Suggestions for 17 days in the stans
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Jan 2, 2012 4:25 AM Last Post By: marat007
Dec 21, 2011 12:54 PM
Suggestions for 17 days in the stansI have been looking at travelling around the stans but am struggling to come up with a route. I have around 17 days (slightly flexible with this) and plan to travel in April 2012. I am a UK citizen and will be flying from the UK. Once there would like to travel entirely overland if possible but would consider a flight. Looking to do it on a budget (guesthouses/hostels, cheap trains/buses). My interests are pretty broad and I am open to any suggestions I like towns and cities but would not be against a day or two in the mountains/countryside.
So far I like the look of Uzbekistan (Samarkaland, Khiva, Bukhara). I get the impression I don't need too long in each place? Also slightly concerned of getting "Mosque'd out". Would it be just as good to just see two sites here then head else where? Was thinking about going to Moynaq but not sure if it is worth going all that way if I don't plan to do a more expensive tour going all the way to the Aral sea?
Briefly contemplated going to Mazār-i-Sharīf via Termez but have a lot of safety concerns. Anyone done this?
Alternatively with 17 days would I be better of doing a non Uzbekistan route? or maybe half in Uzbekistan and half in another stan?
Sorry it's not too specific. Just looking to get some suggestions now and hopefully fine tune it. Thanks for any advice.
Dec 21, 2011 9:14 PM
1Samarkand, Khiva and Burkhara are all quite different so I think it's worth going to all three. That would probably take up about half your time, including travel in between those cities. You could do some side-trips, such as visiting the desert forts from Khiva.
I haven't been there, but from researching it I think Kyrgyzstan might be a nice contrast to Uzbekistan, as a lot of the activities there seem to country rather than city-based.
Dec 22, 2011 6:50 PM
At first, I also planned to travel around 5 stans for 17 days or so, from Almaty-Aktau-Turkmenistan-Uzbek-Tajik-Kyrkys-and Almaty, again.
However, due to the short vacation, I've decided to enjoy 4 stans, especially Pamir Highway, and cut into 14 days.
Next May , I'll fly to Tashkent and to Samarkent, Penjkent, Tajikistan, Dushanbe and Bishkek, Kyrkiz. and get out to Almaty, Kazak.
I just hope the Highway would be as beautiful as the Karakoram Highway where I've been to 7 years ago.
Dec 22, 2011 10:34 PM
3Honestly, I think you're better off concentrating on one 'stan (for the purposes of your trip, Uzbekistan would be the best) than racing to fit two or more in. While it would be possible to split your time with (e.g.) Kyrgyzstan, the best things about the more mountainous 'stans are the outdoor activities such as hiking, horse-trekking and staying in yurts, and April is a bit early for that kind of thing - the nomads won't be out on the jailoos yet.
With 17 days in Uzbekistan, you could do loads. As well as Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara (all of which are, IMO, worth at least three days each, but crammed into a short space of time I admit mosque fatigue might be a problem), you could visit Shakhrisabz, go to Nukus for the Savitsky gallery, tour the forts around Khiva, do some trekking in the Nurata mountains (they have a good homestay programme) and look around the markets in the Ferghana valley.
I did the trip to Mazar from Termez in early 2010. It is a fascinating place, and the Blue Mosque is beautiful; however, the security situation is not a joke, and I personally wouldn't have done it if I hadn't known people in the city who could show me around and tell me what and where was safe (I'm a woman and I was travelling on my own though, which I think does make a difference). Unless you want to go to Afghanistan for its own sake (or very specifically to see the Blue Mosque), I'm not sure the trip would be worth it given your time constraints.
Dec 23, 2011 7:32 PM
4Thanks for the advice. I know that if I visited two stans I wouldn't be able to see everywhere in each place but thought getting a taste of the countryside in one of the others may be good. I think due to the time constraints I will just stick to Uzbekistan this time.
Ertaga I wanted to go to Mazar to visit the Blue Mosque and just generally see what life is like in Afghanistan. I was only planning on a night or two in Mazar. I thought it was around 10 hours journey from Termez? Obviously safety is my main concern.
Dec 23, 2011 9:51 PM
5It's about a couple of hours from Termez, including border crossing time: get a taxi from Termez airport to the border post, and then on the other side it's possible to get transportation to Mazar. I believe it's relatively straightforward to find places to stay (except during peak pilgrimage season).
The decision whether or not to go to Afghanistan is very personal - you just have to research the hell out of the security situation, which obviously changes all the time, keep up-to-date with what's going on and decide whether for you the risk is worth it. Might be worth asking on the Afghanistan forums for advice from someone who's done the trip very recently.
Jan 2, 2012 4:25 AM
6I agree with one of the above that having too many -stans in 17 days is a bit too much. See this Two Stans Tour - it is designed for 12 days approx. But you can have slightly more time in each city, such as Samarkand or Bukhara in Uzbekistan.. Also, I would recommend to read this article:
http://www.intltravelnews.com/2011/07/touring-five-%E2%80%99stans from a guy who did this complex tour in 2010.
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