A 2-hour ride northeast from Tashkent lies Chimgan, Tashkent’s mountain resort. In wintertime it’s the place to be in Uzbekistan for skiing and heliskiing. In summer, it’s a great weekend getaway from the stifling heat of the city for swimming, hiking and mountain biking.
For those who just want to relax by the water, the road to Chimgan ends 20 minutes earlier in Bakachur at the Charvak reservoir. The brilliant blue of the reservoir attracts large crowds in summer. Most people are happy to just float in the water, but windsurfing and paragliding enthusiasts use the lake as well.
You can stay at one of the hotels or grab your sleeping bag and try a choikhona offering a cheap place to sleep under the open sky. Many locals are completely independent: they bring a tent and grill their own meat.
Beware, it gets cold at night.
Coming from Tashkent, Chimgan really feels like a different world. Mountain flowers are blossoming, in the distance lie snow-capped peaks, men ride horses and shepherd animals.
Targets for hiking trips are Kyzyldzhar or Aksay peak, Mramornaja Reka (the Marble river) and Gulkamsay waterfall.
We haven’t got much in the way of specifics, but Wikiloc already has some gpx trails you can use.
Going up further inside the extended finger digging into Kazakhstan’s belly, we are not sure what the possibilities are. In Soviet times people were rafting on the Pskem and Chatkal rivers, and kayaking from Koksu to the Saryram lakes.
All of this mountain tourism is very underdeveloped now because of the new border between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. We are not sure if you are even allowed this far without a border zone permit.
Chatkal biosphere reserve
The Chatkal biosphere reserve east of Chimgan holds 350 km² of forested slopes harboring bears, boars, snow leopards and Siberian goats. Petroglyphs can be found on the banks of the Tereksay river, and in spring, the area is covered in a flush of red, as blossoming wild tulips spill over the borders of Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Good place for trekkers who know how to take care of themselves and are happy to plan out their own route.
- In Chimgan, you can camp or stay in a dacha for 10$/night. A number of hotels offer accommodation options ranging from rock-bottom to stylish luxury.
- Marshrutkas to Chirchik and Gazalkent start at Buyuk Ipak Yoli metro station. Don’t be fooled by the taxi drivers, it’s just a bit further than the metro exit. A shared taxi will cost about double what you pay for public transport. If you are lucky, it takes the same amount of time with the marshrutka.
- At Chirchik or Gazalkent, get in another marshrutka or a shared taxi to Chimgan or Charvak reservoir.
- A bit lower than Chimgan lies Beldersoy, another, quieter option with good walking options, or skiing in winter.