Central Asia

The Hidden Riches Of Central Asia

Published in Central Asia

This trip is part of our Condé Nast Traveler Collection

Central Asia is fast becoming the must-see region on travel itineraries. The nations of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are the ultimate destinations for those seeking the trip of a lifetime on the road less traveled. Tourism is just finding its feet here, and visitors to Central Asia find a world that stands between times. Closed to the west for decades under Soviet rule, the cities are rushing to catch up with the modern world with monumental parks and glass-fronted businesses, galleries and museums, yet most of the land remains as it has for centuries. It is a world of contrast with changing urban skylines and pristine landscapes, Silk Road culture and cuisine, thousands of years of history, and some of the last unexplored territories, filled with adventure and opportunity and a tradition of hospitality unmatched anywhere in the world. This is our backyard and our knowledge and experience mean we offer expert, unforgettable, bespoke tours to Central Asia.

The experience is everything you imagine of the Silk Road... soaring minarets and azure skies, opulent silk and silver, bazaars full of inviting spices and fresh tandur baked breads, and intricate designs of blue and green tilework and bold, hand-woven carpets. Museums and mosques appear around the corner from classic Soviet architecture. The the majesty of mountains and glitter of an alpine lake give way to sweeping steppes and verdant valleys dotted with nomadic yurts and traditional music at a desert campfire. Traditional bazaars are still as busy now as they were hundreds of years ago, where anything is available and everything is on display. Whether in the white-marbled city of Ashgabad, behind the sun-warmed adobe walls of Khiva, at an artisan workshop nestled in a lush valley, a nomadic Kyrgyz yurt under a sky of blazing stars, or beside a spectacular glowing desert crater, our guests are treated to superb comfort and service and truly authentic experiences. 

Hungry? Travelers here are tempted by the aroma of fresh bread from clay tandur ovens, and the heady scent of Silk Road spices; that unforgettable fragrance of faraway lands. Cuisine in Central Asia is local, fresh and flavorful. Traveling with us you'll enjoy fine food and wine and personalized menus. Our extensive network of contacts in this part of the world gives us access to private venues, estates, chefs and restaurants and little known sources for the best of everything. 

Travel arrangements include first-class train carriages on the high-speed railway, and luxury vehicles. Our guests stay in Silk Road Treasure Tours’ premier collection of international luxury branded hotels or local boutique hotels. International hotels include the Ritz Carlton, Hyatt, Inter-Continental, and Serena properties. Boutique hotels include the Minzifa, Sasha and Son, and Komil hotels in Bukhara; the Orient Star Hotel in Khiva; and the Bibi Khanum or Grand Samarkand Superior in Samarkand.

An exploration of the legendary "Stans" of Central Asia is the stuff of dreams. Silk Road Treasure Tours can make yours a reality.

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Uzbekistan Navruz - New Year Festival Tour With Zulya Rajabova

Published in Uzbekistan

Navruz is one of the most important holidays on the Uzbek calendar signaling the start of spring and the beginning of the New Year. It's an incredible mix of Persian Zoroastrian tradition and Uzbek culture. Join Bukhara native Zulya Rajabova to explore Uzbekistan's soaring minarets, sprawling bazaars, and majestic mosques at the height of the celebratory season, enjoying round-the-clock Navruz festivities. This is once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in an incredible land of hospitality. So grab some sumalak, don your doppi and sit down with a local Uzbek family to bring in the New Year like never before!

Here in the West, we associate New Years with winter, but ancient civilizations in Central Asia felt that the New Year actually began with the earth's renewal in Spring, when flowers start to bloom and the grape arbors are in leaf. Special feasts mark this holiday, and an infectious spirit of gratitude and affirmation spreads itself to all corners of Uzbekistan. What better time to visit the fabulous legendary cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand? Explore gems of medieval Islamic architecture, artisan workshops and fascinating traditional marketplaces. Visit with an Uzbek family to enjoy sumalak, a special grain pudding whose dark sweetness comes from long, slow cooking. Enjoy the holiday traditions and prepare to shop, sightsee, and party - Uzbek style!

The nine-day tour begins in Uzbekistan’s cosmopolitan capital city of Tashkent. Travelers will visit historic sites in the Old City and the huge Chorsu market where just about anything - from hand carved cradles and Koran holders to fine silks and wedding costumes --and much more-- can be found while inside the dome the business of food takes precedence.

The next day, fly to the walled fairytale city of Khiva, one of the prime stops on the Silk Road. Wander down its many side streets and soak up its history, its palaces, caravanserais and mosques, and end the day with a relaxed dinner on a terrace to watch the sunset spread over adobe rooftops, soaring minarets, and turquoise domes and catch the stars in the desert sky. The next stop:  Bukhara! Take the high-speed train between destinations or a leisurely sightseeing drive, stopping en route in the vast Kyzyl Kum desert, still home to nomads and yurt encampments.

In Bukhara travelers visit the heart of the old city: the 17th century Labi Haus complex. Historic buildings, and shady mulberry trees surround the pond here. A statue of the traditional humorist Khodja Nasriddin is here. He was part sage/part gadfly, and his stories are known throughout the Muslim world. A visit to the extensive domed markets is a must, to choose from a dizzying display of handicrafts including colorful ikat fabrics, ornate embroidery, ceramics, jewelry and metal work. It's in Bukhara that the festivities for Navruz will reach its peak. The city becomes a carnival for everyone, with dancing, singing, games, performances and street art... and of course, feasting.

The road to Samarkand is dotted with stops along the way at smaller towns and villages. The city itself never disappoints, even Alexander the Great was overwhelmed. Stately Registan Square continues to be the center of life here. The turquoise dome on the tomb of Emir Timur belies the splendor within, the ornate, tile-encrusted necropolis of Shah-I-Zinda once led to the city gates and the Bibi Hanum Complex was perhaps the most ambitious piece of religious architecture in Central Asia in its day. A spree of buying and bargaining or exploration of more of the sites here (don't forget to try the Samarkand plov) before you return to Tashkent via high-speed train.

Most Navruz trips are led by our own Uzbekistan native: award winning Conde Nast Travel expert Zulya Rajabova

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Treasures of the 5 Central Asia "Stans"

Published in Central Asia

Follow in the footsteps of Marco Polo!

Our award winning tour “Treasures of Central Asia 5 Stans” uncover the cultural aspects of Central Asia crafted from fables and fantasies. This small group Silk Road tour visiting Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Kyrgyzstan was designed for guests to explore Central Asia’s ancient UNESCO World Heritage Sites, discover exotic Silk Road  bazaars, and take in the spectacular scenery of mountains, deserts and lakes along the Silk Road.  The travelers will stay in centrally located comfortable hotels in the capital cities, charming boutique hotels in the ancient cities and one night stay in an nomadic yurt in Kizil kum desert.  The tours will be lead by our experienced guides, curators who have backgrounds in history and art who will share the best of our Central Asia Stan countries. The guests enjoy participating cultural festivals, and cooking classes.

The trip begins in Uzbekistan, the crossroads of civilization and the heart of Central Asia. Guests will arrive in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, to explore ancient mausoleums, mosques and the lively Chor-Su Bazaar. While in Uzbekistan, guests will visit some of the best preserved cities of the Silk Road including: Penjikent,   located not far from the border of Uzbekistan, for a day trip to one of the most ancient cities of Tajikistan; Samarkand, a city more than 2,750 years old to visit several sites including the incredible Registan Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which is now the main location for Uzbek’s international music festivals; and Bukhara, another World Heritage Site, to experience local hospitality with an Uzbek family, Silk and melon festivals and a folk-show in Medreseh Nodir Divan Begi. You may be lucky to attend uzbek wedding here as well.

From Bukhara guests will drive to Turkmenistan and through the Kara Kum desert from Mary to Merv. Once belonged to the Achaemenian Empire in the VI th century BC until the invasion by Alexander the Great, Merv is the oldest well-preserved heritage city of the Silk Road and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Guests will then head to the capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, a haven of museums and bazaars. Here guests will discover the ruins of the ancient Parthian state capital currently being restored by UNESCO, along with unique fortresses, the National Museum of History and Ethnography and Talkuchka Bazaar. Guests will enjoy a sightseeing drive to  Khiva, one of the three historical cities on the ancient trade route, to explore Uzbekistan’s open-air museum of unparalleled examples of architecture.  Continuing onto Kazakhstan guests will arrive in Almaty, the former capital which is situated at the foot of the Zaili Alatau Mountain Range. Guests will visit the remarkable gardens, parks and promenades at Alatau Park and enjoy spectacular views of the Chimbulak mountainous area. Across the famous Kazakh Steppe, guests will drive to one of the greenest cities in Central Asia, Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan. Originally a caravan rest stop from China to Europe, Bishkek is now a bustling shopper‟s delight with bazaars offering exotic foods, colorful clothes, woodcarvings, and more. The last full days will be spent enjoying the beaches of Issyk Kul (Warm Lake), one of the largest and deepest alpine lakes in the world which, although surrounded by the snowy AlaTau mountains, never freezes.  You can also enjoy the horse show and meet Eagle men of Kyrgyzstan.

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Dance Along the Silk Road

Published in Uzbekistan

“It is better to see something once, than hear about it a thousand times.”  Uzbek Proverb
Discover Uzbekistan’s Cultural Heritage with Silk Road Treasure Tour’s Dance Along the Silk Road! Led by Dr. Laurel Victoria Gray, an internationally recognized dance scholar, award-winning choreographer, performer and costume designer, this unique travel opportunity focuses on the history, art, and dance traditions of Central Asian. Guests will study dance with native artists “in context” while traveling along the ancient Silk Road to the Uzbekistan’s legendary cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. Even non-dancers can enjoy the beauty of special performances and meetings with leading Uzbek artists. Dr. Gray, honored by the Uzbek Ministry of Culture for “her great contributions to the development of Uzbek culture and art,” will share her extensive insider knowledge of Uzbekistan, its people and culture.

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Legendary Central Asia Travel

Published in Central Asia

For over 3,000 years Central Asia has been a cultural and commercial crossroads of the world, luring travelers, traders, scholars and conquerors, and now modern tourists!  Bordered by the vast Russian steppe to the north, the fairy tale beauty of the Caspian Sea to the west, soaring mountains and wilderness to the south, and forbidding deserts and snow-capped peaks to the east, the countries of Central Asia are the ultimate travel destinations for those seeking the trip of a lifetime on a road less traveled. Former Soviet Republics, independent, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are the new frontiers on travel itineraries. Create magical memories in legendary Bukhara, Tashkent, Samarkand, Merv, Ashgabat and Khiva; the fabled cities of Marco Polo, Tamerlane and Alexander the Great. The region is a mix of the ancient world and modern flair with a dash of Soviet era thrown in. The cuisine in Central Asia is local, fresh and flavorful and bread is hot out of the tandur oven at every meal!  This is home to the warmest people in the world, and we can take you there.

The journey begins in the Uzbekistan capital of Tashkent, rightly called the “Star of the Orient” for its central location along the ancient Silk Road routes. Tashkent wows travelers with its mix of Islamic, Soviet and modern architecture.  Medressahs, the ancient schools of Muslim theology, flourish alongside bustling bazaars, glass fronted business centers, modern monumental parks and the tombs of kings, scholars and mystics.

Our tour then crosses into Tajikistan, offering a peek into one of the less visited parts of the world. Most of the country is mountainous, the Pamirs and Alays home to some of the highest peaks in the world and famous for alpine lakes and enormous glaciers, while the ruins of Panjakent offer testimony to the ancient civilizations  that populated this region. 

Back across the border in Uzbekistan, Samarkand fiercely guards its reputation as “The Rome of the East”. It was a magnificent city so advanced in classical learning and architectural display that it rendered Alexander the Great speechless. From the 15th c. Bibi-Khanym mosque built by Tamerlane for his wife to the glittering blue dome of the Gur-Emir Mausoleum and the singular beauty of Registan Square, the hub of city life, Samarkand continues to impress today's visitors.

Bukhara blends the modern and traditional, with the city growing up around its historic core. Centered on the Lyabi Haus, a complex of buildings and shady mulberry trees surrounding a pond, it delights travelers with hearty plov dishes, folk dance, music and costume performances, and a rich cultural, scientific and commercial Silk Road heritage. Thousands of ancient scholars and theologians once called Bukhara home, The city’s landmark Kaylan Minaret even inspired Genghis Khan and his invading hordes to leave it standing.

Our excursion then proceeds to Turkmenistan, renown for its intricately woven, bold red carpets, where travelers can explore the mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar in the ancient province of Mary, and Ashgabat’s own Blue Mosque and stunning white marble monuments. After an exploration of the Achaemenid archaeological treasures of Konya Urgench, we return to Uzbekistan. 

The desert oasis of Khiva is a fairy-tale city of the Silk Road. Claimed to have been founded by Shem, the son of Biblical Noah, Khiva remains one of the best-preserved and restored towns of the Silk Road, enchanting visitors with its warm adobe brick walls and majolica inlaid buildings like the Khan’s Tash-Hauli Palace and Harem, and the distinctive 200 carved wooden pillars in the Juma Mosque, itself an oasis of shady calm.

Smooth border crossings are the hallmark of Silk Road Treasure Tours and we travel on to Kazakhstan, the largest country in Central Asia and home to some of the most spectacular alpine landscapes and vast, windswept steppes. In the capital city of Almaty, travelers will visit the National Museum of Folk Musical Instruments as well as the historic Zenkov Russian Orthodox Cathedral with its cheerful yellow façade, built in 1907 without nails to be earthquake proof.

Our trail will end in Bishkek, the capital city of Kyrgyzstan. Once a mere caravan stop on the Silk Road, the city is today a blend of Soviet, Asian and European influences. Its enticing mile-long Dordoy Bazaar is one of the greatest marketplaces in Central Asia. The Tien Shan mountains cover 80% of Kyrgyzstan earning it the moniker of "Switzerland of Central Asia" and they tower over Bishkek. Nomadic yurts still dot the rural landscapes and the warm alpine lake of Issyk-Kul is one of the largest and deepest of its kind in the world. Our final destination evokes a lasting impression of our cultural immersion in Central Asia’s rich heritage.

At Silk Road Treasure Tours, we are always scouting new places and interesting experiences to create extraordinary itineraries. Contact us to join this Central Asia tour or request your customized Central Asia adventure to Central Asia's Silk Road.

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Gems of Kyrgyzstan

Published in Kyrgyzstan

The grand, rugged Kyrgyz Republic is an adventurer's dream come true! Over eighty per cent mountainous, Kyrgyzstan boasts some of the highest altitudes and the second largest mountain lake in the world. Moreover, eighty different nationalities live here and you will never find a warmer welcome, be it in a yurt in the valleys or in a home in the capital, Bishkek. Countless historical and cultural monuments, including primitive cave-dwellings, rock petroglyphs, and the remains of ancient settlements and medieval fortresses, lie in wait for you to uncover their glory. Come explore the treasury of history and wealth of natural beauty that is Kyrgyzstan! Planning to go to the 2018 World Nomad Games in Issyk-kul? Let us know and we will customize your tour. 

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Treasures of Tajikistan

Published in Tajikistan

Tajikistan is a landscape of white peaks and lush, sub-tropical valleys, a land of contrasts and extremes – of citrus orchards and glaciers, soaring eagles and stalwart yaks, rushing rivers and silent stone ruins. The land retains the Persian culture of its ancestors, visible in language, dress, and architecture. Touch the "Roof of the World" as you climb the Pamir Mountains, famous for their glaciers and glittering alpine lakes. Follow the European-style streets of the capital Dushanbe, or stop in a chaikhana teahouse for tea, sweets, handicrafts, and gossip. Explore the ruins of Penjikent, once a thriving Silk Road center, now a rocky archaeological treasure. Every part of Tajikistan offers unparalleled opportunities for the outdoor enthusiast and the uncommon traveler, and a chance to sample some of the warmest hospitality in the world.

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Treasures of Kazakhstan

Published in Kazakhstan

In Kazakhstan stunning landscapes and ancient architecture conjure images of nomads and warriors, falconry and poetry, silk-robed equestrians and exotic beauty. Thrill to displays of traditional horsemanship or immerse yourself in opulent ornamentation created by skilled artisans. The city of Almaty is situated at the foot of the Zaili Alatau Mountain Range. Its gardens, parks, and remarkable promenades are perfect for daydreams and evening strolls. Turkestan features other Central Asian wonders that hearken back to the Muslim and Russian influences in the area: mosques, Russian Orthodox churches, and the architectural complex Appak-lshan.

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Uzbekistan Shopper's Paradise

Published in Uzbekistan

Shop your way through the 1001 Nights in the bazaars of Uzbekistan! Our knowledgeable guides will make sure you see it all, help you hone your bargaining techniques and bring home fabulous souvenirs from your journey into Central Asia. After all, its our part of the world and we know it best. It's all part of the fun in the ancient trade domes, bazaars, and handicraft, artisan and designer workshops here in the heart of the ancient Silk Road. Uzbekistan's master craftsmen are famous for jewelry in silver, gold and semi-precious stones, for embossed silver, brass and copper; gorgeous carved wood, colorful ceramics, luxurious silks, bold ikat fabrics, intricate gold and silk embroideries; and carpets of geometric harmony and pure color. Uzbek aromatic plov and warm fresh bread from the clay tandur oven are just part of this feast of the senses - after all, you'll need to keep your strength up for shopping! The haunting traditional music of the dombra and tambur, the bustle of the markets and the swirl and dash of vibrant colors invite you to sample the traditions of Uzbekistan. Join our unforgettable shopping tour of Uzbekistan among the soaring minarets, glittering monuments, and hospitable people. Just say bozor kilamiz - going shopping!

This tour now includes the option to visit the Ferghana Valley which was the center of the ancient Great Silk Road it has 3000 years of history has amazing cultures, warm hospitality, old craftsmanship and authentic cuisine. It attracted travelers, Silk Road merchants and diplomats including Zhang Quan; a renowned Chinese diplomat from the 2nd century BC. It also played an important role as a bridge between East and West. Read more about the Ferghana Valley in our blog.

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Family Adventure To The “Stans’ Of Central Asia

Published in Central Asia

Add your family history to the great legends of the Silk Road! Our world is changing and travel enhances our global vision and offers our children the gift of experience and knowledge. Geo-literacy and global thinking are important to the future's world citizens and Central Asia is a fabulous destination filled with history, adventure, and the warmest hospitality in the world! Tour this amazing region with your own intrepid travelers and Silk Road Treasure Tours will help you experience all the excitement of a new destination. The "stans" of Central Asia are the five nations of Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan; long hidden from the west under Soviet rule, these countries are topping the list of the newest, must-see destinations.

Whether in the modern cities, behind medieval sun-baked walls, or in a rural village in the mountains, this region is steeped in traditional, family oriented culture. Criss-crossed by the Great Silk Road routes and set amid vast stretches of desert, and steppe surrounded by some of the highest mountains in the world, the pristine landscapes of Central Asia are waiting to be discovered. Ride a camel in the Kyzyl-Kum desert of Uzbekistan, stay in a traditional yurt by a lake in Kyrgyzstan, visit with an Uzbek family and share a meal, watch craftsmen and artisans at work or Turkmen nomads haggling for livestock in the bazaars, and enjoy lively music and dance performances in ancient caravansarays. We make the fabled UNESCO World Heritage cities of the Silk Road come alive!

Places like Bukhara, Samarkand, Khiva, Khodjand, and Ashgabad offer thousands of years of history, culture, and traditions in an incredible post-Soviet mix. Our knowledgeable guides weave history and legend together, to inform and entertain. They know all the right places for family members of all ages to enjoy, and our detailed advance planning ensures that there are no unwanted surprises and that tours are paced appropriately. The food in Central Asia reflects the variety of Silk Road cultures and menus are fresh and local. We're happy to try and accommodate special requests and can arrange school visits or trips to special niche interest areas like bio-reserves. Want a more focused cultural experience? We're happy to customize family tours to any country or region. Experience the treasures of the Silk Road with us - where the world is more interesting. 

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