Persia and the Silk Road

Persia and the Silk Road

21 Days
DEPARTS 9 September 2016

Price from$7,490

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 live in our stories and legends. On this journey, you can't help but envisage camel caravans loaded with exotic silk and spices wading through desert sands. 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. These dramatic scenes along with the friendly people of central Asia, keep us coming back for more.

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.

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.

Persia and the Silk Road map

Day 1: Tashkent (D) On arrival, transfer to your hotel and meet your tour guide and other group members in your hotel bar or lounge this evening.

Day 2: Tashkent (B,L,D) Full day sightseeing of old and new Tashkent, a fascinating ancient city. See an interesting mix of modern new 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. We'll also stop at the Museum of Fine and Applied Arts, Bunyodkor Square and the bustling Chorus Bazaar.

Day 3: Tashkent > Samarkand (B,L,D) We drive to Samarkand, a majestic city and a UNESCO World Heritage site, listed for its abundance of material and spiritual values. Unique monuments of ancient architecture, heritage of scientific and arts schools and artisan's workshops are well-known around the world. We'll see the spectacular Registan with its three magnificent madrasahs (educational institutions) and Gur Emir Mausoleum with its bright blue domes.

Day 4: 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. Its abundant produce and handicrafts on offer are a testament to the local people's talents and diligence. We visit the ancient settlement of Afrosiab and the remains of the Ulugbek Observatory, one of the great archaeological finds of the 20th century.

Day 5: Samarkand > Bukhara (B,L,D) We drive to Bukhara, where you 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. Most of the centre is an architectural preserve, full of madrasahs, minarets, a massive royal fortress and the remnants of a once-vast market complex.

Day 6: 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 7: Bukhara > Khiva (B,L,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, known to many Western explorers as the Oxus.

Day 8: 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, glittering madrasah. However, there was a dark side of the historic trade route, and Khiva played a part of that, 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 9: Khiva > Dashaguz (B,L,D) We 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 prosperous Silk Road past. We stay overnight in Dashaguz.

Day 10: Dashaguz > Darvaza (B,L,D) We drive across the Karakum desert to see the Darvaza Crater, more commonly 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. We stay the night in a traditional yurt. You'll enjoy the traditional Turkmen hospitality and kindness and taste traditional Turkmen cuisine under the desert sky.

Day 11: Darvaza > Ashgabat (B,L,D) We return to the 'Door to Hell' for a different perspective during the day. Then drive to Ashgabat visiting a nomadic tribe on the way.

Day 12: Ashgabat (B,L,D) Explore the capital, 'the city of love' with lavish marble palaces, gleaming gold domes and vast expanses of manicured parkland. Ashgabat was recently noted as having 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 13: Ashgabat > Mashhad (B,L,D) We drive to the border where we complete formalities to enter Iran and drive on to Mashhad.

Day 14: Mashhad > Shiraz (B,L,D) Today we will explore Iran's holiest and second largest city. Mashhad is known for its beautiful, massive and ever-growing Haram (shrine complex). Tonight we fly to Shiraz, the city of poets, home to splendid gardens and exquisite mosques.

Day 15: Shiraz (B,L,D) Today we will wander 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. An afternoon visit to Vakil Mosque and Vakil Bazaar where we wander through the vaulted brick avenues with courtyards, caravanserais, bath houses, and old shops, where handicrafts, Persian rugs and carpets, scarves, spices and antiques are all on offer. Tonight we will have a special dinner with a local family.

Day 16: 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'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 and stay for a night.

Day 17: Yazd > Isfahan (B,L,D) In Yazd, we navigate the winding lanes of this mud-brick old town. We will see the Dowlat Abad garden, the Towers of Silence and Zoroastrians Fire Temple before driving to Isfahan.

Day 18: Isfahan (B,L,D) Isfahan is a gem of a city with many beautiful boulevards and covered bridges. Today we visit the Imam Square, Ali Qapu and Chehel Sotun Palace (Palace of 40 pillars) and the bazaar.

Day 19: Isfahan > Tehran (B,L,D) We drive to Tehran visiting the Fin Garden in Kashan on the way. Tehran, Iran's most secular city, with its relatively short history, more than makes up for it with its impressive museums. In this city you will see bold fashion statements, a range of ethnic and international restaurants, chic cafes and plenty of art galleries.

Day 20: Tehran (B,D) Our sightseeing will include the Archaeological Museum, the glass and ceramic museum and Golestan Palace. Then a visit to 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 your guide's favourite café. This evening, we'll enjoy a farewell dinner.

Day 21: Tehran > Dubai (B) We enjoy breakfast before departing for Tehran Airport to fly to Dubai where our journey ends.

• A World Journeys host • Economy class flights within the itinerary • Accommodation in 4 star hotels where available (some hotels may not be of an international 4 star standard but are best available in their area. In Darvaza we will stay in yurts with shared facilities) • Transfers, sightseeing and entrance fees as per the itinerary • Meals as indicated • Visa authorisation letters where required • Gratuities

Pricing (per person) $AUD

Type TWIN SINGLE

Tour cost

$7,490

$8,605

Departs

9 September 2016

Booking conditions

A non-refundable deposit of $1500 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 & conditions

Please refer to World Journeys terms & conditions.

Not included

• Flights to the start and from the end of your tour • Items of a personal nature • Visas • Travel insurance (mandatory) • Optional activities

Gratuity

In the countries we are visiting, tipping is customary. For a hassle free journey, tipping is included and will be handled by the World Journeys host.