Here are our suggestions on travelling off the beaten road in Uzbekistan if you have the time to spare! Includes the beautiful Asraf village in between Samarkand and Tashkent, the fast disappearing Aral Sea and ancient Khiva!
1. Asraf Village
It’s better to visit this charming village during the summer where it’s lush green everywhere. We went during winter and sadly the trees were bare and grey 🙁 This stopover at Asraf village is worth it if you have the time to spare when travelling from Tashkent to Samarkand or vice versa. We did a homestay at Yashigul Guesthouse and it was a very warm and welcoming experience for us. Their family was so kind, when we left, they even gave us some food to take with us for the journey back to Tashkent. You can also learn to cook traditional Uzbekistan dishes from the talented mother and go for hiking trips at the Nurata mountain with the experienced guide, Raxmat. Check out our full post on travelling to Asraf Village in Nurata!
2. Fast Disappearing Aral Sea
Save the Aral Sea! See it now while you still can. The Aral Sea was once the 4th largest sea in the world and today, it has been reduced to a pathetic 10% of its original size. We had a great excursion to the Aral Sea where we got to visit the Ghost Shipyard where only the rusty ancient fishing boats were left. It was a scenic drive to the Aral Sea and along the way we passed by sublime picturesque canyon ridges. Also, we actually got to touch the remaining water of the Aral sea! Click here for our full post on our experience to the fast disappearing Aral Sea!
3. Ancient Khiva (Elliq Qala)
Don’t get this mixed up with Khiva City, although they’re nearby. We hired a taxi from the main bazaar at Urgench for a full day tour to visit several ancient castle ruins and fortresses. Quite worth it if you’re into such ancient fortresses. The Aya Qala was the most impressive and biggest of them all.
Cost of hiring the taxi: 210,000som (around US$60)