A Cultural & Culinary Navruz Adventure with Caroline Eden

Newfor2017-3Join renowned travel, culture and food writer Caroline Eden as you taste your way through Uzbekistan, the vibrant heart of the Silk Road, during the height of the Uzbek New Year, Navruz. Explore the exciting culinary tastes and ancient architecture of three of the most celebrated Silk Road oases – Bukhara, Khiva and Samarkand – along with the modern capital of Tashkent. Celebrate Navruz with the locals as they welcome you into their homes and communities, and discover the enduring traditions and abundant hospitality essential to everyday Uzbek culture.

Read our interview with Caroline about her new book, Samarkand: Recipes & Stories from Central Asia & the Caucasus. You can also enjoy a recipe from Caroline’s new book on our blog.

10 Day Trip

  • Small Group
    Limited to 16 Travelers
  • Travels to:
    Central Asia, Uzbekistan
  • Cultural Series:
    Tashkent, around Uzbekistan, and back to Tashkent

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Overview Itinerary

MIR Signature Experiences on this Tour
  • Explore the majestic Registan in UNESCO-listed Samarkand
    Applaud the unsurpassed majesty of the Registan and learn about the architectural wonders of fabled Samarkand....
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  • Join with the locals in traditional Navruz festivities
    Ring in the Uzbek New Year like a local: witness local holiday festivities, and gather for a feast of Uzbek specialties typically served at a traditional Navruz dinner....
    Read More
  • Learn to cook plov
    Take part in a cooking class, learning to make Uzbekistan’s signature dish...
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  • Witness a thrilling buzkashi match
    Cheer on the participants at an exhilarating local buzkashi match, a traditional equestrian game still played much the same way as it was by medieval nomadic tribes on the Central Asian steppe...
    Read More
Why Travel with MIR on this Tour
  • 30 years of Central Asia travel experience
  • Travel programs such as Vassar, Dartmouth and the Harvard Museum of Natural History have chosen MIR to guide them to Central Asia
  • Twice named one of National Geographic Adventure’s “Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth”
  • MIR affiliate office in Uzbekistan
  • On-the-ground support and quality you can trust
  • Personalized travel planning from start to finish
  • Guides and tour managers that clients rave about
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Itinerary & Highlights at a Glance

Days 1-2: Tashkent

Begin with an introductory tour of modern Tashkent, admiring the Square of Independence, Kukeldash Madrassah and several examples of medieval Islamic architecture. Browse the lively Chorsu Bazaar with visits to the fabric area and the bakery. Enjoy lunch and a special meeting with renowned chef Bahriddin Chustiy, and watch as he demonstrates how to make a selection of Uzbek specialties.

Highlights

  • Uzbekistan’s capital and largest city, Tashkent
  • Introductory lecture from your host, Caroline Eden
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Days 3-4: Khiva, Kyzyl Kum Desert

Fly to Urgench, and continue overland to the ancient city of Khiva, still imbued with the spirit and energy of the old Silk Road. Wander through the winding alleys of the UNESCO-listed Old Town, filled with minarets, cobbled alleys, mosques and the beautifully preserved Kunya Ark, the original residence of the khans. Drive through the red sands of the vast Kyzyl Kum Desert, stopping en route at the banks of the Amu Darya, one of Central Asia's longest rivers.

Highlights

  • Ichon-Qala, or Khiva’s Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Tash-Hauli Palace built in the 19th century for the khan and his wives
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Days 5-6: Bukhara

Arrive in Bukhara, Central Asia's most ancient living city; its UNESCO-listed Old Town encompasses over 140 protected monuments, including the Lyabi-Hauz Plaza, the heart of the Old Town, and the Ark Citadel, the original fortress of Bukhara with more than 2,000 years of history. Spend a full day in celebration of Navruz, the ancient Zoroastrian festival welcoming the arrival of spring. Witness firsthand the festivities and convivial nature of this age-old holiday, and (conditions permitting) join with locals as you participate in either a Muchal Tuy or Sallabandon Tuy, traditional Navruz ceremonies unique to Uzbekistan. Meet for a memorable Navruz dinner, and learn more about the customs and traditional foods served during the Uzbek New Year, including sumalak, a favorite holiday sweet.

Highlights

  • Bukhara’s atmospheric Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Navruz celebrations
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Days 7-8: Gijduvan, Samarkand

On the road to Samarkand, stop in Gijduvan for a behind-the-scenes tour at the renowned Narzulaev family ceramics workshop. Experience the glory of fabled Samarkand, Tamerlane's ancient capital, with visits to the massive Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ulug Bek’s incredible observatory and majestic Registan Square. Learn how to make traditional bread at a local family bakery, stroll through the colorful stands brimming with fresh produce and spices at the Siab Bazaar and enjoy a master class in the art of making plov, Uzbekistan's signature dish.

Highlights

  • Visit to a renowned ceramacist’s studio
  • Samarkand, a UNESCO World Heritage Site called “Crossroads of Cultures”
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Days 9-10: Urgut, Tashkent

Depart Samarkand for the vibrant Urgut Market, one of the most authentic crafts markets in the region. Browse the labyrinthine stalls for brilliant textiles and clothing before attending an exciting match of buzkashi, an ancient Central Asian game of strength, courage and daring horsemanship. Celebrate the journey with a festive farewell lunch before hopping the high-speed train back to Tashkent.

Highlights

  • Urgut Market, best crafts market in the region, featuring suzani
  • Local buzkashi match
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See Dates & Prices for more details or to see suggested extensions.

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Tour Dates & Prices

Group Size

Small Groups – Never More than 16 Travelers. Guaranteed!

What’s Included

On Your Tour

  • Shared accommodations in well located tourist to superior-tourist class hotels and bed and breakfast-style small private hotels.
  • 10 breakfasts, 7 lunches, and 8 dinners. A few meals are not included so that you may enjoy a chance to dine on your own.
  • Arrival/departure transfers. MIR will arrange for all travelers to be met on arrival and seen off on departure whether we make your flight arrangements or not, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates in the tour start/end city.
  • Transportation throughout itinerary by private vehicle.
  • Train tickets, Samarkand to Tashkent, seated class.
  • Guided sightseeing tours and entrance fees as outlined in itinerary.
  • Special events, excursions and cultural performances per the itinerary.
  • Services of MIR Tour Manager with local guides at specific sites.
  • Gratuities to local guides and drivers.
  • Bottled water at group meals.
  • Baggage handling, where available.

Before Your Tour

  • Personalized pre-departure support from one of our knowledgeable Tour Specialists.
  • Complete pre-departure information including detailed packing list, reading list and optional insurance information.
  • Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
  • Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements (on request; please note that international and internal airfares are not included in the land tour cost).
  • Customized visa application instruction kit (if applicable to your itinerary; please note, visa fees are not included in the tour price).
  • Final document packet including luggage tags, final updates, and more.
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Prepare for Your Trip

International Airfare

MIR's in-house, full-service air department will gladly assist with your air travel needs.

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Reading List

MIR recommends reading up before you leave home. So settle back in your armchair with some of our favorite books about our favorite places.

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Visas

Most MIR programs require one or more visas, and each visa requires a completely blank page in your passport. Visa information for this particular tour is listed in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

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Travel Insurance

Stay a Little Longer…

MIR can arrange for a customized extension to any of the ‘Stans or the South Caucasus before or after your tour. Contact MIR for more information.

Or, choose from one of these suggested private travel itineraries:

Is this Trip Right for You?

While the accommodations are as comfortable as possible, they will vary from superior-tourist class hotels to small, intimate hotels. It is important to keep in mind that Uzbekistan may not be up to the standards North American travelers expect.

A full list of details about the rigors of this tour are explained in the Detailed Descriptive Itinerary.

Read our Travel Journals

MIR's Travel Journals offer first hand accounts of MIR's fascinating destinations.

  • Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia: Exploring the Silk Road

    Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia: Exploring the Silk Road

    Andrew Barron, MIR's Director of Scheduled Group Tours, visits the ancient Silk Road in Western China and the 'Stans with the Chinese Turkestan & Central Asia scheduled group tour. Read about his journey from Almaty to Urumqi, Kashgar and Bishkek.... Read More

  • Essential Uzbekistan Travel Journal

    Essential Uzbekistan Travel Journal

    A MIR traveler set out with her traveling companion on our Essential Uzbekistan program, where they enjoyed the sites and crafts of Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva as well as the many fabulous fabrics, carpets, tilework and adornments she found there. Take the journey along with her as you read her fascinating comments on this adventure.... Read More

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