May 15, Days 0: To Tashkent
Clients depart from home towards the largest city of Uzbekistan, Tashkent. Clients need to be in Tashkent before May 16 – 7am! If you like to come in earlier please contact the RBT office which will gladly help with extra hotel bookings.
A domestic flight takes us to the fabled city of Bukhara, formerly one of the most important trading cities, anywhere in Central Asia. It has a rich and colorful history and an overwhelming number of historic sites of interest. The turquoise-blue domes and towering minarets of Bukhara provide a wonderful backdrop to our stay here. Needless to say, we shall have some time to explore this wonderful city. Birding the vicinity of the city; we will find out that Clamorous Reed Warblers, Black-headed Citrine Wagtails and White-tailed Plovers are common. We look out for Marbled Ducks and Glossy Ibis’s. We see our first of many Pied Bushchats.
Today’s birding will be perhaps be one of the most memorable during this trip? A very early start must be made into the Kyzyl-Kum desert, where we expect to arrive just after dawn. This very special region is home to one of the most sought-after of all the birds that occur in Central Asia – the legendary Turkestan (Pander’s) Ground Jay. They are best located in the cool of the early morning when they can be often found along the roadside. Other birds might include views of Asian Desert Warbler, Desert Whitethroat and Desert Finch. In the afternoon we visit the fabled city of Bukhara, Lab-I Hauz pool, Divan-Begi madrassa, Kalyan ensemble, Mosque and Minaret.
Todat is mostly a travel day as we drive from Bukhara, birding en route, to Samarqand, arriving in time for some preliminary exploration of this fabulous city. In the afternoon we visit the wonderful Registan square, some say the most beautiful square in the world!
Today there are many wonders in store for us with a day based in and around the ancient city of Samarkand. We will commence with an early morning start, driving out of the city to rocky, scrub and bush-covered hills of the Takhtakaracha Pass lying between Samarkand and Zarafshan, where Tamerlane roamed in centuries past. High on the wanted list will be White-throated Robin along with Eastern Orphean Warbler and the obscure Hume’s Lark. Also here are Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Turkestan and Yellow-breasted Tits, Asian Paradise-Flycatcher and White-capped Bunting. Back in time for lunch, we shall wander from our hotel into the quiet, small ancient city area to explore its historical treasures. The massive Bibi Khanum mosque (once the largest in Central Asia), The Registan, Timur’s Mausoleum, the Street of Tombs and the local bazaar present a stunning and memorable “visual overload” of exquisitely elaborate tiled, painted and carved buildings.
We can opt for an early start to nearby wetlands on the outskirts of Samarkand for such specialties as White-crowned Penduline Tit, or spend more time immersing ourselves in the historical delights of Samarkand. After lunch, we continue our journey back to Tashkent.
We plan to spend our final full day in the Chimgan Hills where Yellow-breasted and Rufous-naped tits are the main attraction. Overhead we might see European and Oriental Honeybuzzards. We return to Tashkent where we enjoy a final dinner in a local traditional restaurant, plus a visit to the historical Barak Khan Madrassa.
After a splendid holiday in Central Asia it is time to depart home. We say goodbye in the airport from where everybody flies back home.
**The tour schedule depends closely on internal flights, which may change from the itinerary listed. If so, the itinerary will be altered, with all of the special regions still being visited.DOWNLOAD TOUR ITINERARY IN PDF