After a long, hot summer in Kyrgyzstan, Peter and Maksat left for an even hotter Uzbekistan. This country opens up more and more. Amazing buildings and attractions are everywhere. Moreover, there are plans for a new ski area (Amirsoy), making it even interesting for an adventurous ski trip
The journey begins with a flight from Bishkek to Tashkent (the capital of Uzbekistan). What strikes us immediately is the modernity of the airport and the access roads. That is different compared to other Central Asian countries. Moreover, it is very green and the cars are extremely civilized. It almost feels like we have arrived in a western country.
Tashkent is an extremely modern city with many parks and water. It lies on the western flanks of the Tien Shan Mountains, where precipitation falls more often than in the rest of the country. Despite the heat (around 40 degrees), it is still great to hold out in the city. There are many terraces and restaurants with a western design. That is totally different than I had imagined.
If we want to change money then we know again that we are in a Central Asian country. You can only exchange your Dollars (not euros) for the Uzbek Sum at a few places. The value of the Som may be nominated again because we get a bag with notes if we exchange 300 dollars.
With our local guide Konstantin we drive to the most beautiful places in the city. We visit the Chorsu bazaar, the blue domes Amin Timur Museum, Kukuldash madrassa, the Telyashayakh mosque and the mausoleum of Yunus Khan. Apart from a few historical buildings, the city looks modern with a clear influence from the Soviet period.
The next day we drive to the Charvak mountains. The mighty Tien Shan mountains are an hour’s drive from Tashkent. Although the accessibility is limited, there are many possibilities for mountain tourism. Almost all activities take place in the summer around the Charvak lake. An artificial lake with a huge power plant. The location is beautiful and there are many places to picnic or swim.
In the winter there are opportunities for skiing but they still leave something to be desired. The largest ski area is near Lake Charvak. This ski area is called Chimgan and has no less than 1 chairlift. This lift is also open in the summer, so we rise very slowly in a steel frame. You have to push an iron pipe in front of you to close the elevator. It feels crazy without a snowboard on my feet anyway, but the condition of the lift still worries me.
Fortunately it works fine and the views are worth it. Few westerners come because everyone wants to be in the picture with me. For skiing, this area is too small. As an experience it was pretty cool but this does not immediately warm our winter sports hearts.
We take a look at Uzbekistan’s newest winter sport project. The new government would like to focus on tourism development. That is why the largest ski area in Central Asia must be developed within a few years. The working name is Amirsoy and the experts from Andorra and France have already signed contracts for the construction of this ski area. They start in 2019 with the construction of a gondola and tow lift. A ski area with more than 20 km of slopes must be developed within a few years. We will keep an eye on it for you.
Many people know Uzbekistan because of the unique silk route cities. The important trade centers on the silk road between China and Europe were relatively rich in wealth. When the Islamic faith became predominant, the ingenious buildings emerged like mushrooms. Beautiful Islamic architecture with turquoise tiles and immense domes. Samarkand is the best known of them all and the Registan square is our first destination.
The first introduction is without a doubt impressive. The bright blue tiles, the huge square and the many flowers. It is an oasis of civilization in an increasingly drying environment. Registan was perhaps the most important square between China and Europe in the 17th century. Several madrassas were built for education and information purposes. Moreover, the local people were told announcements from the leaders of the Dynasty.
We cannot stop shooting photos and wander around the madrassas. We visit the Gur-e-Emir mausoleum of Timur Lenk, the mausoleum that served as an example for the Taj-Mahal.
At the end of our journey we visit Bukhara, a more compact silk route city with an abundance of historic buildings. It is above 40 degrees again but the buildings offer some cooling. A lot is being rebuilt and restored. It seems as if Uzbekistan is getting ready to open the borders. There are rumors that the visa requirement will be abolished in the near future. This will be incredibly interesting for Western tourists. We keep our eyes and ears open and it will not be long before we will offer organized trips to Uzbekistan.