Special Interest Tours

Steppe Journeys prides itself on arranging interesting and sometimes offbeat excursions within Central Asia. Here are some suggestions, which we can customize to match your budget and interests.

Penjekent(Tajikistan) One & Two Day Tours from Samarkand
Silks and Ceramics of the Ferghana Valley
Art and Craft Master Classes
Aral Sea Excursion from Nukus
Horse Riding in Kyrgyzstan
Adventures in the Desert of Karakalpakstan, Western Uzbekistan

Penjekent(Tajikistan) One & Two Day Tours from Samarkand

​ The reopening of the Samarkand>Penjekent land border in spring 2018 presents an excellent opportunity to visit one of the most ancient sites of Tajikistan - Penjekent.

Tajikistan also has an easy e-visa system.Steppe Journeys offers both one and two-day excursions.

One day tour: After breakfast, drive from your Samarkand hotel to the border Jarteppa. After border formalities, your guide and driver will meet you in Tajikistan. Drive to Penjekent.

The city of Penjekent (which means “five villages") is located in the Khujand area of Tajikistan, in the picturesque Zeravshan river valley. Quite possibly the five villages started the history of this remarkable city which originated in the 5th-8th centuries AD. Penjekent at that time was one of the most important cultural and crafts centers of Sogd. It was even named "Central Asian Pompeii".

Sightseeing will include visits to following sites:
  • Museum of Rudaki – Abu Abdallah Rudaki,, considered the father of Persian poetry, was born in Penjekent.

  • Ancient Penjekent - ruins of old Sogdian town founded in the 5th century and abandoned in the 8th century by Arabs. Foundations of houses, a citadel with Zoroastrian fire temples and city bazaar are visible in the excavated ruins.

  • Sarazm settlement – 5500 years old

  • After lunch, visit the local bazaar and then return to the border, where you will be met and driven back to your hotel.

Prices depend on how many people are in your group. For one traveller it is $245, 2 persons $165, 3 persons: $195, 4 persons $110

Inclusions: Transport in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan side (Sedan car up to 2 persons, 3 and more persons in van,local guide, entrance fees to the sites and museum. Exclusions:photo and video fees, tips for guide and driver, Tajik visa fee (available online)

Back to top Two-day tour

Day 1: After breakfast, drive to the border from your Samarkand hotel, where your Tajik guide and driver will meet you after border formalities. Drive to Marguzor lakes, about 70kms. This is a magnificent area of seven lakes. Picnic near a lake and later drive back to Penjekent and overnight in Umariyon hotel.
Day 2: Samarkand-Penjekent-Marguzor lake-Penjekent
After breakfast, sightseeing will include visits to sites described above in the one-day iteinerary and return to Samarkand. Prices: depend on how many people are in your group. For one traveller it is $605 (single room), 2 persons $313 (share twin), 3 persons $298, 4 persons $282.

Inclusions:Twin/double Accommodation – hotel Umariyon 3*, meals – 2 lunches and one dinner in Tajikistan, transport, guide services, transfers and entry fees. Exclusions:photo and video fees, tips for guide and driver, Tajik visa fee (available online)

Silks and Ceramics of the Ferghana Valley

Day 1: Tashkent-Ferghana (400 km, drive over Kamchik pass) After breakfast drive to the lush Ferghana valley, located beyond the Pamir Alay mountains in eastern Uzbekistan. It is a region famous for its silks and ceramics. On the way to Ferghana you will stop in Kokand for a short city tour and visit Khudayarkhan's palace, Juma mosque and the Royal cemetery Dahmai Shoh. After lunch at a local restaurant continue driving to Ferghana valley along Katta Ferghana canal, which was built by hand by 160,000 people in only forty five days. Overnight  Ferghana.

Day 2: Ferghana-Rishtan-Margilan-Ferghana Rishtan is renowned for its blue ceramics: the design and ornamentation are unique and of excellent quality. Later drive to Margilan Silk Factory Yodgorlik, where you will see how Uzbek hand-made silk is made with old technology. You will see the process of spinning out the silk threads from the cocoon and the final result being ikat silk fabrics. At the end of the tour you will have chance to buy local souvenirs from the factory shop. Overnight in Ferghana.

Day 3: Ferghana-Andijan-Ferghana (110 km, one way)
A day trip to Andijan, the birthplace of Babur, the founder of Moghul dynasty. En route stop to visit the ruins of Quva dating back to 1st AD when the Ferghana valley belonged to the Kushan empire and it was a town of Buddists and Zoroastrians. in Andjian you will see the musuem of Babur, the 16th C Juma mosque and the bazaar. Evening return to Ferghana, overnight.

Day 4: Ferghana-Tashkent
After breakfast you can drive back to Tashkent via Kamchik pass or fly to Tashkent (depends on days of the week).

  • Transport (Sedan car only, vans and buses are not allowed to drive on the pass)
  • Hotel accommodation in twin/double room sharing
  • Breakfast days 2, 3 and 4
  • Local guides in Kokand, Ferghana and Andijan
  • Entrance fees to all sites mentioned in the program
  • Water 1l per person per day

  • Personal charges in hotels
  • Flights
  • All extras not included in above program.
Cost: Please contact us, advising the number of people in your party.
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Master Classes

Woodblock printer's studio

Steppe Journeys can arrange interesting Master Classes with Uzbek artisans in various cities.

Programs include:
  • woodblock printing, 
  • ceramics, 
  • Uzbek cuisine and bread making, 
  • traditional dance, 
  • wood carving
  • embroidery.

Cost: Please contact us advising your interests. Perhaps you have another craft you wish to learn? Let us know.

2 Day Aral Sea Excursion from Nukus

Day 1 : 
Depart from your Nukus hotel at the crack of dawn for the long (8-hour, 400 km) drive to the Aral Sea!. Along the way you will pass the town of Kungrad which was once one of the five main trading towns of the Great Silk Road. From Kungrad you’ll drive northeast, eventually ascending to the surreal landscape of Ustyurt Plateau. You’ll pass Sudochie Lake, which teems with more birdlife than any other spot in the Republic of Karakalpakstan.

Ustyurt Plateau
From Sudochie Lake you’ll continue to the small oil-mining town of Urge, where you’ll break for lunch before heading north for some extreme off-road driving along the top of the Ustyurt Plateau. 

Eventually you’ll arrive at the cliffs that overlook the dried bottom of the Aral Sea’s former western border. From here you can barely make out a blue line on the horizon to the east. That’s the Aral Sea’s new shoreline, which now lies 185 km inside its former shoreline in Moynaq. Around here you can take exclusive pictures of the sea, witness the massive landslides that have occurred as a result of the sea’s retreat, and observe unique desert vegetation, much of it manually planted by the German organization GTZ. 

Next you will drive down from the plateau to the camp where you will stay for the night. From here you are free to walk to the seashore, enjoy the unique experience of swimming in Aral Sea’s salty waters or simply reflect how this huge sea has decreased from 70,000 sq. km to 27,000 sq. km in the last 47 years. In the evening you will enjoy a meal cooked over an open-air campfire before kicking back to enjoy the spectacle of a sky filled with thousands of stars and, if you’re lucky, a big moon. You’ll fall asleep breathing fresh air and listening to waves lapping the shore of the Aral.  
Accommodation: Camp (tents) 

View of a ship in the Aral Sea's graveyard

Day 2 : Aral Sea – Moynak-Nukus (400 km) 
After an early breakfast you ascend back onto to the Ustyurt Plateau and retrace your steps toward Urge. Before reaching Urge, however, you again descend from the plateau and drive southeast toward Moynak. On the way you will pass oil rigs set up to exploit the oil lying under what was once the Aral Sea’s seabed. After a stop for lunch, the tour continues to the settlement of Uchsai, formerly an Aral Sea port.

Thirty minutes later you arrive in Moynak. You can relive Moynak’s glory years in the local museum, where paintings depict a noisy and busy port town, with a bountiful harbour and rich fauna and flora. The museum also contains Karakalpak traditional tools, clothing, jewelry, and an exhibit on Moynak’s once-thriving fish factory. Next you will visit the World War II Heroes Monument, followed by last stop, Moynak’s famous “Ship Graveyard”, where you can take photos and once again contemplate the scale of the Aral Sea disaster. In the evening you’ll return to Nukus.

  • Transportation in UAZ Patriot, Land Cruiser
  • 2 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 1 dinner
  • Necessary accessories: tent, sleeping bags (or blankets), stove, table, chairs, plates, cups and etc. (all included in tour price)
  • Guide and cook
Cost: Please contact us, advising the number of people in your party.
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