Uzbekistan Comprehensive Tour

May 27, 2024
Jun 5, 2024
10 days


Uzbekistan has a lot to offer – you’ll have heard about some pretty amazing places like the Registan, maybe Bibi Khanum’s mosque, and the old cities of Samarkand and Bukhara. We do all of them.

Then there are some of the slightly weirder places like Nukus and the Aral Sea, and believe it or not, there’s more to do in the ancient cities than just the famous ancient sites too, like a quirky fashion show!

And then we’ve got a couple of really cool SAIGA specials – the second largest solar furnace in the world, where you’ll learn all about the world of solar furnaces, and an almost abandoned formerly closed Soviet mining town, where we’ll spend the afternoon exploring and speaking to the few locals that are left before staying the night in a nearby sanatorium.

View the full itinerary

This tour can be done on its own, or following on from the Turkmenistan Carpet Day Tour as part of the Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan Comprehensive Carpet Day Tour .

If you like the look of this tour but the dates don't work for you, or you'd like to do part of the tour, please get in touch and let us know. All our tours are able to be split into smaller sections, we're always scheduling new tours and your dates might work for one of them, or we can always organise an independent tour.


Accommodation in twin share at roughly 3 star hotels/guesthouses, breakfast included, yurt camp at the Aral Sea

Transport as per itinerary, beginning in Nukus and ending in Tashkent (transport between Tashkent and Nukus at the start of the tour is not included)

Meals at Aral Sea - 2 lunches, 1 dinner

Entrance fees to most sites (as per itinerary)

SAIGA guide and local guides



Visa fees if necessary

Visa support if necessary

Some activities, eg. treatments at sanatorium (as per itinerary)

Meals other than breakfast

Transport to and from the start and end of tour

Transport to Nukus on Day 1

Personal expenses such as souvenirs or any optional activities

Any COVID related expenses


Get lost in the ancient laneways of Bukhara

See the world's worst man-made distater at the Aral Sea

Climb to the top of the world's second largest solar furnace

Explore the formerly closed research town of Yangiabad

Day 1Mon May 27
Tashkent, Nukus
  • Today everyone will arrive in Nukus as per their own arrangements. Some will be crossing the land border from Turkmenistan after joining our Turkmenistan Carpet Day Tour , others will arrive in Tashkent and come straight to Nukus (most likely by flight), and others may have joined our Khiva Extension or made their own way to Nukus.
  • Note: Transport to Nukus is not included in the tour cost, please let us know if you would like us to help you with this.
  • We will all meet in Nukus during the day and evening.
  • Overnight in Nukus.
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Day 2Tue May 28
Nukus, Aral Sea
  • Departure from Nukus first thing in the morning to drive towards the Aral Sea. Stopping at some Silk Road ruins and a canyon on the way, we'll drive up on to the Usturt Plateau.
  • Picnic lunch at a ruined Soviet gulag, near the edge of one of the small parts of the remaining sea.
  • Arriving at the main part of the sea, if you're game, you can go for a swim. There used to be 10mg of salt per litre in the sea, but now with 160g (yes, grams, not miligrams, so 16,000 times more!) it's not far off the Dead Sea (180g/l), and now you can easily float on top of the water. That’s if you can bring yourself to get to the water, past all the oil and grime that’s collected at the side of the sea.
  • We’ll spend the night in a yurt camp near the shore, from where you can watch the sun set over the rapidly disappearing sea.
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Day 3Wed May 29
Aral Sea, Nukus
  • You can wake up early to see the sun rise over the water, otherwise it's breakfast then on to Moynak village, which used to be a thriving coastal town, but is now a disheveled and quiet desert town, most famous now for the ship cemetery.
  • Ships lay abandoned on the old seabed as the sea receded. A lot of them were removed and destroyed, supposedly so the metal could be recycled, but a dozen or so of them were saved and are now in Moynak.
  • Return to Nukus in the evening for dinner and overnight.
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Day 4Thu May 30
Nukus, Bukhara
  • In the morning we'll visit the Museum of Savitskiy. The Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art hosts the world's second largest collection of Russian avant garde art (after the Russian Museum in St. Petersburg). Savitskiy himself went to great lengths to save prohibited pieces of art during the Soviet Union, and amazingly you can see some of them now in this museum.
  • Leaving in the late morning, we'll drive to Bukhara in the afternoon, arriving in time for dinner.
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Day 5Fri May 31
Bukhara, Samarkand
  • Today we will have a walking tour to explore this astounding ancient city.
  • We'll explore the old town in the morningincluding Lyabi Hauz Square, Bolo-Hauz Mosque, and the elegant blue-tiled Ulughbek Madrassa.
  • On your way in and out of town you won't be able to miss a huge structure that looks like a giant ark. Known as the Ancient Ark Fortress, this was the Palace of Bukhara's Emirs, and parts of it are still open for us to visit.
  • In the afternoon we will take the high speed train to Samarkand. Registan sound and light show, Samarkand
  • Optional wine tasting at the Khovrenko Winery, a small local wine factory with adjoining museum, and a SAIGA favourite.
  • After dinner we'll stop at the front of the Registan for the epic sound and light show that is put on every evening after dark. Some say it's tacky, others find it spectacular - whichever camp you find yourself in, it is definitely something!
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Day 6Sat Jun 1
  • Today we will explore the main sites of Samarkand. Having already visited the Registan the day before, we’ll start today’s tour with a walk through the centre of town.
  • Having died in September 2016, Islam Karimov, the First President of Uzbekistan, now has his mausoleum on the newly renamed Islam Karimov Street.
  • Winding through the narrow streets of the old city, we'll stop at a particularly unique synagogue. Totally unrecognisable from the outside, it looks like any of the typical houses on either side, but inside is a bizarre and unique mixture of Uzbek and Jewish décor.
  • We'll also pay visits to Bibi Khanum Mosque, Siyab Bazaar, and the grave of St. Daniel which is said to grow a foot in length every ten years.
  • Visit Romanenko House, a place that is difficult to describe. This small suburban house has been transformed into a completely unique textile workshop where thirty men and women redesign ancient Central Asian clothing into colourful, modern designs.
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Day 7Sun Jun 2
Samarkand, Yangiabad
  • Leaving Samarkand we will drive past Tashkent and into the mountains to visit the town of Yangiabad. A closed town during the Soviet Union, not even appearing on maps, it was built as a mining town where exiles were s ent. Once home to about 10,000 people, the population got down to just over 300, and it felt like a crumbling little Russian enclave within Uzbekistan. However, in the past couple of years the mountain air and scenic views have grabbed the attention of Tashkentians, and the area has become a popular local tourism spot.
  • We'll spend the afternoon wandering the streets of the town, exploring the Soviet architecture, and soaking in the atmposphere - a difficult-to-describe mix of lively and summery, and decrepit and derelict.
  • We'll spend the night at a nearby Soviet “resort”. If it's hot you can go for a swim in the river, or if you just want to relax, we might be able to find the massage lady.
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Day 8Mon Jun 3
Parkent, Tashkent

  • Heading back towards Tashkent, we'll drive to Parkent, where we've been granted permission to visit a spectacular example of Soviet technology and architecture – the solar furnace. Still functioning, though never really having managed to fulfil its purpose, it's not open to the public.
  • Arriving in the afternoon we'll take a stroll down the Broadway - the centre of this city which is quickly becoming hip and modern. With myriads of food and drink stands, a small market, scooters for rent, and loads of cool Tashkentians, young and old, it's a great place to start getting a vibe for the city.
  • We'll have dinner in one of Tashkent's many up and coming restaurants, and if you're a bit sick of Central Asian food by now, this is a great chance to have something else. There's a great Korean restaurant that's one of our favourites for example.
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Day 9Tue Jun 4

  • Our first stop in Tashkent will be the famous Chorsu Bazaar, with its iconic blue dome that's now home to meat, dairy and dried fruits. Exploring the stalls you'll learn about traditional breadmaking methods, local remedies for everything including of course virility issues, and how Uzbek babies are taught to go to the toilet.
  • Take a walk from Independence Square, formerly Lenin Square, through the park and past the statue of Amir Timur. Stop and browse in a small market in the park, full of old Soviet trinkets and sit under a shady pagoda for a cold drink or ice cream.
  • You'll probably have tried plov by now, but there's no better place to have it than at the Plov Centre. This gigantic hall, decorated as if for a wedding in the 1980s, is set up for large numbers of people to eat plov in. Prepared just outside by an army of Uzbeks, it is some pretty good plov, but more than that, it is an exceptionally unique experience.
  • Go to Tashkent TV Tower for fabulous views of the city.
  • Visit Tashkent Land, Central Asia's answer to Disneyland. With it's faded welcome sign, crumbling gift shop and creaky rides, this is another step back in time. Most tourists don't make it to this gem of Soviet infrastructure, but we just can't resist it. If you're really game you can try out the “Boomerang” rollercoaster, or if you'd like something a bit more relaxing you can take a ride on the “African tour”, a boat trip through the jungleand.
  • Next we'll visit the Museum of Railway Techniques’. This outdoor museum is full of all sorts of old locomotives, and they don't mind us climbing all over them. We can even take a little train ride around the train museum. You don't have to be a train lover to enjoy this charming museum.
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Day 10Wed Jun 5
Tashkent, End of Tour
  • Today we finish our tour of Uzbekistan.
  • We'll organise a transfer to the airport for you.
  • Uzbekistan is really the heart of Central Asia and is a great spring board to the other 'Stans. Please let us know if you want to continue your Central Asian adventure.
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