5 Stans and Caucasus - 31 Days
Day 1 – Almaty (Kazakhstan)
Welcome to Central Asia Tour, the crossroad of the Silk Road! First stop of our 5 Central Asia Tour, is Kazakhstan! We will transport you from the Almaty airport to a hotel about twenty minutes away, where after checking in you will have time for a short rest before dinner. We will have dinner at a local restaurant.
During dinner we will give a brief presentation about Kazakhstan, the largest country on Central Asia Tour. Kazakhstan is rich in both natural beauty and ancient history, and is home to stunning landscapes and ancient shrines and monuments from here we will start the travel of 4 Stans. We will spend the night at the Almaty hotel.
Day 2 - Almaty (Kazakhstan)
Enjoy a good breakfast at the hotel today, because we have an exciting, full day of sightseeing planned! We will visit Panfilov Park, Zenkov Wooden Cathedral, St. Nicholas Cathedral, the National Musical Instruments Museum, the Central State Museum, Almaty’s Green Bazaar, and an observatory with a fantastic panoramic view. We will be able to admire ancient archeological artifacts, beautiful cathedrals and experience the excitement, color and energy of a true Asian Bazaar. We finish the day with dinner at a local restaurant, and will spend the night at the hotel in Almaty.
Day 3 - Almaty – Bishkek – 170 mi. (Kazakhstan/Kyrgyzstan)
We will leave Almaty after breakfast at the hotel, driving to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan on the newly built highway. During the four-hour drive we will enjoy gorgeous scenery, and we’ll tell you some interesting facts about this republic, a land of majestic mountains. At 350 meters above sea level, 93 % of Kyrgyzstan is covered by mountains! We will check into a hotel in the capital city of Bishkek for a short rest before having lunch at a local restaurant. Then we’ll do some more sightseeing, have dinner at a local restaurant, and spend the night in Bishkek.
Day 4 - Bishkek – Issyk Kul – 165 mi. (Kyrgyzstan)
After breakfast at the hotel we will visit the lovely Issyk Kul Lake, one of the largest mountain lakes in the world. Issyk Kul Lake is so beautiful that it is known as the pearl of Kyrgyzstan. This lake is well over 1600 miles above sea level.
On the way there we will first stop to visit Burana Tower, located in the city of Tokmok, where we will enjoy lunch with a local Kyrgyz family. Among other things, sightseeing today will also include ancient exhibits at a museum. We will check into a local hotel and then dine at one of the local restaurants. We will spend the night in a hotel at Issyk Kul Lake.
Day 5 – Issyk Kul Chopon Ata - Grigorevka Gorge – Bishkek - 160 mi. (Kyrgyzstan)
We will have breakfast at the hotel, and then go to Grigorevka Gorge, located 45 miles from the city of Cholpon-Ata. This is a land of gently sloping valleys and dense fir forests. We will spend the day relaxing among the picturesque scenery enjoying the beauty of nature. We’ll lunch at a local restaurant, then return to Bishkek where you will have some free time before dinner. We’ll spend the night in Bishkek.
Day 6 – Bishkek – Tashkent (Kyrgyzstan/Uzbekistan)
We will have breakfast at the hotel, and then go to the airport to take a flight to Tashkent…Welcome to Uzbekistan! This is a fascinating country full of contrasts and surprises so have your cameras ready and prepare to be amazed.
You will be transferred from the airport in Tashkent to a hotel, and on the way to the hotel you will be given a short summary describing Uzbekistan. Uzbekistan is a major part of Central Asia Tour. Once we have checked into the hotel, we will have a full day of sightseeing in the historical city of Tashkent. First we will explore the oldest part of the city, where you will see vividly colorful and eclectic bazaars, as well as spectacular architectural wonders. After lunch we will continue on to the modern part of the city, where you will see beautiful contemporary buildings flanked by walls of fountains. We will visit the Amir Timur museum and a museum of Handcrafted Art, and then have dinner at a local restaurant before spending the night in Tashkent.
Day 7 – Tashkent – Samarkand – 190 mi. (Uzbekistan)
After breakfast we will take a train to world famous Samarkand located 190 mi from Tashkent. The road to Samarkand is via Syrdarya and Jizzakh provinces and takes approximately 3 hours. We will arrive to Samarkand in the afternoon, check in to hotel and have lunch. After short rest we’ll start our excursion of Samarkand by visiting Paper Mills Factory where we’ll have a presentation of paper production from mulberry tree, Afrasiyob Museum, Ulugbek’s observatory – dated to 1428 - 1429 – known as biggest observatory of the East with best equipment to the time. After dinner at one of the local restaurants we’ll transfer to hotel for overnight in Samarkand.
Day 8 – Samarkand (Uzbekistan)
After breakfast at the hotel today we’ll have a full day sightseeing of Samarkand. Visit heart of the city – Registan Square which played great role in commercial and scientific life of the time. Gur Emir Mausoleum - mausoleum for the males of Temurid’s dynasty, real masterpiece of Central Asian architecture. Shaki Zinda Necropolis in the northern outskirts of Samarkand. Bibi – Khanum Mosque construction of which started in 1399 after Victorian campaign of Temur to India. Central bazaar of Samarkand- Siyobian where we’ll taste famous round bread (non) made only in Samarkand. After this long day, we’ll have dinner at one of the local restaurants and overnight in Samarkand.
Day 9 – Samarkand – Bukhara – 172 mi. (Uzbekistan)
After breakfast at the hotel, we depart Samarkand for Bukhara. Stop on the way at the ruins of medieval monument Caravanserai Rabat-i-Malik. Continue driving to Bukhara via Gijduvan where we’ll visit Abdulla’s pottery house where we’ll be offered short presentation and a cup of tea. Upon arrival to Bukhara, we’ll accommodate at the hotel. Visit Chor Minor memorial. Today we’ll dinner in one of the local restaurants and will overnight in Bukhara.
Day 10 – Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
Right after breakfast we will have another full day of sightseeing in this ancient city, one of the most popular cities on the historic Great Silk Road. There are many stunning sights to visit, such as the Samanid Dynasty Mausoleum, the Bolo-Khauz Mosque, and the Ark Fortress-Citadel. We will also view several other impressive structures, including the famous Ulugbek Madrasah and the Lyabi Khauz Reservoir. Our day will end with dinner at a local restaurant followed by a show program. We will spend the night in Bukhara.
Day 11 – Bukhara – Farab – Turkmenabat – Mary –290 mi (Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan)
After breakfast we’ll continue with half a day of sightseeing in Bukhara, visiting: former summer palace of Bukhara Emir Said Olimkhan – last Emir of Bukhara Sitora – iMokhi – Khosa, Museum of Decorative Applied Art. After Lunch we say good bye to Uzbekistan as we make our way to Turkmenistan border which is almost 1.5 hours of driving away. Upon arrival to the border point we’ll go through custom procedures and continue on to drive directly to Mary via Turkmenabat which will take another 4.5 hours. On the way we’ll cross the Floating Bridge (almost .5mi. long). We will proceed our way to Mary crossing one of the biggest deserts in the world known as Kara Kum Desert which means “black sand”. Upon arrival in Mary we will accommodate in hotel and have dinner in one of the local restaurants. Overnight at hotel in Mary.
Day 12 – Mary – Ashgabat (Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan)
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll make our way through sand dunes and bush forests of the desert, to an important excursion of Old Merv – Merv located at the road crossing of Great Silk Road quickly became one of most important and biggest cities of the ancient World. Sightseeing will include: Gyz Gala and Oglan Gala, Complex of Askhabs, Gyaur Gala, Erk Gala, Soltan Gala, Soltan Sanjar Mausoleum, Ibn Zeid Mausoleum. After lunch we’ll take a walking tour within the central part of Mary City. Sightseeing Local United Museum of History, Ethnography, Flora and Fauna of Mary and Orthodox Church built by Russians at the end of XIX century, the Regional Mosque of Mary Province, The Central Theater of Mary, The Convention and Conference Center “Ruhiyet Koshgi”, Central Park and Monument of Mollanepes. Late afternoon transfer to the airport of Mary for flight to Ashgabat by flight T5-132 at 19:00. Upon arrival transfer to have dinner at local restaurant. Accommodate and overnight at hotel in Ashgabat.
Day 13 – Ashgabat - Nissa - Ashgabat (Turkmenistan)
Today after breakfast we’ll proceed with sightseeing one of the most beautiful cities of the world which was recently included into the Book of Guinness as the Most-White Marble City. Today’s sightseeing includes: Complex of Monuments of Oguz Han and Sons surrounded with fountains. Tombs of Turkmenbashy (first President of Turkmenistan S. Nyyazow) and his parents and brothers, Old Nissa - The Sanctuary of Parhian Kings, Nissa was the capital of Parthian Empire which lasted 600 years and was greatest enemy of Rome Empire. After excursions of Old Nissa we’ll proceed to Monuments of Archabil Shayoly and discover new part of Ashgabat with its’ modern buildings, monuments and parks which includes: Health Path of Turkmenbashy built on mountains which became very popular place among locals, Monument of Constitution and tallest building in Turkmenistan (600 feet), “Alem” Culture and Recreation Center. In the afternoon we’ll transfer to hotel and check in. We’ll have lunch at one of the local restaurants. After lunch we will continue with sightseeing of Ashgabat, visiting: Museum of Turkmen Carpets, Park dedicated to Turkmen horses-the pride of Turkmen, Gulistan Bazar, Monument for the Victims of the Earthquake of 1948, Monument of Lenin, Ertogrul Gazy Mosque. We’ll have dinner at one of the local restaurants. After dinner we’ll go for a night tour, driving along the main streets of Ashgabat making stop near Palace of Happiness. Dinner followed by a folk show program. Today we’ll overnight at hotel in Ashgabat.
Day 14 – Ashgabat – Dashoguz (Turkmenistan)
Today after breakfast we’ll have another full day of sightseeing in Ashgabat which will include: Ashgabat’s famous “Altyn Asyr” Oriental Bazar, Jygyldyk bazaar – one of the biggest bazaar in Central Asia. After bazaar we’ll visit Hippodrome of Ashgabat where we’ll see famous horses of Turkmenistan: Turkmen Horses – Akhalteke. We’ll have lunch at one of the local restaurants in Ashgabat. After lunch we’ll continue sightseeing of National Museum of History highly recommendable: one of the biggest museums in Central Asia. After Museum we’ll be visiting Arch of Neutrality – famous rocket and tripod style built building symbolizing neutral status of Turkmenistan. Its’ height is over 300 feet including 40 feet rotating statue of first President of Turkmenistan: Saparmyrat Nyyazow (Turkmenbashy). Enjoy short walking tour within the Park of Independency along the hundreds of fountains and statutes with stops to visit Monuments of Independency and Ruhnama. Late afternoon transfer to the airport of Ashgabat for flight to Dashoguz by T%-109 at 19:20. Upon arrival transfer to have dinner at local restaurant. After dinner accommodation and rest. Today overnight is at hotel in Dashoguz.
Day 15 – Dashoguz – Kunya – Urgench – Khiva – 190 mi. (Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan)
After breakfast at the hotel we’ll proceed with drive of 75 mi to Koneurgench – the capital of Khorezmshahs, have sightseeing of Old City which will include: Portal of Caravansaray, Mamun Minaret, Il Arslan Mausoleum, Sultan Tekesh Mausoleum, Academy of Horezm, Kutlug Timur Minaret – one of the tallest minarets in Central Asia and Turabek Hanum Mausoleum. After half day excursion of Koneurgench we’ll drive back to Dashoguz where we’ll stop for a lunch at one of the local restaurants. After lunch we’ll transfer to the border pass Dashoguz – Shavat which is located 10 mi from Dashoguz. Upon arrival proceed the way through passport control and customs procedures and return to Uzbekistan. After border formalities on both sides we’ll continue our way to Khiva. Upon arrival we’ll accommodate in hotel in Khiva for rest and relaxation. Khiva is a fascinating place, walk through Ichan Kala – old walled city of Khiva, will give you an insight into the life led there from ancient days up to the present time. We’ll have a dinner at the local restaurant followed by a show program. Overnight is at the hotel in Khiva.
Day 16 – Khiva – Urgench – Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
We will have our breakfast at hotel afterwards we will spend full day sightseeing Khiva. We will visit Ichan Kala – a UNESCO World Heritage Site including madrasah Muhammad Amin Khan, Kelta Minar, Kunya Ark, madrasah Muhammad Rakhimkhan. Our lunch break will be held at one of the local restaurant and we will continue our sightseeing program. We will visit sights such are: Pakhlavan Mahmud Mausoleum, Islam Khodja Minaret and Madrasah, Djuma Mosque and Minaret, Tash Hovli Palace. Our dinner event also will be held at the local restaurant we will proceed to airport for a flight back to Tashkent leaving at 08:40 p.m and arriving at 10:10 p.m. (subject to change). Upon arrival to Tashkent, we’ll accommodate in hotel for overnight and rest.
Day 17 – Tashkent – Khujand – 150 mi. (Uzbekistan/Tajikistan)
After our early breakfast at the hotel in Tashkent we will leave the city towards Tajikistan for our 2 day excursion of Tajikistan. We will head to the border check point called Oybek and after border crossing formalities we’ll continue on to city Khujand. Once we arrive to the one of the ancient cities of Tajikistan Khujand first thing we will chek in to our hotel. Khujand is the second largest city of Tajikistan located in the north part of the country. Khujand was founded about 2,300 years ago during the time of Alexander the Great. City is located in a very favorable location of the Ferghana valley, Khujand prospered for a long time, becoming rich and building palaces, mosques, and citadels. City experienced several devastations during its history. In the 13th century it was conquered and destroyed by the Genghis Khan's army. During the second part of the day we will have a close city tour. Our first night in Tajikistan will be completed by dinner at a local restaurant followed by a show program. We’ll overnight in Khujend.
Day 18 – Khujand – Oybek – Tashkent – 135 mi. (Tajikistan/Uzbekistan)
We will have our breakfast at the hotel. After breakfast we will proceed with our tour and we will visit sights such are: ancient part of Khujand: Timurmalik fortress, Archeology and History museums, Orient bazaar Panjshanbe – famous Panjshanbe city market is one of the most interesting sights of Khujand. Sheikh Muslihiddin Masque located close by the market. We will have stop there and Mausoleum, Museum of Archaeology and Resporation. Our lunch break will be at the local restaurant and in the afternoon we will drive back towards Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Once we are back to Uzbekistan, we will have a rest at the hotel before making a long way back home. We will have a Farewell dinner followed by a show program and return to hotel for overnight in Tashkent.
Day 19 – Tashkent – Baku (Uzbekistan/Azerbaijan)
Today we’ll finish our exploration of Central Asia and move on to Caucasus country called Azerbaijan. Depending on flight schedule we’ll have some fun sightseeing in Tashkent, and catch a flight to Baku.
Welcome to Azerbaijan! Your Caucasus tour is beginning in Baku. You will be transported from the airport to your hotel to check in and rest. We will have a welcome dinner at 7:00 PM with a short introduction about Azerbaijan, located on the shores of the Caspian Sea and one of the most economically developed states of the Caucasus region, which once was a part of the Silk Road. Tonight we will stay overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Day 20 – Baku – Gobustan – Baku (Azerbaijan)
After breakfast at the hotel we spend the day exploring Gobustan, where you will see more than 4000 rock carvings depicting the lifestyle of the ancient inhabitants of the area near the Caspian Sea. After lunch we’ll visit the Museum of Art. Then if the weather permits, we will take a forty- minute cruise of the Caspian Sea. We will have dinner at a local restaurant followed by a colorful folk show, and then spend the night at the hotel in Baku.
Day 21 – Baku – Absheron Peninsula – Baku (Azerbaijan)
Today after breakfast we will explore Baku, the capitol city of Azerbaijan. We will see a magnificent panoramic view of the city, and visit the Shirvan Shahs Palace and a twelfth-century architectural monument called Caravanserai. After lunch we’ll visit the Absheron Peninsula and see the Fire Worshippers Temple and historical monuments and fortresses. We will have dinner at a local restaurant and retire for the night in the hotel in Baku.
Day 22 – Baku – Shamakha – Maraza – Sheki (Azerbaijan)
We will have breakfast at the hotel before driving to Sheki, about a four-hour drive. En route we will visit mud volcanoes, The Diri Baba Mausoleum, and some mosques. We will stop for lunch at a restaurant along the way. When we arrive in Sheki we will check in to the hotel, and have time to rest before heading for dinner. We will spend the night at the hotel in Sheki.
Day 23 – Sheki – Georgia border – Telavi (Azerbaijan/Georgia)
After breakfast we will have a half –day excursion visiting Khan’s Palace and Museum of History. We will have lunch at a local restaurant and then be transported to Lagodekhi, the border between Azerbaijan and Georgia. After passing through border formalities we will begin sightseeing in Georgia. We will see the Gremi Complex, once the capitol of the Kakheti province, and visit a local family to observe the baking of Shoti, Georgian bread. We’ll be offered samples of fresh baked bread with local cheese and a cup of coffee before moving on to Telavi. There we will have dinner at a local restaurant and spend the night in a hotel in Telavi.
Day 24 – Telavi – Sighnaghi – Tbilisi (Georgia)
After breakfast at the hotel we’ll we will begin sightseeing in the Kakheti region, known for its production of wine. Midpoint of our Caucasus tour we will also see the Great Caucasus Mountains and the valleys of Kakheti, and have the opportunity to observe the culture and traditions of the country. We’ll visit an eleventh-century church/monastery, explore the estate of a nineteenth-century Georgian Duke, and sample a glass of wine made in a very unique and unusual method -quite different form the European method. When we continue on to Sighnaghi, the Fortified Town of Love, we’ll leisurely walk the grounds and enjoy some more wine tasting at a winery established by an American painter. Afterwards we will make our way to Tbilisi, stopping for lunch and dinner at restaurants along the way. We’ll stay overnight at a hotel in Tbilisi.
Day 25 – Tbilisi – Mtskheta – Gori – Gudauri (Georgia)
After breakfast we’ll visit the ancient capital and religious center of Georgia, Mtskheta. Mtskheta dates back over 3000 years! We will visit the Svetitskhoveli Cathedral, a UNESCO World Heritage Site known as the place where the Robe of Christ is buried. Later we will go to Gori, the heart of the Kartli region, and see the Stalin Museum. We will visit a town that the Great Silk Road once passed, called the Uplistsikhe Cave Town, which dates all the way back to the first millennium BC. During the day we will stop for lunch and dinner at restaurants along the way. We’ll spend the night at a hotel in Gudauri, Georgia.
Day 26 – Gudauri – Kazbegi – Tbilisi (Georgia)
Today after breakfast we will have a stunning drive along the Tergi River traveling from Gudauri to Kazbegi. When we arrive in Kazbegi we’ll take a leisurely two-hour stroll through beautiful valleys and woodlands leading to the Gergeti Trinity Church. If the weather is clear enough we may catch a glimpse of one of the highest glaciers in the Caucasus on Mt. Kazbegi-16500 feet high. On our way back we’ll stop for lunch at a local cafe’, then walk to our vehicle and drive to Tbilisi. After checking in to our hotel accommodation we will have time for a short rest before going out to dinner at a local restaurant. After dinner we will be treated to a folk show, and then retire for the night at the hotel in Tbilisi.
Day 27 – Tbilisi-Georgia - Armenia “Sedakhlo” – Sevan-Dilijan (Georgia/Armenia)
After we have breakfast at the hotel we will embark on a walking tour of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. We’ll see churches, a synagogue and interesting nineteenth-century buildings. We’ll also view exhibits in the Georgian History Museum and walk along the main street of Tbilisi, Rustaveli Avenue.
We’ll stop for lunch before driving to the Georgia/Armenia border, known as “Sedakhlo”. Once we get through border formalities we will begin getting acquainted with Armenia with visits to historic sites. We will visit the Monastic Complex, an outstanding example of medieval Armenian architecture that is included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. During the middle ages this complex served as the primary educational center for Armenian scholars and scientists. We will then drive to Dilijan, where we will check in to our hotel and have dinner at a local restaurant. We will stay overnight in Dilijan.
Day 28 – Sevan Diligan – Noravank – Khor Virap –Yerevan (Armenia)
After our hotel breakfast we will begin with a tour of Lake Sevan, the Emerald of Armenia. This is the second largest alpine fresh- water lake in the world, and the biggest in Caucasus. We will also visit the peninsula of the Sevan Monastery. Later we will drive to Selimcaravanserai, built in 1332 by Prince Orbelian. Before having lunch in a local cave café we will visit a monastery and a wine factory. We will end the day with a visit to the famous biblical Ararat Mountain, where Noah cast the anchor of his ark. We will have dinner at a restaurant and see a folk show, then spend the night in a hotel in Yerevan.
Day 29 – Yerevan – Garni – Geghard - Yerevan (Armenia)
After breakfast today we’ll drive to the Geghard Monastery, a magnificent monument of medieval Armenian architecture that is partly carved out of a mountain. From there we will continue on to Garni Temple, a citadel and pagan temple of Garni. We will enjoy lunch at a local home, where you will have the opportunity to watch the baking of “lavash”, the Armenian national bread. You will also get to observe a barbeque making process that takes place in an underground stove called a “tonir”. We will then have lunch before returning to Yerevan.
Sightseeing during the latter half of our day will include visiting the depositary of ancient manuscripts called Matenadaran. Matenadaran contains historical documents of Europe and Asia that are many centuries old.
We will end our day with dinner and an overnight stay in Yerevan.
Day 30 – Yerevan – Etchmiatsin – Zvartnots – Yerevan (Armenia)
This morning we will have our breakfast at the hotel and then drive to Etchmiatsin. On the way we’ll visit the St. Hripsime Church. We will have lunch in a local community, where we will taste a variety of local homemade dishes. Afterwards we will drive back to Yerevan, stopping at the ruins of the Zvartnots Temple, a great example of seventh -century architecture. For the second part of the day our main attraction will be the Armenian History Museum. Then we’ll visit the Tsitsernakeberd Memorial and Museum of Victims of Genocide. We will have a farewell dinner at a local restaurant, and spend the night in a hotel in Yerevan.
Day 31 – Departure (Armenia)
This is the last day of the Caucasus tour, the last segment of the Silk Road Travel. We will have breakfast at the hotel, and then arrange transportation to the airport for your flight home. We hope you have enjoyed your time with us and made many cherished memories.