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KAZAKHSTAN / KYRGYZSTAN / UZBEKISTAN / TAJIKISTAN / TURKMENISTAN

On the Silk Road in Central Asia

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Road Scholar
Program #18766RJ
19 Days | 18 Nights
ACTIVITY LEVEL: Moderately Challenging
Road Scholar has thousands of educational adventures to choose from. A good way to narrow down our list is to browse our collection of "Most Popular" programs.
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Love to learn in a small-group setting? This collection of programs has at most 10-24 participants.
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EasyFor people looking to exercise their minds more than their bodies. There’s minimal walking and not too many stairs.
ModerateThese programs get you on your feet and include activities such as walking up to a mile in a day through a city and standing in a museum for a few hours.
ActiveFor people who enjoy walking as much as two miles a day, perhaps to explore historic neighborhoods or a nature trail.
Moderately ChallengingFor hardy explorers who enjoy a good physical challenge, spending most of their days on the go.
ChallengingGet ready to keep up with our highest-energy group. These demanding — and rewarding — programs are for seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Elevation Note
Almaty, Kazakhstan, 5,577 feet.

Equipment Requirements
Please ensure that your Health and Safety questionnaire is completed and returned to the Program Provider as soon as you receive it. In addition, the following information must be very clearly written on your form: Name as it appears on your passport, Date of Birth, Place of Birth, Passport Number, Date of Issue, Date of Expiration, Place of Issue, Occupation (if retired, state specific prior occupation) and Employer Name (if currently working).

Itinerary for Apr 16 — May 4, 2014

Expand all
Day One: Wednesday, April 16 - Departures
In Transit Overnight: Depart on overnight flights from the U.S. Please Note: Regulations require three (3) color passport-type photos for Migration Service registration upon arrival in Turkmenistan. Photos should be 1.2" x 1.6" or 1.6" x 2". Please ensure that you have these photos with you when you arrive on the program.

Type: Hotel

Description: The three star Kazzhol Hotel is located in the administrative and commercial center of Almaty. In 2002, the hotel received the International Quality Era Award for its excellence in service. Each room comes with satellite TV, a mini-bar and air conditioning. Enjoy the on-site sauna, beauty salon, Internet access, café, laundry, and safety deposit boxes.

Contact info:
Gogol St. 127/1
Almaty, Kazakhstan
phone: +7 (727) 250 50 16
Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: dbl $175 / sgl $160
Kazzhol Hotel - dbl $175 per room/ per night; sgl $160 per room/ per night Private arrival transfer $60 per transfer Please contact MIR Corporation for extra nights and private arrival transfer arrangements


Day Two: Thursday, April 17 - Arrivals in Almaty, Kazakhstan
In Transit Overnight: Program air arrangements are on Lufthansa, with flight connections in Europe and Astana, Kazakhstan, and arrive in Almaty at approximately 1 a.m tonight (overnight Day 2-3). Transfer to the hotel.

Lodging: Kazzhol Hotel

Type: Hotel

Description: The three star Kazzhol Hotel is located in the administrative and commercial center of Almaty. In 2002, the hotel received the International Quality Era Award for its excellence in service. Each room comes with satellite TV, a mini-bar and air conditioning. Enjoy the on-site sauna, beauty salon, Internet access, café, laundry, and safety deposit boxes.

Contact info:
Gogol St. 127/1
Almaty, Kazakhstan
phone: +7 (727) 250 50 16
Smoking policy: No
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights before: dbl $175 / sgl $160
Kazzhol Hotel - dbl $175 per room/ per night; sgl $160 per room/ per night Private arrival transfer $60 per transfer Please contact MIR Corporation for extra nights and private arrival transfer arrangements


Day Three: Friday, April 18 - Highlights of Almaty, Kazakhstan
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Start the day with an orientation by the group leader. Then, set out for an exploration of Almaty. First, explore the State Central Museum, a history museum with exhibits that detail the development of Kazakhstan and its people from the Bronze Age through the Russian Empire, the Communist Period and the present day. One of the exhibits is a miniature replica of the country’s chief archaeological treasure, the Golden Man, a warrior’s armor made from 4,000 gold pieces. There are also displays of Kazakh handicrafts and souvenir shops selling rugs and jewelry. Visit Kok Tobe, a 3,800-foot hill on the outskirts of Almaty with an aerial tramway leading to a recreation area at the top. The view of Almaty from Kok Tobe is fantastic and gives a unique perspective on this sprawling regional business capital.

Lunch: At a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Continue a city discovery of Almaty including Panfilov Park with its candy-colored Zenkov Cathedral, built without the use of nails. Its yellow and green facade and golden domes are from the era of czars; it is one of the few buildings in Almaty that came through the devastating 1911 earthquake. Visit the local Green Bazaar where all types of produce, nuts and dried fruits are for sale. Stop in at the delightful Museum of Musical Instruments for a short performance. Created in 1980, the museum exhibits a collection of traditional Kazakh instruments, including the dombra, a two-stringed lute-like stringed instrument ubiquitous to Central Asia.

Dinner: Welcome dinner.

Lodging: Kazzhol Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: Located close to the center of Bishkek, the four star Golden Dragon is a large, new hotel offering modern comfort and amenities. The air conditioned rooms each include satellite TV, Internet access, a minibar and a direct-dial phone. The hotel has a swimming pool, casino, and a restaurant specializing in local, Western and Chinese cuisines.

Contact info:
60 Elebaev Street
Bishkek, 720005 Kyrgyzstan
phone: +996 (312) 90 27 71
web: www.gdhotel.kg/

Room amenities: International telephone line, internet, minibar, safe deposit box, ironing and sewing accessories.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Four: Saturday, April 19 - Drive to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Breakfast: Breakfast in the hotel.

Morning: Enjoy additional exploration of Almaty then travel approximately 30 minutes outside the city to the Small Almaty Gorge. The Gorge is 5,577 feet above sea level and home to the famous Medeo Sports Complex with its Olympic-sized ice rink.

Lunch: At a restaurant in the Gorge with incredible views of the soaring Tien Shan Mountains.

Afternoon: Drive to Bishkek.

Dinner: In Bishkek on arrival.

Lodging: Golden Dragon Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: Located close to the center of Bishkek, the four star Golden Dragon is a large, new hotel offering modern comfort and amenities. The air conditioned rooms each include satellite TV, Internet access, a minibar and a direct-dial phone. The hotel has a swimming pool, casino, and a restaurant specializing in local, Western and Chinese cuisines.

Contact info:
60 Elebaev Street
Bishkek, 720005 Kyrgyzstan
phone: +996 (312) 90 27 71
web: www.gdhotel.kg/

Room amenities: International telephone line, internet, minibar, safe deposit box, ironing and sewing accessories.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Five: Sunday, April 20 - Highlights of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Travel outside of Bishkek to Tokmak village. Pay a visit to International University of Central Asia. Next visit the Burana Tower - one of the only existing watch towers remaining from the old Silk Road. The open-air museum here features a collection of ancient bal-bals, carved stone figures used as monuments.

Lunch: In the private home of a local family. Enjoy the opportunity to meet the host and hostess and sample traditional Kyrgyz dishes.

Afternoon: After lunch attend a demonstration of Kyrgyz horse games at a local village. Next observe a demonstration of the traditional Kyrgyz art of making felt. Continue the exploration of Bishkek with visits to Victory Park, Ala Too and the National History Museum that features four floors of art and artifacts. Browse the State Museum of Fine Arts, featuring Kyrgyz embroidery, jewelry and unique felt rugs; then pause at Oak Park, the Village of Manas, and the monument "Manas on the Horse".

Dinner: In a local restaurant with a Kyrgyz Manas cultural performance.

Lodging: Golden Dragon Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: The Tashkent Palace is one of the newest properties in Tashkent and is known for an excellent level of service.

Contact info:
56, Buyok Turon Street
Tashkent, 700029 Uzbekistan
phone: +998 71 120 5800
web: www.tashkent-palace.com/

Room amenities: Balcony, minibar, telephone, satellite TV, internet. Nonsmoking rooms are available.

Facility amenities: Three international-style restaurants, three bars, a fully equipped health and fitness center with sauna and an outdoor swimming pool.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Six: Monday, April 21 - Almaty - Tashkent flight
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: This morning depart for the airport in Almaty for a flight to Tashkent.

Lunch: In a local restaurant in Almaty.

Afternoon: Later this afternoon transfer to the airport for a short flight to Tashkent. On arrival check in to your centrally located hotel for dinner and overnight.

Dinner: In a local restaurant.

Lodging: Tashkent Palace Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Four-Star Hotel

Description: The Tashkent Palace is one of the newest properties in Tashkent and is known for an excellent level of service.

Contact info:
56, Buyok Turon Street
Tashkent, 700029 Uzbekistan
phone: +998 71 120 5800
web: www.tashkent-palace.com/

Room amenities: Balcony, minibar, telephone, satellite TV, internet. Nonsmoking rooms are available.

Facility amenities: Three international-style restaurants, three bars, a fully equipped health and fitness center with sauna and an outdoor swimming pool.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Seven: Tuesday, April 22 - Tashkent, Capital of Uzbekistan
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: This morning visit the highlights of Tashkent: the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theater, built in 1947 by Japanese prisoners of war and survivor of the terrible 1966 earthquake; the Shahid Memorial Complex, its blue-domed rotunda reminding the nation of Uzbek leaders, artists and poets shot in 1938 during Stalin's purges; the Courage Monument, named for the workers who rebuilt the city after the earthquake; and Independence Square, its history revealed in its parade of names -- first "Cathedral", then "Red", then "Lenin," and finally in 1992, "Independence."

Lunch: In a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Visit the private studio of a sixth-generation Uzbek ceramicist whose family has been making pottery since the 1790s. They have revived the lost art of natural dye use, and are teaching contemporary Uzbek ceramicists their rediscovered techniques.

Dinner: In a local restaurant.

Lodging: Tashkent Palace Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: The modern and comfortable Sugd Hotel is located about a 15-minute walk from the city center. A lobby bar, shop and Internet access can be found in the public spaces, and rooms include TV, minifridge and hair dryer.

Contact info:
179 Lenin Street
Khujand, Tajikistan
phone: +998 662 235-8230
Room amenities: TV, minifridge, hairdryer.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Eight: Wednesday, April 23 - Journey to Tajikistan
Breakfast: Early breakfast at the hotel.

Morning: Depart early driving south for a few hours and head across the Tajik border today to nearby Khujand. Khujand, situated at the entrance to the Fergana Valley on the Syr Darya River, is the second largest city in Tajikistan. Its origins have been attributed to both Alexander the Great (in 329 BC) and Cyrus the Great of Persia (several centuries earlier); whichever is true, the city is an ancient one. A former religious center and a Silk Road center, Khujand is home to several medieval monuments. Upon arrival depart for a city tour of Khujand including a visit to the exciting Panshanbe Bazaar. Khujand's pink-painted covered bazaar is overflowing with goods to buy. The huge columned structure shelters orderly rows of tables covered with bags of brilliant spices and nuts, straw-bedded melons with macramé handles, hanging haunches of meat and piles of vegetables.

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: This afternoon check in to the hotel. Later we enter the new Historical Museum of Sogdiana through a reconstructed medieval city gate. Displays include ancient Sogdian artifacts and exhibits from more recent Tajik history. Next visit the Muslihiddin memorial complex. 12th century leader and poet Muslihiddin Khudjandi is buried here in the Muslihiddin memorial complex, which has been rebuilt many times since that time. Today the complex includes a 16th century mosque and 19th century minaret as well as the poet?s mausoleum. Next visit the Timur Malik Fortress. On the left bank of the Syr-Darya in the middle of Khujand are the remains of its 10th century citadel, restored in 1999. Archaeological excavations around the walls have uncovered artifacts from the 4th century BC.

Dinner: In a local restaurant.

Lodging: Sugd Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: Opened in 2008, the Asia Samarkand Hotel is well located, just across from the Registan.

Contact info:
50 Kosh-Hauz Street
Samarkand, 140100 Uzbekistan
phone: +998 662 235 8230
Room amenities: Telephone, satellite TV, hairdryer, windows that may be opened, minibar, air-conditioning.

Facility amenities: Hotel bar, full service restaurant offering Uzbek and European food, open-air catering, conference facilities, non-smoking rooms, hotel safe, outdoor swimming pool, outside parking, sauna, massage, fitness room, disco/night club, business center, luggage service, 24-hour room service, currency exchange office, laundry service, evening entertainment, internet access

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Nine: Thursday, April 24 - Along the Silk Road
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Return to Uzbekistan, arriving this afternoon in perhaps the most well known of Silk Road towns, Samarkand, fabled oasis on the fringes of the Kyzyl Kum Desert that has been settled since the 6th century BC. Because of its location on the plains where the Zeravshan River spills out from the Pamir Mountains, Samarkand became a major Silk Road crossroads. It has been visited through time by many of the world's conquerors - Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan and Tamerlane. Alexander said of Samarkand, "Everything I have heard about the beauty of the city is indeed true, except that it is much more beautiful than I imagined." Tamerlane made it his capital city and gathered the finest architects, builders and artisans of the time to enhance its beauty.

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Discover Registan Square, the centerpiece of Samarkand and the most recognizable landmark for visitors. Three emblematic madrassahs frame the square and loom over the empty space in the center. It was this central space that originally gave the place its name, for "registan" simply means "place of sand." This sandy place was at the center of ancient Samarkand and was a public square and marketplace before Ulug Bek built the Ulug Bek, Tillya-Kori, and Shir Dor madrassahs. In its reconstruction, the square maintains the majesty that it has radiated through the ages. Visit Gur-Emir Mausoleum, the final resting place of Tamerlane, built at the turn of the 15th century. The interior of the mausoleum has been restored and is brilliant in gold leaf and fresh tile. The heavily gilded central dome opens over the set of tomb-markers resembling sarcophagi. All are marble, with the exception of Tamerlane's, which is a slab of solid jade reportedly from Mongolia.

Dinner: In a local restaurant.

Lodging: Asia Samarkand Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: Opened in 2008, the Asia Samarkand Hotel is well located, just across from the Registan.

Contact info:
50 Kosh-Hauz Street
Samarkand, 140100 Uzbekistan
phone: +998 662 235 8230
Room amenities: Telephone, satellite TV, hairdryer, windows that may be opened, minibar, air-conditioning.

Facility amenities: Hotel bar, full service restaurant offering Uzbek and European food, open-air catering, conference facilities, non-smoking rooms, hotel safe, outdoor swimming pool, outside parking, sauna, massage, fitness room, disco/night club, business center, luggage service, 24-hour room service, currency exchange office, laundry service, evening entertainment, internet access

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Ten: Friday, April 25 - Ulug Bek, Son of Tamerlane
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Today resume discovering Samarkand, visiting the Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ulug Bek's observatory, and the bazaar. Bibi Khanum Mosque, built by Tamerlane to be the largest mosque in the Islamic world, and dedicated to the memory of his favorite wife. Architects from India and Persia were brought in to build the mosque, and 95 elephants were used to transport the marble and other building materials from India to Samarkand. The row of tombs and mausoleums collectively called Shah-I-Zinde, or "place of a living king," stretches between the present and the past. At its front is living Samarkand, and at its back the dusty slopes at the edge of ancient Afrosiab. Even on hot summer days the mausoleums remain shady and cool, and seem to lure the traveler to approach the oldest tomb at the far end. Behind the complex and set into the hill lies an active cemetery with gravesites dating back as far as the ninth century, and as recently as the present day.

Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Visit the local Carpet Factory Workshop. Observe the entire process of dying the thread and weaving carpets. Visit the workshop where hand-crafted paper is made according to traditions handed down from the 8th century, when paper making began in Samarkand. Founded in 1997 with the support of UNESCO, the workshop of Abdurakhim Mukhtarov produces lovely paper crafts and stationery as you watch.

Dinner: In a local restaurant.

Evening: Attend a dance performance by a young local troupe.

Lodging: Asia Samarkand Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Boutique Hotel

Description: This charming property is more a boutique hotel than a B&B and is decorated in the national style. Fashioned from several old merchant houses, it contains high ceilings, exposed beams and beautifully decorated niches.

Contact info:
Ishoni-Pir Street, 3
Bukhara, 705000 Uzbekistan
phone: +998 65 224 4966
Room amenities: Air conditioning, mini bar, telephone, satellite television, internet.

Facility amenities: The rooms surround a garden courtyard. There is a pleasant restaurant. Laundry services and massage are available.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Eleven: Saturday, April 26 - Along the Silk Road to Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Continue along the Silk Road, to Bukhara. Stop en route at a ceramics master’s home and studio in Gijduvan to learn about traditional ceramics and take a private visit of his workshop.

Lunch: Share lunch with the ceramics master in his home.

Afternoon: After arrival in Bukhara, take a short orientation walk around the center of the Old Town. In the mid 19th century 2,500 families of prosperous merchants were estimated to have been living here. Cut off in the 15th century from contact with other Jews, the Bukharan Jews developed their own dialect of the Tajik-Persian language that incorporates many Hebrew words, their own style of dress and their own unique form of Judaism. The only Bukharan synagogue allowed by the Soviets to remain is an unassuming place near the Lyabi-Hauz pool. Almost underground and still somewhat run-down, the synagogue is the center of life for Bukhara's greatly diminished Jewish community. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union, more than 70,000 Jews have left Uzbekistan.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.

Lodging: Sasha and Son B&B

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Boutique Hotel

Description: This charming property is more a boutique hotel than a B&B and is decorated in the national style. Fashioned from several old merchant houses, it contains high ceilings, exposed beams and beautifully decorated niches.

Contact info:
Ishoni-Pir Street, 3
Bukhara, 705000 Uzbekistan
phone: +998 65 224 4966
Room amenities: Air conditioning, mini bar, telephone, satellite television, internet.

Facility amenities: The rooms surround a garden courtyard. There is a pleasant restaurant. Laundry services and massage are available.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Twelve: Sunday, April 27 - Bukhara: A Surprise Behind Every Corner
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Explore the Lyabi-Hauz plaza. With the feel of a true oasis in an oasis town, the Lyabi-Hauz plaza is at the center of Bukhara's old town and is -- as it has been throughout history -- a place to meet friends, to eat, to drink, and to relax in the shade. The atmosphere is cooled by the long rectangular reflecting pool that makes up the center of the plaza, and by the shade of the trees that ring the plaza. The mulberry trees here are hundreds of years old and frame the 16th- and 17th-century madrassahs that make up three of the four edges of the ensemble. Visit Poi Kalon, also called the Bukhara Forum. The 12th-century Kalon assembly, including the Kalon Mosque and Minaret, and the Mir-i-Arab Madrassah, surrounds an open plaza teeming with merchants and local vendors.

Lunch: Lunch in a local restuarant overlooking the plaza.

Afternoon: Continue to explore Bukhara, including its Ark Citadel -- the original fortress of Bukhara that likely dates back two thousand years or more. The current structure has been built and rebuilt on the same site throughout its history, and has preserved something of the form, purpose and function of the first ark. Like the medieval castle complexes of Europe, the Bukhara Ark served the Emirs of Bukhara as a residence, audience hall and as protection from neighboring enemies. An expert discusses the bountiful archaeological excavations in the Bukhara region at the Ark Citadel.

Dinner: Dinner at a private house. Dinner today includes a master class in the art of making plov (or pilaf), Central Asia’s most ubiquitous dish. Learn how the freshest ingredients are combined to create the savory concoction that you will then consume.

Lodging: Sasha and Son B&B

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Boutique Hotel

Description: This charming property is more a boutique hotel than a B&B and is decorated in the national style. Fashioned from several old merchant houses, it contains high ceilings, exposed beams and beautifully decorated niches.

Contact info:
Ishoni-Pir Street, 3
Bukhara, 705000 Uzbekistan
phone: +998 65 224 4966
Room amenities: Air conditioning, mini bar, telephone, satellite television, internet.

Facility amenities: The rooms surround a garden courtyard. There is a pleasant restaurant. Laundry services and massage are available.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Thirteen: Monday, April 28 - Bukhara: The Riches and Power of the Past
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Explore the Summer Palace of the last emir and its Museum of National Crafts. A short distance outside of the city sits the Palace of Moon and Stars, or the Summer Palace of the last Emir of Bukhara, built at the turn of the century after the Russians took control of Bukhara. The palace itself is something of a showpiece, as it was designed to keep the emir in luxury, but removed from the city, in isolation and politically impotent. The main palace is a mixture of local materials, regional influences and Russian style. Western furniture abounds, but design choices reflect traditional Uzbek decorations. Witness artisans at work in the USAID-UNESCO Handicraft Development Center near Lyabi-Hauz Plaza. Learn about the history of their crafts at a special presentation by the artisans themselves.

Lunch: In a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Free time.

Dinner: Your choice to explore local fare.

Lodging: Sasha and Son B&B

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch
Type: Hotel

Description: The Asia Khiva was built in 2004 and is located just outside of Ichon Qala, a two-minute walk from the city wall.

Contact info:
K. Yaqubova Street
Khiva, Uzbekistan
phone: +998 362 375 76 83
Room amenities: Satellite TV, air conditioner, telephone, internet, and minibar.

Facility amenities: Bar, restaurant, cafe, business center, conference hall, beauty salon, non-smoking rooms, outdoor pool, outdoor pool bar, sauna, hotel safe, sauna, gift shop, billiards, 24-hour room service, laundry service, in-house doctor, luggage service, internet.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Fourteen: Tuesday, April 29 - Through the Desert to Khiva
Note: The highway between Bukhara and Khiva is currently under construction and delays are possible. Expect a very long drive. Unfortunately there are no direct flight alternatives so this drive remains the best method of getting between these cities.

Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Depart Bukhara and drive to Khiva, one of the best-preserved cities along the ancient Silk Road. Legend says that the oasis of Khiva was founded at the place where Shem, son of Noah, discovered water in the desert, and that the city got its name from Shem’s joyful shout, “Hey va!” at the discovery. Today the living city is part museum town, part re-creation of life hundreds of years ago. Archaeologists have found traces of human habitation around Khiva dating from the 5th century BC. It was for hundreds of years a stop on the old Silk Road and a fortress town, but it was not until the 16th century that Khiva became the capital of the Khorezm Khanate. The khanate ruled the surrounding area for over 300 years, and was a well-known slave-trading center.

Lunch: Stop for a picnic lunch en route on the shores of the Amu Darya River.

Afternoon: Arrival in Khiva and check into the hotel.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.

Lodging: Asia Khiva Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Hotel

Description: The Asia Khiva was built in 2004 and is located just outside of Ichon Qala, a two-minute walk from the city wall.

Contact info:
K. Yaqubova Street
Khiva, Uzbekistan
phone: +998 362 375 76 83
Room amenities: Satellite TV, air conditioner, telephone, internet, and minibar.

Facility amenities: Bar, restaurant, cafe, business center, conference hall, beauty salon, non-smoking rooms, outdoor pool, outdoor pool bar, sauna, hotel safe, sauna, gift shop, billiards, 24-hour room service, laundry service, in-house doctor, luggage service, internet.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes


Day Fifteen: Wednesday, April 30 - Walk Through Ancient Khiva
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Spend the day exploring Khiva on foot. An expert-led walk explores the monuments of the Old Town, or Ichon-Qala, including the Tash-Hauli Palace, or Stone House, built in the 19th century for the reigning khan and his four wives.

Lunch: In a local restaurant.

Afternoon: Continue the guided walk of Khiva. The late afternoon is free for independent exploration.

Dinner: Dinner in a local restaurant.

Lodging: Asia Khiva Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Full Service Hotel

Description: The Four Points Ak Altin Hotel was built in 1995. It is located in 3 km to the city centre and near Independent Monument, National Museum, Earthquake Victims Museum. Turkmenbashi Airport - 7 km. Railway station - 5 km.

Contact info:
141 Magtum Guli Avenue
Ashkabad, 744000 Turkmenistan
phone: (+993-12) 512-181
Facility amenities: 24-hour font desk, 24-hour room service, business center/services, car rental service, casino, concierge service, fitness facility, indoor heated pool, lounge, outdoor heated pool, wake-up service.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights after: TBD
Please contact the program provider MIR Corporation at 877-535-9815 for rates and bookings. Please note that additional nights post-program affect visas for Turkmenistan.


Day Sixteen: Thursday, May 01 - Cross the Uzbek-Turkmen Border and Fly to Turkmen...
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Following breakfast at the hotel, depart for a visit of Toza Bog Summer Residence. Built in the late 19th century, the fortress-like Toza Bog Summer Palace united Central Asian and European design. Tall windows from St. Petersburg were placed in the adobe brick walls, and western chandeliers hang from the ceilings. Khan Muhammed Rakhim II constructed the palace outside the city and had it planted with orchards and flower gardens.

Lunch: In a restaurant in Khiva.

Afternoon: Next drive to the Uzbek-Turkmen border crossing. Customs formalities can be time consuming; after clearing customs, continue to Tashauz. Later this afternoon, fly over the Kara Kum (black sands) Desert to Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashkabad. Check into the hotel.

Dinner: Dinner at a local restaurant.

Lodging: Ak-Altyn Plaza Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Full Service Hotel

Description: The Four Points Ak Altin Hotel was built in 1995. It is located in 3 km to the city centre and near Independent Monument, National Museum, Earthquake Victims Museum. Turkmenbashi Airport - 7 km. Railway station - 5 km.

Contact info:
141 Magtum Guli Avenue
Ashkabad, 744000 Turkmenistan
phone: (+993-12) 512-181
Facility amenities: 24-hour font desk, 24-hour room service, business center/services, car rental service, casino, concierge service, fitness facility, indoor heated pool, lounge, outdoor heated pool, wake-up service.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights after: TBD
Please contact the program provider MIR Corporation at 877-535-9815 for rates and bookings. Please note that additional nights post-program affect visas for Turkmenistan.


Day Seventeen: Friday, May 02 - Ashkabad, the Capital of Turkmenistan In All Its ...
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Visit the site of the capital of the ancient Parthian Kingdom of Nisa. More than two thousand years ago the Parthian Empire spread out from Nisa and took its place among such kingdoms as the Achaemenid under Cyrus the Great and the Macedonian under Alexander the Great. Though Nisa was ruled by a succession of dynasties, it remained an important center in the ancient world until the 13th century, when the Mongols sacked it. Today archaeological work continues at Nisa, declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007. Meet with a local archaeologist while visiting the excavations that continue to reveal more about this ancient city. On the way back to Ashkabad, make a stop at Kipchuk village to admire Turkmenbashi's personal mosque. The huge $100-million-dollar mosque in former Turkmen President Niyazov's hometown of Kipchuk was inaugurated in 2004. The mosque is big enough to hold 10,000 people. Its 164-foot golden dome had to be lowered in place by helicopter. Verses from Niyazov's own spiritual book, the Ruhnama, are etched on the walls alongside Koranic verses. Niyazov was buried here in the family mausoleum that he built, along with the mosque, with government funds.

Lunch: In at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: A guided excursion of Ashkabad includes visits to the Lenin Monument, the new mosque and Turkmen-Turkish cultural and spiritual center, and a local bazaar. Visit the National Museum of History and Ethnography with its superb collection of carved ivory drinking horns from Nisa.

Dinner: In a local restaurant.

Lodging: Ak-Altyn Plaza Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Type: Full Service Hotel

Description: The Four Points Ak Altin Hotel was built in 1995. It is located in 3 km to the city centre and near Independent Monument, National Museum, Earthquake Victims Museum. Turkmenbashi Airport - 7 km. Railway station - 5 km.

Contact info:
141 Magtum Guli Avenue
Ashkabad, 744000 Turkmenistan
phone: (+993-12) 512-181
Facility amenities: 24-hour font desk, 24-hour room service, business center/services, car rental service, casino, concierge service, fitness facility, indoor heated pool, lounge, outdoor heated pool, wake-up service.

Smoking policy: Yes
Smoking policies vary by facility. During all group events and activities, smoking is prohibited.

Elevator: Yes

Additional nights after: TBD
Please contact the program provider MIR Corporation at 877-535-9815 for rates and bookings. Please note that additional nights post-program affect visas for Turkmenistan.


Day Eighteen: Saturday, May 03 - Altyn-Asyr, One of Central Asia’s Largest Bazaars
Breakfast: In the hotel.

Morning: Set out early to explore the Altyn-Asyr Bazaar, one of the largest in Central Asia, located about an hour's drive from the city center. The huge market is brimming with all types of goods including traditionally patterned carpets, Turkomen jewelry and animals for sale.

Lunch: Return to Ashkabad for a celebratory farewell lunch with a fashion and folk show or Turkmen dancers.

Afternoon: Visit a horse-breeding farm devoted to the renowned Akhal-Tekke horse, arguably the oldest cultured breed of horse in the world.

Dinner: A light dinner is served in the hotel.

Lodging: Ak-Altyn Plaza Hotel

Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Day Nineteen: Sunday, May 04 - Depart Ashkabad
Breakfast: Available at the hotel. However Lufthansa flights out of Ashkabad depart in the early morning hours, in which case, breakfast is on board the flight.

Morning: Departures. *Note: All flights to Europe with connections to the U.S. depart very early in the morning.

Meals Included: Breakfast


Free Time Opportunities


Tashkent
Tour of the Underground MetroTashkent boasts the only subway in Central Asia. Begun in 1977, each station has a different theme, some incorporating Central Asian decorative motifs and some resembling Russian palaces. With granite and marble, chandeliers and mosaics, the stations on Tashkent’s three lines are meant to be “art galleries for the people.” The Group Leader will accompany those interested in visiting some stations.
Evening Cultural PerformancesEvening at the circus or local theatre or other evening performances from current events on site. Tickets are usually $10 per person or less.
Bukhara
Paikent Archaeological siteTravel outside the city to the Bukhara Oasis and the dig site of the ancient city of Paikent, whose 15-foot-thick fortress walls date back to the ninth-century B.C. Conquering Arabs destroyed Paikent in 706 B.C. Tour the small museum of unearthed treasures. A guide is required. This requires a private car to get there and back, which can be arranged on site.
The Jewish SynagogueVisit the Jewish Synagogue, located in the old town of Bukhara near the Labi Hauz complex.

Important information about your itinerary:
Please know that while we do everything we can to finalize all aspects of our programs well in advance, there are logistics that occasionally must be altered. Our website will reflect the most recent information, and we are committed to providing you with final program details no later than eight weeks prior to the start of programs outside the U.S. and three weeks prior to the start of programs within the U.S. If you ever have questions about your program, please don't hesitate to contact us and we will be happy to assist you.

Our Value Promise To You

You won't find a better value.

Included
at no additional cost on this date ...
17 nights of accommodations
48 meals: 17 breakfasts, 16 lunches, 15 dinners
2 Expert-led lectures
29 Field trips
1 Hands-on experiences
4 Performances
2 Flights during the program

Ratings

4.6
Ratings are determined by participant evaluations.

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