Driving in Uzbekistan?
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Feb 22, 2012 6:47 PM Last Post By: rocketworld
Feb 12, 2012 3:49 PM
Driving in Uzbekistan?In the book, "National Geographic's Drives of a Lifetime - 500 of the World's Most Spectacular Trips", it has a section on Uzbekistan titled "The Silk Road." The book represents the drive as a wonderous one, and not particularly complicated, either. It suggests a route of Tashkent-Samarkand-Bukhara-Khiva, going on M-39, M-37 and A-380. Total driving time is supposedly 3-days.
Upon reading the section of the book, I'm inspired to rent a car and drive the suggested route, and rely on a tour agency to arrange a guide for a few hours at each main city/attraction so that we don't miss the key sites. For lodgings, we're open to spending a good amount of $ in order to relax and sleep comfortably (our backpacking days are long behind us, I'm afraid.)
Will it be a reasonably straightforward affair, or too much of a hassle and struggle to deal with? Would it just be better to go with a combination of trains/hired driver instead, like most people do? My wife and I are "reasonably" hearty travelers, although we've never been anywhere in Central Asia before and cannot speak Russian. The other issue is that we probably only have about 6-7 days to do the trip - yep, I work at a typical, hard-charging, American company where most employees are made to feel guilty from being out of the office for longer than a week at a time. Oh well.....
Final question - would anyone advise that we NOT visit in early August? That's looking like the best time for me to get away from work.
Feb 13, 2012 2:12 PM
1Thye are doing reconstructionwork at the Road between Bukhara and Khiva. It takes at least 8 hours to do that stretch. Most people go by Shared taxi between the cities. You Can choose to pay for All 4 seats in the car if you want more space. bargain hard. Tashkent to Samarkand is about 4 hours. In the guidebook you Can find information about the starting point for the Shared taxis. I would recommend the Shared taxis to a renter vehicle esp as the roads can be pretty bad.
No problem with august except that the temperature can be pretty high.
Feb 14, 2012 1:26 AM
2This isn't a trip that you'd particularly want to do by car. The route from Tashkent to Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva is almost entirely flat - what's interesting along this route is the cities, not the scenery in between. There's a decent train service from Tashkent to Samarkand and Bukhara, and it's straight-forward to get a shared taxi all to yourself for the inter-city routes (you'll want to bargain though! Start learning the numbers in Uzbek...). 6-7 days is really not a lot of time to do this trip, but it should be possible. You might want to skip Khiva, and you'll certainly want to try and fly from there back to Tashkent. I'm fairly sure there are organized tours of Uzbekistan, which might be what you want (independant travel in Uzbekistan is not very straight-forward), though I would imagine most of them visit in March-May, which is the high season. By reputation, Uzekistan is very hot in August, but I've never been personally at that time of year.
Feb 14, 2012 10:59 PM
3I appreciate the advice, Giora and anaya! You've convinced me not to rent a car and drive :)
Would this work for a 6-day itinerary, and are the train / car+driver arrangement work between the respective locations?
DAY 1: Arrive in Tashkent, stay overnight
DAY 2: Take high-speed Afrosiyob train from Tashkent to Samarkand, arriving at. Stay overnight in Samarkand
DAY 3: Sightseeing in Samarkand
DAY 4: Take the train from Samarkand to Bukhara, arriving at 14:45. Stay overnight in Bukhara
DAY 5: Take a car to Khiva (approx. 8 hours); arriving early evening. Stay overnight in Khiva
DAY 6: Sightseeing in Khiva
DAY 7: Fly from Urgench Airport to Tashkent (and then onwards for the journey home)
Does this itinerary work, or is it too rushed? And would you change anything in the schedule or time or transport means?
Thanks for the help!
Feb 14, 2012 11:48 PM
4More over ..... it even would be difficult to rent a car without driver in Tashkent ....but if you want to fly in any case then maybe it is better to fly (=Go North-West) from Tashkent to Urgench in the beginning and then to move southward by car to Bukhara accross the Kyzyl-Kum desert and then further eastward by trains via Samarkand. I did in both ways a few times and always diving from civilization straight into middle ages' lanes of Ichan Kala castle was somehow shocking-better rather than the gradual immersion ...
btw I drove from Almaty to Khiva and back by my own car twice, preparing to repeat in mid-March 2012
Feb 15, 2012 4:06 AM
Feb 22, 2012 6:47 PM
6One week in Central Asia is not a lot of time. But it is still definitely do-able and more than worthwhile! I think you will be amazed. Since your visit needs to be relatively brief, you really should talk it out with a travel agency. I am thinking that with only a few days and so many atttractions to hit, you don't want to waste any time on mistakes or anything. I've been talking to one called East-Site Travel that I saw recommended by another traveler. They seem nice and are very easy to talk to. Just tell them your time frame and what you are interested in seeing. and they will take it from there. This way you don't have to hassle about getting your visas, arrange your transportation, booking roooms, hiring a driver, etc. It will all be planned our for you and you can just enjoy the trip.
By the way, August can be really hot over there, just so you know. But then it's usually hot in August anywhere, isn't it?
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