Uzbekistan: An extraordinary and fascinating country

A week is too short for Uzbekistan but it can be done if you work hard. TravelLocal make it possible with efficient planning. However, if you want to see the 3 main sites - Khiva, Samarkand and Bukhara there is a lot or travelling and some very long drives - especially from Khiva to Bukhara. This takes about 6 -7 hours across a rather dreary desert. So if you only have a week you should consider leaving out Khiva -which many people will think is heresy - because you really need more time to absorb the astonishing buildings in Samarkand and Bukhara.. Many people love love Khiva - but it is really largely a tourist enclave - slightly Disney Land. I may be shot for saying that! Also there is a certain sameness about several of the buildings Uzbekistan is making great efforts with tourism, and they are to be congratulated. We had wonderful contacts with everyone we met. However, we only realised rather late in the day that the astonishing buildings you are seeing at every turn are in many cases complete reconstructions or restorations. Much of this has been done very well - some of it is a bit slapdash. However, overall it is an astonishing achievement when you have a rare sighting of a photograph of the ruin that existed up until a few decades ago. There is a good story to be told here but the guides and notices don't do this. You are mostly told that the buildings are medieval - well they were once but in most cases you are now seeing a reconstruction. This is perhaps less the case in Khiva where the buildings date from C19th. Anyway don't waste time. Go and see Uzbekistan and go with TravelLocal who have an excellent local partner/firm which takes care of everything.

juliet, from Abingdon and Edinburgh

Visited Uzbekistan in

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What was good about our local partner based in Uzbekistan?

Extremely efficient helpful and kind staff. Marat Karimiv was one the the best and most interesting guides we have ever had. The poshest car we have ever had. The Minzifa Hotel in Bukhara was realy lovely with charming staff. They had to cope with a total electricity blackout for many hours and looked after us beautifully. A highlight was the DELICIOUS meal we had in the lovely house in Bukhara We would have liked more time in Bukhara and Samarkand. And now we have done it we would not go back to Khiva - too far for too little. Everything worked like clockwork. We had very helpful and prompt emails for Olga before we left

What could our local partner based in Uzbekistan improve on?

Would be good to tell guides they should explain more about the restoration of the buildings. This has been an astonishing achievement but it was several days before we realised that that the exteriors we were admiring were mostly constructed in the last decade or so. The notices alll tell you that you are visiting C14th, 15th etc buildings - this is only partly true.above.

What did you think about the guides or drivers on your trip?

Marat Karimov was brilliant. We learned so much about Uzbekistan - not just about Tashkent. Our diver was excellent too. He had some terribly long drives which he did very well. For most of the time we did not have a guide and he was worried about this but we think it worked very welll. He drove us to the locations and we then did our own thing.

What advice would you give to other travellers planning a trip to Uzbekistan?

See above in my review

What was the most memorable part of your trip?

Bukhara including the delicious meal in a private home.

How likely are you to recommend TravelLocal?