Overnight in hotel (D) Day 02: Tashkent – Nukus In the morning we fly to Nukus, the capital of the Autonomous Karakalpak Republic within Uzbekistan, home of a Turkic people more closely related to Kazakhs than to Uzbeks.
The city is the gateway to the fast-disappearing Aral Sea; the surrounding cotton fields testify to the monoculture that stole the water from the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, the rivers that fed the Aral Sea.
Bukhara has been designated a World Heritage Site; some of the mosques, constructed in the 11th to 15th centuries, have been restored and appear as if they were built yesterday.
The story of this collection has been told in the award-winning documentary, Desert of Forbidden Art.
We will see the collection – the second-largest gathering of Russian avant-garde art after the Russian Museum in St. Overnight in Hotel (BD) Day 03: Nukus – Khiva Today we drive through a barren desert area littered with the ruins of ancient fortresses and cities long abandoned.
Overnight in hotel (BD) Day 07: Bukhara Bukhara is the centre for local artisans, and we will be able to watch many at work on a variety of handicrafts at the Bukhara Artisan Development Centre.
We will spend the day visiting some colorful local markets, where the Karavan Saray (trade domes) and former madrassahs offer splendid, colorful handmade `Suzani’ production and gold embroidery, as well as other forms of textiles, clothing, jewellery, carpets and costumes. You will also have some time at leisure to explore the town and its rich, colorful shops on your own.
In the early 16th century, Khiva was made capital of the Timurid Empire, becoming a busy slave market and the pivot of the khanate for the next three centuries.
Until Russia finally wrested the region from Timurid grasp in the 19th century, even the boldest hearts feared encounters with the area’s fierce tribesmen.
With buildings spanning 1,000 years of history and a thoroughly lived-in city centre that hasn’t changed much in two centuries, Bukhara is one of the best places in Central Asia to catch a glimpse of pre-Russian Turkestan.
Most of the city centre is an architectural preserve and includes a massive royal fortress, plenty of former Madrassas, a number of ancient public baths and the remnants of a once-vast market complex.
Nukus is also home to the remarkable Savitsky Art Museum, founded by Igor Savitsky.