One of nature's marvels, the Charyn Canyon is over 56 miles (90 km) in length with beauty and majesty reminiscent of the US Grand Canyon. Located only 2 hours from Almaty, it is easy to visit.
Experience stunning unspoiled natural beauty and tranquility here. Even the wild animals do not fear humans.
The Dzungarian Gate, the most popular area in this region for visitors, is a mountain pass between Birliktau and Militau, and formerly part of the great Silk Road trading route.
Have you ever heard sand dunes sing?
This truly amazing site, sight and sound occurs when winds blow over the ridges of the sand dunes when they are dry, causing the sand to shift and make a unique type of sound. They are located north-east of Almaty, in the country's largeset national park, Altyn-Emel.
You will visit the cities of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan that were part of the Silk Road connecting the East and the West and thus giving rise to many a unique city.
Route: Kazakhstan (Almaty—Taraz—Shymkent—Shaulder—Turkestan—Sayram), Uzbekistan (Tashkent—Samarkand—Bukhara)
Season: January to December
Day 1. Almaty (Kazakhstan)
Arriving in Almaty, the Southern Capital of Kazakhstan. Meeting at Almaty International Airport. Transfer to the hotel. Checking in and resting.
Day 2. Almaty—Taraz (Kazakhstan)
Breakfast at the hotel. Check out. A city tour around Almaty (6 hours).
The route begins as a city tour around the center that will introduce you to the history of Kazakhstan's Southern Capital and its key tourist attractions. You will visit the extremely popular Green Bazaar, where it is so hard to resist the sellers advertising their commodities. It is a unique opportunity to experience a true Oriental bazaar, its color and smell and, of course, the roaring trade. You can buy famous Oriental sweets—just don't forget to bargain.
The next item on the agenda is one of the city's oldest parks, that named after Panfilov's Twenty-Eight Guardsmen, where you will see one of the most beautiful wooden buildings in the world, the Ascension Cathedral, as well as the Glory Memorial and the Eternal Light dedicated to the memory of the fighters who died for the freedom and independence of their country.
After the park you will see more sport, cultural, and business centers of the city as well as the Medeu locality, where the world's highest skating rink is surrounded by the mountains of the Trans-Ili Alatau.
The tour continues on Mount Kok Tobe, which you will ascend along a winding mountain road. The world's highest TV tower (counting from the sea level) is situated here, which you can see from any place in the city. After lunch you can take a walk along the winding paths of the park, admire the breathtaking panoramic view from a well-equipped sightseeing platform, and visit an ethnic souvenir shop.
Transfer to the railway station. Boarding the evening train to Taraz. A night on the train.
Day 3. Taraz—Shymkent (Kazakhstan)
Arriving in Taraz on a morning train from Almaty. Meeting at the railway station and moving to Taraz. Excursions: Karakhan Mausoleum, Kali-Yunus bath house, and Tekturmas Historical Complex.
Taraz is one of the oldest cities in Kazakhstan, the remnants of which are hidden behind contemporary urban buildings. Taraz is an ancient city that was the biggest commercial and administrative center on the Silk Road of the 7th to 8th century. It is over 2000 years old. There are over 70 historical, architectural, and monumental landmarks in Taraz and the suburbs. They include the unique sample of medieval architecture of the 11th to 12th century, the Aisha-Bibi mausoleum is the only building in Kazakhstan as well as across Central Asia that is fully clad in carved terracotta. it is on the UNESCO list of historical and architectural treasures of mankind.
Moving to Shymkent. In the suburbs we will see architectural landmarks dating back to the 11th to 12th century: the Aisha-Bibi and Babaji Khatun mausoleums. Arriving in Shymkent. Checking in at a hotel. A night in Shymkent.
Day 4. Shymkent—Shaulder—Turkestan—Shymkent (Kazakhstan)
Breakfast at the hotel and check out. Moving to Shaulder village, Otyrar District. Excursions: the Otyrar Local History Museum, the Museum of Arystan Bab, K. Yassawi's teacher and spiritual leader, and archaeological excavations of ancient Otrar.
Otrar is the city where medieval philosopher and scholar Al-Farabi was born and grew up. The settlement of Otrar was founded in the 4th century B.C.E. The center of trade and crafts was central to caravan routes connecting East Europe and China. Mongol troops reduced it to the ground in the late 13th century. However, despite the catastrophic aftermath Otrar was restored from ashes and was able to develop economically within a relatively short period. Ruins of a citadel anf other large buildings, the main gate and the rabad with a total area of about 10 sq. km. have come down to us.
Moving to Turkestan city. Excursions: Azret Sultan Historical and Architectural Complex, K. Yassawi's mausoleum, Turkestan Hillfort, Necropolis, a fragment of the city wall, a citadel with gates, the Eastern Bath House, and the Hilvet Underground Mosque.
Turkestan was founded about 500 C.E. at the junction of caravan routes from Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva to Northern Kazakhstan. The city was widely known as a spiritual and political center of Turkic-speaking people and was the capital of the Kazakh Khanate in the 16th to 18th century. Turkestan became world-famous due to the preaching of the renowned Sufi sheikh and philosopher Khoja Ahmed Yassawi, who was buried here in a small mausoleum in 1166. The current mausoleum was built 233 years after his death on the order of the outstanding military commander Emir Tamerlane and is presently regarded as a masterpiece of medieval architecture. It has become a major place of worship for Muslims. Legend has it that every attempt to erect the walls of the mausoleum proved abortive: some say a storm would break them and others believe that a green bull came very time to destroy everything. Once Tamerlane dreamed about a saint who said that they needed to build a mausoleum on the tomb of Saint Arystan Bab, Khoja Ahmed Yassawi's teacher and spiritual leader first and then build one on Khoja Ahmed Yassawi's tomb. Tamerlane did as he was told. This is why pilgrims visit the Arystan Bab Mausoleum first and Khoja Ahmed Yassawi's Mausoleum second. Pilgrims say that three trips to Turkestan equal a minor Hajj to Mecca.
Moving to Shymkent (170 km). A night in Shymkent.
Day 5. Shymkent (Kazakhstan)—Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
Breakfast at the hotel and check out. Moving to the Kazakhstan—Uzbekistan border in Zhybek Zholy.
Customs control. Meeting the Uzbek driver. Transfer and check in at a hotel.
A city tour around Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan and the largest city in Central Asia, with a guide. The contemporary Tashkent tour includes the following: Independence Square, Amir Temur Square, Memorial to Victims of World War II, Courage Memorial Complex, Uzbekistan State Museum of Applied Art, and Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre. Lunch at a local restaurant.
After lunch a sightseeing tour to the Old City: the Hazrat Imam Ensemble consisting of the Barak-khan Madrasah (16th century), Kaffal-Shashi's Mausoleum (15th century), the Muyi Muborak Madrasah, where the famous Koran of Khalif Uthman (7th century) and Prophet Mohammad's hair are kept, the Jama Mosque, and the Kukeldash Madrasah (16th century). Shopping on Chorsu Bazaar and in souvenir shops. Dinner at a local restaurant. An overnight in a hotel.
Day 6. Tashkent—Samarkand (Uzbekistan)
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer from the hotel to the railway station at 7 a.m. Afrosiyob high-speed train departing from Tashkent at 08:00 a.m. and arriving in Samarkand at 10:10 a.m. (300 km). The guide and the driver who will be accompanying you during the excursion will meet you there.
The whole day is an excursion around Samarkand including the following: The Registan Square, consisting of the Ulugh Beg Madrasah (15th square, the Sher Dor Madrasah (17th century), the Tilya-Kori Madrasah (17th century), the Guri Amir Mausoleum, where Tamerlane's tomb is located (14th to 15th century), the Ulugh Beg Observatory (15th century), and the Afrosiyob History Museum. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants. A night at the hotel.
Day 7. Samarkand—Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
Breakfast at the hotel. City tour continued: visiting the Hazrati Hizir Mosque, named after an Islamic saint and eternal wanderer who was widely venerated as a saint who could give one wealth and success in faraway countries (19th century), the Bibi-Khanym Cathedral Mosque, named after Tamerlane's favorite wife (14th century), the Shah-i-Zinda Architectural Ensemble ("The Living King"), a memorial on the slope of the Afrosiyob Hill which is associated with Qusam Ibn Abbos, Prophet Mohammad's cousin (11th to 15th century). You will also visit the Siyob Bazaa to buy some souvenirs and Oriental sweets.
Lunch at a local restaurant.
Moving to Bukhara at 2:00 p.m. (280 km, 4 hours). Arriving in Bukhara. Checking in at the hotel. Free time. Dinner at a local restaurant. An overnight in a hotel.
Day 8. Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
Breakfast at the hotel. You are offered a guided tour to the historical center of Bukhara on the UNESCO World Heritage List. You will visit: The Ark of Bukhara, a city within a city (4th century), Bolo Hauz Mosque (early 20th century), the Samanid Mausoleum, where representatives of the Samanid dynasty were buried in the late 9th to early 10th century, the Poi Kalan Ensemble ("The Foot of the Greate"), the religious hearth of the holy Bukhara consisting of the Kalan Minaret (12th century), the Kalan Mosque (12th century), and the Mir-i Arab Madrasah (16th century), the Ulugh Beg Madrasah (1417), the Abd al Aziz Khan Madrasa, the Magoki-Attori Mosque (12th to 16th century), the Kosh-Madrasah Ensemble of two madrasahs located opposite to each other, the Modari-Abdullah Khan Madrasah, named after the mother of Abdullah Khan, and the Abdullah Khan Madrasah, the Lyab-i Hauz (14th to 16th century), and the Nadir Divan-begi Madrasah. Lunch and dinner in local restaurants offering ethnic shows. An overnight in a hotel.
Day 9. Bukhara—Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
Breakfast at the hotel. Check out at 12:00. A trip to the summer residence of the last emir of Bukhara Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa in the suburbs. It is a unique building combining Oriental and Russian decorative elements. The tour continues in Baha-ud-Din Naqshband's Mausoleum. Free time. Last dinner. Transfer to the local airport. Departure for Tashkent (605 km, 105 min).
You will be met at Tashkent Airport and taken to the hotel. A night at the hotel.
Day 10. Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
Breakfast at the hotel. Check out before 12:00. Free time until transfer to Tashkent International Airport. Departure. End of the tour.