Essential Information - Uzbekistan
The Silk Route
Getting there and away
Our cycling holiday starts and finishes in Tashkent. We appreciate that people join redspokes tours from all over the world; no matter what time you arrive at the airport on the tour start date you and your luggage will be transferred to the joining hotel. Please bear in mind that if you arrive before midday you may have to wait for your room to be made available. If you decide to arrive early or stay on after the tour, redspokes can assist you in booking your accommodation and airport transfers at additional cost. Due to high demand for rooms there is a possibility you may be in a different hotel to the start / end hotel of your trip.
Visa and Passports
You must be in possession of a valid passport and visa. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months after date of arrival or 1 month after expiration of visa. From 1 February 2019, if you have a British citizen passport you can enter Uzbekistan as a tourist for stays of up to 30 days without a visa.Travellers of other nationalities should refer to the Uzbekistan consular service: Uzbekistan visa requirements regarding standard and e visa information.
Throughout the cycling days a back-up vehicle will be with the group. It will be used for carrying our luggage, supplies and anyone who gets into difficulty.
Accommodation will be in hotels, guest houses, homestay and camping. Our prices are based on sharing a twin room; single rooms are sometimes available at extra cost.
All food is provided on tour apart from some meals on rest days.
Uzbek cuisine Noodles and breads are dietary staples. Mutton is a popular meat and it is a part of various Uzbek dishes. The national dish is Plov, a main course typically made with rice, meat and grated carrots and onions. Chickpeas and sultanas may also be added. Other typical dishes include: Shurpa a soup containing large pieces of fatty meat (usually mutton) and fresh vegetables. Noirin and lagman are noodle-based dishes that may be served as a soup or a main course; Uzbek samsa are pockets of dough stuffed with meat, served as an appetizer or a main course; dimlama is a meat and vegetable stew and traditional shaslik kebabs are often served as a main course.
Desserts are not that common. A typical festive meal ends with fresh fruit or a compote, followed by nuts and halvah with green tea.
Green tea is the national hot drink, although black tea is favoured in Tashkent. Both are typically served without milk or sugar. Ayran is a chilled yogurt drink, popular in the summer. The use of alcohol is less widespread than in the west, but wine is comparatively popular for a Muslim nation as Uzbekistan is largely secular.
A traditional meal in Uzbekistan begins with tea, don’t be surprised if only a little tea is poured into your cup. According to Uzbek hospitality the more respectable guest, the less tea is served. Food is always served on an Uzbek dastarkhan (decorated tablecloth). Patyr (bread) is of great importance in Uzbek national cuisine. The eldest member of the family breaks the patyr. And only after this can the rest of the family start to eat.
In Uzbek culture it is usually the man who cooks. Professional male chefs are Oshpaz which literally translates as: expert in cooking pilaf.
It is a condition of joining our trips that you must be adequately insured. All persons are expected to arrange their own insurance. Polices should cover any potential risks involved in a mountain cycling holiday. We ask for a copy of your policy to be sent in with your completed booking form. Snowcard Insurance Services specialise in all mountain sports holidays including mountain biking. Their policies include emergency medical and repatriation expenses as well as mountain rescue. They are also able to insure personal belongings including equipment as well as travel cover for cancellation, delay and missed departure. We strongly advise you to take out cancellation insurance when booking your trip. Follow the link below to obtain full information and a quote www.snowcard.co.uk if you are not a UK resident we suggest you look at Travelex insurance. Details of cover can be found at www.travelex-insurance.com
Visas and Passports
You must be in possession of a valid passport and visa. Passport must be valid for at least 6 months after date of arrival or 1 month after expiration of visa. Travellers of all nationalities will need to arrange a Tourist visas in advance of the tour.
Our holiday price does not include your international flight. We currently find that the best deals are on offer on the internet. Check out www.expedia.com or www.kayak.co.uk for an idea of times and prices. There are direct flights to and from the UK to Tashkent on Tuesdays and Fridays. An evening flight departing the UK on a Friday will arrive in Tashkent on Saturday morning.
Capital city: Tashkent
Population: 28.2 million
Language: Uzbek, Russian
Time zone: (GMT+05:00) Tashkent
Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin) Type I (Australian/New Zealand & Chinese/Argentine 2/3-pin)
Dialling code: +998
Spending money depends on your taste for souvenirs, drinks etc. We estimate that £250 will be enough to cover the 14-day tour.
Tips for drivers and guides express your appreciation or a reward for extra service. It is usual to tip end of the tour. Tipping is entirely at your discretion, but we recommend around $4 per day from each person on the tour.
The national currency of Uzbekistan is the sum (som, soum).
There are ATM’s in Uzbekistan, but they don’t always work. US dollars Euros or sterling are all accepted for exchange.
Bring your passport, and your deklaratsiya (see below)
Declaration: On arrival in Uzbekistan you must fill out two copies of a customs declaration form. You should indicate all the cash and other valuable items imported into Uzbekistan. As of 1 January 2018, you can exit the airport through a green corridor if you are carrying less than 2000 USD cash or its equivalent and do not have valuable items subject to mandatory declaration. In 2021, the green corridors will be introduced at all land border points in Uzbekistan.
If you completed the declaration while crossing the border, keep the copy with the stamp of the customs authority with you until departure. If you lose the customs declaration you filled out on arrival, you will not be able to take any cash out of Uzbekistan. At departure, the customs officer will ask you to fill out a new declaration and provide the copy of the form filled out on arrival. You cannot take out more cash than you have brought in the country. You may also be asked to show all the cash and valuable items at the customs checkpoint. If a tourist has more cash than was indicated in the declaration on arrival, the money will have to be left in Uzbekistan: the tourist will be asked to leave the exceeding amount to friends or the travel agency, otherwise the money will be confiscated.
Make sure your bank notes are crisp and clean
Bank opening hours are 9 to 18 Monday to Saturday
You can exchange money in the airport, but not at the border (officially). There are no exchange offices etc, only banks can exchange money.
So far, banks only exchange foreign money into sum, not the other way around (yet)
It will be warm in the daytime. Sun cream is very strongly recommended. Head and eye protection are also essential. A light windproof/fleece may be necessary in the evenings when cycling in the mountains and for early morning descents. We may experience rain at some point during the trip. Modesty is expected in towns and small villages and temples. It is important to have some baggy cycling shorts/ loose cover up shorts, to avoid causing offence. Women should cover their legs and shoulders when not cycling. In terms of clothing this is clearly up to you and we can only supply a rough guide as to what to take. This guide is entirely flexible and should be tailored to your specific needs. Sunglasses, lightweight trekking boots/shoes, cycling footwear, lightweight socks (3 pairs), underwear (4 pairs, lightweight trekking shorts, padded cycling shorts (2 pairs), shorts, t-shirts (2), lightweight, long-sleeved shirt, fleece jacket/pullover, biking jacket, fingerless biking gloves, toiletries, basic first aid kit, towel (small), sun cream, lip balm. If you have any questions about this list, please feel free to contact us.
Maps of Uzbekistan are available from all good map shops. Some of the minor roads we use will not be shown.
Whether you bring your own bike or hire from us you will need to bring your own spares. Please refer to our equipment list.
Cycling Support and grading
There will be rest stops every 25-35 km depending on the terrain; you will have access to your luggage, and the opportunity to have drinks/snacks. Our leaders carry a good tool kit and will help to fix any bike problems. However, we cannot guarantee that to be equipped for all repairs, so you must ensure that your bike is in good working order before the tour. If in doubt, have it fully serviced by a bike shop before you travel. In particular we suggest looking and adjusting all wheel spokes, greasing all your bearings, checking your brakes/gears cable, tighten all nuts and bolts, check chain, quick release clamps, tires and put in new inner tubes and check wheel rims are not worn. In addition make sure the bike is well serviced and ride it with as much care and attention as possible. Not all countries of the world have the same transport facilities and regulations as those of the EU, North America and Australasia. In all destinations we ensure that transport meets the standard of local regulations; you must be prepared for this to be of a different standard than that you may be accustomed to.
You should be used to regular aerobic exercise including biking, although you do not need to be an athlete. It pays to spend some time before the trip getting into the best shape possible. This will make sure you get the most from your holiday. We can send you specific training tips on request.
Plan ahead for your vaccinations, some of them require more than one injection you should seek medical advice at least six weeks before travel. No vaccinations are currently required for the tour, but the following are recommended: Hepatitis A, Typhoid, Diphtheria, Polio and Tetanus. If you have recently travelled in a Yellow Fever affected part of the world, proof of an inoculation is required. Expert advice on medication should be sought. Further information regarding vaccinations can be found through NHS and NaTHNaC links www.explore.co.uk/Travelhealth/ or www.fitfortravel.scot.nhs.uk
On all our tours the guides carry a medical kit. We do recommend that you bring your own first aid supplies which should include: a broad spectrum anti-biotic, antiseptic cream, throat lozenges, a cold medication, Diarrhoea treatment, pain killers, plasters, insect repellent and re-hydration salts.
Respecting local customs is important.
Respect local customs, traditions, religion and culture.
Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered, especially when entering places of worship.
For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water.
Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!
Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
Shop for locally artisanal goods and help keep traditional crafts alive.
Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
Don’t take photos of people, including children without first obtaining permission.
When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
- Tahskent: Uzbek capital, where modernity meets tradition.
- Nurata mountains: traditional culture, community based tourism.
- Mountain lakes and remote hamlets.
- Khiva – ancient walled fortress town.
- Samarkand - site of Tamerlane’s mausoleum
- Bukhara - World heritage medieval city in the Kyzylkum desert.
"This was a great journey! Cycling through the mountains and small villages was beautiful. The tracks were not too difficult to ride and the scenery was great, relaxed distances, quiet..."