Embroidered skull caps, TurkmenistanThe fountain complex in the park, AshgabatHorn fountain, AshgabatAlmaty CityWestern gate, Ata DarvozaTashkentThe mausoleum of Seljuk ruler, Ahmad SanjarPalace of Independence, AstanaView over Shymkent Independence park, KazakhstanBayterek tower, AstanaAstana, KazakhstanWW2 Memorial, ShymkentForbidden City, BeijingStreet food, XianMao Zedong Mausoleum on Tiananmen Square, BeijingTerracotta Warriors, XianTiananmen Square, Beijing

The Silk Road

Tuesday April 17 – Sunday May 6, 2018 (20 Days)
$7,995 (£6,395) – exc. international airfare
Single supp: $1,150 (£920)
Deposit: $250 (£200)
All meals included


Tour Description


  • Turkmenistan – the more mysterious and less explored of Central Asia’s ‘stans is home to mesmerising Merv and the haunting Karakum Desert

  • Uzbekistan – Central Asia’s showstopper – discover a cradle of culture across stand-out cities including Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva


April 2018
Prof. Craig Benjamin


There is a reason why the Silk Road features on many ‘trip of a lifetime’ lists. Join us on an awe-inspiring journey following parts of the legendary Silk Road through Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. A road much traveled by merchants in antiquity, every inch of it is concentrated with fascinating tales. This great artery once linked the major trading centers of Persia, the Middle East and Europe. It not only conveyed much-desired exotic products to far away destinations, but also cultural traits and ideas. Join us as we trace the way the caravans took their long trips through a kaleidoscope of landscapes. Besides some truly amazing archaeology, we also experience the modern-day cultures of these captivating countries, and wander through countless cities steeped in history.


We arrive in Turkmenistan and transfer to our hotel, where the evening will be spent at leisure.
Hotel: Oguzkent Hotel, Ashgabat.

We spend the morning at rest, in preparation for the long and rewarding journey ahead of us. Following an opening lecture on the incredible Silk Road, we embark upon an afternoon tour of Ashgabat. The capital is home to lavish marble palaces, gleaming gold domes and vast expanses of beautifully manicured parkland.
Hotel: Oguzkent Hotel, Ashgabat.

Our day begins at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Parthian Fortresses of Nisa. We continue to Anau, where traces of habitation date back to the 4th millennium BC. We return to Ashgabat to visit the captivating Archaeological Museum this afternoon.
Hotel: Oguzkent Hotel, Ashgabat.

We spend our Sunday morning at Ashgabat’s oriental bazaar, Altyn Asyr, which is known for being one of the largest markets in Central Asia. There is a tall clock tower at its heart and the extensive market sells an impressive range of goods, from Turkmen carpets to local handicrafts. We fly to Merv this afternoon where we check into our hotel before settling down for dinner.
Hotel: Mary Hotel, Merv.

We visit the archaeological site of Gonur Depe this morning. The largest ruins in the Morghab delta region can be found here; with over 150 settlements dating to the early Bronze Age. We continue to the Archaeological and Ethnographic Museum this afternoon.
Hotel: Mary Hotel, Merv.

We tour a collection of sites in the fascinating ancient city of Merv today. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the most important cities along the Silk Road. We explore the Tomb of Sultan Sanjar and the Erk-Kala fortress, before flying to Ashgabat later in the afternoon.
Hotel: Oguzkent Hotel, Ashgabat.

We catch a morning flight to Daşoguz and make our way to the monument-rich town of Konye-Urgench, which was once the center of the Islamic world. We also visit the captivating Khanym Mausoleum, the Najmuddin Kubra mausoleum and also the Kutlug Timur Minaret. Then we continue on to Nukus and cross the border into Uzbekistan.
Hotel: Jipek Joli Hotel, Nukus.

We discover one of the best collections of Soviet art in the world at the Savitsky Gallery this morning. After our visit, we travel to the ‘museum city’ of Khiva.
Hotel: Malika Kheyvak, Khiva.

Our morning is spent exploring Old Khiva, which was the first site in Uzbekistan to be listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After visits to Khiva Palace and the carved wooden columns of the Djuma Mosque, we enjoy the afternoon at leisure.
Hotel: Malika Kheyvak, Khiva.

We rise early today and journey to Ayaz Kala. The towering mud-brick walls of the three fortresses found here are truly a sight to behold, rising dramatically from the surrounding plains.
Hotel: Omar Khayyam Hotel, Bukhara.

We fly to Bukhara, ready for a day spent amongst the museums and mosques of the Ark Citadel. Following visits to Samanid Mausoleum, Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum and Kalyan Minaret and Mosque, we also visit the Lyab-I Hauz Fountain. We end the day by browsing through Bukhara’s famous array of bazaars, which sell a variety of amazing items from handmade tablecloths decorated with intricate embroidery and handicrafts.
Hotel: Omar Khayyam Hotel, Bukhara.

We spend the morning at the ruined town of Paikent. In its heyday, it was home to a citadel with a Zoroastrian fire temple and several residential quarters. On our return to Bukhara, we stop at the memorial complex of Chor-Bakr. We will also visit the Tomb of Baha-ud-Din Naqshband.
Hotel: Omar Khayyam Hotel, Bukhara.

Our first stop today is Varaksha, one of the major towns of the Hephthalite civilization, and the final retreat for local kings when the Arab armies advanced. Enjoy an afternoon at leisure to see more of Bukhara, a perfect opportunity to shop in the market. This evening we will take in a show of ancient costumes before dinner.
Hotel: Omar Khayyam Hotel, Bukhara.

We travel to Samarkand, stopping at Shahrisabz, known as one of the most ancient cities along the trade routes of Central Asia. The imposing grand ruin of the entrance arch to the Ak Sarai is a particular highlight. We arrive in Samarkand – an historic town founded in the 7th century BCE and revered for its mosques and monuments – later in the evening and transfer to our hotel.
Hotel: Sultan Boutique Hotel, Samarkand

We begin the first of three days in Samarkand, at the crossroads of many world cultures. We tour Afrasiab Museum of Samarkand to learn more about the city. We also visit the Ulugh-Beg observatory, considered one of the finest observatories in the Islamic world.
Hotel: Sultan Boutique Hotel, Samarkand

We continue our exploration of Samarkand at the Bibi-Khanum mosque and Sha-i-Zhinda necropolis. The afternoon is free for you to continue exploring independently.
Hotel: Sultan Boutique Hotel, Samarkand

We enjoy a final morning in Samarkand and visit its main attraction: Registan Square, surrounded by its three madrassah. We continue by train to Tashkent.
Hotel: Hyatt Regency, Tashkent

Enjoy a full day at your leisure to relax at the hotel and unwind before tomorrow’s tours.
Hotel: Hyatt Regency, Tashkent

We spend the whole day in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital. The Barak-Khan Madrassah here will immediately catch any visitor’s eye. Its unique construction is different from the traditional buildings of this type. We end the day at the Archaeological Museum Institute of Restoration.
Hotel: Hyatt Regency, Tashkent

We transfer to the airport for our flights home or onward travel.

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Oguzkent Hotel, AshgabatOguzkent

You’ll be welcomed into this stunning hotel, with a white marble façade and mirrored glass finishes. This modern hotel, only completed in 2011, stands out as a luxury monument against the city of Ashgabat and its historical sites. The panoramic views are breath-taking from the upper floors and you can enjoy breakfast on the patio in the cool morning air.



Mary Hotel, MervMary-Hotel-Turkmenistan-Reception

The Mary Hotel is lavishly decorated with spacious rooms and well-equipped amenities. The ornate marble columns and gilt mirrors reflect the grandeur of this hotel. The hotel is perfectly located and for an after-dinner stroll in the city, watch the sunset over stunning ancient buildings and, after dark, all the buildings spectacularly light up.



Malika Kheyvak, KhivaMalika-Kheyvak-1

In this historical fortress of Khiva is nestled the Malika Kheyvak Hotel. This traditional white washed building boasts welcoming hospitality where the staff make this the perfect place to stay in Khiva. The traditional hotel has a minimalist style but doesn’t lack any of the necessary amenities, allowing you to relax after a day’s exploring while enjoying an authentic stay.



Jipek Joli Hotel, Nukusjipek-joli-1

In the perfect location, this hotel is near the Bazaar market & river. The rooms are a good size and the excellent WiFi allows you to keep your friends & family back home updated with your latest travel pictures. After spending the day in the desert come back for a fresh shower and a clean and crisp room.




Omar Khayyam Hotel, Bukharaomar-khayyam-hotel-1

A modern oasis in the historic heart of Bukhara, this hotel is situated in walking distance from the ancient monuments. The comfortable rooms are clean and decorated in a traditional style for a relaxing stay. Most rooms overlook the hotel’s courtyard, where you are able to enjoy your breakfast in the mornings.



Sultan Boutique Hotel, SamarkandSultan-Boutique

This building is steeped in Singaporean culture and heritage. The Sultan Boutique hotel has undergone a contemporary, yet, detailed conservation project and is now a spectacular tribute to Singapore’s rich and colorful past. The rooms are spacious and are supplied with very comfortable amenities, with no two rooms alike, it’s a wonderfully unique experience staying in this hotel.



Hyatt Regency, TashkentHyatt

Arrive at the Hyatt Regency Hotel, a top-class hotel complex, complete with pool & spa, a selection of restaurants and most importantly bright and comfortable rooms. After days spent exploring relax and put your feet up in this calm and tranquil hotel. The hotel, decorated in a modern style, is in keeping with the local culture with locally-inspired artwork on the walls and spectacular views from the top floor balcony, where you can wake up to breakfast overlooking the city.



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