Silk Road Uzbekistan & Kazakh Nomads
Highlights on this 16-day trip travelling in Uzbekistan and in Kazakhstan:
– the legendary Uzbek cities of Bukhara and Samarkand
– attractive guesthouses in the old centers of these two cities
– the spectacular Aksu-Jabagly nature reserve in Kazakhstan
– a four-day tour from Almaty through the unspoilt countryside of Kazakhstan
A journey consisting of two completely different parts. In Uzbekistan the emphasis is on visiting the Silk Road cities of Bukhara and Samarkand, next to the capital Tashkent.
On day 7 you cross the land border with Kazakhstan near Tashkent to visit the Aksu-Jabagly nature reserve, the oldest in Central Asia. After the culture of Uzbekistan follows the nature of Kazakhstan. The night train takes you to Almaty and offering a city tour.
Onwards you go for a four-day tour in the countryside, visiting various spectacular nature parks. In summer time nomads still live in some parts of the countryside.
Finally, after returning to Almaty, you will leave with a luxury night train to Astana to experience the modern and stunning new capital for another day.
From 2019 a visa is no longer necessary for a visit to Uzbekistan, and neither for Kazakhstan.
You can read more about travelling in Central Asia here. Including much practical advise.
Departure for Tashkent, starting point for your trip travelling in Uzbekistan and in Kazakhstan!
day distance: 20 kms
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, 30 kms by car
You get up early, have breakfast and will be taken to Tashkent airport for the early flight to Urgench in north-western Uzbekistan. Upon arrival you will be met by a driver and taken to nearby Khiva, a half-hour drive away.
After you have checked in at yourr hotel you will have all day to enjoy the old city of Khiva, a kind of open-air museum. Because the distances between the sights are small, it is easy to walk.
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.
day distance: 500 kms
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.
day distance: 10 kms
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.
day distance: 270 kms
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.
day distance: 20 kms
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.
During a visit in May 2018 we found out ourselves how much the buildings in Samarkand are being renovated beautifully and facilities are improving. Also the number of tourists is increasing quickly, better visit sooner than later!
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.
day distance: 500 kms
You get up on time because a long ride is on the program including the border crossing to Kazakhstan at Chernaevka. You cross the border yourself (a visa for Kazakhstan is not required) and a new car with driver is waiting on the Kazakh side.
Optional: take the express train to Tashkent and accommodation in the capital on day 7 at 5 p.m. On day 8, in that case the transfer is only 200 kms i.o. 500 kms. Please Indicate if this is your preference.
Kazakh driver will take you to the village of Jabagly in less than three hours. Jabagly is the entrance point to the Aksu Jabagly nature reserve. Here you will stay in a friendly guesthouse. Lunch and dinner are included today.
day distance: 40 kms
Enjoy an excursion in the nature reserve with a visit to the Aksu Canyon and time for hiking. (Optional: horse riding, rental of horses not included in the offer). The nature reserve is the oldest in Central Asia with a fantastic flora and fauna. Even bears, wolves and snow leopards live in the high mountains. In the spring it is in bloom with wild tulips.
At 18:00 the transfer to the train station (20 minutes) follows, in orde to catch the night train to Almaty. Lunch and dinner are included today.
day distance: 600 kms by train, 80 km by car
Arrival in Almaty in the morning around 8 a.m. Transfer to your hotel and free time to rest in the morning.
You will have a city tour from 1 to 6 p.m. with a visit to the Medeo complex and the Shymbulaq ski resort just outside the city in the high mountains. Other sights in Almaty are the Panfilov park, the Green Bazaar, the Kok Tube hill and the National Museum. Indicate to the guide your preferences for today.
day distance: 320 kms
We leave Almaty, drive to the north and leave for the national park Altyn Emel, to the north of Lake Kapchagai. In this large park there are a lot of different phenomenons to explore and enjoy: wildlife, and you stand a chance to see wild donkeys (kurgan) and steppe antilopes (djeiran).
Nature has created here, far and away from any sand desert, an enormous sanddune that you’ll be given a chance to climb. This so-called Singing Dune will produce a low monotonous sound once you slide from it.
You’ll have dinner and spend the night in a small guest house in the village of Basshi.
day distance: 140 kms
We drive in the Altyn Emel National Park to the white Aktau Mountains and the red Kakatau Mountains, at 70 kms from Basshi. Enjoy the multi-colored and ancient rocks and take a walk in this surreal landscape! Beware, in summer it gets hot here, cover your head with a hat.
Return to Basshi, leisure time and dinner.
day distance: 350 kme
On the road to the Kolsai Lakes the semi-desert of Altyn Emel is traded for steppe landscapes where you will see plenty of horses roaming, usually without anyone nearby. We include a short visit to the town of Zharkent first, close to the Chinese border and famous for its unique, Chinese-built mosque that has more in common with a Buddhist temple on the outside. In Zharkent you will enjoy lunch.
Further you go, to arrive in the village of Saty, base for any exploration of the wonderful Kolsai Lakes that are situated in the high mountains bordering Kyrgystan. The first lake is situated at 10 kms from Saty. You will have accommodation in a homestay in this village. Take a walk in the village to observe life in the Kazakh countryside.
day distance: 310 kms
You will end the day in Almaty. Before that, you will of course visit Charyn Canyon, 110 kms north of Saty and on the route to Almaty. This is probably the most popular natural phenomenon in the province of Almaty, located 220 kms from the city. Here you will enjoy a picnic and walk between the beautiful rock formations and the river Charyn.
Just before Almaty, in the town of Issyk, you will visit the Golden Man Museum, which displays treasures from local burial mounds, from the Sakh era. In the evening you will arrive in Almaty.
You will be transfered to Almaty Railway Station to catch the express night train to Astana.
day distance: 1,000 kms by train, 20 kms by car
Arrival in Astana around 7 o’clock in the morning. Transfer to your hotel and time to freshen up and have breakfast.
From 11 a.m. you can enjoy another excursion in modern Astana with the fantastic new buildings designed by world-famous architects.
Transfer back to your hotel.
In the early morning, or depening on your flight schedule, transfer to Astana Airport. End of your tour in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan!
The costs of this program travelling in Uzbekistan and in Kazakhstan at six people are €1,600 per person, at four people €1,730 p.p. and at two people €2,145 p.p. Prices are indications.
Included in the offer are:
– all accommodations in 3 * hotels and in guesthouses on the basis of 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, plus train tickets in Kazakhstan in four-person compartments (upgrade to two-person compartments is possible)
– tickets for the domestic flight in Uzbekistan
– services of a driver & English-speaking guide during the excursions; during the tour from Almaty only from a driver
– six times lunch and six times dinner in Kazakhstan
– entrance tickets for museums and monuments according to the program
– unlimited mineral water on the way
The single supplement is € 160.
Not included are the international flight tickets, the other lunches and dinners, plus all other services not mentioned. Finally, we withhold €15 per booking for the Dutch GGTO Guarantee Fund.