The heritage of the Boysun district is a unique blend of Tajik and Uzbek cultures mixed with older traditions that survived in the remote villages of the Hissar mountains (Youtube – longer video). For this, the Boysun cultural space was inscribed on UNESCO’s list of intangible heritage.
If you would like to witness these traditions, your best chance is the Boysun Bahori festival organised every year in April.
The landscape here is one of narrow canyons, deep caves and fresh springs, hiding traces of ancient times. The dry Hissar range offers grand views over the eroded land below.
Crafts & festival
UNESCO’s work in the 2000s led to the establishment of new workshops and the rekindling of forgotten craft techniques. Easy to visit is the crafts center north of the bazaar on Navoiy street (OSM), where a little museum displays locally-made suzani blending Tajik and Uzbek styles. You can see women working on new products in the adjacent workshop from Monday to Friday.
The Boysun Bahori festival (Boysun Spring) showcases the traditions of the area. It is usually held in the last week of April, but more details tend to be scarcely communicated. We have a forum Q&A where your questions and findings are welcome.
Follow the Machay river upstream from Darband through the impressive canyon by the same name. At the narrowest part of the canyon the holy spring of Khoja Maixona (Gmaps) offers the perfect excuse for a break.
A kilometre further on, a bridge over the river points the way into a side gorge known as Kaptarxona.
Teshik Tash cave
Follow past the 3 beautifully situated villages of Machay to come to Teshik Tash (GPX trail), a cave where an important Neanderthal burial was found in 1938. Before it was thought Neanderthals did not live in Central Asia. The cave is scenic and you can feel like a caveman for a moment. Some wall drawings can still be discerned.
Surkhandarya’s dry, hilly landscape of eroded rock definitely has an attraction. Especially at dawn and sunset, the play of shadows on the area’s many canyons are a beautiful sight when seen from above.
The ridge of the Boysuntog massif has 3 trekking peaks that are common destinations. Most popular because of the spectacular view at the top is Gur Gur Ata (3724m – 13 hours – OSM). Tchal (3586 m – 15 hours – OSM) is situated a bit further along the Gur Gur Ata ridge. Buz Barak (3920m – 17 hours – OSM) is the furthest removed.
Teshik Tash is a nice hike, but Machay has trails in every direction to explore (here’s one).
The Red Canyon (Kyzyl Canyon) stretches out for 35 km from Boysun’s southeastern edge (OSM). Watch out for dehydration.
Exploring the Hissar mountains near the border with Tajikistan is not possible. There is a police presence and mines from the civil war in the nineties still remain.
It is a speleologist’s heaven with dozens of deep caves. Festivalnaya and Dark Star are the 2 deepest ones. After 30 years of exploration, still no one quite knows how deep they run.
Holy springs and Greek archaeology
Omonkhona (OSM / Gmaps) is a holy spring that attracts visitors from across the country. The water is said to have curative properties for kidney diseases. A tourist industry has sprung up with restaurants and places to stay, and a sanatorium offers 10-day cures.
Transport, accommodation and Q&A
Boysun’s train station is situated 12 km south of town. The train ride offers beautiful views. Using (shared) taxis you can reach the other destinations in the area.
Accommodation-wise, Hotel Gaza is the best option. Normat is cheap but that’s the only positive thing we can say about it.
We welcome your questions and reports on visiting Boysun in this forum thread.