Republics of the Silk Road by Private Train - Almaty to Tashkent
Photo credit: Abdu Samadov
From Almaty to Tashkent Aboard the Golden Eagle
Discover the incredible history and diversity of the Silk Road on this epic rail journey by private train, experiencing the fabled five ’Stans of Central Asia and six UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the way. Explore fabled oasis cities, ancient archaeological sites, and intriguing modern monuments; and witness the artistic and cultural traditions that have sustained this multifaceted region for centuries.
Travels to: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Photos and details: Discover what life is like aboard the Golden Eagle.
Days 1-2: Almaty (Kazakhstan)
The journey begins in Almaty, Kazakhstan’s largest city and a thriving business center situated amid the majestic Tien Shan mountain range. Visit Panfilov Park, a hub of the city and home to Zenkov Cathedral, and join your fellow travelers for a welcome dinner.
- Welcome Dinner in Almaty to meet the other travelers in the group
- Panfilov Park, a green oasis in the middle of Almaty where locals meet to stroll and unwind
- Colorful Zenkov Cathedral, one of the tallest wooden structures in the world and an impressive feat of engineering that survived a massive 1911 earthquake unscathed
Days 3-4: Lake Issyk-Kul, (Kyrgyzstan), Bishkek, Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
Enter Kyrgyzstan and examine petroglyphs and watch a demonstration of traditional Kyrgyz hunting eagles near the shores of alpine Lake Issyk-Kul. Then tour its capital, Bishkek, which is filled with striking Soviet-era statues and monuments. Later, stop in Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital and largest city, where a visit to a small library in the Old Town provides the opportunity to see one of Islam’s most sacred relics – one of the world’s oldest Korans.
- Lovely Lake Issyk-Kul, the second-largest high-altitude lake in the world
- The Bronze Age petroglyphs along Lake Issyk-Kul’s shores
- The fierce grace of Kyrgyz hunting eagles
- The Soviet-era monuments of Bishkek
- Seeing the Uthman Koran, believed to be one of the world’s oldest
Days 5-7: Khiva, Ashgabat (Turkmenistan), Merv
Visit the Uzbek city of Khiva, the last great oasis on the northern caravan route. 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 ruling khans. Cross into Turkmenistan and head to the modern capital of Ashgabat. Explore the flamboyant gilded architecture that has sprung from the rubble of a massive 1948 earthquake and gain insight into the country’s history and culture at the beautifully situated National Museum. Continue to the UNESCO-listed ruins of Merv, a city of Bronze Age origin. It was such an important Silk Road stop that it grew into one of the world’s largest cities, only to be brutally sacked by the Mongols in the 13th century.
- Khiva’s Old Town (Ichon-Qala in Uzbek), a UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Tash-Hauli Palace, built in the 19th century for the khan and his four wives
- Juma Mosque, famous for its carved wooden pillars
- Kunya Ark, the original residence of Khiva’s khans
- An optional nighttime visit to the Darvaza flaming gas crater
- The opulent modern architecture of Ashgabat, which holds a Guinness record for the highest density of white marble buildings in the world
- The vast archaeological site of Merv, one of the world’s great lost cities
Days 8-9: Bukhara (Uzbekistan), Dushanbe (Tajikistan)
Spend a day in beautiful Bukhara, Central Asia’s most ancient living city. Its UNESCO-listed Old Town encompasses more than 140 protected monuments, including the Labi-Hauz Plaza at the heart of the city and the Ark Citadel, Bukhara’s original fortress. Enter Tajikistan and make a stop at its capital, Dushanbe, to tour the opulent, modern Navruz Palace.
- Bukhara’s evocative Old Town, with its ageless domed bazaars
- Central Labi-Hauz Plaza, adorned with a reflecting pool
- Ark Citadel, Bukhara’s giant ancient fortress
- Giant Navruz Palace in Dushanbe, originally built to be Central Asia’s largest teahouse
Days 10-11: Shahrisabz (Uzbekistan), Samarkand
Back in Uzbekistan, make a stop at Shahrisabz, Tamerlane’s birthplace and visit the UNESCO-listed ruins of his Ak Saray (White Palace). Continue to the Silk Road oasis city of Samarkand, the 14th-century conqueror Tamerlane’s legendary capital, hailed by UNESCO as “the crossroad of cultures.” Take in massive Bibi Khanum Mosque, Ulug Bek’s incredible observatory, and gracefully proportioned Registan Square.
- Shahrisabz’s Ak Saray, a monumental palace complex that was one of Tamerlane’s most ambitious architectural undertakings
- UNESCO-listed Samarkand’s Registan Square, bordered by three beautiful madrassahs
- Tamerlane’s architectural legacy in Samarkand, including Bibi Khanum Mosque, the largest mosque of its day
- Shah-i-Zinda, a row of mausoleums and tombs that collectively span the history of Samarkand
- Ulug Bek Observatory, where Tamerlane’s grandson made historic advances in astronomy
Days 12-14: Andijan, Margilan, Osh (Kyrgyzstan), Kokand (Uzbekistan), Tashkent
Dip down into the Fergana Valley, where lush farmland stretches into three of the five ’Stans. Start with visits to Andijan’s ornate Jami Madrassah and Mosque and a traditional silk-making factory in the ancient city of Margilan. Continue to Osh, Kyrgyzstan’s oldest city – the site of a big, bustling bazaar and the gateway to UNESCO-listed Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain, one of the holiest Islamic sites in Central Asia. In the town of Kokand, visit a 19th-century khan’s grand palace. Your journey concludes in Tashkent with a farewell dinner.
- Andijan’s Jami Madrassah and Mosque, decorated with intricate geometric patterns
- Yodgorlik Margilan Factory, one of Uzbekistan’s finest silk makers
- Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain, an Islamic holy site known as “Little Mecca”
- Khudayar Khan’s 113-room palace in Kokand, known in the 19th century as one of Central Asia’s most luxurious palaces, now partly restored to its former glory
- Farewell dinner back in Tashkent
Dates & Prices
Minimum group size: Minimums vary – call for confirmation status
Land Tour Price, Per Person.
Oct 6 - 19Silver Class, double occupancy$23,495Silver Class, single occupancy$35,295Gold Class, double occupancy$29,395Gold Class, single occupancy$48,495Imperial Suite Class, double occupancy$49,995Imperial Suite Class, single occupancy$97,495
Apr 3 - 16Oct 5 - 18Silver Class, double occupancy$24,695Silver Class, single occupancy$36,995Gold Class, double occupancy$30,895Gold Class, single occupancy$50,895Imperial Suite Class, double occupancy$52,495Imperial Suite Class, single occupancy$103,895
- Accommodations, as noted in the itinerary.
- All meals, from dinner on Day 1 through breakfast on final tour day, including a generous allowance of wine, local beer, and soft drinks with lunch and dinner.
- Arrival/departure transfers, provided you arrive and depart on the tour start/end dates and in the tour start/end cities.
- All guided off-train tours, as outlined in the itinerary.
- Services of an experienced Train Tour Manager as well as local guides for scheduled off-train tours.
- Complimentary tea, coffee, and mineral water from your car attendant at all times while on board the train.
- All gratuities.
- Baggage handling.
- Complete pre-departure information, including detailed packing list, reading list, and Touring with MIR handbook with country-specific information, maps, and travel tips.
- Assistance booking your custom flight arrangements, on request. (Please note that international airfare is not included in the land tour cost.)
- International airfare, including taxes/fuel surcharges, and surface transport to the point of joining/leaving the tour. MIR is able to assist with arrangements, as detailed in the itinerary.
- Meals and drinks not specified as included in the itinerary.
- Single supplement (difference between double rate and single occupancy rate) if requested or required.
- Optional pre- or post-tour extensions.
- Expenses incurred as a result of delay, modification, or extension of a tour due to causes beyond MIR’s control.
- Visa fees, excess baggage charges, airport departure taxes, vaccination, and other medical costs.
- Travel insurance, including cancellation, medical, and evacuation insurance.
- Items of a personal nature, such as phone calls, email, laundry, and alcohol.
- Travel entry pass to Turkmenistan payable on arrival.
Level 2: Moderate
This rail journey by private train features significant touring on foot, throughout which travelers are expected to keep up with other group members. Walking during touring days will be on a variety of surfaces, with many streets and sidewalks being uneven, and elevators generally not available during touring excursions – leading to some stair climbing. Challenges on board the train include long onboard distances with heavy doors, as well as steep steps and gaps to navigate while embarking and disembarking. Only those willing to accept local standards of amenities and services should consider joining this program.
Travelers must be able to walk a mile per day keeping up with other group members. Streets and sidewalks can be uneven or unexpected surfaces, and handrails are not always present. Steps, which may be required due to lack of elevators, may be steep and/or uneven, and may also lack handrails. The distance on board the train between sleeping and dining carriages may be significant, and there are many heavy doors to navigate when moving throughout the train. Getting on and off the train involves navigating steep steps, low platforms, and possible gaps between the train and the platform. Navigating rail stations may also involve traveling up and over steep steps/footbridges to cross tracks, or steep steps and dark tunnels to cross under to/from the train station. Although porterage is provided where possible, you may have to carry your baggage for short distances.
General shortcomings of the tourism infrastructure may include problems with bureaucratic service and availability and quality of public restrooms when not on board the train.