In the final episode of Joanna Lumley's Silk Road Adventure, Joanna travels across the post-Soviet, Central Asian states of Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan, the heartland of the Silk Road. This little known corner of the world is blessed with hyperbole defying scenery with mighty mountains and glittering cities which has played host to centuries of war, trade, guts, glory and espionage.
She begins in Uzbekistans' Kyzi-Kum desert with a close encounter with Bactrian camels and a visit to a 2500 year old Silk Road fortress called Ayaz Kala. Following in the footsteps of the former trading caravans, Joanna travels to Khiva an ancient desert citadel ringed by formidable adobe walls. She meets a man whose family have been making the distinctive sheepskin chugirma hats for centuries.
From Khiva, she moves on to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, the most populous city in Central Asia, before taking 'the Golden Road to Samarkand', aboard a Spanish-built high speed train. As one of the Silk Road's most iconic cities, Samarkand was built in the 14th Century.
The next stop is the country of Kyrgyzstan, the eastern and more mountainous neighbour to Uzbekistan. Before heading to the mountains, Joanna makes a stop in the capital Bishkek, stopping on the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul. The final stop in the series is the 15th century caravanserai of Tash rabat, a huge stone complex tucked into the mountains near the Chinese border.
Uzbekistan: Heart of Central Asia
10 nights from £1695pp (November)
Day 1: Fly to Tashkent
Fly overnight from London (regional connections available) to Tashkent with Uzbekistan Airways.
Day 2: Tashkent
Arrive in Tashkent and transfer to the Miran Hotel (or similar) for 1 night. Afternoon tour of the old city stopping at sights such as Amir Timur Square and the Kukeldash mosque and madrasa.
Day 3: Urgench to Khiva
Transfer to the airport and take a 1-hour morning flight to Urgench. Visit the ancient fortresses of Ayaz Kala and Toprak Kala before an afternoon drive to Khiva via Ulli Khovli. Stay 2 nights at the Malika Kheivak Hotel (or similar).
Day 4: Khiva
Full-day tour of Khiva, including Kunya Ark, Islam Khoja minaret and Tash Havli Palace.
Day 5: Bukhara
Full-day drive to Bukhara (7-8 hours) through the Kyzylkum desert, stopping at the Amudaryo river for photos. Stay at the Asia Hotel (or similar) for 3 nights.
Day 6: Bukhara
City tour of Bukhara, including visits to Chor Minor mosque, built in 1807 with unusual sky blue cupolas, the Poi-Kaylan complex, the surviving trade domes and Lyab-i-Hauz complex, once the city’s principal source of water.
Day 7: Bukhara
After breakfast, continue your tour of Bukhara, including visits to the imposing fortress known as ‘The Ark’, located on the site of a 2,000-year-old fortress; the Summer Palace; and the Samanid mausoleum, built in the early 10th century with a facade incorporating Zoroastrian symbols.
Day 8: Shahrisabz and Samarkand
Drive to Shahrisabz, birthplace of Tamerlane, and visit the summer palace, mosques and mausoleums. Continue to Samarkand for 3 nights at the Registan Plaza Hotel or the Emirkhan Hotel (or similar).
Day 9: Samarkand
Full-day tour of Samarkand, including visits to Registan Square, the Ulugbek Observatory, Afrosiab Museum, Shah-i-Zinda necropolis, and the Bibi Khanum mosque.
Day 10: Samarkand
Continue your tour of Samarkand. Visit Gur Emir mausoleum, which marks the final resting place of several members of the Timurid dynasty, including Timur himself. Other visits include Nodir Divan Begi madrasa, Hazrat Hizr mosque and the Khodja Doniyor mausoleum. After lunch, stop at Koni Ghil silk paper-making workshop before returning to your hotel.
Day 11: Tashkent
Morning at leisure in Samarkand. Late afternoon transfer to the train station to board the Afrosiyob Express to Tashkent. Transfer to the Miran Hotel (or similar) for 1 night.
Day 12: Fly to London
Morning at leisure. Afternoon transfer to the airport. Fly from Tashkent to London with Uzbekistan Airways.