Hello, Salaam, Privet, we are Olivier, Gregoire and Ana, and this page is nothing more than our experiences cycling in Uzbekistan. The goal was simple, going from Bukhara to Tashkent cycling and to see and fell a small stretch of the popular and legendary Silk Road. If still you have curiosity about what we can offer, please, you are welcome. As-salaam-alaykum.

Map of the Route

Why Uzbekistan?
The idea of traveling to Uzbekistan was initiated by a spontaneous interest on the city of Samarkand, it is curious because his name appeared in my mind for a long time, but I was unable to locate it on a map, even why it was there or where come from. Later on, a book by Gabriel Pernau named China by bike, remind me the interest towards Samarkand and made me give triggering and the determination to do two things: make a trip by bicycle and the chosen for such adventure will be Uzbekistan . I commented to several friends and at the end two persons decided to join the trip, Gregoire Allot and Ana Mir.

Why by Bike?
Many years ago I met a basque person on the border area of Brazil with Argentina, the intrepid traveller was doing a bicycle trip from Mexico to reach Buenos Aires. That person and their experiences shocked me deeply and always it left in my mind the curiousity to perform at some point in my life a trip by bike. For this kind of experience Uzbekistan seemed perfect, perfect because the Silk Road, the bike seemed to emulate in a similar manner to those caravans, I was able to visit the leyend Samarkand and finally, the route will took place on flat, and that was very important, because aside Ana, myself and Gregoire are not great cyclists.

Stage 1: Bukhara - Guzhduvan
Stage 2: Guzhduvan - Navoy
Stage 3: Navoy - Kattaburgan
Stage 4: Kattaburgan - Samarcanda
Stage 5: Samarcanda - Jizzax
Stage 6: Jizzax - Gulistan
Stage 7: Gulistan - Tashkent
Recomendacions & Observacions

Stage 1: Bukhara - Gujduvan

Information about the Route

Distance: 57 Km
Difficulty: Low, flat ground
Road: Main road in good conditions.
Comments: This day we had a terrible front wind that only allowed us to achieve an average speed of 14Km / h. It was a very hard day, personally i thought that if every day was going to be the case, I would fail to finish the route.

The arrival to Bukhara from Tashkent using the night train. We could not believe it but we are able to be 3 bicycles in a compartment within us inside!

Bukhara really we loved it; Its narrows streets, its quiet environments and the local good people, made a pleasant stay.

Here began the route, leaving the B&B of the family Malikjon. To comment on that right next to the B&B there is a synagogue and a school for Sephardic Jews. I stayed with the desire to see if it is true the legend says that some sefardís have kept the JewsSpanish language from generation to generation in order to remind their Spanish roots.

Stage 2: Gujduvan - Navoy

Information about the Route

Distance: 70 Km
Difficulty: Low, flat ground
Road: Main road in good conditions.
Comments: This day the wind was much softer, even so, it was pretty hard for me.

Cherrs up! Only remaining 549 km to Tashkent.

Former seating for caravans.

Stage 3: Navoy - Kattaburgan

Information about the Route

Distance: 98 Km
Difficulty: Low, flat ground
Road: Main road in good conditions.
Comments: After the first two days, the wind disappeared completely and the body already accustomed to trot offers optimal performance.

Every time we were doing a stop to eat or rest, almost always we had funny anecdotes. The strong and friendly man from the photo, gave us a bottle of vodka and a huge watermelon of 10Kg! Shit! And now who will carry this big ball in the bike!

The boys with the black glasses are strong today!

Uzbekistan is the fifth largest producer of cotton in the world and during the route kilometers and kilometers of cotton fields accompanyed us on the trip.

Stage 4: Kattaburgan - Samarkand

Information about the Route

Distance: 78 Km
Difficulty: Low, ground wavy
Road: Main road in good conditions.
Comments: From Kattaburgan there are two ways to go to Samarkand, the motorway M39 and the option we chose. This road was in good condition but with endless ups and downs that lost the rhythm continually.

1679 years later that Alexander the Great came into Maracanda (Current Samarkand), and 604 years later did it by the ambassadors of the King of Castilla, we arrived with our bicycles in the mythical city. As anecdote comment, our entourage was more simple and humble, but also we had honors. When we arrived into the city, a man with lively and cheerful attitude shouted us a few words that we understood as something like, Welcome to Samarkand! Or, You have already arrived in Samarkand! ! The truth is that we felt excited. Though perhaps he said something else completely different? :-O jajaja

Currently the city is diffrent as it used to be but still it has a lot of nice building that help you to imagine how the city was. One thing I didn´t known before making the journey, is that most of the historical monuments have been rebuilt by the Russian in times of the Soviet Union, in a colossal effort.

According to the book of Ruy Gonzales de Clavijo, the name of
Samarkand is coming from the word Cimiscante, where "cimis" means "abundant", and "cante" is by village.

Stage 5: Samarkand - Jizzax

Information about the Route

Distance: 110 Km
Difficulty: Low, flat ground
Road: Main road in good conditions.
Comments: The route from Samarkand to Jizzax is in descending over several km, which made an easiest stage.

Ana and Greg in the passage of the Iron Gates (Gates Timur). This step in the most narrow of the mountains of Nuratau, shortly km Jizzax. This area has seen many bloody battles and as discussed, has two entries, one belongs to Ulugbek and another to Abdullah Khan, the Emir of Bukhara, but we were unable to find them. The Iron Gates are mountain passes that in times of Emir Timur were heavily guarded and anyone who had intended to pass to give a tribute to the Lord. Appeared to be another Iron Gates near to Termiz.

Uzbek Women in a cotton field. The ethnic mix in Uzbekistan is amazing, where East meet West.

Stage 6: Jizzax - Gulistan

Information about the Route

Distance: 127 Km
Difficulty: Low, flat ground
Road: Main road in good conditions.
Comments: We left Jizzakh taking the M39, in theory there should be a diversion before reaching the border with Kazakhstan, however we decided to take a secondary road thinking it would be more straight way to Gulistan. But the truth it was a mistake.

The most of buildings, streets, hotels built by Soviet influence had a superbly and cold look. The only thing to highlight is the underground of Tashkent.

Funny lunch with some locals just a few kilometers from Gulistan. Menu: Soup, bread, tea and dessert with a rich melon.

Stage 7: Gulistan - Tashkent

Information about the Route

114 Km
Difficulty: Low, flat ground
Road: Main road in good conditions.
Comments: Quite a bit chaotic and dangerous entry to Tashkent.

Making a Plov with Mr Murad at the end of Ramadá.

The 5.5% population of Uzbekistan is with Russian origins. In Tashkent Yulia helped us a lot more than once.

Olivier the French with Olivier the Spanish. In Tashkent I met him, he came by bicycle from Geneva and aims to reach Thailand. I wish him good luck in his task. Animo Olivier! If you want to know more things about his adventure

Recommendations & Observations

I describe a number of interesting I things it´s nice to share if someone decides to make such a trip.
  • Do not pack the bikes in boxes too big. Go to any bike shop and ask for small boxes (Such boxes must dismantle both the pedals as the front wheel)
  • You should not have problems in leaving the boxes free in a hotel and reused them for the trip back.
  • In Uzbekistan there are several bicycle shops, I saw one in Gizhduvan, another in Samarkand and Tashkent there are several options, a shop near Street Navoy and Emir Timur, and also there are many pieces in one pside of the Chorsu market.
  • In general we can say that the roads in Uzbekistan are in good condition and that drivers do not represent a great danger to cyclists. Only in Tashkent we have to watch out.
Maps and Guides
At first I looked at the lonely planet guide but it didn´t convinced me, in fact, if you only travel to one country in the area of Central Asia I can not find it very useful. Instead Internet, as in many other cases became a huge bazaar of information. To trace the path the best option was Google Earth.

Pages that helped us

Maps of Uzbekistan and Towns,

In Tashkent we had planned to go to GuestHouse Gulnara but due to availability problems we had to go on the begining at Hotel Sam Buh (15 Dollares / per) and at the end at Guesthouse National House (8 Dollar / per), close to the market Chorsu Bazaar . (They speak very little English)

In Bukhara we stayed at the B & B Malikjon (12 Dollars / per), it was nice and the owners very polite and pleasant. (Speak English)

In Samarkand we went at the B & B Bahodir (10 Dollars / per), perfect environment backpacker to meet and exchange ideas with other travelers. (Speak English)

Former hotels of Soviet era (8000 sums / per), these were expensive and the facilities were horrible.

Also we stayed at very cheap hotels (4000 sums/per), which we had the conclusion they were in general picaderos "place to have sex". In the silence we could appreciate some groans compulsive female ecstasy ;-)

The Uzbeks
The Uzbeks are very quiet and pleasant, never we had an issue. We noted an innocence and a tremendous curiosity to the foreigner. A special mention to the Armenians, who by chance we were invited to a birthday party and we were able to live a crazy party as the style of the Kustorica´s movies.

We are captivated by the tremendous mix of faces. So many invaders and so many cultures have been in Central Asia that is a show simply visualize the look of the people. Interesting are the ethnic group called tajikos, they can have blue or green eyes. Some historians says, since Alexander the Great led one part of his army to stay in Central Asia began to born babies with green/blue eyes.

We had heard and read bad stories about police in Uzbekistan demanding money or even seize goods at the time of inspections. I think that the importance of tourism has resulted from high levels of government to cut such practices. We didn´t have any problem, only its curiosity and boredom made us stop several times. Druk Jose Luis Zapatero (friend of Jose Luis Zapatero), a police officer told us when he know that me and Ana were Spanish.

Very few people spoke English so it is very important to know a few words in Russian and Uzbek, in addition to knowing the Cyrillic alphabet. A simple greeting or farewell in local languaje, I think it is a simple protocol of respect that they truly appreciate.

Money & cost of living
We read it was better to travel with dollars and the truth is that it does not matter. Instead, you should change them by the local currency and pay in SUMS. Uzbekistan in a country cheaper for a European. Eat in a local cafe may be 1500 SUMS (soup, salad, bread, meat and te), 1 Euro = 1800 SUMS.

List price as a Guide

Bread-300 Sums
Plov-600 Sums
Meat-600 Sums
Salad-300 Sums
Samsa-300 Sums
Cheap Beer-600 Sums
Taxi on Tashkent-1000 Sums depending on the distance
Sprind water-400 to 500 Sums
Metro Tashkent-250 Sums
Tabaco Pall Mal-800 Sums
Museum Amir Timur-3000 Sums
Package Noodles-250 Sums

Uzbekistan is a islam country but from our point of view it is very light. You can see people drinking beer or Vodka, women with secies clothes.... The fact that the country was a part of the Soviet Union means, that there is a vision of religion very intimate. Yet attention must be done to small details in order not to offend.

Our stay was from September 29 to October 21 and it was hot during the day and quite cold at night . A jacket and a sweater should be in the suitcase.

Nosh (Not exactly as written)
One day, I was approached by an Uzbek and striking out a sachet with green grass inside told me if I wlould wanted. I thought it was marijuana and denied the invitanción, but the following day we discovered that it was a mixture of legal herbs very popular in the country and it can be purchased in many places. Take a small amount and put under the tongue for a time. It seems that makes you fly but even we tried we didn´t feel anything special. It is important not to swallow, because it is very toxic and you will vomit immediately.

Spain / Uzbekistan
If you have a few days in Tashkent I will recommend you to visit the University of Foreign Languages , where Uzbeks receive Spanish as the first language. I wentone morning and I had the opportunity to speak in a nice atmosphere with the students during two classes. The University is a building cross the streets Beruni and Navoi, near the Chorsu Bazaar and the Madrasa Kukeldash. If you are French, also I hear that there is one center in the city.

Mainly theUzbeks know Spain by the soccer but also it was very nice to know that some of them knew Spain by a old story happened in times of Emir Timur. At that time, the king Enrique III of Castilla send some ambassadors to Samarkand with the aim of sending a message to the Great Emir Timur. One of the mandated for this adventure was Ruy Gonzalez de Clavijo, who wrote a a very interested book called embassy to Tamorlán, describing the experiences of the trip. A curiousity for lovers of history.

I´m sure I missing many other information and perhaps i will add in the future, but also I think it is desirable to leave some things in blank to be surprised insitu.


Is it worthy going to Uzbekistan?
For me yes, but it is clear that depends on each individual.

  • For those who are curious to see a Muslim country but their are afraid of several destinations for all the current news. Uzbekistan may be a good option.
  • For lovers of history and legends, this country can offer them a lot simply by Emir Timur, Samarkand and the Silk Road.
  • Experienced cyclists surely prefer greatest challenges or most beautiful landscapes.
  • For urban cyclists like me or Gregorie in search of exotic routes can be a great choice.
  • For large travelers probably will not settle only with Uzbekistan, but will be one of the many destinations within a great trip.
  • For those who like country quiet and kind people, Uzbekistan is a good choice.

Ultimately, you decide.

For any questions, you can write me,