better travel photographyCOM


Start: 8 May 2023
End: 20
May 2023

Code: IOU23

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Impressions of Uzbekistan

Day 1: Tashkent
Day 2: Margilan
Day 3: Rishtan
Day 4: Tashkent
Day 5: Khiva
Day 6: Khiva
Day 7: Bukhara
Day 8: Bukhara
Day 9: Darband

Day 10: Samarkand
Day 11: Samarkand
Day 12: Tashkent
Day 13: Tour ends

Website, Images and text Steve Davey/ 1990 - 2023

Land arrangements are sub-contracted to Intrepid Travel, who have many years experience in running small group adventures.

Bookings are made through the Intrepid Tailor Made Dept. in London not the Intrepid website or Stores. Contact Steve Davey for information


unforgetPlaces4PCThis tour is led by Steve Davey - a professional photographer, whose work appears in publications all over the world. He is the author of the bestselling Unforgettable Places To See Before You Die (BBC Books). Steve recently published Footprint Travel Photography (Footprint Books), which covers everything that you would ever want to know about travelling with a camera. Click for more.

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Highlights of this trip

• Walled city of Khiva

Historic Fergana Valley

• Ayaz Kala desert ruins

• Village of Darband

Forboding Bukhara

• Registan of Samarkand

• Photography tuition

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Included in the trip price

• 12 nights hotel

• 1 night guesthouse

• 12 breakfasts

• 1 lunch

• 7 dinners

• Tashkent to Urgench flight

• Kokand to Tashkent train

• Samarkand to Tashkent train

All transport as per itinerary

• Bottle mineral water daily

• English Speaking leader

• Sightseeing and city tours as per itinerary

• Entrance fees as per itinerary

• Camera fees as per itinerary

• Pre-trip Facebook group

Expert photographic tuition

Impressions of Uzbekistan itinerary

The full itinerary of our unique travel photography tour to Uzbekistan with land arrangements and ATOL Bonding by Intrepid Travel, led by professional photographer, Steve Davey.

Day 1: Arrival Tashkent

Welcome to Tashkent, Uzbekistan's capital and Central Asia's main hub. The expected arrival time is midnight, but we will be met by our tour leader at the airport and transferred to our hotel, where we have arranged for an early check in to give us the chance to rest before a day of sightseeing round this surprising city.

Tashkent is a surprising mix of modern buildings, Soviet architecture and a number of ancient Islamic monuments. This mix of architectural sights mirrors the very blend that characterises the country: modernist, Islamic and post-Soviet. this is illustrated by the fact that there are few Islamic countries where cheap Vodka is so prevalent!

Depending on how rested we are, we have the chance to head out for some early sightseeing to catch the best of the light. Today we will explore Tashkent, starting at the Khasti Imam Complex. This massive square was formerly the spiritual heart of the city, although now somewhat over-restored. One of the undisputed highlights is the oldest Quran in the World at the Muyi Mubarak Library.

We will also spend sometime exploring the sprawling Chorsu bazaar - a vast partly covered market, which is great for buying snacks and interacting with and photographing the friendly local traders.

A surprising highlight is a trip on the Tashkent Metro - one of only two subway systems operating in Central Asia. Built in the style of the Moscow Metro, many of the stations are incredibly ornate, and certainly put the grubby London Underground to shame!

Today we will also walk through the pedestrianised Sayilgoh street - locally known as Tashkent's Broadway. This street, lined with stalls, links the two most important squares of the capital: Mustakillik (Independence) Square and Amir Timur Square which is noted for the statue of the Mongol conqueror Tamerlane sitting on his horse.

After sunset we will head for a welcome dinner at a traditional restaurant.

Included activities:

• City Tour and entrance fees

Accommodation: Michelin Hotel 3* or similar

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 2: Tashkent – Kuva - Margilan

After breakfast, we will drive to Rishtan and Margilan via the Kamchik Pass in sedan cars. The 2200m (7,217ft) pass is reached by a series of hair-pinned bends. At the top we will stop to admire the stunning views. before continuing on to Kuva in the remote Fergana Valley.

The drive to Kuva should is 343km and should take around 6 hours. When we arrive we will have time to explore the fruit and grape fields as well as the local bazaar, before continuing on to Margilan (34km/47min) where we will check-in to our hotel.

Margilan is an ancient city that is famed for its silk production, and was formerly a stop on the Silk Road. Legend has it that the city was founded by Alexander the Great. Depending on the time we arrive we can photograph the sunset before heading out to an optional dinner.

Accommodation: Adras House 3* or similar

Meals included: Breakfast


Day 3: Margilan - Rishtan - Kokand

After an early breakfast, we will head out to look around Margilan. We will photograph the local

We will visit a factory that makes the local Atlas textiles using traditional IKAT weaving. We will also visit a craft centre in Medresse Hodja Ahmad, where we can see the process of making the national hat, the ubiquitous 'duppi'.

Later we will drive to Rishtan (45km/53min) to visit a ceramic workshop and a local Kyrgyz family.

After a long day of exploring we will end up in the 10th century city of Kokand (42km/46min) where we will enjoy dinner at local teahouse.

Accommodation: Silk Road Kokand Hotel 3* or similar

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 4: Kokand – Tashkent by train

After an early breakfast we head out sightseeing in the city of Kokand. As the name of our hotel suggests, this town was another important stop on the Silk Road. Over a thousand years old, its heyday was during the 1709-1876 Kokand Kanate, when its domain stretched across what is now parts of four different countries. Highlights of the city include the Khudoyar Khan Mausoleum, the Norbutabey Medresse and the Dahma-i-Shokhon Mausoleum.

At 16:00 we will head to the railway station to catch a train back to Tashkent (237km/4hrs). This will be a more local train than the high speed bullet train that we will take later in the itinerary, and will have more of a local atmosphere.We are scheduled to arrive at 21:30 and will transfer to our hotel.

Accommodation: Michelin Hotel 3* or similar

Meals included: Breakfast


Day 5: Tashkent - Urgench (flight) – Khiva

In the morning we will transfer to the airport for our internal flight to Urgench. On arrival, we will drive the short distance to the atmospheric walled city of Khiva (30 km/30min).

Khiva is an incredibly atmospheric place, with an old town of restored buildings protected by formidable outer walls. It is possible to walk around large parts of these, and see the light changing at sunset. The city is protected by UNESCO, and 3000 people still live inside of the walls.

On our arrival we will start sightseeing of all of the main sites - including the Muhammad Rahim Khan, the Kalta Minor, Kuhna Ar, Ak Sheih Baba, Djuma Mosque and the Islam Khodja Minaret.

Much of the delight of Khiva though is walking through the narrow alleyways, and looking at the smaller sights, such as the ancient carved wooden doors, vibrant turquoise tiles and the day to day lives of the residents.

In the evening we will have dinner at a traditional restaurant, where we will be able to taste a local Khorezmian meal. Sunset shooting.

Accommodation: Arkanchi Hotel 3* or similar

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 6: Khiva

Today we will continue exploring in Khiva, exploring the colourful Khiva Bazaar, the Toza Bog Palace and Tosh Khouli Palace. We have deliberately arrange the itinerary to allow you to see all of the main monuments, but also to give us time to explore, walk around by ourselves and soak up the atmosphere, of this absolute highlight of any trip to Uzbekistan.

Having a bit more time will also allow us to find some good locations for sunrise and sunset, and even explore outside of the walls of the Old City. It will also give us some time to relax before the journey to Bukhara.

Accommodation: Arkanchi Hotel 3* or similar

Meals included: Breakfast


Day 7: Khiva – Ayaz Kala, Toprak Kala – Bukhara

Today is a long journey to the city of Bukhara (570km/8hrs), across the Kyzylkum Desert, but we are endeavouring to make it a highlight of the trip by visiting two remote and little visited ancient desert forts enroute: Toprak Kala and Ayaz Kala.

Toprak Kala is the ruins of an ancient fortified palace dating back to the 1st Century CE. Once home to the Khorezm Kings of the 2nd & 3rd centuries, this was once a part of a vast city surrounded by brick walls.

Ayaz Kala is an ancient Fort, once part of a chain that protected the Kushan Empire. Clinging photogenically to the top of a barren hillside, it dates back to the Second Century CE.

After exploring these two atmospheric sets of ruins, we continue to the city of Bukhara.

Accommodation: Malika Hotel 3* or similar

Meals included: Breakfast


Day 8: Bukhara

The ancient city of Bukhara is reputed to have existed for thousands of years. Situated on the Silk Road, it was once the seat of various rulers including the Samanid Emire and the Khanate of Bukhara. Bukhara has a history of art and learning and also of being invaded and destroyed. The Bukhara Fortress - also known as the Ark - is surrounded by formidable walls. Even so it was sacked by Genghis Khan and also by the Bolshevik Red Army in 1920.

There are many fine mosques and madrassas in Bukhara, including the Kalyan Minaret, which soars above the city and was once where convicted criminals were executed by being thrown from the top. In parts the locals sit under shady trees by cooling pools, drinking local tea - giving a much more human face to this city of monuments.

Today we will explore the whole city, visiting the Samanids’ Mausoleum, the Bolo Khauz Mosque, the Ark Fortress, the Po-i-Kalon Complex, the Bazars’ Taki and the Lyabi Khauz Complex.

This evening we will have dinner at traditional local restaurant, where we will be able to enjoy tasting a Bukharian style meal.

Accommodation: Malika Hotel 3* or similar

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 9: Bukhara – Darband

After an early breakfast we take in the final sights of Bukhara. We will visit the the Summer Palace of the last Emir of Bukhara, the Sitorai Mohi Hosa and the Nakshbandi Complex before driving on to Darband (314km/5hrs), in the Surhandarya region.

Darband is a village in the South of Uzbekistan which is surrounded by the Pamir Mountains. On the way, we will visit the Temir Darvoza – “Iron gate” or “Derbent walls” which in ancient times divided the territories of Bactria and Sogdiana. The length of this mountain wall is 800m, height is 11m and width is 6m. Two big mountain rocks resemble a gate, with a very narrow entrance between them.

The population of the village is some 16,000 and the predominantly Tajik locals raise cattle, sheep and goats. The scenery around the village is very rugged with some 76 gorges, filled with caves and canyons. The valley is irrigated with many mountain streams, and we will spend time exploring the valley of Darband, and its remarkable flora.

Darband - is situated in the south of Uzbekistan, historically in the territory between Bactria and Sogdiana countries.

This small village has round shape surrounded with the chain of Pamir Mountain. From its location village gave the mane “Dar Band” which means in Persian “Closed Door”.

On arrival, we will check into our guesthouse and get acquainted with the local family that runs it.

Accommodation: Darband guesthouse or similar

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 10: Darband – Samarkand

This morning we can walk around the village as it wakes up, photographing day to day life. We will breakfast with the family and then have all morning to explore.

After a last lunch with our hosts, we will drive to the fabled city of Samarkand (330km/5hrs) - one of the most evocatively named cities on many travellers' bucket list.

We will arrive sometime in the evening, and check into our hotel.

Accommodation: Arba Hotel 3* or similar

Meals included: Breakfast & Lunch


Day 11: Samarkand

There are many fantastic sites in Samarkand, and if you have visited Northern India, some of them will be familiar to you. The Mughals who took India and built many of the great monuments - including the Taj Mahal hailed from this part of the world, and the origins of the architectural styles that were perfected in the Taj Mahal can be seen here.

Babur, the founder of the Mughal empire in India was born in Uzbekistan. He was a descendent of the Uzbek National Hero Amir Timur and Genghis Khan.

His some, Humayun, was the second Mughal Emporer of India. When he died in 1555, Humayun's widow commissioned a tomb for him in Delhi based upon the Gur-e Amir - Timur's Mausoleum in Samarkand. Humayun's Tomb can still be visited in Delhi, and is thought to be a forerunner of the Taj Mahal.

Humayun's great grandson was Shah Jahan, who built the Taj Mahal. Travelling in Uzbekistan - especially in Samarkand - does help to put the history of Northern India into some form of context.

Today we will visit the great sites of Samarkand, including the Registan Square, the Bibi Khanim Mosque, the Siab bazaar and the Shahi Zinda Complex. We can also return to the Registan Square for some night photography at the blue hour, before heading to dinner with a demonstration of cooking the National dish Plov. This is a dish of rice, with cooked meat, carrots and onions.

Accommodation: Arba Hotel 3* or similar

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 12: Samarkand – Tashkent (train)

After a chance to catch another sunrise in the city of Samarkand we will have an early breakfast and then continue our sightseeing in this historic city. This will include the Gur-e Amir Mausoleum, St Daniel’s Tomb and Ulugbek’s Observatory, as well as the “Meros” – silk paper making workshop and a visit also “Konigil” tourist village.

At the end of our day, we will catch the modern high-speed train back to Tashkent. The train feels more like an aircraft than a train and reaches speeds of 250 kmh. We depart at 17:30 and arrive at 19:40, where we will transfer to our hotel and head out for a farewell dinner at a local restaurant.

Accommodation: Michelin Hotel 3* or similar

Meals included: Breakfast & Dinner


Day 13: Tour ends

Today our tour finishes, and we transfer out to the airport for our flight home.


Although we haven't specified it on the itinerary, we have the option every morning of finding a spot for sunrise, and also a suitable place for the sunset. This might involve some changes to the itinerary, or most likely - revisiting places for the better light.

We will also be looking for other, more local things to include in our sightseeing, and also great places to stop on our journeys. This is the sort of thing that we always set out to achieve on our trips, and by now - we have got very good at it!

Printable version of itinerary

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