DETAILED ITINERARY / TOUR PROGRAM
Day 01: Arrive Almaty – Flt (KAZAKHSTAN) (L,D)
Meeting on arrival assistance and transfer to hotel. Overnight.
Day 02: Almaty, (B,L,D)
Full day tour of Almaty – visit Zhenkov’s Cathedral built in 1904 is an extra ordinary example of Russian Orthodox Church built in wood and walk through Panfilov park and the Green bazaar.
Later visit two highlights of the tour: Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments and the Central State Museum. Afternoon we shall visit Issikurgan – the Scythian burial mounds see the site of Golden Warrior Prince and the museum nearby. Return to Almaty and excursion to Medeo set in the beautiful part of the Tienshan ranges. Night train to the ancient city of Turkestan.
Day 03: Almaty – Turkestan – Shymkent – Almaty, (B,L,D)
Arrival in Turkestan. Excursion to Turkestan – see the mausoleum of the spiritual mentor of Tamerlane, Ahmed Yassawi – discover the horrors of Mongol invasion at the ruins of Otrar. After excursion transfer to Shymkent city. Evening flight back to Almaty. Overnight at hotel.
Day 04: Almaty, (B,L,D)
Day excursion to Charyn Canyon – see the wonderful rock formations. Overnight at hotel.
Day 05: Almaty / Bishkek – 362 km. (B,L,D), (KYRGYZSTAN)
Morning departure for Bishkek driving through the heart of Zailiysky steppes with a wide span of Kazakh greenland. Our first approach will be to Tamgaly Rock drawings – best of Bronze period rock drawings and the Scythian burial pits. Later continue to Bishkek – we shall go through the border crossing between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. On arrival at Bishkek transfer to hotel.
We shall spend sometime exploring these interesting periods on various rock slopes, ridges and gulleys. (B,L,D)
Day 06: Bishkek/Issikul – 275 km. (B,L,D)
Morning depart for Issikul – we shall take an off the road visit to Burana village to visit Burana Tower and the Museum nearby. Later continue to Issikul and on arrival at Cholpan Ata, transfer to Four Seasons Karven Resort. Afternoon visit the local rock drawings of Bronze periods and the museum of Cholpan Ata and tiny bazaar of the village. Overnight. (B,L,D)
Day 07: Issikul/Bishkek – 254 km. (B,L,D)
Morning excursion to Przhevalsky Museum and Monument on the eastern edge of the Lake. Later return to Cholpan Ata and continue to Bishkek with lunch stop enroute. On arrival transfer to hotel. Afterwards visit History Museum and Frunze’s Museum. Overnight at hotel. (B,L,D)
Day 08: Bishkek/Dushanbe – Flt (TAJIKISTAN) - (B,L,D)
Morning flight to Dushanbe on arrival transfer to hotel. In the afternoon sightseeing tour of Dushanbe – we shall visit first the Museum of Antiquities, later visit Museum of Ethnograph, Ismail Samoniy monument and Gurminj Musical Instruments Museum.
Day 09: Dushanbe/Khujand – 290 km - (B,L,D)
Early morning depart for Khujand – we shall take route via Shahristan Pass with beautiful views enroute. Our first stop will be at Istarafshan to visit Kok Gumbaz mosque and the Shrine of Chor Minor – see beautiful décor of Central Asia on the cupolas. Later we shall continue to Khujand and on arrival visit the shrine of Shaikh Moslehuddin with its lapis lazuli dome and golden interior of the same.
On arrival transfer to hotel. Lunch at local restaurant in Khujand. Late afternoon visit Khujand the tomb of Sheikh Moslehuddin – see the beautiful lapis lazuli Cupola and the golden work inside – see the bazaar and the mosque. Dinner and overnight
Day 10: Khujand/Tashkent – 191 km (UZBEKISTAN) - (B,L,D)
Morning depart for Uzbek border point and after the border formalities proceed to Tashkent. Arrival and transfer to hotel. Afternoon sightseeing tour of Tashkent – we shall visit Old City, see Barak Khana seminary, Tila Shaikh archives – see the oldest copy of Usman Koran dating back to 7th AD.
Later proceed to Kukeldesh madrassah, Akbar’s pottery house, Friendship Square, Museum of Applied Arts and Fine arts museum and Navoi Theatre Meals and overnight
Day 11: Tashkent/Samarkand – Train / (B,L,D)
Morning we shall depart by fast and comfortable train to Samarkand. On arrival transfer to hotel. We shall proceed to visit Gur Emir the beautiful mausoleum of Tamerlane in the best of tile work. Later visit Registan Square to see the sun setting on the beautiful Madrassahs. Later we shall see ‘Son et Lumiere’ show in one of the madrassahs. Overnight
Day 12: Samarkand / (B,L,D)
Full day sightseeing tour of Samarkand – visit Registan Square to see the three beautiful madrassahs, later proceed to Bibi Khanum mosque, the Silk Road bazar and Shahi Zinda necropolis. Also visit Ulugbek’s observatory and museum afternoon visit the Afrosiab Museum and site and the Museum of Regional Studies Meals and overnight
Day 13: Samarkand/ShakreSabz/Bukhara – 378 km / (B,L,D)
Morning departure for Bukhara enroute visit Shakre Sabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane. We shall see Ak-Saray Palace ruins, Dorus Tilavat, Kok Gumbaz mosque built by Ulugbek, Dorus Saidat and Friday mosque. Later after lunch continue to Bukhara and on arrival transfer to hotel. Meals and overnight
Day 14: Bukhara (WH) / (B,L,D)
One of the grandest of Uzbek cities, Bukhara is an open museum with many mosques, madrassahs and a grand minaret. We shall visit the whole day seeing some of the best madrassahs with excellent tile and mosaic work and the beautiful brick work.Visit to include: Lab-e-Khauz complex including Nadirkhon Devanbegi madrassah, Mogaki Attari mosque, Poi Kalon minaret and mosque with excellent brickwork. The Madrassahs of Aziz Khan and Ulugbek, Ark Fortress houses a collection of the days of Emir of Bukhara. The fortress was used as a residence cum army headquarters by the Bukharan emirs. There is a nice wooden mosque of Balokhauz nearby. The most interesting of Bukharan monuments is the mausoleum of Ismail Samanid which is done in the best of 10thcentury brickwork with marked Persian influence. Sitora-i-Mokhikhosa was the summer residence of the former emirs of Bukhara. There is a nice collection of gifts received during the Khanate days of Bukhara. Meals and overnight
Day 15: Bukhara/Khiva – 430 km / (B,L,D)
Early morning departure for Khiva via the Kizilkum(red sands) enroute stop at the sight of Amudarya (Oxus river). Picnic Lunch enroute. Arrive in the late afternoon and transfer to your hotel. Dinner and overnight
Day 16: Khiva (WH) / (B,L,D)
Full day sightseeing tour of Khiva we shall visit – Ichan Kala, Kalta Minor, Kunya Ark, madrassah Rakhimkhon, later proceed to see mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud, Islam Khodja minaret and museum, Friday mosque and Tashauli Palace/harem. Later in the afternoon free walks in the walled city. Meals and overnight
Day 17: Khiva/Nukus – 175 km / (B,L,D)|
Morning we shall drive to Nukus – enroute we shall make short stops at the desert forts and later continue to Nukus. On arrival transfer to hotel.
Later visit the Art Museum of Karakalpakstan more popularly known as Savitsky Museum – it has some rare master pieces of Russian avant-garde paintings. This collection of tireless work and protection Igor Savitsky that this art survived the cultural purges of Stalin era. Igor Savitsky the first curator of the museum collected and displayed this priceless collection of art work. The Regional museum also has collection of embroidery and carpets of the nomadic tribes from the desert of Krakalpaskstan and some archaeological from the desert forts of the region later we shall see and old necropolis reminiscence of the Zoroastrian faith.
Day 18: Nukus-Kunya Urgench – 41 km (TURKMENISTAN) /Kunya Urgench/Darvaza – 250 km / (B,L,D)
Morning depart for Turkmenistan border point. After the border formalities crossover into Turkmenistan and proceed on a day excursion to Kunya Urgench. This was the capital of once powerful Khorezmia which was flourished under the Achaemenid rule in 6th century BC. then was wrested away from the last of the Persian rulers the Sasanids by the invading armies of the Arabs. Later powerful Turkic tribes who were converted to Islam took reins of the Kingdom and under whose rule the city flourished when great scholars of the Muslim world attended the court of Khorezmshahs. A powerful and merciless invasion of the Mongolid hordes put an end to the ruling dynasty. Today we see pre/post Timurid period monuments spread in a large area. After the day’s excursion we travel on the highway through the Garagum (Black sands) to see Darvaza, a burning gas crater where flames literally leap from the ground. We set up camp here and watch the sun go down, the crater lighting up the night sky with its fires. Barbeque with rice. Overnight camping.
While drilling in 1971 geologists discovered an underground cavern filled with natural gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of about 50-100 metres. To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided to burn the gas. Geologists had hoped the fire would go out in a few days but it has been burning ever since. Locals have named the cavern The Door to Hell, and the sight of the crater at night has a somewhat spooky feel. It now has a diameter of approximately 60 m, and a depth of 20 m. Hundreds of fires burn inside the crater, some of them with flames up to 10-15m high. |
Day 19: Darvaza/Ashgabat – 250 km. (B,L,D)
Morning drive to Ashgabat. Arrival and accommodation in the hotel. Lunch. After having lunch full day sightseeing tour of the capital city of Turkmenistan – we shall visit the famous archaeological site of Nisa(World Heritage site) which served as the capital of the Parthian rulers. Later visit of the biggest Mosque in Central Asia located in Kipchak. Return to the hotel. Meals and overnight
Day 20: Ashgabat/Mary/Ashgabat – Flts (B,L,D)
Travel to one of the ancient archaeological sites of Merv by taking flights in/out of Mary town. We shall have a detailed visit of Merv by visiting Gyaur Kala, Erk Kala and Sultan Kala. We shall also see the impressive mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar – the last King of Seljuk Empire. The archaeological site of Merv often mentioned as Margiana by classical writers is a rich city which was part of the Achaemenian empire in 6th century BC, the city was invaded by the Macedonians under Alexander the Great and passed through successive rulers till it was invaded by the Arabs in 8th century AD serving as part of a springboard for their invasion of Central Asia. In the Islamic era it was known as the ‘Mother of the cities’ which flourished as an important town on the Great Silk Road running to Parthia. It was invaded by the Mongols in 13th century who depopulated the city by mercilessly killing more than a million souls.
Day 21: Ashgabat/Baku – Flt. (B,L,D), (AZERBAIJAN)
Transfer to airport for flight to Baku with Lufthansa airlines. Flight LH613: Ashgabat – Baku. (Departure time: 03:30 a.m.) Arrival in Baku International airport at 04:05 a.m.. After the checking at the passport control and customs you will be welcomed by your local guide and transferred to your hotel by coach for check in. Free time for leisure.
In the morning pick up from the hotel. Tour Starts at 10:00 am. Baku sightseeing: first visit place is Mountain park for the splendid Panoramic views of the city and Baku Bay. Walk along the alley and then drive to the downtown. There are main historical sites there: the medieval sight of the Old City (11-19 cc) (fortifications, Shirvanshakhs Palace(14-15 cc., entrance), Karvansaray (14-15 cc.), old mosques 11-19cc.), old bath, narrow small streets, art shops and bench of handicraftsmen, ”Giz Galasi” (Maiden Tower entrance). In the evening Free time for leisure. Overnight in Baku hotel.
Day 22: Baku-Sheki (B,L,D)|
Breakfast at the group hotel. Today we start the route to the North-West –to the town Sheki. On the route you will enjoy historical monuments: Mountain Mausoleum “Diri-Baba” (Sufism’s Temple), Shemakha Mosque 11c . Continue excursions in Sheki: Sheki Fortress, Sheki Khan Palace, Caravanserai and Mosque. Overnight in Sheki hotel.
Day 23: Sheki – Sighnaghi (B,L,D), (GEORGIA)
After breakfast you start morning excursion in Kish village and visit Alban Church.
Drive to the Azerbaijan-Georgia border Lagodekhi. It will take approximately one hour and 40 minutes. The guide will help with border crossing procedures, change transport and guide and continue the trip to Georgia. From the border we need about 1 hour to Signagi. Sighnaghi is a small medieval town in Georgia, located on the hilltop overlooking Alazani Valley and Kakheti region. The town has another name - “City of Love”, as the wedding palace works 24 h every day and the environment around is very nice and welcoming. Kakheti area is a main wine-producing region in Georgia. Signagi and its surroundings are home for numerous cultural and architectural monuments. Visit Signagi small and lovely museum with archaeological, ethnographic, numismatic, photographic and paintings’ collections. One of Georgia’s prominent artist of naive art – Niko Pirosmanashvili – is presented in the museum main hall. In the evening walk nearby the 17th c city wall and towers of Signagi. Overnight in Signagi hotel.
Day 24 Sighnahi-Velistsikhe-Telavi-Tblisi (B,L,D)
Today You start exploration of Georgian wine culture. After breakfast drive to Velistsikhe village. It is one of the well preserved oldest wine cellars in Georgia from 16th c and belongs to the local family. Here you will taste Georgian Kvevri wines. According to the Georgian traditions, Kvevri wines are fermented in an underground clay amphorae and has a very unique smell and taste. Georgian homemade vodka – Chacha is produced from the grapes, which went through the first fermentation stage together with wine. Continue to Telavi town, the center of Kakheti and former capital town of Eastern Georgia. Take a walk in Telavi central avenue, Batonistsikhe, visit 900 years maple tree and 500 year grape tree. In the evening drive to Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia via Gombori range and Pass. Overnight in Tbilisi hotel.
Day 25: Tbilisi city tour (B,L,D)
We start Tbilisi full day sightseeing from the main cathedral nearby the presidential residence of Georgia. Holy Trinity (Sameba) Cathedral is the highest among the Christian Orthodox churches (103m below the dome). Beautiful yard with unique flowers and fountains makes the entrance of the cathedral very beautiful. Next stop is Metekhi plateau, located on the rocky cliff above the River Kura. This was the first royal residence in 5th c. Equestrian bronze statue of the King Vakhtang IV Gorgasali - the founder of the city – erected in front of the Old Town. Take a nice walk on small streets: Shardeni street, Iron Row and Cotton Row. You can see the small sculpture of Tamada- the toast master- en-route. Continue the walking towards the King Erekle II Street – there are nice outdoor cafes, bars, art galleries and souvenir shops there. Cross the glass Bridge of Peace. Get in the aerial cable car and ride up to the oldest fortress of 4th c Narikala. Stroll down by foot to the Botanical Street, 19th c mosque, small canyon and waterfall in Legvtakhevi area. Continue walking to the Abanotubani. The underground domed architecture of Ottoman’s time sulfur bathhouses gives Tbilisi oriental appearance. Here you have real feeling you are on the edge of the two great continents: Europe and Asia. See the building of multicolor bath (Chreli Abano), facade looks as Medresse with its faience and Majolica ornaments. It was the favorite one for Russian poet and classic Alexander Pushkin. Finish the old city tour at Maidan square. Overnight in Tbilisi hotel.
Day 26: TBILISII-GORI-UPLISTSIKHE-BORJOMI-AKHALTSIKHE (B,L,D)
After breakfast check out and drive to Samtskhe via main Kartli region. First stop is Gori town, the heart of Kartli and the birthplace of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin. Museum consists of memorial house, where Stalin was born, exposition building with tower and Stalin’s personal coach with interior (he had travelled to Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam). Museum houses Stalin’s personal items, study room of Kremlin, manuscripts, gifts from over the world.
Drive to the village Uplistskhe 14 km away from Gori. Here, there are the oldest inhabited caves cut in limestone rocks and date back to the Early Iron Age. The town had temples, wealthy people’s district with outdoor amphitheater and stage, small and big marketplace, poor peoples’ dwellings, jails, secret tunnels and passes connecting ancient chambers and halls. Small museum is attached to the site and you can see 8 minutes movie about Uplistsikhe caves.
Next stop is a town Borjomi –famous for its curative sparkling mineral waters. The natural artesian springs are coming to the surface without pumping. After tasting Borjomi sparkling water, walk through Borjomi-Kharagauli national park – one of the largest protected areas in Europe, which covers 5300 sq. Km and has unique eco diversity and wildlife. In the evening arrival in Akhaltsikhe town Samtskhe region (formerly known as Lomsia). Overnight in Akhaltsikhe hotel.
Day 27: AKHALTSIKHE-VARDZIA-BAVRA-GYUMRI, (B,L,D), (ARMENIA)
Akhaltsikhe means “New Castle”. After the breakfast, visit Rabati – the medieval Castle situated on the rocky inn. Excursion covers museum, Sargis Jakeli castle of 14th c., Fortress Church (late Middle Ages), Palace of 18th century and the Church of Saint Marine (1865) with built-in relief works.
At noon drive to Vardzia, a rock-hewn caves on the left bank of the River Mtkvari. Founded in the reign of the King Giorgi III and his daughter Queen Tamar (12th -13th c.c.), Vardzia was planned as a town-fortress and became a well-fortified 13th level monastery. Vardzia played a significant role in political, cultural, educational and spiritual life of the country. Afterwards drive to Georgia - Armenian border Bavra. Border formalities, transport and guide change. Drive to Gyumri. Gyumri is the second largest city that used to be an important Armenian cultural center in the late 19th early 20th century.
Overnight in Gyumri.
Day 28: GYUMRI-EJMIATSIN-ZVARTNOC-YEREVAN, (B,L,D)
After breakfast, sightseeing in Gyumri. We will take a walk through its historical center (Alexandropol) that has many traditional 19th-century houses and visit a museum located in one of them. Departure from Gyumri. We’ll continue the tour to the center of Armenian-Apostolic Church in Echmiadzin. Visit to Zvartnoc. Drive to Yerevan and visit to Manuscript museum Matenadaran. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 29: YEREVAN-GARNI-GEGHARD-YEREVAN, (B,L,D)
After breakfast, excursion around Yerevan city. Explore the History museum. The History museum is situated at the Republic Square, in the center of the city. Museum can give you a good general understanding of the history and culture of Armenian’s people. Visit to the Geghard Monastery The exact foundation of the monastery is unknown, the present complex was built in the mid – 13th century. You will walk along the canyon, by the beautiful columnar basalt 9th century stone bridge over the Azat River to Garni the Pagan Temple, built in the 1 Century AD. In 1679, it was destroyed by earthquake. In the 1975, the Temple was restored. Farewell dinner. Overnight in Yerevan.
Day 30: Yerevan- Beijing Flt. (B)
Transfer to the Yerevan International airport for flight to Beijing. Farewell. End of tour. a