Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan have been at the crossroads of several great civilizations -- China, Persia, Arabia, Mongolia, Russia -- for at least 2000 years, and the great art and architecture seen in these two countries reflects the melding of these cultures. After the campaigns of Alexander the Great in the 4th century B.C., trade along the Silk Route increased and Central Asia emerged as an important economic center. Cultural contact between Asia and Europe intensified, and the amalgam of religions, languages, and ethnicities produced one of the most fascinating places in the world to visit. Join Jim for a most unique and compelling photo tour to photograph spectacular architecture, remarkable portraits, exotic fashions, mountainous landscapes, and several extraordinary cultures.
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Day 1, Tuesday, Sept. 17 TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN. Leave your home city so you arrive in Tashkent, Uzbekistan on this day. You will be met at the airport with a local representative holding a placard with your name on it and transferred to our hotel. Overnight in Tashkent in a 5 star hotel.
Day 2, Wednesday, Sept. 18 TASHKENT. We spend the whole day photographing the beautiful capital of Uzbekistan. We will start with the colorful Chorsu Market where the local people shop for almost anything and everything, including fruits, vegetables, meat, bread, dried fruits, textiles, brooms, baskets etc. This is a great opportunity to photograph people. Our next stop will be ancient Kukeldash Mares, a 16th century center of education, which is still in use. In the afternoon, we will photograph the impressive Khasti Imam religious complex where you can see artisans at work, a mosque that is so incredible it defies words, and the oldest Koran in the world. Photographing the Khasti Imam Mosque from outside in the late afternoon and the evening at the "Blue Hour" is one of the photographic highlights in Tashkent. Dinner and overnight in a 5 star hotel.
Day 3, Thursday, Sept. 19 SAMARKAND. In the morning we will take the fast train to Samarkand, the ancient capital of the 14th century conqueror, Tamerlane. After lunch we will photograph the colorful Siab Bazaar where you will see women in colorful local dresses. This is one of the most interesting bazaars in Central Asia offering a tremendous amount of people photography. Next to the bazaar is the Bibi Hanim Mosque, built in the 15th century, an impressive photogenic building with its great big blue dome. We will then photograph Shakhi Zinda, another architectural masterpiece, which was once the burial place of the noble and elite people. There are several mausoleums built in the 15th century in this complex, and it is an important pilgrimage site. There are wonderful opportunities to photograph the pilgrims with beautiful backgrounds of blue tiled walls. We will then go to the famous Registan Square, which consists of three photogenic medresahs, or schools, and it is a real jewel in the heart of the old city. We will photograph Registan Square in the blue hour as well for some of the best architecture photography you've ever taken. Overnight in Samarkand in a 4 star hotel.
Day 4, Friday, Sept. 20 SAMARKAND. Very early we return to the Shakhi Zinda holly site to photograph it, this time in the morning light. We will then go back to the Registan Square to photograph the unbelievable interior of a mosque which is highly decorated in an oriental style of mosaic designs. You've never seen anything like this -- the beauty, the genius, the grandeur. Our next stop will be a small village with a workshop making traditional silk paper, using the bark of mullberry trees. It is a very photogenic place where we can photograph the people working in the paper making process. In the late afternoon, we will visit and photograph the Gur Amir Mausoleum where Tamerlane and his descendants are buried. Overnight in Samarkand in a 4 star hotel.
Day 5, Saturday, Sept. 21 BUKHARA. This morning we drive to Bukhara which was once the largest commercial and religious center on the Great Silk Road. People carrying different items on their donkey carts are very photogenic. After lunch in Bukhara, we have a walking tour in the old city. This includes domed bazaars, the Poi Kalon religious complex, medresahs, and the Ark fortress. Dinner will be in the house of a family, where one room is converted into a cosy restaurant. This is where we will taste the famous Uzbek "pilav". We will stay in a 4 star quality boutique hotel.
Day 6, Sunday, Sept. 22 BUKHARA. Today we will photograph the impressive domed buildings and minarets of Bukhara at dawn and then return back to the hotel for breakfast. You will have some free time to rest, to download pictures, or do some photography on your own. In the afternoon, we will visit a blacksmith workshop and explore more of the old city. Dinner will be in an old medresah with a show of Uzbek traditional clothes and a performance of local dancers. This is a great time to photograph models in traditional fashions. Overnight in a 4 star quality boutique hotel.
Day 7, Monday, Sept. 23 KHIVA. This is mostly a travel day where we drive to Khiva through the Kyzylkum Desert with a stop in the desert to photograph the square shaped "sand stoppers". We arrive in Khiva in the late afternoon. Khiva is a thousand year old fortress city, with its old section well preserved. It is also one of the most interesting cities in Central Asia for photography. From one of the medieval towers, we have unparalleled elevated perspectives on this beautiful and historic city. Overnight in a 4 star hotel.
Day 8, Tuesday, Sept. 24 KHIVA: Early in the morning, we will be out to stroll and photograph the ancient city of Khiva with its narrow streets, mosques, minarets and an old graveyard with the city walls in the background. We will have time to rest in our hotel, and in the late afternoon we will photograph a group of musicians in their traditional attire. Then we will have a walking tour around the old city of Khiva to photograph how the local people live. Overnight in a 4 star hotel.
Day 9, Wednesday, Sept 25 NUKUS: We drive to Nukus and in the late afternoon we will photograph an amazing cemetery, Mizdekhan Cemetery, with its old and new tombs. At sunset, we can photograph this beautiful desert town in golden light. Overnight in a 3 star superior hotel.
Day 10, Thursday, Sept. 26 NUKUS to TASHKENT: In Nukus, we will visit the Savitsky Museum housing one of the largest collection of Russian artifacts. Jim will explain how to replace the background behind a sculpture to make it look like a professional studio shot. We will also visit a textile workshop where they make traditional Uzbek costumes and wedding dresses. This is not a touristy place at all. It was founded by a Uzbek woman to urge the local women of the country to produce national costumes and traditional Uzbek wedding dresses. In the evening, we will fly to Tashkent and overnight in a 5 star hotel.
Day 11, Friday, Sept. 27 BISHKEK, KYRGYZSTAN: We will have time to rest in the morning in Tashkent, and Jim will hold a critique session for pictures taken thus far. We then will fly to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. In the late afternoon and twilight, we will photograph one of the beautiful Russian Orthodox Churches in the city. We have dinner and overnight in a 4 star superior hotel.
Day 12, Saturday, Sept. 28 BISHKEK: This morning we drive out of Bishkek to photograph horse milking in a farm making and selling Kymyz, a national healthy drink made of horse milk. Local people go to this farm only to buy fresh horse milk. This area offers great landscape photo opportunities as well because Kyrgyzstan is mostly a mountainous country. In the afternoon, we will explore and photograph the typical Central Asian market, the Osh Bazaar. This is a great opportunity to do tight portraits of people and to photograph the myriad patterns of color and design in the food and other products sold at the bazaar. Overnight in a 4 star superior hotel.
Day 13, Sunday, Sept. 29 ISSYK KUL: This morning we will drrive to the Issyk Kul Lake which is surrounded by snow capped mountains and traditional villages. It is also one of the largest alpine lakes in the world. On the way, we will photograph the old settlement of Burana, with remains of a blue tiled minaret and tomb stones and also an interesting live stock market. Lunch will be in a beautiful village in the house of a local family. In the Issyk Kul area, we will also see and photograph the felt making process in a small village. Our hotel this evening is a 3 star hotel.
Day 14, Monday, Sept. 30 BISHKEK: In the Issyk Kul area, we will have the chance to photograph the traditional nomadic horse games played with goat carcass known as Buzkashi or simply "Goat Polo". We will also be able to see and interact with the golden eagle hunters. These men make incredible portraits as their eagles perch on their arm. This has been privately arranged only for our group. It is great photography especially with the natural landscapes in the background. In the afternoon, we will drive back to Bishkek.
Day 15, Tuesday, Oct.1 DEPARTURE: Today we transfer to the airport in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan for our return flight home, happy with all the incredible photo opportunities we had.
Land portion cost: $7295 Includes all accommodations based on double occupancy, all breakfasts, lunches, and dinners starting from the dinner of September 17 until the breakfast of October 1, soft drinks and water at lunches and dinners (Coke, Fanta, tea, coffee, etc.), comfortable private minibus, water on the bus when we travel in the countryside, special private arrangements for photo shoots (horse games, eagle hunters, local musicians), all admission fees to the historical sites, fast train from Tashkent to Samarkand, local guides, airport transfers, and photographic instruction and guidance.
The land portion cost does not include alcohol, visa fee, travel insurance, airfare from your home country to Uzbekistan and return from Kyrgyzstan.
Flights and train within the tour: $400 Includes domestic flight from Nukus to Tashkent and international flight from Tashkent to Bishkek.
Single supplement: $850
Notice: A deposit of $1000 is required to hold a place on this tour. $500 of which will be non-refundable after May 2, 2019.