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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 – Thursday May 24, 2018

Full 38-day Silk Road Tour
$14,995 SS: $1,995 (exc. international airfare)

Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan (Day 1 – 19)
$7,995 SS: $1,150 (exc. international airfare)

Kazakhstan & China (Day 20 – 38)
$7,995 SS: $1,150 (exc. international airfare)

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

  • Kazakhstan – current home to glorious cities; former land of famous tribes and nomadic empires; and scene of bloody and devastating wars
  • China – from Terracotta Warriors to Forbidden Cities; the Great Wall to Tiananmen Square, so many historical delights await us


April 2018
Prof. Craig Benjiman & Dr Kim Hunter-Gordon


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, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan into China. 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.


This really is a tour of two halves… and it’s up to you how much you decide to join us for. Join us on Day 1 and take the Silk Road from Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan. Or take it slow and catch up with us on Day 20, when we travel from Kazakhstan to China. Of course, if you’re up for an epic adventure you could always join us for the whole tour and discover the full story of the fascinating Silk Road. Full pricing details overleaf.

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

PLEASE NOTE: Those not wishing to continue to Kazakstan will depart today. Those beginning their journey from Kazakstan, will join the tour on Day 20.

We travel to the vibrant and culturally rich city of Shymkent, entering the Kazakhstan portion of our adventure. Following a visit to the engaging Regional Museum, we end the day at the bustling Shymkent bazaar.
Hotel: Rixos Khadisha, Shymkent

We spend today traveling from Taraz to Almaty, stopping for a number of scenic breaks along the way. In the evening we will drive to Kok-Tobe, a mountain known as the highest point of Almaty, where we will take a cable car to the top of the city’s 1110 meter hill to enjoy breathtaking views over the city.
Hotel: InterContinental, Almaty

We travel to Tamgaly, a wonderful UNESCO World Heritage Site that is home to around 5,000 petroglyphs and set around a breathtaking gorge. The incredible carvings that can be found there date from the second half of the second millennium BCE to the beginning of the 20th century. Later in the day, we will return to Almaty where we can recharge at our hotel.
Hotel: InterContinental, Almaty

We enjoy a relaxed start to the day at Almaty Central State Museum. Following visits to Panfilov Park and the local Green Bazaar, the rest of the day will be spent at our leisure.
Hotel: InterContinental, Almaty

We explore the largest reserve of Kazakhstan today – the Altyn-Emel Park, home to a variety of landscapes, from sand desert to mountains. We continue our sightseeing with the amazing Kyzylauyz petroglyph’s and the Singing Dune.
Hotel: Altyn-Emel Hotel

Take in more of Altyn-Emel Park this morning, before venturing into the Aktau chalk and Katautau volcanic mountains, which showcase a gorgeous display of natural color. We return to Almaty later in the afternoon.
Hotel: InterContinental, Almaty

We enjoy a final morning in Almaty, which we can spend at our leisure, before flying to Ürümqi – Xīnjiāng’s capital in China.
Hotel: Excemon Xinjiang Yilite, Ürümqi

We arrive in Ürümqi early this morning and travel to our hotel. After some time to relax and recharge, we venture out to tour the area with its impressive stature and fast-growing reputation as a central Asian hub. Xīnjiāng’s capital truly is a modern city, edged by a distant preview of the majestic Tiān Shān mountains. There is a distinct fusion of tradition with contemporary architecture in this area that adds to its appeal, and this unique blend of the old with the new hints at what’s to come.
Hotel: Excemon Xinjiang Yilite, Ürümqi

We begin today at the Xinjiang Regional Museum – a large integrated museum and center for the collection and study of cultural relics discovered in the region. We continue to the stunning Shuimogou Park, home to a number of ecological delights including the famous Shuimogou Hot Spring. We end the day at the authentic and exciting Grand Bazaar.
Hotel: Excemon Xinjiang Yilite, Ürümqi

Today we travel to Turpan, which is located in a depression 154 meters below sea level and is also known as the hottest part of China. Here, we embark upon a walking tour of ‘China’s Death Valley’, which sees extreme temperatures affecting the area as the seasons change. This is a fascinating area with much to discover.
Hotel: Turpan Hotel, Turpan

We continue exploring Turpan today and begin at the Imin Ta mosque, which boasts China’s tallest minaret. Following a visit to Turpan Museum, we drive to the archaeological site of the Jiaohe Ruins – one of the most amazingly preserved ancient cities of its time in China.
Hotel: Turpan Hotel, Turpan

We travel to the prefecture-level city of Jiayuguan today. In the afternoon, we pay a visit to the legendary Great Wall of China. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Great Wall is over 20,000 kilometers in length and is a significant historical feature of the country.
Hotel: Holiday Plaza Hotel, Jiayuguan

This morning we explore Jiaguyuan . The area has a fascinating history, and is perhaps most famous for its impressive fort, which was built in 1372 and was a vital traffic fort along the Silk Road. In the afternoon, we travel to the historic city of Dunhuang, situated on what was once a crossroads of two major trade routes within the Silk Road network.
Hotel: Dunhuang

Today we visit Mogao Caves, also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas, an astonishing collection of 492 caves that were dug into the cliffs just south of the city. This afternoon we fly to Xi’an.
Hotel: Tianyi Commercial, Xian

We begin our day at the Terracotta Army Museum where the fascinating collection of terracotta sculptures depicting the armies of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China, have been assembled. We end the day at Banpo Neolithic village.
Hotel: Tianyi Commercial, Xian

We discover more terracotta warrior finds at the Provincial Museum this morning. Enjoy some time at leisure this afternoon.
Hotel: Tianyi Commercial, Xian

We fly to Beijing this morning. After checking into our hotel, we take a walking tour of the Forbidden City, the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming dynasty to the end of the Qing dynasty.
Hotel: Jianguo Hotel, Beijing

We explore Tiananmen Square this morning. Built during the Ming dynasty, the square contains the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong.
Hotel: Jianguo Hotel, Beijing

May 24: HOME
Enjoy some time at leisure this morning before we transfer to the airport for our flights home or onward travel.

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Additional Information

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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.



Rixos Khadisha, ShymkentRixos

Rixos Khadisha is where traditional culture and luxury accommodation come together in a perfect mix. This welcoming hotel is in the heart of one of the most characteristic cities. The hotel was designed with comfort and needs of the modern traveler at its center, being eco-friendly and with balconies on nearly all rooms, this is a delightful stay. In the evening, you can be treated to live music while enjoying one of the hotels fresh cocktails or selections of whiskeys.



InterContinental, Almaty Intercontinental

With stunning mountain views and situated in the center of Kazakhstan’s commercial capital this hotel makes for a truly relaxing and culturally rich stay. Come back in the evening to recline in the jazz lounge or a soothing massage from the hotel’s spa. The luxurious rooms are stylishly furnished with a marble sink and top-quality bedding.




 Excemon Xinjiang Yilite, ÜrümqiYiliye

This hotel is stylish with bold bright colors. This hotel is an urban retreat in the middle of the city within an easy distance of the Hantegeli Temple and the Beifany Mosque. Step onto the marble floor of the hotel’s lobby, once you check in, the rooms are clean and crisp with modern amenities.




Turpan Hotel, TurpanTurpan

Located in the city center this hotel has spacious and airy rooms equipped with bathroom and TV. In the evenings you are able to enjoy a relaxing swim in the pool or re-energize in the hotel’s spa and wellbeing center.





Holiday Plaza Hotel, JiayuguanHoliday Plaza Hotel

This hotel is an oasis in the Gobi dessert. Newly renovated and decorated in a contemporary style the rooms are spacious, clean & comfortable and some rooms offer spectacular views of the snowy mountains. This hotel is the perfect stay to rest and refuel before tomorrow’s adventure.




Tianyi Commercial, XianCommercial

This hotel has a modern design & the rooms decorated in warm colors are cozy with comfortable beds and a seating area. In the evenings you can enjoy the hotel’s spa or relax with a drink in the onsite bar. Wake up to the hotel’s breakfasts, with all the western delights, it will be the perfect start to continue your trip.




Jianguo Hotel, BeijingJianguo Hotel Qianmen

This beautiful hotel perfectly combines Asian culture and modern luxury. This hotel is elegant and comfortable. In the evenings you’re able to relax in the hotel garden listening to the small stream running through. Alternatively, enjoy a swim in the pool or simply recline with a glass or wine or refreshing drink in the bar.


Useful Information

If you prefer to use a visa handling agency, we recommend CIBT visas. You can obtain a discount on your handling fees by using the following link: (www.cibtvisas.com/archaeologicaltr).
USA: www.cibtvisas.com/archaeologicaltr Account# 103764
CANADA: www.cibtvisas.ca/archaeologicaltr Account# 100659