This unforgettable journey, from Ashgabat in Turkmenistan to Astana in Kazakhstan, introduces the manifold cultures along the legendary Silk Road and the numerous ancient landmarks that mark the route, all from a comfortable, private train.
Stretching from the Caspian Sea to the Tien Shan Mountains, the Central Asian countries of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are richly endowed with history and culture, a flavour of which you will sample on this exciting journey by private train.
Travelling the Silk Road by train is a safe, comfortable and convenient way of experiencing this historic route, with no internal flights, no long bus rides on dusty roads and no hauling your luggage from city to city. All sightseeing and meals are provided, meaning you can relax and get the most out of your journey without having to worry about a thing.
Arrive Ashgabat and transfer to hotel for 1 night.
THE KARAKUM DESERT
In the afternoon, board the train and begin your journey through the infamous Karakum Desert. In the evening you will reach a train station in the Karakum where, after a short bus ride, you will see the eerie Darvaza gas crater which has been burning day and night since the 1960s. (B,L,D)
NISA & ASHGABAT
In the morning, visit the colourful Tolkuchka Bazaar, a typical oriental market and one of the largest in Central Asia, where you can buy precious silver jewellery and exotic carpets. Then drive to the old Parthian city of Nisa. After lunch, take a city tour and become acquainted with the eccentric capital of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat. (B,L,D)
In the early morning, arrive at the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Merv, with its gigantic walls and ramparts and impressive ruins of old buildings such as the Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar and the Virgin Fortress (Kis Kale). Enjoy lunch in the picturesque courtyard of an artist’s. (B,L,D)
Situated in the middle of the Kyzyl Kum desert, Bukhara features about one thousand monuments which recall the halcyon days of the Great Silk Road. Foreign spices, furs and silk fabrics were stored and handled in the caravansaries here. In the UNESCO-listed old city you'll see the Kaljan Minaret, the Labi-Hauz Ensemble and the the Nasreddin-on-the-donkey monument. Dinner in the courtyard of a Madrasah with musical accompaniment, local dances and a presentation of colourful national costumes. Overnight in a hotel in Bukhara. (B,L,D)
Full day city tour of Bukhara. In the morning, see the magnificent Mire-e-Arab Madrasah and one of the most beautiful and precious buildings in Central Asia, the Samanid Mausoleum, before exploring the fortress Ark where you'll see there the coronation hall and summer residence of the last Emir. At the end of the day, visit the world’s only women-only mosque. (B,L,D)
This morning arrive in Khiva and enter through its imposing city walls. Around the Kalta Minor Minaret life still pulses today as it did in old times, and on a tour you will see palaces, mosques, minarets, mausoleums and Koranic schools, showing you what medieval oriental urban development might have been like. Enjoy lunch at the former Summer Palace of the Emir. (B,L,D)
Today, experience the ancient city of Samarqand, the grave city Shah-e-zende (“the living Shah”), the excavation sites of Afrosiab and the Registan Square which presents an impressive collection of Central Asian architecture. Overnight in a hotel in Samarqand. (B,L,D)
Today, visit a silk carpet factory and an Uzbek craftsman’s family, see paper manufactured from mulberry bark and visit the observatory of Ulug Beg, the ruins of the Bibi Khanum Mosque and the palace-like Gur Emir Mausoleum. (B,L,D)
Enjoy an excursion into the surrounding mountain region where elsewhere forgotten ceremonies of Shaman cults still are held. Enjoy a folklore performance in the unique regional tradition and get to know the inhabitants and learn about their everyday lives. A friendly welcome is guaranteed! Next you will follow the Great Silk Road and arrive in the green city, Shakhrisabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane. Here you will tour the monumental memorials of the barbaric Mongol Prince and also have the opportunity to watch the thriving bustle of this lively town. In the evening, depart on your Private Train to Tashkent. On board: Uzbek wine tasting. (B,L,D)
Arrive into Tashkent at the foot of the Tien Shan Mountains in the morning. On a sightseeing tour you will experience the green oasis of the Steppe; the Madrasah Kukeldash, the Kavoj and Amir Timur monuments and the opera. In the evening you will attend the famous Tashkent Navoy Opera (depending on the schedule). (B,L,D)
After breakfast and lunch on board arrive into the city of Turkestan in Kazakhstan. You will see the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi – a UNESCO World Heritage Site – with its dome hall, monumental mosque and well house. (B,L,D)
Reach Almaty after lunch. In the afternoon enjoy a city sightseeing tour of Almaty, located at the foothills of Tien Shan Mountains. Visit the Zenkov Russian Cathedral, one of the World’s tallest wooden buildings. In the evening enjoy a special farewell dinner in Kazakh yurts. Transfer to airport for flight back to the UK. (You will be given a day room in a hotel to freshen up before your flight. (B,L,D)