March 2017 - Guaranteed to run

  1. Moderate Activity - The tour may occasionally involve slightly longer walks, but nothing over 4 hours. The tour will involve visits to a variety of sites throughout the duration of the itinerary and be at a moderate pace.

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