17 Days | 28 September – 14 October 2020. $US4151, joining in Tashkent.

Our small group journey through Uzbekistan celebrates its location on the crossroads of the famous Silk Road, sitting between Western China and the Caspian Sea. Absorb the textiles, crafts, history, cuisine and architecture.

Uzbekistan

Program Overview

Over centuries, numerous ethnic and cultural groups settled in Uzbekistan, creating a unique centre of culture and crafts. Time-honoured explorers and conquerors such as Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, Amir Timur (Tamerlane) made their mark. More recent adventurous activity was played out by Russia and Britain during the ‘Great Game’.

The romance of times past manifests itself in the names of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva, all places we spend time at, exploring grand monuments, major historical sites, museums and workshops, and delving into ancient arts and crafts of Uzbekistan. We plan to visit famous craft masters practising woodblock printing, embroidery, silk carpets, ikat and silk, wood carving and more. Bazaars and souks, stocked with ‘Silk Road’ items from fruits to spices, gold and gems, fabrics, rugs, livery, and even camels, await our inquisitive eyes. These same eyes will be stunned by the exquisite mosaics and Islamic influences found on gateways, mosques, palaces and more.

Accommodation has been selected for its character, service and location and ranges from 3* to 4*, along with a night in a yurt, where we are entertained and welcomed as special guests. We include all breakfasts and a number of home-cooked regional dinners and lunches.

Exposure to traditional craft skills, our workshops, excellent guide, comprehensive itinerary, and the charming hospitality of Uzbeks combine to make this a very special journey. Recovering from the Soviet era, Uzbekistan can be likened to a flower bursting in the desert, and it is time for us to discover its beauty and character embodied in their cultural skills and traditions.

Dates and Cost

17 Days | 28 Sep – 14 Oct, 2020 | $US4151 per person twin share. Joining and concluding in Tashkent. Minimum of 08 guests, maximum of 15.

Highlights

  • Visit World Heritage sites and towns
  • Be impressed by ancient buildings and palaces, along with Russian era extravaganzas
  • Visit extraordinary metro stations in Tashkent
  • Explore excellent and eccentric museums and galleries
  • Experience numerous craft ateliers such as paper, ceramics, silks, ikat, and wood working.
  • Meet artisans at their workshops and ateliers
  • Travel in comfortable vehicles and high-speed trains
  • Experience Uzbek hospitality at our selection of smaller hotels, and one-night yurt stay
  • Participate in cooking experiences
  • Discover the everyday life as you wander souks, villages and small towns
  • Indulge in decent home-cooked traditional meals
  • Be charmed by our guides, drivers and locals found throughout friendly Uzbekistan.

Itinerary

Day 1-3: Mon 28 Sep to Wed 30 Sep: Tashkent

You will be met at the airport and transferred to our hotel. Over our three days in the Nation’s capital, a city rebuilt following the devastating 1966 earthquake, we plan to explore the cultural history.

Embroidered Fabric

The Applied Arts Museum houses a worthy collection of suzani ceramics, carved wood, metal work, as well as carpets, ikat and tribal costumes, located in the palace of the Tsarist diplomat Alexander Polovtsev, an authority of Oriental architecture and decorative patterns, who invited local master artisans to decorate his private mansion. It is an essentail introduction to the applied arts you will see on tour.

Crafts are explored with a visits to a stunning embroiderer’s workshop, and a ceramic studio. We also experience the Old City at Tashkent’s largest souk, along with a number of other craft centres found here. Some of our travel in Tashkent utilises the decorative and efficient metro system.

Tashkent Options:

  • We can arrange tickets for opera, music and ballet program at the Alisher Navoi theatre,or the famous Ilkhom Theatre, the Soviet Union’s first experimental, independent theatre which has some programs with English subtitles. Tickets about $US10.

Day 4-7: Thu 01 Oct to Sun 04 Oct: To Samarkand

A fast train takes us to ‘Golden’ Samarkand for three nights at our family-run hotel, just a short walk to Registan, Samarkand’s famous square.

Small fabric vendor

Samarkand’s history is forged by the principal forces of history – Alexander the Great, cultural and learning infusion by the Arabs, and destruction by Genghis Khan. In the 14th and 15th centuries Samarkand was Emporer Timur’s empire’ capital and nurtured Samarkand to its peak.

Like many locations, Samarkand was an important stop on the Silk Road, fostering exotic products in its bazaars, its scholars, artisans, along with construction of significant monuments and buildings which we visit during our busy stay. We visit monuments, ruins, the famed Registan complex, the Samarkand bazaar, Bibi Hanum.

We include various workshops and studios, such as a designer who works with new and antique silk ikat fabrics and woodblocks, the complete process of natural-dyed silk carpets, along with equisite tile mosiac work.

Skull caps

A day trip via the scenic Zeravshan range takes us to the birthplace of Amir Timur, a World Heritage site to see his palace, mosque, and stunning mosaic tile work. The area is also famous for its distinctive embroidery style.

Next day, fine tune your bargaining skils at Uzbekistan’s largest continuos market. A vibrant bazaar complete with vintage textiles, jewellery, hats, traditional shoes and more. We also discover earth-hued Urgut ceramics

Young women sewing

and beautiful silk embroidery pieces with traditional Urgut motifs. Returning to Samarkand we stop at a UNESCO project showcasing ancient paper making skills. Here, we see water mills and traditional techniques replicating the paper making skills of the past.

Included features at Samarkand

  • Highlights include an Uzbek traditional music concert, dinner and fashion show at Nargis’ boutique, and lunch in a family home in Urgut after the market.

Day 08-10: Mon 05 Oct to Wed 07 Oct: Travel to Bukhara

Briefly stop at restored Kagan Russian orthodox church of St Nicholas dating from 1892 on our fast train journey to Bukhara. There is free time this afternoon to wander the lanes and enjoy the tea shops.

Bukhara is a time-warp city reflecting the intellectual scholarship demonstrated by architectural treasures, museums, caravanserais, souks, and crafts such as wood block prints, silk and carpets, embroidery. Bargains in antiques can be found. We also inclde an ikat weaving demonstation.

Woman knitting

Included features at Bukhara:

  • In the evening we take dinner in the courtyard of a restored merchant’s house. Watch as our meal is prepared using traditional tandoor clay ovens.

Bukhara Option:

  • Hammam’s, or public baths, are a centuries old tradition and Bukhara has one of the oldest still in service. Seperate sections based on gender. Hammam’s are more than a ‘bath’ – after a scrub, you soak in tubs, and massaged. (About US$25) . Enjoy an ancient puppet theatre performance (about US$8)

Day 11-13: Thu 08 Oct to Sat 10 Oct: Bukhara to Khiva

Crossing the Kyzylkum Desert and the Amu Darya river, known as the Oxus in ancient times to arrive at mud-walled Khiva. The desert-scape is mesmerising with vast steppes hosting shepherds and their flocks, small villages, military outposts, and interesting vegetation.

Just one impressive mosque

Khiva’s position on the Silk Route made it a centre for trade in all manner of goods, including slaves. It was also the desire of numerous rulers, some ruthless, others odd. Today, Khiva’s intact status (thanks to previous Soviet policies), makes it a most attractive destination. The small old town is packed with interesting buildings and wonderful craft studios and ideal for walking discovering weathered wood carved doors, magnificent tile work and exploring Khiva’s superb mosques, palaces, and madrasa’s. There are great silk carpet shops to entice you, too.

From Khiva we take a side trip west to Nukus to visit the the second largest collection of Russian and Uzbek avant garde art in the world held at the Savitsky Collection. We also visit the Karakalpak Museum and its vast ethnographic collection of pile rugs, flat weaves, embroidery, appliqué work, jewellery and hand-made textiles. Both visits are featured highlights of our journey.

The ancient Ayaz Kala desert fortress complex located on the Khorezm section of the Great Silk Road is our next attraction. Nearby, we extend our experiences with a night in the steppe landscape in at a yurt camp. Tonight we witness a dance and music performance, over a local dinner.

After breakfast, visit the nearby 4thC BC Red Fort by foot. Leave late morning for Khiva, where you have the afternoon free for roaming or shopping. Evening flight back to Tashkent.

Included features at Khiva and Karakalpakstan:

  • Dinner on the evening of arrival after the long road trip from Bukhara. Our café serves delicious soup and a dill noodle dish with chickpeas.
  • A roof-top dinner in Khiva enjoying sunset views of the magnificent domes.
  • A thrilling, traditional rope walking performance in the courtyard of the Muhammad Rakhim Khan by the Jabborov family.
  • Our yurt camp with music and dance.

Day 16: Tue 13 Oct: Tashkent

Our last day offers an optional visit to the Museum of Victims of Repression, dedicated to the suffering of Uzbeks during the Russian and Soviet periods. Many exhibits draw on information culled from the former KGB archives.

We can also visit the Barak-Khan Madrassah complex in the old city to see the impressive and world’s oldest Koran. Evening is free.

Day 17: Wed 14 Oct: Depart Uzbekistan

Free time until transfer to airport for flight home. End of services.

Journey Price Includes:

  • Hotel accommodation in Double or Twin room. Single supplement is USD480.
  • Breakfast daily in the hotel, plus 5 dinners and one lunch
  • Daily water provided in the bus
  • Entrance tickets to the sites, mausoleums and museums as per program
  • Local train tickets, Tashkent to Samarkand, and Samarkand to Bukhara
  • Local flight Khiva to Tashkent
  • Local and professional English-speaking guide throughout the journey
  • Services of Christine Pearson from Intentionally Different Travel as Tour Concierge
  • Pick up from airport on arrival and drop off to airport at the end of the tour, for group.
  • Transport from Day 1 till Day 16
  • Comprehensive information dossier

Exclusions:

  • International air-ticket to / from Tashkent
  • Early check in or late check out (early check in before 6 AM 100 % room rate, after 6 AM 50% room rate, late check out by 6 PM 50 % and late check out after 1800, 100% room rate.
  • Tipping guides and driver
  • Master classes (booked in advance, around $15-25 per person depend on number of participants). Details to follow.
  • Travel insurance, which is mandatory
  • Phone, internet, communication costs
  • Alcohol and other drinks.

Hotel Selection for our Journey

Our selection criteria include central location, charm, cleanliness, cultural integrity, uniqueness, and standard of service. All rooms have private western-style bathrooms and comfortable beds. Our yurt stay is a little different, but comfortable and charming.

Currency and Price

Due to fluctuations in the exchange rates, this program is priced in US dollars, being the currency our partners in Uzbekistan work with. When you pay for your trip, we will convert to Australian dollar at the prevailing Commonwealth Bank buy rate. Contact us if you prefer to pay in Us dollars.

Road Travel

We use comfortable air-con vehicles and endeavour to provide more seats than guests. Road conditions vary and some are in good condition while others may be similar to those found in remote regions of Australia.

International Air Travel

There are convenient flights to Tashkent which allow a stop enroute. We don’t include international flights due to the variety of choice, frequent flyer preferences, and class of travel. Our air fare guru will assist in arranging a suitable ticket for you.

Our Style

We aim to excel when it comes to personal attention and relevant information. This includes information on where to dine, where to purchase textiles and other products, explanations on ethnic minorities and their craft practice along with answers to the myriad of other questions our guests pose.

Apart from good and relevant information, and excellent hands-on experiences, we include attractive accommodation, good sightseeing opportunities, plenty of ‘getting-to-meet-the-locals’ encounters and of course, great dining opportunities from restaurants to quaint local cafes. We don’t hold your hand all the way so there are ‘free time’ periods to allow you to rest, explore on your own, or simply visit a café for a coffee.

Past guests have found our ‘style’ very much to their liking and we trust you will also.

Should you join this program?

Firstly, if you enjoy crafts and textiles you should join. However, as there is much more included in the program, others with a general interest in Central Asian history and culture would also enjoy this tour. There is opportunity for short to medium walks throughout, so a reasonable level of fitness is an advantage. While this is not an ‘outdoor/adventure’ trip, a ‘sense of adventure’ is required for the trip.

Additional Travel

Extra nights can be reserved, either pre or post‐tour, or at your enroute stopover point, but you MUST advise us well in advance. If you would like to continue to Europe or other destinations please let us know, so we can develop an individual travel program for you. We have designed exciting itineraries for our clients throughout the region for many years.

Reservations

Contact us or email robert@intenttravel.com.au with any questions you may have.

To secure your place, please email your intention to join our Uzbek Journey. You will then receive a reservation form to complete. Your option is held for seven days secured by receipt of a non-refundable deposit of $750 per person. Deposit is refunded if minimum numbers are not reached.

“The Paperwork”

Your deposit will be acknowledged. We keep you informed as to the status of bookings and advise you when minimum numbers are reached. Then, we send you a confirmation kit and invoice. Final payment is due 60-days prior departure. When our group is complete and after final payment, air tickets and travel documents will be sent out. Then it is only a short time before your wonderful journey begins!

Your Expert Tour Concierge: Christine Pearson

Christine Pearson

“For me, travel is in my soul”. With over 40 years of constant travel to almost 70 countries, Christine knows what to pack, how to negotiate, care for ill guests, find that elusive local café, and has friends throughout the world. Christine, and her husband created Intentionally Different Travel with the aim of developing less usual travel journeys to more unusual destinations. Christine’s professional and personal interests in crafts, particularly textiles, ceramics, jewellery and folk art (she has a BVA from ANU), focusses her explorations, and is keen to share her knowledge and insights with her guests.

Christine, together with our local Guides and Driver, ensure a smooth trip and are available to assist each Guest with individual interests. Christine is skilled at finding new places, back lanes to interesting markets, discovering the quirky café as well as scanning every shopping opportunity for those unique crafty items that reflect the culture of the places visited.