Expedition from Nukus plus the Silk Road Cities
Highlights of this tour including Nukus and the drying up Aral Sea:
– the Savitsky Museum in Nukus and its extraordinary collection
– an excursion to the drying up Aral Sea and the former fishing village of Moynaq
– extensive excursions in the three classical cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand
– staying in attractive guesthouses in these three cities
In addition to visits to the famous Silk Road cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, this program also offers a special adventure, namely a three-day expedition to shrinking Aral Sea. That means some rough rides on the seabed, camping on the current shores of the lake, visiting a still functioning fishing community and a former fishing village. You will also enjoy the unreal landscapes of the Ustyurt Plateau and view the remains of some (destroyed by the Mongols in the 14th) buildings.
In the northern city of Nukus you will visit the Savitsky Collection, the second largest collection of Russian Avant-garde art in the world. Igor Savitsky was banned by Stalin from Russia to Uzbekistan in the 1930s because of his avant-garde paintings, and continued to paint and collect there. His huge collection also offers a fantastic view of life in Uzbekistan in the mid-20th century. Highly recommended!
And of course you visit the cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, before returning to your starting point Tashkent.
Flight to Tashkent
Upon arrival in Tashkent you will be met by a driver with your name card and then taken to your hotel in the city. Most international flights arrive in the night or early morning.
That is why you will have time to rest after breakfast. Then your journey in Uzbekistan starts with an excursion in Tashkent, the fourth largest city in the former Soviet Union.
Scheduled to visit are: Khastimam Complex: Barak khan Madrassah, Kaffal ash-Shashi Mausoleum, Library with the world-known Uthman Qur”an, Friday Mosque; Kukeldash Madrasah, Chorsu bazaar.
New part of the city – Independence square, Navoi theater square, etc
Your guide will advise you about restaurants, just ask him or her! Exchanging money is no problem anymore from 2018, including Euro & USD cash, Visa Cards.
Day distance: 700 kms (by plane)
Early breakfast to catch the early morning flight to Nukus in the north-west of the country, and the capital of the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan.
Visit to the State Art Museum named after I.V. Savitskiy. It hosts the world’s second largest collection of Russian avant-garde art and one of the largest collections of applied art of Central Asia.
Accommodation in a hotel in Nukus.
day distance: 450 kms, 8 hours driving
Breakfast at hotel.
Departure from Nukus at 8 o’clock, to discover the Usturt Plateau and Aral sea life. Pass via Kungrad district – which used to be one of the trading centers on the Silk Road. Continue to the Usturt Plateau. Stop at the Lake Sudochie, have lunch at fishermen’s house.
Continue the way to Aral sea. On the way visit the former Light House, see the settlement of the gas plant. Stop to take pictures of beautiful Canyons and the collapsed land. Arrive to Aral Sea. Set up the tent. Dinner. Overnight in a tent.
day distance: 450 kms, 8 hours drive
Early wake up to take pictures of sun rise. Have breakfast. Transfer to Moynak village (250 km – 4 hrs) which is known as “cemetery of ships” nowadays. Drive on the dried bottom of the sea, pass the gas towers, arrive to Uchsai –Gas Plant. Lunch.
On the way to Nukus stop at Mizdak-khan architectural complex of the XIV c and Gaur kala that was destroyed by Genghis-khan. Arrival to Nukus. Accommodation in a hotel.
day distance: 200 kms, 3 hours drive
Breakfast at hotel
Visit to the ancient fortresses Tuprak-Kala, Ayaz-Kala and Kyzyl-Kala.
Arrival to Khiva. Accommodation in your hotel and leisuretime.
Khiva is small and a pleasure to stroll around!
These days Khiva is like an open air museum. Today you have a guided excursion, on foot and visit the oldest part of the city – Kunya-Ark fortress, including Kurinish Khana (17c); Mohammed-Amin-Khan(19c) Madrassah, Kalta Minor Minaret; Mohammed Rakim Khan (19 c) Madrassah, Pakhlavan Mahmoud Mausoleum, Mazary Sharif Madrassah, Islam Khodja Madrassah and Minaret, Jami Mosque(18c), Kutluq-Murad Inaq (19c) Madrassah, Allakuli khan Madrassah (19c), Ak Mosque, Tash Havli Fortress.
Afterwards, leisure time. Accommodation in the same hotel or guesthouse.
A long drive through the Kyzyl Kum desert takes you from Khiva to Bukhara. Along the way you make a photo stop at the Amu Darya, the lifeblood of the area, and have lunch in an oasis. In this part of Uzbekistan, especially near Khiva, the effects of the drying up of the Aral Sea cannot be ignored; the landscape is covered with a thin layer of salt blown away from the bottom of the lake.
In Bukhara you will be accommodated in a guesthouse in the old town and have free time to het acquainted with it.
While Khiva is basically a (marvellous) open air museum, the old city of Bukhara is bustling and will give you a flavour of what life during the Silk Road times must have looked like.
You have the whole day for exploring Bukhara. The program today includes visits to: Ismael Samani mausoleum (9th-10th century), Chor-Minor, Chashma-Ayub Mausoleums (14th century), Bukhara local bazar. Jewish synagogue. Poli-Kalon ensemble with a minaret (12th century), mosque (15th century), functioning Miri-Arab Madrassah (16th century), Amir-Alim-Khan Madrassah (14c), Taqi (trading houses) Kukeldash Madrassah (16c).
And after lunch: Lyab-i-Hauz (17th century), Nadir Divanbegi (17th century), Magoki Attari (16th century), Ulug Beg (15th century), Abdul Aziz (17th century) Madrassahs. And visits to: the Registan Ensemble, Ark Fortress (16th century) and Bolo-Hauz complex (18th century).
Accommodation once more in a cosy guesthouse in Bukhara.
In the morning transfer by car or minibus to Samarkand; you will notice less desert than the previous route, and more agriculture. Uzbekistan produces an enormous amount of cotton and if you are traveling in the right season, you can work witness people labouring in the fields, perhaps lend them a hand, as well as visiting a cotton factory. You will also visit en route the Summer Palace of the last Emir and an old Karavansarai, from Rabat Malik.
Arrival in Samarkand around 14:00, accommodation and time for lunch. Leisure time in the afternoon.
A day in Samarkand, with lots of blue after the brown of Bukhara. Samarkand is not only a legendary Silk Road city, is also a city with more Soviet influences, and much bigger than Bukhara. Also, unlike Bukhara’s relatively small old town, in Samarkand the distances between the great buildings are significant. You will visit today, if you keep up with it:
– Guri-Emir mausoleum where legendary Amir Temur and his family are buried.
– Registan Square-famous complex of three Madrasahs and the golden dome mosque.
– Bibi Khanum Mosque – the largest mosque ever building over in Central Asia, as a gift from Tamerlame’s wife to her husband!
– Siyab local bazaar – a unique chance to experience present life in Samarkand
– Shahi – Zinda necropolis, a sacred place and cemetery with the graves of Temured’s dynasty and the grave of a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad.
– The Observatory of Ulugbek – an incredible (really!) structure from the 15th century to study astronomy.
In the early evening transfer by a modern and fast train (3 hours) to the capital Tashkent. Transfer to a hotel and accommodation.
In the night or early morning, when most international flights depart, transfer to Tashkent Airport.
The costs of this program are €1,295 per person for four people and € 1,425 per person at two people.
Included in the offer are:
– all overnight stays in 3 * hotels and guest houses, i.e. stay in double rooms incl. breakfast (upgrading to 4-5 * for an additional charge is possible)
– all transfers by car / minibus, incl. airport-hotel and hotel-airport
– tickets for domestic flights
– services from a driver & English-speaking guide during the excursions
– entrance tickets for museums and monuments according to the program
– unlimited mineral water on the way
Single supplement is € 120.
Not included are international flight tickets, lunches and dinners and all other services not mentioned. Finally, we withhold € 15 per booking for the Dutch GGTO Guarantee Fund.