Gur-e-Amir, Samarkand

A Week in Uzbekistan

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Traveller ratings
4.7 / 5 from 3 reviews >
Leisurely
Learn more
Trip code: 
AXH
Way to Travel:
Guided Group Adventure Holidays
Activity:
Cultural Wonders
Min age:
16
Group size:
4–16

1 week journey through the history of Central Uzbekistan

Going on a week-long break to Uzbekistan is akin to stepping into the pages of a history book: from the 2000-year old streets of Bukhara to Tashkent’s lingering Soviet charm via Samarkand's blue-tiled Islamic buildings and a night spent in a traditional Yurt as used by nomads throughout Central Asia. This is a journey filled with sights and sounds that will carry you out of your routine and into the footsteps of Alexander the Great, Genghis Kahn and Marco Polo, through a country whose location on the Silk Road has resulted in a culture with flavours from Europe, the Middle Eastern, China, Russia and India.

Highlights

  • Explore the Silk Road's most spectacular monuments in just one week
  • Delve into Bukhara's old quarter
  • Samarkand Registan Square and blue-tiled Islamic architecture
  • Discover Tashkent's lingering Soviet charm
  • Spend a night in a traditional Yurt

Key information

  • Travel by private bus or minibus and train
  • Group normally 4 to 16, plus local leader. Min age 16 yrs
  • 4 nights standard hotels and 1 night yurt with shared facilities
  • 5 breakfasts, 1 lunches and 1 dinner included

What's included

  • All accommodation (see below)
  • All transport and listed activities
  • Flights from London (if booking incl. flights)
  • Arrival & departure transfers

What's not included

  • Travel Insurance
  • Single accommodation (available on request)
  • Visas or vaccinations
Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Responsible Travel

At Exodus we believe in the power of Responsible Travel.

Every time we travel, we are part of a global movement that creates jobs, builds more sustainable societies, encourages cultural understanding and safeguards common natural and cultural heritage. To learn more about what Responsible Travel means to Exodus click here… 

Itinerary

  • Day 1

    Arrive Tashkent, afternoon city tour.

    The group flights arrive early. Land only passengers can arrive any time this morning.

    This afternoon we head out on a sightseeing tour of Tashkent, including visits to Independence Square, flanked by public buildings and fountains, and the old town with its mausoleums and bazaar. Much of the city was destroyed by earthquakes in the 1960s and was rebuilt in true Soviet style with pleasant leafy boulevards and numerous fountains to keep the heat down in summer. In contrast to some of the country’s better known Silk Road cities, architecture in Tashkent is influenced by the brutalist movement and Ladas are still very common adding to the city’s ‘back in the USSR’ feel.
    Arien Plaza or similar

  • Day 2

    To Samarkand, visit some of the city's Silk Road sites.

    We catch the early fast train to Samarkand arriving midmorning and spend the rest of today and part of tomorrow exploring the Silk Road city.

    Samarkand is steeped in history, dating back 2,500 years and impacted by such figures as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, who made it the capital of his empire in the 14th Century. Its central position on the Silk Road meant that it was an important stop on the route from Istanbul to Peking (now Beijing). At its heart is the grand Registan Square flanked by the three grand madrasahs of Ulughbeg (15th C), Sherdor (17th C) and Tilya Qori (17th C).

    We visit the grand square as well as the Gur Emir Mausoleum, burial place of Tamerlane, his sons and his grandson, Ulughbek. The Ulugbek Observatory built in 1420 by Tamerlane's grandson who was not just a ruler but also a well-known astronomer. We move on to the oversized Bibi Khanum Mosque and Shakhi Zinda - the 'Living King' necropolis - with its series of mausoleums dating back to the 14th and 15th centuries. Our final visit is to the exotic Siab Bazaar with its fresh and dried fruit and nuts and other local food produce. The leader may shift the order the sites are visited.
    Dilshoda Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 3

    Visit more of Samarkand before heading out for a traditional night in a Yurt camp.

    After exploring Samarkand further, we head into the countryside and experience what life would have been like during the days of the Silk Road and what it’s still like for numerous nomads across Central Asia. We spend tonight in a Kazakh yurt camp. Yurts are round, felt tents (known as gers in Mongolia) which are spacious and comfortable inside.
    Yurt camp

    Meals included: Breakfast Dinner
  • Day 4

    Optional camel ride; on to Bukhara.

    Today we go for a walk and have the opportunity to ride camels on the way to Aidarkul Lake. The lake stretches through the desert towards the Nuratin Mountains and, once by the lake, we have time to explore the shoreline and go for a swim.

    Later, we drive on to 2,000-year old city of Bukhara.
    Aist Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast Lunch
  • Day 5

    Explore Bukhara's old time, evocative of the great Silk Road days.

    We have two days sightseeing in Bukhara, the next of our great Central Asian cities. Bukhara boasts over 900 historical monuments, here we will spend time visiting many sites and wandering at leisure amongst the old city streets. Unlike Samarkand the district of the old town has remained separate from the rest of Bukhara and has undergone lots of restoration and preservation in recent years. In addition to its importance as a trading centre, it is the perfect setting to just sit and watch the world go by much as it has been for hundreds of years. Of particular interest is the Fortress Ark where, in the 19th century, the Emir of Bukhara had the English officers Stoddart and Connolly imprisoned and killed and the mausoleum of Ismail Samani, a beautiful example of early Islamic architecture dating back to the 10th century. We will also visit the Emir's rather kitsch Summer Palace, the old town with its domed bazaars and khauz (stone pools which used to be the city's only water supply), and the attractive 12th century Char Minar. One of the great landmarks of Bukhara is the Kalyan minaret, known as the death tower, where many an unfaithful wife has met a sticky end.

    Aist Hotel or similar

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 6

    Spend another day visiting the city's sites before boarding an overnight train to Tashkent.

    We spend a 2nd day exploring the great Silk Road city of Bukhara.
    This evening we head to the train station to board the overnight sleeper train back to Tashkent. Train travel has long been a common mode of transport in the ex-Soviet Union and Central Asia and a great experience. The 1st class carriage, which we use, is divided into 2-berth cabins.
    Aist Hotel or similar and overnight train

    Meals included: Breakfast
  • Day 7

    Trip ends in Tashkent

    Our train arrives in Tashkent early this morning. We will transfer to the hotel where we have access to day-use rooms. There is free time to relax or explore a bit more of Tashkent before those on the group flights will be transferred to the airport in the afternoon arriving back in London this evening. Land only passengers are free to leave the trip any time today or make use of the day-use rooms.

Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Essential Info

Visas

Uzbekistan

All nationalities require a full passport that must be valid for 6 months beyond the intended length of stay. It is your responsibility to have the correct personal documents and to obtain your own visa, if one is necessary, in accordance with the regulations of the country you are to visit. The information below is primarily for UK passport holders, and other nationalities should check with their travel agent or the relevant embassies. We are not responsible for the actions of local immigration and customs officials, whether at points of entry or otherwise, and any subsequent effects.

All passengers require a visa for Uzbekistan. Clients from the UK, Austria, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, Spain and Switzerland no longer need an authorisation letter first to obtain a visa. Should you need an authorisation letter please contact Exodus at least 8 weeks before departure as we can arrange this for you through our local operator.

For more information on the Uzbekistan Visa see our Visa Information Sheet (http://www.exodus.co.uk/assets/travelink/Uzbekistan.pdf )

PLEASE NOTE: When you arrive in Uzbekistan you will be given 2 currency declaration forms. Fill both forms in, they will keep one and hand one back. Hold on to that form as you will have to show it when you leave Uzbekistan. You'll also have to fill in a new currency declaration form and must leave with less money than when you arrived. They may check. You will also be given a receipt from each hotel you stay in. Please hold on to these as well as they may be checked when you leave.

There has also been greater restrictions on bringing medicine into Uzbekistan. If you have any special medicine we recommend you check with the Uzbekistan Embassy about allowed quantities. You should also bring copies of your prescriptions and declare them upon arrival. Visa regulations can change without notice: please check the current regulations in good time to obtain a visa if one is required.

Vaccinations

Uzbekistan

There are no mandatory vaccination requirements. Recommended vaccinations are: Polio, Tetanus, Diphtheria, Hepatitis A. The risk of malaria is slight but you may wish to consult your GP or travel health clinic for further advice.

Eating and Drinking

5 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 1 dinner

Common dishes in the region include shish-kebabs and plov which you’ll probably see plenty of. The kebabs can be from different meats including lamb and beef whilst plov is a rice-based dish (variants elsewhere are known as pilaf or pilau rice). Another main food is bread, which is baked and sold everywhere. Tea is also plentiful, both black and green and is drunk with most meals as well as throughout the day. Please note that vegetarian food choices may be rather limited. If you are strictly vegetarian or have any specialist dietary requirements please notify us well in advance. In Uzbekistan the availability of certain specialised products for restricted diets, (e.g. gluten-free or dairy-free) is minimal or non-existent and we strongly recommend you bring these specialised dietary items from home.

Weather

These areas of Central Asia have long, extremely hot summers, but the winters are very cold. The July and August departures may be rather hot with afternoon temperatures often reaching 35ºC. Other trips are planned for spring and autumn when the temperature should not be below 5ºC at night and may be up to 25-30ºC during the day. Sunny weather with clear blue skies should be experienced but there can be some rain at this time of year. Occasionally periods of unexpectedly hot or cold weather can be experienced.

Samarkand

Samarkand

Is this trip for you?

This trip takes in the highlights of the famed Silk Road in Central Uzbekistan within a week. It is a leisurely trip with transport being a mix of trains and private buses on reasonable roads. Travel time is reduced by using the fast train from Tashkent to Samarkand, and none of the drives are very long. Accommodation in Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara is in simple but clean hotels with en suite bathrooms. The Yurt camps can involve sharing the yurt with others and the bathroom facilities are shared (see accommodation section for more details). There is also one night on an overnight train in 2-person compartments. The camel ride at Aidarkul Lake is optional and usually people walk alongside the camels after an initial 20-30min ride. Temperatures in the summer can get quite high often reaching 35’c in July and August. We normally use direct flights from London to Tashkent. This is a great trip for anyone who wants to explore one of the most fascinating and underrated countries in just one week, stepping back in time and getting a taste of the exotic.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Accommodation

Hotels, Yurt & Overnight Train

4 nights standard hotels, all en suite, 1 night basic yurt (tent), basic shared washing facilities and 1 night on an overnight train.

We will spend 1 night at traditional Yurt camps. The camp consist of 5- 6 Yurts, there are basic washing facilities with simple basins (hot water can be heated on request) there are now showers at the yurts, toilet tent/basic outhouse and a dining yurt. Depending on group size and availability at the camp, you could be sharing with up to 8 people (however it is more likely to be 2-4 people). According to local custom, the yurts may be divided by gender when higher occupation is necessary. Please note that the camps do have generator electricity, but because of the remoteness it may be inconsistent. We strongly recommend that you fully charge your camera batteries and other electrical items before staying at the yurt camp, and that you carry spare batteries as well.

On the overnight train we stay in 1st class carriages (though not luxurious) made up of 2-person compartments. The hotels in Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara are standard 2- and 3-star hotels, clean and en suite.

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Experts

Contact a member of staff who has done this trip

Call us on
0208 772 3936
Trip Notes

Click on the button below for detailed Trip Notes containing all the particulars about this trip, including kit lists and practical information.

Note: these can vary by departure; you can check out the specific Trip Notes for your chosen adventure on the dates & prices page.

Expert Blog Entries

The mountains will always draw us back to this majestic country: and now, with the return of a very special trip, the

As another year flies past, it’s time for us to ask ourselves one simple question: where next?

  • Reviewed October 2017
    June Egglestone

    A great week in Uzbekistan

    I really enjoyed this holiday, and felt like a week was enough for a taste of Uzbekistan. Beautiful architecture, friendly locals, and lots of history. Islamic, with a twist of Russian. The country is really safe, and clean.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    More than one thing! Registan - at night, and early in the morning. Viewing the architecture of Tashkents metro stations. Bukhara. Swimming in the lake near the yurt camp.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Takhir was an excellet tour leader, and you will be lucky if he is your guide. Trust his advice for how to organise meals, it will make mealtimes run smoothly, and you will get to try a lovely range of the local food.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    For ladies, I would recommend the hammam in Bukhara (I'm sure the mens is just as good). Bring your own entertainment for the flight. Dont bother bringing nibbles, you wont go hungry!

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    I would definitely recommend this trip.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Caroline Richmond

    Beautiful Islamic art with warm, friendly, polite and helpful people.

    Fantastic experience of viewing outstandingly beautiful Islamic buildings and art; learning about the cultural history of the region, especially Amir Temur; set against the background of a country regaining its own identity after being under the control of Russia, and the Soviet Union. The fun of staying in a yurt, and going for a camel ride. Enjoying (or not) the local delicacies and beverages. The people have great pride in their heritage and keep everywhere clean of litter, together with being friendly, polite and welcoming.

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    All the Islamic art, especially Registan Square. The experience of the yurt. The enjoyment of the cosmopolitan city of Bukhara.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    His language skills were exceptionally good, and he had a relaxed and informative manner.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    Take tissues or toilet paper and hand gel or wipes as the toilets outside the hotels usually lack these. If females are not used to squat toilets they may find wearing a full skirt easier. Hotels generally do not provide shampoo or shower-gel. A few elastic bands for when you change your US dollars for the brick of notes in the local currency. A torch for the yurt. Also a small overnight bag for the yurt and on the overnight train. Always have enough water, and carry some re-hydration salts. Also remember although it is secular country, majority of the people are Muslim and appreciate modest clothing. Be aware you may be a novelty to locals and they may want to take your photo. Listen to instructions or information from the group leader and do not wander off, thus avoiding having to get them to have to repeat several times.

    Is there anything else you would like to add?

    This was the first trip, so there were a few minor problems, which i am sure will easily be sorted, especially over the quantity of food provided at meals. The overnight train from Bukhara to Tashkent was hot, so ensure you have plenty of water.
  • Reviewed September 2016
    Simon Clifford

    A fascinating taster of a country rarely visited by tourists.

    Uzbekistan is a fascinating country full of surprises and although longer trips are available, I felt we packed enough in to a week to get a real taste of what the country is like. Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara are all very different, but all equally interesting in their own ways.  The stay at the yurt camp is really fun and offers some much needed down time in what is a very busy week. 

    What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?

    After stopping for a much needed coffee in Samarkand, we strolled back to the hotel and stumbled upon The Registan – a square surrounded by three huge madrasahs, which we weren't planning on going to until the next morning. Seeing it almost empty bathed in the evening light was amazing!The morning camel ride to the lake from the yurt camp was also really good fun.

    What did you think of your group leader?

    Our leader wasn't as social as other Exouds leaders have been on past trips, but he was very attentive and always made sure people were in the right place and the right time. When we were delayed getting to the train station he hurried us through in a cool, calm manner as not to panic us, but I know he must have been stressed!His historical knowlege of all sites we visited was incredible.

    Do you have any advice for potential travellers?

    A short walk from the hotel, in Tashkent is a lovely Czech Restaurant - Ceska Dudek. It’s perfect for the first night and has a lovely menu of meats and salad.If you're a caffeine addict be prepared for lots of Nescafe, the Uzbeks really are only tea drinkers!Take moisturiser, Uzbekistan is very dry!  

Dates & Prices

An overview of flight options

Exodus is committed to making joining our tours as easy as possible, wherever you live. We generally only block book seats from London, but this certainly does not mean that you need to fly from there. Depending on the route and airlines available, there will usually be various options available for those who want to fly from their local airport.

This page aims to provide a useful overview of the options available to our clients. However, the best flight arrangements should be tailored to your personal requirements, so please contact our Sales team for expert advice.

 

What kind of options do I have ?

1. We can book for you: Flights from anywhere in the world - not via London  

Depending on the route, this may be direct or via an overseas hub like Amsterdam, the Middle East or elsewhere. On short haul routes there may be direct flights with low cost airlines, charter flights or scheduled airlines. Exodus can book most, but not all, of these for you. The most appropriate airline may be different to that which we use for the group flight from London, but many people now travel on different airlines and meet up with their fellow passengers at the destination.

Pros Cons
  • May be the most direct route
  • Often the extra fare compared to the London flight is minimal.
  • As you will be in the hands a single airline for your entire journey, the airline will be responsible for your bags and your connections.
  • You may not be able to join the group transfers. However, we can usually arrange private transfers, or book your flights to try and coincide with the group transfers. See notes on transfer arrangements below.

 

2. We can book for you: Connecting flights from your local airport to London

Exodus can book connecting flights to London so you can join the group flight there. Connecting times will be followed according to airline advice, or as requested by clients. There are two types of fares we can use for this option: a 'through-fare' or a 'published fare'.
 
a) A 'through-fare' is where you will be in the main airline's care throughout. You change planes, but your bags are checked all the way through to your final destination. 

b) A 'published fare' ticket is completely seperate from your onward ticket from London. It is usually cheaper than a through-fare but will need to be paid for and issued as soon as it is booked. This can be a problem if your tour has not yet reached minimum numbers. On 'published fares' neither airline is aware that you have connecting flights, so Exodus is responsible for timing your connection, not the airlines involved. The tickets are also usually non changeable and non refundable.

Pros Cons
  • Depending on the fare type, Exodus or the airline is responsible for flight connections.
  • Through fare tickets can be expensive.
  • On a published fare, tickets must be issued immediately; tickets on published fares can be very difficult to change if onward flight times change; bags are not checked though to your final destination.
  • Published fares are non-refundable.

 

3. Booking some or all of the flights yourself

You can also book connecting air travel yourself, either to London, or all the way to the start point. There may be certain airlines or routes we don't have access to, so this is always an option. However, if you make your own travel arrangements you become liable for any delays, cancellations or missed connections, and Exodus is not required to offer refunds if you have trouble reaching the start of your trip.

Pros Cons
  • You might find cheaper fares, or routes not available to Exodus.
  • You are responsible for any delays or missed connections, and the cost of the tour is not protected should you miss your flight be cancelled.

 

 Notes on transfer arrangements

Sometimes it is possible to travel on a different airline to the group flight from London. Where this is the case, we need to think about ensuring you meet up with the group with minimum extra cost and hassle.

  • On certain trips, it is easy to arrive on a different flight and still meet the group at the hotel with time in hand. We can usually arrange private transfers (at extra cost) or offer advice on taking a taxi to the start hotel.
  • On other trips (especially in Europe), the transfer meets the group flight and then travels some distance to the first night's accommodation. Where this is the case, our Sales team will try to arrange flights that arrive before (and depart after) the group. However, we do have to make it clear in your final documentation that if your flights are delayed, the transfer cannot wait for you. While Exodus or our local operators will do what we can to help you reach the start point of the tour, any additional costs must be paid by the client. 

 

Next steps? 

Call our Sales team on: 0203 733 0698

Email your query: [email protected]

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Call us on 0208 772 3936