It is easy to get architecture burnout in Uzbekistan. And we did.
There is supposed to be great hiking and birdwatching in the mountains of the Nuratau-Kyzylkum Biosphere Reserve, which is about three hours north of Samarkand. This area is also where you can experience Uzbekistan’s community-based tourism project, the only one of its kind in Uzbekistan. It is sponsored by the UN Development Program, and many families have converted their homes into rustic guesthouses. It is a good way to go local in Uzbekistan as it is otherwise very problematic, if not illegal, to stay in someone’s home. In fact, every tourist must be given registration slips from hotels or guesthouses indicating duration of stay etc and these slips can be requested by the police when leaving the country.
Rita was also keen to experience life in a remote village albeit apprehensive about the standard of accommodation. Well, it’s rustic! Think clay/mud/grass combo but for the sake of the tourists, they do have Western style toilets and hot showers! Additionally, everything you eat will be home-grown, or home-raised and water will be from a clean source.
It was a chilled three days to say the least with plenty of time reading and relaxing on a tapchan (tea bed). It was a great way to see how one Tajik family lives and take a break from mosques and medressas.