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ADVENTURE TRIPS: TO THE ARAL SEA

12 Days

Visiting the Aral Sea offers travelers a chance to witness the extremes of human impact and to marvel at nature’s wonders. This engaging and dynamic journey to the Aral Sea, located at the frontier between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, reveals the dramatic scale of the catastrophe that led to the sea’s vanishing. Experiencing the Aral Sea evokes complex emotions of both awe and sorrow. There’s awe in the stark beauty of the desolate terrain and the Ustyurt Plateau. Yet, there’s also a profound sadness due to the visible scars inflicted upon this land. Amidst the distinctive landscape of deserts and oases, we encounter welcoming locals, who are receptive to Western influences while deeply rooted in their ancient traditions.

Trip info

  • 3-4* and Boutique Hotels, Tent
  • Tashkent
  • Tashkent
  • Guided
  • 11 x breakfast, 2 x camping lunch, 11 x dinner
  • Easy
  • Aeroplane, Train, Coach, Jeeps and private cars

Trip overview

The trip to the Aral Lake allows tourists to experience human madness, to feel the wonders of nature. The adventurous and active tour to the Aral Lake which is on the border of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, illustrates the extent of the tragedy surrounding the disappearance of the Aral Lake. The tour to the Aral Lake leaves one with mixed feelings of admiration and sadness. Admiration for the unbelievable beauty of the barren landscape and the Ustyurt Plateau. And sadness because of the bare wounds of this area which are so evident. In the unusual landscape of deserts and oases, we meet hospitable people – open to the West and yet still bound up in their centuries-old culture.

Itinerary

Flight to Tashkent. Arrival in the evening or early morning of the next day (depending on flight connections). On arrival in Tashkent, you will be received by your travel guide in the international airport and taken to your hotel.
After a rest in the hotel, you will go on a sightseeing tour through the old town of Tashkent. We will see the Khast Imam Complex. In the large square, the Barakkhan Medrasa and the Kaffal Shashi Mausoleum bear witness to the time when Tashkent was the centre of the great development of Islamic culture and religion. The oldest Koran in the world is kept in the medrasa’s library. The manuscript dates back to the third Caliph Osman.
Then we go to the «Chorsu» Bazaar, which was already known in the Middle Ages that lies at the crossroads of the caravansaries of the Great Silk Road. This is one of the largest markets of Tashkent, not far from the centre. In the bazaar, you will see many Uzbek specialities, and all kinds of exotic, spicy smells will tickle your taste buds. In the Museum of Applied Art, which is housed in an impressive, historic community centre, there are over 7,000 exhibits of traditional popular art from a past era and a foreign culture. Then we will take the Underground (Subway) train with its countless decorated stations. You can walk through the pedestrian areas with its many street traders and cafés and take a trip on the only underground railway of Central Asia, impressive with some originally decorated stations. Dinner in a local restaurant.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Arien Plaza in Tashkent

Early breakfast in the hotel. At 05:30 transfer to the airport for the flight to Nukus at 07.10- 9:55. After checking into the hotel, we will visit the state museum of art named after I. Savitsky, which houses the second largest collection of Russianavant-garde art in the world and is one of the largest collections of applied art in Central Asia. Dinner in a local restaurant. One overnight stay in Nukus.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Jipek Joli in Nukus

We leave Nukus at 0600 for the Ustyurt Plateau and the Aral Lake, ca.450 km, the journey takes 8-9 hours. You pass the Kungrad District, a previous trading centre along the Silk Road. On to Ustyurt. Stop at the Sudoshye Lake, lunch in a fisher’s house. After lunch, on to the Aral Lake. On the way, you visit the old lighthouse, and a village by a gasworks. En route you can take photos of unbelievably beautiful gorges and fissured plains. Arrival at the Aral Lake. We pitch our tents and have a simple camp dinner. One overnight stay.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Accommodation: Overnight in tent.

Early start to photograph the sunrise. Breakfast. Muynak (250 km – 4 hours), to see the old port with its abandoned ships in the sand – a ‚ship cemetery‘. We continue on the parched seabed of the lake past the gas towers of the Ushsay gasworks. Lunch. Stop in Nukus to see the architectural complex of Mizdakhan and Gaur Kala from the 14th century which was destroyed by Genghis Khan. Arrival in Nukus. Dinner in a local hotel. One overnight stay.

Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner
Accommodation: Hotel Jipek Joli in Nukus

Drive to Khiva, visiting Ayaz Kala on the way – an impressive ancient mud fort. In the Kyzylkum Desert, enormous ruins of one of the greatest forts of the old Khorezm – Ayaz Kala – rise up on the slope of one of the east foothills of the Sultanuvaystag. According to archaeological excavations, the Ayaz Kala fort dates back to the 2nd century BC. It was part of a system of border forts which stretched from East to West and defended the Khiva Oasis from the desert side. Then we visit the other mud fort Toprak Kala (the ancient capital of Khorezm, 2nd century AD). In the afternoon, we arrive in the oasis town – Khiva. Today you can enjoy a typical dinner of the region – „Shivitoshi “, which translates as „green noodles “. As the noodle dough is made with dill juice, the noodles are green. Two overnight stays in Khiva.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Shokhjahon Hotel in Khiva

Day 6 :
Khiva

A highlight of your trip! The mud roads and the two-wheeled donkey carts, which are still part of the streetscape today, give you an idea of the unchanged way of living since the Middle Ages. On your trip through the historic centre, you can admire the oriental ornaments and turquoise tiles of the richly decorated buildings and can understand that the old town of Khiva is rightly called “Ichan Kala” (open-air museum). Kunya Ark, once the residence of the Khans of Khiva, the Djuma Mosque – a Friday Mosque famous for its very artistically decorated 212 wooden columns, the Pakhlavon Makhmud Mausoleum, the Medrasa and Minaret of Islam Khodja – the wise vizier of Khan Muhammad Rakhim Khan as well as the Tash Khovli Palace. In the evening, you can enjoy sundown over the oasis. Princely dinner in the summer palace of the Khans, „Toza-Bog “(at least 8 people). Enjoy the effect of the magical impressions of the day.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Shokhjahon Hotel in Khiva

You make the most of the cool morning hours and make the long trip to Bukhara through the Kyzylkum Desert. You cross the famous „Amudarya “river and enjoy countless photo stops on the banks of the river and in the desert. In the late afternoon, you reach the next Silk Road metropolis, Bukhara. Dinner in a local restaurant. Three overnight stays in Bukhara.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Komil Boutique Hotel in Bukhara

Day 8 :
Bukhara

Today, you will make a tour on foot through the 2500 year-old town Bukhara. Sightseeing in the Citadel Ark, the mosque Bolo Khauz, the Chashma Ayub and the Samanids mausoleum - the oldest buildings of Bukhara. In the afternoon, you will see the enormous architectural complex of Poi Kalyan. You will visit the domed bazaars and trading streets of the Toki Zargaron goldsmiths, the capmakers Toki Telpak Furushon, the architectural complex Kosh Medrasa with the Ulugbek and Abdulaziz Khan medrasas. Then you can relax with a cup of tea at the cooling water basis in the Lyabi Khauz Complex. You can listen to some stories and legends in front of the monument of Nasreddin on the donkey, an Oriental version of Till Eulenspiegel. Dinner today will be in an old Jewish house with a Bukhara family. The Suzani embroiderer Abdurahman will tell us all about Bukhara embroidery. Today you can try Emirs Plov.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Komil Boutique Hotel in Bukhara

Today you go to Shakhrisabz (270km), the birthplace of Amir Timur (Tamerlan). Timur was a ruler who conquered Iran and Caucasia in the 14th century and defeated the Golden Horde in South Russia. With unforgettable impressions from visiting the ruins of the Ak Saray Castle, the Kuk Gumbaz Mosque and the “Dorut-Tilovat” Complex with the Shamseddin Kulal and Gumbaz Sayyidon mausoleums, you continue on to Samarkand (170km). Check in to the hotel, with free time for the rest of the day. Dinner in a local restaurant. Two overnight stays in Samarkand.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Ideal Hotel in Samarkand

Day 10 :
Samarkand

In Samarkand, ‚One Thousand and One Nights‘ starts again for you. It is one of the oldest towns in the world and also the centre of the famous Silk Road. In the Afrosiyob Museum you will get a good idea of what ancient Samarkand was like. Then you go to the Shakhi Zinda Complex, a wonderful collection of different mausoleums, coated in Timuridic style with majolica and mosaic tiles. When visiting the paper manufacturing factory, you will realise that centuries-old traditions are still alive in Samarkand today. You can watch a traditional paper-producing process using the fibres of the mulberry tree. To finish the day, you go to the Ulugbek Observatory, built in 1428-1429 on a hill of the Chupanata-chain.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner.
Accommodation: Ideal Hotel in Samarkand

Ancient Samarkand still shows the splendour of old times! In the Middle Ages, it was considered to be one of the most beautiful and most important towns in the world. The palace-like mausoleum of the ruler Amir Timur, the Gur Emir Mausoleum, will not fail to impress you. Today, you will enjoy the highlight of your trip, Registan-Square, with its three enormous, artistically adorned medrasas. Then you will go to what was once the greatest mosque of Central Asia – the Bibi Khanum Mosque. After the visit, you will go to a colourful oriental bazaar. Pyramids of nuts, almonds, pistachios, dried apricots, raisins as well as all sorts of fresh fruit and vegetables are piled up on the market stands. All sorts of exotic aromas from spices and herbs will assail your noses. A market which is as colourful and fascinating as life itself. In the late afternoon you leave Samarkand on “Afrosiyob” fast train at 17:00 to Tashkent. Arrival at 19:10, transfer to the hotel. Dinner in a local restaurant. Overnight stay in Tashkent.

Meals: Breakfast and dinner
Accommodation: Arien Plaza in Tashkent

After early breakfast, you will be driven to the airport for your flight home.

Meals: Breakfast.
Accommodation: Arien Plaza in Tashkent

COST

Includes

  • Included in the standard price :
  • * Inland flight Tashkent-Nukus
  • * Round trip / excursions and transfers in air-conditioned vehicles, typical for the country
  • * Excursion to Aral Lake by jeep, tents and cook
  • * 10 x overnight stays in middle-class hotels (country category), in double room, 1 x tent
  • * Sightseeing programme including admission fees according to tour description
  • * Savitsky - Avantgarde artmuseum in Nukus
  • * 11 x breakfast, 2 x camping lunch, 11 x dinner
  • * Dinner with the Suzani embroiderer – Abdurahmon‘s family in Bukhara with Emirs Plov
  • * Departure dinner in Tashkent
  • * Fast train Samarkand – Tashkent
  • * English-speaking travel guide from DOCA TOURS from/to Tashkent Airport

Excludes

  • Not included in the standard price :
  • * International flights
  • * Photo/Video fees
  • * Tips for travel guide and drivers
  • Additional Services:
  • * Supplement for single room: ¬¬240 USD

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ADVENTURE TRIPS: TO THE ARAL SEA
From $2,050
/ Adult
From $1,050
/ Child

Trip info

  • 3-4* and Boutique Hotels, Tent
  • Tashkent
  • Tashkent
  • Guided
  • 11 x breakfast, 2 x camping lunch, 11 x dinner
  • Easy
  • Aeroplane, Train, Coach, Jeeps and private cars