TOUR FULL Medicine and Society in Uzbekistan with the Royal Society of Medicine (FULL)

15 - 28 Oct 2023
  • Medical & Professional Tours

About the tour

This tour has been added in response to popular demand. It is supported by the Royal Society of Medicine. All are welcome, including non-members.

Uzbekistan is the land-locked heart of Central Asia’s evocative Silk Road. The stunning architecture of its ancient cities links the empires of China and Persia, reflecting layers of history encompassing both giddy pinnacles of culture, and oppression. Travel in the footsteps of Silk Road caravans through Uzbekistan and make a visit to Tajikistan to visit its mountains and archaeological site overlooking the Zarafshan Valley. Travel through vast isolated landscapes containing magnificent sites and cultures little changed over time.

Tour leader Chantal Sargent will lead you through the ancient history and vibrant, contemporary society of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, with a number of fascinating medical visits as you travel through the land of Avicenna, a polymath regarded as the father of early modern medicine, including a visit to his birthplace. Examine medicine ranging from a modern teaching hospital, to rural care and traditional healing. There will also be ample opportunity to enjoy wonderful local food and wine, including several special meals.

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, Dr Chantal Sargent

Dr Chantal Sargent

Dr Chantal Sargent (MBChB MRCPCH DCH) is a paediatrician and works in the NHS in Worcestershire, UK. She recently took a sabbatical to complete a Professional Diploma in Positive Psychology and Coaching.

Her passion is people and different cultures, and understanding the essence of what makes them human. As such, she has travelled extensively, both with an academic and cultural agenda, with an ongoing interest in Healthcare systems around the world.

Born and raised in South Africa, she completed her MBChB at The University of Cape Town, and subsequently worked in various rural hospitals in South Africa, where she started her career in paediatrics and did her DCH in Community Child Health. She completed her MRCPCH in London and went on to further her training and work as a paediatrician in the UK, South Africa and Australia.

Latterly, and since the COVID pandemic, she has embraced the practice of psychological well-being and positive psychology, with an interest in Integrative Medicine, which is reflected in her voluntary work as a well-being conversation Ffacilitator and NHS coach for colleagues, along with having trained as a practitioner in NLP and Trauma, which she does in her spare time.

She has travelled extensively in South Africa, and has spent time in Morocco, Peru and the Amazon rainforest, Australia and New Zealand. She has enjoyed trips to Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore, Bali, China, Vietnam, Cambodia and more recently helped lead a medical trip in South Korea), and has covered much of Europe and some of the USA, Boston, and visiting the ‘ether dome’ at Massachusetts General Hospital, being a highlight!

Chantal has also enjoyed spending time on Shetland, where the abundance of bird life, and warm encounters with the Shetlanders, make it a special place to revisit. Her favourite holiday destinations to read, walk, swim and relax, are in Cornwall and a little island in Greece. One of her favourite destinations is Iceland, where the rich expanse of untouched nature and the humour and ‘no-fuss’ approach of the people make it a place to return to.

Her most challenging trip was completing the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (along with altitude sickness) but the views and memories were more than worth the effort.

"Travel expands one’s mind and warms one’s soul. It is the people with whom one shares the journey and experience, who contribute to the richness of the adventure".

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Itinerary at a glance

  • Day 1: Tashkent (Sun, 15 Oct) Arrive in Tashkent, the largest and most cosmopolitan city in Central Asia, and transfer to the Marriot Courtyard Hotel. Take an orientation tour before a local dinner.
  • Day 2: Tashkent (Mon, 16 Oct) Explore some of Tashkent’s more ornate stations. Travel to Kosmonavtlar Station and visit the Museum of Applied Arts, where the curator will guide you through the decorative arts of Central Asia. Visit a Tashkent city hospital and meet with local doctors, or at leisure. Enjoy a welcome dinner at a local winery.
  • Day 3:Tashkent / Khiva (Tues, 17 Oct) Visit the Hast Imam, walk across Independence Square and visit a local herbalist and traditional practitioner. Fly to the living museum of Khiva and transfer to the hotel. Dinner on a terrace with a view of the walled city.
  • Day 4: Khiva (Wed, 18 Oct) Explore Khiva, which is perhaps the best preserved of all the Silk Road cities. Explore the city gates and walls, with the option to climb up to the gatehouse for magnificent views, and the Mohammed-Amin Khan Medressa, the Kalta Minor minaret and the Palace of the Khan. Enjoy lunch at Zainab’s House before visiting the Museum of Khorezm History and the prison.
  • Day 5: Khiva (Thurs, 19 Oct) Visit the starkly magnificent desert castles, including Ayaz-Kala and Toprak-Kala, and the archaeological sites of ancient Khorezm. Visit a village health clinic before returning to Khiva.
  • Day 6: Khiva / Bukhara (Fri, 20 Oct) Take the train across the desert, crossing the River Amudarya (Oxus) to Bukhara, once Central Asia’s religious, intellectual, scientific and commercial hub. Arrive and transfer to the hotel before a city orientation tour, including the Kosh and Ulubek Medressa, and see the synagogue. Rooftop dinner at Minzifa café.
  • Day 7: Bukhara (Sat, 21 Oct) Spend the next day exploring Bukhara, which looks much as it did 200 years ago. Gaze up at the Kalon Minaret, a 47-metre tower so impressive that even Genghis Khan was moved to spare its destruction. Visit Miri Arab Medressa and the Domes of the Jewellers, Hatters and Money Changers. Lunch is at Lab-i Hauz, a cool plaza surrounding a pool which is shaded by mulberry trees dating back four centuries. Visit the Ismail Samanid Mausoleum, the Bolo Haouz Mosque and the lovely Chor Minor. Candlelit dinner on the hotel terrace overlooking the Kalon Minaret.
  • Day 8: Bukhara (Sun, 22 Oct) Visit Bukhara’s great fortress and the zindan (prison) with its notorious bug pit. Visit the village of Afshona, the birthplace of Avicenna, and visit the Museum of Abu Ali Ibn Sino (Avicenna). The museum houses reconstructions of surgical instruments from the period. Visit the adjacent medical college and medicinal herb garden. Dinner at the private Dostan House.
  • Day 9: Bukhara / Samarkand (Mon, 23 Oct) Visit the pottery centre at Gijduvan, where sixth generation potters produce needle-fine work in traditional vividly coloured floral designs. Continue to Navoi and take the train to Samarkand. Arrive and transfer to the hotel. Visit the tomb of Tamerlane and majestic Registan Square.
  • Day 10: Samarkand (Tues, 24 Oct) City of myth and fable, Samarkand was founded in the 5th century BC, razed to the ground by Genghis Khan in 1220 and re-built as Tamerlane’s capital in 1370. Tamerlane’s stamp can still be seen in superb Islamic architecture, while the city of old lives on in the main bazaar. A full day in magnificent Samarkand will take you to the Ulugbek Observatory, Daniel’s Tomb and the Bibi-Khanym Mosque. Visit a private health clinic. Walk to the winery for wine and cognac tasting. Dinner in a local restaurant.
  • Day 11: Samarkand (Wed, 25 Oct) Visit Langar village, nestled deep in the surrounding foothills, and continue to Shakre Sabz, the birthplace of Tamerlane. Return to Samarkand and at leisure. Dinner in a private house.
  • Day 12: Samarkand / Tajikistan / Samarkand (Thurs, 26 Oct) Drive to Tajikistan and visit Penjikent, the old centre of the Soghdian Empire, which was abandoned suddenly at the end of the 8th century and never built over. Visit the archaeological site overlooking the Zarafshan Valley and the Rudaki Tajik Museum. Have lunch and visit the local market before returning to Samarkand.
  • Day 13: Samarkand / Tashkent (Fri, 27 Oct) Take the high-speed train to Tashkent and check into the hotel. At leisure in Tashkent before a farewell dinner in the evening.
  • Day 14: Tashkent (Sat, 28 Oct) Depart Tashkent after breakfast.

Tour cost

The ground only cost of the tour (excluding international flights and transfers) is £3,228 per person sharing. The cost of the tour with a room to yourself is £3,690