Yurt Camping Experience
Discover the Silk Road's Treasures: From Tashkent to Samarkand in 14 Days
Set out on a 14-day expedition that traverses the Silk Road cities of Uzbekistan, commencing in Tashkent and culminating in Samarkand. In Uzbekistan’s capital, you’ll delve into the intriguing history of this Central Asian nation, tracing back over centuries. Then venture on to Khiva, a captivating ancient city that resonates with echoes of the Silk Road’s golden era. Explore its narrow alleys, intricate architecture, and vibrant marketplaces.
In Bukhara, a city steeped in religious devotion and renowned for its impressive monuments, explore famous mosques, mausoleums, and minarets. Embrace the nomadic lifestyle with an unforgettable overnight stay in a traditional desert yurt camp, immersing yourself in the timeless charm of the arid landscape. You’ll also venture into the Nuratau Mountains, where the genuine village ambiance and the unmatched warmth of mountain farmers will surprise you with their hospitality.
With a culminating Samarkand tour, discover the jewel of the Silk Road adorned with awe-inspiring architecture and historical significance. Unveil the layers of history that have shaped these cities while immersing yourself in their present-day vibrancy.
If our 11-Day Cultural Uzbekistan Tour doesn’t align with your holiday schedule, alternatively you may be interested in our 7-Day and 8-Day Cultural Uzbekistan Tours, which offer a similarly immersive experience in historical and cultural exploration, but within a shorter timeframe. If you need further guidance to choose the right tour for you don’t hesitate to contact us!
Highlights of the Tour
Explore the Khast Imam Complex, home to the oldest known Koran from 655 AD
Embark on a day trip to the ancient fortresses of Karakalpakstan
Tour the Ark fortress, Juma Mosque, and other significant sites, with evenings dedicated to independent exploration
Reach the desert Yurt camp for an authentic nomadic experience, complete with camel rides, exploring the dunes, and a tranquil desert sunset
Witness the stunning landscape and enjoy the warm hospitality of local mountain farmers during your stay in a rustic mountain homestay
Immerse yourself in the local way of life, connecting with the villagers and their daily routines
Visit the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Siyob Bazaar, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, and Ulugbek’s Observatory
Day 1 – Arrive in Tashkent: Meet with your driver who transfers you to the hotel.
Day 2 – A sightseeing Tashkent tour: Visit includes Independence Square, Amir Timur Square, History Museum, Khast Imam Complex, Chorsu Bazaar, Kukaldosh madrasa & more!
Day 3 – Flight to Urgench and transfer to Khiva: A full-day sightseeing tour awaits in Ichon Qala including visits to Kuhna-Ark citadel, Mohammed Amin Khan madrasa, Kalta Minor minaret & more.
Day 4 – Tour of Desert fortresses in Khiva: Toprak Qala, Qizil Qala, Ayaz Qala, and Guldursun Qala.
Day 5 – From Khiva to Bukhara: Drive through the Kyzyl Kum desert to transfer from Khiva to Bukhara.
Day 6 – Full day sightseeing Bukhara tour: Visit includes Trading Domes, Labi Haus Ensemble, 12th-century Kalon Minaret, Bolo Khauz Mosque, Maghoki Attori Mosque, Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Ark citadel & more.
Day 7 – Bukhara tour continued: Visits include Sitorai Mohi Hosa (summer palace), Chor-Bakr necropolis & Bakhautdin Naqshband complex.
Day 8 – Transfer from Bukhara to Nurata for a Yurt stay: Drive via Gijduvan and Nurata to the desert Yurt camp near Lake Aydarkul. On the way to the Yurt stop at the ceramics workshop in Gijduvan and at the ruins of Alexander The Great’s fortress in Nurata. In the afternoon, ride on a camel or walk around the dunes. Overnight stay in the Yurt camp.
Day 9 – Yurt Camp –Lake Aydarkul –Nuratau Mountain: Drive via Lake Aydarkul to Nuratau Mountains. Arrive and settle in the homestay in Hayat village, explore the village, and get to know the daily livelihood activities of mountain dwellers.
Day 10 – Nuratau Mountains: Walking tour to the Nature Reserve, visit to the breeding enclosure of endangered wild “Severtzov’s” sheep and remains of the old village. In the evening, you may help or participate in the preparation of traditional meals.
Day 11 – Transfer from the Nuratau Mountains to Samarkand: In the afternoon a Samarkand tour includes visits to the Registan Square and the Gur Emir Mausoleum.
Day 12 – Full-day Samarkand city tour: Visits include Bibi-Khanum Mosque, Siyob Bazaar, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, Afrosiab Museum, and Ulugbek’s Observatory.
Day 13 – Transfer from Samarkand to Tashkent: Enjoy a free afternoon exploring Tashkent on your own.
Day 14 – End of the trip: After breakfast meet your driver for a transfer to Tashkent International Airport.
END OF THE TRIP
Click the “Itinerary” tab to see a detailed itinerary.
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Your hotel in Tashkent
All year round.
Check the availability for this tour on the sidebar calendar.
Tashkent, Khiva, Bukhara, Yurt camp, Nuratau Mountains and Samarkand
From 2 to 12 travellers
- 13 nights in the hotels based on twin/double room sharing, multi-share in the yurt camp, and homestay
- 13 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
- Economy class flight ticket: Tashkent to Urgench
- Entrance tickets as per itinerary
- Transport throughout the tour including airport pickups, drop offs and transfers between locations
- Local English-speaking guides
- Letter of invitation for a tourist visa (if required)
- International flights
- Camera fees charged separately by museums and attractions
- Lunches and dinners, except during yurt and homestay days (consider EUR 150 – 160 approx. per person)
- Personal travel insurance
- Additional hotel charges or extra services not mentioned as included
- Driver for airport pick-up and drop off
- English-speaking local guide
Your 14-Day Cultural Uzbekistan Tour Itinerary
Day 1 – Tashkent
Arrive at Tashkent airport in the afternoon and be transferred by our drivers to your hotel. Depending on the time of your arrival you may choose to go out for dinner or stay in and relax at your hotel.
Accommodation in Tashkent
Day 2 – Tashkent
Today, we’ll spend the whole day exploring sights and sounds on a Tashkent city tour. Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan, a Central Asian nation that has existed for more than 2,000 years. The city was completely rebuilt by the Soviet government with spacious avenues, large parks, and ever-present fountains after being flattened by the devastating earthquake of 1966. Our first stop will include visits to Independence Square, Amir Timur Square, and the History Museum of the People of Uzbekistan. Continuing on, we’ll visit the Khast Imam Complex, which contains the oldest known copy of the Koran dating from 655 AD.
From Khast Imam we’ll visit the nearby Chorsu Bazaar – the largest and oldest market in Central Asia. Wandering through this huge bustling market is a great way to see local people going about their daily lives. You will also meet many friendly local vendors who will engage with you as you pass by. The 16th century Kukaldosh madrasa – Tashkent’s most renowned Islamic learning centre and 15th century Juma Mosque are also both located at a short walking distance from Chorsu Bazaar. If time permits, we can still visit the Fine Arts Museum of Uzbekistan and the Museum of Applied Arts.
Accommodation in Tashkent
Day 3 – Tashkent – Khiva
An early flight takes us from Tashkent to Urgench (1 hour 40 min). From there we will be driven to the fabled city of Khiva (30 min) where you will check in to your hotel before venturing on a tour of the city.
Archaeological findings testify that in the territory of present-day Khiva people have been living for two millennia. According to legend, the city of Khiva came into being after people discovered the Kheivak well in the area of the Ichon-Qala (inner city) fortress. The name of Khiva is believed to be derived from the name of this ancient well. Being strategically located on the Volga branch of the Silk Road, Khiva was one of the three important trading centres of the area. In the 19th century, Khiva was the capital of Khiva Khanate, which hosted the most famous slave market on the Silk Road. At present Khiva is one of the best preserved ancient cities in the region.
We’ll start exploring the UNESCO World Heritage site Ichon-Qala. Entering through the gates of the walled Ichon-Qala fortress you will find yourself surrounded by beautiful mediaeval blue-tiled mosques, minarets, and madrasas, making you feel like you’re stepping back in time into a scene from the Arabian nights. Wander through a maze of twisted alleyways, bargain with locals on the market, and view the town from the top of Kuhna-Ark citadel. Today’s sightseeing tour includes visits to the Mohammed Amin Khan madrasa, Kalta Minor minaret, Kuhna-Ark citadel, Juma Mosque, Tosh-Hovli palace, Pahlavan Mahmud Mausoleum (Khiva’s patron saint), Mohammed Rakhim Khan madrasa and minaret of Islom-Hoja.
After a full day of extensive sightseeing, enjoy a free afternoon to roam around at your own leisure.
Accommodation in Khiva
Day 4 – Khiva
After breakfast, we embark on a full-day excursion to the ancient fortresses in neighbouring Karakalpakstan. 2000 years ago, people who lived in the fertile Amu-Darya delta built many fortresses to defend themselves against the invasions of nomadic tribes, who lived with their herds in the Kyzyl Kum desert. Most of the fortresses are located at the edge of the Sultan-Uiz Dag mountain range. From Khiva we will travel 100km passing the towns of Urgench, Beruni, and Boston to reach Toprak-Qal’a. The rectangular fortress dates back to the 2nd and 3rd century AD and was built on a 9 metre high platform. The city included a temple, a residential area, and gardens.
We’ll pass the nearby Kizil Qal’a, a small but well preserved fortress that is thought to have been an army base.
Ayaz Qal’a is one of the most spectacular fortresses of the region and consists of three fortress complexes. You’ll discover a stunning view from Ayaz Qal’a to the Kyzyl Kum desert, the small lake Ayaz, the Sultan-Uiz range, and the oasis. We’ll enjoy lunch at an Ayaz Qal’a yurt camp where you’ll savour famous traditional dishes.
On the way back to Khiva, we will pass the huge city walls of Guldursun Qal’a (12th century) and learn about the fascinating legend of this fortress.
Accommodation in Khiva
Day 5 – Khiva – Bukhara
Today, we will be following in the trails of ancient caravans for a long drive to the historical city of Bukhara (6 hours /480 km) through the Kyzyl-Kum, the largest desert in Central Asia. The Kyzyl-Kum desert is populated by nomadic people and driving through this lifeless desert you will see odd shepherd’s huts and a herd of camels. The road to Bukhara runs alongside the Amu Darya River (Oxus River) which starts far from the snow-capped Pamir Mountains. We will try to break up this long journey as much as possible with stops along the way.
Arrive in Bukhara and enjoy a free afternoon wandering through busy trading domes full of embroideries, handicrafts, jewelleries, and various spices. You can also have tea while relaxing on the tapchans (tea beds) under centuries old mulberry trees in the local chaikhana at the delightful Lyabi-Hauz pool.
Accommodation in Bukhara
Day 6 – Bukhara
We spread our sightseeing program in Bukhara over two days as the city and the surrounding area offer many spectacular sites to visit. With more than one hundred unique monuments, Bukhara is regarded as the ‘Bastion of Islam’ and the holiest city in Central Asia.
On the first day, we enjoy a full day of sightseeing in the city, and on the second day, a half-day sightseeing tour leaving the afternoon free to spend at your own leisure.
Our first, full-day Bukhara tour starts with visits to Lyabi Hauz, 9th century mosque Maghoki-Attar, and Nadir Divan Begi madrasa. Passing mediaeval trading domes we’ll visit the Abdul Aziz Khan and Ulugbek madrasas and continue to the Kalon Ensemble consisting of Kalon Minaret and Kalon Mosque. The 47 metres tall Kalon Minaret was built by Bukhara’s ruler Arslan Khan in 1127. The minaret is also called “Tower of Death”, because prisoners were once flung to their death from the top of it on market days.
Opposite the Kalon Mosque, there is 16th century Mir-i-Arab madrasa, which is still in operation. We’ll continue further west from the Kalon Ensemble and visit the royal Ark fortress dating back to 5th century AD. This fortress was the ancient centre of Bukhara and the scene of many gruesome events. Inside the Ark, we’ll see the Juma Mosque, Reception & Coronation Court, Zindon (‘Bug Pit’ prison), and the emir’s official place of worship, Bolo-Hauz Mosque. After leaving the Ark fortress we’ll head through Registan Square towards Samani Park to visit the 10th century Ismail Samani and Chashma Ayub mausoleums. After our tour, you’ll have the evening to spend at your own leisure to explore the nightlife in Bukhara.
Accommodation in Bukhara
Day 7 – Bukhara
Today, our half-day Bukara tour will start with a visit to Sitorai Mohi Hosa – the summer palace of the last emir. Emir Alim Khan involved both Russian and local masters to build this summer residence so you will see the unique combination of Russian and local design, including opulently decorated palace halls with paintings and carpets. After visiting Sitorai Mohi Hosa, we’ll continue to the village of Qasri Orifon to explore the Bakhautdin Naqshband complex, with an en route stop at the Chor-Bakr necropolis. Bakhautdin Naqshband (1318–89) is the founder of one of the most influential Sufi orders in Central Asia. Within this striking complex, we will see a couple of mosques, a minaret, and the mausoleum of Bakhautdin Naqshband. This is one of Uzbekistan’s famous places of pilgrimage.
After today’s half-day Bukhara tour, you’ll return to your hotel to have the rest of the afternoon free to explore the city at your leisure. You’ll have plenty of time to visit artisan shops and wander the narrow twisting streets and alleyways. You might also enjoy going to see a local puppet show held in an old caravanserai or indulge in a mediaeval Hammam (steam bath).
Accommodation in Bukhara
Day 8 – Bukhara- Nurata -Yurt Camp
Today we leave Bukhara and drive to the east towards the city of Nurata. On the way to Nurata, we’ll stop in the small town of Gijduvan situated 46 km northeast of Bukhara. With its location along the caravan roads, Gijduvan has been an important trading and crafts centre over the centuries. The town is especially famous for its high quality traditional ceramics and is home to the workshop of the known Narzullayev’s family. The owner of the workshop will proudly explain the process of their ceramics production and will guide us through a ceramics museum. The workshop has a large array of traditional souvenirs on offer that can be purchased first hand. After our short stop in Gijduvan we continue on to Nurata city (160km).
There are many legends related to the origin of the city and its name, and many believe it is derived from the fortress “Nur”, which was founded in the 3rd century by Alexander the Great. However, according to archaeological excavations, the cultural layer in this area reaches the age of 40 thousand years. It is said that the main reason this place was chosen as a settlement was holy ‘Chashma’ (spring).
Upon arrival in Nurata, we will have lunch in a traditional house before starting a sightseeing tour. We’ll visit the 9th century mausoleum, mosque, and the remains of Alexander the Great’s fortress. We will then leave Nurata and continue on to the Yurt camp (65 km / 1 hour).
Today we will stay overnight in Yurts (traditional nomadic felt tents) in the desert Yurt camp. The yurts in the camp are typical of those used in ancient times by the nomadic people of Central Asia. The camp has washing and toilet facilities separate to the yurts. In the late afternoon, once you have settled into your yurt you’ll have the opportunity to ride a camel or just walk around the dunes where you might be lucky to spot steppe tortoises, hares, and desert agamas depending on the season. You can also take a short walk from the yurt camp to explore the nearby Kazakh village of Dungalak, which is surrounded by dunes, or simply have a rest on the benches in the camp while admiring the stunning desert sunset.
Accommodation and dinner in the Yurt camp
Day 9 – Yurt Camp – Lake Aydarkul – Nuratau Mountains
Today’s expedition will take us via Lake Aydarkul to an authentic village in the Nuratau Mountains. The Nuratau Mountain range is located north of Samarkand and south of Lake Aydarkul stretching across approximately 180 km. Hayotboshi, the highest peak of the mountain range, is 2169 metres above sea level. The Nuratau Mountains are the last refuge of the highly endangered Severtzov’s wild sheep (Ovis Ammon Severtzovi). In the mid 1970s the Nuratau Nature Reserve was created in order to protect this endangered wild sheep.
During your stay in the Nuratau Mountains, you’ll be surprised not only by the stunning mountain landscape, but also by the overwhelming hospitality of the local mountain farmers. We will stay in a rustic mountain homestay and get to know the daily routines and activities of the mountain dwellers.
Upon arrival at the homestay in Hayat village, you’ll be welcomed by the host who will show you the facilities. You will be sleeping in traditional rooms on the floor on thick kurpacha mattresses (4 people in one room, usually divided by gender). The homestay has an ablution block consisting of a flush toilet and a shower separate to the house. Like all other houses in the village, the homestay also has a large shady garden with a river passing through where you can relax on a tapchan (comfortable tea beds) under a walnut tree. After having lunch with the family, wander through the village to see the local mosque, school, and the village shop. This will also be a fantastic opportunity to meet friendly local people and observe the villagers in their day-to-day activities.
In the afternoon for dinner, you can observe or help your homestay family prepare the traditional dish ‘Plov’ from home-grown vegetables and mountain spices.
Accommodation and dinner at the homestay
Day 10 – Nuratau Mountains
After breakfast, take a guided walking tour to the Nuratau Nature Reserve and visit the breeding enclosure of endangered wild Severtzov’s sheep. About 95% of the world’s population of wild sheep live in the Nuratau Mountains. In the 1950s many local people from Hayat and other mountain villages were forcibly resettled by the Soviet government to cultivate cotton fields. Walking up through the valley you will see the ruins of many abandoned houses. On the way back to the homestay we will visit the local self-help elementary school. After lunch, you can spend your time relaxing in the homestay.
Accommodation and dinner at the homestay
Day 11- Nuratau Mountains – Samarkand
Early risers can either watch the sunrise from the top of the hill behind the house or watch the host family doing their morning chores which include baking bread in a tandir oven, milking the cows and cooking on a traditional stove. After breakfast, we leave the Nuratau Mountains and drive to the magnificent city of Samarkand.
One of the oldest inhabited cities in the world, Samarkand is truly a jewel of the ancient and modern Silk Road. From its foundation in the 5th century BC, Samarkand was the centre of artisans and traders playing an important role on the trade crossroads between China, Persia, and India. The city was taken by Alexander the Great (in 329 BC) and ruined by Genghis Khan before it started to blossom as the capital of Amir Timur’s (Tamerlane) empire in the 14th century.
After checking in at your hotel, our sightseeing tour will begin in the afternoon by visiting the Registan ensemble containing Ulugbek, Sher Dor, Tilla-Kari madrasas, and the Registan Square. Being among the world’s oldest surviving madrasas, these three edifices were mediaeval academies from where region-renowned scientists graduated. Wander through blue tiled and majolica decorated madrasas of mighty Registan, considered one of Central Asia’s most captivating monuments. From there we’ll continue on to the famous Guri Amir Mausoleum. The mausoleum was originally built by Timur for his grandson and later became the resting place for himself, his sons and grandsons, as well as Timur’s teachers.
After today’s tour, the evening is free for you to wander around and explore the nightlife of majestic Samarkand. You might also like to sample traditional meals in the local chaikhana.
Accommodation in Samarkand
Day 12 – Samarkand
After an early breakfast, we continue our Samarkand tour which includes visits to the historical Bibi-Khanym Mosque, Siyob Bazaar, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, the Afrosiab Museum, and Ulugbek’s Observatory. Starting at the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, legend says that it was Bibi-Khanym, Timur’s beloved wife who gave the order to build this grand mosque with its huge cupola to surprise Timur, who at the time was away at war. The mosque was the biggest in the empire and originally aimed to accommodate over 10,000 people, but as a result of earthquakes it partly collapsed and later was reconstructed. The Bibi-Kahanym mosque overlooks the busy Siyob Bazaar, where you can test your bargaining skills with friendly local merchants and sample some fresh produce on offer. The bazaar serves as a fantastic photography opportunity to capture the bustling stalls and meet the hospitable local people.
On the opposite side of Siyob Bazaar, you will see Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, a row of beautiful mausoleums lavishly decorated with blue tiles and majolica, the place is also known as ‘Town of the Dead’. The most important site in Shah-i-Zinda is the shrine of Qusam ibn-Abbas, the cousin of Prophet Mohammed who was first to preach Islam in this area.
After leaving Shah-i-Zinda we’ll continue to Ulugbek’s observatory with an enroute stop at the Afrosiab Museum. Timur’s grandson Ulugbek was more famous for being an astronomer than a ruler. This great mediaeval astronomer built an extraordinary observatory that enabled him to calculate the length of the year to within 1 minute of what we now know it to be. Our half-day city tour of Samarkand comes to an end after exploring the observatory.
In the afternoon you’ll have the opportunity to spend some more time exploring Samarkand, to visit souvenir and handicraft stalls located in Registan, or simply wander around and take in the sights and sounds of local life.
Accommodation in Samarkand
Day 13 – Samarkand – Tashkent
Your Uzbekistan trip is almost over. After breakfast, we leave Samarkand and drive five hours to Tashkent. Upon arrival in Tashkent you can enjoy a free afternoon at your leisure.
Accommodation in Tashkent
Day 14 – Samarkand – Tashkent
After breakfast meet your driver to be transferred to Tashkent International Airport.
End of the trip
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