The Silk Road Three magic words that represent a world of mystery and fascination. The Silk Road has been thought of through the years as an intriguing journey taken only by brave merchants and missionaries who dared to travel it. Many dangers stood in the paths of the caravans and great preparations were required before setting out. One had to be prepared to defend oneself from robbers and from severe weather conditions, to learn to deal with legends of monsters and ghosts, and to carry a large amount of equipment. This tour travels through Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, and China- the most majestic and dramatic areas of the Silk Road.
Uzbekistan This colorful nation is located in central Asia and carries with it the mysterious aroma of bazaars and monasteries surrounded by deserts and mountains. The beautiful desert area became the meeting place of people with traditional cultures of the south and the nomads and the fighters of the north. You will visit impressive cities like Bukhara and Samarkand.
Kyrgyzstan is an amazing country filled with natural beauty that is also located in central Asia and is bordered on the east by China and on the north by Kazakhstan, on the west by Uzbekistan, and on the south by Tajikstan. It is a mountainous country that is mostly encircled by the Tian Shan Mountain Range. Known mostly for its beauty and termed “Switzerland of Central Asia.”
Western China, Xinjiang Autonomous Region One of the five autonomous regions of China, the area is located in northwestern China. In the past it was an important part of the Silk Road. The city Kashgar was best known in this regard and until now remains a meeting place for different cultures of the desert. In addition to its many cultures, the region enjoys very special landscapes of Alpine mountains and lakes on the one hand such as Lake Karakul- and Taklamakam Desert, one of the most arid in the world on the other hand.
Day 1: Monday: Tashkent
We shall meet the tour leader at the hotel in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan.
Day 2: Tuesday: Tashkent- Samarkand
After breakfast, we shall go out for a tour of Tashkent, “City of Stone.” We will see the modern city that was built in Russian style after the large earthquake in 1966. We shall see the impressive statue of Amir Timur, the monument that commemorates the earthquake, the Parliament buildings, Independence Square, and the Opera House. We will visit the Museum and Library of the Quran and the Museum of Fine Arts. We will see some of the railroad stations that themselves are like art museums made of marble and granite. At the end of the visit, we will travel to In the evening, we will go out to see the Samarkand Theater of Historical Costume.
Day 3: Wednesday: Samarkand
Today we will visit the 2500 year old city of Samarkand. Wide boulevards and are not too wide, blue domes on Madrassas and Mosques. More than anything, it is the city of Tamerlane or “Timur the Lame,” the king who established an empire that stretched as far as Delhi, Baghdad, Moscow, and Constantinople. We will visit “Guri Amir, ” burial place of the ruler- the burial area of the Timurid Dynasty, and we will visit the well-known city market. We will visit the Ulugbek Observatory that was the most advanced in the middle ages and the nearby small museum. We will continue on to the Afrasiyab museum and to the complex of buildings of Shah-i-Zinda, which is an extensive mausoleum of historical figures of Samarkand. We shall end with a tour among the tombstones of the Jewish cemetery and with a visit to the home of the Jewish gentleman Abram Kalantarov that now serves as a museum.
Day 4: Thursday: Samarkand-Gijduvon-Bukhara
This morning we shall travel to Gijduvon which is about 50 kilometers from Bukhara, We will visit the Center for Ceramic Art of the Narzullayev family who are known worldwide. The center has become a point of interest where heads of state visit. We shall continue on to the city of Bukhara, built in a desert oasis and thought of as the most beautiful of the cities on the Silk Road. The sites of Bukhara attest to 1000 years of a rich history. We shall see the mausoleum of Ismail Samani one of the oldest Muslim buildings in the world and the Lyab-i Khauz which is the area around one of the last remaining ponds that was part of a many branched system of canals and reservoirs that have been central to the city of Bukhara.
Day 5: Friday: Bukhara
After breakfast we will go out to see beautiful Bukhara, one of the important stops on the Silk Road. We will visit the Ark Fortress that served as the winter palace of the Emir. We will continue on to visit the famous Poi Kalyan Minaret that was known in the past as the tallest structure in the world, and beside it, the Mira Raj Madrassa. We also will see the minaret from which Jews were thrown if they did not consent to convert to Islam. We will wander through the local markets and will visit the Jewish quarter: the synagogue and the school. We will view the city from the top of a fortress. We will return to the hotel to prepare for Shabbat. Davening, and our Shabbat dinner.
Day 6: Saturday: Bukhara
Tfilot, Shabbat meal, and a walking tour in the area around the hotel.
Day 7: Sunday: Bukhara-Tashkent-Bishkek
We shall drive to the airport and take off for Tashkent. After landing, we will travel to the city and walk around the Theater Square, Navoi- the location of the theater, the opera, and the ballet that was built during World War II by the Japanese prisoners. In the afternoon, we shall return to the airport and fly to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgystan.
Day 8: Monday: Bishkek, Ala Archa National Park
After breakfast we will go out for a tour of sites in the central area of the formerly Russian city that is located at the foot of the Tian Shan Mountains- Mountains of Heaven. The area has large green parks, monuments and culture centers, and nearby there are traditional local markets. After our tour of the city, we shall go out to the nature reserve Ala Archa and walk through the canyon beside its snow-capped peaks in a spectacular landscape of plants and nature.
Day 9: Tuesday: Bishkek-Lake Issyk-Kul - Cholpon-Ata
We travel from Bishkek to the capital city of the black Turks, so named because they are a nomadic Turkic people whose tents were black- and are a remnant of the nomads of the mountains. We will drive to Lake Issyk-Kul, a large lake that was considered an exotic vacation site in the heart of the Tian Shan Mountain range during the Soviet period, and from there to Cholpon-Ata which is to the north of the lake. We will visit the site, and the museum that preserves ancient petroglyphs, and then enjoy a pleasant boat ride on the picturesque lake.
Day 10, Wednesday: Cholpon-Ata-Tian Shan Ridge-Narin
Today we take a scenic trip across the central ridge of the Tian Shan Mountains following the Silk Road, as we travel to the district Capital Naryn. Weather permitting we will walk in the Salkintor canyon which opens into the impressive Naryn River.
Day 11, Thursday: Naryn—Torogart—Kashgar
We will leave early as we approach the Chinese border. On the way in the Tash Rabat area we will visit one of the caravansaries of the ancient Silk Road that is almost entirely intact. We will continue through the mountains to the Torogart Pass (3700 M). After the formalities of crossing the border, we will drive on the amazing roads that descend from the mountain heights to the edges of the desert, to the western Chinese market city of Kashgar, the beating heart of the Uyghur Culture. Nearby, at an important crossroads the routes from Asia and China met with the route that went south, via the Pamir Mountains to the Indus Valley and the Indian Subcontinent. The trade routes enriched the city so that it became the center of Uyghur arts and crafts.
Day 12, Friday: Kashgar
Today we visit the city and the surrounding sites. We will wander in the alleys of the old city, with their colorful mix of homes, workshops, markets, and eateries. We will visit the impressive burial place of Abak Hoja and the Idaka Mosque, the largest in all of China. Afterwards we return to our hotel to prepare for Shabbat.
Day 13, Shabbat: Kashgar
In addition to tfillot and Shabbat meals we will take a walk in the vicinity of the hotel. After Shabbat we will visit the Night Market and see how the Uyghurs cook.
Day 14, Sunday: The Marketplace of Kashgar—Urumqi
This morning we will wander, take photos, and experience the Sunday market. The well-known market of Kashgar has been one of the largest and best known on the Silk Road for hundreds of years. People converge from the entire area to buy and sell sheep, donkeys, cows, rugs, cloth, knives, work implements, and more. This afternoon we will fly to Urumqi, the capital of the autonomous Uyghur region of Xinjiang.
Day 15, Monday: The Heavenly Lake—Turpan
Today we visit the Heavenly Lake, hidden in the mountains above Urumqi. The lake gets its name from the blue color of the water, which reflects the glaciers on the mountains which surround it. In our travels around the lake we will meet nomads who live near the lake and make their livelihood from it. We drive to Turpan, on our way passing the second lowest spot on Earth. The Turpan Valley is one of the hottest spots in China and the world. Nonetheless an impressive feat of engineering has turned it into one of the most important oases on the Silk Road, in which they grow grapes, watermelon, and other melons.
Day 16, Tuesday: Turpan - Urumqi
We will visit the Karez system which brings water thousands of kilometers from the Tian Shan, and we will walk among the vines which are nurtured by this precious water. We will also visit the famous Minaret of Turpan. we will visit the ruins in the ancient city of Jiaohe. After dinner we will drive to the airport.
Days 17, Wednesday: Urumqi—Fly Back home
Continue to Shanghai, Xian & Beijing
Day 17, Wednesday: Turpan—Urumqi— Shanghai
We will fly to Shanghai, the second largest city in China, and by all accounts the most modern. Visitors are often amazed at the sheer number and variety of architectural styles of its skyscrapers. Throughout today’s tour of Shanghai we’ll acquaint ourselves with its varying characteristics. After arrival we will go for a sightseeing tour. We will see Shanghai’s famous Bund promenade along the Huang Pu River, where the city’s famous 19th Century colonial buildings are located. We will continue to Jinmao tower for panoramic view. In the evening, we shall enjoy a Cruise on the HangPu River.
Day 18: Thursday, Shanghai
After breakfast we shall visit the Jewish Quarter – a fascinating and unique story in itself. We will see the museum that will acquaint us with the story of the refuge given to the Jews Today during World War II. We will continue to Yu Yuan gardens. We’ll make our way to the City planning Museum, one of the most important and best loved museums. We will visit a silk factory to learn about the traditional production of silk and to see the silk products of today. In the evening we will see a spectacular Acrobatic Show.
Day 19: Friday - Shanghai, Zhouzhuang
Today we' will visit Zhouzhuang, a beautifully preserved Chinese village on the water. We will see and learn about their traditional crafts and enjoy a boat ride. After the tour we shall then return to our hotel to prepare for Shabbat.
Day 20: Shabbat, Shanghai
After Shabbat services we’ll take a walking tour near the hotel.
Day 21: Sunday Shanghai – Xian
In the morning we will depart for the airport for our flight to Xi’an. We will visit one of the city’s picturesque quarters to see the Grand Mosque, a building that serves as a center for more than 50,000 Muslims. It bears a striking resemblance to the ancient synagogue of Kaifeng, China.
In the evening, we will see the colorful Tang Dynasty Show.
Day 22: Monday, Xian - Beijing
Today we will visit one of the wonders of the world: the immense Terra Cotta Army that the great Emperor Qin Xi Huang Di prepared for himself for his “eternal life.” We’ll view the mountains at the foot of which lie the Hua Qin Springs, which became famous as the place where Chiang Kai-shek was captured and from where he escaped. After the visit we will drive to the airport for a flight to Beijing. After the arrival we shall stroll along the Wangfujing Food Market.
Day 23: Tuesday, Beijing
Today will start at Tiananmen Square. Tiananmen Square is the central square of Beijing, capital of China. Its name means The Gate of Heavenly Peace. Its name means The Gate of Heavenly Peace. It is named for Tiananmen Gate which stands at its northern end, and which is the entrance to the Forbidden City. The square was built in 1417. At its center stands the Mausoleum of Mao Ze Dong which contains his mummified body. Tiananmen Square became infamous due to the quelling of the student demonstrations which took place there in 1989. Later we shall visit the very heart of Beijing - the Forbidden City. Built in the 16th century, as the palace of China’s Ming Dynasty Emperors,
it’s an impressive example of traditional Chinese architecture. We’ll traverse the entire length of the Forbidden City, as we view the many splendid palaces and vast courtyards. Used as the set for the film “The Last Emperor”, it was indeed forbidden to the Chinese masses until the onset of the revolution at the beginning of the 20th century.
In the evening, we will see the spectacular Golden Mask show. You will find it unforgettable!
Day 24: Wednesday, Beijing
Today we will visit the Temple of Heaven, a magnificent complex used by the Emperor for prayer and also used today as a large, outdoor community center for the residents of Beijing; We'll depart for the greatest wall in the world. The Great Wall of China is the largest construction project ever undertaken by man- - measuring over 6,000 kilometers. Large sections of the wall were built between the 7th and 4th centuries BCE, over 2500 years ago. For hundreds of years, according to security needs arising from political conflicts in different ages, some sections of the Great Wall of China were added and strengthened while other sections were neglected. The Great Wall is made up of three primary components: passes, signal and watch towers, and defensive walls. Walking along the Great Wall will enable us to sense the historical dimension of the project. Afterwards, we'll visit the very best place in all of China to shop as well as a Cloisonne Factory! After the tour we will transfer to the airport and fly back home.