Uzbekistan: Meet your local experts
20th October 2022
The crowning glory of Central Asia, Uzbekistan is a destination rich in cultural gems and stunning landscapes. As well as the architectural marvels, bustling bazaars and warm welcoming culture, a huge draw to this stunning country is its links with the Silk Road. Tourists flock to the staging posts on this historic trading route - Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva - and are transported back to the days of camel caravans and epic journeys through Asia's spectacular deserts and mountains.
We spoke to one of our local experts, Fuzuliy, to find out more about this magical country, as well as any top tips that he has for travelers to his shores.
Why should someone visit Uzbekistan?
Uzbekistan is full of friendly people - it is one of the friendliest and safest countries to go to, not only in Central Asia but also in the world. When I was working as a tour guide, whenever we were driving to different cities and had to stop in the villages in the mountains, the locals would always be so welcoming to the tourists! They will always try to invite you into their homes. They may not be rich but they have a rich heart. They might only have bread and tea but they will always want to share with you.
Of course it's not only the people but the thing that draws most visitors from all over the world is the Great Silk Road - the route taken by caravans and the evidence left of the Oriental Renaissance.
And finally our crafts, traditions and unusual, delicious cuisine make Uzbekistan even more attractive. It's a very colorful place to travel.
And what is it that you love most about your country?
Uzbekistan is a very creative place. Different kinds of crafts never stop impressing me. Recently, in my free time, I began to visit the workshop of a very famous potter. You know, it is so calming, like a meditation at a potter's wheel...
What are the cities like in Uzbekistan?
In Samarkand, the architecture is amazing. Bukhara, the local types of crafts are a must see - pottery and embroidery is a really traditional craft there. You can visit workshops and see masters of the craft working away - you can even join in and learn the basics of the craft yourself. The bazaars are always an amazing experience to visit, from dried fruits to hand-made products you can find everything in the bazaar.
What would you say are Uzbekistan's top historical destinations?
The pearls of Oriental architecture and building are the cities of Khiva, Bukhara, Shahrisabz, Samarkand. But you can also see traces of pre-Islamic and Buddhist architecture in the cities of Ellakkala, Termez, Poikend.
Where is your favorite summer location to visit?
My favorite place in summer is the Chimgan Mountains with Charvak Lake, beautiful mountain landscapes and, of course, fresh air. Also, I like to go to Lake Aidarkul to fish and to swim.
How about your favorite winter destination?
I like to go to Amirsoy resort near to Chimgan Mountains. The last time I almost learned to ski there.
Are there good places to have good outdoor experiences?
For those who want to get away from the city bustle and excursions to historical monuments I suggest you visit the Chimgan Mountains near to Tashkent and Nurata mountains with Aydarkul Lake. Beautiful.
For visitors who want to see or do something a bit different, where would you suggest they go?
I would advise to visit Tamerlane's cave, Machay Natural Park and to watch pink flamingos at Lake Sudoche near the Aral Sea.
On the topic of wildlife, what are Uzbekistan's top wildlife destinations?
The Ustyurt Plateau, where you can see various steppe animals and desert plants. The landscapes are incredible too. Also the Sarmysh Gorge with ancient petroglyphs and various birds.
And what about the food? What are your favorite things to eat?
I love dumplings - "manti" with meat and potatoes - but "plov" is my favourite dish to eat. It’s our national dish and we have eaten it for centuries! To eat it I will go to a plov center where they make it everyday - they make about 100 kilos of rice each day! It’s very laid back and casual dining and it's where everyone goes to eat plov, unless they’re eating it at home of course! So if our tourists want to eat at a local place then this is where I will take them, as more than 90% of people there are locals.
We also have a lot of sweet treats too that are very popular such as halva or Halvaitar. You can buy most at the bazaar. And wine is a popular drink in Uzbekistan.
You can do cooking classes whilst you are out here which are always very popular. You get to learn how to cook in our traditional style but also eat lots of lovely food.
Are there any particular, lesser-known experiences you offer that you think travelers should try?
We offer the chance to see paper production made from mulberry trees in Samarkand, and also in the Fergana Valley you can learn about silk production, starting right from the silk worms cocoon.
And finally, a key focus of TravelLocal is our positive impact on the world. Is there anything that you are doing as a travel company that positively impacts your country?
We created the Project "Ami Uzbek”, a Responsible and Solidarity Tourism Project in Mitan Village, which won the prestigious TO DO Sustainable Tourism Award at ITB Berlin in 2014. “Ami Uzbek” is a community of former travelers, or volunteer ambassadors, whose mission is to organize responsible encounters along the Silk Road
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