Journey to Uzbekistan
The Journey to Uzbekistan explores the legendary cities of the Great Silk Route and the famed hospitality of Central Asia.
Ceilings of Uzbekistan
Journey to Uzbekistan
Historical Overview of Uzbekistan
Uzbekistan is surrounded by five landlocked countries, Kazakhstan to the north, Kyrgyzstan to the Northeast, Afghanistan to the south, Turkmenistan to the southwest and Tajikistan to the southeast.
The area covered by modern day Uzbekistan is incredibly important historically and is associated with many great empires and civilizations. Starting with the Scythians, Eastern Iranian nomads that founded Khwarezm, Bactria, Sogdia, Fergana, and Margiana. It was a part of the Iranian Achaemenid Empire, Macedonia Greek rule, the Iranian Parthian Empire, the Sasanian Empire, and then mixed into the Islamic world after the Muslim conquest in the 7th century CE.
From the 8th century on wards, the cities of Samarkand, Khiva, and Bukhara emerged as dominating cities on the Silk Road, growing wealthy from the trade that passed through them bound for China or the Middle East. In the 14th century, Tamerlane, the Mongol conqueror and founder of the Timurid dynasty made Samarkand his capital, starting the Timurid Renaissance. Much of the incredible architecture that still stands in these great cities is from this period.
In the 19th century, the Russian Empire expanded and spread into Central Asia. The Great-Game period, known for the political and diplomatic confrontation that existed between the British and the Russians for most of the 19th century, had several intrigues set in this region.
Due to its strategic and storied location, Uzbekistan has incredibly diverse cultural heritage and spectacular architecture.
Continue reading below to see how itineraries are created and our top recommendations for a bespoke trip.
Exceptional Guiding on Journeys to Uzbekistan
Journeys to Uzbekistan were for long only possible by the most adventurous and independent travelers. Difficult bureaucracy, impossible logistics, and true off-the-beaten-path travel meant that only the most intrepid explorers visited.
There are a lot of package tours that hit the major tourist sites in Uzbekistan. The kind that puts 1 tour guide with 30 people on a giant bus. We don’t do that.
Voygr’s Journeys to Uzbekistan are bespoke departures built around your exploration interests. There’s a huge amount to see in Uzbekistan. Bukhara alone has 140 architectural monuments. The entire historic centers of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva are UNESCO World Heritage sites and 30 other areas are on the tentative list for classification as such.
With so much to see and a finite amount of time to see it in, it’s critical to plan the trip around your interests. Voygr’s tours combine history, cultural connections with locals, and the great outdoors. Read on for what a possible itinerary may look like.
The Journey to Uzbekistan starts with arrival in the capital, Tashkent. A day is spent in Tashkent exploring the glories of this former Silk Road city before flying to the desert frontier city of Khiva. Khiva, capital of the Khawarzem Empire, was a major fortress on the great Silk Road. The entire inner city in the fortress of Ichan Kala, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
We spend two days exploring some of our favorite sights within and then transfer by road to the legendary city of Bukhara, seat of the Samanid Empire and of the Khanate of Bukhara. With over 140 architectural sites strung through the city and the entire center of town designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Bukhara has a lot to offer.
From Bukhara guests head to the Nurata mountains, northeast of Bukhara. Here we experience village life at a farm-stay. Enjoying traditional Uzbek life, learning about traditions, deep culture, and a little about how life was in the former Soviet Union. If the visit is in the late autumn, winter, or spring, we can also attend a buzkashi match if we time it right. Buzkashi is an ancient horse sport that started among nomadic Turkic peoples played since the times of the ancient Scythians. In Tajikistan, buzkashi is played in a variety of ways. The most common iteration is a free-form game, often played in a mountain valley or other natural arena, in which each player competes individually to seize the buz (a 50kg goat carcass) and carry it to a goal. Forming unofficial teams or alliances does occur, but is discouraged in favor of individual play. Often, dozens of riders will compete against one another simultaneously, making the scrum to retrieve a fallen buz a chaotic affair. The game is quite the sight to see with absolutely incredible displays of horsemanship and athleticism.
For photographers wanting to photograph a buzkashi match, we can also arrange for one.
From the Nurata mountains, we head to mythical Samarkand, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Central Asia. It was conquered by Alexander in 329 BCE, by Genghis Khan in 1220 and was the capital of Tamerlane, in the 15th century. Of course, it is also on UNESCO’s World Heritage List as “Samarkand- Crossroads of Cultures.” We’ve got some great connections in Samarkand for picking up incredible hand-knotted silk rugs as well as other incredible Uzbek handicrafts. While one can spend a lifetime exploring Samarkand, most guests do about two days before catching the super-fast Afrosiyob Express back to Tashkent.
Cultural Exploration on the Journey to Uzbekistan
A Voygr Expedition leader will accompany you on your entire trip, local guides will be brought on for translation, adding cultural nuance to your journey, and bringing fresh local perspective along different points of your journey. Across Central Asia, people are incredible hospitable, friendly, and kind. You will be amazed time and again at how generous and welcoming small communities are to travelers. Engaging with locals is always an integral part of traveling with Voygr. People to people connections make the strongest memories and make the world a better place.
History & Architecture on the Journey to Uzbekistan
Depending on your interests, Journeys to Uzbekistan can incorporate a lot of history and absolutely spectacular architecture. The region is dotted with World Heritage Sites and teeming with stories of empire, the great game, and the Silk Road.
Photographers on the Journey to Uzbekistan
All our itineraries can be designed around photography. The cultural exploration and architectural variety of the region combined with the incredible landscapes make this a dream photography trip.
Why Book With Voygr?
Read more about Voygr Expeditions to learn about our ethics, how giving back to the communities we travel to is part of our DNA, and what steps we take to actively preserve our planet.
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