Road to Samarkand

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Journey through the heart of Central Asia crossing starkly beautiful deserts and magnificent mountain landscapes. Discover ancient cities full of intricate Islamic architecture, thriving bazaars and a mystical old-world atmosphere, all inextricably linked with the legends of the Silk Road

Places Visited

New Zealand - via Dubai - Bishkek (1N) - Chon-Kemin Valley (1N) - Karakol (2N) - Bokonbaevo Village (1N) - Naryn (1N) - Kochor Village (1N) - Bishkek (1N) - Tashkent (1N) - Nukus (1N) - Khiva (2N) - Bukhara (3N) - Samarkand (3N) - Tashkent (2N) - Alamaty (1N) - via Dubai to New Zealand

Days 1-3: Fly to Bishkek
Fly overnight to the city of Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan. The rest of the day is yours to start soaking up the local culture. In the evening, enjoy a traditional folklore show during dinner.
Day 4: Horseback Games
Journey to Chon Kemin, a quiet valley with small villages surrounded by magnificent mountains and a fir forest. Take in the daily life in Ashu Village and witness horseback games, a nomadic tradition and custom of the Kyrgyz people.
Day 4: Horseback Games
Day 5: Cholpon-Ata
Drive to Cholpon-Ata to see many animal petroglyphs etched into glacial stone and take a cruise on Lake Issyk Kul. Later, continue to Karakol.
Day 5: Cholpon-Ata
Day 6-7: Explore Karakol
Visit the Przhevalsky Museum and examine the region’s diverse religious influences with visits to the Holy Trinity Orthodox Church and the Chinese mosque. Take an afternoon stroll in Jety-Oguz Gorge and through the beautiful Valley of Flowers where you can enjoy horseback riding, visit a yurt and have a cup of tea or the Kyrgyz national beverage. Later, visit Irdyk village to see a local mosque and enjoy a home-cooked dinner with a local Dungan family. The next day, visit Skazka Canyon, known as Fairy Tale Canyon and Barskaun Gorge to take a light hike to a waterfall. Watch a demonstration of Eagle Hunting in Bokonbaevo village. Stay overnight in a Yurt Camp and try your hand at baking flatbread in a traditional oven.
Day 6-7: Explore Karakol
Days 8: Felt Workshop
Visit Kyzyl-Suu village to see the yurt installation process. Enjoy the breathtaking views as you continue to Naryn, stopping en route in Kochkor to visit a felt workshop and see the manufacturing of carpets.
Days 8: Felt Workshop
Day 9: Kyrgyz Nomads
Surrounded by broad summer pastures dotted with yurts, grazing cattle and mountains, travel to the alpine Son Kul Lake, the largest fresh water lake in Kyrgyzstan and experience the traditional life of Kyrgyz nomads. Continue over Terskei-Torpok Pass and travel back to Kochkor. Stay overnight at a homestay.
Day 9: Kyrgyz Nomads
Day 10: Explore Bishkek
Return to Bishkek and visit the 12th Century Burana Tower en route. Known for its wide, leafy boulevards, marble faced buildings and Soviet-era architecture, Bishkek is the capital and largest city in Kyrgyzstan, located at the foothill of magnificent Kyrgyz Ala-Tau mountain range. This afternoon, visit Ala Too Square, Oak Park and the newly restored Museum of History.
Day 10: Explore Bishkek
Days 11: Tashkent
Spend the day enjoying a leisurely hike in Ala Archa National Park. In the evening, fly to Tashkent, capital of Uzbekistan.
Days 11: Tashkent
Day 12: Explore Nukus
Fly to Nukus and visit Savitskiy Museum, home to one of the finest collections of Soviet avant-garde art from the 1920s and 30s to gain an insight into the Central Asia’s unique cultural heritage. Also explore Mizdahkan, an Islamic complex in Hojeli Village.
Day 12: Explore Nukus
Day 13: Desert Fortress
The ancient city of Khiva has a long and turbulent history as part of the Silk Road and a slave trading post. This fascinating destination is lovely to explore – discover the magnificent 17th Century Kuhna Ark Fortress and wander around the many medressahs, mosques and minarets within the walled inner town called Itchan Kala.
Day 13: Desert Fortress
Day 14: Khuna Ark Fortress
Discover the magnificent desert fortress of Chalpik Kala, Kizil Kala Fortress, Toprak Kala Fortress, Ayaz Kala and Kryrkkyz Kala. Arrive in Khiva.
Day 14: Khuna Ark Fortress
Days 15-17: Sacred Bukhara
After a day’s drive across the Kyzyl Kum Desert, arrive at the holiest city in Central Asia, Bukhara. Bukhara has a long history spanning 2,500 years and has an atmospheric old centre. Spend two days seeing the sights, with visits to Kalon Minaret, the Ark Fortress, Bolo Hauz Mosque, Chor Minor, Labi-Hauz Plaza and the summer residence of the last Bukharan Emirs where you will enjoy a cultural folk show in the evening.
Days 15-17: Sacred Bukhara
Days 18-20 Samarkand
After a day’s drive across the Kyzy Kum desert arrive at the holiest city in Central Asia, Bukhara. Bukhara has been built up over thousands of years, with an atmospheric old centre and some pre-Soviet era architecture. Spend two days seeing the sights, with visits to the Ark Fortress, Bolo Hauz Mosque, Chor Minor, Kalon Minaret, Labi-Hauz Plaza and the summer residence of the last Bukharan Emirs. (B,L,D)
Days 18-20 Samarkand
Day 21: Samarkand to Tashkent
Begin the return journey to Tashkent, passing through the impressive Gates of Tamerlane. The afternoon will be spent exploring this eccentric city, visiting the 16th Century Kukeldash Medressa, Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum, Khan Medressa and Khast Imom Complex. Also see the Chorsu Bazaar, a traditional market under a beautiful blue dome and the Crying Mother Monument.
Day 21: Samarkand to Tashkent
Day 22: Even more Tashkent
Explore famous sights around Tashkent including the Museum of Applied Arts, the 1966 earthquake memorial, Independence Square, Alishedr Navoi Theatre and the Amir Timur Maydoni. Also explore Broadway Street where you will see local artisans and painters.
Day 22: Even more Tashkent
Day 23: Tashkent to Alamaty
This morning is at leisure before boarding your flight to Almaty, Kazakhstan for an overnight stay.
Day 23: Tashkent to Alamaty
Day 24: Alamaty via Dubai to New Zealand
Fly from Almaty to Dubai and board your connecting flight to New Zealand, arriving home the following day
Day 24: Alamaty via Dubai to New Zealand
Day 26: Arrive New Zealand
Arrive home today.

Also Available

Tailor Your Tour

If you like most of the itinerary which we have suggested but you'd like to change the route and the accommodation, speak to our specialist Tailormade team, who can build your perfect itinerary based around where you would like to go, what you would like to see and how much you'd like to spend. Just call us on 0800 936 3998 and we'll help plan your dream holiday.

Tour prices are per person, twin share departing Auckland. Regional departures available on request. Additional charges: Tipping is payable on arrival in destination (see Additional Price Information below).

Additional Price Information:


Single Supplement from $1,870
Land Only (Bishkent to Tashkent) 22 days from $9,980 per person
Additional charges: Customary tipping - US$120 per person (subject to change) payable on arrival.
Tour availability is updated each Monday. While every effort is made to ensure availability status is current, it is advisable to contact our reservations department on 0800 936 3998. Limited seats denotes 4 seats or less available.

A visa is required by all nationalities. A single entry visa should be arranged in advance of travel.
Unlike many other tour operators, we include your entry visas in the price of our tour. We handle the entire visa process – all you need to do is fill out the form and send your passport to us. We are always on hand to help you with any questions or queries you might have when completing the form. 

Phone Calls
International and domestic calls can be made from your hotel room. It’s a good idea to check call costs with hotel staff or your local guide before making calls, as this can be expensive. A service charge may also be involved. To call New Zealand – the international access code is 00, followed by the country code 64, then the local area code (omitting the first 0), then the number.
 
Mobile Phones
Mobile phones are quite popular in China and you will find high quality coverage. China has active roaming agreements with most of the service providers. Please make sure you are aware of associated costs and have activated your international roaming prior to departure.
 
Internet & Email
Internet cafes can be found in all major cities and even in some small towns. This is often the easiest and cheapest way to stay in touch. Most hotels have a business centre with internet access, but at a slightly higher rate. Some hotels may have wifi which usually comes at an additional cost and may only be available in hotel lobbies. 

Tipping is an expected element in the tourism industry today and China is no exception. Many passengers are often uncertain of how much to tip so we have established a tipping system whereby every passenger gives a set amount (in US Dollars) to the National Escort who will distribute the amount appropriately. On multi-country tips, this amount will be paid in stages on arrival in each country. If there is no National Escort, you will need to give your money to your Local Guides and tipping amounts for each city will be shown in your final itinerary. The amount for the kitty is calculated for each tour depending on the length, group size and services used during the trip.
 
For independent passengers, or group passengers with pre/post tour arrangements, you should allow USD5-10 per person per day.
 
We will indicate the tipping amounts in your final documents for guidance.

Shopping can be a fun and entertaining component to any travel adventure, and China has a vast array of shopping opportunities for those who love to seek out a bargain. From hand carved jade to local silk products or pearls from the South China Sea – the variety and choice can seem endless.
 
In keeping with most people’s interests whilst on holiday, your tour will include a reasonable number of opportunities to shop for local goods and souvenirs.
 
We have included visits to establishments that not only provide an opportunity to purchase a locally produced, great-value souvenir; but you’ll witness first-hand how these local products are made, their history and how they support the local economy. We are aware that people like to take home souvenirs, so we endeavour to ensure the shops you visit have a reputation for quality, honesty, and authenticity – we do our best to ensure that you don’t get ripped off. 

The cost of all meals is included in your group tour cost.
 
Breakfast is served in the hotel and usually includes western dishes. As is traditional in China, lunch and dinner consists of small dishes of local cuisine which is then placed on a ‘Lazy Susan’ so you can experience the variety of speciality dishes. In China all the dishes are served in various styles and brought out to the table for everyone to share. The amount served is more than ample for the whole group. We aim to cater to the tastes of the majority of people and so the food is not too spicy or unusual in taste.
 
Each individual place setting will consist of a bowl of fan (rice), a pair of chopsticks (you may request western cutlery if you prefer), a flat bottomed soup spoon and a saucer. Chinese food is usually served in courses where a typical meal will consist of rice, one to four meat or fish dishes, two vegetable dishes, and one soup dish. Almost all food is cut into bite sized pieces. The centre of the meal is the fan or rice. The meats and vegetables that we think of as the focus of the meal are known as ts’ai, which roughly translates as ‘side dishes’. Fish is not always available, particularly outside of the bigger cities.
 
The Chinese are also not big on desserts with meals normally complemented with fruit to clean and refresh the palate.
 
Sichuan cuisine is distinguished by its use of ginger, chilli and the ‘Sichuan peppercorn’ called the fagara. Each meal will usually have some mild dishes but many of the local speciality dishes will be hot. If your group find there are not enough mild dishes served, please inform your National Escort/Local Guide so that they may resolve the problem for the next meal.
 
If you would like to drink beer, soft drink or bottled water with your meals, payment is to be made directly to the restaurant staff. Beer is traditionally consumed in small glasses; not the larger pints glasses that you may be used to.
 
Green tea is sometimes provided complimentary. All other drinks will be at your own expense.
If you have booked a tour that does not include all meals, your local guides will be able to recommend a variety of restaurants to meet your taste and budget.
 
It is possible to buy snacks in supermarkets within major towns or cities. Alternatively, you may also like to bring comforts like cereal, biscuits, muesli bars, and tea/coffee from home.
 
Any food/diet requests MUST be specified at the time of booking and you should mention it again to the National Escort/ Local Guides when you meet them – they will do their utmost to cater for any special requests, such as vegetarian meals or food to be avoided in case of allergies.

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Why Book This Tour?

Journey through the heart of Central Asia. discover ancient cities full of intricate Islamic architecture, thriving bazaars and a mystical old-world atmosphere - all linked to the Silk Road. Expect long drives on this tour.

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