Khiva, Uzbekistan Khiva, Uzbekistan

Small Group Journey to Uzbekistan 2021

Sail down the beautiful rivers
Sail down the beautiful rivers

October 5-13, 2021

Uzbekistan is a key Silk Road country - the bridge between east and west and the very crossroads of civilizaion. Also known as Transoxiana, this is a land where a number of cultures meet: Chinese, Arab, Indian, Persian, Mongol. 

Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand are names that evoke the magic of a past time. Turquoise domes, minarets and piercing blue skies. Today, Registan Square in Samarkand has had the restoration it deserves, but many things have not changed: the hospitality of the people, their colorful dress, and the mystical aura of this lesser visited part of the world.

Your Tour Host

Your tour director will be Ala Osmond. Born in Romania during the Cold War, Ala moved to London with her parents when she was 4 years old. She was then lucky enough to live a nomadic expat lifestyle as a child in exotic locations: Cairo, Baghdad, Kampala and Khartoum.

After a year working for Hilton in Sudan, Ala returned to London and started her first career in the hotel industry which took her to Russia where she was Director of Sales & Marketing at a leading hotel in St. Petersburg for 3 years. She has been part of the Exeter team since 2005. This will be Ala's fifth trip to Uzbekistan.

Uzbekistan - Land of Exotic Beauty

Uzbekistan has been immortalized as being one of the most important countries on the ancient Silk Road between Beijing and Istanbul. Thriving cities have grown out of ancient caravanserais that punctuate the rugged Central Asian landscape.

At one point in history, Uzbekistan saw the pinnacle of Mongol and Tartar culture and even today, one can see the remains of a great empire in cities like Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva. Uzbekistan has spawned two of history’s greatest conquerors – Timur the Lame (Tamerlane) and Ghenghis Khan.

Uzbeks are a proud people of great heritage. Lively and spirited and always ready with a smile, warm hospitality embraces everyone who visits. You’ll experience this throughout your journey but most especially in the special visits we’ve prepared in the workspaces of famous ceramists and local Suzanni embroiderers.

Uzbekistan is also known for its exquisite textile traditions, and stunning architecture, much of which has been preserved and can be explored even today. Imposing gateways embellished with calligraphy, soaring minarets, and graceful domes lend their elegance to the destination.

Download a PDF itinerary here

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

ITINERARY

PRICING FROM

$8,300 per person, based on two guests traveling together.  $9,750 per person, based on single occupancy.                          

Day 1
Arrival | Tashkent Applied Arts Museum - Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Tuesday, October 5

Arrival into Tashkent. After collecting your luggage and border control you will be met by your guide and driver for a transfer to your hotel.  Please note that due to heightened security at the airport, your guide and driver will not be able to meet you inside the terminal building, but at the perimeter gate, clearly visible upon exit from the arrivals area.  Early check-in is included as most flights arrive in the middle of the night. After checking-in at your hotel, take some time at leisure to relax and settle-in.

Around 11AM you will meet your guide in the hotel lobby to begin touring.  Tashkent was originally an oasis on the Chirchik River before growing to become an important commercial center, which now has a population of over 2 million.

You’ll start with a visit through the Chorsu Bazaar for the true feeling of Tashkent!  Bazaars in Uzbekistan are a unique site in each city.  You will capture some of your best local photos at these markets, where you will find everything from bins of spices, nuts, fruit and cheese to clothing, toys, tools and everyday goods.  You will also see the Applied Arts Museum. This building was constructed at the end of the 19th century in the elaborate style of the period as a private residence of a wealthy merchant.  It now displays various types of national handicrafts, including carpets, jewelry, woodcarving and gold embroidery from the 19th and 20th centuries.

You’ll return to the hotel after your visit for a brief rest before transfering to a very special Welcome Dinner at the home of a famed Uzbek ceramist who comes from a dynasty of ceramic artists. His workshop and peaceful gardens give an insight into the ceramic arts in Uzbekistan.  Here you will enjoy dinner in his garden with a traditional Uzbek music performance.

Exeter Services: Airport Transfer; Half-Day Vehicle, Driver & Guide; City Transfer

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Hyatt Regency Tashkent

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Day 2
Tashkent - Khiva | Tashkent - Khiva Khiva, Uzbekistan

Wednesday, October 6

Today’s touring will start in Tashkent’s Old City, where you will visit the Barak Khan Madrasah from the 16th century, and the Tillya Sheikh Mosque.  The mosque houses a rich Islamic library with ancient manuscripts, including the famous Uthman Koran, considered to be the oldest copy of the Koran in the world. Dating from 655 and reputedly stained with the blood of murdered caliph Uthman, it was brought by Timur to Samarkand and later seized by the Russians as a war trophy and taken to Saint Petersburg (held in the Hermitage) before it was returned to Uzbekistan in 1989.

Later, you will see the 16th-century Kukaldosh Madrassah, which is one of the few remaining authentic historic monuments in the Old Town (the massive earthquake of 1968 destroyed most of central Tashkent), which is one of the largest Islamic schools in Central Asia. It was named after Kukeldash, who was a vizier (prime minister), a poet, and a scientist. The main façade of the Madrasah has a high portal, two-story loggias, and angular turrets. In the 18th century it was used as a caravanserai (roadside inn) and later as a fortress.  Today it also includes a functioning mosque.

You will visit Independence Square, Romanov’s Former Palace (from the outside, at minimum) and Navoi Theater Square.

You’ll have a private visit to Navoi Theater.  The architect of the Navoi Theater, Alexey Shchusev, also designed Lenin’s Mausoleum and the Kazanskaya Railway Station in Moscow. After the performance, you’ll have a walk along Sailgoh Street, visiting Amir Temur Square.

You will then return to your hotel for a light dinner and to collect your luggage.  At 7PM, you will transfer to the airport for your evening flight to Urgench. (Cost of business class seats for this flight is included in itinerary.)

Upon arrival in Urgench at 9:55PM, your vehicle and driver will meet you for transfer to your hotel in Khiva. Upon check-in, evening is at leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (Tashkent); Airport Transfer (Tashkent & Urgench)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Malika Kheivak or similar

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Day 3
Khiva | Khiva Djuma Mosque - Khiva, Uzbekistan

Thursday, October 7

Today, enjoy a tour of Khiva. Khiva’s origin dates to the 6th century and during the medieval times it became a city of great importance. It also has a long history of barbaric rulers and your guide will give you a glimpse into their colorful stories.  Today, approximately 40,000 people live and work inside the ancient city walls (called Ichan Kala).  Within these walls, the old town of Khiva is an official “city museum,” where you will find several interesting sites.

One of the most notable sites within the walls of Khiva is the Kunya Ark.  This was the former fortress and residence of the Khiva rulers since the 12th century.  You will be able to walk through the courtyards of this partially restored building and see some residential and administrative quarters, such as the harem, the mint, the stables, and the jail. Just opposite the Kunya Ark, you will see the Muhammad Rakhim Madrasah II, which was built to honor the last Khivan Khan who surrendered the city to Russia in 1873 and signed a peace treaty, which turned Khiva into a semi-independent Russian province.

You will also visit the Djuma Mosque, which was built in the 10th century and rebuilt in the 18th century. Its unique design features a roof supported by 218 wooden columns, possibly an early Arabic influence. The two openings in the roof provide light for only the inner courts, while the opposite walls lie hidden from sight by the colonnade. The Mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud was built in 1810 to honor the patron of Khiva, Pakhlavan Makhmud, a poet and wrestler who died in the 14th century and is thought to be buried here.

Stop for lunch at a local restaurant before continuing your city tour, including a visit to a silk carpet workshop sponsored by UNESCO.  Afterwards, enjoy a traditional folk show at one of the Hareems in Khiva.

This evening, dinner is on your own.  We will be happy to make recommendations.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Malika Kheivak or similar

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Day 4
Khiva - Bukhara | Khiva - Bukhara Mosque Bukhara

Friday, October 8

This morning, have an early breakfast, as you will transfer to the hotel at 8AM for a 9:35AM HY-052 flight to Bukhara.  Upon arrival in Bukhara at 10:35AM, you’ll begin touring while your luggage is taken to the hotel.

Continue on to the Kagan Palace – White Palace built for Tsar Nicholas I.  Next, you’ll visit to the Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace. This was the summer residence of the Emir of Bukhara. It was specifically picked in this location because it was not as hot as other locations.

From here, transfer and check in to your hotel before enjoying lunch in a local restaurant.

You will begin with an overview tour of this historic city, which was once one of the main centers of Persian civilization.   Bukhara is actually an oasis in the Kyzyl Kum desert, located on the banks of the Zeravshan River and has been inhabited since approximately 3,000 BC.  Located on the historic Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. The old city part of the town has a small and friendly feel and much of today’s sights are accessible on foot. 

There are over a hundred buildings in the historic city center (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and you will have a very full day of exploration ahead.  Your logical first step will be the massive Ark Fortress – the very core of the ancient city and the oldest building in Bukhara. Initially built in the 5th century, it was used as a royal residence and a fortress until the early 20th century when it fell in the hands of the Russians.

You’ll see the impressive Poi Kalyan architectural complex located south of the Ark citadel. Its most impressive feature and a popular landmark is the Kalyan Minaret, which was built in the form of a circular 150-foot-high brick tower. A spiral staircase twists up inside the tower leading to a rotunda with 16 arched windows, from which the Muslims in the city were called to prayer. It is said that the tower so impressed Genghis Khan that he ordered it to be spared while his invading army was destroying the rest of the city.

Continue on to the Ulugbeg and Abdulazizkhan madrasahs, which stand facing each other in representation of the two dynasties that once ruled Bukhara – the Ashtarkhanids and Timurids. The Ulugbeg madrasah now houses the Bukhara Restoration History Museum and the Abdulazizkhan madrasah contains the Museum of Wood Carving Art.  Next, enjoy the Trading Domes of Bukhara. Since it was located on the Silk Road, Bukhara contained many markets and trading stores. Only four trading domes remain to this day. You will also get to see an ancient silk market.

Afterwards you will visit the Lyab-i Khauz complex, a pond that used to be the centerpiece of a magnificent architectural ensemble dating from the 16th -17th centuries. Still standing today, it now includes a madrasah and a lodging house. 

Enjoy dinner tonight from a rooftop terrace at a local restaurant.  After dinner, enjoy your evening at leisure.

OR (depending on Flight availability)

This morning, have an early breakfast, as you will transfer from the hotel at 7:30AM for a 8:23AM Train to Bukhara.  Upon arrival in Bukhara at 1:35PM, you’ll begin touring while your luggage is taken to the hotel.

Continue on to the Kagan Palace – White Palace built for Tsar Nicholas I. 

From here, transfer and check in to your hotel before enjoying lunch in a local restaurant.

You will begin with an overview tour of this historic city, which was once one of the main centers of Persian civilization.   Bukhara is actually an oasis in the Kyzyl Kum desert, located on the banks of the Zeravshan River and has been inhabited since approximately 3,000 BC.  Located on the historic Silk Road, the city has long been a center of trade, scholarship, culture, and religion. The old city part of the town has a small and friendly feel and much of today’s sights are accessible on foot. 

There are over a hundred buildings in the historic city center (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and you will have a very full afternoon of exploration ahead.  Your logical first step will be the massive Ark Fortress – the very core of the ancient city and the oldest building in Bukhara. Initially built in the 5th century, it was used as a royal residence and a fortress until the early 20th century when it fell in the hands of the Russians.

You’ll see the impressive Poi Kalyan architectural complex located south of the Ark citadel. Its most impressive feature and a popular landmark is the Kalyan Minaret, which was built in the form of a circular 150-foot-high brick tower. A spiral staircase twists up inside the tower leading to a rotunda with 16 arched windows, from which the Muslims in the city were called to prayer. It is said that the tower so impressed Genghis Khan that he ordered it to be spared while his invading army was destroying the rest of the city.

Continue on to the Ulugbeg and Abdulazizkhan madrasahs, which stand facing each other in representation of the two dynasties that once ruled Bukhara – the Ashtarkhanids and Timurids. The Ulugbeg madrasah now houses the Bukhara Restoration History Museum and the Abdulazizkhan madrasah contains the Museum of Wood Carving Art.  Next, enjoy the Trading Domes of Bukhara. Since it was located on the Silk Road, Bukhara contained many markets and trading stores. Only four trading domes remain to this day. You will also get to see an ancient silk market.

Afterwards you will visit the Lyab-i Khauz complex, a pond that used to be the centerpiece of a magnificent architectural ensemble dating from the 16th -17th centuries. Still standing today, it now includes a madrasah and a lodging house. 

Enjoy dinner tonight from a rooftop terrace at a local restaurant.  After dinner, enjoy your evening at leisure.

Exeter Services: Transfer: Khiva – Bukhara; Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Shakhriston or Minorai Kalon Hotel.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Day 5
Bukhara | Bukhara Faizulla Khojaev House Bukhara

Saturday, October 9

This morning, continue your exploration of Bukhara.

You will head back to the Old Town, where, just opposite the Ark, you will see the Bolo-Khauz Mosque. The earliest part of this religious complex is the pond called Bolo-khauz (The Children’s pond) – one of the few remaining ponds the city of Bukhara. Until the Soviet period there were many such ponds, which were the city’s principal source of water, but they were notorious for spreading diseases and were gradually filled-in in the 1920s. Another one of these ponds – the Lyabi Khauz, survived because it was the centerpiece of a magnificent architectural ensemble from the 16th -17th centuries, which still exists and includes a madrasah and a lodging house.

Next, you will visit the Ismail Samani mausoleum, which was built in the 9th century as the final resting place of Ismail Samani – the founder of the Samanid dynasty, the last Persian dynasty to rule in Central Asia. Near the Samani mausoleum, you will also see the Chashmai Ayub (Job’s Well).    You’ll also visit Chor Minor, or “Four Minarets”, alternatively known as the Madrassah of Khalif Niyaz-kul. 

Today you will visit the Jewish Quarter where you can see the Synagogue. Bukhara once had a large Jewish community. As a matter of fact, most of the Jews in Central Asia in the 16th century used to live in Bukhara and played a major role in the city’s development. The Bukharan Jews, many of which migrated to the United States and Israel after the collapse of the Soviet Union, still speak a distinctive language, which is a dialect of the ancient Persian.

Enjoy a tasting of herbal teas in a local tea house where you will enjoy a fashion show by a local designer.  

After a short break to refresh yourselves, you will be invited for dinner in a local home, where you will be taught how to make traditional Uzbek Plov and learn about the traditional art of Suzani embroidery.

After dinner, enjoy a guided evening walk through the old town back to your hotel. 

Please note that all touring today is on foot and includes walking on cobblestone and stairs. Please wear comfortable

Exeter Services: Full-Day Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Shakhriston or Minorai Kalon Hotel.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Day 6
Bukhara - Shakhrisabz - Samarkand | Bukhara - Shakhrisabz - Samarkand Shawl Ladies, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Sunday, October 10

This morning after breakfast and checking out of your hotel, you will meet your driver and guide to begin the journey to Samarkand.

On your way you will stop in the historic city of Shakhrisabz, about 5 hours from Bukhara, one of Central Asia’s most ancient cities. Founded more than 2,700 years ago by the Persian empire, Shakhrisabz is also the birth place of the great Turco Mongol conqueror Timur (Tamerlane) in the 14th Century.

You will first visit the Ak-Saray Palace, commissioned by Amir Timur, the palace contains intricate mosaics that took a quarter of a century to complete. Also built by Amir Timur, you will visit the Dorus Saodat and Dorut Tilovat complexes, also known as “the house of power”. These were constructed as a mausoleum for Amir Timur’s eldest son and heir who tragically died at the age of 20.

Stop for lunch at a local house where you can relax in a private room.

After lunch, you will continue your city tour.  You will visit Kok-Gumbaz (blue dome) Mosque, which is the largest Friday Mosque in the city where many of the major religious ceremonies are still held despite being built in the 15th century. You’ll also visit the Mausoleum of Djakhangir and Hazrati Imam Mosque.

After touring Shakhrisabz you will continue your drive, about two hours, to Samarkand. Once in Samarkand you will be transferred to your hotel where dinner will be provided in the hotel and the remainder of your evening will be at leisure.

Today will be a long day, with arrival at the hotel at approximately 8:00pm where a light dinner will be pre-arranged upon arrival. Those who wish to may go and visit Registan Square after dinner to see it beautifully illuminated at night.

Exeter Services: Full-day Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Minor / Dilimah Premium Luxury / Arkhan Palace Hotel

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Day 7
Samarkand | Samarkand Registan, Samarkand

Monday, October 11

Today you will begin your exploration of this historic city.  One of the most famous towns along the Silk Road, Samarkand also belongs among the oldest cities in Central Asia.  It was sacked by the Mongols under Genghis Khan in 1220s and remained under Mongol domination until the late 14th century, when Timur (Tamerlane) decided to make Samarkand the capital of his empire which extended from India to Turkey.

One of the highlights of today’s tour will certainly be the Registan Square, the most famous landmark and the heart of the ancient city.  Registan (Sandy Place) probably got its name from the sand, which was strewn on the ground to soak up the blood from the public executions, which were held there until the early 20th century. Nowadays, the Registan complex consists of three main buildings – the 15th-century Ulugbek Madrasah, Tilya-Kori Madrasah and the 17th-century Sher-Dor Madrasah, where, if you are interested, you can get acquainted with the history of Uzbek musical instruments.

Your guide will show you the Bibi Khanym Mosque, which was constructed in the 14th century after Timur’s conquest of India. It is said that some 90 elephants were used to carry from India the precious stones and metals to be used for the decoration of this temple. There is a large marble Koran standing in the center of the mosque’s courtyard and the bazaar next to it has changed little since the time of Tamerlane.

After a visit to the Siyab bazaar, you’ll take a break for lunch.  After lunch, continue your city tour with a visit to the Shakhi Zinda Necropolis. This cluster of 11 mausoleums was built during the 14th through the 15th centuries and will allow you to see several types and periods of architecture and design of the region.  This religious center is still very much in use today.

You will also visit the Gur Emir (Tomb of the King) Mausoleum – the actual place where Timur was buried. This architectural complex with its bright blue dome contains not only the tomb of Tamerlane, but also the ones of his sons, grandson, and other notable political and religious figures.

This evening, you will have dinner at the Jewish Merchant House, now the Local Lore Museum, with catering by a famous Uzbek chef.   During dinner, enjoy a Shashmakom Concert.  This Central Asian music genre is typical of both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan and is derived from Sufi poems.

After dinner, return to your hotel.

Exeter Services: Full-Day Vehicle, Driver & Guide

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Hotel: Minor / Dilimah Premium Luxury / Arkhan Palace Hotel

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Day 8
Samarkand - Tashkent | Samarkand - Tashkent

Tuesday, October 12

This morning, meet your guide to continue exploring Samarkand.  One of the highlights of Samarkand is a visit to the Observatory of Ulugbek, located on a hill in the outskirts of the city.  Ulugbek turned Samarkand into the intellectual and scientific center of the empire. He built the madrasah on Registan Square and invited Islamic mathematicians and astronomers to study there. His observatory was a remarkable scientific discovery in its time (the early 15th century). As Ulugbek did not have a telescope to work with, he improved the accuracy of his observations by increasing the length of his sextant, which helped him compile one of the best-known star catalogues of that time.

Afterwards your guide will take you to the small village of Konigil, a few miles from the centre of Samarkand. With the help of UNESCO funding, the ancient art of silk paper-making has been revived. You will have the opportunity to learn about this ancient process, brought to Samarkand from China in the 7th century, and have a go at making your own silk paper to take home.

Here, you will also take a break for lunch, surrounded by nature in this beautiful setting.  After, you may continue to relax and explore or you may try your hand in a master class of ceramics or paper painting.

Afterward, you will meet your driver for the transfer to the train station for the 5:30PM train to Tashkent on the high-speed Afrosiyob train.  Upon arrival at 7:45PM, transfer to your hotel where the remainder of your evening will be at leisure.

Exeter Services: Vehicle, Driver & Guide (Samarkand); Station Transfers (Samarkand & Tashkent)

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Hyatt Regency Tashkent

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Day 9
Departure | Departure

Wednesday, October 13

Today, check-out of the hotel and meet your driver for the transfer to the airport for your onward flight. The cost of the flight is not included.

Once you’ve arrived at the airport, you’ll go to the CIP/VIP Hall where you will go through screening, check into your flight and clear through immigration and passport control separate from economy passengers, we’ve included this access, along with Uzbekistan Airways Business Class Lounge access in your program.  Here you may enjoy drinks and refreshments in comfort while waiting for flight.

Exeter Services: Airport Transfer

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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