It was everything we expected and then some. Remote Lands was great and I would definitely use your agency again for another trip
Nurata & Aydarkul Lake
The capital of Navoi province, Nurata is an ancient city in the north west of Uzbekistan. It is surrounded by diverse and dramatic natural beauty from the the red sands of the Kyzyl Kum desert to the wild and barren expanse of the Uzbek steppe and the rugged peaks of the Nuratau mountains. The city is of historical and spiritual significance: founded by Alexander the Great in 327 BC, it's still possible to visit the ruins of the mighty fortress he built here; meanwhile, pilgrims visit its holy graves, Djuma mosque and natural spring.
Around 30 miles from the city lie the crystal blue waters of Lake Aydarkul, a miracle of nature that occurred in the flood of 1969 when the Syr Darya River burst its banks. Its 1,864 square miles is a haven to countless species of fish and birds and plant life. Visitors flock to the banks of the Aydarkul for a myriad of activities and pleasant days spent in stunning natural surroundings.
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Jay Tindall was amazed by Uzbekistan's cultural diversity, its 2700-year old history and its mosques, markets and friendly people.
Within the historical city of Nurata lie the ruins of the fortress built by Alexander the Great, who took advantage of its strategic geographical position on the edge of the steppe. Imposing walls punctuated by watch towers surround the eight million-square-feet of inner-fortress. Today, visitors come to clamber over the walls and explore the ruins which once fortified the Alexandrian Empire.
Within the city is a religious ensemble of buildings deeply significant to Islam and popular with Muslim pilgrims. It’s arranged around the Chashma - a spring said to have appeared when Caliph Hazrat Ali struck the ground with his staff; the natural waters are considered holy and cleansing. The complex comprises a Djuma - a mosque, a well and a Khanom - a bath house.
The rich flora and fauna that cover the banks of Lake Aydarkul have become home to hundreds of species of wildlife and birds. Keen birdwatchers come with their binoculars and cameras to catch a glimpse of the Dalmatian pelican with its orange bill and scruffy plumage, the squat pygmy cormorant or red-breasted goose. Commonly seen circling the skies above the lake are majestic white-tailed eagles and ominous black vultures.
The waters of Aydarkul Lake are hugely popular with fishermen from all over the world who visit in droves to spend a day or more angling for a catch in the huge turquoise mirror. The lake is teeming with all kinds of species of underwater life including carp and barbel carp, white bream, perch and catfish, as well as the indigenous central Asian samarkan waddler. Fishermen are welcome to bring their own gear, or hire all their gear on arrival.
The rugged and winding mountain passes surrounding Lake Aydarkul are extremely popular with explorers, many of whom choose to see the area on horseback. Astride a hardy mountain steed, climb the foothills of the Naratau range to enjoy sweeping vistas of the azure waters, framed by jutting peaks, and at the end of the day, head back down to cool off with a swim in the lake.
This 11-day journey follows the ancient Silk Road of Uzbekistan, encompassing the historic trade cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. The beauty, as well as the sheer scale of construction is enough to captivate thousands pilgrims and tourists alike. You'll also have time for a camel ride and night under the stars in the Uzbek desert.
For the one true way to get back to nature and genuinely immerse yourself in Uzbek culture, why not stay in a traditional yurt camp? With Kizilkum Safari, it’s possible to experience a slice of nomadic life featuring everything from the camels to the communal cooking. Set in the stunning scenery of Nurata with the gorgeous turquoise waters of Lake Aydarkul and its snowy peaked mountains nearby, guests can enjoy staying in a real Kazakh yurt without giving up their creature comforts. While this isn’t a luxury hotel, the beds are comfortable, the water is clean and the quiet of the countryside is peaceful and calming. The folks at Kizilkum Safari are friendly and accommodating and guests can arrange to stay in their own individual yurt or in groups of up to six people. What better way to properly experience a totally different way of life, experiencing Uzbekistan’s great outdoors?