This October, enjoy a new and exclusive opportunity to savor the fabled trading cities of Central Asia on this 8-day Jewels of the Silk Road journey aboard the Golden Eagle.
Stunning natural beauty, mysterious ancient artifacts, and modern metropolises await on this legendary trade route, best-experienced from your five-star ‘hotel on wheels.’
Day 1: Almaty, Kazakhstan
Upon arrival at Almaty airport, you will be met and transferred to the centrally-located Inter-Continental Hotel (or similar) for a one-night stay.
Day 2: Almaty, Kazakhstan
Today we will take a tour of Almaty, including a visit to Panfilov Park, located in the heart of the city, and home to the Zenkov Cathedral, a 19th-century Russian Orthodox Church made entirely of wood. Later in the afternoon, transfer to the main railway station in the city and board the Golden Eagle. Settle in to your private en-suite cabin and later enjoy dinner as the train heads overnight to Tashkent.
Day 3: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Tashkent, the capital city of Uzbekistan, is a modern Soviet-style city that was rebuilt after the devastating earthquake of 1966. Our tour of the city includes the Old Town, where traditional homes and religious buildings line the narrow streets, and a visit to a small library, where we will have the privilege of seeing one of Islam’s most sacred relics – the world’s oldest Koran. Later, we will pay a visit to the Railway Museum and the Museum of Applied Arts.
Day 4: Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Samarkand instantly conjures up evocative images of the Silk Road, more so than any other town. Founded in the 6th century BC, Samarkand’s stunning architecture hints at its former status as one of the most important cities in Asia. It is particularly noted for its architectural remains from the 14th through 17th centuries, when it flourished as the fabled capital of the Mongol empire of Timur and his successors.
Today we will visit some of its most significant sites, including Registan Square, the refined elegance of the beautifully-proportioned Bibi Khanum Mosque, and the Ulag Beg observatory, one of the earliest Islamic astronomical observatories, built in 1428. Before dinner, we will return to the now illuminated and awe-inspiring Registan Square.
Day 5: Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Bukhara is quite simply outstanding. UNESCO sponsored much of the city’s renovation for its 2,500th anniversary in 1999. The most enjoyable aspect of this city is to immerse oneself in the atmosphere of this unique and ancient city and re-live some of its fascinating history at the crossroads of Asia. The main highlight of this wonderful tour is a visit to The Ark, a fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara – the despotic and ruthless leaders who ruled until Soviet times. We then travel out of the city to experience the Emir’s enchantingly named ‘Palace of the Moon and Stars’.
Day 6: Khiva, Uzbekistan
Our train travels towards Urgench, from where we transfer to the ancient city of Khiva, founded 2,500 years ago. As one of the Silk Road’s most important trading posts and now a World Heritage Site, it lies at the crossroads of the routes between Mongolia, Russia, China, and Persia. A truly magnificent sight to behold, it rises out of the desert to reveal a wealth of impressive architecture. Stepping back in time, we discover its impressive mosques, bazaars, and minarets within Khiva’s ancient walls.
Day 7: Darvaza & Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
The Golden Eagle makes a brief scheduled stop at Ichoguz, where we have the option to leave the train and make a short journey to Darvaza’s famous burning gas crater, a spectacular sight best seen at night. Located in the middle of the Kara Kum desert where the area is rich in natural gas, the 70-meter wide crater is known by the locals as the “Door to Hell” and has been burning for over 40 years. It is a unique experience that is not to be missed!
Ashgabat is the capital of Turkmenistan and known as the “Las Vegas of the Kara Kum.” Situated between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range, it is a relatively modern city built upon the ruins of the Silk Road city of Konjikala and the Soviet city built after the devastating earthquake of 1948. The city’s extravagant fountains, golden domes, and towering modern buildings appear strangely incongruous in this desert setting. Highlights on our visit include a trip to the National Museum and Kipchak Mosque.
Stay overnight in the luxury five-star Yyldyz Hotel (or similar).
2020 Dates:April 10-19
|Imperial Suite||On Request||On Request||$5,000|
Please note: prices are per person.
Two visas are required for this journey (for U.S. citizens); please allow six weeks for this process.