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In Search of the Silk Road

from £3075
A voyage of discovery in Central Asia’s intriguing Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.
  • Product Code 42440
  • Holiday Type Pioneer Holidays, Sightseeing And Walking Holidays, Experiential Holidays
  • Grade

    Grades 1, 2 & 3 - Leisurely grades

    Grades 4, 5 & 6 - Moderate grades

    Grades 7, 8 & 9 - Challenging grades

    Grade 4
  • Holiday Duration 14 Nights

We are in the company of some of history’s greats, Marco Polo and Tamerlane, of beautiful buildings and exotic peoples. The majestic skyline of brightly coloured minarets and sand-coloured towers all contribute to the atmospheric setting.

Our central Asian journey begins in Kazakhstan; little known by westerners, but a land of wild natural landscapes. The two main cities, Astana and Almaty, in contrast, are home to the most unusual and futuristic architecture. Our time here will be spent exploring natural wonders such as Burabay National Park and Charyn Canyon as well as enjoying the highlights in futuristic Astana and Almaty.

We follow along the ancient Silk Road trading route into the unique Uzbekistan city of Tashkent, blessed with some of the finest buildings in the Islamic world. We explore the hiking trails through snow-capped mountains in Beldersay with a mountain guide and in Khiva, discover architectural gems and towering minarets.

Travelling south, we’ll experience Bukhara where we’ll discover the spectacular sights of the city during a guided tour. Then on to Samarkand, a wonderful place and home of the impressive Registan Square (described by Curzon in 1899 as “the noblest public square in the world”). Here we’ll enjoy learning the local culture and traditions at the Koni Ghil Silk Paper Centre and the musical instruments at Sherdor Medrassah. We return to Tashkent where we’ll enjoy some more exploration and free time before our transfer to the airport for our flight home.

Holiday Highlights

  • Hike through the snow-capped Uzbek Mountains.
  • Enjoy unforgettable walking experiences through the Urta Kumbel Pass and the Chet Kumbel Pass.
  • View the spectacular scenery of Shymbulak to Medeo by cable car.
  • Explore the land of pines and lakes in Burabay National Park.
  • Discover architectural beauty, in Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand.
The holiday inclusions and exclusions at a glance
What's included in this holiday Items that are covered in the cost of holiday price.

      Flights from Heathrow to Astana returning Tashkent via Astana to Heathrow (Air Astana) 
      Internal flights & airport transfers 
      En suite accommodation with breakfast 
      Twelve dinners and five lunches are included and these are taken in the hotel and in local restaurants. 
      All activities and excursions as advertised in the itinerary 
      English speaking local guide 
      All local transport costs.
Whats not included in this holiday Items that are not covered in the cost of holiday price.

  • Entrance fees to some museums and historic buildings (unless otherwise specified)
  • Personal expenses (such as your bar bill)
  • Discretionary tips
  • Optional excursions
  • Insurance
Please select Departure Date to view:

Please see Holiday Information Sheet for this holidays individual departures itinerary (located under View Departures & Book tab)

Whilst every effort will be made to adhere to the outlined itinerary and advertised programme, local conditions can change due to weather or other unforeseen circumstances. This may mean that routes and timings need to be amended or the order of days may change, sometimes at short notice.

This departure: SS/4

  1. Day 1

    We fly overnight from London Heathrow to Astana (Kazakhstan) with Air Astana.

  2. Day 2

    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.

  3. Day 3

    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.

  4. Day 4

    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. 

  5. Day 5

    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.

  6. Day 6

    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, 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, 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. We will continue our exploration of Tashkent with dinner in a local restaurant.

  7. Day 7

    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. 

  8. Day 8

    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 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.

  9. Day 9

    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.

  10. Day 10

    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, the ancient Silk Market, Magokki Attori mosque and Labi Hauz complex. We'll also visit Sitorai Mokhi Hosasummer residence. This evening we will dine at a local restaurant.

  11. Day 11

    After 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.  

  12. Day 12

    En route 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.Dinner will be taken at a local restaurant. 

  13. Day 13

    We continue exploring Samarkand including Ulugbek Observatory, Afrosiab Museum, Shakhi Zinda necropolis and 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).

  14. Day 14

    Our exploration of Tashkent continues as we visit the Arts Museum, Amir Temur Sqaure, Earthquake Memorial and other landmarks such as the Navoi Theatre Square and the Independence Square. The rest of the day can be enjoyed at leisure. 

  15. Day 15

    After breakfast, we take a morning transfer to Tashkent airport for our flight to London Heathrow, via Astana. 

Travel Details

  • Return flights from Heathrow to Astana (Air Astana)
  • Internal flights & airport transfers - arrival transfer by road c.30mins
  • Upgrades are available on most flights. For scheduled flights this may be Premium Economy, Business or First Class. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.
  • If direct regional flights are not available, we can often offer add-on flights to a London airport at a competitive rate. Please ask us for details and a competitive quote.
  • Visa is required

Trip Map

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Our Accommodation on this holiday

Below is the accommodation featured on this holiday. If you are on a multi-centre holiday, these are highlights of the places where we stay. Please refer to your Holiday Information sheet (which can be found under View Departures & Book), for your departure date and for all your accommodation details.

Hotel Grand Samarkand

We stay in the traditionally decorated Hotel Grand Samarkand, set in the centre of Samarkand, ideally located close to the main attractions. The hotel offers a garden and free WIFI in public areas.

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Malika Kheivak, Khiva

The hotel is conveniently located in the centre of Ichan Qala, the historical fortress of Khiva, next to the Islam Khoja minaret. The hotel’s oriental decoration complemented with the traditional woodwork will make your stay in the hotel very comfortable. The filtering water supplies all water system of the hotel with the qualitative water and also it makes their delicious Uzbek and European cuisine enjoyable.

Rooms are equipped with air conditioning unit, hairdryer, telephone, cable TV, and free wifi internet.