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Registan Square, Samarkand

Golden Eagle: Republics of the Silk Road

17-day luxury rail journey from £17,860 pp incl. flights

Special offer: Free Visa special offer – Save up to £425pp

Summary

Short description

Take in the ancient cities and Soviet-era sights of the Silk Road aboard the luxurious Golden Eagle

Highlights

  • Take to the ancient Silk Road, visiting five ‘Stans on one epic adventure
  • Compare Soviet-era sights with Islamic wonders
  • Experience the luxury of the Golden Eagle, from champagne receptions to wine-paired dining
  • Enjoy expert-led excursions throughout
  • Bookend your rail tour with hotel stays in Moscow and Almaty

In Brief

  • 1 Night Moscow
  • 14 Nights Golden Eagle
  • 1 Night Almaty

About

Recommended for:
City | History & culture | Natural world | Rail journey

With just two departures – one in April 2020 and the next 12 months later – this is a rare opportunity to explore, in depth, the off-the-beaten-track wonders of the ancient Silk Road. Travelling in unmatched elegance aboard the iconic Golden Eagle, you’ll depart from Moscow to trace a route through the southern republics of the former Soviet Union, visiting no fewer than five ‘Stans – Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – en route to Almaty. Along the way, you’ll join expert guides who’ll introduce you to the cultural and natural wonders of the region, from World-Heritage cities to great, mountain-framed lakes to the vestiges of the Soviet space programme. And, of course, it’s all wrapped up in the fine dining and attentive service of one of the world’s most luxurious trains.

Day by day itinerary

Day 1
UK/Moscow

With UK airport lounge access included, the luxury begins even before your flight to the Russian capital where, on arrival, a private transfer will whisk you to your city-centre hotel. Located just a short walk from the Kremlin, Red Square and Bolshoi Theatre, you’ll be perfectly placed for taking in all of Moscow’s star attractions, which you’ll explore the next day on a guided tour. This evening, however, it’s time to relax and indulge, as you’re treated to a champagne reception followed by a wine-paired welcome dinner. It’s the perfect opportunity to meet your fellow guests.

Stay: Moskva Hotel (Deluxe)

Meals: D

Day 2
Moscow & The Golden Eagle

Today your adventure begins in earnest as you head out into the heart of Moscow in the company of your expert guide. It all begins with the sheer grandeur of the Kremlin, where you’ll enjoy an exclusive private viewing of the Armoury Chamber, host to the treasures of the Tsars. It’s then on to Red Square, where you’ll visit the onion-domed St Basil’s Cathedral and marvel at the Tarist façade of the world-renowned GUM department store.

Alternatively, if you’ve visited Moscow before, you might want to take advantage of the included Freedom of Choice touring option, which takes in lesser-known sights such as the State Tretyakov Gallery and Space Museum. Whichever you choose, you’ll be treated to lunch at the superb Café Pushkin, which blends 19th-century mansion-house décor with traditional Russian cuisine. Then, in the afternoon, you’ll have the chance to explore one of the city’s metro stations – all statues, frescoes and mosaics – before heading to Moscow Kazansky Station to board the Golden Eagle.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Days 3-4
Baikonur, Southern Kazakhstan

Having travelled through the night, you’ll wake to a gourmet breakfast and the vast landscapes of southwest Russia as you head towards Kazakhstan. It’s a superb opportunity to relax into life onboard, chatting to fellow guests, sipping cocktails in the bar car, indulging in your included meals and simply enjoying the views. Then, after another night onboard, you’ll arrive into Baikonur in southern Kazakhstan, a town built to service the Baikonur Cosmodrome – the base of operations during the Soviet-era space programme of the 50s and 60s. And, alongside Sputnik 1, Yuri Gagarin and the like, you’ll see how the space station is still used for modern-day missions to the International Space Station.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 5
Kokand, Uzbekistan

Crossing borders again, you’ll head into Uzbekistan and the town of Kokand in the Fergana Valley at the crossroads of two ancient trade routes. Today, it’s most notable for the remains of the Khudayar-Khan Fortress – the grand citadel of the last Kokand Khan. Your included tour will introduce you to the buildings’ unique history as well as the lives of their erstwhile residents before a visit to the museum showcases exhibits of jewellery, clothing and metal-ware.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 6
Osh; Andizhan & Margilan, Kyrgyzstan & Uzbekistan

After another cosseting night onboard Golden Eagle, you’ll wake to another delicious breakfast, and another country, having crossed into Kyrgyzstan. In fact, it’s a case of two countries in one day as you begin with a choice of touring options at the Muslim pilgrimage site of Osh, where you’ll decide between a city walking tour – taking in the likes of Soviet-era mosaics and murals – and a bread-making class, before taking the rails back into neighbouring Uzbekistan. After pausing at the 9th-century town of Andizhan to explore its Jami Madrasah and Mosque, you’ll head on to Margilan for an in-depth appreciation of its world-renowned silk industry.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Days 7-8
Samarkand & Shahrizabz, Uzbekistan

Sticking with Uzbekistan, you’ll enjoy two fascinating days taking in the sights of Samarkand and Shahrizabz. The former is perhaps one of the Silk Road’s most evocative locations, with its grand architectural remains and fascinating history as the former capital of the Mongol empire. Take it all in by day, visiting Registan Square, Bibi Khanum Mosque and the Ulag Beg Observatory, then return to the square after dinner on the train to see it illuminated under the night sky. It’s then on to Shahrizabz, the reputed birthplace of Amir Timur, who modelled himself, and his empire, on a certain Genghis Khan. Your guide will bring you first to the UNESCO-listed statue of Timur before taking you to his former palace, decorated in intricate mosaics and detailed inscriptions from the Qur’an.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 9
Dushanbe, Tajikistan

Today’s tour sees you into Tajikistan and its capital, Dushanbe, situated on the banks of the Varzob River. Your focus for the day is the city’s Kohi Navruz Palace – a former teahouse. It’s a fascinating story of architectural transformation, which will be brought to life by your expert guide as you take in grand halls hung with spectacular chandeliers and precious works of art. In keeping with its traditions, you’ll be treated to tea and local delicacies before transferring back to the train.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 10
Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Heading back into Uzbekistan, your next stop, Bukhara, is a real trip highlight. Having celebrated its 2,500-year anniversary in 1999 with a UNESCO-sponsored restoration, much of the city has been returned to its former glory. Most notable among its myriad treasures is the Ark, a former fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara who ruled over the region with despotic ruthlessness until the Soviet invasion in 1920. Having taken in the sights of the city centre, you’ll then head out into the desert to the Emir’s delightfully named Palace of the Moon & Stars before returning to the station for a barbecue, weather permitting before the train departs.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Days 11-12
Merv & Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

The last of the five ‘Stans on your tour is Turkmenistan, where you’ll spend these next two days. Your appreciation of the country begins with a tour of the ancient ruins of Merv which, at one point during the 12th century, claimed to be the largest city in the world. Sadly, Merv met its end in the late 18th century when the Emir of Bukhara destroyed the nearby dam, relieving the residents of their water supply.

After a night back on board the train, you’ll arrive in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s modern-day capital, where you’ll visit the National Museum and Kipchak Mosque. Known as the ‘Las Vegas of the Kara Kum’ the city situated between the desert and the Kopet Dag Mountains was rebuilt by the Soviets following a devastating earthquake in 1948. Today, its mix of extravagant fountains, gilded domes and modern tower blocks strike an odd contrast with the empty surroundings.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Days 13-14
Khiva & Tashkent Uzbekistan

Founded some 2,500 years ago, Khiva was one of the most important trading posts on the Silk Road, located at the crossroads of routes linking Mongolia, Russia, China and Persia. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, its wealth of impressive architecture rises from the desert, its ancient walls hiding a labyrinth of streets lined with mosques, minarets and madrassas.

A local-led guided tour will reveal some of its many secrets before you return to the train for an overnight dash to Tashkent. As Uzbekistan’s capital, it’s a wonderful blend of Soviet pragmatism – a result of a rebuilding project following an earthquake in 1966 – and Islamic traditional, showcased in the winding streets of the Old Town and at a small library where you’ll see the world’s oldest Qur’an.

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 15
Bishkek & Lake Issy-Kul, Kyrgyzstan

Returning once more to Kyrgyzstan, you’ll enjoy a morning’s sightseeing in Bishkek, a one-time caravan rest stop for traders and travellers along the Silk Road. A reflection of its more recent history, your guided tour will focus on the city’s Soviet years, brought to life in its Ala-Too Square and in local parks where you’ll find statues of Karl Marx and Freidrich Engels, as well as a the grand Memorial for the Red Guards. In the afternoon, you’ll disembark at Lake Issyk-Kul to explore its open-air Museum of Petroglyphs and experience an eagle hunting demonstration – a 4,000-year-old nomadic tradition practiced in Silk Road destinations from Kyrgystan to Mongolia. 

Stay: Golden Eagle (Deluxe)

Meals: B L D

Day 16
Almaty, Kazakhstan

The final stop on your Silk Road adventure is Almaty in Kazakhstan. Here, having disembarked the train for the final time, you’ll transfer into the city for a tour of its Panfilov Park and wooden Zenkhov Cathedral. There’s even time to head out to the resort of Chimbulak, where a cable-car ride will bring you out to a viewpoint for a final, spectacular glimpse across the city and surrounding mountains. Then, having transferred to your city-centre hotel, you’ll enjoy a sumptuous farewell dinner and a final chance to toast what has been a truly memorable adventure.

Stay: Intercontinental Hotel (or similar)

Meals: B L D

Day 17
Almaty/UK

After breakfast, it’s time to transfer to the airport to board your flight home.

Meals: B

Map

Pricing

Any element of this itinerary can be adjusted to suit your needs. Just contact us to find out more.

Accommodation rating: Deluxe

17-day luxury rail journey from £17,870 incl. flights

Silver Class

Special Offer

Free Visa special offer: Save up to £425 pp.

Book by: 31 January 2020

Includes

  • Complimentary UK airport departure lounge access
  • Return flights into Moscow, returning from Almaty
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • 1 night pre-tour accommodation in Moscow
  • Champagne drinks reception and exclusive Welcome dinner in Moscow with specially selected international wines included in the dinner, as with all meals during the tour
  • 15 nights on-board the Golden Eagle train
  • Experienced tour managers and assistants selected for their travel knowledge
  • Farewell Dinner
  • Route Guide, itinerary and information pack
  • Breakfast, lunch and dinner daily in uniquely designed restaurant cars with excellent waiter-served food and wine, several times during the tour sample authentic local cuisine off the train
  • Drinks with meals and from the bar lounge car
  • A generous drinks allowance is included with lunch and dinner. For passengers travelling in Gold Class on-board the Golden Eagle, drinks from the Standard Drinks List in the Bar Lounge Car are also included. For Imperial Suite guests, drinks from both the Standard and Premium Bar Lists in the Bar Lounge Car are included.
  • Guided Off-Train Excursions - The history and culture of the places visited on the journey will come alive through expert local guides. All our tours include a wide-ranging sightseeing schedule to make the most of the time you have off the train and bring you closer to the culture, people and history of your destinations. We believe it is the special little touches that help create magical memories.
  • Imperial Suite guests will benefit from the option of a private car and guide in the majority of places we visit along the route.
  • Freedom of Choice Touring - Customise your journey and enjoy the opportunity to select from an array of Freedom of Choice Touring options that best suits your interests. Your off-train excursions will still take in all the major attractions of the places we are visiting but, in featured locations, you will be presented when you are on-board the train with a variety of activities from which to choose, and enjoy a tailor-made experience. 

Terms & Conditions

Prices are per person based on two people sharing a twin/double room; prices are subject to availability and possible change; normal booking conditions apply.

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