Simultaneously the land of Catherine the Great, Joseph Stalin, and Vladimir Putin, Russia has captivated the minds of travelers for decades, no small thanks to the mystery of the land behind the old Iron Curtain.
The largest country in the world has only really opened up to travellers from the western world in the last few decades, and now, many adventurous tourists are discovering the wonders of a holiday in Russia. Most travellers to Russia tend to focus their attention on the western end of the country, where cosmopolitan cities like Moscow and St Petersburg offer a treasure trove of world-class symphonies and ballets, and famous tourist attractions like the Kremlin, Red Square, St Basil’s Cathedral, and the Winter Palace. Far from the stereotypical picture of drab Communist-era concrete buildings, the cities are attractive and bustling with culture in the form of museums, art galleries and nightlife. At nearly every turn and on any given day, Moscow thrills visitors with her artistry, history and majesty. The very founding site of the city – the Kremlin and Red Square, are still at the heart of Moscow. Whether it’s wandering within the walls of the ancient fortress, or marvelling at the magnificence of St Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow will move you. And, it all starts here at the Kremlin and Red Square where golden domes peer out over the rooftops and bells of some 600 churches peal through the streets. For more than a millennium, Orthodoxy has helped to define the Russian nation, a significance that is palpable in these atmospheric spiritual places. Then, it’s on to Uzbekistan, Central Asia’s most populous country, that’s surrounded by other landlocked states such as – Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Uzbekistan is a veritable open air museum that boasts a wide range of historical, archaeological, architectural and natural treasures. Oasis towns like Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva were once the main trading hubs along the Silk Road that linked East and West and are among the oldest towns in the world. Tashkent is the country’s capital and gateway to Uzbekistan. UNESCO Wold Heritage sites abound across the land with ancient mosques, grandiose madrasas, palaces, citadels, minarets, colourful bazaars, highly-adorned mausoleums coupled with age-old culture and traditions. Visitors can experience the warm Uzbek hospitality and be treated to a feast of architectural splendour in this most historically intriguing of the Central Asian Republics.
Montenegro (Kotor), Winter Palace, Vasilevsky Island, Gulf of Finland, Peter and Paul Fortress, UNESCO World Heritage site, Kunya Ark Citadel, Tash-Khovli Palace, Kalta-Minor, Amu Darya River, Baha Uddin Naqshbandi Mausoleum, Lyabi-Khauz Ensemble, Magoki-Attori Mosque, trade domes, Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque, Miri-Arab Madrasah, Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan madrasahs, Ark Fortress, Bolo-Khauz Mosque, Ismail Samani and Chashma-Ayub mausoleums, Gijduvan ceramics museum, Imam al Bukhari Mausoleum, mausoleum of Gur Emir, Registan Square & Bibi-Khanum Mosque
Our Guaranteed Departure tour includes the visits to all the Highlights of Uzbekistan and some Off-the-beaten tracks:
1. Khiva –the most romantic city, a museum under the open sky, taken out of “1,001 Arabian Nights” (UNESCO)
2. Bukhara – admire the best examples of Islamic architecture (UNESCO)
3. Samarkand – the leading city of the East at the time of Tamerlane (UNESCO)
Return airfare from Johannesburg
2 nights in St.Petersburg, 2 in Moscow, 2 in Khiva, 2 in Bukhara, 1 in Samarkand & 2 in Tashkent
Share twin accommodation in 4* hotels
Daily sightseeing tours
City tour St. Petersburg
City tour Moscow
Peterhof (Park and Palace)
Arbat Metro Tour
Kremlin Territory with cathedrals
The Armoury Chamber
Any services not mentioned
DAY 1 (24 SEP): ARRIVE DUBAI – ST. PETERSBURG
On arrival, you will be met by our friendly representative who will escort you by bus to your hotel. Check-in and overnight hotel.
DAY 2 (25 SEP): ST. PETERSBURG
After breakfast departure to panoramic city tour (4 hours). Our professional guide will take you down Nevsky Prospect, St. Petersburg´s most famous and vibrant thoroughfare. There you will see some of the city´s most interesting architectural monuments including the Kazan Cathedral, You will then proceed to Vasilevsky Island – the area of the city that Peter the Great originally planned to be the city center. This island juts out into the Gulf of Finland – reminding you of St.Petersburg´s close proximity to the sea and maritime history. The Peter and Paul Fortress (visit) – a symbol of St. Petersburg and also the oldest building in the city. You’ll see The Savoir on The Blood Cathedral – marvelous Russian-style church was built on the spot where Emperor Alexander II was assassinated. At the end of the tour, you’ll have time for souvenir fair.
Lunch & dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at hotel
DAY 3 (26 SEP): ST. PETERSBURG – MOSCOW (EVENING TRAIN 1710-2100)
Breakfast in the hotel
4 hours tour to the Hermitage. The museum consists of five historical buildings including the Winter Palace – the residence of the Russian Tsars. The museum contains over 3 million pieces of art with dates ranging from high antiquity to the present day. Among the Hermitage´s treasures are artworks by Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Titian, Rembrandt, Rubens and a large collection of impressionists and post-impressionists including Matisse and Picasso as well as many others. We will spend 3 hours at the museum, however, to view the collection in its entirety would take almost 15 years, spending 8 hours a day in the museum and taking one minute to examine each exhibit. Lunch near the Hermitage. Departure transfer to the train station to catch a high-speed train to Moscow. After arriving in Moscow you will be a meet and greet by our friendly representative. Transfer to the hotel and check-in overnight at the hotel.
DAY 4 (27 SEP): MOSCOW
Breakfast in the hotel
Excursion to the Moscow Kremlin and Kremlin Cathedrals. (4 hours, metro walk) the Kremlin is truly a fascinating structure, at the same time it is an ancient tower, the city´s former military fortification, a palace, an armory, the sovereign treasury and the workplace of the Russian President. The Kremlin is the center of Russia´s political life and State power and has been home to Tsars, General Secretaries of the Soviet Union and Russian Presidents. Red Square is within the Kremlin´s walls. Among the sights included in the tour are the Mausoleum of Lenin, the clock at the Saviour (Spasskaya) Tower – showing the most correct Moscow time, the History Museum, the beautiful Cathedral of the Intercession (the Church of St Basil the Blessed), Kazansky Cathedral and many other outstanding pieces of Russian architecture. Lunch at a local restaurant. Afternoon free for shopping and souveniers. Dinner at a local restaurant. Overnight at hotel
DAY 5 (28 SEP): FLY MOSCOW – UZBEKISTAN
Breakfast in the hotel. Coach tour of city attractions. Transfer to the airport. Evening flight to Uzbekistan. Arrive in Urgench. Transfer from the airport to the hotel in Khiva. Overnight at the hotel.
DAY 6 (29 SEP): KHIVA
After breakfast full day tour in UNESCO World Heritage site Itchan-Kala Fortress, a living museum under the open sky. Take a walking sightseeing tour in Khiva with a guide: visit Kunya-Ark Citadel, Tash-Khovli Palace, Mukhammad Aminkhan Madrasah, Mukhammad Rahimkhan Madrasah, Kalta-Minor, Juma Mosque Minaret of Islam-Khoja. Free time in the afternoon. Dinner with folklore show. Overnight in hotel in Khiva.
DAY 7 (30 SEP): KHIVA – BUKHARA DRIVE 460 KM
In the morning depart Khiva and drive to Bukhara (480 km, 7h.). On the way stop in the village and explore the life of local people. The Great Silk Road once routed through Bukhara and Khiva ran through the Kyzyl – Kum Desert, as the present road does nowadays. Stop en-route to enjoy views of Amu Darya River and the desert. (Panoramic view of Amudarya and border Turkmenistan.) Arrive in Bukhara late in the afternoon, check in to the hotel. Overnight in hotel in Bukhara.
DAY 8 (01 OCT): BUKHARA
Full day sightseeing tour with a guide in Old City. Baha Uddin Naqshbandi Mausoleum, Visit Lyabi-Khauz Ensemble, Magoki-Attori Mosque, trade domes, Kalyan Minaret, Kalyan Mosque, and Miri-Arab Madrasah, Ulugbek and Abdulazizkhan madrasahs, Ark Fortress, Bolo-Khauz Mosque, Ismail Samani and Chashma – Ayub Mausoleums. Overnight in hotel in Bukhara.
DAY 9 (02 OCT): BUKHARA – SHAKHRISABZ – SAMARKAND (240 KM)
Early breakfast in the hotel. 08:00 Transfer to Samarkand. (240km 4 h). Stop on the way at Gijduvan ceramics museum to see how to make handmade ceramics. 12:30 Arrival in Samarkand. 13:00 Lunch at Uzbekistan restaurant. Imam al Bukhari Mausoleum. Visit the mausoleum of Imam Al Bukhari – The famous theologian scientist which the author of the book “Sahih Ul Bukhari”. Meros – The ancient paper mill. Dinner. Overnight in hotel in Samarkand.
DAY 10 (03 OCT): SAMARKAND – TASHKENT (AFROSIYOB TRAIN 1730-1940)
Early breakfast in the hotel. 08:00 Visit the mausoleum of Gur Emir, a burial place of Tamerlane and other princesses of his family. Registan Square, the heart of Samarkand consisting of Madrassa of Ulugbek, Madrassa Sher-Dor, and Tillya-Kori Madrasah. Bibi Khanum Mosque, once the biggest mosque in Central Asia, it was erected by order of Tamerlane after his victorious Indian campaign in 1399.Shakhi-Zinda(Alive King ) Necropolis, a site of pilgrimage visited since the 11th Century and marked by holiness. Lunch. Visit: Shopping at famous oriental Siyob bazaar Transfer to Railway station. Take a high-speed train “Afrosiyob” to Tashkent at 17:00 – 19:10 (300km/2hrs) Arrival to Tashkent and transfer to restaurant for Dinner. Checkin. Overnight at hotel in Tashkent.
DAY 11 (04 OCT): TASHKENT
10:00 – Visit sacred places of Tashkent: Ensemble of Hazrat Imam. Here you can see the oldest manuscript of Uzbekistan and famous Muslim heritage –Holy Koran Mushaf of Othman which also has the certificate of authenticity from UNESCO. Kukeldash Madrasah, located on the square Chorsu, was built in the 16th century during the reign of the Sheibankhan dynasty. Now it is a college, where the basics of Islam are taught. Chorsu Bazaar – The wholesale oriental bazaar where you can bargain till 50% of any product. 13:00 Lunch. Museum of Applied Arts, the Museum of History, White Mosque. Overnight in hotel in Tashkent.
DAY 12 (05 OCT): DEPARTURE TASHKENT, DUBAI, JOHANNESBURG
Check-out from the hotel. Transfer to Tashkent International Airport. Departure. Services End.