Great Silk Road – 39 Days
Day 1 – Urumqi (China)
This is the starting point of your Silk Road Journey! We will tour China, Central Asia, Iran and Caucasus. A truly fascinating discovery which many memorable and happy days ahead, we’ll start this travel. Upon arrival in Urumqi we’ll be transported to our hotel accommodation to rest after the flight. We will begin with a welcome dinner at one of the local restaurants. We will stay overnight in the hotel in Urumqi.
Day 2 – Urumqi (China)
After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll start with an excursion to the Xingjian Regional Museum to see archeological treasures from the famous Silk Road and the minority cultures of Xingjian. Part of the exhibit is well-preserved 3000 year- old mummies excavated from the Loulan-a Takla Maka desert. We will have lunch and dinner at local restaurants and stay overnight in Urumqi.
Day 3 – Urumqi-Turpan -125 mi. (China)
Today after breakfast at the hotel we’ll be transported to Turpan for a full day of sightseeing. In the picturesque ancient village of Tuyoq we will visit the oldest Buddhist caves in the area, dating back to the fourth century. We will visit some local Uygur families while enjoying the lovely grapes and mountain scenery. After taking a lunch break, we will continue with a visit to the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves on the flanks of the Flaming Mountains and Grape Valley. We will dine at a local restaurant for dinner, and stay overnight in Turpan at a hotel.
Day 4 – Turpan – Urumqi -125 mi. (China)
After having breakfast at the hotel, we will start sightseeing with a visit to the Karez system, a remarkable ancient engineering system designed to carry water to the dry desert town. This system is 2000 years old! Afterwards we will have lunch, followed by visiting the Emin Minaret and Mosque, a 145- foot high spectacle built in 1778. We will wind up our sightseeing for the day with an excursion to the ancient city of Jiao- he to see the ruins. We will return to Urumqi in time for a short rest before having dinner at one of the local restaurants. We will spend the night in the hotel in Urumqi.
Day 5 – Urumqi - Kashgar – 1200 mi. (China)
After breakfast at the hotel we will be transported to the airport for a morning flight to Kashgar. There we will start our sightseeing with a visit to the colorful and delightfully chaotic Great Sunday Bazaar, where we can view a dazzling array of merchandise such as silk, cotton, carpets, jewelry, hats, knives, pots and pans, and fresh local vegetables and fruit. After lunch at a local restaurant we will visit the largest Mosque in China, the Idkah Mosque built in 1442. We will also see Apak Khoja’s tomb, the holiest place in Xingjian for Sufis, built in 1640. After dining at a local restaurant we will stay overnight in Kashgar.
Day 6 – Kashgar – Urumqi – Almaty - 2000 mi. (China/Kazakhstan)
Today we will have breakfast at the hotel, and then begin our day with an excursion to the remains of a grand Buddhist temple, Mor Stupa. After viewing the temple we will visit the nearby village of Atush, where we will have lunch. From there we will be transported to the airport to catch a flight to Urumqi, where we will take a connecting flight to Almaty… Welcome to Central Asia travel, the crossroad of the Silk Road Tours! First stop of our 5 Stans 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 in Central Asia. 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 5 Stans. We will spend the night at the Almaty hotel.
Day 7 – 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 8 - 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 9 -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 10 – 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 11 – 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 12 – 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 13 – 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 14 – 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 15 – Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
After breakfast we’ll have a full day of sightseeing of this ancient city. Bukhara is one of most historically rich cities on the Great Silk Road attracting attention of thousands of people with its unique heritage. Today we’ll visit: Samanid’s dynasty mausoleum known to be one of the best architectural samples of the Samanids period (875 - 999). Chashma Ayub Mausoleum – legend say is it of Prophet Jove. Bolo – Khauz Mosque. The Ark Forteress – Citadel is the most ancient memorial of Bukhara, on archeological matter dated to the 3rd century B.C. Kalon Complex – consists of minaret, Mosque and Madrasah both of which are still active. Magoki Attori Mosque. Ulugbek and Abdulazizi Khan madrasahs. Next we’ll visit most popular place of Bukhara – reservoir Lyabi Khauz complex built in 1620 by khans’ dignitary Nodir Devan Begi. We’ll end the day with a dinner at the local restaurant followed by a show program. Today we’ll overnight in Bukhara.
Day 16 – Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
After breakfast we’ll continue second full day of sightseeing in Bukhara: former summer palace of Bukhara Emir Said Olimkhan – last Emir of Bukhara, Sitora – iMokhi – Khosa, Museum of Decorative Applied Art. We’ll be back to Bukhara in time for dinner and have another overnight in Bukhara.
Day 17 - Bukhara – Khiva - 315 mi. (Uzbekistan)
We will start the day with breakfast at the hotel, and then begin a long drive making our way through the Kyzyl Kum Desert on our way to Khiva. We will break up the long drive, which is the only way to reach Khiva from Bukhara, by stopping along the way to visit the ancient ruins Ayaz Kala and Toprak Kala. We will also stop for a picnic lunch along the way to Khiva.
Upon our arrival in Khiva we will check-in to our hotel accommodation and have time for some rest and relaxation. We can explore this fascinating place and walk through the old walled city of Khiva, called Ichan Kala. We will have dinner at a local restaurant followed by a show program. The Khiva hotel is where we will spend the night.
Day 18 – Khiva (Uzbekistan)
After having breakfast at the hotel we will spend the day sightseeing in Khiva. We will see the Ichan Kala, an official UNESCO World Heritage Site, including the madrasah of Muhammad Amin Khan. Lunch will be at a local restaurant, after which we will continue our tour of Khiva visiting mausoleums, minarets and mosques. We’ll also include viewing the Tash Hovli Palace. We will have dinner at a local restaurant before turning in for the night at our hotel in Khiva.
Day 19 - Khiva – Dashoguz - Kunya-Urgench - Ashgabat – 200 mi. (Uzbekistan/Turkmenistan)
Today we’ll continue our Silk Road – Central Asia Tour to Turkmenistan. After our hotel breakfast we will be transported 40 miles to the border of Shavat-Dashoguz. There we will proceed through passport control and customs procedures before entering Turkmenistan. One we get through border formalities on both sides we will continue to Dashoguz for lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch we will drive another 75 miles to Koneurgench, the capital of Khorezmshahs. There we will spend half the day exploring the Old City by visiting such places as: the Portal of Caravansary, Mamun Minaret, the Sultan Tekesh Mausoleum, and the Kutlug Timur Minaret (one of the tallest minarets in all of Central Asia).
After our excursion we will drive back to Dashoguz, where we will have dinner at a restaurant. After dinner we’ll go to the airport for our flight from Dashoguz to Ashgabat. Upon arrival in Ashgabat we will check in to our hotel for the night.
Day 20 – Ashgabat –Mary – Ashgabat (Turkmenistan)
Right after breakfast we will go to the Ashgabat airport for our flight to Mary. There we will visit “Old Merv”, which was located at the road crossing of the Great Silk Road, and was one of the largest and most important cities of the ancient world. There are many wonderful historic sights to see before returning to Ashgabat in the evening for dinner at a local restaurant. We will spend the night at the hotel in Ashgabat.
Day 21 – Ashgabat – Nissa -Ashgabat (Turkmenistan)
After we have breakfast we will be sightseeing in one of the most beautiful cities on earth-recently added to the Guinness Book as “the Most-White Marble City in the World”! We’ll visit the Complex of Monuments of Oguz Han and Sons, a magnificent structure that is surrounded by fountains. We’ll explore Old Nissa-the capital of the Parthian Empire for 600 years and the greatest enemy of the Roman Empire.
Next we’ll visit the newer part of Ashgabat, viewing beautiful modern buildings, monuments and parks. We will see the Monument of Constitution, which at 600 feet is the tallest building in Turkmenistan.
In the afternoon we will check in to our hotel, and then enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch we will continue our sightseeing in Ashgabat, viewing several mosques and monuments. We’ll also visit the gorgeous Museum of Turkmen Carpets, as well as a lovely park dedicated to the pride of the Turkmen, their beautiful horses.
After dinner at a local restaurant we will go for a night tour, driving along the main streets of Ashgabat and stopping to see the incredible Palace of Happiness. At the end of the night we will return to our hotel for the evening.
Day 22 – Ashgabat –Mashhad – 170 mi. (Turkmenistan/Iran)
After our breakfast we will do a bit more sightseeing in Ashgabat by going to the National Museum of History. This site is highly recommended as one of the biggest museums in Central Asia. Our next stop will be the exciting Arch of Neutrality, a very famous rocket and tripod style building symbolizing the neutral status of Turkmenistan. This building is over 300 feet tall with a 40-foot rotating statue of the first President of Turkmenistan, Saparmyrat Nyyazow (Turkmen -ashy). We will enjoy a short walking tour in the Park of Independency, viewing hundreds of fountains and statues.
After lunch we will have a 3-hour drive going from Ashgabat to Mashhad, where we will catch a flight to Tehran. We will check in to a hotel in Tehran and have time to rest before dinner. After dinner we’ll spend the night in Tehran.
Day 23 – Tehran (Iran)
After breakfast at the hotel we will spend the day sightseeing in Tehran. We will visit the Museum of the Islamic Period, Golestan Palace, and Old Bazaar before stopping for lunch at a local restaurant. After lunch we’ll visit the Saad Abad Complex, Niavaran Museum and the Darake Rural Area. We will wind up the day with dinner at a local restaurant and a late driving tour of the city. Tonight we will stay at the hotel in Tehran.
Day 24 - Tehran – Shiraz (Iran)
This morning after breakfast we will go to the airport in Tehran for a short flight to Shiraz. After we check in at the hotel we will have a morning excursion to Persepolis, once the capital of the Achaemenes Empire. We will visit two UNESCO World Heritage Sights, Naghesh-e-Rajab and Naghesh-e-Rostam. After breaking for lunch we will continue sightseeing at the Eram Garden, also called the Garden of Paradise. We will also see a palace and the tombs of famous Persian poets of the medieval period. We’ll have dinner at a local restaurant and spend the night in Shiraz.
Day 25 - Shiraz – Isfahan – 300 mi. (Iran)
After breakfast today we will spend about six hours driving the 300 miles to the fascinating city of Isfahan. Along the way we will stop in the ancient Persian city of Pasargadae and see the tomb of Cyrus the Great, founder of the Persian Empire. This is an archaeological and UNESCO World Heritage Site. We will also stop for lunch before going on to Isfahan, where we check in to a hotel and have dinner at a local restaurant. We will stay in Isfahan overnight.
Day 26 – Isfahan – Tehran (Iran)
We will have breakfast at the hotel before beginning our sightseeing in Isfahan. Today we will visit the Imam, Sheikh and Lotfollah Mosques, as well as the Aliqapou Palace, Vanack Church, Shaking Minarets and the Fire Temple. We will break for lunch before continuing our sightseeing, visiting the Friday Mosque and several palaces. In the evening we will fly back to Tehran for a farewell dinner, and we will spend the night in Tehran.
Day 27 – Tehran – Baku (Iran/Azerbaijan)
We will fly from Tehran to Baku after breakfast today to begin the Caucasus part of our tour. Welcome to Azerbaijan! You will be transported form 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. This region is rich in deposits of oil and gas. Tonight we will stay overnight at the hotel in Baku.
Day 28 – 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 29 – 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 30 – 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 31 – 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 32 – 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. 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 33 – 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 34 – 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 35 – 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 36 – 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 37 – 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 38 – 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 39 – Departure (Armenia)
This is the last day of the tour. 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!