Uzbekistan is among countries that start with U listed on Countryaah.com. Tashkent with around three million residents is the industrial and cultural center as well as the capital of Uzbekistan. Like the historically important cities of Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara, whose old towns are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it is on the Silk Road.
- Day 1: Our journey begins!
- Day 2: Assalomu Alaykum – Welcome to Uzbekistan!
- 3rd day: it starts! Trekking in the Tien Shan Mountains
- Day 4: Rushing mountain streams, wild meadows & rock paintings
- Day 5: Magnificent mountain panoramas on the Great Chimgon
- Day 6: Views of the lake, mountain stream & waterfalls
- Day 7: A terrific trekking experience comes to an end / route of the spring variant
- Day 8: The oasis city of Khiva
- Day 9: Bukhara – historical trading center on the Silk Road
- Day 10: Turquoise domed roofs – a journey into the world of 1001 nights
- Day 11: Sightseeing & free time
- Day 12: Red desert, desert hiking & yurt camp
- Day 13: Bathing pleasure on the desert beach and further into the mountains
- Day 14: Flora & fauna while hiking in the Nurata Mountains
- Day 15: Samarkand – a fairy tale from 1001 nights come true
- Day 16: Oriental bazaar and with the Afrosiab express train back to Tashkent
- 17th day: journey home
- The oriental Bukhara, the turquoise oasis city Khiva, the stone Samarkand & the capital Tashkent
- 5-day trekking in the Tien Shan Mountains
- 2 days desert hiking in the Red Desert
- Mountain streams and walnut groves in the Nurata Mountains
- Cooking together with a host family
To the detailed daily routine
It starts! We start our trekking tour in the Ugam-Chatkal National Park, from here it goes straight uphill to the Urta-Kumbel Pass (1,850 m). On the way we picnic by the river, we descend from the mountain ridge to our camp in the Beldersoy valley. This first camp site is particularly beautiful: We look directly at the Great Chimgon, at 3,309 meters the highest mountain in the region. The hard-core refresh themselves in the clear but cold river.
Between the hikes, we devote ourselves to the cities: The metropolis of Tashkent, an idiosyncratic mixture of tradition, modernity and a dash of pomp, is green and inviting with its parks and fountains. The 2,500 year old Khiva was one of the most important trading centers on the Silk Road. Behind its defiant walls is a total work of art consisting of mosques, mausoleums and minarets, all of which are decorated with thousands of turquoise tiles. Chiwa’s old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, as are parts of our next stops: Bukhara and Samarkand. In Sarmakand we visit the mausoleum of Tamerlane and the palace ruins of Afrasiab. In the evening we are guests of an Uzbek family; if you like, you can help prepare the national dish pilaf.
The second trek leads us into the “Red Desert” Kyzylkum; the yurt camp with our bedstead is right in the middle. Recommendation: enjoy the sunset and then go to sleep soon – to be there again at sunrise. We really did not expect the scenery at Lake Aydar the next day: With its slightly salty water and the sandy beach, we feel like we are at the sea in the middle of the desert. A little later, in the Nurata Mountains, we find ourselves between mountain streams and wide walnut groves. A trip couldn’t offer more variety!
Meals: B = breakfast / L = lunch / packed lunch / D = dinner
Our journey begins!
Today we get on the plane to Uzbekistan. What will we all experience in the country along the Silk Road?
Assalomu Alaykum – Welcome to Uzbekistan!
We are picked up at the airport and get a few first impressions on the way to the hotel in Tashkent, the “new town”. Tashkent is green and inviting with its beautiful parks and numerous fountains. In the hotel we first have breakfast, and before we set off to visit the old town, there is still time to freshen up and rest a little.
Tashkent is a modern metropolis with around 3 million residents today. Some very interesting buildings are still preserved from the 15th and 16th centuries. After the great earthquake in 1966, the city was very generously built and expanded with huge investments from the Soviet Union as a vision of a modern socialist city. Open boulevards, many parks and architecturally quite successful administrative and residential buildings still bear witness to this optimistic mood. Uzbekistan, which has been independent since 1991, shows its awakening national pride in its capital with many new buildings in an idiosyncratic mixture of tradition, modernity, a bit of kitsch and a dash of pomp.
We walk to Independence Square and admire Amir Timur (1336-1404) himself, also called Tamerlane, in the middle of the Amir Timur Park that surrounds it. As an equestrian monument, it embodies the Uzbek national consciousness. We may also have time to visit the Museum of History and stroll around the Theater Square.
We may be particularly impressed by the short ride on Central Asia’s first subway, the stations of which are richly decorated and mostly covered with marble, based on the model of the Moscow Metro.
Bus ride: approx. 50 km
Hike: approx. 5 km
overnight stay in a hotel in Tashkent
(B / – / D)
It starts! Trekking in the Tien Shan Mountains
After breakfast we drive to the Ugam Chatkal National Park (1,580 m), the starting point for our upcoming trekking tour.
On the way we can stock up on Uzbek dried fruits, nuts and other hiking snacks for the tour at a stop at a local market.
Then it starts through the Beldensay Gorge, known for its juniper forests. Ascending through these juniper forests, we reach the Urta-Kumbel Pass (approx. 1,850 m) with a wonderful view of the peaks of the Great Chimgon (3,309 m) – a worthwhile summit destination for some of us, depending on the season and ambitions. It then goes a little downhill across sunny meadows into the Beldersoy valley (approx. 1,600 m). After our lunch break at the river, we go up to the small mountain pass Tschetkumbl (approx. 1,900 m). A wide view with a beautiful mountain panorama of the ridges of Chatkalsy, Mirzabay and Djar rewards us for the ascent! A final descent leads us through the gorge to the wide Nurekata valley, where our first camp (approx. 1,600 m) will be set up. There is also a good, refreshing opportunity to swim in the river.
Driving time: approx. 2 hours (approx. 90 km)
Hike: approx. 5-6 hours (+/- approx. 800 m)
Overnight stay in a tent in the Beldersoy valley (approx. 1,750 m)
(B / L / D)
Rushing mountain streams, wild meadows & rock paintings
Wild meadows and rushing mountain streams are our companions today. We slowly climb up an old cart path. Here we find numerous fossilized shells that are millions of years old and are reminiscent of the sea in this region. We continue to climb on an easily accessible mountain path and arrive – at approx. 2,600 m – well-preserved rock paintings from the 4th century BC. The silhouettes of mountain goats, ibexes, foxes, wolves and other animals can still be seen very clearly on the dark rock. After a refreshing lunch break, we descend a little to the Kumbel Pass (2,550 m) and arrive at the so-called “circus”, a vaulted rock formation under the summit of the Great Chimgon. Here we set up our camp next to a mountain stream with wonderfully clear water.
Hike: approx. 5-6 hours (approx. +1,000 m)
Overnight in a tent near the Kumbel Pass (approx. 2,550 m)
(B / L / D)
Magnificent mountain panoramas on the Great Chimgon
Today our path leads us up to the Takhta mountain pass (2,800 m). Here we have a wonderful, wide view of the mountain ranges of the western Tien Shan Mountains with almost 4,000 m high peaks and of the Pulatchan Plateau. Continuing upwards we reach the shoulder of the Chimgon at approx. 3,000 m, where we picnic together with great views. From here there is a choice, and the group is divided into two smaller groups for a few hours:
Option 1: The “normal version” leads – very promising – descending from the shoulder of the Chimgon over a panoramic path to the common camp for it Day, which is on a stream at approx. On the wide mountain meadows and pastures we see many sheep, horses and their shepherds.
Option 2: Ambitious mountain hikers can also climb the summit of the Great Chimgon at 3,309 m and then descend to the camp.
Hike variant 1: approx. 6 hours (+500 m)
Hike variant 2: approx. 7-8 hours (+800 m)
Overnight in a tent
(B / L / D)
Views of the lake, mountain stream & waterfalls
First uphill, then downhill! Ascending from Camp we soon reach the Besymjanny mountain pass (2,750 m). Up here we can see the deep blue and huge Chorvoq reservoir, the Ochotnichy peak (3,100 m) and the Cholodilnik gorge, in which we will camp this afternoon. From the pass we descend in a zigzag. Today it is more important than ever to have hiking sticks with you – to protect your knees and for better balance! We get down to a stream, a tributary of the Mazarsay.
When you arrive at the camp, you can go for a walk to the nearby waterfalls, depending on your mood. (Additional approx. 45 minutes there and back)
Hike: approx. 5 hours (+200 m / -400 m)
Overnight in a tent
(B / L / D)
A terrific trekking experience comes to an end / route of the spring variant
We continue to descend on a path that is easy to walk, following the course of the valley. The vegetation becomes much more lush again than up in the high mountains. We walk through forests with juniper, barberry, but also apple, cherry and plum / plum trees. A little uphill again, we reach the Pestschanniy Pass (1,800 m).
At the top we have another great view. From here the Little Chimgon and the Gulkam Gorge can be clearly seen. Descending further through juniper forests, we come to the rushing confluence of the Gulkamsay and Mazarsay. Our great Chimgon hike in the Uzbek Tien Shan Mountains ends here.
Our bus awaits us here, and after a warm farewell to our escort team, we set off for Tashkent. Our journey leads first along the Chorvoq lake. With a volume of two billion cubic meters of water, this huge reservoir is the most important drinking water reservoir for the capital. At the same time it is often used by the Tashkenters as a destination and leisure paradise – especially on weekends.
Arrival in Tashkent in the late afternoon. The time until dinner is available to relax and freshen up.
(Note: The trekking equipment not required for the rest of the journey (e.g. down jacket, sleeping bag, etc.) can be deposited in the hotel until you return home.)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Sometimes there is too much snow in the mountains even late in spring. Or, due to bad weather or too early onset of winter, the route described may not be accessible even in autumn. In all these cases we change the route as follows:
The 1st and 2nd day of trekking are almost the same. On the 3rd day we do not cross the approx. 3,000 m high shoulder of the Great Chimgon, but descend again on the mountain side of our approach into the Nurekata Valley, hike over the Chetkumbel Pass on the 4th day and then drive approx Minutes by car to Chimgon.
From there we hike over the Pesochniy Pass (1,830 m), a transition between the Big and Small Chimgon with beautiful views. If there is enough time, you can easily “take” the nearby summit of the Kleiner Chimgon with you. A beautiful path, flanked by birches and blackberries, leads gently downhill into the wild and romantic Gulkan Gorge with beautiful campsites on the rushing mountain stream. Walks in a canyon and a campfire round off the day well. On the 5th day, a short ascent through juniper, mountain berries, apple and cherry groves leads to Wodoprowod with a refreshing rock spring. Further ascent to the Beliy Peschannik pass (1,800 m) with a magnificent mountain panorama (Ochotnitschiy peak, Kleiner Chimgon, Chorvoq lake and Mazarsay gorge. we get – just like with the original variant – to the rushing confluence of the two rivers Gulkamsay and Mazarsay. Here – at the same point – our spring Chimgon hike in the Uzbek Tien Shan Mountains ends.
Hike: approx. 5 hours (approx. -1,000 m)
Travel time: approx. 2 hours (approx. 90 km)
Overnight stay in the hotel in Tashkent
(B / L / D)
The oasis city of Khiva
After breakfast we are taken to the airport and fly to Urgensch. From Urgensch we continue to the oasis town of Khiva (also spelled Xiva), about 30 kilometers away, in northwest Uzbekistan. The 2,500-year-old fortress city is the turquoise highlight of the trip, so to speak – and its entire old town is a single museum. Behind the defiant city walls, which today prevent unwanted cars from entering, hide oriental ornamentation, magnificent minarets, shady courtyards and the warm glow of the clay walls. From the roof of the citadel we overlook this total work of art consisting of mosques, madrasas and mausoleums – all decorated with thousands of turquoise tiles. Among other things, we will visit the Juma Mosque, the Kunya Ark Citadel, the Pachlavon Machmud Mausoleum, the Islam Chodja minaret and the madrasa and the Toza Bog palace. In the evening, we let ourselves be pampered by the local cuisine in a family-run restaurant in the old town – and maybe also inspired for new creations at home.
Domestic flight from Tashkent to Urgench. Flight time: approx. 1.5 hours
Overnight at the hotel in Khiva
(B / – / D)
Bukhara – historic trading center on the Silk Road
Today it goes by vehicle through the extensive sandy desert of Karakum. The trip takes almost the whole day. There is enough time to review what you have experienced, to reflect on your thoughts on the country and its people and to exchange experiences. On the way we stop at the Amu Darya River, which is ideal for taking photos. The destination of our day trip is Bukhara (Buxoro), one of the most important cities in Uzbekistan. In the past one of the most important trading hubs on the Silk Road, it is now the capital of the province of the same name. The old town with its fascinating architecture has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since the early 1990s. When we arrive in Bukhara, we go straight to the hotel, where we can freshen up before dinner together.
We may take a short walk to the Labi Hovuz, the heart of old Bukhara. At the square surrounded by ancient mulberry trees with the large water basin in the center, the residents still meet today to chat, stroll and drink tea. The large Jewish quarter is also close by.
Driving time: approx. 7-8 hours (approx. 490 km)
Overnight in a hotel in Bukhara
(B / – / D)
Turquoise domed roofs – a journey into the world from 1001 nights
After breakfast we set out to explore the city. Their characteristic, turquoise-colored domed roofs take us into a world of 1001 nights. With over 250,000 residents, Buxoro, as Bukhara is officially written, is the capital of the province of the same name. Magnificent mausoleums, mosques, madrasas and minarets from the more than 1000-year history of the city are on our program today: We first take the bus to the Samanid mausoleum – a real jewelery box made of brick relief, built around the year 1000. Then we continue walk to the Chaschma Ayub mausoleum with its striking conical roof and the domes in front of it, as well as to the Poikalon complex with its mosque, the two madrasas and the minaret. Poikalon means something like “the base of the great”. This means the minaret, a massive column,
In the old town we see the still-used market domes of three medieval trading centers with an impressive range of handicrafts that are still on offer today.
Overnight at the hotel in Bukhara
(B / – / D)
Sightseeing & free time
Even today we let ourselves be seduced by the oriental magic of Bukhara. In the morning we visit the Labi-Hovuz complex, the Magoki-Attori mosque and the medrese of Abdulasis Chan. The afternoon is then at leisure. We can go on a discovery tour at the bazaar! With its jewelers, carpet and silk weavers, there is a lot to see and marvel at in the market domes or in the inner courtyards of the madrasas. Those who want to take it easy can sit down for a cup of tea with the locals in the shade of the mulberry trees and watch the hustle and bustle with pleasure.
Overnight at the hotel in Bukhara
(B / – / D)
Red desert, desert hiking & yurt camp
Today we drive to Nurata in the Red Desert of Kyzylkum. We stop at a local family for an extensive lunch break. Hmmm… the food smells delicious!
We then continue to the desert village of Dungalak and hike from there to our yurt camp in the middle of the desert, where we will spend the night. A yurt is a round felt tent made of camel wool, the traditional dwelling of the nomads. The sunrises and sunsets here cannot be compared with anything else, the starry sky presents itself in fascinating formations never seen before. It is time to pause, to be amazed, to radiate inside and outside, which is only gently underscored by a possibly crackling campfire.
Driving time: approx. 4 hours.
Hike: approx. 3 hours.
Overnight stay in the yurt camp in Nurata
(B / L / D)
Bathing pleasure on the desert beach and further into the mountains
We start the day energetically charged and well fed. We set off on the hike that will lead us to Lake Aydar. Saxaul bushes set accents in the uniform dune landscape. And suddenly it appears: Lake Aydar. Almost unreal. And intense blue. The lake has existed since 1969 as a result of a flood in a dam project. If you like, you can plunge into the warm waters, swim out and enjoy the unique view. Lunch at the lake is followed by a drive to the Nurata Mountains. Numerous smaller villages are hidden here along several river valleys with many walnut trees. The mountain village Sentyab is today’s destination of today’s stage, we stay here in a private accommodation “Gulmurod”
Hike: approx. 3 hours
driving time: approx. 4 hours
overnight stay in a private guesthouse in very simple rooms
(B / L / D)
Flora & fauna while hiking in the Nurata Mountains
The route is the goal. Today we are once again aware of this. Because there is a lot to discover, experience and feel along our path. The hike takes us through smaller villages, along a clear mountain river, which invites you to cool off in many places. We gladly accept the invitation. Traditional Arabic characters carved into the rock leave us puzzled about bygone times. There is also an old water mill to see. This route is also ideal for observing the local bird life. The flora and fauna are also very varied here! We hike through a landscape that is often almost park-like and take breaks to picnic in beautiful spots. In the afternoon we continue to Samarkand with our bus.
Hike: approx. 3-4 hours,
driving time: approx. 3-4 hours,
overnight stay in the hotel in Samarkand
(B / L / D)
Samarkand – a fairy tale from 1001 nights come true
Today the city of Samarkand is on the program: the name of this city alone conjures up images of the Orient and the old Silk Road. Many of the wonderful buildings here are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites. The city in the fertile oasis on the Serafshan River probably existed more than 2500 years ago. As an important point on the main route of the Silk Road, Samarkand has always been a flourishing center and capital of the region in the course of history, but also a regular victim of campaigns of conquest.
Alexander the Great came, Genghis Khan saw, but Tamerlane built – especially in his favorite color, blue. The fluted domes, decorative minarets, and flower and star mosaics on the three sides of Registan Square are simply heavenly. We stand on the fourth page of the “noblest square in the world” – its admirers. We also visit the Tamerlane mausoleum, the necropolis of Shah-i-Sinda and the palace ruins of Afrosiab, the ancient predecessor city of Samarkand. In the evening we are again guests of the Uzbek family. If you want, you can lend a hand at dinner: We cook the famous pilaf, the national dish of the Uzbeks, together with our hosts. Pilaf is a rice dish that is prepared with various spices, vegetables, meat, fish and / or dried fruits.
Accommodation in the hotel in Samarkand
(B / – / D)
Oriental bazaar and with the Afrosiab express train back to Tashkent
In Samarkand we use the time and let the fairytale flair of the city work on us. We stroll through the bazaar and visit the Bibi-Chanim Mosque with its impressive pillared hall. Then we take the “Afrosiab” express train back to Tashkent and check in again at our well-known hotel. At the farewell dinner together, we review the past days and our experiences again.
Train ride: approx. 2 hours,
hotel accommodation in Tashkent
(B / – / D)
Depending on the departure time, our transfer will pick us up and bring us to the airport. It’s time to say goodbye – we’re flying back home. Arrive home the same day.
(B / – / -)
Note: Due to the early departure from the hotel, only a small breakfast is served today.