Central Asia’s Silk Road

Encounter a mélange of culture, religion, art and architecture. Discover the white-marble capital of Ashgabat; explore Nisa and Khiva, both UNESCO sites; watch silk weavers and visit an artisan studio in Bukhara; experience legendary Samarkand; see the world's oldest Quaran in Tashkent; and tour Russian-accented Almaty.

Dates
Apr 16 - May 2, 2020  (17 Days)
Cost

$7,094 per person, double occupancy, including air from SFO

For more Information
travel@commonwealthclub.org

(415) 597-6720

Thursday, April 16
Depart U.S. for Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Friday, April 17
Arrive Ashgabat

Upon arrival in the Turkmen capital late tonight, we transfer directly to our hotel.
Nusay Hotel

Saturday, April 18
Ashgabat

After time to rest this morning and have lunch on our own, we meet our tour director and fellow travelers at a welcome briefing. Then we begin our journey along the Silk Road with a panoramic tour of this showpiece city known for its 543 white marble buildings and monuments to the glories of the Turkmen. We tour the well-regarded National Museum of History and the Turkmen Carpet Museum, then enjoy a welcome dinner at a local restaurant.
Nusay Hotel (B,D)

Sunday, April 19
Ashgabat / Nisa

This morning we experience our first Central Asia bazaar, where locals come from both the city and surrounding desert to sell their wares, including large hand-woven carpets. Next we visit an Akhal-Teke horse stud farm for a demonstration by these “Golden Horses,” the national symbol of Turkmenistan, followed by lunch at the farmhouse. Later we visit the UNESCO archaeological site of Nisa, ancient capital of the Parthian Empire dating to the 3rd century BCE.
Nusay Hotel (B,L,D)

Monday, April 20
Ashgabat / Kunya-Urgench / Khiva, Uzbekistan

We fly this morning to Dashoguz, Turkmenistan, whose environs host the ancient capital of the Khorezm, and where we visit the ruins of the once monumental Izmukshir Fortress. From here we continue to the Uzbek border crossing then travel on to Khiva.
Hotel Asia Khiva (B,L,D)

Tuesday, April 21
Khiva

We get a taste of Khiva’s storied past as a major Silk Road trading post on a morning tour of the Itchan Kala, the “inner city” whose entirety is a UNESCO site. Here we see the turquoise-tiled Kalta Minor minaret – enormous, stout, and unfinished; Kunya Ark citadel; the immense Madrassah of Muhammad Rahim Khan, with its tiled façade; the double-domed Pakhlavan Mahmoud Mausoleum; and the Hunarmand artisans workshop. This afternoon: Islam Khoja minaret, Khiva’s tallest; Juma Mosque, with its 200 wooden pillars; and 163-room Tash Hauli Palace.
Hotel Asia Khiva (B,D)

Wednesday, April 22
Khiva / Bukhara

This morning we journey through the Kyzylkum Desert to Bukhara, with lunch en route. Upon arrival in this ancient city of Silk Road commerce and religious piety, we visit the Chor Minor madrassah, with its four minarets. This evening we dine at Akbar House, the preserved home of a 19th-century Jewish merchant.
Hotel Zargaron Plaza (B,L,D)

Thursday, April 23
Bukhara

Today begins with a walking tour of the 16th-century Lyab-i Hauz religious complex. We continue to the domed Taki-Telpak Furushon bazaar known for its headgear: embroidered skull caps, turbans, and heavy fur hats; then on to a bazaar where we watch silk weavers at work. Next, we return to the Old Jewish Quarter to visit the home of a Sufi miniaturist, where we learn about his craft and enjoy a traditional lunch of plov – lamb and rice – the Uzbek national dish. Touring continues this afternoon at the Poi Kalyan religious center; the massive earthen Ark of Bukhara Fortress, which served as an active fort from its 5th-century origins until 1920; and the Chashma-Ayub Mausoleum.
Hotel Zargaron Plaza (B,L)

Friday, April 24
Bukhara / Gijduvan

This morning we head outside the city to the nearby village of Gijduvan to visit the Narzullaev Ceramics Workshop, where seven generations of potters have been fabricating bowls and plates using traditional methods, designs, and colors for more than a century. We continue on to Sitorai Mokhi-Khosa Palace, a jumble of Russian and Bukharan influences and the summer residence of the last emir of Bukhara. After lunch at a local restaurant, we return to Bukhara.
Hotel Zargaron Plaza (B,L,D)

Saturday, April 25
Bukhara / Samarkand

Today, we call on one of the most sacred pilgrimage sites for Central Asian Muslims: the Memorial Complex of Naqshbandi. The 14th-century Sufi theologian who mentored the emperor Timur and whose mausoleum is now considered the “Central Asian Mecca,” Naqshbandi founded the world’s largest order of Sufi Muslims. Next, we travel by train to Samarkand, legendary stop on the Silk Road and one of Central Asia’s oldest continuously inhabited cities. Upon arrival early this evening, we enjoy dinner together then get our first glimpse of vast Registan, the mosaic-tiled public square flanked by three ornate madrassahs that have stood here for centuries.
Hotel Grand Samarkand Superior (B,L,D)

Sunday, April 26
Samarkand

Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan left their marks on Samarkand, as did Tamerlane (Timur), who made it capital of his Islamic empire in the 14th century; he or his descendants built many of the historic buildings and monuments we see here today. Our touring begins at Registan Square, once and current heart of the city. We continue to 15th-century Bibi-Khanym mosque, and Siyob Bazaar, the city’s largest market. This afternoon we visit a historic winery for a tour and tasting.
Hotel Grand Samarkand Superior (B,L)

Monday, April 27
Samarkand

Our discovery of this crossroads of culture continues today at the Shakhi Zinda necropolis and temple complex, whose 20-plus buildings date from the 11th to 19th centuries; the Afrasiyab Museum, a huge archaeological site and museum of the city’s history; and 15th-century Ulugh Beg Observatory. This evening we pay a visit to the Gur Emir Mausoleum, Tamerlane’s resting place. We dine together at a local restaurant then make a last stop to see Registan lit up for the evening.
Hotel Grand Samarkand Superior (B,L,D)

Tuesday, April 28
Samarkand / Jizzakh / Tashkent

En route by motorcoach today to the Uzbek capital, we stop at Jizzakh to visit Jilanuti Pass, the “Gates of Tamerlane” passage between the Nuratin and Turkestan hills. We continue on to Tashkent, arriving early this afternoon.
Hyatt Regency Tashkent (B,L,D)

Wednesday, April 29
Tashkent

A morning tour of Uzbekistan’s capital begins in the Old City at the Khazrati Imam Complex of mosques and madrassahs. Here we see the world’s oldest surviving Islamic holy book, the 8th-century Uthman Quran, brought to Tashkent by Tamerlane. Next: Chorsu Bazaar, under whose massive green dome locals purchase everything from produce to clothing. Tonight we attend a performance of ballet, classical music, or opera at the national opera house.
Hyatt Regency Tashkent (B,L)

Thursday, April 30
Tashkent / Almaty, Kazakhstan

At the Museum of Applied Arts this morning, we see fine examples of Uzbek crafts, including embroidery, jewelry, ceramics, and carpets. Later, we visit the studio of renowned ceramicist Akbar Rakhimov. Then we transfer to the airport for our flight to Almaty.
InterContinental Hotel Almaty (B)

Friday, May 1
Almaty

Kazakhstan’s largest city and cultural and commercial center, Almaty has a decided Russian flavor, as we see on this morning’s tour. Highlights: Paniflov Park, Ascension Cathedral, and the Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments. We then ascend nearby Kok Tobe mountain by gondola and enjoy panoramic views of the city and surrounding Tian Shan mountains. Late this afternoon, we attend a falconry demonstration and learn about this ancient nomadic practice before our farewell dinner this evening.
InterContinental Hotel Almaty (B,L,D)

Saturday, May 2
Depart for U.S.

Very early this morning we depart for the airport for our connecting flight to the U.S. (B)

Map

Due to strict visa requirements, no new reservations can be accepted within 95 days of the tour. (January 11, 2020)

Departing from:
San Francisco, Chicago, Los Angeles, Seattle  $7,094
Boston, New York, Washington, DC  $6,794
Denver, Portland (OR), Seattle  $7,394

Prices are per person based on double occupancy and include airline taxes, surcharges, and fees of $599, which are subject to change until final payment is made.

Land Only: $5,695 (transfers not included)

Single Room Supplement: $1,195

Airline upgrades on round-trip Trans-Atlantic flight:
Business Class - $4,795 per person (upgrades are subject to availability and pricing is subject to change). Upgrade prices are in addition to the costs above. 

Included in Tour Price
Round-trip air transportation from listed cities; all flights within itinerary; 15 nights’ accommodations in Superior First Class and First Class hotels; 36 meals: 15 breakfasts, 11 lunches, 10 dinners; Extensive sightseeing as described, including all entrance fees; Services of an Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director; Educational lectures; Additional Commonwealth Club representative at 20 guests; Private motorcoach transportation throughout your trip; Luggage handling for one bag per person; Gratuities for local guides, dining room servers, airport and hotel porters, and all drivers

Not Included in Tour Price
Airfare when purchasing a Land Only Tour package; costs of passports and visas; personal expenses such as beverages, laundry, room service, and meals not specified; airport transfers when purchasing a Land Only package; communication charges; gratuities to your Odysseys Unlimited Tour Director, which are at your discretion (suggested gratuities $10-$15 per traveler, per day); optional sightseeing; and travel protection insurance. Additional baggage fees may apply and are subject to change at any time. You should confirm directly with your airline prior to departure.

What to Expect

This is a moderately active tour and participants must be able to keep up with an active group of travelers. There is a considerable amount of walking on uneven terrain and at sites of ancient ruins.  You should be in good physical condition to enjoy the tour to its fullest.  For the safety and enjoyment of each participant and the group, participants must be able to:

  • Walk on average 2-3 miles a day in cities and towns during full days of touring.
  • Walk on cobblestone, gravel and pavement.  Some walking excursions require good balance as you negotiate stairs and uneven pavement. 
  • Stand for up to approximately 2 hours at a time each day.
  • Walk up and down stairs without handrails, without the assistance of another person.
  • Get on and off motor coaches on your own.

Due to strict visa requirements, no new reservations can be accepted within 95 days of the tour. (January 11, 2020)

Learn from our expert guide throughout the trip. Hear from guest speakers on a variety of topics along the way.

Cancellations, Refunds and Changes
If you must cancel your trip, the effective date of cancellation will be upon Odysseys Unlimited, Inc.’s receipt of your written notification. Refunds for cancellations are subject to the following per person charges:

Cancel 95 days or more before departure: $200 charge
Cancel 94-65 days before departure: 25% of tour price
Cancel 64-45 days before departure: 50% of tour price
Cancel 44-30 days before departure: 75% of tour price
Cancel 29-0 days before departure: No refund.

If a guest makes any changes to their reservation within 94 and 30 days prior to departure, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. will apply a $100 per person administrative fee, in addition to any fees or penalties imposed by third parties. Changes are subject to availability and cannot be guaranteed. If your reservation changes from double occupancy to single occupancy for any reason, you will be charged the single supplement. No changes are allowed within 30 days of departure. Upon reservation, you must provide your full legal name as it appears on your passport as well as your date of birth and gender. In the event an airline ticket is issued with incorrect information you have provided, you will be responsible for charges associated with the ticket’s reissue.

Eligibility
We require membership to the Commonwealth Club to travel with us. People who live outside of the Bay Area may purchase a worldwide membership. To learn about membership types and to purchase a membership, visit our membership page or call (415)597-6720.

Insurance
We strongly recommend the purchase of trip cancellation insurance, which is available for coverage of expenses in conjunction with cancellation due to illness or accident. Baggage insurance is also recommended. In the event you must cancel your participation in the travel program, trip cancellation insurance may be the only source of reimbursement. Information will be sent upon registration and can be viewed on the Travel Insurance Services website.

Responsibility
The liability of the Commonwealth Club, as sponsor, and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc., as tour operator, is strictly limited. Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. purchases transportation, hotel accommodations, restaurant and other services from independent suppliers not under our control. We serve only as agents for these suppliers in securing tour arrangements, and therefore will not accept responsibility for wrongful, negligent or arbitrary acts or omissions of these independent contractors, their employees, agents, servants or representatives. The Commonwealth Club and Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. are not liable for injury, damage, loss, accident or delay that may be caused by events not within our control, including without limitation, acts of terrorism, war, strikes, the defect of any vehicle, or the negligence or default of any third party. All coupons, receipts and tickets issued are subject to the terms and conditions specified by the air carriers, cruise line and other independent suppliers. We will make every effort to operate our tours as planned, but we reserve the right to make itinerary changes as necessary. If unforeseen circumstances require us to change a hotel, we will select alternative accommodations of the same or better quality.

Health and Medical Issues 
We request that you be in good health to participate in an Odysseys Unlimited tour. There is a considerable amount of walking, and you must be able to get on and off motor coaches on your own. We regret that we cannot offer individual assistance; in such cases you must be accompanied by a companion who will assist you. Please note that many of our tour itineraries, for reasons beyond our control, do not accommodate wheelchairs.  Please call or e-mail us to inquire and we will do our best to answer any questions you may have.  We reserve the right to remove anyone whose physical or mental condition, in our opinion, compromises the operation of the tour or detracts from the enjoyment or safety of the other passengers. In that event, Odysseys Unlimited and the Commonwealth Club assume no financial responsibility for any unused portion of the tour.

Air Transportation – Important Information
Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. includes in its tour price round-trip economy air from designated gateway cities as shown, and contracts with those airlines the company feels provide the level of service, routings, and value necessary for your entire trip. While another airline may offer a more direct con­nection, it may be at a price unavailable at the lower group rates. You will receive your preliminary air schedule approximately 2½ months prior to departure. Please note that seat assignments on your international flight are usually done at airport check-in. Odysseys Unlimited is unable to guarantee any seat assignments. Due to the nature of tour operator tickets, other restrictions apply, including, but not limited to, frequent flyer mileage accrual, stopovers, alternate travel dates, upgrades, and airline taxes and fees. If you prefer to make your own travel arrangements, Land Only is available on most tours. Since international and domestic air schedules are subject to change at any time, we recommend that if you choose to make your own airline reservations, you do not purchase non-refundable tickets or those with high penalties for changes. If you choose to make your own flight arrangements, Odysseys Unlimited, Inc. shall not have any liability for any loss resulting from tour cancellations or changes to tour dates.

Registration
Commonwealth Club of California-CST# 2096889-40