Great Silk Road

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Great Silk Road

Duration: 11 days, 10 nights
Season: all year around
Route: Bishkek – Karakol – Tamga – Bishkek – Tashkent – Bukhara – Samarkand  – Tashkent 
Level of difficulty: program is suitable for people of any age; there aren’t any difficulties on the route but for several days transfer takes around 6-7 hours.

In this configuration: “The Great Silk Road program” includes two countries for visiting: Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
The Great Silk Road is a trade route connecting East Asia with the Mediterranean. It was mainly used for transporting Silk from China. Spices, dyes, precious stones, gold and silver, exotic birds and animals were also transported. The Silk Road was not a single highway. It included several branches of roads that passed around deserts through mountain passes, glaciers. Route stretched for thousands of kilometers. It took place in the second century BC. up to the fifteenth century. Further, the Silk Road fell into decay due to the resumption of military conflicts in Central Asia, which stimulated the development of maritime trade. In long term we received Great geographical discoveries.
Part of this route passed through the current territory of Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. The third route, the most difficult, was called the Northern (“Steppe Way”) through the Tien Shan route lead to Samarkand, Bukhara, Khorezm further to the shores of the Caspian Sea. Part of the caravans from Samarkand through Bactria went to the Middle East and India.
Over time, routes also changed in the sixth and eighth centuries. The main road being the Syria - Iran - Central Asia - South Kazakhstan - Talas Valley - Chuy Valley - Issyk Kul Basin - East Turkestan.
During the tour, we will pass along the former Silk Road leading from Chuy to Issyk-Kul valleys. Visiting the ruins of the ancient capital of Karakhanisd - Balasagun near Tokmok.  Drive to Issyk Kul region, where Caravans also passed through the Arabel valley towards China. 
Later flight to Uzbekistan. Flight Bishkek – Tashkent. Visiting two more cities rich of history - Samarkand and Bukhara. Both cities are under UNESCO protection. There are many old sightseeing. 

Day 1.
Airport “Manas” – Bishkek city 

Arrival in airport “Manas” (early morning arrival). Transfer to Bishkek accompanied by a great view to Kyrgyz Ala Too Mountain Range. Accommodation in a hotel in Bishkek, short rest. City tour - walk from Philharmonic to Ala Too main square. Passing by “White House”, open-air art gallery, oak park, different monuments and finish by Opera House and Victory Square. 
Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight in a Hotel.
Altitudes (above sea level): Bishkek 700-800m
Distance and travel time:  Airport-Bishkek 35 km (40 min), city tour 6-7 hours.

Day 2.
Bishkek city – Burana tower – Cholpon Ata town – Karakol 

Depart from Hotel after breakfast and drive along alternative mountain road to Burana Tower, which is UNESCO heritage (10-11 century A.D.). During the excursion we climb up 24 meters Tower and see the beautiful Chui valley and Kyrgyz Mountain Range from above. Then continue driving towards Issyk Kul Lake and pass through Boom Gorge which separates Chui and Issyk Kul valleys. “Boom” means “narrow”. It is a scenic place with stormy Chui river, winding road, mottled rocks and clear mountain air. WC stop in Boom gorge. Visit open-air museum with thousands petroglyphs in Cholpon Ata. Lunch. Optionally: one-hour boat trip in case of good weather conditions.  Futher way to Karakol runs along the picturesque places. 
Dinner in a local restaurant. 
Overnight in a Hotel. 
Altitudes (above sea level): Bishkek 700-800m, Issyk Kul 1600-1800m. 
Distance and travel time: 450 km by car, 8 hours of driving, 3-6 hours for excursions.

Day 3.
Karakol town – Djety Ogyz valley – Tamga village 

After breakfast drive to visit museum of great explorer Prjevalsky, Saint Trinity Orthodox Church, Dungan Mosque. Drive directly to the famous Djety Oguz valley along the South coast of Issyk Kul Lake after lunch. “Djety Oguz” means “Seven Bulls”. Sandy red rocks remind those animals. From other side it looks like “Broken Heart”. 
Little walk to the resort famous for its mineral water from 1932 year. Then drive further up to Canyon. Short walking there.
Drive to Tamga village. 
Dinner and overnight in the Guest House.
Altitudes (above sea level): Karakol 1800m, Djety Oguz up to 2500m, Tamga village 1685m. 
Distances and travel time: 130 km on the proper roads, 50 km on dirt roads, 3-4 hours driving, 8-10 hours with excursions and stops.

Day 4.
Tamga village – Barskoon Gorge – Arabel pass – Tamga village – “Skazka” Canyon 

Breakfast in the Guest House. Drive to Barskoon Gorge to visit Waterfalls. Our first stop at the memorial of the first cosmonaut Yuriy Gagarin, who had visited this Gorge. From here you may see and hike to the strong waterfall, which calls “Snowleopard’s jump”, there are also two more walerfalls “Snowleopard’s tears”, “The cup of the Manas”. Drive up to the pass. This is one of the best mountain road in Kygyzstan. It goes to the Gold mining company “Kumtor”. The high of the pass is 3800m. There is plateau mountains of eternal Frost surrounded with the mountains. There are plenty of lakes with crystal water. After small walk drive back to Tamga. Evening is the best time to drive for excursion to “Skazka” (Fairy tale) Canyon. It’s colorful sandstone rocks place, where you may notice characters from Fairy tales. After excursion drive back to Guest House to Tamga. 
Dinner and overnight there.
Altitudes (above sea level): Tamga 1685m, Barskoon gorge 3800m, Arabel valley 3800-3900m 
Distances and travel time:  150 km dirt roads, 3-4 hours, 6-10 hours with excursions and stops.

Day 5.
Tamga village – Bishkek 

After early breakfast drive along the South shore of Issyk Kul Lake.  Excursion to “Skazka” (Fairy Tale) canyon on the way. It’s a place with colorful sandstone rocks which looks like Mars landscape or characters and decorations from Fairy Tales. Just switch on your imagination and you can easily spend hours walking in this magic place. Optionally: on excursion to Felt workshop, where they produce traditional Kyrgyz carpets and Yurts. Take part in a workshop of making Kyrgyz carpet “Ala Kiiz”.  Also optionally: eagle hunting show. Lunch in Boom gorge. Back to Bishkek.
Farewell dinner in a restaurant.
Accommodation in a hotel.
Altitudes (above sea level): Tamga - 1685m, Bishkek – 700m.
Distances and travel time:  320 km 5 hours on the road, 3-4 hours for excursion.

Day 6.
Bishkek City – Airport “Manas” 

Early breakfast. Driving to the airport. Departure to Tashkent.
Meeting with a guide in Tashkent. Start of city – tour: Khast-Imam square, Barak-Khan madrasah, Kafal al-Shashi Mazar Mausoleum, Kukeldash madrasah, Chorsu, the oldest Tashkent bazaar, Wax Museum, Independence Square, Amir Temur Square.
Overnight at the hotel.
Altitudes (above sea level): Bishkek - 700m, Tashkent - 460m.

Day 7.
Tashkent – Bukhara 

Transfer to the station. Departure to Bukhara on the Afrosiab corporate train (07: 30-11: 19). Upon arrival, a tour of Bukhara: Samanid mausoleum, the tomb of Chashma Ayub, the Bolo-Khauz complex, the ancient Ark fortress, the Poi-Kalyal complex, the Kalyan minaret, the Abdulaziz-Khan madrasah, the Ulugbek madrasah, the Lyabi-Khauz ensemble, the Kukeldir madrassa, the madrasah, the Kukeldash madrasah, the madrassah trading domes. Overnight at the hotel.
Altitudes (above sea level): Tashkent – 460m, Bukhara  – 510m.

Day 8.
Bukhara - Samarkand

City tour in Bukhara. Departure out of town, visiting the summer residence of the Bukhara emir Sitorai Mohi Khosa and the Chor-Bakr Necropolis.
Transfer to Samarkand. Hotel accommodation and free time. Overnight at the hotel.
Altitudes (above sea level): Bukhara – 510m, Samarkand – 702m.

Day 9.
Samarkand

Tour around Samarkand: the most famous square in Central Asia - Registan (Ulugbek madrasah, Sher-Dor madrasah, Tilla-Kari madrasah), the Gur-Emir mausoleum - the tombs of Great Tamerlane, the mausoleum of Rukhabad.
After lunch visit: Bibi Khanum Mosque, Shahi Zinda architectural ensemble, Ulugbek Observatory.
Overnight at the hotel.
Altitudes (above sea level): Samarkand – 702m..

Day 10.
Samarkand – Tashkent 

Tour around Samarkand: visiting the mausoleum of St. Daniel, the museum and the ruins of the ancient settlement Afrosiab, the silk paper factory - Konigil.
Transfer from Samarkand to Tashkent (4-5 hours). Lunch on the way. Arrival in Tashkent, checking into a hotel.
Altitudes (above sea level): Samarkand - 702m, Tashkent - 460m.

Day 11.
Tashkent – Airport

Check out in a hotel before 12.00. Transfer to Airport. Flight home.
Altitudes (above sea level): Tashkent – 460m.  

Clothing and Equipment:
Sunscreen (at least 20SPF);
Lip balm;
Sunglasses with UV protection;
At least a 25 Liter backpack for personal items; 
Telescopic trekking sticks poles (optional);
T-Shirts, long-sleeved T-shirt, shorts;
Fleece jacket or pullover; 
Fleece Wind-Stopper jacket (optional); 
Down vest and/or jacket (optional); 
Waterproof jacket (Gore-Tex);
Thin gloves for trekking and overnight;    
Sun hat or scarf; 
Warm fleece hat or light balaclava ;
Hiking boots with spare laces.