Route: Kazakhstan (Almaty - Taraz - Shymkent - Shaulder - Turkestan - Sairam), Uzbekistan (Tashkent - Samarkand - Bukhara)
Season: January - December
DAY BY DAY ITINERARY
Day 1. Almaty (Kazakhstan)
Arrival at Almaty. Meeting at the Almaty International airport. Transfer to the hotel. Check in. Overnight in the train.
Day 2. Almaty – Taraz (Kazakhstan)
Breakfast. Check out. Almaty Grand tour (6 hours):
The tour starts with sightseeing in central part of Almaty. You will know more about history and development of the Southern capital of Kazakhstan and see its major attractions. You will visit a popular place for townpeople - the Green Bazaar, where it is impossible to refrain from shopping. It is the great chance to experience an atmosphere of the real eastern market, its colors, smells and crowds. There you can obtain famous Oriental sweets, but don't forget to bargain...
Then the tour will continue in one of the oldest Almaty parks - Panfilov Park, where one of the most beautiful wooden building in the world - Zenkov Cathedral is located. You will also visit the Memorial of Glory and Eternal Flame, dedicated to the memory of the fighters who died for freedom and independence of the country.
After exploration of sport, cultural and business areas of the city you will get to the Medeo Gorge, well known due to the highest mountain skating rink in the world and the dam, protecting the city from dangerous mudflow.
Next destination is the Kok-Tobe hill where the tallest TV tower in the world is located (if to count from the sea level) and where you will get by the picturesque winding mountain road. In Kok-Tobe Park you can stroll along the winding paths of the park, admire the magnificent panorama of the city from the special observation deck and visit the shop of national souvenirs.
The tour ends with the short ride from the top of the hill to the center of the city by the famous Almaty cableway.
Transfer to the railway station and departure to Taraz by evening train. Overnight in the train.
Day 3. Taraz - Shymkent (Kazakhstan)
Arrival to Taraz by morning train from Almaty. Meeting at the railway station and transfer to Taraz. Sightseeing at architectural monuments of XI-XII centuries, Aisha-Bibi Mausoleum, Babaja-Hatum Mausoleum, Karakhan Mausoleum, Kali Yunus Baths, Tekturmas Historical Complex.
Taraz is one of the oldest cities in Kazakhstan, the remains of which are hidden under the buildings of the modern city. Taraz, the ancient and the largest commercial and administrative center on the Silk Way in VII - VIII centuries, is dating back more than 2,000 years. There are more than 70 monuments of archaeology, history, architecture and monumental art in Taraz and surrounding area. Thus, a unique monument of medieval architecture of XI-XII centuries - Aisha Bibi Mausoleum - the only monument not only in Kazakhstan, but in the Central Asia, which is entirely decorated by terracotta and included in the UNESCO list of the most valuable historical and architectural monuments of mankind.
Transfer to Shymkent. Accommodation in the hotel. Overnight at the hotel in Shymkent.
Day 4. Shymkent - Shaulder - Turkestan - Shymkent (Kazakhstan)
Breakfast at the hotel. Departure to Otrar Region, Shaulder Settlement (220 km). Sightseeing at Local History Museum "Otyrar", Arystan-Bab Mausoleum (teacher and spiritual mentor of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi), archaeological site of the ancient settlement of Otrar.
Otrar is the city where medieval philosopher and scientist Al-Farabi was born and lived. Otrar settlement was founded in IV century BC. This center of trade and craftsmanship was the main point of the caravan routes between Eastern Europe and China. In the late XIII century Mongolian troops razed the city to the ground. But, despite the catastrophic devastation, Otrar risen from the ashes and in a relatively short time economically developed. The remains of the citadel and other large buildings, as well as the main gate and rabad, covering an area of about 10 square kilometers, have survived to the present days
Transfer to Turkestan (70 km). Sightseeing at "Azret-Sultan" historical and architectural complex, Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, Turkestan ancient settlement, Necropolis, a fragment of the fortress wall, citadel with gates, Hammam, Hilvet underground mosque.
Turkestan was founded around 500 AD at the crossroads of caravan routes from Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva in northern Kazakhstan. The city was known as the spiritual and political center of the Turkic-speaking people in the XVI-XVIII centuries, and was the capital of the Kazakh Khanate. Turkestan has gained wide international reputation due to preaching activity of the famous Sufi sheikh and philosopher Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, who was buried in a small mausoleum here in 1166. The existing mausoleum was erected after 233 years after his death by the order of an outstanding military leader Emir Tamerlane, and today it is a masterpiece of medieval architecture and one of the main places of worship for Muslims. According to legend, all the attempts to build a wall of the mausoleum failed: in one version it was demolished by the big storm, in another version – it was a green bull who came and destroyed everything. A saint, appeared in Tamerlane’s dream, said that at first you ought to build a mausoleum over the grave of Arystan Bab (teacher and spiritual mentor of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi), and only then - over the tomb of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, what Tamerlane did. That is why pilgrims primarily visit the mausoleum of Arystan Bab, and then Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi.Pilgrims say that three trips to Turkestan equal small Hajj to Mecca.
Transfer to Shymkent. Overnight at the hotel in Shymkent.
Day 5. Shymkent - Sairam - Shymkent (Kazakhstan)
Breakfast at the hotel and check-out. Departure to Sairam Settlement (20 km). Sightseeing at Local History Museum "Sairam", Mar-Tobe, Ibrahim-Ata Mausoleum, Karashash-Ana Mausoleum, medieval minaret.
Sairam Settlement is located near Shymkent, at the place of Ispidzhab - one of the largest centers of the Great Silk Road in the Middle Ages. It was first mentioned in Chinese manuscripts of the year 629. In the XIII century it gets a new name - Sairam. The settlement keeps the remains of buildings of XIII-IXX centuries. But this is not the only reason of Sairam's fame, it is also known as the birthplace of the great enlightener of XII century - Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. Mausoleums of his father and mother, Ibrahim-Ata and Karashash-Ana, are also located here.
Transfer to the foot of Kazygurt mountains. Sightseeing at Kamekalgan sacred place, Kazygurt mountain, "Noah's Ark", sanctifying rocks "Adam and Eve", stone statues of animals, the magic stone "Dastarkhan".
Kazygurt is mountain massif having altitude of 1776 meters above sea level, located in the northern spurs of Talas Alatau. Externally mountain consists of two hills, enclosed between with a saddle. Despite its small height compared to the other mountains, Kazygurt has a legend, that in former times it was higher all the mountains of the universe. During the flood, when the world had disappeared under the water, the top of Kazygurt was left undrowned. And it was the place where the Noah's Ark landed. Today the symbolic Noah's Ark, created by contemporary artists in wood and metal, is constructed at the top of the mountain.
Transfer to Shymkent railway station. Departure to Almaty by evening train. Overnight in the train.
Day 6. Tashkent - Samarkand (Uzbekistan)
Early breakfast at the hotel and check-out. Transfer to railway station. Departure to Samarkand by fast-speed train Afrasiab (2 hrs 10 min). Your guide will meet you at train station to begin the city tour in Samarkand. Full day city tour in Samarkand: visit to the famous Registan Square that consists of Ulugbek Madrasah (XV c.), Sher-Dor Madrasah (XVII c.), Tillya-Kori Madrasah (XVII c.); Guri Emir Mausoleum -Tamerlane’s Tomb (XIV-XV cc.), Ulugbek Observatory (XV c.) and Afrosiab Museum.
Lunch and dinner at local restaurants. Overnight at the hotel in Samarkand.
Day 7. Samarkand - Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
Breakfast at the hotel. Continue sightseeing: visit the mosque named after Hazret-Hyzr - an Islamic saint and eternal wanderer. He was esteemed as giving richness and good luck in far voyages and trade (XIX c.), cathedral mosque Bibi-Khanym that was named after the oldest wife of Tamerlan (XIV c.), the architectural complex Shahi-Zinda (Alive king) - necropolis on the slope of the Afrosiab hill is connected with Kusam ibn Abbas - the cousin of Prophet Muhammad (XI - XVcc). Further visit to eastern Siyob Bazaar for dried fruits, sweets and souvenirs.
Lunch at local restaurant. After lunch depart Samarkand and drive to Bukhara (280 km, 4 hours). Upon arrival Arrive in Bukhara, check in to the hotel. Free time. Dinner at local restaurant. Overnight at the hotel in Bukhara
Day 8. Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
Breakfast at the hotel. Enjoy a walking sightseeing tour with a guide in Old City. Full day city tour in Bukhara: visit to Citadel Ark (IV c.) – city in a city, Bolo-Khauz Mosque (beginning of XX c.), Ismail Samani Mausoleum (the tomb of representatives of Samanids’ dynasty at the end of IX –beginning of X cc.), Poyi Kalon Ensemble (Pedestal of the Great) – religious heart of sacred Bukhara that consists of Minaret Kalon (XII c.), Kalyan Mosque (XII c.) and Miri Arab Madrasah (XVI c.), Ulugbek Madrasah (1417), Abdulaziz Khan Madrasah, Magoki-Attori Mosque (XII-XVI cc.), Kosh-Madrasah Ensemble that consists of Madari-Abdullakhan Madrasah (Abdullakhan’s mother) and Abdullakhan Madrasah, Lyabi-Khauz Ensemble (XIV-XVII cc.) and Nodir Divanbeghi Madrasah.
Lunch and dinner at local restaurants. Overnight at the hotel in Bukhara.
Day 9. Bukhara - Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to local airport in Bukhara for flight to Tashkent (605 km, 1 hrs 45 min). Upon arrival - meeting at the airport and transfer to the hotel. Free time. Farewell dinner with folk or dance show. Overnight at the hotel in Tashkent.
Day 10. Tashkent (Uzbekistan), Departure
Breakfast at the hotel. Check-out from the hotel at noon. Free time until transfer to Tashkent International Airport. Departure.