Take a Hike! 4 Unexpected Places to Hike in Uzbekistan

Take a Hike! 4 Unexpected Places to Hike in Uzbekistan

Flat, dry desert expanse is often one of the first things that comes to mind when people think of Uzbekistan. That harsh arid landscape is what many Silk Road merchants and explorers attempted to shield themselves from all those centuries ago, taking much needed refuge within desert oases scattered throughout Central Asia.

But Uzbekistan’s geography is far more varied and intriguing than you might expect. Within a few hours’ drive of both Tashkent and Samarkand, you can discover green forests, blossoming alpine meadows, cool blue lakes, and sweeping mountain vistas dotted with traditional villages, waterfalls, ski hills, and cave networks. Remote, untouched, and surprisingly beautiful, these areas are a fantastic and unexpected getaway from the everyday hum of the cities, and make for great spots to take an invigorating hike through places few travelers get to see.

Uzbekistan offers multiple opportunities for hiking, from quick jaunts to multi-day treks. These can be worked into a custom, private itinerary or private independent tour, or can be added as a pre- or post-tour to MIR’s small group tours that travel through Uzbekistan and Central Asia.

Here are just a few of our favorite places where you can embrace the outdoors and go hiking in Uzbekistan:

ChimganTake a hike in the Chimgan Mountains through rocky and forested terrain. The gentle slopes and copious winter snows of the Chimgan ski complex are popular draws for Tashkent skiers. In the summer, tulips blanket the hills and the 10,856-foot Greater Chimgan peak welcomes hikers, trekkers and novice climbers.

BeldersayA little closer to Tashkent than Chimgan, the Beldersay ski hill features what is said to be the longest chairlift in Asia. Higher and steeper than Chimgan, Beldersay is perfect for the skilled skier, climber, or hiker. Pine trees dot the hills and in summer, mountain streams cut through narrow valleys. While hiking in this area, you can explore the Marble River with its cache of petrified seashells and the 50-foot Marble Waterfall. In the upper Beldersay Gorge, there are ancient petroglyphs of ibex and hunters.

Petroglyphs similar to these can be seen in Beldersay Gorge Photo: Jake Smith

Petroglyphs similar to these can be seen in Beldersay Gorge
Photo: Jake Smith

Hayat VillageA four hour’s drive from Samarkand, little Hayat Village is home to some 650 souls. Surrounded by mile-high mountains, the village has a shop, an elementary school and water mills. Most of the houses are built of local stone, and their occupants make a living herding sheep, growing vegetables, and weaving rugs. You can meet and talk to children on their way to school – they hike 3km each way – and hire a horse or donkey to ride or carry your heavier items.

Aidarkul LakeLake Aidarkul is a large manmade lake formed when the Soviets dammed the Syr Darya River in Kazakhstan. The excess water behind the dam is diverted to the saline Arnassay Basin, creating a chain of three lakes near the Kazakh border above Samarkand. Aidarkul provides habitat for several species of fish and for migrating birds. Feast on fresh fish, swim, explore the desert, or relax under the shade of the trees on the shore.

Aydarkul Lake shore Photo: Abdu Samadov

Aidarkul Lake shore
Photo: Abdu Samadov

Travel with MIR to Uzbekistan

MIR has 30 years of travel experience in Central Asia and has an affiliate office in Uzbekistan, with a roster of contacts that can take you to places that you didn’t even know you wanted to go. Our full service, dedication, commitment to quality, and destination expertise have twice earned us a place on National Geographic Adventure’s list of Best Adventure Travel Companies on Earth.”

MIR can arrange a personalized custom private hiking trip through Uzbekistan or can add a day hike to our Essential Uzbekistan or Essential Central Asia private independent itineraries. You can also opt to add a private pre- or post tour hiking trip on any of these itineraries:

Chat with a MIR destination specialist about travel to Uzbekistan by phone (1-800-424-7289) or email today. We would love to take your ideas and weave them into a trip tailored especially for you.

(Top Photo: Many hiking trails surround the tiny Hayat Village. Photo credit: Abdu Samadov.)

PUBLISHED: November 10, 2016

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