This unforgettable journey, from Tashkent in Uzbekistan to Tehran in Iran introduces the manifold cultures along the legendary Silk Road and the numerous ancient landmarks that mark the route, among them no less than seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
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. Carriages on the privately chartered train have up to nine compartments, each sleeping either two or four travellers. Choose from Habibi, Ali Baba, Aladin or Kalif class and watch endless deserts and steppe roll gently by.
Arrive in Uzbekistan’s capital and transfer to your hotel. Overnight in a Tashkent Hotel.
On a sightseeing tour of Tashkent discover the Old City, Brak-Khan Madrassah, Yunus-Khan Mausoleum, Kaffal-al Shashi Mazar, Kukeldash Madrassah, Museum of Applied Art, Independence Square, Friendship People's Square and the National Theatre of Opera and Ballet before attending the famous Tashkent Navoy Opera (depending on schedule). Afterwards board the train and depart for Samarkand. Overnight on the train. (B,L,D)
Today is spent visiting the sights of this famous historic city, which during the rule of Timur was considered the world’s most beautiful and prestigious city. The Necropolis of Shah-e Zinde (the living Shah), the excavation sites at Afrosiab (with a museum tour), and Registan Square are certainly among the most notable architectural ensembles in Central Asia. It is also historically important, as the site where many Uzbek women burned their veils (paranjas) in 1917, to signal their arrival in a new era. The night is spent in a Samarkand hotel. (B,L,D)
Your day in this fascinating city includes a tour of a silk carpet workshop, a visit to an Uzbek craftsman’s family to see paper being made from mulberry bark, stops at the Ulug Beg Observatory and the ruins of the Bibi Khanum Mosque, and viewing the interior of the palace-like Gur Emir Mausoleum. The train departs for Bukhara in the evening and you will spend the night on board. (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 especially silk fabrics were stored and handled in the caravansarais. In the old city (UNESCO-World Culture Heritage) you'll see the Kalon Minaret and the Labi-Hauz Ensemble. In the afternoon, we guide you to the magnificent Mire-e-Arab Madrasah and the most beautiful and precious building in Central Asia, the Samanid Mausoleum. Then you'll take a tour through the fortress Ark. In a madrassa courtyard you watch a performance of local dances, and a presentation of colourful national costumes with musical accompaniment. Overnight on board. (B,L,D)
Arrive into the UNESCO-protected city of Merv, The site of ancient Merv has been listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site and is one of the major archaeological sites of Central Asia. This ancient city played an important part in the development of the Silk Road for more than 2,000 years and is made up of five separate but adjacent cities, which can be divided into the ancient (Erk Kala and Gyaur Kala), the medieval (Sultan Kala with its suburbs), and post-medieval (Abdulla-Khan Kala and Bayram-Ali-Khan Kala). In the afternoon you travel on by train to Ashgabat.
Overnight in an Ashgabat hotel. (B,L,D)
In the morning you are driven to the ancient Parthian city of Nisa. After lunch you take a guided tour of the modern-day capital, with its distinctive appearance so characteristic of Turkmenbashi, the self-proclaimed “great leader of all Turkmen”. Hollywood-style settings throughout this city flush with new-found oil wealth can be impressive, but sometimes also cause a chuckle. In the afternoon you take a guided tour of the National Museum in Ashgabat, where you view artefacts excavated from the ruins at Nisa and gain insight into the development of a culture shaped by various peoples, ethnicities, and religions. Overnight in your Ashgabat hotel (B,L,D)
After breakfast, a bus ride will take you to the border and then on to Mashhad in Iran. The city is one of the seven holy sites of Shia Islam – and the only one in Iran. Here you find the mausoleum of the eighth Imam, Ali ibn Musa ar-Reza, who is said to have been poisoned at Calif al Ma’mum’s behest. The sanctuary in his honour consists of numerous squares and features one of the most comprehensive art collections in the whole of Iran. Overnight in a Mashhad Hotel (B,L,D)
After a morning in Mashhad you will depart on your new train to the desert city of Yazd. Overnight on board (B,L,D)
In the morning, you reach the city of Yazd where wind towers and domes dominate the city skyline. Here, you visit the Zoroastrian fire temples and Towers of Silence, where the Zoroastrian sky burials took place. The Yazd Water Museum introduces you to the desert city’s water supply by the Qanat system and gives you an idea of the green and water-refreshed life of a well-to-do family’s home. While you are taking your lunch in the dining car, your private train heads towards Isfahan, where your hotel room is waiting for you. Today’s dinner will be served in the lovely courtyard of a former caravanserai. Overnight in an Isfahan Hotel (B,L,D)
There is plenty of time to explore this wonderful city with its main attraction, Imam Square, it is not only the second largest, but also one of the most beautiful squares in the world. The marble columns bear witness to the fact of this UNESCO World Heritage Site’s former purpose as a venue for polo games. Entering the square you visit the Ali-Qapu Palace with its veranda giving you an excellent view of the Imam Square. Elsewhere on the Square, visit the Lotfullah Mosque, once a private mosque for the Safavid royal families. You also visit the Jameh Mosque and the Armenian Quarter and you have enough time to explore the city and its markets on your own. Walk along the Zayandehrud River and get to know the city’s two famous bridges, a favourite meeting place for the locals. Get enchanted by the merchants’ skills and products on display at the gold bazaar. Two full days end with a dinner in an oriental style restaurant featuring local food at its best and a visit to a typical zurkhaneh, where the locals go for their sporting activities. One overnight in an Isfahan Hotel and one overnight on board (B,L,D)
Spend the day exploring the city of Isfahan. (B,L,D)
Today you explore the city of poetry and roses, Shiraz, home to some of the most beautiful gardens and the nation’s favourite poet, Hafez. Visit the Nasi Al Molk Mosque known as the Pink Mosque for its beautiful winter prayer hall along with the old centre’s Vakil Mosque and bazaar and the Shah Cheragh Mausoleum complex. Overnight in a Shiraz Hotel (B,L,D)
At the site of his victories, the Persian King, Cyrus the Great, built his capital city of Pasargadae. “I am Cyrus the King, an Achaemenian,” states the inscriptions on pillars and reliefs of the audience hall of the Residence. Your local tour guide shows you all of the attractions of this sprawling archaeological site, including Cyrus’s Tomb. You then continue on to your next site. The kingdom of Darius the First extended from Egypt to Pakistan, and he founded the capital of Para; the Greeks named it Persepolis. Your guide takes you on a discovery tour of the site, a UNESCO World Heritage Site visiting the Portal of all Countries along with the many statues and columns and the detailed bas reliefs of the Apadana Palace, where King Darius received his visitors. After, visit Naqsh-e-Rostam, the necropolis of the Achaemenids. A short bus ride then brings you to the train station where your private train waits for you. Overnight on board. (B,L,D)
After your arrival in Tehran, you say goodbye to your charming train staff. In the Iranian capital, you visit Golestan Palace, an exciting monument of the glories and excesses of the Qajar emperors. One of the most outstanding gem collections in the world is on your agenda after lunch. The precious stones are estimated at up to 182 carats! A very special and magnificent exhibit in the extensive collection is the Naderi Thorn, which is decorated with 26,733 gems. In the Archaeological Museum you take a journey through history seeing artefacts from many sites throughout the country. Overnight in a Tehran Hotel (B,L,D)
Transfer to the airport for flight back to the UK (B)
16 day tour, from £4630 per person
- All accommodation on board train and in hotels
- Meals as specified (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
- All transfers and transportation
- All sightseeing and excursions including entrance fees and English-speaking guides
- International flights - please contact us for best available prices
- Visas – (these must be obtained in advance for Uzbekistan and Iran, the Turkmenistan visa can be obtained on arrival with an invitation letter however it is advisable to obtain in advance)
This tour will not run in 2018, please contact us for 2019 dates and prices.
Click on images to enlarge