Our Tours

Archaeological tour of Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is the birthplace of some of the world's most ancient civilizations – and we have the archaeological evidence to prove it. On this 16-day tour, we'll take you back in time through more than 3500 years of our recorded history.During the latter part of the Bronze Age, when much of present-day Uzbekistan was part of ancient Iran, the prophet Zoroaster, also known as Zarathustra, is believed to have been born in this region. Though the once-mighty Zoroastrian empireflourished on our lands for centuries, the armies of Alexander the Great, the Arab conquest and the invasions of the Turks and Mongols dealt it a series of blows from which it would not recover.At the same time that Zoroastrians were living in massive fortress complexes and worshipping at fire temples, elsewhere in the former Greco-Persian empire, another faith – Buddhism -- was quickly gaining followers. In 2004, archaeologists from France and Uzbekistan announced that they'd made a stunning discovery in Termez, a city on the Amu Darya (formerly the Oxus) River near Uzbekistan's border with Afghanistan. Because of this work, we know now that in Silk Road days, Termez was a major hub for Buddhist culture and religion – so much so that historians now believe the city played a central role in exporting Buddhism to Tibet and China.Uzbekistan is also blessed with many archaeological sites, restored buildings, palace complexes and relics -- including the world's oldest Koran-- that attest to how important our region has been to Islamic history, science and culture down through the ages.

Along the Great Silk road

Kyrgyzstan has been called the Switzerland of Central Asia but there's one major difference most of the snow-capped peaks in Kyrgyzstan's Tien Shan range dwarf the Swiss Alps. In fact, in terms of the height of its mountains, it might be more apt to call Kyrgyzstan the Tibet of Central Asia. For the first five days of this16-day tour starting in Bishkek, the capital, we'll explore this famously scenic and still-unspoiled country. On day six, we'll fly to Tashkent, Uzbekistan's capital, where the next leg of our tour will focus on architectural rather than natural wonders. Over centuries of history, the rulers who held power in this region competed with each other to create the grandest buildings. In sheer scale, what Tamerlane achieved in his imperial capital, Samarkand, in the 14th century could never have been matched by the khans of Khiva or the emirs of Bukhara, who had not, after all, conquered much of the known world. But as you'll see, many of the mosques, madrassahs, minarets and mausoleums in those cities are just as impressive as any in Samarkand. Your tour will also include visits to two more cities, both important for other reasons: Nurata and Gijduvan.

Highlights of Uzbekistan

On this 12-day tour, we escort you through our country's four most famous cities: Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva. But we'll also take you to lesser-known places of historical importance such as Nurata, founded by Alexander the Great in 327 BC, where you can explore the remains of the great military fortress he built there.  After that, just to get a taste of what caravan travel must have been like back in Silk Road days, you'll ride a camel in the Kyzyl Kum desert, then spend a night in a yurt camp. On this tour, we also showcase Uzbekistan's unique cultural and artistic heritage in music, dance, carpet-weaving, suzani and ceramics.

The best and most of Central Asia

Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran: The Best – and Most! - of Central Asia
This 21-day, three-country tour is designed for people eager to have the most comprehensive possible experience of Central Asia. On it, we'll spend 10 days in Uzbekistan, four days in the neighbouring republic of Turkmenistan, and the rest of the time in Iran, also known today, as it was in ancient history, as Persia.
Over the centuries, our part of the world has been conquered so often, and by so many nationalities, that just trying to keep track of them all is a challenge. In the 9th and 10th centuries, much of the territory we'll explore was part of the old Persian empire. During that period, in fact, Bukhara was considered to be the cultural and spiritual heart, not only of Persia but also of the entire Islamic world. Earlier, Alexander the Great and Arab invaders held sway over the region. Later, various parts of Central Asia would be dominated by nomadic Oghuz Seljuk tribes, the ancestors of present-day Turkmen; Mongols under Genghis Khan; Tamerlane, who made Samarkand his imperial capital; Uzbek tribes whose native tongue was a dialect of Turkish but who admired Persian culture so greatly that they adopted Persian as their court language; Imperial Russia; and finally, the Soviet Union. And that's just the short list!
All our conquerors left behind evidence of their presence in the form of sites now being excavated by archaeologists, our unique regional languages that have borrowed words from many larger linguistic groups, and some of the most breathtaking Islamic architecture in the world.
After we've escorted you through the highlights of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, we'll cross the border into Iran. On this leg of the tour, we start by visiting Mashhad, Iran's holiest city, with a huge shrine complex devoted to the 817 martyrdom of Shia Islam's eighth Imam, Reza. Other cities on our tour include Shiraz, Iran's cultural capital; Isfahan, famed for its magnificent architecture; Kashan, home to a garden considered to be the one of the most beautiful in the world; and finally the nation's capital, Tehran.

Uzbekistan the golden middle of the Silk Road

Some extra-special destinations and experiences await people who opt for this 14-day tour. Of course, we'll escort you through our four most famous cities – Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva – but you'll also travel to Uzbekistan's silk city, Margilan, to see how our unique silks are manufactured. But first, a little Silk Road background might help you to understand how we fit into the story.
Many visitors don't realize that Uzbekistan is a relatively new name for a very ancient culture. Our country's name dates back only to 1924, when the Soviet Union carved up Imperial Russia's former Turkestan colonies into five states and named them based on the dominant language spoken there. History buffs will be more familiar with the names this region was known by in ancient times, among them Bactria, Sogdiana and Transoxiana. There wasn't just one but several overland trade routes between China and Europe but all converged on the territory of present-day Uzbekistan, which was the geographic midpoint between where silk and other goods were picked up by camel caravans and their final destinations. China discovered how to make silk around 2700 BC and -- by threatening death to anyone who revealed the secrets to a foreigner -- managed to retain a monopoly for 3000 years. Ultimately, though, word got out and our people have been producing silk for more than 1000 years. Our fabric, called silk ikat, is made by a complicated technique which involves weaving rather than dyeing the colour into the fabric. Often, this is still done on looms operated by hand. And our ikats, which are now also made in silk/cotton blends, are so distinctive that nothing remotely resembling them is produced anywhere else in the world. Another special experience you'll have that many visitors to Uzbekistan don't: We'll visit a now world-famous art museum in Nukus, capital of the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan, whose history is as extraordinary as its massive art collection.

Masterpieces of Architecture

During the 10 days you'll spend with us on this tour, you'll see first-hand what makes Uzbekistan''s incomparable architectural heritage unique. Since ancient times, the people of this region have absorbed a diverse range of Asian and European cultural influences which are reflected in our built history. From 130 BC to 1453 AD, camel caravans plying the Silk Road trade routes between China and Europe stopped in our towns and cities to rest, exchanging ideas along with textiles and spices. Before the Arab conquest in the 7th century brought Islam to these lands, Buddhism and Zoroastrianism were the dominant religions; in places, you can still see evidence of them today. From 819 to 999, when much of present-day Uzbekistan was ruled by the Samanid dynasty of emirs, Bukhara became the cultural and spiritual heart of the Persian empire. After the Mongol warlord Genghis Khan conquered this region in the 13th century, Chinese cultural influence increased. Then, along came Amir Temur – Tamerlane -- who was born into a Turkish clan in Shakhrisabz but also claimed direct descent from Genghis Khan. In the 14th century, he imported the finest artists, artisans and craftsmen from all over his vast empire to transform Samarkand into an imperial capital grander than any that had ever come before it. But in the early 1500s, the Timurid dynasty was vanquished by Uzbek tribes from the north, who spoke a dialect of Turkish. In places, especially Bukhara, these emirs continued to rule over much of present-day Uzbekistan even after the region was colonized by Imperial Russia in the late 1800s, renamed Turkestan, and subsequently, in 1919 and 1920, became part of the former Soviet Union.

Tour beyond the Oxus river

Over the course of its long history, this part of the world has been known by many names, including Transoxiana, meaning “the land beyond the Oxus River.” Today, the mighty river that extends for 2500 kilometres through Central Asia, now called the Amu Darya, forms a boundary between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. For the first 12 days, of this 16-day tour, we'll escort you through Uzbekistan, visiting Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and a few lesser-known places of interest. But the last four days are of special interest to travellers who enjoy visiting off-the-beaten-path destinations.

After we cross the Amu Darya, you'll be in Turkmenistan, a country that few international visitors ever get the chance to see. Highlights of this part of our tour include Turkmenistan's capital, Ashgabat, and the large archaeological park known as “Ancient Merv,” a UNESCO world heritage site, where excavations have uncovered the remains of civilizations going as far going back as 1200 BC.
EMIR TRAVEL invites you to come and enjoy the legendary hospitality of Uzbekistan people.