Along the Golden Road from Samarkand
Price includes international flights.
Few landmarks have tantalised the minds of travellers more than the legendary cities of Central Asia. Originally caravanserais on the Golden Trade route across Central Asia, they developed into thriving centres of commerce and culture. Under the ferocious medieval warriors Genghis Khan and then Tamerlane and their descendants, they assumed inimitable power and splendour.
Fly to Tashkent the capital of Uzbekistan and after spending one night here continue by train onto the Fergana Valley which historically lies on the main Silk Route through Central Asia from Western China to Samarkand. The Valley is a fertile, populous and prosperous area though much of the surrounding country is mountains, steppe or desert.
From Fergana cross the border into Tajikistan which unlike Uzbekistan, is mainly a mountainous country with a dense river system and the many fertile valleys making habitation possible. Tajikistan exemplifies the complexities of Central Asia perhaps more than any other surrounding country, since, unlike other ethnic groups in the region, the Tajiks were not nomadic but sedentary, and their language was Persian, not Turkic.
From Panjikent cross the border back into Uzbekistan and visit Samarkand, chosen by Tamerlane as the capital of his great empire and he transformed it into the most beautiful city in Central Asia. New buildings rose out of the desert, built of mud brick, and faced with ceramic tiles in every imaginable shade of blue. Continue onto Bukhara which was an important staging post on the network of caravan trails which criss-crossed Central Asia. Crooked alleys wind irregularly between the walls of clay-built houses and the men and women still wear colourful striped coats, knee high leather boots and patterned turbans.
From Bukhara, the party will cross the great Kyzl Kum desert and visit the marvellous city of Khiva, an ancient walled city. This is an open-air museum is more intact than either Samarkand or Bukhara.
- The Registan in Samarkand - the 'noblest square in the world'
- Discover Khiva where it is still possible to experience the timelessness of a Central Asia town
- Enjoy some of the most spectacular art and architecture in the Islamic World