Day 1 UK - Tashkent
Your exotic adventure begins with an overnight flight to Uzbekistan's vibrant capital city, Tashkent.
Day 2 Tashkent
On your arrival this morning, relax and refresh at your hotel, with plenty of free time to settle in. We'll explore city highlights in the afternoon, including a ride on the Tashkent metro. Central Asia's oldest tube dazzles with mosaics, portraits and magnificent columns at every stop. Tonight, we'll sit down to a tasty welcome meal at a local restaurant.
Day 3 Tashkent - Samarkand
The high-speed Afrosiab train whisks us to one of the most prominent cities on the Great Silk Road. From the eras of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan to the artistic legacies of the Turkic ruler Tamerlane, it's fair to say that this ancient city has seen some history! The latest research indicates that Samarkand was founded an incredible 2,750 years ago.
We'll visit Gur-Emir Mausoleum, home to the graves of Tamerlane and his descendants, along with the impressive remnants of Mosque Bibi-Khanum. The elaborate Shah-i-Zinda Necropolis is an important site for pilgrims, as it's the alleged gravesite of Qusan ibn-Abbas, a cousin of the Prophet Muhammad.
Day 4 Samarkand
Decorated by mosaics and ornate minarets, the madrasas of Registan Square are some of the greatest works of the Islamic world. After we've had our fill of awe-inspiring architecture, get ready for the enticing smell of baking bread as we join a local family for a homecooked meal. Explore at your leisure for the rest of the day or join us for an optional excursion to three incredible destinations.
The first, the Meros Silk Paper Factory, has revived the ancient tradition of papermaking in Samarkand, once renowned for its use in Persian and Arabic manuscripts. Second is the famous Ulugh Beg Observatory, which produced advanced astronomical discoveries before it was destroyed by religious extremists in 1449 - we'll visit the museum here. Thirdly, we'll discover the Tomb of Prophet Daniel.
Day 5 Samarkand - Bukhara
Settle in for a scenic drive over the spectacular Takhta Karacha Pass, as we follow the Silk Route to the hometown of Tamerlane. Shakhrisabz is a traditional centre for folk art, dotted with ruins and medieval buildings. We'll explore the Ak Saray Palace, Kok Gumbaz Friday Mosque and the mausoleum of Dorut Tilavat, then enjoy some free time, before following our noses to a charming teahouse for lunch. After a relaxing afternoon drive, look forward to a traditional dinner in Central Asia's holiest city, Bukhara.
Day 6 Bukhara
Highlighting more than 2,000 years of history, medieval Bukhara offers a visual feast of architectural wonders and photogenic streets. Our full-day tour shows you the very best of the UNESCO-listed historic centre, including the atmospheric Old Jewish Quarter, Poi-Kayalan Ensemble and Kalyan minaret.
We'll delve into tradition at puppet and miniature painting workshops, and sip spicy teas flavoured with fragrant cardamom, anise, cinnamon and oregano. Get set to give your wallet a workout at the trading domes, featuring market stalls piled high with handwoven carpets, silk scarves and unique jewellery.
Day 7 Bukhara
There's so much to discover here, it will be a challenge to squeeze it all into one day. But it's a challenge we're willing to accept! Our tour continues at the Zindan, an old jail complete with a grisly torture chamber. Close by is the spectacular Fortress Ark, the city's oldest structure. We'll walk along the city walls and stop at Samanids Mausoleum, a 9th century architectural treasure.
Take your time and explore at your own pace this afternoon, or join us for an optional, countryside excursion. Discover Bahauddin Naqshbandi, the burial tomb of the Sufism leader, and the exquisite summer residence of the last Emir of Bukhara, Sitorai Mokhi Khosa Palace. On our return, we'll stop for a look at Chor Minor and its four quirky, turquoise-topped turrets.
Day 8 Bukhara - KhivaYou'll get a well-deserved rest today on our drive to Khiva through spectacular desert landscapes. The Kyzylkum Desert stretches for hundreds of miles and once presented sun-scorched dangers for traders traversing the legendary red sands. Luckily for us, we'll get to experience it within air-conditioned comfort!
Meals included: B,D
Day 9 Khiva
A living museum, Khiva's twisting alleyways, glistening mosaics and ornate minarets are a stark contrast to its brutal history of barbaric slave trading. A walking tour of UNESCO-listed Itchan Kala, an old Khiva oasis, showcases 51 ancient structures, 250 dwellings, majestic mosques and caravanserais. As Khiva is well-known for handicrafts, there's plenty of time here to admire and buy woodcarvings, woven carpets and fleece hats.
Tonight offers a treat for the senses, with dinner and a folklore performance. A captivating form of dance combining Arabic, Persian, Turkic, Indian and Chinese elements, Khorezm features dazzling spins, sensual undulations and lavish Oriental costumes.
Day 10 Khiva - TashkentSaying goodbye to Khiva, we'll fly back to Tashkent today. But don't worry, your incredible journey isn't over just yet! We'll take a city tour on arrival, starting with Khast Imam Square which is the holy heart of ancient Tashkent. See the works of world-famous ceramic masters (now fifth and sixth generation), along with the performing arts hubs of Theatre Square and Broadway, the Earthquake Memorial and Amir Temur Square. Tonight, we'll sit down together for a delicious farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Meals included: B,D
Day 11 Tashkent - UK
A free morning of leisure eases you into an early afternoon transfer to the airport and your flight home to the UK.