Trek in the Gissar Mountains
Uzbekistan trekking | 14 days
The rich fruit orchards, fast-flowing rivers and plunging gorges of southern Uzbekistan are the focus of this absorbing four-day trek, which follows a strategic line of ancient watch towers on the border with Tajikistan and offers distant views of snow-clad peaks.
Here, you will witness life in rural Uzbekistan at close quarters and enjoy steaming dishes of ‘plov’ (pilaf) washed down with fresh apple juice and followed by delicious orchard fruits. Also on the menu is Tamerlane’s legendary cave where, in the 14th century, this fearless warrior trained his armies for battle.
Day 1: Fly to Tashkent
Day 2: Explore Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital
Day 3: Drive to Samarkand
Day 4: Tour Samarkand, Tamerlane’s imperial capital and ‘glittering jewel of Central Asia’
Day 5: Drive to Shakrisabz
Day 6: Drive to Tashkurgan
Day 7: Begin trek
Days 8&9: On trek
Day 10: End trek and drive to Bukhara
Day 11: Visit the imposing fortress of the Emirs at Bukhara
Day 12: Drive to Khiva, the most remote of Uzbekistan’s outposts and now a beautifully preserved living museum
Day 13: Khiva, fly to Tashkent
Day 14: Fly to London
guide price £2,585 per person
Fiona’s travel tips
THE GREAT GAME: The Great Game refers to the 19th century battle for supremacy played out by the Russian and British empires for political dominance in Central Asia. While Russia spread east, swallowing up the Silk Route khanates of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, Britain edged determinedly north towards the forbidden land of Tibet, with the aid of knowledge accumulated by fabled pundits like Nain Singh. The very centre of this political chessboard was the Gilgit Valley, where, high among the mountains, the borders of India, China, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan all converge.
DON’T MISS: Drinking green tea in Bukhara’s Lyiab-y-hauz in the shade of an ancient mulberry tree, watching some of the elders sitting cross-legged on charpoys bent over a chess board.
BOOKS: Peter Hopkirk’s The Great Game and Eastern Approaches by Sir Fitzroy Maclean.
BEST TIME TO GO: The ideal time to travel is May to September, apart from Turkmenistan where the height of summer is better avoided.
FOR THE ACTIVE: For wild, remote, back to nature trekking, Tajikistan is perfect.
WHY NOT: Start your journey in Azerbaijan and cross by local ferry from Baku into Turkmenistan, the hottest, driest and harshest of the stans, where Ashkhabad’s Sunday Market will be swarming with the dominant Turkmen tribe, the Tekke, resplendent in their extraordinary shaggy hats.
Kazakhstan: 9 hours (direct)
Kyrgyzstan: 9½ hours (direct)
Tajikistan: 9 hours (indirect)
Turkmenistan: 9 hours (indirect)
Uzbekistan: 8¾ hours (direct)
Clients’ comments“Our journey along the Silk Route was truly memorable. These beautiful ancient lands with their Khanate cities and bazaars, unforgiving deserts and high, snow-capped mountains with lakes and lonely passes are memories we will treasure. Our guides were knowledgeable, helpful and fun, sharing their own family lives and culture with us, helping put all that we saw into a social context. The planning and organisation of our trip was faultless and Fiona’s first-hand knowledge and contacts in Central Asia smoothed a forced change in plans at short notice efficiently and effortlessly. Thank you so much."
Mr and Mrs Rob Aylott, Central Asia from Baku to Urumqi