Central Asia

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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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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