When it comes to ecotourism, Uzbekistan is only slowly developing. Nature tourism is secondary to the mass tourism of Uzbekistan’s great cities, and the government is unwilling to accommodate small independent projects.
There are ways, though, to get behind the carefully constructed facades, and get to know the real life of people in Uzbekistan, in beautiful rural surroundings. Go for a hike, play with the kids, wash in a waterfall, and end the day with a giant plate of homemade food.
Things to do & places to stay
The amazing Sherzod is the main man driving forward ecotourism in Uzbekistan. Sentyab, in the Nuratau mountains are a beautiful place with colourful people tucked away in verdant, hidden valleys, and on the sandy plains of the Kyzylkum, you can stay in a desert yurt and explore by camel.
The town of Katta Langar also hosts travelers in homestays, but you have to organise it yourself.
Uzbekistan’s souvenir industry is highly developed, thanks to its huge base of artisans producing masses of dishes, textiles and woodwork. It can all get quite overwhelming when faced with another endless row of sellers displaying a mountain of beautiful handmades.
I would say any purchase made in Uzbekistan is responsible, as all the products are made in Uzbekistan, by local crafts people. Even China can not produce at such low cost.
Discerning quality is another question of course, one that requires a real eye for detail, along with skill and experience. It is expected of you to haggle. Uzbeks are traders and bazaar people: bargaining is in their blood.