Exploring the Silk Road

| September 21 – October 2 2023

Over the course of 12 days in Uzbekistan, explore the ancient Silk Road and discover the celebrated cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva. Visit and admire the exquisite patterns of Islamic art found on gateways, mosques, palaces, and madrasas. Wonder in the alleys of these old cities, and discover bazaars alive with energy, spices, gold, gems, fabrics, and silk rugs. Prepare for immersive experiences to engage with the local culture. The trip begins and ends in the capital Tashkent, famous for its historical monuments, Museum of Applied Arts, and the decorative metro. Hands-on workshops, cooking demonstrations, and artistic performances are also on the program of this highly exotic journey.
Charles El Hayek, acclaimed public historian and founder of “Heritage and Roots” will enrich the trip with three lecture-workshops that narrate the broader history of the Silk Road and the impact it had on the Middle East.

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Detailed Itinerary

Day 1 Sept 21Arrival in Tashkent. Checkin at the Hyatt Regency Tashkent. Afternoon visit to the Museum of Applied Arts, followed by a performance at the Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre (TBC based on the programmer announced a month before the trip), and dinner.
Day 2 Sept 22A day to visit Tashkent: start with a walk in the bazaar and an embroidery master class, before visiting in the afternoon some of the city’s Soviet era urban areas and architecture.

First interactive talk with Charles El Hayek: What was the Silk Road? How did it affect our present-day lives?

Day 3 Sept 23Early breakfast before taking the train to Samarkand, and checkin at the Emir Khan Hotel. We then begin the tour of the city, inclined the famous Registan Square and surrounding madrasas, the Shahi Zinda complex, the Afrosiab Museum, and the Gur Emir Mausoleum of Tamerlane. Dinner at a local family house.
Day 4 Sept 24Drive to Urgut Village (approx 40 km each way) to visit its huge and vibrant Sunday market, selling some of the best suzani, jewelry, antiques, and vintage textiles, as well as the Urgut ceramics. Lunch in the house of a master ceramist, before returning to Samarkand. After some rest, the second lecture then dinner.

Second interactive workshop with Charles El Hayek: How did silk build cities, knowledge and crafts? How was silk knowhow transferred to the Levant over the Silk Road?

Day 5 Sept 25Another daytrip out of Samarkand takes us to the scenic Zeravshan range to visit Shahrisabz, a World Heritage site and the birthplace of Prince Timur. We visit his palace and mosque, but also various workshops and studios of silk ikat fabrics, natural-dyed silk carpets, and exquisite tile mosaics. The area is also famous for its distinctive embroidery style. Back to Samarkand for some rest and dinner.
Day 6 Sept 26This day is full of various activities: a visit to the Mausoleum of Imam Bukhari in the morning, before lunch back in Samarkand, then a visit to the historical paper making mill and a ceramics toys making or silk paper making class.
Day 7 Sept 27We leave Samarkand and take the train to Bukhara. On arrival, we checkin at the Sultan Hotel, get some rest, then proceed to a miniature making workshop and school, where we will also have lunch. This will be followed by a visit to the hammam, before having our third and final lecture with Charles. Dinner.

Third interactive workshop with Charles El Hayek: Why was Bukhara a major learning center? How did paper make this possible?

Day 8 Sept 28We visit Bukhara on this day, a city that will take us back in time with its architectural treasures, caravanserais, museums, and souks. Our visit includes the Baby Hauz complex, various madrasas, mosques, and the Ark Citadel.
Day 9 Sept 29We take an excursion outside the city to visit the Summer Palace (Sitorani Mohi Hosa), and the Bahauddin Naqshbandy mausoleum and pilgrimage complex. Free afternoon to explore the bazaars, before dinner in a restored merchant’s house where we watch our meal prepared in traditional tandoor clay ovens.
Day 10 Sept 30
We drive across the Kyzylkum Desert towards mud-walled Khiva (6 hours), taking a break as we cross the Amudarya River, known as the Oxus in ancient times. We take a lunch break by the river in a local chayhana where they fry fish from the river. On arrival in Khiva, we check in at the Erkin Palace hotel and get some rest before dinner in a rooftop restaurant overlooking the old town.
Day 11 Oct 1Today we explore the Itchan Kala, the walled inner city. Khiva’s position on the Silk Route made it a centre for trade in all manner of goods, including slaves. It was also the desire of numerous rulers, some ruthless, others odd. Today, Khiva’s intact status (thanks to previous Soviet policies), makes it a most attractive destination.
Day 12 Oct 2We fly back to Tashkent and on to the connecting flights to the final destination. Depending on the transit time, we can visit the Repression Museum and the TV tower, and have lunch in the plot center below.

Price Options

Group of 10: $4990 in Double Occupancy; $5490 in Single Occupancy

Group of 12: $4890 in Double Occupancy; $5370 in Single Occupancy

Note: 5% discount if downpayment (not verbal reservation) is received by March 15.

Price Includes:

  • All Accommodation on a Bed and Breakfast basis at:

Tashkent: Hyatt Regency Tashkent

Samarkand: The Emir Han Hotel or Zarafshon Parkside Hotel

Bukhara: The Sultan Hotel or Komil Bukhara Boutique Hotel

Khiva: Erkin Palace Hotel

  • All meals
  • All transfers
  • Domestic flights and trains
  • All entrance fees and private guided tours
  • All activities, performances, and workshops
  • Private lectures with Mr. Charles El Hayek

Price Does Not Include:

  • International Air Travel
  • Personal Expenses
  • Visa Fees
  • Travel Insurance
  • Tips

Payment and Terms

Trip Status: Reservations Open

To reserve your spot, a 20% downpayment ($1000) is requested.

$2000 by May 31.

Balance of payment due on July 15.

All payments in cash or by bank transfer to a bank outside Lebanon.


All cancellations are subject to a $200 penalty.

Cancellation after May 231: 25%

Cancellation after August 1: 50%

Cancellation after September 1: 100% unless a replacement is found.

As always, every effort will be made to minimize penalties.

In case of a force majeure preventing the tour from happening e.g. a pandemic, war, terrorist activity, or natural disasters, the local supplies might exercise their right to keep payments on account for future trips.