||Silk Road, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
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With its loopy President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov no longer in the picture—and most of the loopiness over and done with—Turkmenistan is revealed as a fascinating country, well worth a visit, especially in concert with Uzbekistan, a nation that has stirred the hearts and minds of travelers (and conquerors!) for centuries.
We commence in Ashgabat, giving the Turkmen capital a good look, visiting the impressive national museums and Independence Park. We’ll head out to Merv, an ancient Silk Road entrepôt and World Heritage Site that may have been the world’s largest city in the 12th century. A flight north takes us to Dosoguz, from which we venture into Uzbekistan just north of Urgench and on to Nukus, where we dally in the Savitsky Museum among the second-largest collection of Russian avant-garde art in the world.
We continue through Uzbekistan getting to know glorious Bukhara, superb Samarkand, and intimately beautiful Khiva. (Walking the narrow streets of Khiva’s old city is the next best thing to time travel.) Wandering through these archetypal Silk Road oasis cities, we get a sense of what Yasushi Inoue meant when he wrote that “the blue of Central Asia’s blue tiles sings a siren’s song, drawing the traveler from the desert, almost as though this deep ceramic blue was necessary to life.”
Itinerary at a Glance
- Day 1: arrive in Ashgabat
- Day 2: Ashgabat
- Day 3: excursion to Merv
- Day 4: Tolkuchka Bazaar, Ashgabat
- Day 5: fly to Dosoguz; drive to Nukus, Uzbekistan, via Konye Urgench
- Day 6: Savitsky Museum, drive to Khiva
- Days 7 & 8: Khiva
- Day 9: drive to Bukhara
- Days 10 & 11: Bukhara
- Day 12: drive to Samarkand via Shakrisabze
- Day 13: Samarkand
- Day 14: drive to Tashkent, tour the capital
- Day 15: depart for home.