Markets and Minarets of the Silk Road Tashkent to Kashgar
24 Nights 25 Days
Culture, History, Wildlife, hiking, Art and Craft, Markets
Hotels, Traditional Yurts
Day by day itinerary
Day 01: Kashgar Arrival (China) (Saturday)
Upon arrival at Kashgar airport you will be met by our guide and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at hotel in Kashgar. (D)
Day 02: Kashgar Sunday Market
This day is planned to coincide with the famous Sunday market in Kashgar where everything from carpets, blankets, foods, horses, donkeys, sheep and even camels are for sale. The population of the town swells by 100,000 and is truly one of the most incredible bazaars in Asia; and a photographer’s paradise! After the market, we visit the Eidgah Mosque, Abakh Hoja Tomb and the old town. Overnight at hotel in Kashgar. (BD)
Day 03: Kashgar Karakul Lake
Day trip to Karakul Lake along the famous Karakorum Highway. The scenery along the way is magnificent. We will be stopping at the Lake where you can enjoy the breath taking views of the Muztagh-ata Mountain. After lunch, free time to enjoy the area. Later return to Kashgar for Overnight at hotel in Kashgar. (BD)
Day 4: Kashgar Tash Rabat (Kyrgyzstan)
In the morning transfer to the border crossing of Torugart pass. After border formalities you will be met by our Kyrgyz team member. We visit the Caravan Sarai dated from 11th century which served as a fortress for travellers along the Great Silk Road and continue driving to Tash Rabat.
Overnight in Local Yurt. (BLD)
Day 5: Tash Rabat – Song Kul Lake
Morning scenic drive to Song Kul Lake. Song Kol is a high alpine lake in the Tian Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan It lies at an altitude of 3016 metre from sea level. It is an important migration point for birds, which flock here for the lake’s rich marshlands. The lake itself is an exquisite gem-colored turquoise blue, reaching a depth of 14 meters. In the summer. Song-Kul Lake is surrounded by lush verdant grass, making it a hotspot for nomadic cattle and horse breeders. Overnight in Yurt. (BLD)
Day 6: Song Kul Lake – Tamga Village
After breakfast drive to Tamga village. En route to visit the local handcraft center which is run by local communities in Kochkor village. Here, you will learn how nomadic Kyrgyz women made Shyrdak, and Ala-Kiyiz – a floor covering made by pressing felt of various naturally dyed colors. You will see the process of felt carpet-making and wool-dying.
Kochkor is famous for farming and felt-makers. Our next stop will be in Kyzyl-Tuu village where a host of a Kyrgyz family will show you how to make traditional yurt tents. Lunch at Yurt master’s family. Later drive to Tamga. Dinner and overnight at Tamga Guest house. (BLD)
Day 7: Tamgha Village – Karakol
In the morning drive to Karakol, one of the first towns of the Russian Cossak settlements in late 19th century. En-route we stop in Jety Oguz Canyon for a hike. Later arrive in Karakol for city tour of Karakol includes visiting the museum, Dungan Pagoda type of mosque, the Orthodox wooden Church and visit Przevalski (a Great Russian explorer in late 19th century) Memorial Museum. Overnight at hotel in Karakol. (BLD)
Day 8: Altyn Arshan valley day trip
In the morning we set off on 4×4 Jeep to Altyn Arshan valley, set in a dramatic alpine valley, Altyn Arashan offers therapeutic hot spring baths and scenic hiking trails. Part of the Arashan State Nature Reserve, the valley is 2,600 m (8,530 ft) above sea level, framed by rugged peaks that include the 4,260 m (13,976 ft) Pik Palatka. The resort itself is remote and basic, with hot spring water guided into concrete baths within wooden structures. Be prepared for the smell of the sulphur in the baths, which are is reputedly very beneficial for one’s health. Return to Karakol.
Overnight at hotel in Karakol. (BLD)
Day 9: Cholpon-Ata Issyk Kul Lake
In the morning drive to Lake Issyk-Kul, which is the second-largest alpine lake after Lake Titicaca in South America. A combination of depth, thermal activity and mild salinity means the lake never freezes, thus its name `Issyk-Kul’ means `warm lake’. Archaeological discoveries from the lake’s bottom include ancient relics and graves dating back to the first millennium BC. An ancient trade center from the second century BC is thought to have been destroyed by the rise and fall of the lake’s level. Before checking in at our hotel we will visit Cholpon-Ata, known for petroglyphs which are thought to have been created by the tribes of the Neolithic period. The images are mainly primitive long-horned ibex, horses, camels and snow leopards. Afternoon relax by the Lake or take optional boat ride. Overnight at hotel in Cholpon-Ata. (BLD)
Day 10: Cholpon – Ata – Bishkek
In the morning drive to Bishkek. En-route to Bishkek stop in Burana tower, the remains of the ancient city of Balasaguni formed by the Karakhanid dynasty in the 10thcentury.
Arrival in Bishkek. Walking city tour of Bishkek, which includes Central Square Alatoo, White House, and Parliament House, Manas on Horse Statue, Lenin Statue, and Oak Park.
Overnight at hotel in Bishkek. (BLD)
Day 11: Bishkek – Chong Kemin valley
In the morning drive to Chong Kemin valley. Enjoy the beautiful surroundings along with the traditional rural lifestyle. Hike up to one of the hills for a nice view of the valley or take an optional horse ride through the valley. We will be staying at Ashuu Guest House which is decorated with traditional handmade embroidery. In the evening enjoy home cooked local dinner. Overnight at Ashuu Guest House. (BLD)
Day 12: Chong Kemin – Chychkan Gorge
Scenic drive through Suusamyr valley with stunning views – we will make few stops for pictures along the way. Overnight at hotel in Chychkan Gorge. (BLD)
Day 13: Chychkan Gorge – Osh
Drive to Osh, en-route stopping along the way at the Toktogul Water Reservoir, Marble Pyramid, Ozgen Minarets. Continue drive to Osh, afternoon city tour of Osh.
We’ll enjoy an afternoon city tour of Osh including a visit to Suleyman Mountain, Babur’s house, the history museum, Rabat Abdullah Khan Mosque and Mausoleum, and Osh Bazaar.
Overnight at hotel in Osh. (BLD)
Day 14: Osh – Ferghana valley (Uzbekistan)
After breakfast transfer to Kyrgyz-Uzbek border crossing at Dostuck, after border formalities. Meet your Uzbek Guide and Driver and drive to Fergana. We will stop at Andijan to visit a local market and the museum of Zahiridddin Bobur. Continue driving to Ferghana. Dinner. Overnight at hotel in Ferghana valley. (BD)
Day 15: Ferghana valley – Tashkent
In the morning explore the Ferghana valley includes visit of Yodgorlik Khan Atlas Silk Factory, here you can acquaint self with the manufacturing processes of silk, from the unravelling of the cocoons to the dying of the silk. The complex Kaftarlik with a mosque and minaret, portal-dome mausoleums and original pigeon loft has been maintained. Our next stop will be Rishtan, the centre of Ceramic Art and visit one of the ceramic masters’ workshop to get introduced with beautiful pottery art. Later drive to Tashkent via Kokand, visit includes; Museum in the Fort of the Last Ruler – Khudayor Khan and see a collection of exhibits related to the times of the Khan’s rule. Museum Norbuta – Bia madrassa and Modarikhon mausoleum. Overnight at hotel in Tashkent.
Day 16: Tashkent – Khiva
Morning flight to Urgench and transfer to Khiva, Depending on the flight schedule, possibly half day sightseeing of Khiva city. Overnight at hotel in Khiva. (BD)
Day 17: Khiva visit
Legend has it that Khiva was founded when Shem, son of Noah, discovered a well here. The town certainly existed by the 8th Century as a minor fort and trading post on a Silk Road branch to the Caspian Sea and the Volga. In the early 16th century, Khiva was made capital of the Timurid Empire, becoming a busy slave market and pivot of the khanate for the next three centuries. Until Russia finally wrested the region from Timurid grasp in the 19th century, even the boldest hearts feared encounters with these fierce tribesmen and their desert territory. Khiva is an ancient walled city and looks much like it did in centuries past. It is one of the few sites in Central Asia where one can easily imagine life during the time of the emirates. We will spend the morning wandering its maze of ruins and great mosques. Later, we tour this living museum housing 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). Overnight at hotel in Khiva. (BD)
Day 18: Khiva – Bukhara Drive
Our drive to Bukhara is through the arid setting of the Kyzyl Kum Desert. Along the way we stop for some refreshments and see how humans have survived over the centuries in this unforgiving landscape. With buildings spanning 1,000 years of history and a thoroughly lived-in city centre that hasn’t changed much in two centuries, Bukhara is one of the best places in Central Asia to catch a glimpse of pre-Russian Turkestan. Most of the city centre is an architectural preserve and includes a massive royal fortress, plenty of former Madrassas, a number of ancient public baths and the remnants of a once-vast market complex. There are over 140 protected buildings in the city. Overnight at hotel in Bukhara. (BD)
Day 19: Bukhara visit
Today we explore the old quarter on foot. Bukhara is 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 restoration of some of the mosques, constructed in the 11th to 15th centuries, has reinstated them to their former glory. There are even some structures still standing that date back to Zorastrian times 2,500 years ago.
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 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 see Char Minar, a gate of a ancient madrassa 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. In the evening we enjoy a traditional Bukhara folk show
Overnight at hotel in Bukhara. (BD)
Day 20: Bukhara free day
Full free day at leisure in Bukhara to explore the old town on your own.
Overnight at hotel in Bukhara. (BD)
Day 21: Bukhara – Shakhrisabz – Samarkand
We depart early for the birthplace of Tamerlane, Shakhrisabz. Here we tour Ak-Saray Palace, Kok-Gumbaz Mosque, House of Meditation and the Crypt of Timur, a man who changed the course of history and made a signfigant difference to Central Asia. There’s little left of Timur’s Ak-Saray Palace except bits of the gigantic, 40 m (98 foot) high entrance covered with gorgeous filigree like blue, white and gold mosaics, but it’s staggering to try and imagine what the rest of this glorious summer palace must have looked like. We continue later to Samarkand. For most people, Samarkand is as mythical as Atlantis or as remote and legendary as Tombouctou. The sublime larger-than-life monuments of Timur, the technicolour bazaar and the city’s long, rich history work a special kind of magic. On arrival we’ll visit the old bazaars for which this exotic city is famous. Overnight at hotel in Samarkand. (BD)
Day 22: Samarkand City Tour
Samarkand, sometimes called the ‘Rome of the Orient’ was already flourishing when Rome and Babylon were founded. During the course of our full day tour we visit the famous 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 colourful market. You can purchase Samarkand’s famous bread which Alexander the Great unsuccessfully tried to have duplicated back home in Greece, or try some of the region’s local produce, from grapes to the world’s tastiest melons of multiple varieties. Our afternoon tour covers the Afrosiab Museum, located on the site of ancient Afrosiab and the Historical Museum of Uzbek Culture and Art. Overnight at hotel in Samarkand. (BD)
Day 23: Samarkand Free day
Full free day at leisure in Samarkand.
Overnight at hotel in Samarkand. (BD)
Day 24: Samarkand –Tashkent by train
Early in the morning transfer to the train station for express train to Tashkent.
Later City tour of Tashkent includes visiting Amir Timur Square, with its imposing statue of Uzbekistan’s post-Soviet hero, Tamerlane. Continue past Independence Square, the largest city square of the former Soviet Union. Visit the State Art Museum of Uzbekistan, largely formed from the collections of Prince Romanov and other private collectors, nationalized after the Bolshevik Revolution. Today the Museum houses an excellent collection of Uzbek and Russian painting, and also a fine collection of textiles, jewellery, wood carvings and ceramics.
We drive to the restored Barak-Khan Complex, with striking blue tiled domes and decorative Iwans (entrance portals), built during the 16th century when the Shaybanid Dynasty (the Uzbeks) replaced the Timurid Dynasty and visit the Hast Imam library to see an 8th century manuscript Quran written in the territory of modern Iraq in Kufic script. It is believed by local Uzbek Muslims to have belonged to the third Caliph, Uthman ibn Affan and is the oldest Quran in the world. Afternoon visiting to the Chorsu Bazaar, centre of daily life in the heart of old town. The Bazaar comprises a unique complex of trade halls crowned with interrelated domes. Everything from exotic dried fruits, fresh herbs, handmade cheese and freshly-killed meat to colourful handicrafts is for sale.Afterwards, explore the impressive Tashkent Metro, which opened in 1977 in honour of 60th anniversary of the USSR. Each station has its own unique architectural features made of semi-precious materials including marble, granite, glass, ceramics and carved alabaster.
You will also have a chance to visit to the Museum of Applied Arts, with its vast collection of Uzbek traditional crafts. The museum is housed in the former residence of Russian diplomat A. A. Polovtsev, which was built at the end of 19th century in the Uzbek national style.
Overnight at hotel in Tashkent. (BD)
Day 25: Depart Tashkent
Our service will end with airport transfer. (B)
TOUR COST INCLUDES
• All domestic transportation and transfers, domestic flights mentioned in the itinerary.
• Twin sharing accommodation at hotel mentioned above
• For included meals please see the key above. (B) Breakfast (L) Lunches (D) Dinners
• All the sightseeing tours as described in the itinerary and entrance fees
• English speaking local guides
• Visa letter support
TOUR COST EXCLUDES
• Visa Fees.
• Expenses in hotels such as laundry, telephone and room service, etc.
• Optional activities
• Meals not mention above
• Personal expanses
• Single supplements
• Tips for Guides and drivers