Day 1: Moscow. Upon arrival in Moscow you will be greeted at the airport by our representative and taken to your hotel. After you check-in, relax with a welcome drink and get acquainted with your travel mates and Program Director.
Day 2: Moscow. Enjoy a walking tour of this sprawling capital. Stroll through the legendary Red Square – the site of many marches and celebrations during Communist times, the Kitay-Gorod, Lubyanka square and the magnificent St. Basil's cathedral. You'll take a ride on the Underground and see the Moscow Metro stations that were built during Stalin's rule as “palaces for the people". In the afternoon, you'll explore the grounds of the Kremlin – the famous fortress and seat of Russian power.
Day 3: Moscow. Get a glimpse of Soviet Moscow. Ever imagine being 65 meters underground in a Soviet bunker built as a nuclear war shelter? Up until recently it has been kept a state secret. This tour also features a visit to the monuments to Soviet leaders assembled in the famous Sculpture Park.
Day 4: Moscow – Tashkent. Check-out. Transfer to airport and, flight to Tashkent. Arrival in Tashkent. Welcome dinner.
Day 5: Tashkent – Khiva. After early breakfast, you'll depart on a domestic flight to Khiva. Unlike other Central Asian cities, the historic heart of Khiva is preserved in its entirety. You'll see the Ichon-Qula Gates and Walls, a 12th - 19th century open-air complex, the Kuhna Ark, fortress and residence of Khiva's rulers, Mohammed Rakhim Khan Medressa (Islamic Academy) and the palace of Tosh–Hovli (Stone House) which features Khiva's most magnificent interiors decorated with ceramic tiles and carved stones. You'll also see the turquoise - tiled Kalta Minor Minaret and the large Juma Mosque.
Day 6: Khiva - Bukhara. Departure to Bukhara. You'll be driving through the Kyzyl Kum desert and along the Amu Darya River (480 km, 6-7 hours). Arrival and check in. In the evening enjoy dinner with national folklore entertainment in Nodir-Divan-Begim medressa.
Day 7: Bukhara. Bukhara, Central Asia's holiest city, has buildings spanning a thousand years of history. Today you'll explore Ulugbek Medressa, the oldest medressa and model for many others and the un-restored, blue-tiled Kalon Minaret, an incredible piece of work 47 m tall with a 10m deep foundation. You'll also visit the Lyabi-Hauz complex, a plaza built in 1620 around a pool. Shaded by ancient mulberry trees, it's the most peaceful and interesting spot in town. Then it's on to The Ark, royal town within-a-town and the oldest structure, occupied from the 5th-century until 1920 when it was bombed by the Red Army. The last coronation took place here (Alim Khan's in 1910).
Day 8: Bukhara - Samarkand. Drive to Samarkand via Shakhrisabz (290 km, 5 hrs). On your way to Samarkand you'll stop in Shakhrisabz, a small, un-Russified town south of Samarkand. At first glance the town seems to be nothing very special, but once you're in the backstreets, a wholly different place begins to materialize as you glimpse the ruins of the great 14th-century Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur's (Tamerlane's) hometown. Continue on to Samarkand (110 km, 2 hrs) and check in hotel.
Day 9: Samarkand. Samarkand, founded in the 5th-century BC, is one if the Central Asia's oldest settlements. It was already the cosmopolitan, walled capital of the Sogdian Empire when it was taken in 329 BC by Alexander the Great, who found it even more beautiful than he had imagined. A key trading center on the Silk Road, it sat on the crossroads leading to China, India and Persia. Explore the splendor of The Registan, a stunning ensemble of three majestic, tilting medressas adorned with majolica and azure mosaics. This is one of the grandest edifices in Central Asia.
Day 10: Samarkand – Tashkent. This morning you will travel to Tashkent (315 km, 4 hrs). Modern Tashkent is a big, sprawling city. The Old Town makes for the best wandering. The maze of narrow dirt streets is lined with low mud-brick houses and dotted with mosques and old medressas. While exploring Tashkent with your guide you will see Independence Square, Navoi Theater Square, Amir Timur, and Chorsu Bazaar - Tashkent's most famous farmers' market, with acres of spices, sacks of grain, fruits and a variety of traditional souvenirs. Farewell dinner.
Day 11: Tashkent. Check-out and departure.
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