8 mins

Silk Road jewels: 7 extraordinary trips through the wonders of Uzbekistan

Discover the fabled desert cities, breathtaking mountain scenery and the finest food in Central Asia on these amazing trips to the undisputed star of the Silk Road, Uzbekistan...

Yard of Poi Kalyan in Bukhara (Shutterstock)

1. Uzbekistan, the Wanderlust way

Mausoleums of Shakhi Zinda in Samarkand (Shutterstock)

Mausoleums of Shakhi Zinda in Samarkand (Shutterstock)

Act fast if you want to join Wanderlust’s editor-in-chief Lyn Hughes on an exclusive tour of Uzbekistan, the undisputed jewel of the old Silk Road - because there are only a few places left.

Uzbekistan has lain at the crossroads of cultures, customs and commerce for over two millennia and boasts some of the finest Islamic architecture in the region. After exploring the highlights of Tashkent, you’ll take Uzbekistan’s bullet train to beguiling Samarkand and onto Nuratau Reserve for a remote homestay. 

Continuing down the Silk Road, you’ll explore the UNESCO treasures of Bukhara and cross the red sands of the Kyzylkum Desert to the legendary city of Khiva. An intoxicating mix of natural and cultural wonders, this is an unforgettable journey through a timeless destination.

Trip: Uzbekistan with Lyn Hughes

Who: Wanderlust Journeys

Type: Small group

When: Aug

How long: 10 days

How much: £1,895 (exc. flights)

2. Explore the Aral Sea

Abandoned shipwreck in Aral Desert (Shutterstock)

Abandoned shipwreck in Aral Desert (Shutterstock)

Discover one of the world’s most surreal sights on this 10-day expedition to the Aral Sea with Evaneos.

Once an immense fresh water lake, poorly planned irrigation projects saw the Aral Sea shrink to almost nothing in size. You’ll spend the night here, camping under the stars and in the shadow of ghost ships, left high and dry on what is now a vast, dry plain.

Back in civilisation, you’ll visit the capital Tashkent, the museum city of Khiva and Bukhara, home to over 2500 years of history - a true exploration of the ancient history, local culture and delicious gastronomy of Uzbekistan. 

Trip: Uzbekistan: Expedition To The Aral Sea

Who: Evaneos

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 10 days

How much: £780 (exc. flights)

3. Wander through undiscovered Uzbekistan

Ruins of Djanpik Qala Fortress in the Kyzylkum Desert (Shutterstock)

Ruins of Djanpik Qala Fortress in the Kyzylkum Desert (Shutterstock)

Here’s a trip that will take you to the parts of Central Asia that most travellers miss, a journey through the undiscovered corners of Uzbekistan with TravelLocal.

Don’t worry. You’ll still see the iconic sights like Bukhara, Samarkand and Khiva. But your itinerary will also take you to the Aral Sea, the Kyzylkum Desert and a yurt camp near Aydarkul Lake. Even in the big cities, you won’t be just following the crowds. And each evening, you will be welcomed into local homes to enjoy traditional Uzbek cuisine.

Trip: Undiscovered Uzbekistan

Who: TravelLocal

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 14 days

How much: From £1,680 (exc. flights)

4. Uzbekistan on a shoestring

Khiva at sunset (Shutterstock)

Khiva at sunset (Shutterstock)

If money is tight, this budget tour of Uzbekistan with Evaneos is bound to please. You’ll enjoy everything that makes Uzbekistan a bucket-list destination, just at a wallet-friendly price.

You’ll still get to wonder at Tashkent's glamorous capital buildings, get lost in the streets of Samarkand and indulge in Uzbek cuisine. There’ll be a chance to indulge in winter sports, too. Your local guide will ensure that you get to enjoy it all at local prices. 

Trip: Uzbekistan: Uzbek On A Shoestring

Who: Evaneos

Type: Tailor-made

When: Flexible departures throughout the year

How long: 10 days

How much: From £400 (exc. flights)

5. Overland through Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan

Darvaza Crater at night (Dragoman)

Darvaza Crater at night (Dragoman)

Here’s a journey of two halves, trip deep into the heartlands of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan with Dragoman.

Starting in Ashgabat, you’ll overland across the remote and inhospitable deserts of Turkmenistan to the incredible burning gas crater of Darvaza and the crumbling ancient ruins of Konye-Urgench.

Then you’ll cross into Uzbekistan where the jewels of the Silk Road – Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand – await. After staying overnight in a yurt north of the Oxus River, the lively city of Tashkent beckons.

Trip: Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan Explore

Who: Dragoman

Type: Overland

When: Apr, May, Jul & Sep

How long: 15 days

How much: From £1,265 (+ $US610 kitty, exc. flights)

6. Discover the jewels of Uzbekistan

Ceramists at work in Gijduvan (Shutterstock)

Ceramists at work in Gijduvan (Shutterstock)

Journey back to the days of the Great Silk Road as you explore the intriguing medieval cities, stunning architecture and turbulent history of Uzbekistan with Peregrine. 

From modern, cosmopolitan Tashkent to the ancient desert cities of Khiva and Bukhara, you’ll uncover the iconic sights and experiences that make Uzbekistan such a fascinating destination.

You’ll also dig deeper, visiting ceramics makers in famed ceramics town of Gijduvon, a local family in their home for a cooking class of the quintessential Central Asian rice dish, plov, and hunt for a bargain in Chorsu Bazaar, one of Asia's oldest markets.

Trip: Jewels of Uzbekistan

Who: Peregrine

Type: Small group

When: Apr to Jun, Aug to Sep

How long: 11 days

How much: From £1,420 (exc. flights)

7. Following the Silk Road through Uzbekistan and beyond

The ancient city walls of Khiva (Shutterstock)

The ancient city walls of Khiva (Shutterstock)

For centuries, great caravans of merchants made their way through deserts, across steppes and over mountains between the Mediterranean and China. You can too on this extraordinary journey along the Silk Road in Central Asia with Exodus.

Following in the footsteps of Marco Polo, you’ll uncover the natural and cultural treasures of Central Asia on this two week trip through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan taking in some of the Silk Road’s best sites, from Bukhara and Samarkand to the Tien Shan Mountains. Expect grand cities, endless horizons and encounter with nomadic tribes, including the infamous eagle-hunters of Kyrgyzstan.

Trip: The Silk Road

Who: Exodus

Type: Small group

When: May to Sep

How long: 15 days

How much: From £1,999 (exc. flights)

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