We had a pretty good idea what we wanted from a trip to Uzbekistan; pairing up with your local partners made it all so easy and took the hassle out of buying internal flight and rail tickets, entrance to sites and a night in a yurt camp. The guides where we needed them were excellent, same for the drivers. We were able to cover all our 'must sees', with a few things we probably couldn't have organised ourselves, like a home dinner. There was just enough down time to wander on our own and take it all in. 10 days isn't really long enough though and you definitely need time to process everything! It's a fascinating blend of culture, history, politics, religion, worth reading upon before you go!
Prompt response to emails in the planning process. Noted our preferences and made helpful suggestions re accommodation. Good communication with Olga! We felt reassured that they could be contacted at any time on the trip,but it wasn't intrusive in any way.
Nothing, they were great. Maybe just double check the time printed on the Afrosiab tickets as the actual train time was different to the itinerary provided and caused the driver to be waiting and worried we'd missed it!
All were excellent in their own way. The level of detail given sometimes felt a little overwhelming and dense, there's a limit to how much one can take in. Also, the repeated explanations about the Islamic religion felt a bit unnecessary, coming from London where Islam is widely practiced and understood, but that's a minor point. Our guide in Nurata, Ruslan, seemed a little off hand, not so attentive as the others; possibly the difference between a city and a rural guide, or perhaps because of a misunderstanding between him and the driver, in that we arrived there after a three and a half hour drive from Bukhara without lunch or toilet break and were expected to go straight into climbing the citadel of Alexander the Great. He spent a lot of time on the phone, we didn't know if this was personal or if he was trying to resolve the lunch issue.... anyway it was slightly awkward and in the end we skipped lunch but the driver bought some bread. It left us feeling that the Nurata stop was something that could be left off the itinerary, or managed a bit better.
Make a slightly longer trip to make the most of a fascinating country rich with treasures and history. Book early to get the best accommodation, we loved all our hotels: The Ichan Qala was a welcome touch of luxury at the beginning and end of the trip, the Meros was full of character, especially having read Carpet Ride to Khiva, the Minzifa was the friendliest hotel with the best breakfast, the yurt was as expected, a bit tired but fine especially as there were no groups staying there, and the BibiKhanum in Samarkand was the perfect location and very comfortable. Be prepared to drink lots of vodka to aid digestion, lots of tea to keep you going, and count yourself lucky when you find a proper cup of coffee! Take comfy clothes, lots of layers and know that everyone else will be dressed in sequins and sparkles even if they're sweeping the road.
Being serenaded round the fire in the stillness and darkness of the yurt camp, with a post plov vodka, before heading to bed at 8.30pm!