Uzbekistan small group tour

“Fancy a culture shock that's as educational as it's exciting? This tour of Uzbekistan will take you on a round trip from Tashkent, with Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand in between. ”

Highlights

Tashkent | Khiva | Central Asian Plateau | Bukhara | Bolo Khauz Mosque | Char Minar | Sarmysh Gorge | Nurata, Alexander the Great's fortress | Yangikazgan | Lake Aidarkul | Samarkand | Registan Square | Ulugbek Observatory | Tamerlane Mausoleum | Optional: camel ride in Yangikazgan

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05 Apr 2019
US $ 1855
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19 Apr 2019
US $ 1935
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10 May 2019
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07 Jun 2019
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02 Aug 2019
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13 Sep 2019
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20 Sep 2019
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27 Sep 2019
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27 Mar 2020
US $ 2075
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17 Apr 2020
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Our top tip:
Much of what you'll find in Uzbekistan will have been deemed appropriate by the Russian government. In order to achieve a more rounded perspective, books, such as Christopher Aslan Alexander's: A carpet ride to Khiva, provide plenty more food for thought.
Trip type:
Small group. Average group size 12. Minimum age 16.
Activity level:
Leisurely. Cultural sightseeing, yurt camp and some long drives.
Accomm:
9 nights in en-suite standard hotels and 1 night in yurt with basic shared facilities.
Included:
Accommodation, transport, listed activities and tour leader.
Meals:
All breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner.
Vouchers
Accepted
Vacation type

Small group vacation

Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, traveling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week vacation, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.

The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travelers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.

We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.

What are the main benefits?
Big experiences
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.

Simplicity
Make the most of your vacation time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!

Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travelers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your vacation.

Solo travelers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those traveling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.

Less confident travelers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
Mythbuster
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travelers their own room.

“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.

“The accommodation will be basic”
Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.

“I won’t like the other travelers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.

“Will we be following an umbrella?”
No.
Valerie Parkinson
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson

Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Roshan Fernando
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando

Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travelers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Uzbekistan small group tour

Accommodation and Meals:
We will be spending 9 nights in standard hotels and 1 night in a yurt camp in Kyzyl-Kum desert. All of our accommodation is predominantly locally owned and staffed, which is beneficial to surrounding communities. The yurt camp is also run by local people and uses very little electricity and water, so this is a reduction to our overall impact on the environment. Where meals are provided, fresh fruit, vegetables and meat are sourced at local farms and markets. Free meal times are a wonderful opportunity to support small bazaar vendors, cafes and authentic, local restaurants. Uzbekistan’s signature dish is a rice dish with meat, carrot and onions called ‘plov’. Also expect varied salads, fresh fruit, Middle Eastern style stews and dumplings from the Far East.

Local Craft and Culture:
We explore the many museums and mosques, mausoleums and markets of Tashkent, Khiva, Bokhara and Samarkland. By visiting these cultural and historical sites, we are supporting maintenance, restoration and research. Traditional craftsmanship is evident everywhere we go- from intricate tilework, wooden carvings and patterned textiles, to locally produced delicacies. At the bazaars we visit, Uzbek embroidered products, handmade carpets, painted ceramics and jewellery are all for sale. Not only does buying from market vendors benefit local people and celebrate traditional crafts, but it is a cultural experience in itself! (Expect to haggle). Throughout the journey there are also opportunities to eat dinner with local families in their homes which might be the most valuable cultural experience on offer. The group can sample local, home-cooked food and learn about Uzbek, culture.

A Fair Deal:
We work closely with our local operator to run this trip in a way that aims to reduce impacts and to give as much back as possible to the local communities. Part of this is employing local leaders, who are committed to responsible tourism and helping to preserve the way of life in their area. The leaders will give a briefing on responsible tourism issues to help you understand how you can help reduce your impact and maximise the benefits to the local community from your visit.

UK Office:
It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.

Group Size:
This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.

8 Reviews of Uzbekistan small group tour

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Reviewed on 23 Aug 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The UNESCO-listed walled, old city of Khiva, known as Ichon Qala, was the unexpected gem of this trip. Also, swimming in the man-made Lake Aidarkul in the middle of the Kyzylkum desert was a surprising and relaxing pleasure.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Roads are in bad-condition, so be prepared for long, uncomfortable hours spent traveling between cities.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Financially yes, but one fears that too many tourists can only have a negative impact upon the environment.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Brilliant! We travelled with an excellent guide and a sociable, compatible group. The pace was perfect for us, and there was sufficient free time in the programme for extra sight-seeing or activities.

Reviewed on 24 Apr 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Visiting the silk road cities of Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara and having time to wander in each place and admire the reconstructed buildings. The guide Dilshod is extremely knowledgeable and a superb fixer.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


You have to be comfortable with traveling in a mid sized group and there are long distances to cover by road. It is a very cheap place to visit, unless you want
to buy a carpet. Do try the delicious green pasta in Khiva.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We shopped locally and stayed in locally run hotels and family run yurts.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Uzbekistan is full of architectural surprises and friendly people. I would highly recommend a trip there.

Reviewed on 16 Oct 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Each of the cities visited were very different and interesting and I really enjoyed the night in the Yurt and the camel ride and swim in the lake

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared for a full on vacation. The first two days were very tiring as we had an overnight flight and a tour of Taskent the day we landed. The following
morning was a very early start, around 5 am as we had to fly to Urgench for our stay in Khiva. There was also a long drive from Khiva to Bukhara. This may
change within the next year or two as a bullet train will be operating between the two cities.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes I did. The company used several small local family restaurants which were actually in their own houses. Also the stay in the yurt benefited the locals. By
refilling water bottles this stopped a lot of rubbish.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


The hotels were mainly of a reasonable standard, although the one in Khiva was not very clean. Several of the group also were ill whilst in Khiva. Uzbekistan
is an up and coming tourist destination, but the infrastructure needs to be updated. The country is very interesting, particular the culture and history.

Reviewed on 10 Oct 2018 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


There were many highlights and the places we visited were unique and really interesting, but I think the Registan Square in Samarkand will be rated among the top. I also loved Bukkhara and would have liked to have stayed there longer.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Although this is a 'leisurely' trip, the pace is quite full on and there is a lot of traveling and long days. Take warm clothing for the autumn dates - a fleece
hat, a scarf, gloves and socks (plus waterproof jacket) are useful also for the yurt stay. (Thermals not really needed as visitors sleep under duvets.) A torch is
useful as Khiva is badly lit and the roads are very uneven, also for the yurt stay. The food is generally better in Uzbekistan than one might at first think as
there is a quite lot of variety and many restaurants are attractive and fun to visit. However, food handling/hygiene is not consistent so be careful and take
remedies to alleviate stomach problems. This is not a trip for vegetarians. Take an overnight bag or rucksack (rather than main luggage) you can close up
for the yurt visit with bags for shoes rather than leave them out. (There are scorpions sometimes.)

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Yes, it benefited local people in that we stayed in small, locally-owned hotels for the most part. However, the standard of accommodation was often low and
hotel rooms badly maintained/dated. Hoteliers need to up their game and/or Responsible Travel change to better hotels to keep their clients happy.
I can't see how the trip supported conservation. More could be done to discourage vendors from using plastic bags and your customers to take reusable
shoppers. Travel on the bullet trains in future - the railway will link Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukkhara and Khiva in the next year or so - will reduce reliance
on road transport, especially as the roads are often poor. It will also save time.
The trip certainly helped local crafts people and retailers as we all did plenty of shopping!

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


I'd rate it highly, for the itinerary, guide and transportation. However, the standard of accommodation was not very good (except for the Old House Hotel,
Bukkhara which I stayed in because there was no room at the original hotel). Rooms at 'Standard hotels' were often very dated, often poorly maintained and
in some instances, e.g. the Malika Khorazm in Khiva, my ground floor room was downright shabby, though the lobby area of the hotel was was pleasant.
The Hotel Uzbekistan in Tashkent was poorly maintained, not particularly clean and the staff rude. I would be cautious about recommending Responsible
Travel/the operator to friends because of the accommodation issues. The trip is not cheap or a budget travel package, so the company needs to improve
accommodation.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you for your review, it's great to hear how much you enjoyed Uzbekistan and the many marvels it has to offer.
Thank you for your feedback on the hotels and suggestions on transport. Uzbekistan's tourism infrastructure is improving all the time though it is still more rustic than in other countries,.
That said we do work with our local partners as properties evolve to improve the trip as new options become available. The transport infrastructure is also improving and we will, no doubt, be looking at the train to Khiva option once this becomes a reality. Once again, thank you for your feedback and I hope you have plenty of great memories of Central Asia.

Reviewed on 27 Sep 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The Registan at Samarkand was the most memorable. Everything just led up to that experience.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Be prepared for full and active days despite the 'Leisurely' rating.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Certainly local restaurants and vendors benefitted.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent, mainly due to highly expert and very likable guide Dilshod

Reviewed on 26 Jul 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The sights - historical and cultural, the Shah-i-Zinda necropolis was my favourite place, absolutely stunning

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Don't book in July and August, its too hot! Also be prepared to be very careful with what you eat, its easy to get sick

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Definitely benefited local people through the money spent. I don't think it reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Excellent - great itinerary, great guide, good group, wonderful country, easy to travel in, well organised.

Read the operator's response here:

Dear Tamsin,
Firstly, thank you for your comments, we are delighted that overall you had a great trip.

It is great that you saw the benefit to local people that the vacation delivered – we make every effort to ensure as many people benefit from our custom as possible. Regarding your comments about reducing environmental impacts I would like to reassure you that this is something we are continuously working on. One such example of this is our current push to reduce our plastic waste on trips – we are in the process of starting a new initiative whereby all trips will provide clients with drinking water from a large receptacle. 20ltr bottles will be employed and clients will be able to fill up throughout the trip. We are currently trialling this approach in India and South East Asia and it has been a great success. We regret that this wasn't quite ready for your trip but please rest assured that it is to happen soon as we take the reduction of our environmental impacts very seriously.

We do hope that this explanation provides an adequate response to your review and offers you reassurance that we are continuously working on ensuring our trips are as responsible as possible. We hope to welcome you back to Uzbekistan one day.

Reviewed on 27 Sep 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


Samarkand, Kiva

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Bit demanding but manageable and worth it

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


Do not know

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Very good

Reviewed on 22 Nov 2013 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?


The whole trip was memorable but plov night really sticks in the mind. The locals were very friendly which added a bit of magic.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?


Take your own tonic it is not available anywhere in the country!

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?


We certainly put some investment into the country not sure how much benefit it was. Environmentally no idea of our impact.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?


Great, nice group, well rounded tour

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