A shorter itinerary doesn’t mean that this tour isn’t full of the most interesting and important sights of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan in Central Asia; Azerbaijan, Georgia and Armenia in South Caucasus. In just 26 days, you’ll go from medieval metropolises to vast desert, rich flavors to richer decorations. Uzbekistan is all about the great cities of the Silk Road: Tashkent, Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. The grandest monuments of these cities have been preserved, allowing you to walk through the same streets that traders and caravans would have crossed thousands of years ago. Turkmenistan is a land of desert, with oasis cities that flourished as refuges from the intense heat and helped those on long journeys. Kunya-Urgench and Mary, once powerful cities, have long since become ruins, while Ashgabat has risen to become the grand capital of Turkmenistan. Head to Baku next, to immerse yourself in the charm and character of the Caucasus. Enjoy the prehistoric petroglyphs and royal palaces of Azerbaijan, and the mountain churches and warm flavors of Georgia. Both countries are full of multicultural traditions and stunning landscapes, sure to leave you with vivid memories. The Essentials of the Silk Road Tour does more than just take you to these places - you’ll get to taste regional dishes, meet with locals, and share your experiences with like-minded travelers from around the world in your group.
Participants need to be in good health, be able to walk for 4-6 hours every day at moderate speed, climb stairs and hills, and be able to carry their own luggage for up to 1 km across borders.
Note: Today's accommodation, a homestay with a local family, will have quite basic facilities. Hot water, while normally available, is not 100% reliable. The toilet and showers are outside and shared. You may need to share a room with others in your group (especially during high season), with separate bedrooms for men and women. In return, you'll have a unique opportunity to learn about the Tajik culture and the area from the locals' perspective as you share the family's traditional meals and experience their day-to-day life.
Note: At Darvaza camp you will be provided with sleeping bags, pillows, and 1- or 2-person tents. There is also an option to share a yurt with 3-5 other group members. In both cases, toilets and basic washing facilities are outside.
At 18:00 meet your tour guide, the group members and welcome new members of the tour with a dinner at a national restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.
The first stop is at Ateshgah, a temple for fire worshippers located in the village of Surakhany. Zoroastrians from India travel thousands of kilometers to Ateshgah to worship the fire coming out of the earth. After lunch, drive to Gobustan National Park. Pay a visit to the Petroglyphs Museum and explore petroglyphs dating back to 10,000 BC. Weather permitting, drive to mud volcanoes in Gobustan Reserve (change of vehicle). Gobustan is home to almost half of the world’s mud volcanoes. Return to Baku. Overnight at the hotel.
Free time in the afternoon (optional visit to Heydar Aliev Centre). Overnight at the hotel.
By 17:30-18:30, we will arrive at our overnight point, Akhasheni Wine Resort. This Resort is surrounded by beautiful vineyards and offers stunning views of the Caucasus Mountains – the perfect place to take a break before continuing our journey in Georgia. We will stay here for two nights.
At 18:00, we will visit a local family to enjoy traditional fest and hear the best Georgian toasts.
After a couple of hours at your leisure, join the group to proceed to welcome dinner (departing from the hotel by bus at 19:00). Overnight at the hotel.
Advantour offers an optional culinary masterclass on traditional Georgian food. The masterclass includes 3-4 dishes and snacks and takes 4-5 hours. It should be booked in advance. The price is 60 USD per person.
We suggest the following activities and places to visit in Tbilisi:
- Georgian National Museum on Rustaveli Avenue – to visit the “Archaeological Treasury” exhibition;
- National Gallery on Rustaveli Avenue – to see the works of the famous Georgian artists Niko Pirosmani, David Kakabadze, and Lado Gudiashvili;
- Tbilisi flea market at Dry Bridge – where you can find antiquities (many of which are from the Soviet era), paintings by local artists, and handmade Georgian souvenirs;
- David Agmashenebeli Avenue – a recently-renovated pedestrian street full of historical buildings that have beautiful facades in the art nouveau, pseudo gothic, and classicist styles with a mix of typical Georgian ornamentation and balconies. All along the street there are plenty of cozy art cafés, galleries, shops, and wine bars;
- Dezertirebi Bazaar – which sells local, natural products including Georgian sweets (such as churchkhela); various types of dried fruits, nuts, and spices; and Georgian cheeses;
- Funicular railway to Mtatsminda Mountain – which offers a beautiful view of Tbilisi;
- Wander in Sololaki – a neighborhood full of art nouveau houses;
- For nature lovers, we offer a day hike to Birtvisi Canyon and Fortress. Contact us to find out more.
For those who are interested in culture, we suggest visiting the State Opera House of Georgia to enjoy a ballet or opera performance (opera.ge). You can find out what other cultural events are on in Tbilisi, and book tickets, at tkt.ge.
You will have a free afternoon to explore more of Yerevan. Here are our suggestions:
- Ararat Brandy Factory
- Matenadaran Manuscripts Museum
- History Museum
- Souvenirs market “Vernisage”
- All transfers;
- Accommodation based on double/twin room sharing, breakfasts included;
- Sightseeing tour program in each country with local English-speaking guides;
- Entrance tickets to sights as per itinerary;
- Economy class tickets for flights: Mary-Ashgabat, Urgench-Tashkent, Tashkent-Baku;
- Economy-class tickets for trains: Tashkent-Samarkand-Bukhara (on rare occasions when the high-speed train is unavailable, we will replace this with the most-comfortable class of regular train);
- Visa support letter for Uzbekistan triple entry visa;
- Visa support for Turkmenistan tourist visa;
- E-visas to Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan;
- National folklore show in Bukhara on Day 6;
- Meals: lunch and dinner on Seven lakes on Day 3, lunch in Penjikent on Day 4, lunch in Mary on Day 7, camp style dinner at Darvaza on Day 8, dinner in Khiva on Day 10, dinner in Baku on Day 11, dinner in Tbilisi on Day 17, farewell dinner in Yerevan on Day 25;
- Two wine tastings in Kakheti region, Georgia.
- Full board (lunches and dinners not specified above);
- Hotel charges for additional services;
- A tax of 2 USD per night in Turkmenistan, paid to the hotel upon check out;
- Personal travel insurance;
- Consular fees for Turkmenistan tourist visas (80 USD) and migration tax (14 USD);
- Consular fees for Uzbekistan tourist visa at Tashkent International Airport (60-80 USD);
- Visa support for Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan tourist visas (if necessary);
- E-visas to Georgia and Armenia (if necessary);
- Outbound and inbound flight tickets.
|Tashkent - 2 nights|
|Lotte City Hotel Tashkent Palace or similar|
|Samarkand - 2 nights|
|Sultan, Platan or similar|
|Seven Lakes - 1 night|
|Homestay with a local family (bedrooms shared with other group members)|
|Bukhara - 2 nights|
|As-Salom, Fatima, Volida or similar|
|Ashgabat - 1 night|
|Ak Altyn, Grand Turkmen|
|Darvaza - 1 night|
|Tents (optional alternative: yurt shared with other group members)|
|Khiva - 1 night|
|Malika Kheivak, Orient Star, Qosha Darvoza or similar|
|Baku - 3 nights|
|Sheki - 1 night|
|Marxal, Sheki Palace|
|Akhasheni - 2 nights|
|Akhasheni Wine Resort|
|Tbilisi - 4 nights|
|River Side, New Tiflis|
|Gudauri - 1 night|
|Yerevan - 4 nights|
|DoubleTree by Hilton Yerevan|