6 nights from: $2495 Single Supplement: FREE
Extend your Silk Road journey into Tajikistan, land of legendary hospitality, rugged mountains, and Central Asia’s oldest cities. Venture into bazaars that drew ancient caravans from distant lands, hear traditional Tajik music at a folk jam session, picnic beside a pristine glacial lake, and experience the air of seclusion this far-flung mountain territory has maintained through the millennia and into modern times.
- It's Included:
- Airfare from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, to Istanbul, Turkey
- Accommodations for 2 nights in Khujand, 3 nights in Dushanbe, and 1 night in Istanbul
- 15 meals—6 breakfasts, 4 lunches, and 5 dinners
- 8 small group activities
- Services of a local O.A.T. Trip Leader
- Gratuities for local guides, drivers, and luggage porters
- All transfers
After breakfast, we depart for the Tajik border. We will arrive in Khujand, Tajikistan, in time for lunch at a local restaurant. Then, we'll set off on a brief tour of the city, featuring Independence Square. Khujand is Tajikistan’s second largest city, and is sometimes referred to as the northern capital. It lies at the entrance of the Ferghana Valley, a secluded mountain oasis that spans three countries but has a culture all its own. This area has been inhabited for well over 2,000 years, making Khujand one of the oldest cities in Central Asia. Alexander the Great established an outpost here in the fourth century BC, and it also fell to Genghis Khan’s Mongol army in 1220 AD. Khujand was an important junction on the Silk Road, and often bore the brunt of feuding overlords.
After exploring Khujand's main square, we'll head out to Arbob Palace, the former headquarters of a Soviet collective farm. Built in the 1950s to mimic St. Petersburg’s Winter Palace, Arbob is impressively grand and sumptuously decorated. Afterward, we arrive at our hotel for check-in, followed by dinner in a local restaurant.
After breakfast, we will embark on a full day exploring Khujand. Our first stop is the Kamoli Khujandi Square, called Pushkin Square during Soviet times. An imposing theater dominates the scene; shows and concerts are sporadic, but the extravagant interior décor is reason enough to visit. From there we will arrive at Timur Malik’s fortress, where he defended the city from Genghis Khan’s invading armies. The city eventually fell, but Timur Malik remains a Tajik hero to this day.
Our discoveries continue with a visit to the Historical Museum of the Sugd Region, built inside a corner of the city wall, followed by lunch at a local restaurant. Then, we'll visit the Muslihiddin Memorial Complex. This religious center was built around the mausoleum of Sheik Muslihiddin, a poet and ruler of Khujand during the 12th century. The original brick tomb dates back many centuries, but the complex also includes a brick minaret built in 1865 and a 20th-century mosque.
Our final stop will be the lively Panjshanbe Bazaar. Its elegant pink façade gives way to a bustling indoor marketplace, where you can stroll around the wares, get to know the merchants, and buy a popular local snack or something to take home. We will gather for dinner in a local restaurant before returning to our hotel for the evening.
This morning, we will have breakfast at our hotel before departing for Dushanbe. During our journey, we will traverse the mountain passes that separate the northern arm of Tajikistan from the rest of the country. The landscapes we explore today are considered some of the most beautiful in Central Asia.
Our first stop en route is the town of Istaravshan, an ancient center for trade and craftsmanship. Here, we'll meet with some traditional artisans in their workshops and learn about their craft. Then, we'll enjoy lunch in the home of a local artist specializing in chitgari, a Tajik form of block printing on textiles.
In the afternoon, we will continue to Dushanbe. Upon arrival in Tajikistan’s capital, we check in to our hotel and have dinner together in a local restaurant.
After breakfast, we set out to explore Dushanbe. We'll begin at Dushanbe’s main square, home to Ismoili Somoni, forefather of the Tajik nation. Rising 120 feet above the square, the statue commemorates Ismoili Somoni’s founding of the Samanid Dynasty in the tenth century. Then, we visit the Tajik Museum of Antiquities, an extensive collection of relics that includes a reclining Buddha statue believed to be created in the 6th century AD. Other exhibits include the many cultural and religious artifacts that arrived in Tajikistan during its heyday at the heart of the Silk Road. We'll also visit the Palace of Nowruz, an opulent structure decorated by some 4,000 artists over the course of five years.
After lunch at a local restaurant, we'll venture behind a set of unassuming gates into the Gurminj Museum of Musical Instruments. The small collection of old and unusual instruments will come alive during a performance of Tajik folk music. Then, we'll explore Shomansur Market, also known as the Zeleniy Bazaar or Green Market. This market is the heart of shopping in Dushanbe and calls to mind the city’s history as a flagship junction on the Silk Road.
This evening, dinner is on your own with suggestions from your Trip Leader.
After a leisurely breakfast, we continue to discover Dushanbe. First, we'll visit the Bactria Cultural Center to meet with an ex-pat living in Tajikistan. Next, we will be craning our necks to appreciate the world’s second-tallest flagpole, rising more than 500 feet in front of the Palace of Nations. The flagpole cost $3.5 million to build, and was designed in San Diego. While here, we'll also stop to view some of the Tajik avant-garde paintings housed at the National Museum of Tajikistan. Lunch is on your own at the park complex in the heart of the city, followed by free time to pursue independent discoveries.
This evening we gather together for a Farewell Dinner and folk show to celebrate our Silk Road journey.
We rise early this morning for the flight to Istanbul. On arrival, we transfer to our hotel and enjoy breakfast after check-in. You may join us as we explore Istanbul’s legendary Oriental bazaars, its exotic Spice Market, and some traditional artisan shops at a local neighborhood. Lunch is on your own and you may spend your afternoon exploring independently. Perhaps you'll check out some of the iconic treasures of this world-renowned city that straddles two continents—Europe and Asia—such as Topkapi Palace, the Blue Mosque, or Hagia Sophia. We gather for dinner at a local restaurant before returning to the hotel.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your return flight to the U.S. via Istanbul.
Please note: If you make your own international air arrangements, your extension price will increase due to internal air transportation. This extension may not be available on all departures. Ask our Adventure Specialists for details. Call 1-800-955-1925.