Overview and description
Specialization: cultural and ethnographic tourism
Duration: 11 days – 10 nights
Cities to be visited: Tashkent (1 night) – Urgench / Khiva (2 nights) – Bukhara (3 nights) – Nurata (1 night) – Samarkand (2 nighs) – Tashkent (1 night)
March – is not only a good time to visit Uzbekistan, but also a great opportunity to get acquainted with national customs and traditions of the hospitable Uzbek people during the celebration of Navruz. Today, as well as thousands of years ago, the holiday of Navruz is full of original rituals and colorful ceremonies.
The holiday of Navruz – is the day of the spring equinox, celebrated for more than three thousand years, but the origins of this festival go far in Zoroastrianism. The legend says that on that day Zoroaster was chosen by God to bring the happiness to people.
According to the teachings of Avesta, the holy book of Zoroastrianism, Navruz is associated with the king Jamshid, according to legend, on this day the sun’s rays fell on him. The doctrine of Avesta states that every spring people should celebrate the appearance of life in its six manifestations – water, earth, sky, animals, plants and human beings.
The celebration of Navruz lasts more than 13 days. New Year was celebrated in the field at the end of festivities. Anyone who has gone out to the countryside to enjoy nature will have happiness and prosperity throughout the year. The inhabitants of Central Asia celebrated Navruz in the “Temple of Fire”.
In Uzbekistan the official day of the Navruz celebration is March 21, but in different regions of the republic the holiday is still celebrated a few more days.
During the 11-day trip:
– You will see how Navruz is celebrated in various cities of Uzbekistan;
– You will get acquainted with the traditional festivities of Navruz, such as Ulak (Kop Kari), Kurash, rams battle and others.
– You can participate in the preparation of festive dishes – Sumalyak and Halima.
– You will get to know the daily life of an ordinary Uzbek family;
– You will hear the legends associated with the celebration of Navruz.
ULAK or KOP KARI, goat grabbing, the ancient equestrian game, is as popular among Uzbeks as among the Spaniards their national passion – the bullfighting “Corrida”. This and other spectacles always attract thousands of people and provoke ebullition of passions.
The objective of the game is to take away from rivals the goat carcass and be first to place it in a goal. Success is achieved thanks to the sharp mind, herculean strength, agility, rider’s ability to stay in the saddle and feel as a unit with the horse.
People who have never seen Ulak, cannot imagine the impetuosity and intensity of the fight that unfolds in the field. Riders sometimes look like an avalanche that runs after one of the players, sometimes surround it, and become a vibrant tangle of snoring horses’ muzzles, flashing hooves, and human figures that move like a tornado and cling to the desired object – goat carcass. The people who see Ulak for the first time are amazed by the intensity of the players’ struggle and the expressiveness of the spectators’ emotions.
Ulak is the most common and popular equestrian sport not only among Uzbeks, but also among the neighboring nations – Kazakh, Kyrgyz, Afghans, Tajiks and Karakalpaks … Each nation calls this game in their own way, but despite some differences its essence is the same. Uzbeks, to refer to the game together with the word “Ulak” also use the name “Kupkari” – literally meaning “the case of many people”.
The program can be modified depending on the time and place of organization of Kupkari and other festivities of the holiday of Navruz!
Day 1: Arrival in Tashkent
Arrival in Tashkent. Meeting at the international airport of Tashkent. Transfer to the hotel.
Overnight in Tashkent.
Day 2. Tashkent - Urgench / Khiva
After breakfast we will visit the old part of Tashkent: Khast Imam Square including Barak-Khan madrasah, the library that holds one of the oldest codices of Koran of the 3rd Caliph Othman, dated to the 7th century, Kaffal Shashi mausoleum (16th century). Our further destination is Chorsu Oriental Bazaar. Near bazaar we can see Kukeldash madrasah (outside). We can also stroll through the narrow streets of the old town.
After lunch, transfer to the airport.
Flight to Urgench. Transfer to Khiva (30 km), hotel accommodation.
Overnight in Khiva.
Day 3: Khiva
Full day sightseeing tour of Khiva, the fairytale city of "The Thousand and One Nights". Today we will see many mosques, minarets, mausoleums and madrasahs (the 12th century - early 20th century).
Lunch in one of the families of Khiva.
In the afternoon we will go to Khiva Stadium, where you can see the national Kurash fight, rams battle and rooster fighting.
Kurash, the ancient form of national fighting, which, according to scientists, is more than 2.500 years old. The Kurash fight, which originated as a game and popular entertainment of fairs, today is the official sport that is developing rapidly and has more and more fans. Dozens of fans - young and old – gather together in the ring to support the fighters.
Overnight in Khiva.
Day 4: Khiva-Bukhara
Breakfast at the hotel. Departure to Bukhara. Today we will make the longest transfer (460 km), 300 km of which pass through the Kizil Kum desert (6,5-7 hours).
Along the way we can see the typical desert vegetation, which at the end of March is in full bloom, the river Amu Darya, the city Gazly which is one of the biggest natural gas deposits in Uzbekistan.
During the transfer we will hear the ancient legends and will get to know about the country, the history of the region and the traditions of its hospitable people.
After accommodation at the hotel in Bukhara, we can take a stroll through the ancient streets of Bukhara.
Overnight in Bukhara.
Day 5-6. Bukhara
The "Holy Bukhara" has a large number of cultural, religious and architectural monuments. The most important of these are: Ismail Samani Mausoleum (10th century), Kalyan Minaret (12th century), Ulughbek Madrasah (15th century), as well as the covered bazaars of Bukhara (16-17th centuries ), and much more can be seen during the visit.
Overnight in Bukhara.
Day 7. Bukhara - Nurata
After breakfast, departure from Bukhara to Nurata through the city of Navoi.
On the way we will stop near the old caravanserai Rabat Malik and the giant Sardoba (water reservoir) Malik, built in the 11th century. The caravans from Samarkand and Bukhara stopped here to spend the night and stock up on provisions and water.
In Nurata we will make a brief visit to the ruins of the ancient fortress of Alexander the Great, a sacred spring "Chashma" and the 12th century mosque.
After lunch transfer to the yurt camp in the desert. Here we can ride a camel, see the interior of the Kazakh yurt, sit around the campfire and listen to the songs of the akin singer.
Accommodation and overnight in yurts.
Day 8. Nurata - Samarkand outskirts – Samarkand
After an early breakfast we go to Samarkand, where the traditional game Kop Kari or Ulak (game with goat carcass) is organized, during the celebration of Navruz. During the reign of the Timurids this equestrian activity became a special training of the soldiers, who competed in speed, strength and skills.
At lunch you will try dishes, traditionally prepared during these festivities.
In the afternoon arrival in Samarkand. Accommodation at the hotel.
Overnight in Samarkand.
Day 9. Samarkand
The first day in Samarkand is dedicated to the architectural monuments of the Timurid era of the 14th 15th centuries. You will visit Registan Square, Gur Emir mausoleum, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Oriental Bazaar Siab, Ulughbek Observatory and others.
In the evening we will go to a traditional neighborhood - mahalla - to prepare a festive dish - Sumalak.
Overnight in Samarkand.
Day 10. Samarkand - Tashkent
We will start our late breakfast by tasting Sumalak which have been prepared at night.
Continuation of the visit to Samarkand.
At 17:00 transfer to the train station. At 18:00 departure by the high-speed train "Afrosiyob", arrival in Tashkent at 20:10. Accommodation at the hotel.
Farewell dinner in one of the restaurants of the city.
Overnight in Tashkent.
Day 11. Tashkent
Transfer to the airport to take the return flight.
Included in tour price:
• Double accommodation with breakfast;
• Air conditioned transportation according to the program;
• Entrance fees to monuments;
• Tour guide throughout the tour;
• Meals: Full board;
• Visa support (on request)
Not included in tour price:
• Optional visits not included in the program;
• Flight Tashkent – Urgench – economy class;
• “Afrosiab” train tickets – economy class;
• Additional payments for photos and video in monuments;
• Meals and dinners not included in the program;
• Single supplement;
• Alcoholic drinks.