Uzbekistan: Stops & Shops

Surrounded by Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan — one of the world’s wildest neighborhoods - Uzbekistan is a top stop along the ancient Silk Road in Central Asia.

The country is rich in natural resources including oil, gas, gold and cotton, and Tashkent, the capital, is today a well-planned modern city with lots of greenery, many museums, wide boulevards and a cool 36-year old subway system with 29 exotic-looking, highly individualistic stations. The city has been rebuilt since the earthquake of 1966 and yet is still home to enough marvelous medieval architecture and mysterious winding streets to keep our attention.

Lots of buzz about exploring “The Stans” these days, but zeroing in on this particular one will reap thrilling cultural rewards.

It is great fun to follow the indefatigable and charming Zulya Rajabova, president and founder of Silk Road Adventures.  Cited as “Top Travel Specialist for Central Asia” by Condé Nast TravelerMagazine, Zulya will lead us deep into the heart of her native Uzbekistan for the shopping spree of the century.

Follow the giant green domes to find the iconic 2,000-year old Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent to see, smell, squeeze and buy samples of every edible native to the country, and then plunge into the exuberantly designed ikat and suzani silks and cottons, silver, gold, brass and copper, intricate embroideries, glorious carpets, spices, crafts, and distinctive silk scarves. Best ethnic bets: the doppi (the high skull caps), and the chapan (the men’s colorful long cotton coats.) Black belt bargaining is the sport of choice.  [There are, by the way, many new shopping malls now in Tashkent, but not for us - and not for this trip.]

Delve into native culture and music, visit paper and silk-making workshops, and homes. Meet artists, snoop around the 19th century Abul Kasim Bazaar for woodcarving, ceramics and miniature painting. Photograph the minarets, mosques and visit medressas (religious schools.)

Fashion designers, museum curators, handicraft aficionados, art and jewelry collectors, photographers, high spirited travelers and intrepid shopaholics – this trip is it. In addition to Tashkent, visit magical 15th century old city of Khiva, World Heritage Bukhara and its 16th c. trade domes, the 2500-year old oasis city of Samarkand and Shakhrizabz, another World Heritage site.

Only 10 travelers max for each 10-day tour.  Departing Sept.15, Oct 3, 2013 and five departures in 2014.  To see the detailed itinerary, click here and/or call 888-745-7670 in their New Jersey office.