Myths of the Silk Road: Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

Explore the hidden wonders of the Silk Road on a fascinating journey

Myths of the Silk Road: Uzbekistan and Tajikistan

Price from : 2650 €
Ideal duration : 15 days –
13 nights

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This trip is a unique opportunity to combine two countries in one tour. Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. You can visit the famous monuments of Uzbekistan, but also the cultural sites of Tajikistan, such as the mountain region, “the Pearl of the Pamir”, famous for the beauty of its landscapes…

You'll love...

  • See monuments worthy of the Arabian Nights
  • The beauty of mosaics
  • Travelling the Silk Road
  • Quiet expanses

Day 1: Paris / Istanbul / Dushanbe

Flight to Dushanbe. Night on board.

Day 2: Duchanbe

Early morning arrival at Dushanbe airport, welcome by Tajik guide, transfer and accommodation at hotel. Rooms will be made available to you on arrival. Breakfast in the hotel restaurant, then time to relax after the night flight.

Sightseeing and rest, followed by a typical lunch in a local restaurant.

Afternoon devoted to discovering the Tajik capital, a prosperous city and one of the most pleasant in Central Asia: with its minaret crowned with a crescent and its golden dome, the Haji Yakoub mosque-madrasa, which was a religious leader of Tajik origin; the National Museum, the best in the country, with a small portrait of Alexander the Great and a huge reclining Buddha, whose origins date back to the Kushan era, 1,500 years ago.

NOTE: Photography is forbidden in the museum, and you will be provided with plastic overshoes which you must wear before entering.

Day 3: Dushanbe / Hissar / Dushanbe, 60 km round trip & sightseeing

A day devoted to discovering the remains of the Hissar fortress, 30 km west of Dushanbe. Lunch on the way.

The 18th-century fortress was occupied until 1924 by Ibrahim Beg, confidant of the Emir of Bukhara, then destroyed by the Red Army, leaving only a stone gateway, rebuilt in the indentation between two grassy hills. The fortress faces two very simple madrasas: the 15th-century Madrasa Kuhna and the later Madrasa Naou. The oldest houses a small museum featuring traditional clothing, ceramics and jewelry. Behind the madrasas, the 16th-century mausoleum of Muslim master Makhmoud Azam, and not far away, the foundations of a caravan-serail built in 1808, and the remains of a public bath.

Day 4: Dushanbe / Lake Iskandarkul / Istaravshan, 700 km, approx. 10-11h driving & sightseeing

Departure for Istaravshan via Lake Iskanderkoul, located in the Gissar Mountains of the Fans mountain range in the south-western Pamir. Its name derives from Alexander the Great, who visited it during his expedition to India. Lunch en route.

Continue on to Istaravshan (formerly Ura-Tioubé), a former stopover on the Silk Road, with numerous monuments from the Timurid (late 14th and early 15th centuries) and Cheibanid (16th century) eras.

On arrival, transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight stay.

Day 5: Istaravchan / Khodjent, sightseeing & 80 km, approx. 2h drive

Called Kir by the Parthians and Cyropol by Alexander the Great, this small city, later called Ura-Tioubé, boasts one of the best-preserved old towns in Tajikistan, with beautiful traditional architecture. Visit Chakhri-Koukna (“Old Town”), with Sultan Abdullatif’s madrasa (15th c.), also known as Kok Gumbaz, or the “blue dome” after its magnificent Timurid dome, and the neighboring Hauz-i-Sangin mosque (19th c.), featuring a beautifully frescoed ceiling, a pool and the tomb of Shah Fuzail ibn-Abbas. On the way, visit the Hazrat-i-Shah mausoleum and its mosque, which is very popular on Fridays.

Traditional lunch during visits.

Afternoon departure for Khodjent, an ancient city in the northern part of Tajikistan, founded by Alexander the Great as Alexandria Eskhatè, “the ultimate Alexandria”, i.e. the most remote Alexandria.

Day 6: Khodjent / “Oybek” border crossing / Tashkent, 220 km total & sightseeing

Morning transfer to “Oybek” border post (120 km), customs formalities. Welcome by Uzbek guide, drive to Tashkent (100 km).

On arrival, transfer to the restaurant for lunch, then rest at the hotel.

Lunch in a traditional restaurant: first taste of local cuisine with the famous Uzbek “kebabs”, or grilled meat brochettes…

Afternoon: first visit to the Uzbek capital, with its many parks, gardens and tree-lined ensembles: Independence Square and its Monument to the Dead, a gigantic space reserved for official magnificence and major annual celebrations; the Monument to Courage, which exudes Soviet art; Amir Timur Square and its gigantic statue of Tamerlane on horseback; the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre, designed by the architect Tchussiev of Lenin’s tomb in Moscow… Take the metro to some of the most beautiful stations, including Mustaqilliq, Pakhtacor, Alisher Navoï and Cosmonavtii…

Day 7: Tashkent / Samarkand

In the morning, transfer to the station for the “Afrosiyob” express train, boarding and departure for Samarkand. On arrival, transfer to the hotel, where rooms will be made available to you.

First discovery of Samarkand, the pearl of the Orient, which evokes a magical name, an invitation to Asia as we dream of it: the famous Reghistan square surrounded by three madrasas, the Ulugh Beg madrasa (15th c.), the Sher-Dor madrasa (17th c.) and Tillia Kori with its golden mosque (17th c.).

Lunch in an old Uzbek home (Nigina’s) to discover traditional home cooking and various local recipes. This evening, you’ll also enjoy “Dolma”, vine leaves stuffed with meat and rice.

Afternoon: we continue our tour of Samarkand with a visit to the remains of the Ulugh Beg Observatory, the first observatory in the East, where a huge sextant was used to contemplate stars and stars; the Afrosiab Museum, whose centrepiece is a 7th-century fresco, one of the few in the pre-Islamic period, the Gur-i-Emir mausoleum, with its superb ribbed dome decorated with papier-maché inside; the Shakh-i-Zinda necropolis, a true gem of Samarkand’s 14th-15th century architecture, a unique ensemble featuring all the artistic processes used to decorate Islamic buildings.

Day 8: Samarkand / Mitan village / Samarkand, 120 km round trip & sightseeing

In the morning, a few more visits to Samarkand: the Bibi Khanoum mosque: the best architects and craftsmen from Khorossan, Azerbaijan and India set about building what was to be the largest mosque in Central Asia. Nearby, the picturesque Siab bazaar: sounds, colors and smells…

Visit Samarkand’s silk paper-making workshop, with the opportunity to take part in an introduction to the production of mulberry paper and “marble paper”.

Around 11:00am departure for the village of Mitan, 60 km north-west of Samarkand, for a unique opportunity to “live the Uzbek way”… Arrive in the village around midday, where you’ll be warmly welcomed by the locals and treated to a tea and herbal tea ceremony. Taste the local teas and herbal teas, with your guide explaining the medicinal virtues of the plants.

You’ll then be introduced to the preparation of “bitchaks”. Traditional lunch with an Uzbek family. In the afternoon, you can take a short tour of the village and visit Uzbek families to see their traditional way of life and learn about sericulture and silkworm rearing (early May)…

Day 9: Samarkand / Shakhrisabz / Guijdouvan / Bukhara, sightseeing & 410 km, approx. 7h drive

Morning departure for Bukhara via Shakhrisabz, Tamerlane’s birthplace, 140 km south of Samarkand. En route, stopover in the typical village of Tchiraktchi to watch the preparation of Uzbek bread and observe the technology involved in making kilims from sheep’s wool…

On arrival, visit Shakhrisabz, one of the most important cultural centers of the East in the 14th-15th centuries, with the majestic ruins of the ancient Ak-Sarai palace, followed by an excursion to the Doru-s-Tilovat architectural complex and its Kok Goumbaz mosque, built by Ulug Beg, the prince-astronomer.

Lunch in an Uzbek guesthouse.

Afternoon drive to Bukhara, stopping en route at Karmana to visit the remains of the ancient Rabat-i-Malik caravanserai and the Sardoba water reservoir.

Day 10: Bukhara

A full day’s visit to Bukhara’s old town: the Po-i-Kalyan complex, which includes the Mir-i-Arab madrasa, the mosque and the 11th-century Kalon minaret, the money-changers’ and hat-makers’ domes, the Ulugh Beg and Abdulaziz Khan madrasas, the Tok-i-Zargaron or jewellers’ domes, the Tim Abdhoula and the Kalon minaret, the cupolas of the money-changers and hat-makers, the Ulug Beg and Abdulaziz Khan madrasas, the Tok-i-Zargaron or jewelers’ cupolas, the Tim Abdhoulla Khan, or covered market, where you’ll find beautiful hand-woven ikate silks and the Magok-i-Attari mosque, one of the city’s oldest on the site of an ancient Zoroastrian temple. Inside, a carpet museum will enable you to recognize the motifs of the nomadic tribes who sold this article on the city steps.

Lunch in a local restaurant. Afternoon tours continue.

Dinner upstairs on the terrace of a traditional restaurant: you’ll discover “manty”, a regional specialty of Uyghur origin, in the form of large ravioli cooked in valpeur and filled with meat and vegetables (depending on the season).

Day 11: Bukhara / Khiva, 450 km, approx. 9-10h drive

Early morning drive to Khiva, passing the red sands of the Kizil-Koum desert. On the way, discover the Amou-Daria river, a veritable blue snake in the desert, then cross the arid steppe with its herds of astrakhan sheep.

Lunch en route in an Uzbek tchaykhana.

Afternoon drive to Khiva, arriving late afternoon, then transfer and accommodation at the hotel for a rest.

In the evening, a free stroll through the inner city of Khiva, or Itchan-Kala, passing through small districts of adobe and cob houses.

Dinner in a typical Khorezm house.

Day 12: Khiva

First discovery of the intramural city of Khiva, or Itchan-Kala, a veritable treasure trove of oriental architecture that seems to have stepped out of the tales of the “Thousand and One Nights”…

Lunch in an old madrasa in the intramural city of Khiva to discover the famous “Gummas” and “Khorezm Plov”…

In the afternoon, we continue our exploration of Khiva: the beautiful mausoleum of Pakhlavan-Mahmoud, the country’s principal saint, poet, fighter and initiator of a Sufi brotherhood; the adjacent cemeteries; the Islam Khodja madrasa and its 45-metre minaret. Opposite the complex, the first Russian school built in Khiva in 1912 now houses an Education Museum. Visit the Friday Mosque with its 218 carved wooden columns. Nearby is the Shirgazi Khan madrasa, which houses the Museum of Medicine dedicated to Avicenna and al-Khorezmi, and the Sayyid Alaouddin mausoleum, one of Khiva’s oldest monuments. Traditional dinner.

Day 13: Khiva / Toprak Kala / Ayaz Kala (yurt camp), 160 km, approx. 2h drive

Departure for the Ellik-Kala region, the “Fifty Fortresses”, once home to towns and royal castles of ancient Khorezm. The ruined fortress Toprak Kala (1st c. BC) lies some 50 km north of Khiva, in the Kyzyl-Kum desert. It is the most impressive and systematically explored fortress in the region. 3 km from Toprak Kala, the high walls of Kyzyl Kala house the garrisons of the ancient fortress.

After an hour’s drive, we arrive at the fortress ruins of Ayaz Kala, where a yurt camp of the same name is based. On arrival, transfer to the camp and insatallation under the yurts.

Afternoon visit to Ayaz Kala, the three ruined fortresses (4th and 3rd c. BC), where twelve gold statuettes were discovered in the residence of Ayaz Khan. Today, the complex consists of two citadels perched on two hills of different heights. At the foot of the hills, traces of dwellings and irrigation can still be seen. The ruins offer breathtaking views of the surrounding desert and the Sultan Uways mountains.

Back in camp, possibility of a camel ride through the sand dunes…

Day 14: Ayaz Kala / Urengentch / Tashkent, 100 km

Departure for Ourghentch, capital of the Khorezm region, for the morning flight to Tashkent (according to schedule). On arrival, transfer and accommodation at the hotel. Lunch.

Afternoon tours of Tashkent continue: the Museum of Applied Arts, the former palace of Russian diplomat Alexander Polovtsev, converted into a museum in 1938; the Khazrat-i-Imam architectural complex (rebuilt in 2007), which includes the Abu-Bakr-al-Kaffal Shanshi mausoleum, the Barak Khan madrasa, the Friday mosque and the Moyie Mubarek madrasa, with its ancient Koran dating from the 7th century. Nearby, the Tchorsou bazaar, the largest market in Uzbekistan…

In the evening, visit one of the most astonishing coloquinte house-museums, where a couple of retired teachers will show you, in their own home, their passion not only for collecting antique objects, but above all for decorating and painting the gourds they grow and dry for months on end.

Final dinner in a traditional restaurant.

Day 15: Tashkent / Return flight

Morning transfer to Tashkent airport, then flight to France.

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