Journey to the Silk Road by Private Air

Journey to the Silk Road by Private Air

ALL TOURS
diamond-gold

DETAILS

We are delighted to present to you an opportunity to trace the path of traders, explorers, and emperors along the fabled Silk Road, with most of the travel aboard a comfortable and convenient private plane. Begin appropriately in Venice, Marco Polo’s home, where many expeditions originated; visit a plethora of UNESCO World Heritage Sites that were important stops along Silk Road routes in Georgia and Uzbekistan, most famous for their amazingly colorful and intricate tilework; and conclude in Istanbul, terminus for many Silk Road caravans.

Pricing from
$49,950
Trip Type
By Private Jet, Group Travel Tour, International Land & Rail Voyages
Departure Dates
Sep 18, 2023 - Oct 5, 2023

AIRFARE

We’ll travel aboard a Canadian-built De Havilland Dash 8-400, the world’s most advanced turboprop, significantly more efficient than an aircraft with jet engines. Our aircraft is configured with 72 Economy Class seats but each of our maximum 32 trip participants will have both a window seat and a free seat next to them, with ample overhead storage and an armrest that can be raised to provide extra space and comfort. The eight on-tour flights average one hour and 45 minutes in duration.
Private air info

TERMS & CONDITIONS

CANCELLATIONS & REFUNDS
Upon payment of the $2,500 per person deposit, all reservations are subject to the cancellation provisions set forth below and by which the passenger agrees to be bound. Cancellations shall not be in effect until they are received in writing and confirmed by National Trust Tours. Cancellations within 7 days of booking: Full refund of deposit (unless it is after the final payment date of May 22, 2023). Cancellations 7 days or more after booking but before March 18, 2023 (the second deposit due date): Initial deposit is nonrefundable. Cancellations between March 18, 2023, and May 22, 2023 (final payment date): $2,500 is refundable. Cancellations between May 22, 2023 and June 20, 2023 (90 days prior to departure), a 50% refund of total tour cost will be issued. For cancellations after June 20, 2023 there will be no refunds. Trip cancellation insurance is strongly recommended. If the program is cancelled by National Trust Tours, all payments will be refunded. NOTE: Neither National Trust Tours nor Criterion Travel, the tour operator, accepts liability for any airline cancellation penalties incurred with the purchase of non-refundable tickets.

TOUR MAP

silk air map

ITINERARY

  • day 1

    DEPART U.S. Overnight flight to Venice.

  • day 2

    ARRIVE VENICE, ITALY

    You will be met on arrival and transferred to the Belmond Cipriani, flagship of the Belmond chain and one of the most celebrated luxury hotels in Venice. After your long flight, settle into your room which is available for your early arrival. Time to refresh and enjoy the hotel facilities or lunch (not included). Use the afternoon to explore Venice on your own or join us for a guided visit. The hotel’s boat will transfer us from the hotel to San Marco Square where we will meet our guides for a 2-hour guided tour including an introduction to Marco Polo and the Silk Road, visit Marco Polo’s house, explore Piazza San Marco and The Dodge Palace. This will be a great introduction to our Silk Road journey. Dinner is not included. Options are available in the hotel or in Venice itself. Hotel: Belmond Cipriani

  • day 3

    EXPLORING VENICE

    After breakfast we will be divided in 2 smaller groups. We visit “Tessitura Bevilacqua on a private tour of about 40 minutes which includes a demonstration of the production of handmade velvet as well as a visit to their show room on the Grand Canal. We’ll learn about the history of the company and its cooperation with some of the most important interior design and fashions houses, based on the topic of the Silk Road. The 2nd part of today’s exploration will be a guided visit to “Atelier Nicolao” https://www.nicolao.com/ to see artisans who have been producing historical costumes and dresses since 1980, with a focus on the history of Venetian costumes. The Atelier has a selection of over 15,000 cine-theatrical costumes made with fabrics and fine workmanship for major film and opera productions, complete with accessories. Nicolao Atelier has worked for the most important opera, theater and film productions all over the world: from the Lyric Opera of Chicago and Washington, to the New National theater of Tokyo, passing through Bilbao, Lisbon, Nice, Lausanne, La Fenice, La Scala and the major Italian and European theaters. After the morning’s explorations the afternoon is free. You can return to the hotel or continue your exploration of Venice of your own accord. This evening we are invited to a gala welcome reception and dinner at the hotel. Meet your fellow travelers, lecturers, and tour managers.

  • day 4

    VENICE TO TBILISI, GEORGIA

    Leaving the grandeur of Venice behind we board our private aircraft for our first flight. The dedicated crew will be ready to welcome us on board our private de Havilland Dash 8 aircraft. We have chosen this aircraft to allow us adequate space. It has 72 seats for 32 guests plus staff, while at the same time providing the convenience of a private aircraft to connect the cities of the Silk Road. Sit back, relax and enjoy the service as we make our way to the capital of Georgia, Tbilisi. Upon arrival we are transferred to the Marriott Tbilisi for our 3-night stay. This evening join your fellow travelers for a traditional Georgian dinner and local music at the city’s famed Restaurant Ethnographer. Hotel: Marriott Tbilisi

  • day 5

    TBILISI

    In the 6th century the North Caucasus was subject of a major interest and became a conflict zone between powerful empires of Byzantium and Persia. The reason was significant — they fought for the control over the vital trade routes of the Silk Road passing across the Caucasus. Byzantium controlled mainly the mountainous areas of Western Georgia, which is known as Abkhazia today, and Persians controlled the eastern territories. Our journey today commences with a short trip north of Tbilisi to Mtskheta, the former capital of Georgia. The first stop is the sixth-century Georgian Orthodox Jvari Monastery. The Monastery is a sample of the Early Medieval Georgian church that survived to the present day almost unchanged. We follow our exploration with a visit to Svetitskhoveli, a masterpiece of the Early and High Middle Ages. Both Jvari and Svetitskhoveli our UNESCO World Heritage Sites. We return to Tbilisi for lunch after which we explore the city itself, including Metekhi Church, the Sulfur Bathhouse District, Narikala Fortress and Sioni Cathedral. Dinner this evening is included at your choice of a number of restaurants. Hotel: Marriott Tbilisi

  • day 6

    TBILISI

    After breakfast and a morning lecture, we meet our guide for a sightseeing tour of Château Mukhrani, the first Georgian Château, which combines four main components: a vineyard, the wine cellar, the castle and the history. Our tour of Chateau Mukhrani includes wine degustation, lunch, and Georgian kitchen masterclasses. After Chateau Mukhrani we will return to Tbilisi to visit the Museum of History “Karvasla” / Caravansary, get acquainted with Georgian workshops and hand craft masters, and visit Georgian carpets & kilims studios. If his schedule permits, we will meet famous Georgian Writer, publicist and historian David Turashvili, who will speak about the Silk Road and in particular the connection of Turkey and Georgia. Dinner this evening is again included at a choice of restaurants.

  • day 7

    TBILISI TO TASHKENT, UZBEKISTAN

    Optional: This morning we offer a visit to the Georgian Sulfur Baths Houses. The sulfuric water is not only gloriously warm (100–104 degrees Fahrenheit on average), it is also purportedly therapeutic. A soak is a very relaxing experience. We will be transferred from either the hotel or the bath house to Tbilisi airport. Our crew will be waiting to welcome us back on our private aircraft for our flight to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. The “Stans” formed a core part of the ancient Silk Road and Uzbekistan offers a treasure trove of ancient sights and cities. A lunch will be served on-board as we head East. Upon arrival and after clearing formalities we transfer to the Hyatt Regency. Uzbek hospitality will be on display as we arrive at the hotel with music, drinks and canapes. Prior to dinner this evening we board coaches and visit the exhibition hall for an exclusive meeting with Akmal Nur, President of the Academy of Arts of Uzbekistan. Our visit will feature an informal talk about the Silk Road cultural heritage and modern arts in Uzbekistan. Dinner options include a choice of high-quality national and European cuisine restaurants. Hotel: Hyatt Regency

  • day 8

    EXPLORING TASHKENT

    Today we learn about the unique history and culture of Tashkent with our local guides. Our first stop is the bustling Chorsu Bazaar in the old town, accompanied by a local food expert. The bazaar has a wide range of food, local produce and crafts and the atmosphere gives us a sense of what bazaars were like in the Silk Road trading days. In the Khasti Imam complex of religious buildings we meet with Dr Farrukh Khudoyberdiev, keeper of the Koran of Caliph Osman, one of the most important relics of Uzbek Muslims. For a fun and contrasting experience we ride on the Tashkent Metro, representing a mixture of Soviet time socialist realism and traditional Uzbek décor. Finally, we visit the former residence of Aleksandr Polovtsev, a Russian Diplomat, who was a prolific art collector. He commissioned the construction of the residence, combining European and Oriental styles. Before dinner, we visit the house workshop of the legendary Rakhimovs dynasty of traditional ceramic masters. During an engaging master-class you can try your hand at creating your own design. The finished article will then be burned, glazed and shipped to Urgench to be presented as a good-bye piece of memorabilia. This evening gather for a special dinner in the courtyard of the Applied Arts Museum. Live folklore and classic music will be featured, as well as an exclusive catwalk show by a local fashion designer who uses sustainable handmade silk and cotton fabrics to produce modern attire.

  • day 9

    TASHKENT TO FERGANA VALLEY

    Ancient silk-making techniques and blue-dyed ceramic origins

  • day 10

    KOKAND

    Palace of Khudayar Khan; Kokand Bazaar; Jummi Mosque

  • day 11

    KOKAND TO SAMARKAND

    Flight to Samarkand; Exploration of old city with Registan Square

  • day 12

    SAMARKAND

    Traditional bakery; historic market; silk paper and carpet making

  • day 13

    SAMARKAND TO BUKHARA

    Flight to Bukhara; Old city tour; Ark Citadel; panoramic views

  • day 14

    BUKHARA

    Local gardens; traditional calligraphy; visit to ancient Jewish quarter

  • day 15

    BUKHARA TO KHIVA TO ISTANBUL

    Flight to Khiva; Ichan Kala citadel and minarets; flight to Istanbul

  • day 16

    ISTANBUL, TURKEY

    This morning we board our private aircraft for the last time for the flight to Istanbul. The crew and the convenience of having our own aircraft to take us to and through these destinations has been a real bonus. This last flight will no doubt be a lively one and before you know it, we will be arriving in Istanbul, terminus of many caravan routes and the last destination on our own Silk Road Journey. Our first visit will be to the extraordinary Hagia Sophia Museum. Built in the 6th Century by the Emperor Justinian, this church stands as a testament to the sophistication of the former Byzantine capital. This building influenced architecture in the medieval world for centuries. Its original design was supposedly created as a mirror image of the heavens. Converted into a mosque by the Ottomans in the 15th Century under the Sultan Mehmet II, this vast edifice now includes minarets and Turkish Rococo fountains. Next, we will visit the Blue Mosque, one of the most important temples of worship in the world. It is named for the blue Iznik tile work that decorates its interior and its dome can be seen from all over the Sultanahmet district. Finally, we will visit the Roman Hippodrome, the scene of chariot races and great public occasions throughout the immensely long history of the Byzantine Empire. Watch a Whirling Dervish Ceremony and enjoy a cocktail party at a Private Cistern as the evening begins. Dinner is on our own arrangements. Hotel: Four Seasons Bosphorus

  • day 17

    ISTANBUL FAREWELL

    Breakfast at the hotel. This morning we will set out on an overview tour that covers more of Istanbul’s highlights, including Topkapi Palace, Spice Market, and the Grand Bazaar. Our first visit will be to the incredible Imperial residence of 25 Ottoman Sultans – the Topkapi Palace, lavish home to the Ottoman Sultans. For centuries this was the place from which the Sultans ruled over an empire that stretched from Eastern Europe to Atlantic Ocean. It contains a priceless collection of jewelry, porcelain and costumes. Legend claims that the ancient rod on display in the Treasury is the one used by Moses to part the Red Sea. Lunch will be served at Hamdi Restaurant located close to the Spice Market. We will continue our tour at the 17th century Spice Bazaar, also called the Egyptian Bazaar because in the 17th Century it was built with money paid as duty on Egyptian import goods. From medieval times, spices were an important and expensive part of Oriental cooking and they gradually became the Breakfast at the hotel. This morning we will set out on an overview tour that covers more of Istanbul’s highlights, including Topkapi Palace, Spice Market, and the Grand Bazaar. Our first visit will be to the incredible Imperial residence of 25 Ottoman Sultans – the Topkapi Palace, lavish home to the Ottoman Sultans. For centuries this was the place from which the Sultans ruled over an empire that stretched from Eastern Europe to Atlantic Ocean. It contains a priceless collection of jewelry, porcelain and costumes. Legend claims that the ancient rod on display in the Treasury is the one used by Moses to part the Red Sea. Lunch will be served at Hamdi Restaurant located close to the Spice Market. We will continue our tour at the 17th century Spice Bazaar, also called the Egyptian Bazaar because in the 17th Century it was built with money paid as duty on Egyptian import goods. From medieval times, spices were an important and expensive part of Oriental cooking and they gradually became the bazaar’s main focus, taking advantage of Istanbul’s strategic position on the main trade route between the East and Europe. We will visit the famous Grand Covered Bazaar, the largest covered marketplace in the world, where a dazzling array of items—from furniture and carpets to jewelry and clothing—are sold in the bazaar’s 4,000 shops. This evening enjoy a memorable Farewell Dinner.

  • day 18

    DEPART ISTANBUL

    There will be individual transfers to the airport for your onward scheduled flight.

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