Persia and the Silk Road
For thousands of years the Silk Road was the only link between eastern and western Asia. Its rich history of merchants, pilgrims, monks, soldiers and nomads who travelled this harsh, long road lives in our stories and legends. On this journey, you begin in Uzbekistan where minarets soar into the sky, bazaars bustle with commerce and blue tiled madrasahs sparkle in the sunlight. On to Turkmenistan to see skilled artisans, handcrafted carpets and the power of Darvaza. Finally Iran, its rich legacy recorded over three millennia. Persepolis and Isfahan are bursting with impressive architecture, elegant mosques and graceful palaces.
On this journey you will enjoy the following special experiences: •Explore the ancient settlement of Afrosiab in Uzbekistan Journey into the ancient core of Samarkand, wandering through an ancient citadel, fortifications, the palace and residential and craft quarters. We'll catch a glimpse of the ancient settlement, founded in the 7th century BC but destroyed by Genghis Khan in the 13th century.
•Dine with a family in Shiraz In Shiraz, you are warmly invited to have dinner with a local family. The family will prepare two different kinds of Persian style meals, followed by Persian sweets for dessert. You will see how an Iranian dinner is served and enjoy some traditional music.
•Enjoy a visit to the local school in Tehran Visit a local school where the children will be delighted to see you! You'll see how the children learn and be taught some Farsi by the kids.
Please note that parts of this itinerary may involve very long days of travel and this combined with the local infrastructure may prove challenging at times. This also is a large part of the appeal of the destinations so a robust adventurous attitude will serve you well.
If you have travelled on one of our Journeys before, we would like to offer you a saving of $400 per couple (or $200 per person) if you book this journey.
Day 1: New Zealand > Dubai Evening flight from Auckland or Christchurch to Dubai.
Day 2: Dubai > Tashkent (D) Arrive Dubai this morning, then fly to Tashkent and transfer to our hotel. Welcome dinner in the hotel.
Day 3: Tashkent (B,D) Full day sightseeing of old and new Tashkent, a fascinating ancient city. See an interesting mix of modern office buildings, hotels and parks alongside crumbling Soviet style apartment blocks. We visit Barak Khan Madrasah where the world's oldest Uthman Quran (8th century manuscript) is kept. See the Museum of Fine and Applied Arts, Bunyodkor Square and the bustling Chorus Bazaar.
Day 4: Tashkent > Samarkand (B,L,D) Drive to Samarkand, a majestic city and a UNESCO World Heritage Site with monuments of ancient architecture, a heritage of scientific and arts schools and artisans' workshops. See the spectacular Registan with three magnificent madrasahs (educational institutions) and Gur Emir Mausoleum with its bright blue domes.
Day 5: Samarkand (B,L,D) Visit the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, one of the most impressive historic mosques in Central Asia and a significant architectural expression of Timur's rule. Immerse yourself in the many colours, scents and sounds of the Siab bazaar with an abundance of produce and handicrafts. Visit the ancient settlement of Afrosiab and the remains of the Ulugbek Observatory, one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century.
Day 6: Samarkand > Bukhara (B,D) Drive to Bukhara, where we have time at leisure to explore the former capital of the powerful Emirate of Bukhara. The most complete example of a medieval city in Central Asia, the centre is an architectural preserve, full of madrasahs, minarets, a massive royal fortress and the remnants of a market complex.
Day 7: Bukhara (B,L,D) Explore this living museum city and UNESCO World Heritage Site, with 140 monuments dotted about the city. We'll see the overall townscape, to capture the real importance of Bukhara. After a day of walking, perhaps visit the Bozori Kord hammam for an oriental massage, which has been rejuvenating Silk Road travellers since the 14th century.
Day 8: Bukhara > Khiva (B,D) Morning visit to the Summer Palace, the residence of the last emir of Bukhara. Then we drive between the Karakum (black sands) and the Kyzyl-Kum (red sands) deserts to Khiva, stopping on the way to see the Amu Darya River.
Day 9: Khiva (B,D) For many centuries the name Khiva has excited the imagination with images of camel caravans loaded with exotic silk and spices, stirring bazaars and glittering madrasahs. However, there was a dark side to the historic route, and Khiva was in fact home to the largest slave market in Central Asia. Today we'll explore Ichon-Qala, within the ancient city walls. Often referred to as a living museum, you'll find an abundance of historic monuments but virtually no residents.
Day 10: Khiva > Dashaguz (B,L,D) Cross the border into Turkmenistan and visit Konya-Urgench which contains the ruins of the capital of Khwarezm, a part of the Achaemenid Empire. The town's inhabitants deserted it three and a half centuries ago leaving impressive monuments to its Silk Road past. Stay overnight in Dashaguz.
Day 11: Dashaguz > Darvaza (B,L,D) Drive across the Karakum desert to see the Darvaza Crater, also known as 'The Door to Hell'. As you stand near the edge of this fiery crater, you will be in awe of its magnificent colour and incredible strength visible from miles away. Stay the night in a pup tent, enjoying the traditional Turkmen hospitality and kindness and tasting traditional cuisine.
Day 12: Darvaza > Ashgabat (B,L,D) We return to the 'Door to Hell' for a different perspective during the day. Drive to Ashgabat visiting a nomadic tribe on the way.
Day 13: Ashgabat (B,L,D) Explore the 'city of love' with lavish marble palaces, gleaming gold domes and manicured parkland. Recently noted, Ashgabat has the highest number of white marble-clad buildings in the world. Sightseeing includes the Parthian settlement of Nisa, the Ertugrul Gazi Mosque and National Museum.
Day 14: Ashgabat > Mashhad (B,L,D) Drive to the border where we complete formalities to enter Iran and drive on to Mashhad.
Day 15: Mashhad > Shiraz (B,L,D) Today we will explore Iran's holiest city known for its beautiful, ever-growing Haram (shrine complex). Tonight fly to Shiraz, the city of poets, home to exquisite gardens and mosques.
Day 16: Shiraz (B,L,D) Today, stroll through a 19th century garden, Eram Narenjestan, followed by a visit to the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. From the outside, a fairly traditional house of worship but inside it's like stepping into a kaleidoscope. The multitude of stained glass windows turn the inside of the mosque into a riotous wonderland of colour. Visit Vakil Mosque and Vakil Bazaar in the afternoon, wandering through the vaulted brick avenues with courtyards, caravanserais, bath houses, and old shops. You'll find handicrafts, Persian rugs, scarves, spices and antiques. Tonight, enjoy a special dinner with a local family.
Day 17: Shiraz > Yazd (B,L,D) After breakfast, we visit the Quran Gate, then drive to the remarkable Persian ruins of Persepolis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site dating back to the 5th century BC. Persepolis was once the richest city on earth. At the heart of the city stood the royal palace, a wonder of gold and silver, ivory, and precious stones. Today, the spectacular ruins are still marked by Alexander the Great's fire, three feet of ash covered the floor when it was first excavated and many of the columns are still visibly scarred by flames. We drive to Yazd where we spend two nights.
Day 18: Yazd (B,L,D) In Yazd, we navigate the winding lanes of this mud-brick old town. See the Dowlat Abad garden, the Towers of Silence and Zoroastrians Fire Temple.
Day 19: Yazd > Isfahan (B,L,D) We drive to Isfahan - a gem of a city with many beautiful boulevards and covered bridges.
Day 20: Isfahan (B,L,D) Sightseeing of Isfahan including the Imam Square, Ali Qapu and Chehel Sotun Palace (Palace of 40 pillars) and the bazaar.
Day 21: Isfahan > Tehran (B,L,D) Drive to Tehran, Iran's most secular city, with its relatively short history, more than makes up for it with its impressive museums. In this city we will see a range of international and ethnic restaurants, cafes and art galleries.
Day 22: Tehran (B, D) Sightseeing includes the Archaeological Museum, the glass and ceramic museum and Golestan Palace. Visit the Morvarid Palace (Pearl Palace), designed by the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and the residence of Princess Shams Pahlavi which has been frozen in time at 1979. We will visit a local school as well as our guide's favourite cafe. This evening enjoy a farewell dinner.
Day 23: Tehran> Dubai (B) Final breakfast before transferring to the airport for our flight to Dubai. On arrival, transfer to hotel near the airport.
Day 24: Dubai > New Zealand Transfer to the airport for your morning flight.
Day 25: New Zealand Arrive Auckland or Christchurch this afternoon.
• A World Journeys host • Economy class airfares ex Auckland/Christchurch • Accommodation in 4 Star hotels where available. NB: some hotels may not be of an international 4 Star standard but are best available in their area; in Darvaza we will stay in pup tents with shared facilities. • Transfers, sightseeing and entrance fees as per the itinerary • Meals as indicated • Visa authorisation letters where required • Gratuities
Pricing (per person) $NZD
Departs 22 September 2017
22 September 2017
Booking conditions A non-refundable deposit of $1,500 per person is required, with the balance due 60 days prior to departure. As cancellation fees apply, travel insurance is mandatory. Please refer to World Journeys terms and conditions.
A non-refundable deposit of $1,500 per person is required, with the balance due 60 days prior to departure. As cancellation fees apply, travel insurance is mandatory. Please refer to World Journeys terms and conditions.
Not included • Airline and airport taxes (subject to change)
• Items of a personal nature
• Travel insurance (mandatory)
• Optional activities
• Airline and airport taxes (subject to change) • Items of a personal nature • Visas • Travel insurance (mandatory) • Optional activities