Page 1 of 1

Kyrgzystan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan plans

Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:27 am
by daway
Hello all, will be resuming a trip and will have 5 weeks in Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan starting next week. Welcoming any and all feedback on a tentative itinerary. People who have been to Kol Suu or Yagnob, please comment! I just finished 3 weeks in Xinjiang, crossed into Osh via Irkeshtam, saw some horse games at Kyrgyz Ata, and have seen Burana. Will be writing up a Xinjiang trip report soon.

1- land Bishkek
2- drop passport off at Uzbek embassy (with LOI prepared), go to Ala Archa
3- Bishkek -> Issyk Kul region
4, 5- Issyk Kul (what are the best towns?)
6- Issyk Kul -> Naryn
7,8,9- Kol Suu region (really high on this, seems very off-track and rewarding, but perhaps others will have easier to get to suggestions?)
10- Kol Suu -> Naryn -> Arslanbob (possible in one really long day?)
11- Arslanbob
12- Arslanbob -> Osh
13,14- Flex days waiting to arrange Pamir transport
15-23- 9 days on Pamir, Osh to Dushanbe
24,25- Dushanbe (will I need more time to rest after Pamir?)
26,27- Yagnob
28- Margilon
29- Namangan/Chust
30- Tashkent
31,32- Samarkand
33,34,35- Bukhara
36- Bukhara -> Tashkent
37- Tashkent -> Almaty
38- Fly out from Almaty

I can't find much information at all about Yagnob besides how to get there. Has anyone been? What's the best way to explore? Can I pencil in two days in Yagnob to hitch and walk around and soak in the region?

How 'must-see' are Iskanderkul, Seven Lakes, Penjakent, etc? Should I make time to check this area out, possibly by scratching Issyk Kul or Kol Suu?

I originally didn't have Uzbekistan in my plans. Is everything too squashed trying to include a quick sprint through Uzbekistan in?


Re: Kyrgzystan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan plans

Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 2:05 pm
by daway
Another option I'm seeing is to take Uzbekistan out and do something like

Add two days to Pamir Highway trip (11 days total, not including 2 days flex time waiting in Osh to arrange transport)
26-33 Penjakent / Seven Lakes / Iskanderkul / Yagnob Valley by foot
34- Penjakent -> Osh (possible without going through Uzbekistan?)
35- Osh -> Bishkek
36,37- Almaty
38- Fly out of Almaty

After this trip, I don't foresee myself having more than a week and a half at a time to travel for a couple years, but even still, it might be better to save Uzbekistan for later and do it properly, with plenty of time for small villages and an Aral Sea visit.

Re: Kyrgzystan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan plans

Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 7:24 pm
by mazeno
the data i submit is counted for own car (4x4, which is faster than e.g. marshrutka), doesn't include time spared on transport searching.
the rest of your itinerary seems ok.

> 7,8,9- Kol Suu region
you'll need border zone permit - usually about 2-3 weeks to get.

> 10- Kol Suu -> Naryn -> Arslanbob (possible in one really long day?)
minimum 3 days (naryn-jalalabad takes 2+ days).

> 36- Bukhara -> Tashkent
a very long day.

> 37- Tashkent -> Almaty
2 days. the fastest way is tashkent-shymkent-taras-almaty. there is a new highway (about 3-4 y.o.), from merki to kenen (not well described on googlemaps).

> 34- Penjakent -> Osh (possible without going through Uzbekistan?)
not possible in one day, you'll need 2 days.
possible w/o uzb: panjakent - khojent - isfara - (border crossing) - batken - (be carefull with the uzb enclave as marshrutka may drive through) - kyzyl kiya - osh.

Re: Kyrgzystan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan plans

Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 9:28 pm
by bwv812
Some thought's on mazeno's suggestions:
  • If you aren't driving yourself, you can easily take the overnight train from Bukhara to Tashkent.
  • I believe they have also improved the train service between Tashkent and Almaty—you should be able to find more information here on the train page or the forum.
  • I have heard of people doing Naryn-Jalalabad in one day, but not many people go directly between the two so it will likely be difficult to find transportation unless you want to charter a private car.
  • The Kyrgyz road from Osh to Isfara has been improved, and from what I understand all marshrutkas avoid the enclaves now. (Info should also be findable here in the forum.)
I think that spending more time in the Fann Mountains is something you would probably find quite rewarding, given the rest of your itinerary. ... ann-06.htm

If you do visit Uzbekistan, I think you will have more breathing space if you skip the Ferghana Valley and head directly from the Fanns to Tashkent. You can save time by taking night trains between Tashkent, Samarkand, and Bukhara (only a half-night's sleep on the trains in and out of Samarkand, though). I think you can also cut some time by skipping Issyk kul, as it's much more pedestrian than the other places on your trip.

Re: Kyrgzystan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan plans

Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:20 pm
by daway
Thanks, I'll look into the border permit for Kol Suu--did not realize it would be that difficult to obtain.

It seems that Naryn-Jalalabad is doable in one day, but I'll make sure whatever transport I charter for Kol Suu brings me back to Naryn and then I might do a two day Naryn -> Kazarman, Kazarman -> Jalalabad -> Arslanbob transit.

bwv, any reason for skipping Ferghana? Bukhara and Samarkand are supposed to be quite touristy, so I wanted to spend some time in smaller cities as well. And when you say you think I'll find the Fanns rewarding, is that from a pure scenic standpoint, or is the local culture different from other places as well?

Re: Kyrgzystan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan plans

Posted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 10:31 pm
by mazeno
> overnight train
i forgot about trains at all.

> people doing Naryn-Jalalabad in one day
sure, it is possible - but not too wise.
and i don't mind breaks for taking photos along the way.

Re: Kyrgzystan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan plans

Posted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 6:00 am
by bwv812
Namangan is the third biggest city in Uzbekistan. Margilon has the silk factory and a large but uninspiring market. In terms of local culture, I found Uzbekistan kind of boring: it's a fairly industrialized country with an unabashedly oppressive government. There's no doubt Bukhara and Samarkand are very touristy, but there are also real attractions to compensate.

The Fanns are interesting both culturally and geographically. The mountains are of a different character than in Kyrgyzstan or the Pamirs, and the people are also very different. Tajiks are the poorest of the CIS 'stans, and while the Pamiris may live in a harsher environment, they have the support of the Aga Khan and a progressive strain of Islam that makes them feel less impoverished. In the Fann mountains you find much harsher poverty, much more conservative Islam, less education, and less opportunity (other than sending young men to Russia). When I was walking in the mountains there I literally had some women run away from me, whereas in the Pamirs women were far from submissive and often in charge of the family. Plus, the hiking looks wonderful.

I think in Osh and Arslanbob you can get a decent impression of Uzbek culture and how it differs from Kyrgyz culture, and in fact I would say that Osh is more conservative than the Uzbekistan side of the Ferghana Valley (which is the more conservative part of Uzbekistan).

Of course these are merely my impressions and I'm biased and have definitely have less exposure to Uzbekistan than many. What I can say is that I spent only about 2 weeks in Uzbekistan and I have no real regrets that I was unable to spend more time there, while I do wish I had been able to spend more time in the mountain regions you're thinking of visiting (and I say this as someone who has never done any multi-day treks in my life, but wish I had in Kygyzstan and/or Tajikistan).

Re: Kyrgzystan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan plans

Posted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 4:40 pm
by daway
Shortening Kol Suu to 2 days, Naryn -> Kol Suu -> Naryn. I've been quoted 320 and 200 usd for a solo trip. 200$ seems like a good price and is in line with $115 per person that a group of two says they paid.

I've been sold on the Fanns!

After the Pamir Highway:
1- Dushanbe (pick up Uzbek visa with LOI)
2- Dushanbe, Margeb
3- Yagnob Valley
4- Yagnob Valley
5- Penjakent
6- Artush -> Gazza
7- Artush -> Gazza
8- Artush -> Gazza
9- Artush -> Gazza
10- Gazza -> Penjakent -> Khujand (or as close to the border as I can make it)
11- Khujand -> Tashkent
12- Tashkent
13- Bukhara
14- Bukhara, Samarkand
15- Samarkand
16- Samarkand
17- Samarkand -> Tashkent -> Almaty
18- Almaty (flex)
29- fly out in morning

I get 1.5 days in Tashkent, 1.5 days in Bukhara, and 2 days in Samarkand.

Tashkent -> Bukhara happens the night of 12/13, with a 22:00-7:01 train. Bukhara -> Samarkand is on day 14, 15:21-17:00 train. There are 'night' trains, but honestly the travel time is so short that taking a train (also avoiding the hottest part of the day) seems like a more efficient option. Samarkand -> Tashkent -> Almaty is an awesome transfer that I've lucked into. 5:00-9:30 train to Tashkent, then I happen to be in Tashkent for one of the two days that there's a high speed train to Almaty (Tuesday and Sunday), so I go to Almaty the same day 13:10-8:51 (+1 day). So in all, Samarkand -> Almaty should be possible in 28 hours!

Artush -> Gazza is a hiking trip passing Alaudin lakes and doing a 3/4 circumnavigation of Chimtarga Peak. Paramount does this trek in 7 days, but one of their guides has told me that 2(!) or 3 days is possible if you are a good hiker. 4 seems reasonable to me. Other resources quote this loop at 5 or 6 days. ... te-Map.svg is especially helpful. I am planning on 1) Artush -> Dushoka. 2) Dushoka -> Mutnoe via Alauddin pass. 3) Mutnoe -> Big Allo via Chimtarga. 4) Chimtarga -> Gazza.

Things I'm still unsure about:
Logistics in Yagnob. Is it possible to hitchhike from Margeb further into the valley? I would really like to make it to Pscon, but that's 32km from Margeb, the last place that seems to have reliable public transport. I thought of renting a mountain bike, which would make getting to Pscon very easy, but it seems most operators will only have bikes to rent from Iskanderkul and I would then have to find a way to transport the bike to Margeb.
Around when would the last transport from Sarvoda -> Penjakent leave?

Gazza to Khujand transfer. I assume I'll have to head back to Penjakent and from there catch a 4 hour bus to Khujand, unless I get lucky and can hitch a ride from the Zeravshan valley to Khujand. Does anyone know if hitching from Gazza -> Khujand is possible? Or will I have to arrange private transport to wait for me after my hike?

Schedule is now very tight--I really only have the two flex days before the Pamir trip and one flex day in Almaty to make sure I catch my flight. I also have a hard limit of finishing Pamir by the 12th (I guess I could cut out Yagnob if I really can't find a suitable Pamir itinerary). But if this works out, I'll feel really good about the compromise between the Fanns and sprinting through Uzbekistan.

Re: Kyrgzystan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan plans

Posted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 7:22 pm
by bwv812
I wouldn't bet at all on much traffic going down from Gazza, other than very early in the morning when locals go down to the market in Penjikent.

I'd be very interested in reading a write-up of your experiences in the Fanns (including Yagnob) and Kol Suu once you've finished your trip.