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Travel Suggestions for the Stans and companions requested

Travel Suggestions for the Stans and companions requested

Old May 30th, 2015, 04:59 AM
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Travel Suggestions for the Stans and companions requested

My partner and are are currently on a world tour and are in the process of applying for visa's for Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan with a view to visit these countries late June, early July.

Turkmenistan will be travelled on a Transit visa so we won't have much time there, our route is Turkmenbashi, Ashgabat, Darvaza Gas Craters, Konye Urgench.

In Uzbekistan our route is Nukus, Aral Sea, Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand.

Keen to understand if our destinations of choice are worth visiting or are we missing something, would love recommendations on things to do, places to stay and any good advice for travelling in these countries.

In addition we are looking for two other people who may also be keen to do a tour to Darvaza Gas Craters and Aral Sea (appreciate a messy question when we aren't able to give dates for the tour yet)
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Old May 30th, 2015, 06:44 AM
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Central Asia is still on my wish list, but I've done a fair amount of research. A lot of people would put Merv on that list, but I have to say that the photos aren't that exciting. Why the Aral Sea? Otherwise that looks like a pretty standard list.

Are you going on to Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan? They interest me a lot more than Turkmenistan.
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Old May 30th, 2015, 06:58 AM
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We will go to Kyrgyzstan but after much debate we have decided to skip Tajikistan.
Thanks re: Merv I'll take a look at that.
We would like to go to the Aral Sea because we are studying Permaculture, so we want to observe the landscape, see the effects that have been caused there and learn if nature has taken any of it's own actions to override the human impact amongst a few other things.
Many Thanks
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Old May 30th, 2015, 07:42 AM
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I cannot comment on Turkmenistan, but I was in Uzbekistan last week, visiting Nukus, Khiva, Bukhara, and Samarkand, as well as Tashkent.

Since the Aral Sea has shrunk to about 10 % of its original size because of drainage for cotton irrigation and the main port is now many kilometers from water, I don't know what there is to see there.

Nukus has the excellent Savitsky Museum.

Heading south toward Khiva, there are three fortresses from Zoroastrian times: Ayaz Kala, Toprak Kala, and Kizil Kala. It is a good hike to the top of each.

I enjoyed visiting Khiva more than Bukhara and Samarkand because the old city is small and clearly defined within its walls, both original and restored. The mosques, mausoleums, and madrassas might not be as spectacular as those elsewhere, but I got a better sense of life in earlier centuries.

Bukhara was next best and has many things to see. There has been a lot of restoration. Samarkand was packed with tourists, more so domestic than foreign. Its main sights were scattered over a wide area. It was difficult to get a sense of the whole in either city. Particularly after visiting them, I felt brain dead from an overload of architecture, inscriptions, artistic design, museums, and symbolism. Time and the Soviets were instrumental in destroying a good deal of the cultural achievement of Timur and other rulers and, now, the UZ government is restoring what it can. The consequence is that when a visitor stands at a gate, he asks, "Is this original or is this restored?"

While you have not asked about Kyrgyzstan, it has been mentioned in replies and I'll comment on it, too, since I was there three weeks ago. I started in Bishkek and went by bus all the way to the Chinese border. (I was with a small group of nine people.) Bishkek is a pretty sterile city with many reminders of Soviet control. The country itself---what I saw of it---is mostly pastoral, although growing strawberries is a big business. There are many horses and many herds of sheep guarded by cowboys on horses. In the east, the Tien Shan mountains dominate the landscape. They are snow-covered and beautiful, reminding me of the Rockies in the U.S. Overall, though, in my opinion, Kyrgyzstan has a dearth of desirable tourist destinations. ZZ
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Old May 30th, 2015, 09:01 AM
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Zambezi thank you very much. I think I may have to tweak the amount of nights I had scheduled to say in some of the towns.
Also thanks for the Kyrgyzstan feedback, we were thinking of doing yurt/homestays mainly in the countryside, Lake Song-Kol, Ala-Archa, Arslanbob before we make our way into Kazakstan.
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Old Nov 5th, 2015, 04:14 AM
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A fascinating itinerary! Have you visited Kyrgyzstan and what were your impressions?
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Old Dec 2nd, 2015, 08:27 PM
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Ann and Olof: (loved your web pages)

Even though your trip through the Stans is probably over, I sent you some "stuff" (pics) from SSR days that will remind you of the area which we traveled in the 1980's. I tossed in Yunnan too.
Cheers...keep on traveling...Permaculture must survive!!!
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