Essentials of the Silk Road in 12 days: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan
Countries: Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan
Tour duration: 12 days
Travel season: April - November
This tour is developed to see traces of the Great Silk Road and get acquainted with the history and modern life of Central Asian states. You will be impressed by magnificent mountains and primeval nature of Kyrgyzstan & Tajikistan with wild landscapes of Tien-Shan Mountain Range: densely planted forests of conifers, wide valleys and raging rivers, unique mountain lakes with transparent water, magic glaciers, herds of horses, sheep and yaks, magnificent Canyons and feel a charm of Uzbekistan - one of the oldest countries in the world, colorful, warm and mysterious. The reasons are obvious – ancient sites of the Great Silk Road, amazing mountaineering opportunities, varied and delicious cuisine.
Dates of group departures 2023:
Maximum number of participants per departure: 16
Price per person:
2-3 pax: 2600 USD
4-5 pax: 1816 USD
6-7 pax: 1535 USD
8-10 pax: 1422 USD
Single room supplement: 464 USD
Carbon level per person
* based on 8 pax
100 kg CO2
120 kg CO2
Services included :
All transfers and excursions according to the program;
Transport: air-conditioned minivan or tourist bus;
Domestic flights: Osh - Bishkek;
Accommodation in DBL/TWN rooms;
Entrance and environmental fees;
German or English speaking guide.
Services not included:
Photo and video fees in museums;
Lunches and dinners;
Single room supplement;
Additional overnight stays in cases of early arrival or late departure
Medical expenses and insurance;
1. Arrival in Dushanbe
Arrival in Dushanbe airport, after finishing any procedures (border control, customs, luggage) transfer to hotel. Afternoon meeting in the lobby for city tour. Named for the Persian word for Monday, Dushanbe was at one point a small market village where traders would gather each Monday to sell their goods. During the Soviet era, the city grew to be the most important center of production in Tajikistan, but the Shohmansur covered market reflects Dushanbe's historical ties to local trade. Visit monument of Ismoili Somoni and Rudaki park and Highest Flag Shock in the world (certificated by Guinness comity) in the center of city. Then visit Tajikistan State museum, then visit the Mehrgon Bazaar and Victory Park – here view of Dushanbe from East hills.
In the morning meeting with a group for excursion to Hissar Fortress. Located outside of Dushanbe (27 km. to West from Dushanbe), the Hissar Fortress houses the remains of the palace of Ibragimbek Khan, belong of Bukhara Emirate. Its thick walls once guarded a pool, garden, and palace, while the fortress itself opposed a noisy market and caravanserai. What remains today is a portion of the wall and the gate towers, which are representative of the 18th and 19th century style, then drive back to Dushanbe. After lunch, visit Tajikistan Antique Museum. The Museum includes natural history exhibits, Tajik costumes, and a mock-up of a Tajik house. With highlights - biggest statue of “Relaxing Buddha” Ethnographic part of Museum showcases traditional Tajik crafts, including ceramics, embroidered fabrics, woodcarving and jewelry.
3. Transfer to Penjikent
After breakfast drive through picturesque scenery of Varzob valley and Anzob pass-tunnel to Lake Iskander Kul (Alexander Great Lake)– the heart of the Fan Mountains. visiting 50m high waterfall (located 2 km to the North from lake) and Snake Lake.
Continue to Penjikent. Penjikent is one of the most ancient cities of Central Asia (5500 years). Ancient Panjikent was of the easternmost settlements of the Sogdiana Empire, an Iranian civilization that ruled swathes of territories in Central Asia more than a thousand years ago. Zoroastrianism was the predominant religion of the empire and its holy books mention Sogdiana as the second-best land that god created. The name of the city in Russian is translated as "Five villages". We will visit the Penjikent excavations & Museum of Archaeology in Old- Penjikent - the 5th century "Pompeii" of Central Asia with its former palaces and necropolises. It survived for three hundred years until the Arabs burned it down during their 8th century invasion. Re-discovered in 1933, the early medieval site includes the remains of the town center and the frescoed foundations of the houses of wealthy merchants. Two Zoroastrian temples demonstrate the importance of the old city. An onsite museum explains the history and significance of the ruins. The Rudaki Museum in the center of the town is filled with artifacts, from the Bronze Age to the Sogdian era, and natural history exhibits from around the region. The namesake of the museum, Samanid court poet Abdullah Mohammed Rudaki, was born in Penjikent, and there is an exhibit on his life and works. Frescoes from the Old Penjikent archaeological site are a highlight of the museum.
4. Transfer to Samarkand
After Breakfast transfer to Tajik/Uzbek border Jartepa.
The historic town of Samarkand is a crossroad and a melting pot of world's cultures. Founded in the 7th century B.C. as ancient Afrosiab, Samarkand received its most significant development in the Timurid’s period from the 14th to the 15th centuries.
Today you will explore the fabled city of Samarkand, one of the most important sites of the Silk Road. Visit of Registan Square which was for many centuries the heart of Samarkand. We will see three beautiful madrasahs: the Ulug-Bek Madrasah built in the 15th century; the Tillya-Kori Madrasah built in the 17th century; the Sher-Dor Madrasah, also built in the 17th century. Visiting of Gur Emir - mausoleum of the Great Tamerlane and a masterpiece of Islamic architecture of the Medieval East.
5. Samarkand and Tashkent
Today you will visit Ulugbek Observatory - historical monument and one of the outstanding observatories of the Middle Ages, Shohi-Zinda Necropolis - one of the outstanding ancient architectural ensembles of Samarkand, located on the southeastern slope of Afrosiab Mountain. The ensemble includes mausoleums and other religious buildings of the XI, XIV and XIX centuries and Silk paper manufacture which was used for many Arabic manuscripts. After sightseeing tour we continue to Tashkent.
Tashkent is among the five largest cities in Central Asia. Among tall modern buildings, historical buildings, ancient mosques are hiding here, and modern shopping centers alternate with traditional oriental bazaars and markets. It is worth noting that many of the old buildings were restored in 1966, a powerful earthquake partially destroyed them, and the appearance of the renewed city has changed significantly since then.
6. Tour of Tashkent
This wonderful city is a real embodiment of the modern elegance that is inherent in many world capitals. At the same time it remains an oriental city. Enjoy a discovery tour through the capital of Uzbekistan, which will take you to the ancient squares and buildings as well as modern part of the 2,000 year old city. Start in Old Town: Tashkent is not only the capital of Uzbekistan but also one of the ancient cities of Central Asia. Most of the architectural monuments of the Old City belong to the15th & 16th Centuries. Every street and every building in the Old City has its own history. A pearl of the Old City is the Khast Imam complex with the Friday Jami mosque in the centre, the beautiful Barak Khan Madrasah, the Tillya Sheikh Mosque and the Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum made of simple brickwork. Opposite the mosque, is the Library of Spiritual Administration which holds one of the most sacred relics of the Muslim world – caliph Osman’s Koran (17th C). The Kukeldash madrasah, the largest of the seventeen madrasahs in Tashkent serves as a Koran School. The Juma mosque of Khoja Ahrar Vali (main friday mosque of the city), is nearby. Chorsu market, Tashkent’s most famous farmers market, topped by a giant green dome, is a delightful slice of city life spilling into the streets off the Old Town. There are acres of spices arranged in brightly colored mountains, sacks of grain, entire warehouses dedicated to sweets, and the freshest bread and fruits around. Souvenir hunters will find kurpacha (colorful sitting mattresses), skullcaps, chapan (traditional heavy quilted cloaks), ceramics and knives here.
Continue to New Town: The Independence Square (Mustaqilliq Maidoni) is the main square of the country with the administrative offices of the Cabinet and the Senate. It looks more like a large park and is surrounded by impressive public buildings, filled with trees, flower beds and water fountains. In the center of the square is the symbol of independence - the bronze ball, symbolizing the globe with a symbolic image of the Republic of Uzbekistan on it. A monument of the Sorrowful Mother and the eternal fire remembers soldiers who gave their lives for peace and the mothers they left behind. There is a tradition for the newlyweds to pay a visit to the Square on their wedding day. The Navoi Theatre Square is the State Academic Grand Theatre in Tashkent. Situated in the heart of the city the building was designed by Soviet architect Alexei Schusev, who also designed Lenin’s Mausoleum in Moscow’s Red Square. The whole building is decorated by the works of Uzbekistan’s artists. The interior has extensive carvings, and every hall is decorated according to the traditions of a specific city of Uzbekistan. The theatre is the pride of the nation where other than plays of Uzbek composers the theatre’s repertoire includes world-known classical operas and ballets. The fountain jets in front the theater are colored and dance to classical music. The Museum of Applied Arts is situated in the former home of Imperial Russian diplomat Alexander Polovtsev. A grand mansion decorated in traditional Uzbek style, the museum has a superb collection of applied arts – no one in Central Asia does it better than Uzbeks. Polovtsev was an avid collector of handicrafts and his personal possessions still form the heart of the collection.
7. Transfer to Fergana
This morning we drive Fergana. The Fergana Valley, surrounded by the Tien Shan Mountain Range and watered by tributaries of the Syr Darya River, is the most fertile part of Central Asia. Alexander the Great founded a city here in the
southwestern mouth of the valley in 329 BC. Traders from China came this way as they created the trade route, we call the Silk Road in the 1st century BC. The whole valley became a rich oasis, with irrigated fields producing grains, fruits, silk, cotton, nuts, and vegetables, and supporting horses, cattle, sheep, and camels. There is evidence that Buddhism made its way here from China before the advent of Islam in the 8th century AD. Ruled by the Kokand Khanate in the 18th and 19th centuries, the valley was taken by Imperial Russia at the end of the 19th. During the 20th century the Soviet Union dedicated the valley to the cotton monoculture, sapping its fertility and its water, and derailing its agricultural diversity.
Visit Rishtan – center of unique ceramic production in Uzbkekistan. They say the Eskimos have some 50 words for “snow”; if that’s true, we’re willing to bet that the potters of Rishtan have at least as many for “blue,” the color that characterizes their world-renowned ceramics. Tucked inside Uzbekistan’s Fergana Valley, a slender finger of land wedged between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, Rishtan is perhaps the region’s oldest and most celebrated ceramics center. The city, like the Valley itself, is beautiful; melons grow wild in the fields, while pomegranate and apple trees sprout up along the streets, and canopies of grapes shade the sidewalks. There is evidence of earthenware in the foothills of the Alai Range dating back one thousand years. Pottery became prominent in this region due to the unusualamount and excellent quality of locally accessible raw materials – red clay and pigments made of minerals and mountain grasses. Modern Rishtan ceramics are characterized by elaborate floral and geometric designs in bright blue and green hues painted on a creamy white background. The skills used to produce Uzbek ceramics have been passed down father-to-son for countless generations.
8. Transfer to Osh
Today we cross a border between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. Osh is the oldest city in Kyrgyzstan (estimated to be over 3000 years old) and the second largest in the country. It is steeped in history and dominated by Solomon’s Throne which looms over the town. The town is situated at a crossroad of ancient trading routes that became known as the Silk Road. The age of the city can be judged by the rock drawings and inscriptions found on the northern slope of the four-headed Suleiman Mountain. This mountain is in the center of Osh and is a unique historical and architectural monument which is included in the UNESCO list of World Heritage sites.
Its Jayma Bazaar is said to be the best market west of Kashgar and has been in the same spot for 2,000 years. Enjoy an experience for all five senses at the Jayma Bazaar, one of the largest open markets in Central Asia. The clamor of the crowds rises above the din of merchants selling colorful Kyrgyz textiles, kalpaks, fermented milk, spices, and dried fruits.
The sacred Suleiman’s Throne/Suleiman’s Mount is a huge limestone and quartz mound where the prophet Solomon prayed, and may have been buried. Nicknamed Kichik-Mecca (Little Mecca), Suleiman's Mount is one of the holiest Islamic sites in Central Asia, though even before the prophet Suleiman was said to have been buried here, it was known as a peaceful retreat and was called Bara-Kuh (Beautiful Mountain). Pilgrims travel to the hill from all over the world to meditate and to undertake the 20-minute climb up to Babur's House.
Set into a cave at the base of Suleiman's Throne, the Historical Cultural Museum highlights the history of the area, with some emphasis on the various religions that have flourished here, including shamanism and Zoroastrianism. Its ethnographic exhibits include weapons, pottery, and handicrafts, such as felt and leather goods.
Babur's House at the top of Suleiman's Throne - this small stone shelter is where Babur, the 14th century Muslim leader who founded the Mughal Dynasty in India, came at 14 years of age to perform his chilla, a forty day fast for meditation. Spectacular views of the surrounding snowcapped mountains provide the perfect backdrop for a quiet moment of reflection with the pilgrims who journey here each spring. The entire area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2009.
Silk Road Museum - Discover the history of Osh at this new museum, which details sociological aspects of life in Osh throughout the eras as well as the interaction of the city with the nature that surrounds it. Exhibits on herbs and geology are complimented by exhibits on applied arts and pottery. The museum also provides an opportunity to learn about traditional Kyrgyz felt handicrafts and horse games.
Morning Flight to Bishkek. Bishkek, the capital, and the largest city in Kyrgyzstan, is located at the foothill of magnificent Kyrgyz Ala-Tau mountain range. Bishkek is a city of many green parks and marble-faced public buildings combined with numerous Soviet-style apartment blocks and thousands of smaller privately built houses. It is laid out on a grid pattern, with most streets flanked on both sides by narrow irrigation channels that water the innumerable trees which provide shade in the hot summers. The city is believed to be the greenest in Central Asia with more trees per head of population than any other.
Our sightseeing tour includes: blooming Osh Bazaar, Historical Museum, Museum of Applied Arts and Ala-Too square, the main square of the country. The square serves as a place for state events and celebrations and includes many monuments, open-air picture gallery, famous Oak Park, marble government buildings and theaters.
10. Almaty via Tamgaly Petroglyphs
On the way to Almaty we take a tour to Tamgaly-Tash - collection of petroglyphs which is considered to be one ofthe best in Central Asia. The canyon of Tamgaly Tash means“a sign-place” and is located in the eastern part of Chu-iliMountains which provideall elements that favor the rise ofa large petroglyph site. Centuries ago at the intersection oftrade routes the strategic position of the site provided ahabitat for a nomadic human community. Along withpetroglyphs, other monuments have been identifiedsuch as:Bronze Age and Early Iron settlements, cemeteries in themountain zone and dozens of kurgans at the plain. Over 4000engravings are distributed into 50 small groups. The majorityof the petroglyphs are in the main canyon which are mostlyfrom theBronze Age, but some have been overlaid withmedieval or later etchings. There are some petroglyphs fromthe Iron Age. The site is included in the Heritage List ofUNESCO.
Continue to Almaty.
11. Tour of Almaty
This leafy city with a backdrop of the snow-capped Zailiysky Alatau has always been among the more appealing Russian creations in Central Asia. Today Almaty's (Alma-Ata) new rich have expensive suburban apartments, large SUVs, glitzy shopping malls, western-style coffee lounges, expensive restaurants, dance-till-dawn nightclubs and new ski resorts to help them enjoy life to the full.
Post breakfast, proceed for a drive to the mountains. This tour provides the best opportunity to see the beautiful mountains surroundings Almaty city. Visit Medeo Gorge, where the wonderful mountains of Trans-Ili Alatau, the largest high mountain skating rink in the world is located as well as the huge dam, protecting the city from destructive mudflows formed on the tops of the western Tien Shan. Next, visit Shymbulak also known as Chimbulak is a ski resort, located at an altitude of 2230 metres above sea level. It is very popular for its mild climate, large quantity of sunny days, snow through the winter and remarkable scenery of mountain ranges. On reaching the mountains, the guest will be taken to the top of mountains by chair car.
The city tour starts with sightseeing in the central part of Almaty. You will know more about history and development of the southern capital of Kazakhstan and see its major attractions: Presidential Palace, Republic Square, Monument of Independence, Astana Square, Abai Square and Palace of the Republic.
The tour will continue in one of the oldest Almaty park - Panfilov Park, where you will see one of the unique wooden buildings in the world - Zenkov Cathedral and also visit the Memorial of Glory and Eternal Flame, dedicated in memory of the fighters who died for freedom and independence of the country. Post lunch, the guest will be taken for an Almaty shopping tour with a visit to the Green Bazaar.
Check out of your hotel and meet your driver in the lobby for a transfer (if pre-arranged) to the airport in time for your departure flight. Standard hotel check-out times apply.
In the programs of guaranteed tours, as a rule, we use 3 * level and less often 4 * Hotels, as well as proven guest houses and yurt camps, which combine modern comfort with a national atmosphere.
Local cafes and restaurants offer a wide variety of National, European and Russian cuisine. There is always a choice of 1-2 vegetarian dishes.
The following vehicles will be used (depending on the number of people in the group):
Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan: 4-9 people: minibus Mercedes Sprinter; 10 and>: Bus of Setra class;
Uzbekistan, Tajikistan & Turkmenistan: 4-9 people: minibus Toyota Hi-Ace; 10 and>: Toyota Coaster class bus.
For each reservation, we charge a prepayment of 100 USD (or the equivalent in other currencies) to the account via SWIFT transfer or a bank card. The final invoice is paid no later than five days prior to the planned arrival via SWIFT transfer. Payment instructions will be sent after pre-booking
Cancellations up to five days prior to planned arrival are subject to full refund. Cancellations made less than five days prior to the start of the tour are non-refundable.