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The Five Stans Aboard the Golden Eagle Train

  • Overview
  • Accommodation
  • Itinerary
  • Fares

A journey overview

  • Almaty
  • Lake Issyk-Kul
  • Bukhara
  • Merv
  • Ashgabat
  • Khiva
  • Samarkand
  • Tashkent

17 Days Exploration
  • Departing:
  • 4 Oct 2024 Sold Out
  • 18 Apr 2025 Selling Fast

Travel aboard the stylish Golden Eagle train, stopping in each of the ‘Five Stans’. Enjoy an immersion into each country’s culture and admire grand mosques and palaces. Unexplored by most travellers, these ancient lands tell tales of commerce and cooperation; where language and culture were exchanged as surely as silks and spice. This journey is reserved for just 24 guests.

Journey Map
Tracing Silk Roads Through the ‘Five Stans’
Tracing Silk Roads Through the ‘Five Stans’

Tracing Silk Roads Through the ‘Five Stans’

Enjoy a thorough exploration of the ‘Five Stans’, the Central Asian nations that once served as signposts along the Silk Roads. From Kazakhstan to Kyrgyzstan, we encounter traditional villages and vast lakes. While grand mosques, opulent palaces and priceless artefacts are revealed during visits to Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Tajikistan.

Travel Aboard the Golden Eagle Luxury Train
Travel Aboard the Golden Eagle Luxury Train

Travel Aboard the Golden Eagle Luxury Train

Follow a remote and historic route, carried by our lavish rolling home. Over 12 nights, enjoy the ever-changing landscapes that glide past our train’s windows. The bar lounge car provides for the perfect interlude between days of discovery, while exceptional dishes are savoured in the restaurant car.

Small Group Private Travel
Small Group Private Travel

Small Group Private Travel

At every stage, we are accompanied by a Captain’s Choice Tour Manager and Tour Doctor from Australia. And, although we won’t be alone aboard Golden Eagle, our group will enjoy each fascinating encounter escorted by our own local guide. Everything has been considered and included.

Encounters with Eagle Hunters
Encounters with Eagle Hunters

Encounters with Eagle Hunters

A tradition going back hundreds of years in Kyrgyzstan, hunting with golden eagles is in gradual decline. Near the shores of Lake Issyk-kul, though, we bear witness to this ancient custom, as skilled defenders of nomadic traditions release their powerful eagles to capture prey with exquisite precision.

See Registan Square, Majestic and Resplendent
See Registan Square, Majestic and Resplendent

See Registan Square, Majestic and Resplendent

On the approach of twilight, we make our way to the revered Registan Square. The opulent designs of its madrassahs’ facades are underscored by golden light; their archways bathed in radiating greens and blues. We toast this brilliant display during an evening drinks reception.

Itinerary

Your private transfer transports you to The Ritz Carlton, Almaty. Enjoy a day at leisure to acquaint yourself with your surroundings, as well as the considered amenities of our luxurious hotel. This evening, we reconvene for our Welcome Dinner, providing an opportunity for you to meet your fellow travellers.

Enjoy breakfast at our hotel this morning, then set out on a Your World experience:

— Discover the local way of life during a morning visit to a Kazakh village, also known as an aul. Enjoy a cup of Kazakh tea while hearing about daily village life. See how a yurt is assembled, watch a cookery demonstration, marvel at local folk performances, and admire the riding skills of local horseman. 

— Familiarise yourself with the diverse range of visual arts on display at Kasteyev State Museum of Arts. The museum features regional exhibits, including Kazakh rugs, carvings and embroidery, as well as pieces from Russia, Europe, and other parts of Central Asia. At the National Bank of Kazakhstan Museum, see the archaeological treasure known as the Golden Man, as well as currency from the Soviet era and the earlier czarist period. 

This afternoon is yours to explore, or relax, as you wish. Later, enjoy spectacular panoramas of the Tien Shan mountains while dining at one of our hotel’s restaurants.

Following breakfast, choose how to spend your morning with one of these Your World experiences:

— Visit Arba Wine, whose vineyard is within the Assa Valley, at the foot of the mighty Tien Shan mountains. Take a behind-the-scenes look at the wine cellar and production facilities, learning about the winery’s cultivation techniques, which includes layering the vines with snow. Then sample some of the locally produced reds and whites. 

— An easterly drive brings you to Issyk Lake, which presents as a picture of tranquillity amid its forested surroundings. In 1969, the famous Golden Warrior, which sits atop a pillar in Almaty’s Independence Square, was found at the site. Take a walk around the lake, admiring its clear blue waters ringed by the spruce forests that scale its adjacent hillsides. 

This afternoon, we greet the Golden Eagle, smoke billowing from its steam locomotive. Enjoy lunch and relax aboard our rolling residence as we prepare to depart across the Kazakh countryside.

Having crossed into Kyrgyzstan, we stop to admire the vast Lake Issyk-Kul. While here, we also take in the open-air Museum of Petroglyphs. The landscape is strewn with boulders, many of which feature depictions of animals. The ancient site was once used by nomadic Saka priests, originating from Iran, for their rituals to the sun god. Nearby, we are treated to an eagle hunting demonstration. Only a few skilled hunters remain in the Issyk-Kul region. Their birds of prey take graceful flight, pinpointing their quarry with a deadly self-assurance.

After lunch, our train arrives in the city of Tashkent. Explore the city, which was rebuilt following a devastating earthquake in 1966. From its modern metropolis, we approach the Old Town, where traditional mosques and houses populate narrow streets. At the Hast-Imam library, the world’s oldest Koran is revealed. Further enlightenment transpires with visits to the Museum of Applied Arts and the Railway Museum.

Having crossed into Uzbekistan, we are greeted by the oasis city of Bukhara. The World Heritage-listed city dates back more than 2,500 years. We appreciate its history and grandeur during a visit to The Ark, the fortified residence of the Emirs of Bukhara, who ruled here in earlier times. Just outside the city, the Palace of Moon-like Stars, the last Emir’s summer residence, invites us to stroll its grounds and pavilions. Upon returning to the station, we enjoy a barbecue along the platform before our train departs.

The Golden Eagle rolls on to the outskirts of the once-mighty city of Merv. For a moment in history, this was the largest city in the world. But whereas London, Paris and New York continued to prosper beyond the 18th century, Merv met its downfall when the Emir of Bukhara destroyed its major water source.

Our journey through the Stans continues, now delivering us to the shimmering city of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan. Located between the Karakum Desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range, Ashgabat was completely redesigned in 1948 after being levelled by an earthquake. Today, the city glows, particularly at dawn and dusk, as it possesses the largest number of marble buildings of any city in the world. While here, we discover many cultural curiosities at the Ashgabat National Museum of History, before taking a trip to the resplendent Kipchak Mosque. A highlight then takes place as we reboard our train and make a detour to the legendary Darvaza Gas Crater. Here, we peer into a vast hollow, rich in natural gas. Known to locals as the ‘Door to Hell’, the gas burns brightly at night, giving the crater a fiery, other-worldly appearance.

Our journey continues as our train rolls on toward Khiva. The city represents an ancient intersection of the Silk Roads, where travellers from Mongolia, Russia, China and Persia would have greeted each other, rested and traded their various wares. The city’s striking architecture emerges from the desert, drawing our focus to its geometric designs and distinctive coloured tiles. The dazzling blue Kalta Minor Minaret stands watch alongside the Kuhna Ark fortress, while in ornate mosques, bazaars and minarets, remnants of Khiva’s former glory still prevail.

Thought to be the birthplace of the Turco-Mongol conqueror Amir Timur, Shahrisabz was once one of Central Asia’s great cities. We pass the proud statue of Amir Timur surveying his lands en route to the Ak-Saray Palace. The imposing twin facades of the ruined, yet still exquisite, palace stand as beacons to Timur’s ambition.

Tajikistan’s capital sits along the banks of the Varzob River; its centrepiece, the opulent Kohi Navruz Palace. Incredibly, the building was originally designed as a teahouse. Our guide reveals the story of its transition to a grand palace in detail as we wander its majestic rooms and golden halls. A glittering chandelier weighing almost seven tonnes hangs from the ceiling of the Zarandud Hall, whose many columns are adorned with 24-carat gold leaf. Absorb the grandeur further while enjoying tea and some local delicacies inside the palace. With an air of regality, we then return to our luxury train.

One of Central Asia’s longest inhabited cities, Samarkand marks the crossroads of Eastern and Western cultures. Now described as the Paris of the Muslim world, the city’s grand mosques reflect its tradition as a mecca of ancient arts and crafts. We explore the grand architecture of Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Ulugh Beg Observatory. We later return to see the awe-inspiring Registan Square awash with light at dusk; its three facing madrassahs illuminated during a staggering display of colour.

Continue to explore Samarkand this morning, as we arrive at Shah-i-Zinda, a complex of more than 20 mausoleums and other ritual buildings erected between the 11th and 19th centuries. Close by, we visit the Afrasiab Museum of Samarkand. The museum houses ancient artefacts that were collected during the city’s excavation. These include ancient frescoes from the palace of Varkhuman, who once ruled over the region. Return to the train for lunch, as we continue our journey through Uzbekistan towards the Fergana Valley.

Our train rolls eastward to the ancient city of Margilan, renowned for producing some of the finest silk in Central Asia. We visit the Yodgorlik Margilan Factory, where we are acquainted with its raw materials and manufacturing processes. In the city of Rishtan, meanwhile, we find the dominant industry to be the creation of exquisite ceramics. Discover the techniques of this age-old craft from highly skilled local artisan, Rustam Usmanov. 

Our next stop is Kokand, once a critical trading post along the Silk Roads. During our time here, we visit the Palace of Khudáyár Khán, admiring its intricate blue tilework, which is prevalent throughout traditional Islamic architecture. Our final stop is the grand Jami Mosque, an impressive structure whose intricately designed ceiling is supported by 98 wooden columns. This evening, we enjoy a Farewell Dinner aboard the Golden Eagle as we make our return to Tashkent.

We pull into the platform in Tashkent and disembark the Golden Eagle for a final time. Should you wish, take the option to check into the Hyatt Regency Tashkent after lunch. Alternatively, join us for a further exploration of Tashkent. 

Stand before the blue-domed rotunda of the Shahid Memorial Complex, which honours those killed during Stalin’s purges. We then head to the Tashkent TV Tower for panoramic views of the city. You can even track your progress as you ascend the tower, courtesy of the elevator’s CCTV feed of its shaft and system of cables. Nearby, the Monument of Courage observes the loss of life and property experienced by Tashkent’s residents as a result of the 1966 earthquake which devastated the city. Then, passing beneath the broad blue and white colonnade at Independence Square, we discover its gardens, fountains and monuments. A short walk brings us to Romanov Palace. Formerly the private residence of disgraced Russian royal, Grand Duke Nicholas Konstantinovich, the palace became an art museum after his death and is usually closed to the public. 

This afternoon, you may like to pay a visit to the Alisher Navoiy Opera and Ballet Theatre, whose productions include Uzbek music and dance, as well as international opera and ballet. Afterwards, wander Sayilgoh Street, also known as Broadway. This bustling pedestrian area is renowned for the many artists and musicians who line the street and offer their goods and services. Of course, you’re also welcome to explore independently or relax at our hotel.

On our final full day in Tashkent, we make a beeline for Chorsu Plaza, a lively marketplace whose vendors trade in everything from fresh produce to clothing and wood carvings. From here, we head to Tashkent’s underground metro network, the first to be established in Central Asia. Each station is individually styled, often lavishly so, with different themed murals and ornamentation throughout. At Abul Kasim Madrassah, observe the creation of many art and craft pieces, and perhaps purchase a one-off keepsake. 

This afternoon, immerse yourself in Tashkent with a final Your World experience:

— Take a tour of some of the city’s imposing Soviet architecture. Your guide will explain what daily life was like behind the Iron Curtain for the residents of Tashkent. Contemplate the facades of the State Museum of History of Uzbekistan, the Tashkent Circus, and the Wedding Palace, among other grand structures. 

— Appreciate the detailed craftsmanship of Uzbek ceramics at the Rakhimov Family Ceramics Studio. Akbar and Alisher are a father and son team who have studied hundreds of years of Uzbek styles and techniques, which now suffuses their own work. 
 
You may prefer to spend this afternoon on your own schedule, exploring the city at leisure or simply relaxing at our hotel.

This evening, we celebrate our magnificent journey during a Farewell Dinner.

Enjoy a final breakfast at our hotel. We are then transferred to Tashkent’s airport, our journey at an end.

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