This combination tour of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan is designed to give the travelers more than just an overview of one country. With stop overs in the cities which used to be the center for trade and education during the trade-boom in Silk Road, traveler gets more detailed information on two countries bordering each other- Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. The highlights of this tour are the world famous Savietsky Museum in Nukus with its big collection of Soviet Period art, ruins of Ancient Khorezmian settlements, and the visit to the Ahalteke private horse stables in Ashgabat.
Upon arrival meet and greet, start the tour with introduction to Central Asia and the Ancient Great Silk Road. Accommodation and free morning for refresh up after the long flight. Afternoon tour of Tashkent with visits to Khast Imam Complex, Chorsu Handicraft Bazaar and Kukeldash Madrasah, Museum of Applied Arts of Uzbekistan. Overnight in Tashkent.
Morning flight to Urgench. Transfer to Khiva. Full day sightseeing tour in Ichan Kala (inside the walls) part of the town. We will spend the morning wandering its maze of ruins and great mosques. Later, a tour of this living museum including the Ichon-Qala gates, Muhammad Amin and Rakhim Khan’s Medressas, Tosh-Khovli Palace, Islom-Huja Medressa and Minaret. Dinner will be served at Toza Bogh Palace (Summer residence of Muhammad Rahim Khan II).
After breakfast drive to Toprak Kala, visit to ancient settlements ruins. Afterwards drive to Ayaz Kala and get accommodated in the Yurts built by Ayaz Kala settlement ruins. Picnic lunch at Yurt camp. Excursion of Ayazkala - series of three fortresses. Overnight in the Yurts with dinner with local Akyn singing folklore music and songs by the fire-place.
Morning drive to Nukus after breakfast, upon arrival accommodation at the hotel in Nukus. Visit to the world famous State Art Museum of Nukus named after Igor Savitsky. Dinner and overnight in Nukus.
Morning arrival at border post Khodjeli between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Border formalities, cross into Turkmenistan and excursion to Kunya Urgench (UNESCO). Transfer to Dashoguz and southwards across the Karakum Desert to Darwaza. Set up camp. BBQ dinner and overnight in tents. Darwaza- The center of a gas-rich area in the heart of the Karakum desert attracts travelers from all over the world because of its unique burning crater that offers a particularly spectacular view in the dark. In the early seventies, an underground cavern filled with natural gas was identified here, remained unexploited, and therefore today looks like a large circular 60-m wide hole with hundreds of fires burning inside, some of them with flames up to 10-15 m high.
After picnic breakfast, transfer to Ashgabat with stop at Erbent desert settlement on the way. Afternoon city tour, including visit of Independence Park, Neutrality Arch, Ahalteke Monument, Ferris Wheel, Wedding Palace Viewpoint and Ertogrul Ghazi Mosque.
City tour (cont.) with visits of National Museum, Nissa (UNESCO), Turkmenbashi Mosque-Mausoleum and Ahalteke private horse stables to view the Ahalteke horse famout to the world with their beauty and energetic, strong nature.
Transfer to airport for morning flight to Mary (0800h-0840h)- Mary is a typical provincial town, established in the 1880s by the tsarist armies as their next large hub on the Trans-Caspian Railway project, and successor of Bronze Age Margush and medieval Merw. A visit to the Central Bazaar is pleasant in its own right, but when you look carefully at the older stone structures, you find the remains of a tsarist bathhouse and teahouse. The Russian-orthodox Prokovskaya Church, the Art Gallery and a large newly-built mosque are also well worth a visit. Excursion to Merw (UNESCO). Return to Mary. Visit central bazaar, Russian-orthodox church and Mary Museum.
Direct transfer to Border Point Farab. Arrival at the post before or after lunch break at post. Border formalities and transfer to Bukhara- an ancient city with its bustling “trade domes,” active mosques, and the Kalyan Minaret (“tower of death”), one of Central Asia’s tallest.
We’ll stroll around the streets and visit the old town center where old men with long white beards gossip for hours while drinking tea. Bukhara has been designated a World Heritage Site; the resulting restoration of some of the mosques, constructed in the 11th to 15th centuries, to make them appear as if they were built yesterday. We also visit the massive fortress, The Ark, with the Emir’s open-air throne room and the Mausoleum of Ismail Samani, an intricate and beautiful 10th century brick structure that is nicely preserved. We’ll also venture to the outskirts of Bukhara and visit the summer palace of the last emir, built by a Russian Czar with grand halls and a harem. We will also see Char Minar, a gate of a ancient Madrasah long time gone. It was built in 1809 and has more in common with Indian art styles than local. Its name comes from Tajik although the towers you can see are not actually minarets but simply decorative towers. Evening watch the traditional Bukhara folk show.
Today we drive towards Samarkand- famous to the world with the Registan Square, once the capital of the dynasty of Amir Temur and the Temurids. On the way to Samarkand we stop in Gijduvan. A small town of Gijduvan is situated in 46 km northeast from Bukhara. From the ancient times till the present Gijduvan has been considered as important trading town and crafts centre. Visit the ceramics workshop of Narzullayev’s family where you will be able to become acquainted with the process of producing ceramics; to visit the ceramics museum; to buy manufactured articles of Gijduvan craftsmen; Arrive in Samarkand and accommodation at our hotel
During the course of our full day tour we visit the Registan Square, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Mausoleum of Tamerlane, Observatory of Ulughbek, the site where Uleg Bek, grandson of Tamerlane, made some of the greatest achievements of the pre-telescope era of astronomy in the 15th century. We also visit the regal mausoleums of Shah-I Zinda, site of Central Asia’s most sacred Islamic shrine, the massive mosque of Bibi Khanym, and the adjacent colorful market. You can purchase Samarkand’s famous bread; afternoon tour covers the Afrosiab Museum, located on the site of ancient Afrosiab.
After breakfast we head back to Tashkent- the capital of Uzbekistan known as the central hub for travelling along the Central Asian countries. After our drive through the villages and cotton fileds, we arrive in Tashkent just in time for our lunch. Afternoon tour of the modern city of Tashkent with visits to the Independence Square, Amir Temur Square and the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre. Overnight in Tashkent.
This morning we fly back home with unforgettable memories and beautiful photos we took during our journey.
Combining adventure and cultural travel in such an expansive country as China can be a challenge but our friends at TanSuo Cultural Travel mastered it perfectly. Adventure Compass spoke to the agency’s director Na Wang about the latest trends in cultural travel in China.