Experience the best of East and West on this extraordinary journey through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Delight in the natural beauty of the northern Silk Road route's immense deserts and rich cultural heritage. Explore some of region's most stunning ancient and modern cities, from Tashkent and Samarkand to Bukhara and Khiva. Visit bustling bazaars; explore mosques, mausoleums, and palaces; take in local folk performances; and sample traditional regional cuisine. Let MT Sobek guide you on this adventure of a lifetime along the Silk Road - part of the world where few Westerners go!
Travel through the heart of the northern Silk Road -- one of world's great cultural crossroads
Explore UNESCO-listed Bukhara's mosques, domed bazaars, and caravansaries, illustrating 1,000 years of history
Visit the marbled city of Ashgabat and its legendary everything-from-carpets-to-camels bazaar
Welcome to Tashkent! Meet your MT Sobek guide at the airport and transfer to your hotel. This evening, the group convenes for a brief orientation and a welcome dinner.
After breakfast, enjoy a scenic drive to Samarkand, a historic and central part of the old Silk Road. En route stop for a small picnic with beautiful mountain views near the legendary gate of the 14th-century nomadic ruler Tamerlane, for a brief photo op near the second-largest river in Central Asia, Sir Darya, and then at a famous local market where the region's best melons are sold. If melons are in season, you'll try some! Tonight have a traditional dinner at a historic UNESCO-protected home.
Begin today's tour of legendary Samarkand at Guri Emir, the mausoleum and burial place for Amir Temur and his family, and regal Registan Square, with its intricately designed and vibrantly colored blue-tiled mosques and madrassas (Muslim schools). Also visit the regal mausoleums of Shah-i-Zinda, site of Central Asia's most sacred Islamic shrine, the massive mosque of Bibi Khanum, and the adjacent colorful market, where the original "spice girls" sell saffron at unbelievably low prices. The afternoon is free to explore on your own or just relax before dinner.
Drive to the 2,000-year-old city of Shakhrisabz, Tamerlane's birthplace and a city of fabulous ruins. Visit Tamerlane's palace Ak Sarai, the famous blue-domed Kok Gumbaz Mosque, the Mausoleum of Jehangir (Tamerlane's grandson), and Tamerlane's Mausoleum. After lunch, continue to Bukhara, the medieval capital of the once-powerful Emirate of Bukhara and, today, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Admire the Sheibanid-era architecture and, as in Samarkand, the city's bustling markets offer plenty of opportunities to buy crafts, from musical instruments to saddlebags made of carpet and quilted materials. Tonight enjoy a cooking demonstration and dinner of plov, a local lamb and rice pilaf dish, followed by a festive folklore and national dress show.
Tour Old Bukhara, with its bustling trading domes and active mosques, including Kalyan Minaret, one of Central Asia's tallest towers. Stroll the old town center, where locals chat endlessly while drinking tea around a natural oasis spring. Bukhara's UNESCO recognition has resulted in restorations of some of its 11th- to 15th-century mosques. Visit Bukhara's massive fortress, the Ark, and Ismail Samani's beautiful 10th-century mausoleum. Tonight, enjoy a festive folklore and national dress show at the historic Nodir Devonbegi Madrassah.
After breakfast, drive to the Turkmenistan border and on to Mary - known as Merv in ancient times - a city on an oasis in the Karakum Desert. En route, stop for lunch in the ancient Silk Road crossroads of Turkmenabat, which once connected Bukhara with Khiva and Merv. For about 300 years, Merv was the largest city in Central Asia and the Khalifat capital for eight years. During the 12th century, it was said to be the world's biggest city. Take in Old Merv's historical sites before enjoying a hearty dinner.
This morning we explore more of ancient Merv, the oldest and best-preserved of the oasis-cities along the Silk Route in Central Asia, and a UNESCO World Heritage site. We explore the history museum and other sites, before transferring to the airport for an evening flight to Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. Its gleaming domes, monuments, minarets, and lavish palaces make it feel like an enchanted city.
Today browse the city's famous Sunday bazaar, a truly medieval experience! Everything from camels to auto parts to world-famous Bukhara rugs - both new and old - are sold. Later, we'll tour more of Ashgabat, including the majestic Turkmenbashy Ruhy Metjidi, one of the biggest mausoleum complexes in Central Asia, containing the tombs of Turkmenbashy (the former ruler of Turkmenistan) and his family. Visit the ruins of Nissa, the former seat of the Parthian kings and an important Silk Road trading town, then take a city tour. After dinner, drive Ashgabat's main avenues to take in its brightly lit buildings and monuments. This exquisite city is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as having more white marble than any other in the world!
This morning, transfer to Ashgabat Airport for a flight to Dashoguz. Upon arrival, take a 35-minute drive to one of the most impressive fortresses of the Middle Ages: the ruins of Yzmukshir Fortress, birthplace of famous scientist and philologist As Zamahshary. Return to Dashoguz for lunch and then drive into Uzbekistan and on to Khiva, a very ancient city said to be founded by Shem, the son of the biblical Noah. Visit a Khorezmian singer's house and enjoy traditional, ethnically Khorezmian music. There will be time to rest before dinner at the hotel, the largest in Khiva.
After breakfast at the hotel, set off on a walking tour of old Khiva, visiting Kunya-Ark fortress, several mosques, madrassas, and minarets. The walled city of Khiva hosts more than 50 monuments, making it a true archaeological treasure. The afternoon is free to explore the city on your own before convening for dinner tonight at a local family's home for traditional regional fare. After dinner, transfer to the Urgench Airport for an evening flight back to Tashkent. Upon arrival, head back to your hotel from the first night.
Enjoy breakfast, before exploring the bustling and cosmopolitan city of Tashkent, with its tree-lined boulevards, verdant parks, and elaborate monuments. Take in many of the city's highlights, including the Khast-Imam Complex and its architectural marvels; the world-renowned Uthman Qur'an Friday Mosque, which houses an early copy of the Quran; and the Chorsu Bazaar, a traditional market set beneath a vibrant, blue dome. After lunch, visit the newer part of the city: Independence Square, Amir Temur Museum, Alisher Navoi Theater. This evening, enjoy a festive farewell dinner and cultural show.
After breakfast this morning, transfer to the airport, bid farewell to your travel companions, and depart on your homeward-bound flight.
MT Sobek has led travelers on this epic Silk Road adventure for over 20 years, expertly navigating border crossings and visas.
Our remarkable local guides offer immense insight and expertise, and go out of their way to make you feel at home.
This immersive adventure takes you back in time to explore the legendary wonders of Samarkand, Bukhara, Tashkent, Khiva, and beyond.
Our expert guides and trip leaders are truly the key to our trips' success. Many are locals who live in-country year-round; others have made it their second home—all are passionate, enthusiastic and endlessly knowledgeable. Meet a few of the guides that might be on your trip.
Cultural touring of historical cities and stunning sights, including bazaars, mosques, tombs, madrassas and palaces. At night enjoy folk performances and savor regional cuisine.
Comfortable and conveniently located Silk Road hotels with modern and traditional flair.
Temperatures will range from the low 50's F at night to the high 80's and into the 90's F during the day. It will generally be warm, dry and sunny.
Our MT Sobek representative will meet you at the Tashkent Airport.
Please note that this entire trip is below 6,000 feet.
Yes, you actually need two: one for Uzbekistan, which you will get on your own, and one for Turkmenistan, which you get at the border during the trip.
Yes, you must bring it for all prescription medications and it must match your name. Please only bring the amount of medication you need for the trip.
You will be in Uzbekistan from Days 1 - 6 and then Days 9 - 12 and Turkmenistan from Days 6 - 9.
Make any of our trips a custom adventure or start from scratch. Take two itineraries and match them up to create a unique third. Add extras and extensions and more...if you can imagine it, we can make it happen!
"In Central Asia you really need to have guides and MT Sobek works with excellent country guides, which makes a huge difference."
Irina & Andrei S.
MT Sobek Guests, The Great Silk Road Adventure
"This trip was so interesting, absorbing, and well-paced that I returned home feeling rested and fulfilled."
MT Sobek Guest, The Great Silk Road Adventure