Photo Credit: Nick Laqua

While Uzbekistan is completely landlocked without access to any coastline, the country has a number of rivers and lakes which can be easily explored via wilderness activities. These activities can be easily arranged from Tashkent or any of the major cities nearby. Hiking is a popular activity here as many of Uzbekistan’s mountains not only offer gorgeous scenery but also formidable challenges. Bird-watching and wildlife spotting are popular in the mountains and foothills, the habitats of the country’s rich flora and fauna.

There are two very authentic experiences which travelers can experience in this part of the world. One is interacting with the locals via community-based, eco-tourism, which can provide tourists with insights into local life, and another is camping in a yurt, the traditional, portable tents used by the nomads of Central Asia. For a more relaxing yet still adventure-packed holiday, tourists can come to Uzbekistan in the winter months of December to March and have a ski-filled weekend on the slopes of Chimgan Mountain Resort, close to the capital, Tashkent.

Uzbekistan boasts of a number of wilderness hikes along pristine trails which snake their way through its mountainous regions. Thus, hiking and all sorts of mountaineering activities are popular with tourists. The beautiful valleys of the Chatkal Range are one such area is that ideal for trekking. There are even high altitude climbs to the 24,000-foot high Peak Pobeda or the 23,000-foot high Peak Korzhenevskaya. ClimberCA Mountain Guides Consortium, which has an office in Tashkent, is an international agency that can arrange hiking, trekking, and climbing activities in many parts of Uzbekistan.

With the richness in Uzbekistan’s flora and fauna found in many of its national parks, it is no wonder that wildlife spotting, bird watching most especially, is a worthwhile activity for tourists here. This can be easily done in the Kyzylkum Tugai and Sand Reserve in Bukhara province where 190 species of birds can be found, including herons, turtle doves, river terns, and various other species. Tudakul Lake near Bukhara is another great place for bird watching. East Line Tour is a recommended agency that specializes in this activity.

Those seeking a more high-adrenaline sort of adventure can do white-water rafting on some of Uzbekistan’s wild rivers. These include the Chatkal, the Angren, the Syr Darya, the Pskem, and the Ugen. The most ideal time of the year to do this activity is September to October when conditions are just right. Raftsiberia is a tour agency specializing in rafting tours of the Chatkal River.

Meanwhile, in the vast expanse of the Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve, visitors can engage in a number of eco-tourism activities involving tours and stays at guesthouses run by local cooperatives. There are wilderness-based activities, naturally, and community-based ones, such as home stays and livelihood activities. Visitors can not only see nature but interact with the local Uzbeks by learning about local cuisine, farming, silk worm rearing, and even the drying of cow dung. The Nuratau-Kyzylkum Visitor Center can help visitors arrange these types of travel experiences.

While it can be downright bitterly cold during the winter in Uzbekistan, this is the perfect time of the year to go skiing. A popular ski resort lies east of the capital, Tashkent, on the slopes of the Western Tian Shan Mountains—Chimgan Mountain Resort. The most ideal skiing conditions take place from December through mid-March. Ski facilities are available, including chair lifts and roped ski routes. Oriental Express Central Asia has an office in Tashkent which can easily arrange for transfers to and from the ski resort.

One authentic activity which can be done only in this part of the world is experiencing the life of the nomads who have grazed these regions since time immemorial. Camping in a yurt is a highly recommended activity here. A yurt is a traditional, portable, round, and wood-framed tent used by the nomads of Central Asia. There are many yurt camps around the country where camping can be done. Camping trips can be packaged together with wilderness activities such as camel safaris. UzForYou owns a yurt camp called the Aydar Yurt Camp, which is located in the heart of Kyzyl Kum Desert, close to Aydar Lake.

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