Border Information: If joining in Tehran, you will most likely enter Iran at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IATA code: IKA). There will be a pre-departure meeting at 6:00pm - please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note at the hotel on your arrival, as today is usually a travel day for the Dragoman leaders and they are due to arrive in Tehran by mid-afternoon. Please note that due to restrictions on citizens of the UK, USA and Canada being permitted to remain unaccompanied in Iran, you will need to fly into Tehran on the same day as the trip starts. These transfers from the airport to your joining hotel are automatically included in your trip. If arriving outside of these times please contact your sales agent. Please ensure the correct dates for your plans are clearly stated on all your visa applications. Hotel for the night: Parastoo Hotel Parastoo Hotel Jomhouri Avenue Mohammad Beik St Tehran Iran Tel - +98 917 714 2602 About Tehran: Iran’s massive capital of Tehran is a sprawling city at the foot of the Alborz mountain range. With a population of approximately 15 million people, it is the largest city in the Middle East and a cultural melting pot full of interesting museums, historical palaces, art galleries, cultural centres and lively cafes and restaurants, not to mention some of the most friendly and welcoming people you are ever likely to meet. You shouldn't miss the Golestan Palace - this extravagant building was historically the royal Qajar complex, the seat of the Shahs of Persia. The many museums here are also well worth a visit if you're interested in learning more about the history and culture of Iran, in particular the National Museum, Carpet Museum of Iran and Niavaran Palace Complex. Tehran is also home to theIranian Imperial Crown Jewels, claimed to be the largest, most dazzling and valuable jewel collection in the world, which includes crowns and thrones, 30 tiaras, jewel-studded swords and shields and a vast number of loose precious gems.
Todaywe will have an included tour of the stunning Golestan Palace and the fascinating National Museum of Iran. Activity Approximate Cost Explore the former royal complex of Golestan Palace, a huge site built in the 16th century and Tehran's oldest monument Included in Kitty Learn all about Iran's rich and fascinating history at Tehran's National Museum of Iran Included in Kitty Visit the Iranian Artists' Forum in Tehran, a large gallery for the country's best young artists to feature their work Free Explore the S'ad Abad Museum in the spectacular mountainside near Tehran, once a royal summer home during the Pahlavi period USD 4.5 Visit the shocking Ebrat Museum, once the prison used by the Shah's brutal secret police before the revolution of 1979 USD 5 See Tehran's iconic Azadi Tower, the inverted Y- shaped memorial built in 1971 to USD 2.5 commemorate the 2500th anniversary of the first Persian Empire See Tehran's Museum of the Islamic Period and its interesting collection of artifacts from various stages of Iran's history (when open) USD 3 Visit the viewing tower at the top of the iconic Milad Tower, one of the world's tallest towers at a height of 435 metres USD 8 Visit the Laleh Park in central Tehran, an oasis of calm and a well-designed green space to observe local life pass by Free See some of Iran's most precious treasures at the Treasury of National Jewels, including the 182 carat Darya-ye-Nur (Sea of Light) which is thought to be the world's largest uncut diamond, and the phenomenal 34kg Globe of Jewels, made with over 51,000 precious stones USD 4.5
Today we wil have a full day's drive to the stunning old Safavid-era capital of Esfahan. Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours(please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!). On the following day we will have an included walking tour of the central highlights of Esfahan, including the showpiece central square of Naqsh-e Jahan and its surrounding mosques and royal palaces, the old bazaar, and the beautiful Jameh Mosque, one of the oldest in Iran. On our second full day here, we will have free time to explore more ofEsfahan's incredible sites, such as its ancient bridges, the curious 'Shaking Minarets', the Armenian Vank Cathedral, or the evocative Martyrs' Cemetery. In Esfahan we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Activity Approximate Cost Visit the magnificent and colossal city square of Naqsh-e Jahan, the centrepiece of the Safavid- era city of Esfahan Included in Kitty Explore the Shah Mosque, the public mosque of Esfahan built by Shah Abbas I and a masterpiece of Persian architecture Included in Kitty See the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, once a private mosque for the emperor and his harem and home to some of the world's most beautiful and masterful internal tilework Included in Kitty Explore the grand palace of Ali Qapu and discover the stunning wall paintings of the former residence of the Safavid emperors Included in Kitty Wander the streets of Esfahan's old bazaar, dating from the 17th century Free Walk around Esfahan's historical centre and visit the five iconic Safavid-era bridges across the Zayandeh river Free Visit the Vank Cathedral, a beautiful Orthodox church set up by the Armenian diaspora in the 17th century Free Visit the stunning Jameh Mosque in Esfahan, one of the oldest mosques in Iran and an amalgamation of several different styles of Persian architecture Included in Kitty See the curious 14th-century 'Shaking Minarets' in Esfahan, famous for the effect that if one minaret is shaken, the other will shake as well IRR 5000 Visit the very moving Martyrs' Cemetery of Esfahan, a patriotic tribute to soldiers who died in the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s Free Explore the site of the ancient Zoroastrian Fire Temples near Esfahan, where you get incredible views over the city and the surrounding valley IRR 40000 About Esfahan: The friendly and beautiful city of Esfahan is often described as "the Jewel of Persia". The city rose into prominence when it was made the capital in 1598CE during the Safavid era and thereign of Shah Abbas I. During the 17th- Century, some of the most beautiful and inspiring architecture in the Islamic world was constructed in Esfahan. The cool, blue tiles of the buildings contrast perfectly with the hot dry Iranian countryside around it - and as you wander the city's streets, get lost in the bazaar and relax in the beautiful municipal gardens, it won't be long before you find yourself falling in love with this magical place. A good place to start your explorations is Imam Square, with the Imam Mosque, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Ali Qapu Palace and Chehel Sotun Palace all located nearby. From the Ali Qapu Palace you can get excellent views of the bustling Imam Square and Esfahan's enormous covered bazaar, which houses over 5kms of narrow winding alleyways. The bazaar is famous for its brass work, miniature paintings, block-printed cloth and, of course, carpets. The nearby Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque has some of the finest interior tilework to be seen in the whole world. Other sights worth seeking out are the Friday Mosque and the many magnificent river bridges. Today we will have a full day drive to the southern city of Shiraz. In Shiraz we will stay in a local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours. About Shiraz: The ancient Iranian city of Shiraz is located in an attractive valley, once well known for the wine that was produced here. The area has been inhabited since at least 2000BCE, but rose to prominence during medieval times and became the capital of the Islamic world during the Zand Dynasty between 1750-1800CE. Shiraz is widely considered to be the intellectual capital of the country and the heart of Persian culture and tradition. The city has been the home of manyimportant Persian poets and there is still a vibrant arts scene here today.Wandering the streets here can be an enjoyable way to discover the city,getting lost in the Bazaar and admiring the impressive architecture, particularlysome of the incredible mosques and shady gardens.The Nasir Ol Molk Mosquehas one of the most colourful interiors in the whole of Iran.
Today we will have an included walking tour of some of the highlights of the old city of Shiraz, including the beautifully-coloured Nasir ol Molk Mosque, the incredible mirrored interior of the Shah Cheragh Mosque, and the historical house of Narenjestan .Activity Approximate Cost Visit the stunning Shah Cheragh Mosque, a major pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims Included in Kitty Explore the 19th century Nasir ol Molk Mosque, famous for its extensive coloured glass art Included in Kitty Visit the Narenjestan Palace in Shiraz, the former home of the wealthy Qavam family of merchants Included in Kitty Explore the stunning citadel of the Arg of Karim Khan inShiraz, built by the emperor Karim during theZand Dynasty in thelate 18th century IRR 20000 Visit the tranquil site of the tomb of Hafez, a famous 14th-century Persian poet whose collected works are regarded as the pinnacle of Persian literature IRR 60000
Today we will drive tothe phenomenal ancient ruins of Persepolis, once the capital of the mighty Achaemenid Persian Empire until it was conquered by Alexander the Great in 330BCE. After this we will continue north to the famous Caravanserai of Zein-o-Din, an atmospheric 16th-century guesthouse originally built to accommodate merchants travelling on the Silk Road. In Zein-o-Din we will stay overnight at the old caravanserai. Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours. Activity Approximate Cost Stay overnight in the incredible restored Safavid-era circular caravanserai in the remote deserts south of Yazd Included in Kitty Head out on a guided tour of the incredible historic ruins of the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis, founded by Cyrus the Great in 550BCE and invaded by Alexander the Great in 330BCE Included in Kitty Visit the phenomenal site of Naqsht-e Rustam near Persepolis, the cross-shaped tombs of four of the great Emperors of Persia chiselled into the cliff face USD 10 About Persepolis Darius I built the city of Persepolis in around 500 BCE as the ceremonial capital of the Achaemenid Empire, and its wealth and opulence soon became legendary. In ancient Persia, Persepolis was called Parsa, meaning "The City of the Persians" (the name Persepolis was given to the city by the ancient Greeks). It was destroyed by Alexander the Great in 330 BCE, but even today its past splendour is easily appreciated from the ruins that remain, and the incredibly well-preserved marble carvings within. About Zein-o-din: Zein-o-Din, about 60km south of Yazd, is one of the world's most well preservedancient caravanserais - inns set up to accommodate merchants and travellers journeying along the Silk Road. Zein-o-Din is one of 999 caravanserais constructed in the 16th Century CE during the reign of Shah Abbas I. Today it is still open to travellers, and is a fabulous, atmospheric and historical stop on our journey through Iran.
Today we will take a short drive to the ancient desert town of Yazd, one of the oldest extant towns in Iran. On arrival we willhave an included visit to two important Zoroastrian sites in Iran - the Fire Temple and the Towers of Silence. Estimated Drive Time - 1-2 hours. On the following day we will have an included walking tour of some of the main highlights of Yazd, including the incredible Jameh Mosque, the Old Town and the Amir Chakhmaq complex.In Yazd we will stay in a local hotel. Activity Approximate Cost See the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence outside Yazd, used until the 1960s to place bodies of the deceased so that they did not touch and pollute the sacred elements of fire or earth Included in Kitty Visit the Zoroastrian Fire Temple of Yazd, where they keep a sacred fire that has supposedly been continuously burning since 470CE, the only Zoroastrian eternal flame of its type outside of India Included in Kitty See the stunning ancient Jameh Mosque of Yazd, built in the 12th century and a fantastic example of Azari architecture Included in Kitty Learn all about the intriguing and ingenious historical methods of getting water to the desert town of Yazd at the Yazd Water Museum Included in Kitty Freely explore the huge city square and mosque at the Amir Chakmaq complex, built in the 15th century Included in Kitty Discover the atmospheric winding streets and beautiful adobe architecure of Yazd's Old Town, one of the oldest towns in the world Included in Kitty See the fascinating centuries-old practice ofVarzesh-e Bastani at the Yazd House of Strength, a curious blend of strength training, martial arts andwrestling, accompanied by traditional music IRR 10000 About Yazd: Yazd is a tranquil and rustic old city, complete with streets paved in sun-baked tiles, a unique little bazaar and lots of small shops selling interesting trinkets and souvenirs. The town is the centre of Iran's oldest religion, Zoroastrianism. With the Islamic conquest of Iran in the 7th century CE, Zoroastrianism lost its position as the dominant religion and many remote shrines were abandoned and forgotten. The mountainous region around the city of Yazd became the last remaining stronghold of Zoroastrianism, and today it's one of the few places where these ancient traditions are still practiced.
Today we will continue our journey to the desert city of Khoor, where we have the option to take an evening jeep trip into the nearby salt flats to have dinner. In Khoor we will stay in a beautiful hotel in the style of a desert caravanserai. Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours. *Please note that with small groups and at certain times of the year we may be able to stay in a local homestay in the nearby village of Mesr*. Activity Approximate Cost Explore the ancient desert town of Khoor and see its beautiful palm trees and ruined castle Included in Kitty About Khoor: Khoor is an small village located in the central desert of Iran, (known as Dasht- e-Kavir in Persian). Close by are the central mountain ranges of Iran, which create a stunning and isolated landscape. The town’s only water supply comes from a spring that flows out of the foothills of the mountains quite close to the heart of the village. This is the only source of life for the beautiful gardens and date palm orchards that make this oasis such a special place.
Today we will have a morning drive to the ancient town of Damghan. On arrival we will take a walking tour, including the Tarikhuneh Mosque which features columns dating from the year 760CE. In Damghan we will stay in a local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours. Activity Approximate Cost Explore the ancient town of Bastam, containing monuments dating from the Ilkhanate Period when Iran was controlled by the Mongol Empire Included in Kitty Visit the splendid ancient brick building of Imamzadeh Jafar in Damghan, which has anappearance similar to a North African castle Free See Damghan's Jameh Mosque and it's fine brick minaret dating from the mid-11th century Free Visit the partially-ruined Tarikhuneh Mosquewhich features 18 rear columns dating from around 760CE, making this one of the oldest mosques in Iran Included in Kitty About Damghan: Damghan was an important city in the Middle Ages, capital of the province of Qumis. Today it is a sleepy, historic town. It's main attraction is the claim to have what may be Iran's oldest surviving mosque - the Tarikhaneh Mosque that was constructed in the 8th Century CE, only 100 years after the arrival of Islam in Persia.
Today we will drive to the historical town of Bastam and visit the Sufi complex in the centre. After this we will continue to the town of Shirvan. In Shirvan we will stay in a basic local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours. About Shirvan: Shirvan is famed for its natural beautym tranquil gardens, small waterfalls and natural springs.Shirvan has a long history -Zoroastrian graves show that it was inhabited long before the Islamic conquest of the 7th Century CE. Due to its proximity to Iran's northern borders, the town has Turic influences in its local dialect and customs.
Border Information: Exit Iran at Bajgiran, enter Turkmenistan at Gaudan. Today we will head over the border toT urkmenistan and to the bizarre capital of Ashgabat In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours. *Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.* About Ashgabat: Ashgabat is a unique modern city that has been extensively rebuilt since the country gained independence in 1991. Little is left of the original Russian Imperial city as most of it was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1948, and today the city centre is a bizarre mix of futuristic and outrageous public buildings that are an extraordinary sight - these include many ornate marble buildings and extravagant golden statues of the president. Ashgabat's Sunday Market is famous along the whole Silk Road - this wonder fulmarket stretches for hundreds of acres into the desert. Carpets, camels, clothes, pigs, jewellery, goats, cars, chickens, hats and ex-Soviet military paraphernalia are readily available.
Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB). There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting. After the meeting we will visit the famous Ashgabat Sunday Market. In the afternoon we will then have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ashgabat before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ashgabat. If arriving at Ashgabat airport you will also need to have a confirmed arrival transfer and representative from our local supplier to meet you at the airport. Please contact your sales agent for prices and to book. In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel. *Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.* Hotel for the night: Ak-Altyn Hotel Ak Altyn Hotel 141/1 Magtymguly Avenue Ashgabat 744000 Turkmenistan Tel - +9931236 3700 Activity Approximate Cost Explore, shop and haggle at the vast Tolkuchka Sunday Market Included in Kitty Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city Included in Kitty About Ashgabat: Ashgabat is a unique modern city that has been extensively rebuilt since the country gained independence in 1991. Little is left of the original Russian Imperial city as most of it was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1948, and today the city centre is a bizarre mix of futuristic and outrageous public buildings that are an extraordinary sight - these include many ornate marble buildings and extravagant golden statues of the president. Ashgabat's Sunday Market is famous along the whole Silk Road - this wonderful market stretches for hundreds of acres into the desert. Carpets, camels, clothes, pigs, jewellery, goats, cars, chickens, hats and ex-Soviet military paraphernalia are readily available.
Today we set off north from Ashgabat and head into the Karakum Desert. We will have an included side trip to the amazing flaming Darvaza Gas Crater (also known as the 'Door to Hell'!). We will wild camp in the deserts near Darvaza Crater tonight. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!). Activity Approximate Cost See the bizarre and incredible burning gas crater at Darvasa, popularly known as the 'Door to Hell' Included in Kitty About Darvaza: Darvaza is a tiny settlement in the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan, which is the location of one of the world's more unusual highlights - the flaming Darvasa Gas Crater, sometimes dramatically called 'The Door to Hell'. The crater formed as a result of an industrial accident - Soviet oil prospectors started drilling in 1971 expecting to find oil, and when only gas was found underneath the ground collapsed to form the crater. Worried about the gas released into the air, they deliberately set the crater on fire to burn off the excess, expecting this to only last a few weeks - however the natural gas supply turned out to be much more plentiful, and it's been burning away ever since! The crater is truly a breathtaking sight, especially at night - it's about the size of a football pitch and ablaze with fire, truly looking like the entrance to the underworld!
Today we will continue our overland journey north across the Karakum. We will visit the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day. We will wild camp in the deserts near Kunye Urgench tonight. Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours. Activity Approximate Cost Overland into the green Oxus Valley to the ancient ruined city of Kunye Urgench Included in Kitty About Kunye Urgench: Kunye Urgench is one of Turkmenistan's most important historic sites, and was once a major city along the Silk Road. Situated on the shores of the Amu Daria River, the area has been settled since the 5th-Century BCE and came to prominence under the rule of the Persian Khwarezem Empire in the 11thCentury CE. The city managed to flourish even after Genghis Khan's invasion of 1221, only being finally destroyed and abandoned after an attack by the warlord Timur in 1373. Timur did a very thorough job in demolishing the city, there are still plenty of old ruined buildings from the 11th-14th centuries dotted around, including a mosque, mausoleum and the towering 60-metre-high Kutlug-Timur minaret, the highest in Central Asia.
Border Information: Exit Turkmenistan at Shovot, enter Uzbekistan at Nijazov. This morning we will visit the markets in the border town of Dashoguz, before driving across the border into Uzbekistan and continue to the beautiful historic town of Khiva. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours. The following day we have a guided tour of the ancient city of Khiva during the morning. In the afternoon we will have plenty of free time to further explore this wonderfully preserved Khanate town. In Khiva we will stay in a comfortable hotel. Activity Approximate Cost See the beautiful turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret, one of the iconic symbols of Khiva Included in Kitty Visit the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassa, a museum dedicated to the Khan that surrendered to the Russians in 1873 Included in Kitty Explore the incredibly photogenic blue palace of Tash Khovli in Khiva Included in Kitty Learn all about the Khoezm culture and handicrafts at the Islam Hodja Madrassa, Khiva's newest monument Included in Kitty Explore the incredible Juma Mosque and the 12th century fortress of the Kukhna Ark Included in Kitty Visit the mausoleum of Pahlavon Mohammed, the legendary 14th-century poet, philosopher, wrestler, and patron saint of Khiva Included in Kitty About Khiva: The small historic town of Khiva in Uzbekistan was once the capital of the Khwarezmid Empire, one of Central Asia's most powerful states in the 12th Century CE until they were invaded by Genghis Khan in 1220 CE. Khiva once again rose to prominence as the centre of the Khanate of Khia between 1500 CE and 1924, when the area was fully incorporated into the Soviet Union.The city's long history is fascinating, and fortunately much of the magnificent architecture has been incredibly well preserved. The ancient walls that used to provide sanctuary for the travellers on the Silk Road are intact, as is the old town that the walls were built to protect. Many of the buildings are beautifully decorated in classic turquoise tiles. As well as exploring the streets of the old city, you should make sure you visit the Kukhna Ark and Juma Mosque, Pakhlovan Mahmus Mausoleum and Islam Hodja Madrassa.
Today we will have a full day's drive to the fascinating city of Bukhara, where will spend the next 3 nights. In Bukhara we will stay in a comfortable local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours. About Bukhara: Bukhara is an atmospheric city with an incredible history and a wonderful heritage - exploring the streets, you really get the feeling that this is how Central Asia was before Soviet domination. Bukhara was once a very powerful Khanate, controlling most of Turkmenistan and the surrounding area. Many of the buildings here are spectacular and very well-preserved, particularly the Ark Fortress, Ismail Samanid Mausoleum and he famous Kalyan Minaret (also known as the Death Tower). The government has invested a considerable amount of money into the city in order to preserve the architecture here.
Today we will have a guided tour of Bukhara and the surrounding area, including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison and the Ark Fortress. On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore this incredible historic city and its surroundings. Activity Approximate Cost Watch an entertaining evening puppet show, featuring many local Uzbek and Tajik poems and songs USD 5 Visit the magnificent 16th-centrury architectural ensemble surrounding the Lyab-i Hauz ponds, once the city's principal source of water Included in Kitty See the Indian-style Char Minar Minarets, four towers nestled in a maze of alleyways in downtown Bukhara Free Visit the gruesome museum at the old prison of Zindon UZS 4500 Explore the city's oldest Islamic monument, the 10th-century mausoleum of Ismail Samanid, the founder of the Samanid Dynasty Included in Kitty Explore the colossal Kalon Mosque and Minaret, which has survived without restoration for 850 years and impressed Genghis Khan so much that he ordered the building to be spared Included in Kitty Discover the ruins of the ancient 5th-century fortress of the Bukhara Ark Included in Kitty
Today we will drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert near the town of Nurata. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to head out on an optional camel ride into the desert! In the Kyzylkhum Desert we will stay in a desert yurt camp. Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours. Activity Approximate Cost Overnight in the Kyzylkum Desert staying in yurts. Included in Kitty
This morning we will spend some time exploring the Nurata Hills with the option of taking a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul. After lunch we will drive to Samarkand where we will stay for the next 3 nights. In Samarkand we will stay in a good hotel on the outskirts of town. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours. About Samarkand: A city brimming with history, Samarkand became famous in the 14th Century CE as the birthplace of the warlord Timur and the capital of his Sultanate. Thanks to its cemtral location along the Silk Road, the town originally grew propserous as a crossroads between East and West, creating a melting pot of different cultures and traditions whose influences are still very much apparent today. Samarkand is perhaps the most romantic and evocative of the Silk Road cities, and is crowned by the decorative domes and minarets of the many beautiful buildings here. The must-sees include the iconic Registan Square (the central focus of the city and home to a group of impressively decorated madrassas), Guri Amir and the Shah-i-Zinda mausoleum.
Today we will have a guided tour of the incredible historic city of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including the Registan, Ulug Beg Observatory, BibiKhanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda. On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore the beautiful city and its surroundings. Activity Approximate Cost Visit to Shakhrisabz city USD 20 Visit the Guri-Amir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur Included in Kitty Explore the stunning plaza of The Registan, a world-famous and iconic symbol of Central Asia Included in Kitty Learn about the area's scientific heritage with a visit to the 15th-century Ulug Beg Observatory, once the finest observatory in the Islamic world Included in Kitty Discover the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once one of the largest mosques in the world and the jewel in Timur's empire Included in Kitty See the beautiful and moving ancient mausoleum of Shah-I-Zinda Included in Kitty Wander through the markets and carpet vendors of Samarkand, and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the local carpet weavers Free
This morning we will have a little more free time to explore more of Samarkand. After lunch we will drive to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours. About Tashkent: Whilst the historic cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva still retain much of the atmosphere of the ancient Khanates, Tashkent is very definitely a Soviet city, because old Tashkent was largely destroyed by a series of earthquakes and Soviet planners. Having said that, it is still a great place to visit - the city has a clean, modern feel and there is some unusal contemporary architecture here, which makes it an interesting contrast to many other places along the Silk Road.
Today we will have a free day to explore Tashkent. Activity Approximate Cost Explore urbane Tashkent and experience a surreal cabaret dinner Free Visit the nightclubs and Imperial Russian-style cabaret restaurants of Tashkent Free Visit the religious centre of Tashkent at Hast Imam Square and see the Uthman Koran, believed to be the world's oldest extant copy of the Koran USD 5
Border Information: if finishing in Tashkent, you will most likely exit Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport (IATA code: TAS). Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Tashkent. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.