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A MESSAGE FROM BRUCE EPSTEIN

When the time is right for travel, we’ll be here

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What People Are Saying About Us

I would definitely do another Odysseys tour – great company, great value.

Nancy Huntley
Springfield, IL

We continue to be amazed at the value and quality of these trips.

Peg & Ray Dutcher
Wellesley, MA

Love your company and feel like we get excellent value.

Eugene & Carol Simpson
Raleigh, NC

The small group (20) was perfect.

Jacqueline Meyer
Foster City, CA

Love small group tours.  Odysseys does it right!

Kathy Root
Grafton, OH

I loved the small group...I felt safe and well cared for.

Deborah Miles
Denver, CO

Odysseys is our #1 choice for group travel.

Karin Knutsen
Chagrin Falls, OH

It was a truly first-rate experience in every way.

Enid & Jerry Liess
Annandale, VA

Each of our four tours with you has been outstanding!

Howard Sosne
Raleigh, NC

Our first experience made us loyal customers.

Doug Bates
The Villages, FL

First-rate tour. Odysseys Unlimited came highly recommended.

Carol & Michael Ferraris
Massapequa Park, NY

The small group is wonderful and the quality of tour directors is exceptional.

Bill Jones
Vancouver, WA

All that was advertised was delivered. Consider this tour to be a real value as to sites visited, itinerary, hotels, and travel between sites.

Susan & Paul Krupp
Georgetown, TX

Odysseys does everything with style, but without pretension. Beautiful meals and hotels. Excellent guides.

Barbara Schoetzau
New York, NY

We like the model – small groups, excellent tour directors, solid hotels, good mix of group/independent activities.

Roger Soder
Seattle, WA

We love the small group experience.

Dave & Alice Wilson
Williamstown, MA

Odysseys tours are just right for us: great value, nice group size, complete trips, sufficient free time.

Laurin & Phyllis LeTart
Shepherdstown, WV

It was the best value in travel we’ve ever had. It was a wonderful experience.

Trish Merrill & Mac White
Austin, TX

This was my 7th trip with Odysseys and they keep getting better and better.

Merle Frank
Miami, FL

Love the small group format and the ease of traveling with arrangements made for us.

Ken & Carolyn Helm
Newburgh, IN

Tour exceeded my expectations having never taken a group tour. An excellent experience – can’t wait for my next one!

Ronni Goldberg
New York, NY

Absolutely the best bang for the buck – organization, quality, consistency.

Harvey Wine
Dallas, TX

Because of the group size and outstanding guides, you make travel easy for us!

Sharon Irwin & John Akamatsu
Kent, OH
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Six-time honoree Travel + Leisure's World's Best Tour Operators awards

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Ranked #2
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ENHANCED ITINERARY!

Explore the Region

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Meet Our Tour Directors

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Small Group Tour Highlights
  • Bishkek yurt-making demonstration
  • Tamgaly Petroglyphs UNESCO site
  • Russian-accented Almaty
  • Falconry demonstration
  • Tashkent touring, including world’s oldest Quran
  • Historic Silk Road gem of Khiva
  • Visits with local artisans
  • Uzbek folklore performance
  • UNESCO site of Bukhara
  • Lunches with local families
  • Legendary Samarkand
  • Visits to Central Asian bazaars
  • Regal Registan Square
Day-by-Day Trip Itinerary

Day 1: Depart U.S. for Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Day 2: Arrive Bishkek Upon arrival in the Kyrgyz capital late tonight, we transfer directly to our hotel.

Day 3: Bishkek After time to rest and have lunch on our own, we meet our Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director and fellow travelers at a briefing about the journey ahead. Then we take our first steps along the Silk Road, with a panoramic tour of this former Soviet republic’s largest city. Tonight, we enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant. B,D

Day 4: Bishkek/Burana We travel east this morning to the village of Burana, whose 11th-century tower is the sole remaining remnant of the ancient Silk Road city of Balasagun. We walk among the surrounding “balbal” stone statues dating from the 6th to 10th centuries then enjoy lunch in the home of a Kyrgyz family. Next: a yurt-making demonstration in this country where the nomadic lifestyle is still practiced. B,L,D

Day 5: Bishkek/Almaty, Kazakhstan En route to Almaty this morning, we stop at Tamgaly Gorge to see the Tamgaly Petroglyphs that date to the Bronze Age. We enjoy a picnic lunch in this archaeological landscape then continue on to Almaty, where tonight we dine at our hotel. B,L,D

Day 6: Almaty Kazakhstan’s largest city and cultural and commercial center, Almaty has a decided Russian flavor, as we see on this morning’s tour. We begin at Panfilov Park and the adjacent Holy Ascension Cathedral, an example of early 20th-century Russian Orthodox architecture. Next, we visit the Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments, showcasing unique national instruments. Then we head outside the city to ascend Kok Tobe mountain by gondola to enjoy panoramic views of Almaty and the surrounding Tian Shan mountains. Late this afternoon, we attend a falconry demonstration. B,L

Day 7: Almaty/Tashkent, Uzbekistan We fly this morning to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, where this afternoon we visit the Museum of Applied Arts, housing fine examples of Uzbek crafts, including embroidery, jewelry, ceramics, and carpets. After checking in at our hotel, we have free time this afternoon before dinner at a local restaurant. B,L,D

Day 8: Tashkent Our morning tour begins in the Old City at the Khazrati Imam Complex of mosques and madrassahs. Here we see the world’s oldest surviving Islamic holy book, the 7th-century Uthman Quran, brought to Tashkent by Tamerlane. Next: Chorsu Bazaar, under whose massive green dome locals purchase everything from produce to clothing. Tonight, we attend a performance of ballet, classical music, or opera at the national opera house. B,L

Day 9: Tashkent/Urgench/Khiva Very early this morning, we transfer to the airport for our flight to Urgench, then continue on to Khiva. We get a taste of Khiva’s storied past as a major trading post along the Silk Road as we begin exploring the Itchan Kala, the “inner city” whose entirety is a UNESCO site. We start at the double-domed Pakhlavan Mahmoud Mausoleum then visit the Islam Khoja minaret, followed by the Juma Mosque, with its 200 wooden pillars. Late afternoon we attend a performance of the Khiva Puppet Theatre. B,L,D

Day 10: Khiva We continue our exploration of this 1,500-year-old city at the turquoise-tiled Kalta Minor minaret – enormous, stout, and unfinished. We continue on to Kunya Ark citadel; the immense Madrassah of Muhammad Rahim Khan, with its tiled façade; the 163-room Tah Hauli Palace; and the Hunarmand artisans’ workshop. Tonight, we enjoy a small group highlight as we travel through the desert to a lakeside yurt camp, where we have a sunset cocktail party followed by a traditional barbecue dinner and folkloric performance. B,D

Day 11: Khiva/Bukhara This morning we journey by train through the Kyzylkum Desert to Bukhara, with lunch on board. Upon arrival in this ancient city of Silk Road commerce and religious piety, we visit the Chor Minor madrassah, with its four minarets. This evening we dine at Akbar House, the preserved home of a 19th-century Jewish merchant. B,L,D

Day 12: Bukhara Today begins with a walking tour of the 16th-century Lyab-i Hauz religious complex. We continue to the domed Taki-Telpak Furushon bazaar known for its headgear: embroidered skull caps, turbans, and heavy fur hats; then on to a bazaar where we watch silk weavers at work. Next, we return to the Old Jewish Quarter to visit the home of a Sufi miniaturist, where we learn about his craft and enjoy a traditional lunch of plov – lamb and rice – the Uzbek national dish. Touring continues this afternoon at the Poi Kalyan religious complex, the Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum, and the massive 5th-century earthen Ark of Bukhara Fortress. B,L

Day 13: Bukhara/Gijduvan/Samarkand This morning we call on a sacred pilgrimage site: the Memorial Complex of Naqshband, burial site of the founder of the world’s largest order of Sufi Muslims. Next: the Narzullaev Ceramics Workshop, where potters have used traditional methods for more than a century. After lunch here, we board the train for Samarkand, legendary stop on the Silk Road. Tonight, we get our first glimpse of vast Registan, the mosaic-tiled public square flanked by three ornate madrassahs that have stood here since the 14th century. B,L,D

Day 14: Samarkand Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan left their marks on Samarkand, as did Tamarlane (Timur), who made it capital of his Islamic empire in the 14th century. Our touring today begins at Registan Square, once and current heart of the city, where we join in a calligraphy workshop. We continue to 15th-century Bibi-Khanym mosque, and Siyob Bazaar, the city’s largest market. This afternoon we visit a historic winery for a tour and tasting. B,L

Day 15: Samarkand Our discovery of this crossroads of culture continues today at the Afrasiyab Museum, a huge archaeological site and museum depicting the city’s 2,500-year history; 15th-century Ulugh Beg Observatory, one of the finest in the Islamic world; and the Meros Paper Mill, where artisans craft traditional handmade paper. We join a local family in their home for lunch then explore the Shakhi Zinda Necropolis and temple complex, whose 20-plus buildings date from the 11th to 19th centuries. This evening, we visit the Gur Emir Mausoleum, Tamarlane’s resting place. After dinner at a local restaurant, we make a last stop to see Registan lit up for the evening. B,L,D

Day 16: Samarkand/Tashkent We return today to the Uzbek capital, passing through Jilanuti Pass, the “Gates of Tamerlane” passage between the Nuratin and Turkestan hills. After arriving in Tashkent early this afternoon, we have time for lunch on our own then visit the studio of renowned ceramicist Akbar Rakhimov. Tonight, we toast our adventure along the Silk Road at a farewell dinner. B,D

Day 17: Depart for U.S. Early this morning we depart for the airport for our connecting flight to the U.S. B

Please note: This trip involves considerable walking on uneven terrain and at sites of ancient ruins. You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.

B = Breakfast included L = Lunch included D = Dinner included

Tour Price Includes
  • Round-trip air transportation from listed cities; all flights within itinerary
  • 14 nights’ accommodations in Superior First Class and First Class hotels
  • 36 meals: 15 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 10 dinners
  • Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees
  • Services of local Odysseys Unlimited Tour Directors
  • Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip
  • Luggage handling for one bag per person
  • Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers
  • $100 frequent traveler credit towards your next Odysseys Unlimited tour ($200 after 3 tours; $300 after 10 tours)
2021 Tour Dates & Prices

2021 Tour Dates & Prices
including international airfare and all taxes, surcharges, and fees

Apr 3
Apr 6
Oct 16
Apr 17
Apr 24
Oct 9
May 1
May 8
Sep 7
Sep 14
Sep 21
Boston, New York,
Washington, DC
$5,994$6,094$6,194
Chicago, Houston,
Los Angeles, Miami,
San Francisco
$6,294$6,394$6,494
Atlanta, Baltimore,
Charlotte, Dallas, Phil
$6,494$6,594$6,694
Cinc, Cleve, Denver,
Detroit, Minn, Orlando,
Phoenix, Port (OR),
Seattle, Tampa
$6,594$6,694$6,794

Please call if your city is not listed or for land only prices. Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include airline taxes, surcharges, and fees of $599, which are subject to change until final payment has been made.

Single travelers please add $1,195. Your $475 deposit is fully refundable up to 95 days prior to departure. All 2021 tour prices above (excluding airline taxes, surcharges, and fees) are guaranteed.

Business Class upgrade (subject to availability) on round-trip Trans-Atlantic flight: $4,795 per person

A visa is required for this tour. Odysseys Unlimited will provide information about visa requirements upon reservation.

Accommodations
    Hyatt Regency Bishkek, Bishkek / Days 2-4 / Superior First Class

    Additional information to come.

    InterContinental Almaty, Almaty / Days 5-6 / Superior First Class

    Set in the heart of Almaty opposite the Presidential Palace, the InterContinental Almaty provides top-notch service and amenities in a luxurious setting.  The common areas offer a range of places to relax and enjoy yourself, including a lofted, 10-story central lobby; adjacent outdoor and indoor swimming pools (the indoor pool set underneath a greenhouse-style glass ceiling; hot tub; spa; and outdoor garden with ample seating areas.  The InterContinental also boasts a wide range of dining options, full fitness center, tennis court, laundry and dry cleaning service (for a fee), and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access.  Air-conditioned guest rooms have private marble bath with hair dryer, minibar, TV, and phone.

    Hyatt Regency Tashkent, Tashkent / Days 7-8, 16 / Superior First Class

    One of the finest hotels in the city, the Hyatt Regency Tashkent occupies an ideal location in the center of Uzbekistan’s capital and offers a superb guest experience.  The hotel offers an abundance of world-class amenities, including an Uzbek restaurant, Italian restaurant and bar, lobby lounge with tea and bar service, 20-meter indoor swimming pool, hot tub, full 24-hour fitness center, spa with a range of treatments, laundry and dry cleaning services (for a fee), and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access.  Each air-conditioned guest room has floor-to-ceiling windows and offers private bath with hair dryer, walk-in rainfall shower, separate bathtub, in-room safe, minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, and phone.

    Hotel Asia Khiva, Khiva / Days 9-10 / First Class

    The Hotel Asia Khiva sits in close proximity to Khiva’s historic Old Town, and exudes an air of contemporary comfort amid this timeless city.  The hotel’s amenities includes a restaurant and bar, outdoor swimming pool with lounge area and poolside bar, laundry and dry cleaning service (for a fee), sauna with steam room and massage (for a fee), and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access.  Air-conditioned guest rooms have private bath with hair dryer, minibar, tea- and coffee-making facilities, TV, and phone.  Please note:  While this hotel represents the best of accommodations in the region, you may find the level of quality and service here somewhat lower than at other sites on your tour.

    Hotel Minorai Kalon, Bukhara / Days 11-12 / First Class

    Additional information to come.

    Hotel Grand Samarkand Superior, Samarkand / Days 13-15 / First Class

    The Hotel Grand Samarkand Superior sits in the heart of the ancient city of Samarkand, and boasts an upscale atmosphere with chandeliers, inlaid wall tiling, and exposed wooden ceiling beams.  The hotel’s restaurant serves both European and Uzbek cuisine, and other amenities include a bar, small rooftop swimming pool, sauna with indoor pool, fitness center, laundry service (for a fee), and complimentary Wi-Fi internet access.  Air-conditioned guest rooms have white brick walls and elegant, warm-colored décor, and offer private bath with hair dryer, TV, and phone.

Ratings are based on the Hotel & Travel Index, the travel industry standard reference.
Tour Directors
Mubashira Bakshillaeva

“Shira is your best advertisement and best director for her knowledge, experience and professional communications.”
David & Gail Baruch
Forest Hills, NY

Farkhod Karimov

Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

Otabek Karshiev

“Absolutely the best. We felt safe and cared for at all times. He handled the group masterfully, his knowledge of the long history, culture, farming, museums – every aspect of life – amazing.”
Ann Bagley
Tampa, FL

Yevgeniya Novokshonova

Turkmenistan
Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

Farrukh Tursunov

Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director

Rustam Valiyev

Turkmenistan
“Rustam was great, very knowledgeable, friendly, outgoing, sincere, kind, and overall a great guy!”
David Roth
Dillon, CO

Destination Insight

Suggested Reading for Your Vacation

Peter Hopkirk
The Great Game
Hopkirk’s spellbinding account of the great struggle for European supremacy in Central Asia takes us over the high mountain passes and through the scorching deserts and caravan towns of the Silk Road, capturing the glamour, intrigue, treachery and adventure of the time.

Colin Thubron
The Lost Heart of Asia
In this classic narrative, Thubron recounts his travels to Samarkand, Bukhara and throughout Central Asia in the wake of the breakup of the Soviet Union. A fine writer, intrepid traveler and insightful observer, he’s an outstanding guide to the history, people and culture of the region.

Frances Wood
The Silk Road, Two Thousand Years in the Heart of Asia
Wood draws on hundreds of archival photographs, manuscripts and paintings from the British Library in telling this lively story of the art, culture and history of diverse trade routes.

Lonely Planet
Lonely Planet Central Asia
Now in a 7th edition, this comprehensive, detailed guide to travel in the region features up-to-date information on Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

Nelles
Central Asia Map
An up-to-date, double-sided shaded relief map of Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Krygystan at the very good scale of 1:1,750,000. With inset plans of major cities.

Insight Guides
Insight Guide Silk Road
Just as the Silk Road would have been split up into sections, so is the book, with the first section devoted to China, the second to Central Asia and the third to Western Asia. Within those sections are chapters covering the route through individual countries (or regions in the case of China), each including a handy panel on border crossings for the intrepid traveler. Stunning photographs and detailed maps complement the expertly written text.

Justin Jon Rudelson
Lonely Planet Central Asia Phrasebook
A handy pocket phrasebook that focuses on pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler on the Silk Road.

Jen Lin-liu
On the Noodle Road
Lin-liu, an American living in China, sets out on a culinary journey from China and across Central Asia, all the way to the Mediterranean. Her highly personal account explores what can still be felt of cuisine’s migration along ancient trade routes.

Caroline Eden, Eleanor Ford
Samarkand
An excellent introduction to Samarkand (by turns inhabited by Uzbeks, Tajiks, Russians, Turks, Koryo-Sarams, Jews and Afghans), this compendium brings the region to life with essays, photos and plenty of recipes little-known to the West.

William J. Bernstein
A Splendid Exchange, How Trade Shaped the World
Primates may share food but only Homo Sapiens trade, says William Bernstein in this far-reaching, dare we say splendid, hymn. An economist (and fine writer), he considers not just silk and spices, sugar and tea but also the considerably less savory exchange of opium and slavery in this sweeping tale.

Christopher I. Beckwith
Empires of the Silk Road
Beckwith rescues Central Asia from the periphery of world affairs with flair and scholarship, depicting millennia of empires, trade and cultural life on the Silk Road.

Jeff Sahadeo (Editor)
Everyday Life in Central Asia, Past and Present
Dozens of scholars and ethnographers contributed to this lively reader on the peoples, cultures and customs across Central Asia.

Peter Hopkirk
Foreign Devils on the Silk Road
Hopkirk’s rousing tale of Sven Hedin and other larger-than- life archaeological raiders of the early 20th century captures the excitement of discovery — and the glories of the Silk Road.

S. Frederick Starr
Lost Enlightenment, Central Asia’s Golden Age from the Arab Conquest to Tamerlane
Starr brings to life the great flowering of ideas and advances of Central Asia’s medieval enlightenment, showing how, between the years 800 and 1200, Central Asian societies led the world in trade and were at the vanguard of mathematics, philosophy, history, geology, astronomy and science.

Richard C. Foltz
Religions of the Silk Road
A scholarly survey of cultural traditions, and especially religions, along the trade routes through China and Central Asia from antiquity to the 15th century.

Peter Hopkirk
Setting the East Ablaze, Lenin’s Dream of an Empire in Asia
Another volume in the grand Hopkirk tradition of intrigue, treachery, murder, escape, executions and skullduggery. In this book he portrays Lenin’s attempt between the two World Wars to spread Marxism east. A very readable escapade, this is the story of British Indian Intelligence officers against armed Communist revolutionaries, enlivened by a cast of real characters including White Russians versus Bolsheviks, a murderous, mad baron, Chinese warlords, Islamic visionaries, agents provocateurs, and a vanishing lady.

Luce Boulnois, Helen Loveday (Translator)
Silk Road: Monks, Warriors & Merchants on the Silk Road
A history and guide to the Silk Road, organized chronologically and featuring a nice selection of contemporary photographs.

Valerie Hansen
The Silk Road, A New History
A professor of Chinese and world history at Yale, Hansen draws on original sources and the latest archaeology for this magnificently illustrated tale of the overland routes across Asia and the life, history, and culture of fabled Silk Road cities Niya, Kucha, Turfan, Samarkand, Chang’an, Dunhuang and Khotan.

James A. Millward
The Silk Road, A Very Short Introduction
Millward’s pocket history highlights the important exchanges of goods, ideas and spiritualities that traveled the Silk Road, the Mediterranean’s link to Persia, India and China.

Peter Frankopan
The Silk Roads, A New History of the World
Tightly researched and filled with swashbuckling stories, this history by Peter Frankopan looks eastward, showing how the West grew out of a restless desire to access Asian trade.

Kenneth Nebenzahl
Mapping the Silk Road and Beyond
This visually stunning collection of 80 rare illuminated manuscripts, early modern masterpieces and archival maps traces two millennia of exploration across Asia.

Janet Harvey
Traditional Textiles of Central Asia
Harvey surveys the embroidery, silks, velvets, felts and other rich textile traditions of the Silk Road in this spectacularly illustrated guide.

UNESCO Publishing
World Heritage Sites
How many have you visited? This beautifully illustrated compendium, just revised, includes color photographs, a map and succinct descriptions of each of the 1,031 archaeological sites, monuments, cities and parks inscribed by UNESCO from 1978 to 2016. Organized by order of inscription.

Jack Weatherford
Genghis Khan and the Quest for God
With compelling evidence, top-notch historian Jack Weatherford argues that Genghis Khan used religious tolerance to offset fanaticism and hold his disparate territories together.

William Dalrymple
In Xanadu, A Quest
An intrepid traveler and entertaining writer, Dalrymple deftly observes the people and places he encounters on a journey from Jerusalem across Central Asia to China along the Silk Road, ending, like Marco Polo, at Xanadu, the summer palace of Kubla Khan.

Susan Whitfield
Life Along the Silk Road
With insight, scholarship and dramatic flair, Susan Whitfield recounts the lives of ten diverse individuals on the ancient Silk Road, including four tales set in Dunhuang. With a superb 15- page history of Central Asia.

John Man
Marco Polo, The Journey That Changed the World
John Man travels in the footsteps of Italian merchant Marco Polo, bringing to life the exotic world that he uncovered, one of huge armies, untold riches, unusual spices and the great Mongol emperor Kublai Khan.

Colin Thubron
Shadow of the Silk Road
Thubron returns to Central Asia in this lyrical, erudite account of a 7,000-mile trek across Asia, visiting archaeological sites, people and cities from Xi’an and Dunhuang to Samarkand, Bukhara, Afghanistan and Iran.

Ella Maillart
Turkestan Solo, One Woman’s Expedition from the Tien Shan to the Kizil Kum
Maillart’s rousing account of a solo journey through the mountains, deserts and cities of Central Asia in the early 1930s. Setting out from Moscow, she traveled from Mongolia’s Tien Shan mountains via horse and camel to Bokhara. Originally published in 1935.

Kathleen Hopkirk
Central Asia, Through Writers’ Eyes
A literary introduction to the Silk Road that uses the words of travelers, explorers and writers from Marco Polo and Fitzroy Maclean to William of Rubrick and Ella Maillart.

George MacDonald Fraser
Flashman in the Great Game
What caused the Sepoy Mutiny, a pivotal moment in the Raj? How about Harry Flashman, the reluctant, much-decorated coward, cad and womanizer at the center of George MacDonald Fraser’s wildly entertaining, irreverent series of historical novels.

Amin Maalouf, Russell Harris (Translator)
Samarkand, A Novel
A fictional history of Persia featuring Omar Khayyam, the 11th- century poet and author of the “Rubaiyat.” Written by Lebanese novelist Amin Maalouf.

Raffael Aye
Birds of Central Asia
This compact Princeton Field Guide features 141 superb color plates and excellent introductory chapters on the region.

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