Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)
We fly overnight from London Heathrow to Astana (Kazakhstan) with Air Astana.
On arrival we transfer to our hotel in Astana where we can freshen up before an early afternoon tour of the city. Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan and one of the fastest changing cities in the world. Many of the buildings have been newly constructed and world renowned architects have contributed to their design; modern, but by no means characterless, many buildings have a unique and often futuristic design. Some traces of the distant past can still be found, such as the ruins of Bozok, a medieval settlement, which makes for a stark contrast. Other sights that we will see include; the Bayterek Complex, this unique construction is a symbol of Astana, and at a height of 97m there is observation deck from where a panoramic view of the city unfolds.
We take an early transfer (approximately 3 hours) to Burabay National Park to immerse ourselves in the land of pines and lakes. Here we will discover Borove Lake and the surrounding forests through a few short walks. We will continue to enjoy the surrounding landscape as we will take lunch in a local cafe before making the journey back to Astana.
We take an early morning flight to Almaty (Kazakhstan) where we spend the afternoon exploring the city. We will enjoy a sightseeing tour of Almaty with a local guide before finishing with the breathtaking panoramic views from Koktobe. Almaty is the former capital of Kazakhstan and still remains the commercial, financial, scientific and educational capital of the country. Its located at the bottom of Zailiysky Ala Tau at an altitude of 900m, and surrounded by a necklace of emerald-blue mountains with snow-covered tops. During our tour we will visit the historical center, the park of 28 guardsmen of Panfilov, the Memorial of Glory, Saint-Voznesensky cathedral, and the best-known squares of the city, Republic Square with the monument of Independence, and the old administrative centre. We will continue to discover the area as we take a gondola from Medeo to Shymbulak (1 ½ to 2 hours) to marvel in the picturesque views over the fantastic mountainous and the first skiing base of Almaty.
We will spend much of the day at Charyn Canyon; an amazing creation of nature. Numerous ravines and gullies were carved through centuries of wind and rain erosion. All along the valley you are surrounded by towers of eroded sedimentary of fantastical forms, such as one that resembles a majestic castle. We will have lunch in a local cafe before continuing to explore the canyon. We will return to Almaty for dinner in a local restaurant.
Early afternoon we will travel to Almaty Airport for our flight to Tashkent. On arrival we transfer to our hotel, where we can leave our luggage and continue on for a city tour of Tashkent. Tashkent, is the capital of Uzbekistan, is a fascinating place. During our tour of the city we will discover the Old City, including the Khastimom complex, Tillya Sheikh mosque, Kaffal Shashiy Mausoleum; home of the Holy Koran, Kukaldosh Madrassah, Chorsu bazaar and the Applied Arts Museum. We will also visit ceramist Akbar Rahimov’s workshop and have a tea break with oriental sweets. You will have the opportunity to make your own ceramics at an additional cost. We will continue our exploration of Tashkent with dinner in a local restaurant.
We will travel to the mountains in Beldersay where we will spend the day walking through valleys and archa (conifer) forests. We will ascend to Urta Kumbel Pass (1850m), a slope that leads up from the Marble River. The route will take us down to Shelkam-Su River towards to Chet Jumbel pass (1861m). During the walk we’ll enjoy a picnic lunch or eat at a local cafe. We will return to Tashkent for a free evening of leisure. Dinner is not included on this day.
We will fly from Tashkent to Urgench; from here we will transfer by road (40 minutes) to Khiva. Khiva has preserved its architectural heritage well from the days of the Silk Road, and now referred to as a ‘museum city’. Our sight seeing will include such sights as Madrassah Allakuli Khan, Madrassah Muhammad Amin Khan, Kunya Ark, Kelte Minar, Pakhlavan Mahmud Mausoleum, Islam Khoja Minaret and Madrassah, Madrassah Muhammad Rahimkhan, Juma Masjid and Tash Hovli Palace. After we will visit a silk carpet workshop, which is under UNESCO sponsorship. We will enjoy lunch at a local restaurant and dinner at the hotel.
Today we drive from Khiva to Bukhara, along the Kizilkum Desert (480km, 7-8 hours). We will take regular stops to stretch our legs and we will be provided lunch on route. We will stop at the Amudaryo River bank for the perfect photo stop opportunity. On arrival, we can enjoy some refreshments in the Spices Tea House, and in the evening we have dinner with a local family, where we can participate in plov cooking (a traditional Uzbek method of cooking).
A full day to discover Bukhara, a magnificent city, and also a major stop on the Silk Road and steeped in medieval Islamic architecture, theology and culture. It still contains Uzbekistan’s finest and best-preserved mosques, madrassas, and bazaars. We will visit sites such as Chor Minor, Ark fortress, Bolo Hauz Mosque, Ismail Samani mausoleum, Chashmai Ayub. Poi Kalyan complex with Kalyan mosque, Miri Arab madrassah, Ulugbeg and Abdulazizkhan madrassahs, Trade Domes, the ancient Silk Market, Magokki Attori mosque and Labi Hauz complex. We'll also visit Sitorai Mokhi Hosasummer residence. This evening we hope to enjoy a Folk Show and dinner at a local restaurant.
breakfast we visit Sitorai Mokhi Hosa-summer residence. This is beautifully
decorated summer palace constructed between 1912-1918 by order of the last Emir
of Bukhara Mir Sayyd Muhammad Alim Khan. We then make the journey to Samarkand.
En route we stop at Gijduvan where we visit a ceramist’s workshop, the Abdul
Khaliq al-Ghujdawani Complex and Ulugbek Madrasah. We also visit Vabkent and
ruins of Rabbat Malik Caravansary. Once we arrive at Samarkand, there is time
to relax. Dinner will be taken at the hotel.
we will visit Gur Emir Mausoleum, an Islamic monument tomb erected in the 1400s
and one of the most interesting sights of Samarkand. We will also visit
Registan Square, a real archaeological gem in the heart of the ancient city of
Samarkand. A mini concert and mini presentation about national music
instruments at Sherdor Medrassah will inspire us before taking a visit to the
Happy Bird Craft Centre to meet with local artists. The journey will finish
with a visit to the 15th Century beautifully decorated Bibi-Khanym
Mosque. If you are interested in wine, a visit to Khovrenko wine factory is
available and may be of interested. This is at your own expense and an
additional cost. You can enjoy wine tasting with a presentation about the creation
of the local wine. Dinner will be taken at a local restaurant.
We continue exploring Samarkand including Ulugbek Observatory, Afrosiab Museum, Shakhi Zinda necropolis, Siyab bazaar. Then we will visit Koni Ghil Silk Paper Center, to see the process of silk paper production and bread baking. We will enjoy freshly baked bread with tea and some traditional sweets. Later we take an early evening train to Tashkent (2 hours). Our final meal in Uzbekistan will be in a local restaurant.
Our morning is free at leisure before an early afternoon flight to Astana (Kazakhstan). We arrive in the evening and travel to our hotel for dinner and overnight.
After breakfast we have some free time, before an afternoon transfer to Astana airport for our flight to London Heathrow.