A Taste of the Silk Road

From Almaty to Moscow aboard the Golden Eagle


This fascinating rail journey retraces the legendary Silk Road, an ancient network of trade routes on the Asian continent. Aboard the private luxury train Golden Eagle, you’ll venture from Almaty through the intriguing “’Stans”—Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, with their glorious outposts of Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand. The Golden Eagle combines first-class customer service with a romantic exploration of some of the world’s most remarkable sites. Unpack just once and experience a fantastic adventure!

Note: This rail journey is not exclusive to, nor operated by, Wilderness Travel, who acts solely as agent in booking your reservation with the operator. The itinerary, lecturers, and all other arrangements are subject to change at the discretion of the operator.

Itinerary at a Glance

Day 1
Almaty, Kazakhstan

Upon arrival at Almaty Airport, you are met and transferred to the InterContinental hotel, a luxury 5-star hotel located opposite the Presidential Palace in Almaty’s Republic Square for a one-night stay. The hotel features spacious rooms, free WiFi, an indoor pool, and beautiful views of the Tian Shan Mountains.

Day 2
Almaty, Kazakhstan / Board the Golden Eagle

Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan and is notable for its wide tree-lined boulevards. Surrounded by the majesty of the Tien Shan Mountains, this beautifully verdant city derives its name from “alma,” meaning “apple.” Just a short distance from the city, apple orchards thrive in abundance. Your city tour includes a visit to Panfilov Park, where you have the opportunity to visit the Zenkhov Cathedral, built entirely of wood. You’ll also go outside the city to the Chimbulak resort, where a cable car ride will give you spectacular views of Almaty and the mountains. Afterwards, board the Golden Eagle.

Day 3
Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistan and you'll spend time touring this modern Soviet-style city that was rebuilt following the devastating earthquake of 1966. Your tour of the city includes the Old Town, where traditional homes and religious buildings line the narrow streets, and here in a small library you’ll be privileged to see one of Islam’s most sacred relics—the world’s oldest Koran. This is followed by a visit to the Railway Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts.

Day 4
Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Just the mention of Samarkand instantly conjures up evocative images of the Silk Road, more so than any other town. Founded in the 6th century BC, Samarkand’s stunning architecture hints at its former status as one of the most important cities in Asia. It’s particularly noted for its architectural remains from the 14th to the 17th century, when it flourished as the fabled capital of the Mongol empire of Timur and his successors. Today you will visit some of its most significant sites including Registan Square, the refined elegance of the beautifully proportioned Bibi Khanum Mosque, and the Ulag Beg observatory, one of the earliest Islamic astronomical observatories built in 1428. Before dinner, you'll return to the now illuminated and awe-inspiring Registan Square.

Day 5
Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Bukhara is quite simply outstanding. Like Khiva, UNESCO sponsored the renovation of much of the city for its 2,500th anniversary in 1999. The highlight of this wonderful tour is a visit to The Ark, a fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara, the despotic and ruthless leaders who ruled until Soviet times. You'll then travel out of the city to experience the Emir’s enchantingly named Palace of the Moon and Stars. This evening, weather and time permitting, enjoy a barbecue on the station platform before the train departs.

Day 6
Merv, Turkmenistan

From Mary, transfer to the ancient and mainly unrestored remains of Merv. Once an important stopping point on the Silk Road, it claims to have briefly been the largest city in the world during the 12th century. In 1794, the Emir of Bukhara destroyed the dam that the population depended on for its water, and the town perished.

Day 7
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan / Darvaza

Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, is known as the “Las Vegas of the Kara Kum.” Situated between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range, Ashgabat is a relatively modern city built upon the ruins of the Silk Road city of Konjikala and the Soviet city built after the devastating earthquake of 1948. The city's extravagant fountains, golden domes and towering modern buildings appear strangely incongruous in this desert setting. Highlights of your visit include a visit to the National Museum and Kipchak Mosque.

The Golden Eagle makes a brief scheduled stop at Ichoguz, where you have the opportunity to leave the train and make a short journey to Darvaza’s famous burning gas crater, a spectacular sight best seen at night. Located in the middle of the Kara Kum desert where the area is rich in natural gas, the 70-meter-wide crater is known by the locals as the “Door to Hell,” and has been burning for over 40 years.

Day 8
Khiva, Uzbekistan

From Urgench, travel to the ancient city of Khiva, founded 2,500 years ago. As one of the Silk Road’s most important trading posts and now a World Heritage Site, it lies at the crossroads of the routes between Mongolia, Russia, China and Persia. A truly magnificent sight to behold, it rises out of the desert to reveal a wealth of impressive architecture. Stepping back in time, you'll discover the impressive mosques, madrassas, bazaars, and minarets within Khiva’s ancient walls.

Day 9
Kara Kum, Kazakhstan

Enjoy a relaxing day onboard the Golden Eagle as you travel across the vast expanses of the Kara Kum desert. Your rail journey has a number of days or half days onboard while traveling to the next destination. This time offers the opportunity to unwind and reflect on the many sights and sounds you have experienced or are about to experience on the rail journey so far. You can chat with your fellow passengers, listen to a talk on the history of the Silk Road and its people along the route, simply relax with a good book, or enjoy the ever-changing landscape outside your window as it unfolds before you.

Day 10
Volgograd, Russia

Standing on the banks of the Volga, Stalingrad, as the city was known in Soviet times, was the dramatic scene of one of the most important World War II battles. The Russians heroically turned back the Nazi advance here to alter the course of the war. Explore the poignantly sobering Mamayev Kurgan war memorial, followed by an informative museum visit.

Day 11
Moscow, Russia

Arrive into Moscow, your final destination. Included in your time spent in Moscow is two nights at the five-star Ritz-Carlton, located in Moscow city center, and within walking distance of Red Square and the Bolshoi Theatre. Guests will discover a classic and sophisticated ambience within this luxury hotel.

Day 12
Exploring Moscow

Your touring program of Moscow takes you to the grandeur of the Kremlin—the spiritual, historical and political heart of Moscow—and to see the treasures of the Tsars in the Armory Chamber. Visit Red Square, the iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might, with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture, such as the ornate St Basil’s Cathedral’s magnificent onion-domed spires, the beautiful façade of the world famous GUM department store that was constructed in Tsarist times, is also the somber and evocative site of Lenin’s tomb.

Lunch at Café Pushkin, a legendary Moscow restaurant with a décor that revives the atmosphere of an early 19th century mansion and serves traditional Russian cuisine. You’ll end the day with a tour of the opulent and unique stations of the Moscow metro, showpieces of Socialist art furnished with statues, frescoes, and mosaics, unsurpassed anywhere in the world. Your first evening in Moscow you will be invited to a champagne drinks reception before our exclusive welcome dinner. Specially selected international wines are included with dinner, as with all meals during the tour.

Note: If you have been to Moscow before there is included Freedom of Choice touring where you can visit other sights of Moscow such as the famous State Tretyakov Gallery (National Museum of Fine Art), or you may instead wish to travel out of the city center to Sergiev Posad, home to one of the most beautiful monasteries in Russia and the historical and spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox Church. You can also extend your stay in Moscow with additional nights to explore more of the city at your leisure or have time to take in a performance at the world-renowned Bolshoi Theater. Tickets need to be pre-booked and are subject to schedule and availability.

Day 13
Moscow / Depart

After breakfast, transfer to Moscow Airport for your onward flight home.



Explore the grandeur of Moscow's Kremlin
Discover the mosques, madrassas, bazaars, and minarets of Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand
See the world's oldest Koran in Tashkent


Length: 13 days
Cost From: $19,395  
Arrive: Almaty, Kazakhstan
Depart: Moscow, Russia
Lodging: 9 nights aboard the Golden Eagle, 3 nights hotels
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Journeying by Rail
Trip Level:

9-day rail journey, cultural explorations and walking tours

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