Registan Square in Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Registan Square in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Archaeological Tours

Kazakhstan & Uzbekistan: In the Footsteps of the Traders

The Silk Road. A fabled name whose romantic mystique evokes images of desert caravanserais and merchant camel trains laden with precious silks and spices, winding their way from China to the West – a distant era that has left a lasting mark on the commerce, history and religions it diffused through Central Asia.

Uzbekistan boasts a plethora of striking mosques, mausoleums, and madrasahs, the most magnificent at the Registan – a landmark of Islamic architecture in historic Samarkand – while perhaps Central Asia’s most complete example of a medieval city awaits at Bukhara, long a center for Islamic theology and scholarship.

Kazakhstan, on the other hand, is revered for its stunning natural beauty and sweeping landscapes. Gaze out across the alpine reservoir that is Big Almaty Lake, where the water’s color reflects the sky and appears to change depending on the season. Discover Bronze Age petroglyphs in remote locations.

What's included?

  •  Expert scholar & tour manager
  •  Accommodation
  •  A/C coach
  •  Entries & tips
  •  Meals - as per the itinerary
  •  A name badge, luggage strap and bag tag

Led by...

Professor Craig Benjamin

Professor Craig Benjamin

Craig Benjamin is a Professor of History in the Frederik Meijer Honors College at Grand Valley State University, where he teaches courses in ancient Central and East Asian history, and on the Silk Roads.

Full Price
$6,095

Today's Price
$5,895

Saving
$200

Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $900

Tour highlights:

  • Explore the natural wonders and stunning landscapes of Kazakhstan
  • Pay a visit to Otrar, one of the oldest cities in all of Central Asia located along the Silk Road
  • Discover the enchanting little city of Khiva, the first place in Uzbekistan to be UNESCO-listed
  • Spend a day in Tajikistan exploring both ancient Sarazam and Panjekent
  • Take a walk around the mosaic-filled Registan Square in historic Samarkand

Tour details

Dates April 17 2020 - May 8 2020
Duration 22 days
Cost
Full Price
$6,095
Today's Price
$5,895
Saving
$200
Deposit: $1,250 Single supplement: $900 Balance due by January 24 2020
Activity Level
Tour code A20TSR

Book Now or call 866-740-5130 if you have any questions

April 17 2020: Itinerary

Today we arrive in Almaty city and transfer to our hotel, where we check in and can relax a little ahead of our first group dinner.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Rixos Almaty Hotel, Almaty

We have breakfast and free time, and then visit Boralday Necropolis, home to 47 Sak and Usun mounds. From here, we visit the Park of 28 Panfilov Guardsmen in Almaty, dedicated to 28 soldiers of an infantry unit who died in World War II. We also stop at the Ascension Cathedral, built by Andrei Zenkov, who is famous as a founder of earthquake-proof construction. Dinner follows later.

All meals included

Hotel: Rixos Almaty Hotel, Almaty

Our morning begins at Altyn Emel National Park, with its burial mounds and petroglyphs. Next, we visit the Besshatyr Burial Mounds – the “five tents necropolis”. We explore Tamgaly Tas, which is famous for its petroglyphic rock drawings.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Rixos Almaty Hotel, Almaty

Another early breakfast awaits and then we travel to Medeo. We take a cable car to Shymbulak, situated at an altitude of 7,215 meters, and from here we transfer to Big Almaty Lake. Next, we return to the city and enjoy lunch at a restaurant. In the afternoon, we explore the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan. We also see Republic Square, which is as big as two stadiums. We have free time later.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Rixos Almaty Hotel, Almaty

This morning we head to the site of Tanbaly. This open-air museum was recognized by UNESCO in 2004 and is home to a selection of unique petroglyphs that include depictions of tribal dances and animals. From here, we drive for around eight hours to Taraz.

All meals included

The mysterious Akyrtas settlement awaits us this morning. Here we find huge mounds of red sandstone that emerge mysteriously from the earth in several rows. We return to the city for lunch and then we visit one of the oldest cities in Kazakhstan – Taraz. We also explore the Zhambyl History Museum before heading to our hotel.

All meals included

Today we drive to Shymkent, but we stop on the way at the Aysha Bibi Mausoleum. Its foundations are cubic and the ornamental patterns we see here include zoomorphic and solaris motifs, which were common among Saks tribes. Lunch will be at a café and then we transfer to our hotel. Before dinner, we visit the History Museum.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Rixos Khadisha Shymkent

Our first stop is Otrar, located around 136 miles from Shymkent. On the way, we stop for lunch in the town Shaulder, which is home to a museum that displays ancient artifacts and a diorama of the Battle of Otrar. After some time in Otrar, we transfer to Turkistan city.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Khanaka, Turkistan

Breakfast is followed by a visit to the Mausoleum of prophet Khoja Ahmed Yasawi – an important pilgrimage site in the Islamic world. We take a break for lunch and then drive on to Sauran. An enlightening lecture from our expert scholar follows and then we return to Turkistan city, where our hotel is located.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Khanaka, Turkistan

After breakfast, we transfer to the Chernyaevka border, where we cross into Uzbekistan. Dinner tonight is at our hotel in Tashkent.

All meals included

Hotel: Wyndham Tashkent Hotel

This morning, we fly to Nukus. Upon arrival, we visit the Savitsky Art Museum. Next, we drive to the Silk Road city of Khiva. On the way, we visit Chilpik Dakhma, a Zoroastrian tower of silence constructed between the 1st century BCE and the 1st century CE. We have lunch at the Ayaz Kala yurt camp and arrive in Khiva later.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Wyndham Tashkent Hotel

A lecture on the history of Ayaz Kala and Khiva gets the morning off to an engaging start, and then we begin a city tour on foot. This was the first destination in Uzbekistan to be granted UNESCO status and we explore sites such as the Ichan-Kala architectural complex, the Residence of the last Khiva Khan, and the Juma Mosque. Lunch follows at a restaurant and leisure time follows.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Wyndham Tashkent Hotel

Breakfast is followed by a journey to Bukhara, once a prominent stop on the Silk Road trade route. Upon arrival, we have dinner.

All meals included

Hotel: Hotel Bek Khiva

A lecture on Bukhara is followed by a city tour, which includes the Ismael Samani Mausoleum, the Chashma Ayub Mausoleum, and the Bolo-Hauz Mosque. In the afternoon, we visit sites such as the Citadel Ark and Chor-Minor. There is leisure time before dinner.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Hotel Bek Khiva

We spend our morning at Paykent and on our return to Bukhara, we have lunch and visit the memorial complex of Chor-Bakr, a 16th century necropolis. We also visit the tomb of Baha-ud-Din Naqshband. Later, a cultural experience awaits at Nodir Devon Begi, where we have dinner and see the show on ancient costumes.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Devon Begi Boutique Hotel

Today we travel to Samarkand, stopping on the way to visit Rabati Malik and to tour the city of Shahrisabz. We also see the Dor-ut Saodat complex, Jahongir mausoleum, and the Kok Gumbaz Mosque. We have a break for lunch and continue on to Samarkand.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Devon Begi Boutique Hotel

A lecture on Samarkand awaits and then we explore its monuments. We begin at the Afrasiab Museum and then move on to the Ulugh Beg Observatory – one of the finest in the Islamic world. After lunch, we discover the Regional Museum of Samarkand and our day ends at the Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum – Tamerlane’s tomb.

Meals include: Breakfast, Lunch

Hotel: Devon Begi Boutique Hotel

Today we make our way to the Bibi-Khanum Mosque and the architectural complex of Sha-i-Zinda. We have lunch at a local restaurant and our afternoon is spent at leisure. Ahead of dinner, we regroup and visit Registan Square, with its spectacular light show.

All meals included

Hotel: Grand Samarkand Superior Hotel

Breakfast is followed by the chance to walk through the land border at Jartepa. From here, we transfer to Penjikent city to its Sarazm settlement, which is over 5500 years old. We tour the Republican Historical Museum and explore ancient Panjakent excavations, known as the ‘Pompeii of Central Asia’. We drive back to the border and return to Samarkand for dinner and our overnight stay.

All meals included

Hotel: Grand Samarkand Superior Hotel

Today we pay a visit to Samarkand’s Registan Square, surrounded by the Ulugbek, Sher-Dor and Tilla-Kori madrasahs. After, we stop for lunch and then we transfer to the train station for our onward journey to Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital. Dinner will be later this evening at a local restaurant and then we will relax at our hotel.

All meals included

Hotel: Grand Samarkand Superior Hotel

This morning, we sit down to a lecture on Tashkent. We tour the Old Town, including Barak-Khan madrasah, Kukeldash madrasah, and the Chorsu bazaar. Our day ends at Uzbekistan’s fine State Museum of History and then we sit down to a farewell group dinner.

All meals included

Hotel: Grand Samarkand Superior Hotel

Today we return to the airport, where we catch our individual flights home or continue with any onward independent travel.

Meals include: Breakfast

April 17 2020: Additional Info

April 17 2020: Accommodation

Set in the Almaty district, this hotel with a columned facade is a 14-minute walk from Almaty metro station and 2 km from the Ascension Cathedral.

Set 1 km from Abay Park, this hotel in a grand building with an ornate stone facade is 2 km from the Regional Museum and 3 km from Independence Park.

Hotel KHANAKA is located in the center of Turkestan, next to the Historical-Ethnographic Museum; the hotel's windows overlook the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi.

4-star Wyndham Tashkent hotel, an international Uzbekistan hotel specifically designed for discriminating travelers who seek personalized, first-class service.

Brand new 4 star hotel at the city center of Khiva. There is a 24-hour front desk at the property.

The hotel is located in the center of Bukhara, close to the main historical complex Labi-Hauz.

Located in the center of the ancient city of Samarkand, Grand Samarkand Superior Hotel features a rooftop swimming pool with a sun terrace and loungers, and free Wi-Fi.

The classic-style, air-conditioned rooms of this hotel offer elegant, warm-colored interiors with white brick walls. All rooms come with a flat-screen TV, a refrigerator and a private bathroom with bathrobes and slippers.

Grand Samarkand Superior Restaurant is decorated with traditional Uzbek rugs and serves Uzbek and European cuisine. A wide range of wines and fine drinks is offered at the bar.

April 17 2020: Enquiries

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