Includes 1 stage in Tajikistan and 3 stages in Kyrgyzstan.
Uzbekistan, officially the Republic of Uzbekistan is a landlocked country in Central Asia. The sovereign state is a secular, unitary constitutional republic, comprising 12 provinces, one autonomous republic, and a capital city. Uzbekistan is bordered by five landlocked countries: Kazakhstan to the north; Kyrgyzstan to the northeast; Tajikistan to the southeast; Afghanistan to the south; and Turkmenistan to the southwest. Along with Liechtenstein, it is one of the world’s only two doubly landlocked countries.
What is now Uzbekistan was in ancient times part of the Iranian-speaking region of Transoxiana and Turan. The first recorded settlers were Eastern Iranian nomads, known as Scythians, who founded kingdoms in Khwarezm (8th–6th centuries BC), Bactria (8th–6th centuries BC), Sogdia (8th–6th centuries BC), Fergana (3rd century BC – 6th century AD), and Margiana (3rd century BC – 6th century AD). The area was incorporated into the Iranian Achaemenid Empire and, after a period of Macedonian Greek rule, was ruled by the Iranian Parthian Empire and later by the Sasanian Empire, until the Arab conquest of Iran in the 7th century. The Muslim conquest in the 7th century converted the majority of the population, including the local ruling classes, into adherents of Islam. During this period, cities such as Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara began to grow rich from the Silk Road. The local Khwarezmian dynasty, and Central Asia as a whole, were decimated by the Mongol invasion in the 13th century. After the Mongol Conquests, the area became increasingly dominated by Turkic peoples. The city of Shahrisabz was the birthplace of the Turco-Mongol warlord Timur, who in the 14th century established the Timurid Empire and was proclaimed the Supreme Emir of Turan with his capital in Samarkand. The area was conquered by Uzbek Shaybanids in the 16th century, moving the centre of power from Samarkand to Bukhara. The region was split into three states: Khanate of Khiva, Khanate of Kokand, and Emirate of Bukhara. It was gradually incorporated into the Russian Empire during the 19th century, with Tashkent becoming the political center of Russian Turkestan. In 1924, after national delimitation, the constituent republic of the Soviet Union known as the Uzbek Soviet Socialist Republic was created. Following the breakup of the Soviet Union, it declared independence as the Republic of Uzbekistan on 31 August 1991.
Uzbekistan has a diverse cultural heritage due to its storied history and strategic location. Its first major official language is Uzbek, a Turkic language written in the Latin alphabet and spoken natively by approximately 85% of the population. Russian has widespread use as a governmental language; it is the most widely taught second language. Uzbeks constitute 81% of the population, followed by Russians (5.4%), Tajiks (4.0%), Kazakhs (3.0%), and others (6.5%). Muslims constitute 79% of the population while 5% of the population follow Russian Orthodox Christianity, and 16% of the population follow other religions or are non-religious. A majority of Uzbeks are non-denominational Muslims. Uzbekistan is a member of the CIS, OSCE, UN, and the SCO. While officially a democratic republic, by 2008 non-governmental human rights organizations defined Uzbekistan as “an authoritarian state with limited civil rights”.
Following the death of Islam Karimov in 2016, the second president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, started a new course, which was described as a A Quiet Revolution and Revolution from Above. He stated he intended to abolish cotton slavery, systematic use of child labour, exit visas, to introduce a tax reform, create four new free economic zones, as well as amnestied some political prisoners. The relations with neighboring countries of Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan drastically improved. However, the Amnesty International report on human rights in the country for 2017/2018 described continued repressive measures, including forced labour in cotton harvesting, and restrictions on movements of ‘freed’ prisoners.
The Uzbek economy is in a gradual transition to the market economy, with foreign trade policy being based on import substitution. In September 2017, the country’s currency became fully convertible in the market rates. Uzbekistan is a major producer and exporter of cotton. The country also operates the largest open-pit gold mine in the world. With the gigantic power-generation facilities of the Soviet era and an ample supply of natural gas, Uzbekistan has become the largest electricity producer in Central Asia. Renewable energy constitutes more than 23% of the country’s energy sector, with hydroelectricity and solar energy having 21.4% and 2% respectively.
Stage 33 Beyneu (Kazakhstan) – Border – Karakalpakiya (Uzbekistan)
This is a tiny place of 3000 people. For the next few days don’t expect anything other than poor roads and desert and be aware that water stops are few and far between. Roads have been improved since this guy rode this way. Expect to see wild horses and camels too.
Stage 34 Karakalpakiya – Jasliq
Jasliq is also a small town (pop 4000) which has a notorious prison and nothing much else. here’s an account of some cyclists do this route: mostly a tale of dehydration, poor food and exploding bowels!
Stage 35 Jasliq – Hotel UGCC Kyrkkyz
Big time. This place has a population of about a 1000. But it also has the ruins of some famous fortresses nearby.
Stage 36 Hotel UGCC Kyrkkyz – Stanciya Shumanay
Nothing known about this place except it is close to the Turkmenistan border and has a railway station, and surprisingly, is close to the Amu Darya river. This is the River Oxus of legend. Alexander the Great crossed it three times. At 2,500km it’s the longest river in Asia. This is the country of Oxiana: Robert Byron’s “Road to Oxiana” (1933) is sometimes said to be the greatest travel book ever written.
Stage 37 Stanciya Shumanay – Nazarhan
You cross the Oxus river today at Nukus, which is Uzbekistans 6th biggest city with a population of 300,000. It was a former site for chemical weapons manufacture and testing, now known more for it’s Museum of Art. This is what the Guardian had to say in May 2019
“This museum in a bleak outpost has one of the world’s greatest collections of avant-garde art, rescued from Stalin’s clutches by an electrician. But now it needs a rescue of its own”
No information on Nazarhan.
Stage 38 Nazarhan – Beruni
Beruni is a reasonable sized town of 60,000. Still on the Amu Darya river which you have followed all day.
Stage 39 Beruni – Sarimoi
Still more or less following the river you’ll pass through Turtkul, a fairly large town, but then no further information for Sarimoi.
Stage 40 Sarimoi – Kizilqum Teahouse A-380
Stage 41 Kizilqum Teahouse A-380 – Gazli
No information for these places as you cross the desert until you reach the small town of Gazli. Almost no information: it appears to be an area of Natural Gas extraction.
You are crossing the Kyzylkum Desert so you’ll be watching your water.
Stage 42 Gazli – Vobkent
Vobkent is a small towm of 17,000 population, noted for its minaret.
Stage 43 Vobkent – Sultonobod
Sutonobod appears to be a small town or village: not much information. It’s just after Navoi, which is a large city and the regional capital.
Stage 44 Sultonobod – Samarkand, Juma
Juma is a small town of 25,000.
Stage 45 Samarkand, Juma – Gallaorol
Gallaorol is a small town of about 16,000.
Stage 46 Gallaorol – Hovos
You pass through Jizzakh today – another huge city on the Silk Road. Hovos is on the border of Tajikistan, but no other information is available.
Tajikistan, officially the Republic of Tajikistan, is a mountainous, landlocked country in Central Asia with an area of 143,100 km2 (55,300 sq mi) and an estimated population of 8.7 million people as of 2016. It is bordered by Afghanistan to the south, Uzbekistan to the west, Kyrgyzstan to the north, and China to the east. The traditional homelands of the Tajik people include present-day Tajikistan as well as parts of Afghanistan and Uzbekistan.
The territory that now constitutes Tajikistan was previously home to several ancient cultures, including the city of Sarazm of the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, and was later home to kingdoms ruled by people of different faiths and cultures, including the Oxus civilisation, Andronovo culture, Buddhism, Nestorian Christianity, Zoroastrianism, Manichaeism and Islam. The area has been ruled by numerous empires and dynasties, including the Achaemenid Empire, Sasanian Empire, Hephthalite Empire, Samanid Empire, Mongol Empire, Timurid dynasty, the Khanate of Bukhara, the Russian Empire, and subsequently the Soviet Union. Within the Soviet Union, the country’s modern borders were drawn when it was part of Uzbekistan as an autonomous republic before becoming a full-fledged Soviet republic in 1929.
On 9 September 1991, Tajikistan became an independent sovereign nation when the Soviet Union disintegrated. A civil war was fought almost immediately after independence, lasting from 1992 to 1997. Since the end of the war, newly established political stability and foreign aid have allowed the country’s economy to grow. Like all other Central Asian neighbouring states, the country, led by President Emomali Rahmon since 1994, has been criticised by a number of non-governmental organizations for authoritarian leadership, lack of religious freedom, corruption and widespread violations of human rights.
Tajikistan is a presidential republic consisting of four provinces. Most of Tajikistan’s 8.7 million people belong to the Tajik ethnic group, who speak Tajik (a dialect of Persian). Russian being used as inter-ethnic language. While the state is constitutionally secular, Islam is practiced by 98% of the population. In the Gorno-Badakhshan Oblast of Tajikistan, despite its sparse population, there is large linguistic diversity where Rushani, Shughni, Ishkashimi, Wakhi and Tajik are some of the languages spoken. Mountains cover more than 90% of the country. It has a transition economy that is highly dependent on remittances, aluminium and cotton production. Tajikistan is a member of the United Nations, CIS, OSCE, OIC, ECO, SCO and CSTO as well as an NATO PfP partner.
Stage 47 Hovos – Ayni Street 299Б Dushanbe (Tajikistan) [I think this is a mistake: the map shows Chigdalik as your stopover – Dushanbe is the capital of Tajikistan and miles away from here]
You cross the border into Tajikistan at Bekobod and follow the Syr Darya (river) towards Khujand and then along the shore of the huge Kairakum Reservoir to Chigdalik. May be time for a spot of birdwatching along here.
Khujand is the 2nd largest city in Tajikistan. This is as far east as Alexander the Great came and some vestiges of Greek culture remained here for centuries afterwards.
No information is available for Chigdalik.
Stage 48 Ayni Street 299Б Dushanbe (Tajikistan) – Rishtan (Uzbekistan) [See remarks about Dushanbe in previous day]
Today you cross back into Uzbekistan at Zharhok and then onto Rishtan (Rishton) which is a large town (pop 30,000) famous for ceramics.
Stage 49 Rishtan (Uzbekistan) – Marhamat (Uzbekistan)
Marhat is a small town of 16,000 close to the border of Kyrgystan. On the way you pass through the larger city of Margilan which is still famous for it’s silks. The Fergana valley is famous for its produce and fruits.
Kyrgyzstan, officially the Kyrgyz Republic, and also known as Kirghizia, is a country in Central Asia. Kyrgyzstan is a landlocked country with mountainous terrain. It is bordered by Kazakhstan to the north, Uzbekistan to the west and southwest, Tajikistan to the southwest and China to the east. Its capital and largest city is Bishkek.
Kyrgyzstan’s recorded history spans over 2,000 years, encompassing a variety of cultures and empires. Although geographically isolated by its highly mountainous terrain, which has helped preserve its ancient culture, Kyrgyzstan has been at the crossroads of several great civilizations as part of the Silk Road and other commercial and cultural routes. Though long inhabited by a succession of independent tribes and clans, Kyrgyzstan has periodically fallen under foreign domination and attained sovereignty as a nation-state only after the breakup of the Soviet Union in 1991.
Since independence, the sovereign state has officially been a unitary parliamentary republic, although it continues to endure ethnic conflicts, revolts, economic troubles, transitional governments and political conflict. Kyrgyzstan is a member of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Collective Security Treaty Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, the Turkic Council, the Türksoy community and the United Nations.
Ethnic Kyrgyz make up the majority of the country’s 6 million people, followed by significant minorities of Uzbeks and Russians. Kyrgyz is closely related to other Turkic languages, although Russian remains widely spoken and is an official language, a legacy of a century of Russification. The majority of the population are non-denominational Muslims. In addition to its Turkic origins, Kyrgyz culture bears elements of Persian, Mongolian, and Russian influence.
Stage 50 Marhamat (Uzbekistan) – Taldyk (Kyrgyzstan)
You cross into Kyrgyzstan early in the day on yoiur way to Osh which is Kyrgyzstans 2nd largest city (pop 300,000) and then a long slow climb to the tiny village of Taldyk.
Stage 51 Taldyk – coffee house Sary-Tash
Today you cross the Taldyk Pass at 3615m. It looks like one hell of a road. Your destination of Sary Tash is also a tiny village (pop 1500) and is at 3170m.
Stage 52 coffee house Sary-Tash – Irkeshtam
Irkeshtam is the border crossing town to China and sits at 3000m. These last two days will be difficult: here are some notes on finding food & drink along the way and fuel too which it says can be hard to find in China. It even mentions that you are not allowed to cycle the first section of road in China and must get a taxi.