15 days between Ashgabat and Tashkent or vice versa…
This fantastic journey takes us deep into the ancient Silk Road, along which ancient traders would journey between Europe and China. Starting in the bizarre city of Ashgabat, we overland across the remote and inhospitable deserts of Turkmenistan to the incredible burning gas crater of Darvaza and the crumbling ancient ruins of Konye Urgench, before crossing into the fascinating country of Uzbekistan. It is in Uzbekistan that we’ll discover the jewels in the crown of the fabled journey of the Silk Road, namely the phenomenal ancient cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, all of which we will tour with our expert local guide – once famed trading centres for the caravans that passed this way in ancient times, their streets still bear testament to their historic past, packed full as they are with stunning Islamic architecture and bustling bazaars that have changed little since the rule of the medieval warlord Timur. We will also enjoy a yurt stay in the incredible Kyzylkhum Desert before arriving at the pleasant capital city, Tashkent. Join us on this wonderful and unforgettable overland experience on the Silk Road!
Day 1: Ashgabat
Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport.
There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am – please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.
After the meeting we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses. In the afternoon we will visit the famous Ashgabat Sunday Market.
In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel.
*Important note – do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*
1. Explore, shop, and haggle at the vast Altyn Asyr Sunday Bazaar – Included in Kitty
2. Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city – Included in Kitty
Day 2: Darvaza
Today we set off north from Ashgabat and head into the Karakum Desert. We will have an included side trip to the amazing flaming Darvaza Gas Crater (also known as the ‘Door to Hell’!).
We will wild camp in the deserts near Darvaza Crater tonight.
Estimated Drive Time – 6-7 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions – however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, borders and many other factors – flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
See the bizarre and incredible burning gas crater at Darvaza, popularly known as the ‘Door to Hell’ – Included in Kitty
Day 3: Kunye Urgench
Today we will continue our overland journey north across the Karakum. We will visit the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day.
We will wild camp in the deserts near Kunye Urgench tonight.
Estimated Drive Time – 7-8 hours.
Explore the ancient ruined city of Kunye Urgench, once one of the most splendid cities in Central Asia until it was ransacked by Timur and abandoned – – Included in Kitty
Day 4-5: Khiva
Border Information: Exit Turkmenistan at Shovot, enter Uzbekistan at Nijazov.
This morning we will visit the markets in the border town of Dashoguz, before driving across the border into Uzbekistan and continue to the beautiful historic town of Khiva.
Estimated Drive Time – 5-6 hours (heavily dependent on the time taken to cross the border).
The following day we have a guided tour of the ancient city of Khiva during the morning. In the afternoon we will have plenty of free time to further explore this wonderfully preserved Khanate town.
In Khiva we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
1. See the beautiful turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret, one of the iconic symbols of Khiva – Included in Kitty
2. Visit the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassa, a museum dedicated to the Khan that surrendered to the Russians in 1873 -Included in Kitty
3. Explore the incredibly photogenic blue palace of Tash Khovli in Khiva – Included in Kitty
4. Learn all about the Khoezm culture and handicrafts at the Islam Hodja Madrassa, Khiva’s newest monument – Included in Kitty
5. Explore the incredible Juma Mosque and the 12th century fortress of the Kukhna Ark – Included in Kitty
6. Visit the mausoleum of Pahlavon Mohammed, the legendary 14th-century poet, philosopher, wrestler, and patron saint of Khiva – Included in Kitty
Day 6: Bukhara
Today we will have a full day’s drive to the fascinating city of Bukhara, where will spend the next 3 nights.
In Bukhara we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time – 10-11 hours.
Day 7-8: Bukhara
Today we will have a guided tour of Bukhara and the surrounding area, including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison and the Ark Fortress.
On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore this incredible historic city and its surroundings.
1. Watch an entertaining evening puppet show, featuring many local Uzbek and Tajik poems and songs – USD 5
2. Visit the magnificent 16th-centrury architectural ensemble surrounding the Lyab-i Hauz ponds, once the city’s principal source of water – Included in Kitty
3. See the Indian-style Char Minar Minarets, four towers nestled in a maze of alleyways in downtown Bukhara – Free
4. Visit the gruesome museum at the old prison of Zindon – UZS 4500
5. Explore the city’s oldest Islamic monument, the 10th-century mausoleum of Ismail Samanid, the founder of the Samanid Dynasty – Included in Kitty
6. Explore the colossal Kalon Mosque and Minaret, which has survived without restoration for 850 years and impressed Genghis Khan so much that he ordered the building to be spared – Included in Kitty
7. Discover the ruins of the ancient 5th-century fortress of the Bukhara Ark – Included in Kitty
Day 9: Nurata
Today we will drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert near the town of Nurata. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to head out on an optional camel ride into the desert!
Tonight we will stay in a desert yurt camp. Estimated Drive Time – 7-8 hours.
Spend the night in nomadic yurts out in the the Kyzylkhum Desert – Included in Kitty
Day 10: Samarkand
This morning we will spend some time exploring the Nurata Hills with the option of taking a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul. After lunch we will drive to Samarkand where we will stay for the next 3 nights.
In Samarkand we will stay in a good hotel on the outskirts of town. Estimated Drive Time – 4-5 hours.
Day 11-12: Samarkand
Today we will have a guided tour of the incredible historic city of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including the Registan, Ulug Beg Observatory, Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda.
On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore the beautiful city and its surroundings.
1. Explore the stunning green city of Shahrisabz, the centre of folk art in Uzbekistan and the birthplace of the medieval warlord Timur – USD 20
2. Visit the Guri-Amir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur – Included in Kitty
3. Explore the stunning plaza of The Registan, a world-famous and iconic symbol of Central Asia – Included in Kitty
4. Learn about the area’s scientific heritage with a visit to the 15th-century Ulug Beg Observatory, once the finest observatory in the Islamic world – Included in Kitty
5. Discover the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once one of the largest mosques in the world and the jewel in Timur’s empire – Included in Kitty
6. See the beautiful and moving ancient mausoleum of Shah-I-Zinda – Included in Kitty
7. Wander through the markets and carpet vendors of Samarkand, and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the local carpet weavers – Free
Day 13: Tashkent
This morning we will have a little more free time to explore more of Samarkand. After lunch we will drive to the Soviet city of Tashkent.
In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. Estimated Drive Time – 5-6 hours.
Day 14: Tashkent
Today we will have a free day to explore Tashkent.
1. Take in an opera performance at the neoclassical Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre – UZS 1500
2. Explore the delightful traditional farmer’s market at the Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent’s Old Town – Free
3. See the grand 16th-century Kukeldash Madrassa and the city’s principal Juma Mosque in the Old Town – Free
4. Visit the religious centre of Tashkent at Hast Imam Square and see the Uthman Koran, believed to be the world’s oldest extant copy of the Koran – USD 5
Day 15: Tashkent
Border Information: if finishing in Tashkent, you will most likely exit Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport.
Today we will have more free time to explore Tashkent. Please note that if you are leaving in Tashkent, today is the last day of the trip and there is no accommodation included tonight.
You can sign into any of the following departures in 2017:
1. 28 May – 11 June 2017 Ashgabat – Tashkent
2. 11 June – 25 June 2017 Ashgabat – Tashkent
3. 9 July – 23 July 2017 Ashgabat – Tashkent
4. 10 July – 24 July 2017 Tashkent – Ashgabat
5. 31 July – 14 August 2017 Tashkent – Ashgabat
6. 04 September – 18 September 2017 Tashkent – Ashgabat
7. 16 October – 30 October 2017 Tashkent – Ashgabat
Starting from 1430 EUR (~1506 USD) + Kitty from 600 USD
Kitty is a group fund, priced in USD, in addition to the trip price to pay for all accommodation, meals whilst camping and all activities listed as Included. Each passenger pays into the Kitty at the start of each trip and managed by the Dragoman crew in full transparency of the group. Kitties allow for flexibility on the road and ensure value through group discounts, buying locally and everyone seeing exactly how their money is spent. Any top-ups required to kitties are agreed as a group, and any money left over is refunded.