Retracing one of the most important trading routes of ancient civilization, the Silk Road follows in the footsteps of such legendary figures as Alexander the Great and Marco Polo. For centuries, merchants and adventures journeyed on these ancient routes through some of the most testing landscapes in the world, trading silk, spices and perfumes. These “highways” – stretching more than 4,000 miles (6,400 km) – collectively came to be called the “Silk Road”.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Moscow’s Red Square separates the Kremlin – the former royal citadel and the current official residence of the President of Russia – from the merchant or business quarter. It is also widely considered the center of Moscow and all of Russia, due to main roads that originate in the square and extend through Moscow to Russia’s main highways.
Samarkand, Uzbekistan conjures up evocative images of the Silk Road. Founded in the 6th century BC, Samarkand’s stunning architecture hints at its former status as one of the most important cities in Asia, particularly when it flourished as the fabled capital of the Mongol empire of Timur and his successors.
Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan and is notable for its wide tree-lined boulevards. Surrounded by the majesty of the Tien Shan Mountains, this beautifully city derives its name from “alma” meaning “apple”, where just outside the city, apple orchards thrive in abundance.
Moscow | Volgograd | KaraKum | Khiva | Ashgabat | Merv | Bukhara | Samarkand | Tashkent | Almaty
Day 1-2 Moscow
Arrive at Moscow Airport, where you are met and transferred to the luxurious five-star Baltschug Kempinski Hotel, overlooking the Moskva River with an unrivalled view of the Kremlin, Red Square and St. Basil’s Cathedral. Following day tour the grandeur of the Kremlin and see the treasures of the Tsars in the Armoury Chamber, visit Red Square an iconic symbol of Russia’s former military and political might with its eclectic mix of fascinating architecture.
Day 3 Onboard
Board the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian Express at Moscow’s Kazansky Station. After settling into your modern, stylish cabin, enjoy dinner in one of the beautifully appointed restaurant cars as your rail journey to Almaty in Kazakhstan begins.
Day 4-5 Volgograd | Kara Kum, Kazakhstan
Visit the poignantly sobering Mamayev Kurgan war memorial, followed by an informative museum visit. Next day is to relax onboard the Golden Eagle as we travel across the vast expanses of the Kara Kum desert.
Day 6 Khiva, Uzbekistan
From Urgench we travel to the ancient city of Khiva, founded 2,500 years ago. As one of the Silk Road’s most important trading posts and now a World Heritage Site, it lies at the crossroads of the routes between Mongolia, Russia, China and Persia.
Day 7-8 Ashgabat | Merv,Turkmenistan
Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan is known as the “Las Vegas of the Kara Kum”. The city’s extravagant fountains, golden domes and towering modern buildings appear strangely incongruous in this desert setting. Following day transfer to Merv the ancient and mainly unrestored remains of a once important stop on the Silk Road. The city was once considered the largest city in the world during the 12th century. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we’ll spend some time wandering among the ruins of one of the five walled cities before returning to the train and continuing on to Bukhara.
Day 9-11 Bukhara | Samarkand | Tashkent,Uzbekistan
Arrive in Bukhara, one of Uzbekistan’s splendidly restored oasis city. Another World Heritage Site, the highlight of our visit is a visit to The Ark, a fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara. Next day arrive in Samarkand where many phrases describe this jewel of the Islamic world from, “the Paris of the Muslim World, to “Rome of the East” and you will see why its list of admirers include Marco Polo, Tamerland and Alexander the Great, to name a few. Tashkent is the capital city of Uzbekistand and we will spend time touring this modern Soviety-style city which was rebuilt following the devasatating earthquake of 1966.
Day 12 Almaty
Today we reach our final destination Almaty, Kazakhstan where we will disembark the train and spend the day visiting the sites of the largest city in the country. Our city tour includes a visit to Panfilov Park for stop at the Zenkhov Cathedral built entirely of wood. Return to Almaty and check in to your hotel where later this evening you’ll attend a farewell dinner.