samarkand bukhara mosques

Samarkand and Bukhara have a stunning architectural legacy

Exquisite mosaics and blue-tiled domes are characteristic of Central Asian mosques.

Photo by Galyna Andrushko / 123RF

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Central Asia Explorer

A Cultural Odyssey Along the Golden Road to Samarkand and Beyond
Repertory Trip: Next Offered August 24-September 15, 2015

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 23 days
Arrive: Almaty, Kazakhstan
Depart: Ashkabat, Turkmenistan
Lodging: 23 nights in best-available hotels and guest houses
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Cultural exploration and walking tours, rugged road travel
3

Highlights

  • Issyk-Kul Lake in the Tien Shan Mountains of Kyrgyzstan
  • Ancient Samarkand, capital of Tamerlane, with its magnificent blue mosques
  • Silk Road cities of Bukhara and Khiva, now World Heritage Sites

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.

References

We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  It will be several years before this journey is offered again. Now is the time to go!

Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan—sometimes known as the four ’Stans—present a rich historical and ethnic canvas, dazzling scenery, and a multitude of architectural wonders, from the blue-domed Silk Road oasis of Samarkand, where Tamerlane once held sway, to Issyk-Kul, a vast alpine lake surrounded by the forested peaks of the Tien Shan. With veteran Central Asia Trip Leader Roger Williams, we enjoy a full exploration of these four countries, roaming ancient bazaars that take us back to the times of the Arabian Nights, meeting local families and traditional artisans, and exploring two World Heritage Sites: magnificent Bukhara, a 2,000-year-old Silk Road city-state, and Khiva, a walled town isolated in a vast desert. Join us for the ultimate Silk Road adventure!

Itinerary at a Glance

Days 1-8
Almaty, Kazakhstan / Bishkek, Kyrgystan / Karakol / Issy-Kul Lake

After exploring Almaty, we head to Bishkek, capital of Kyrgyzstan, and onward to remote Karakol, a town on the shores of Issyk-Kul Lake, one of the largest alpine lakes in the world. We visit the colorful market, a summer encampment of Kyrgyz nomads, and  fascinating lakeside petroglyphs. We head back to Bishkek via the striking 11th century Burana tower, a Silk Road monument.

Days 9-14
Tashkent, Uzbekistan / Samarkand

We fly to the Uzbek capital, Tashkent,  Central Asia’s biggest hub, and tour its Old Town, then drive to ancient Samarkand, with its breathtaking main square, the Registan, a panorama of handsome blue-tiled mosques. We also visit the Shahr-i-Zindah, one of Tamerlane’s first creations,  the famed market at the village of Urgut, and enjoy lunch at the home of a local Uzbek family. A day’s excursion brings us out to Shakre Sabz, birthplace of Tamerlane.

Days 15-19
Bukhara / Khiva

We head to historic Bukhara, with two full days to relish this fascinating city, whose beautifully restored medieval quarter is now a World Heritage Site. We visit the covered bazaars and mulberry-shaded plazas where old men play chess and enjoy roaming Bukhara’s marvelous markets. We visit the sand dunes of the Kyzyl-Kum Desert en route to Khiva, then enjoy a full-day walking tour of this atmospheric walled city.

Days 20-24
Tashauz, Turkmenistan / Urgench / Ashgabat

Crossing the Turkmenistan border, we arrive at the town of Tashauz for an excursion to Urgench, with its pre- and post-Mongol monuments, then fly to Ashgabat, the Turkmen capital, an ancient city surrounded by the Kara-Kum (“black sands”) desert. Flying to southeastern Turkmenistan, we visit the vast ruins of ancient Merv, once one of the most important cities along the Silk Road and now a stunning World Heritage Site. After an excursion by 4WD vehicle to the nomadic village of Bogurdak, deep in the desert, we depart from Ashgabat on Day 24.

What the Trip is Like

The trip is rated Level 3, moderate. While this trip is not expected to be physically strenuous, the rustic accommodations, long travel days, and transportation conditions may be quite demanding. Accommodations are in good city hotels and in comfortable rustic lodges. Overland travel is in minivans and small buses, depending upon the size of the group. Road conditions can be very basic, and trip members should be prepared for long drives. Our expedition travels to areas that have experienced very little tourism. We believe that the most important requirements are a spirit of adventure and the understanding that you are visiting a remote and fascinating region. This is not a hiking trip, but we do hope to have opportunities for walks of two hours or more during the journey.

Explanation of Trip Levels

 

Departures & Leaders

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered only every two to five years. This journey will not be offered again for several years. Now is the Time to Go!

2015
Aug 24-Sep 15, 2015  Roger Williams

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2015
$0 (13-16 members)
$0 (10-12 members)
$0 (5-9 members)
Single supplement: $
Internal airfare: $ (subject to change)
more on pricing

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Arrival and departure transfers for those arriving on the recommended group flight or on the scheduled arrival and departure dates
  • Accommodations
  • All meals included
  • Walking and driving tours per itinerary
  • Professional English-speaking local guides in all cities
  • Entrance fees to all sites listed in itinerary

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

Internal airfare, international airfare, airport departure taxes, individual arrival or departure transfers, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, optional tipping or gratuities to the leader, hotels en route to and home from the trip, any additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to international airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations, visa fees, travel insurance, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Trip Payment Schedule*

At time of reservation: $500
150 days prior to departure: 50%
90 days prior to departure: Balance

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule*

Minimum fee: $250 per person
46-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

*Please note that this differs from our regular catalog departures.

Roger Williams

Roger Williams has led Wilderness Travel trips for over 25 years. He is a Tibetologist who lived in Nepal for eight years, studying Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist iconographics, Himalayan languages, and woodblock art. He lived in Kyoto for two years studying Japanese woodblock art, Japanese language, and Shingon Shu, an esoteric sect of Japanese Buddhism. Roger has led many trips for us through India, Nepal, Bhutan, Sikkim, along the Silk Road, in Southeast Asia, to Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Central Asia, Iran, Mongolia, and into remote corners of the Russian Far East. Since 2002, Roger has been working as a technical advisor with USAID consulting in tourism development projects in Mongolia, Armenia and Croatia. In July, 2014 he returned from The Great Game journey, a special WT Expedition that included visits to the Wakhan Valley as well as Mazar i-Sharif and Balk (formally Bactria) in northern Afghanistan. When not leading trips, Roger is the director of Snow Lion Graphics/SLG Books in Berkeley, California, a publishing house specializing in books and calendars relating to Asian cultures.

Upcoming Trips:

Trans-Caucasus Adventure, September 6-30, 2014
Land of the Golden Fleece, September 30-October 9, 2014
Journey to the Heart of China, April 5-30, 2015
Adventures in Shangri-La, June 3-24, 2015
Journey to the Roof of the World, June 24-July 4, 2015
Central Asia Explorer, August 24-September 15, 2015
Iran: The Land of Cyrus the Great, September 15-28, 2015
China's Wild Southwest, October 13-November 4, 2015

Client Testimonials:


Tibet is a place like no other on the planet! Roger’s language skills and knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism opened many doors. Connie D., Alamo CA
Heart of Tibet
Exceedingly knowledgeable, very caring. Priscilla and Franklin O., Malvern PA
Mystical Bhutan
Roger knows how to run a trip. He’s very organized and clearly communicates the daily plan. Also, he's a lot of fun and I was impressed with his expertise on Buddhist iconography. Fran M., Mill Valley, CA
Hidden Himalayas
Roger is remarkable. This trip showed him at his best. We could never have traveled across the roof of the world without his preparation and energy. Thanks for a grand experience! Ruth and Frank H., Edmonds WA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger takes good care of his travelers and we learned a lot about the people, their culture, and history. His love for this part of the world is infectious. Ruth G., Del Mar CA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger is great! Hard working, knowledgeable, personable. He really makes a difference. Bill R., Walnut Creek, CA
Passage to India
I can understand why Roger has such a big following. He worked all the time to make the trip the best it could be. Marsha S., New York, NY
The Great Game
Roger is clearly a well-seasoned professional. He is passionate about India and it shows everyday, whether it is interacting with the locals or talking about the iconographics and sites. Grace L., Boston, MA
Passage to India
Exceptional dedication, passion, and professionalism. Roger has the right personality and attitude for this. Jonathan T., Boston, MA
Passage to India
Roger is a wealth of knowledge and very well traveled. He takes his duties as trip leader extremely seriously and goes out of his way to please each client. Terri H., Berkeley, CA
Armenia and Beyond
Roger provided a unique and enjoyable travel experience. His knowledge and familiarity with the sites visited and enthusiasm for these countries and peoples made this a great travel experience. Judy A., Davis, CA
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon
Roger's extensive travel experience and knowledge of Asian culture and Buddhism greatly enhanced the trip. And all the planning he did before and during the trip ensured an excellent itinerary and made everything run smoothly. Nancy R., Walnut Creek, CA
Tribal China
There should be a rating higher than excellent for Roger. His knowledge, energy planning, and attentiveness are superlative. Debra B., Jackson, WY
Central Asia Explorer
Roger is the best tour leader with lots of experiece and profound knowledge of the subject area. Kudos to him and WT. Tan Kiet T., Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tribal China
Roger has tremendous skills as a trip leader. He has a real gift with people and his relationship with local guides enriches the areas we visit. Joan L., Baltimore, MD
Journey to the Heart of China
Roger is simply a brilliant organizer and always finds the very best services available. He also brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to anything Asian. Elizabeth M., Providence, RI
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon