Here at Crooked Compass, we love going off the beaten track. Some of the most fascinating places in the world are those least travelled, and one of those gems is Uzbekistan. This enchanting country is brimming with culture and boasts a unique history like no other place on earth. From its time under Persian rule, through its brief period of Soviet rule to modern-day Uzbekistan, the rich cultural heritage is on display everywhere you look.
The exploration doesn’t stop there, though. Uzbekistan is also home to some stunning landscapes, offering a captivating mixture of deserts, mountains, lowlands and valleys. Uzbekistan travel is a must for the traveller who wants to immerse themselves in nature, history and unique architecture.
Tashkent is a complex mix of modern life and history. The old part of the city is home to the Khast Imam and is also the largest Islamic centre in the country. Continuing the historical theme, explore the Kukeldash madrasah, a 16th-century Islamic school turned museum boasting breathtaking architecture and a rich history.
In Tashkent, you will also get a taste of Uzbekistan’s market culture. These markets, known as bazaars, have been a way of life for the country’s inhabitants for thousands of years. One of the most popular in the city is the Chorsu Bazaar, a traditional marketplace bustling with bright colours, enticing aromas, and all types of local goods. Farmers travel from miles to sell their wares at the market, and you’ll have an opportunity to barter and buy the food of Uzbekistan from locals.
For evening entertainment, tap into the remnants of Soviet rule at the Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre, a beautifully preserved example of Soviet architecture in Uzbekistan.
Muynak is an intriguing former seaport town in the autonomous republic of Karakalpakstan, situated in Uzbekistan. Once on the edge of the Aral Sea, Muynak is now further from the coast, thanks to a series of natural and man-made events that have caused the Aral Sea to dry up. While the region is no longer a bustling fishing port, the remnants of its glory days remain a fascinating insight into the past and the impacts of human life on the environment.
Coined ‘The Cemetery of Ships’. Muynak is home to a unique sight – large fishing vessels wedged into the desert sand that was once their marine home. The remains of Muynak’s thriving fishing industry are a popular attraction on any visit to Uzbekistan.
Historical monuments are strewn throughout the beautiful landscape of Uzbekistan. As a hotspot for ancient history, Mizdakhan stands as a monument to Uzbekistan’s diverse past. One of the more educational parts of an Uzbekistan tour, Mizdakhan’s highlights include the Mausoleum of Mazlum Khan Sulu, a beautiful example of Karakhanid architecture. You can also view three different historical ruins across three hills, one being the ruins of the Gyaur-Kala Fortress, built in the 4th Century BC.
The monuments of Mizdakhan aren’t just a visual treat, but an opportunity to learn about Central Asia’s unique history. Open your mind and be filled with wonder at the legends of famous battles, conquerors, prophets and even sorcerers.
So much of your journey through Uzbekistan is filled with ancient buildings, monuments and remnants of the region’s rich cultural history. But equally impressive is the stunning landscapes you can take in. The popular myth is that Uzbekistan is mostly desert. While the region is certainly dry, and the desert does form a lot of its landscape, there is so much more to see than just sand.
Aydarkul, for example, is a fascinating desert lake offering crystal-clear water and has to be seen to be believed. The snow-capped peaks of the Tian Shan mountains are in stark contrast to the surrounding desert, and you’ll also find beautiful lakes, valleys and lowlands in the area. Perhaps you’d like to explore the sweeping sand dunes of the Kyzylkum Desert.
The way we look at global commerce today is a far cry from the traditional trading practices of the past. But Uzbekistan was a major part of one of history’s most famous and notorious trading routes – The Silk Road. This ancient trading route stretched around 6,400 kilometres, effectively connecting the East and West.
For centuries, the Silk Road was a network of trading routes, with many of its highlights being in Uzbekistan. Many of these ancient Silk Road cities are still standing today, just waiting to be explored. Particularly captivating are the cities of Bukhara and Samarkand, where you can learn the history of merchants, travellers and other wild stories from the infamous Silk Road.
If you’d like to learn more about Uzbekistan’s rich culture and history and make this experience yours, contact us to find out for yourself and explore our Uzbekistan tours.
This category of tours involves light trekking, walking, cycling, rafting or kayaking for a few hours each day with a small amount of inclines and declines. You will require a reasonable level of fitness and good health to participate. It is important to note that due to the nature of some of our trips, they may take place in remote areas (with basic facilities) and can involve long travelling days on various modes of transport.
Suggested preparation : At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake aerobic exercise (this may include jogging, cycling or fast walking) for 30 minutes, three times a week. It is also advised to walk on variable terrain and in variable weather conditions. For a cycling adventure, road cycling twice a week is recommended and for adventures which involve paddling and kayaking, it is important to gain confidence and rhythm rather than speed prior to departure.
This category of tours involve trekking, kayaking and cycling for period of 6 to 8 hours a day at a fairly consistent pace. Ideal for people looking to slightly increase the heart rate. For our moderately rated tours, you must have a good level of fitness and also be in good health. It is also important to be prepared for variable weather conditions. Altitude may also come into play. This category of tours may involve visiting remote areas where facilities can be quite basic. Accommodation may also involve camping, homestays or basic accommodation where facilities may not be considered of western standards. To enjoy this style of travel, it is suggested for travellers to have a reasonable level of fitness and health, a positive attitude, as well as a fairly active lifestyle. An open mind is also required.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 months prior to departure, it is recommended that you undertake 45mins – 1 hour of aerobic exercise, three to four times a week. Some potential exercises that could be beneficial include hill walking with a backpack on over variable terrain and weather conditions, as well as running and cycling dependent on the activity you plan on undertaking.
This category of tours involves trekking, kayaking, cycling or other adventure activities in remote areas for up to 8 to 10 hours a day. It is important to note that with the remoteness of some regions comes a variety of other challenges such as variable weather conditions, accommodation as well as facilities. You must have an excellent level of fitness and good health to be able to partake in this category of tour. You must have confidence in your own ability and be in good physical condition. Includes extended periods of endurance.
Suggested preparation: At least 3 to 4 months of strenuous exercise, four times a week. When preparing for treks it would be beneficial to participate in hill walks with a weighted day pack (approximately 5-8 kg) once a week for aerobic fitness and strengthening of leg muscles. It is also important to do this on variable terrain to prepare for challenging adventures. When preparing for cycling adventures, regular bike riding (at least 4 to 5 times a week for 1-4 hours is essential). It is also important to cycle on uneven surfaces or even participate in other aerobic exercises such as running or swimming to build up strength and stamina. Altitude may also be a factor in these tours.
This category of tour often involves extreme trekking, cycling or other extreme adventure activities. It is important to expect remote and poorly defined tracks and to be prepared for variable weather conditions for 10 to 12 hours per day (may sometimes be more depending on weather and altitude). These adventures are suitable for travellers who have prior experience in strenuous travel and activities, are extremely fit and have excellent health. It is also important to note that some of the terrain on these adventures will involve trekking in snow, at high attitude levels and may require technical equipment.
Suggested preparation: It is important to note that physical fitness should be an ongoing activity, commencing around 5-6 months prior to departure, or even before if you have no prior fitness. Exercise should focus on building maximum endurance and stamina. Four to five hard sessions of 40-60 mins per week should be completed and can include exercises such as going to the gym, running, swimming or cycling to focus on building aerobic stamina. It could also be beneficial to prepare by hiking on rough terrain, in extreme weather conditions or partake in altitude training.