Day 1: Arrival in Almaty
Welcome to Almaty Kazakhstan’s vibrant city, welcomed by the cool midnight air! Upon arrival, you are transferred to your centrally located hotel where you spend the night.
Day 2: Almaty City Tour
After breakfast at your hotel, you go on a sightseeing tour of Almaty. You see the main landmarks of this green metropolitan city.
Among them are the impressive Zenkov Russian Orthodox Cathedral, one of the worlds tallest all wood buildings. At midday, you are in for a treat. You try the Kazakh cuisine during a welcoming lunch in traditional yurts.
After an enjoyable welcome lunch in a yurt restaurant, you hop aboard the Orient Silk Road Express, your private train on this legendary journey.
Day 3: Exploring Turkistan
Today you arrive at Turkistan, known as the center of Nomad Pilgrimage. After breakfast on board, you visit the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, built in 1394, with its dome hall, monumental mosque and well house. It is one of the most significant examples of Timurid architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Then you board your private train and continue the journey, crossing the Kazakh-Uzbek border towards Tashkent. Border formalities are completed in the comfort of your compartment. Overnight on the train.
Day 4: Sightseeing in Tashkent
Early in the morning, you arrive in Tashkent the capital of Uzbekistan situated at the foot of the Tien Shan Mountains. During your sightseeing tour you enjoy this green oasis and steppe, see the Madrassa Kukeldash, the Kavoj and Amir Timur monuments, and the typical Kazakh mud-brick houses.
In the evening you attend Tashkent’s famous Navoi Opera or a concert in the Tashkent Philharmonic Hall (program permitting). After the performance, you continue your train journey and spend the night on board.
Day 5: Exploring Shakhrisabz
During the night, your train passes a mountainous region where many traditions of its rich heritage are still preserved. A traditional ceremony offers you firsthand insight into the region’s unique folklore, you get to know the inhabitants of their authentic everyday life.
Your journey then continues along the Great Silk Road aboard your train to the green city of Shakhrisabz - a UNESCO-World Heritage Site. Here you see the monumental architecture of the brutal Mongol ruler’s great palace from the 14th and 15th centuries.
In the evening you enjoy a tasting of Uzbek wine on board your private train, which departs for the city of Samarkand.
Day 6: Samarkand and Its Historic Center
Today you arrive in Samarkand - the famous historic city often described as the crossroads of culture. During the rule of Timur, it was considered the world’s most beautiful and prestigious city. The territory is also historically important, it is the site where many Uzbek women burned their veils (paranjas) in 1917 to signal their arrival in a new era. In 2001 the city of Samarkand was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its many monuments and preservation of traditional crafts.
You visit such must-sees as Necropolis of Shah-e Zinde (the living Shah), the excavation sites at Afrosiab (with a museum tour), and Registan Square. After seeing these most notable architectural ensembles in Central Asia you spend the night in a 4 star Samarkand hotel.
Day 7: Samarkand and Traditional Craftsmanship
Today your journey in fascinating Samarkand continues. You go on a tour to a silk carpet manufactory, then visit an Uzbek craftsman’s family to see paper being made from mulberry bark. Then you make a stop at the Ulug Beg Observatory and the ruins of the Bibi Khanum Mosque, view the interior of the palace-like Gur Emir Mausoleum.
After the tour, you return to your Samarkand hotel where you spend the night.
Day 8: Free day in Samarkand
In the morning you are free to see the rest of Samarkand, buy souvenirs or spend the time before departure as you wish. Your train leaves for Khiva around noon, overnight on the train.
Day 9: Khiva Sightseeing
Today you visit the oasis of Khiva, a fairy tale from 1001 Nights – in stone. After breakfast, you go to the Southern border of the seven river lands, in the oasis of Khiva. On your sightseeing tour of the oasis, you have a chance to take in its exotic atmosphere.
You see one of the best-preserved ensembles of medieval oriental urban architecture in the world: Khiva's Kalta Minor Minaret, incredible palaces, mosques, mausoleums, Koranic schools, the mighty town wall with its gates and bastions of mud brick. Then you enjoy lunch in the surroundings of the former emir’s Summer Palace and spend the night on the train.
Day 10: Bukhara City Tour
Located in the middle of the Kyzylkum Desert, Bukhara has about one thousand architectural monuments recalling the golden age of the Great Silk Route. Bukhara is also often called Sherif translated as "the noble one" and preserved its ancient oriental countenance in its extensive, unparalleled collection of authentic architecture.
During your tour, you see Bukhara’s Old Town (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and its famous almost 50-meter tall Kalyan Minaret and the Labi-Hauz Ensemble by the pond. Later you have dinner served in a Madrasah courtyard, with musical accompaniment, local dances, and a presentation of colorful national costumes. You spend the night in a 4-star hotel in Bukhara.
Day 11: Exploring Bukhara
In the morning, you go on a tour to the splendid Mir-e-Arab Madrasah and the Samanid Mausoleum, one of Central Asia’s most beautiful architectural treasures. Then you explore the massive Ark Citadel, a city within a city which was once the seat of government of Bukhara’s former rulers. There you view the Throne Room, after which you visit the last emir’s Summer Residence. At the end of your stay, you see the only women’s mosque in the world.
Afterwards, you board the train to continue your journey and spend the night on the train.
Day 12: Sightseeing in Merv
In the morning your train arrives at Merv - a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Considered the pearl of the East, Merv today is the unique remnants of what was once one of the world’s largest and most magnificent cities.
You see gigantic walls and ramparts simply standing in the middle of the desert next to the imposing ruins of ancient buildings such as the Tomb of the Sultan Sanjar, the Maidens’ Castle (Kiz Kale), the historical cold-room, and other mausoleums. Then you have lunch with a local family in their home’s picturesque courtyard.
Day 12: Arrival to Ashgabat
In the evening you arrive to Ashgabat, say goodbye to the amazing Orient Silk Road Express train and check in to your hotel for overnight.
Day 13: Ashgabat City Tour
In the morning you are driven to the ancient Parthian city of Nisa and see this former imperial city's main landmarks. After lunch, you take a guided tour of the modern-day capital of Ashgabat with Hollywood-style settings of the “nouveau riche”.
In the afternoon you visit the National Museum in Ashgabat, where you view artefacts excavated from the ruins at Nisa and gain insight into the development of a culture shaped by various peoples, ethnicities, and religions.
In the evening you are treated to a special farewell dinner and are either taken to the airport in the evening or the next morning.
Day 14: Departure Day
Today is the day when you return home. We hope you've enjoyed your trip and return home with lifelong memories and unforgettable impressions. We wish you a safe flight and hope to work on your future trips.
Not included: international flights, multiple arrival/departure transfers, other meals not mentioned in the program, optional tours and services, all personal expenses.
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