• We had a really good time in Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kashgar. All guides, drivers, accommodation and food was fantastic! We had plenty of positive experiences. The program worked perfectly and we are your happy customers.
    Assoc Prof Regine Wagner
    Visiting Fellow Flexible Learning Institute Charles Sturt University

  • We have had many guides in the course of our world travels, but never ever one any better than the guide from Roxana Tour He worked tirelessly for us night and day. His efforts for us were far beyond what would have been "good".
    Dr. Paul Hettinger
    Orlando, FL, USA 32818

  • I have been coming to Uzbekistan for 32 years and as a Tour leader for different companies, I can say that Roxana Tours is the best travel company in Uzbekistan I had in 32 years.
    Gary Wintz, LA
    Tour leader from ZOE and Mountain Sabeck

  • I wanted to drop you a quick e-mail thanking you for the outstanding tour you provided. From the time we arrived at Tashkent until we left, we had no problems and everything was first class.
    Richard L. Wolfel, Ph.D.
    Assistant Professor of Geography
    United States Military Academy
    West Point, NY 10996

  • I am indeed impressed and would like to Thank you from the bottom of my heart, in fact you have not only gained my respect and admiration, I salute your efficiency, not to say the least, I am grateful I am sure I would not be traveling again to Uzbekistan without you definitely involved in my itinerary.
    Saud A.Al Jaidah
    CEO/ Al Jaidah Intl. Doha, Qatar

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On September 8th, over 150 cooks in Tashkent will team up to make the world's largest pot of plov.

In Olmaliq, Tashkent region, on the initiative of Milliy TV channel, a giant portion of plov was cooked. The weight of the record dish, fixed by experts, was more than 6 tons. 

It was a rehearsal for cooking the world’s gigantic plov. The official attempt to set a world record and make it into the Guinness World Records will be held on September 8 within the Festival of Traditional Culture ‘O’zbegim’ that is timed to the first anniversary of Milliy TV channel.


Plov was prepared in a cauldron with a diameter of 4.2 meters and a volume of almost 8 thousand liters, specially cast for this event at the Olmaliq Mining and Metallurgical Combine. The total weight of cauldron was 7070 kg, the depth is 1 meter. The fireplace weighed almost 3 tons. 

For the preparation of plov, plenty of products were used. In particular, beef meat - 826 kg, lamb - 825.5 kg, lamb fat - 195 kg and, most importantly, 1,650 kg of rice. There were also used 2.4 kg of carrots, 185 kg of onions, 350 liters of vegetable oil, 480 kg of salt. All this was seasoned with 4.5 kg of cumin, 165 kg of barberry, 90 kg of peas, 3 kg of black pepper. 

More than 50 famous plov chefs from all over Uzbekistan gathered to cook this plov. The dish was stirred with skimmers of a length of more than 2 meters. 
The plov was served among the guests of the event and more than 22 thousand Olmaliq residents. 

In total, 150 people of different professions worked on the organization and preparation of the event for day and night. 


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Uzbekistan postponed abolishment of visas for tourists from 27 countries, initially planned for 1 April 2017, until 1 January 2021. President Shavkat Mirziyoyev signed a corresponding decree on 22 December.

The document says the decision had been made in order to create the required conditions and guarantee safety of lives and health of foreign tourists and the country’s citizens.

Previous decree, dated 2 December, announced abolishment of visas for tourists arriving in the country for less than 30 days from 15 states: Australia Austria, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Spain, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore, Finland, Switzerland and Japan.

Additionally, visas should have been abolished for citizens aged 55 and up coming from 12 states: Belgium, Indonesia, China (within tourist groups),Malaysia, USA, France, Vietnam, Israel, Poland, Hungary, Portugal and the Czech Republic.

The decree notes that the proposal to postpone abolishment of visas had been prepared by the State Tourism Development Committee (former Uzbektourism national company), Foreign Ministry, Interior Ministry, State Customs Committee and other structures.

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Uzbekistan has introduced visa-free travel for citizens from 27 countries.

Uzbekistan's President-elect Shavkat Mirziyaev signed a decree on December 6, according to which citizens of Australia, Austria, Britain, Germany, Spain, Italy, Canada, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, South Korea, Singapore, Finland, Switzerland, and Japan can enter the country without a visa for tourism purposes for up to 30 days.

The decree also states that citizens aged 55 or over from the United States, Belgium, France, Poland, Hungary, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Indonesia, China, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Israel can enter Uzbekistan without a visa for up to 30 days for tourism purposes.

Tourists from all 27 countries will have to pay a $50 entrance fee. The decree comes into force on April 1, 2017.

Mirziyaev was elected president of post-Soviet Central Asia's most populous country on December 4.

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For transportation of passengers since September, 5th, 2016 a fast train №60/59 "O'ZBEKISTON" link Tashkent-Andijan-Tashkent is appointed in daily basis.
      Running transit time constitutes 6 hours.
      Train departure from Tashkent at 08-05, arrival in Andijan at 14-05;
      Train departure from Andijan at 15-25, arrival in Tashkent at 21-25; 
      Along the road the train stops at stations PAP, Kokand and Margilan.

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News Agency Euronews spoke about the new series of "Postcards of Uzbekistan", where a journalist Seamus Kearney invites viewers to travel to the most beautiful places of Uzbekistan, to see the rich cultural heritage of the country and re-discover the ancient cities of the region.

Uzbekistan, located in the heart of Central Asia, on the border with Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, is a country well known for its bright colors and architectural treasures.

The broadcast also includes stories about the traditions of Uzbekistan and some entertaining stories, the press service of NC "Uzbektourism" said.

Viewers will be able to see Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva and Tashkent.

The first six episodes are devoted to the historical and cultural monuments of Samarkand.

1. Madrasah Tilla-Kari. This 17th-century building is located in the Northern part of the Registan square. The audience will take a walk around the monument and see the decorative art on the walls and gilded dome.

2. Samarkand paper. The art of making Samarkand paper, considered the best in the world was revived recently. At a small workshop, you can hear the story of making this paper.

3. Shakhi Zinda. The journalist will show the most interesting places of this unique complex, which includes mausoleums and other sacred buildings dating back to the 9th and 14th centuries.

4. Siab Bazaar. This market is one of the oldest in Uzbekistan and is a typical part of everyday life of the local population. Production here includes local spices, vegetables, sweets and bread.

5. Tomb of the prophet Daniel. Many places declare as the burial place of the biblical prophet Daniel. Among them are the tomb outside of Samarkand. According to a legend, when Timur rode with his caravan, carrying the relics of St. Daniel in Samarkand, his famous horse stopped dead and refused to move on. And in the place where he stood, a stream started to run.

6. Bibi-Khanym Mosque. This is one of the largest mosques in the Islamic world, built in the 15th century. Viewers will learn about the architectural features of the monument and the legends around him.

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 Central Asia being situated in the heart of Eurasian Continent had always played an important role in the history of humankind. This is the area of biggest deserts, highest mountain ranges and barren steppes where humans had to survive generation after generation, in the course of millenniums. The archeological excavations finds, which you may  see during Central Asia Tours, proved the existence of first humanoids on the territory of present day Uzbekistan at least 1.5 million years ago.
 Two biggest rivers, Amudarya and Syrdarya, along with Zerafshan, Chirchik and others  became the channels of life and water from this rivers was used for irrigation of lands thus creating the centers of some of the oldest civilizations in the history. The migrations of Indo-European nomadic tribes in the 3rd millennium BC, was very important period in the history of Central Asia. As a result of it the first settlements were built on the banks of rivers and oasis areas. Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, which were the oldest cities established, are nowadays must-see cities during Central Asia Tours.
Another reason for formation of proto-urban, protected and fortified settlements was the division of local population into settled farmers and nomadic stock-breeders, the latter being a constant threat to the  previous. Sopollitepa settlement situated  in the south of modern Uzbekistan is a good sample dating back to Bronze Age.
The Iron Age was marked in Central Asia by establishment of states which are known today as Khorazm, Baktria and Sogdiana, which were subdued in the 6th century BC by Akhemenid Kings of Ancient Persia and became satrapies, though nominally they were semi-independent and were governed by dynasties of  local aristocracy. After Persia was conquered by Alexander the Great, chasing the last King Darius, Alexander arrived to Bactria and Sogdiana where he spent 2 years, trying to establish his power and peace, in which he succeeded finally after marrying the beautiful Sogdian girl Roxana.  The next two centuries passed under Hellenistic influence. Majority of Central Asia Tours cover the areas of campaigns and routes of Alexander the Great.
From the 2nd century BC until 7th century AD Central Asia was in the sphere of interests   of two greatest empires of that time – China and Iran. This period is marked by heyday of trade along the greatest trade route in the history – Great Silk Road, as it was called many centuries later.  The Sogdians were the people who acted as middlemen, creating their trading colonies from Xian to Constantinople and they have always cept in touch with their home office in Samarkand which is one of the major attractions on Central Asia Tours.
The next period in the history of Central Asia was marked by Arab`s Invasion. The Arabs, newly converted to Islam be Prophet Mohammed, came with the sword in one hand and Koran on the other. The conquest and conversion of Central Asia to Islam took nearly a century.  Later Al Beruny wrote that as a result of slaughter of Zoroastrian priesthood and ideological war after a generation none of the locals could read the old sacred Zoroastrian scripts. The witnesses to all this are well displayed in museums which are part of Central Asia Tours.
But Islam brought not only the new religion. It also brought new ideology, new philosophy and made the Central Asia part of the Greater World after joining to Arab Khalifat, stretching from India to Spain and from Northern Steppes to Africa. Some of the greatest scholars of humanity were born in Central Asia and nowadays the names of  Ibn Sina, Al Beruny, Al Khorazmy and others are known around the world.
The Mongol Invasion in the 13th century changed the map of  anthropological and ethnic types of Central Asia.  The invaders occupied the vast grasslands and plains and indigenous, mostly Sogdian and Bactrian population was trapped in the cities or driven to mountainous areas. The nomadic Turkic tribes who constituted large portion of Mongol Army slowly-slowly started intermixing with Mongols, passing them their language and getting Mongol features for themselves.  The result is evident today. During the Central Asia Tours one can see that  modern Kazakhs, Kyrgyz and Uzbeks of steppe areas have strong Mongoloid type, while urban Uzbeks and Tadjiks have  none or minimal Mongol influence in their features.
Until the beginning of 20th century borders between the states were political but not ethnic. In 1924 only under the Soviets Central Asia was divided into five Soviet  republics and nowadays those are the borders of independent countries which you can visit during Central Asia Tour.



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Top 5 Places to Visit in Tajikistan

Ever since Soviet times, Tajikistan has been one of the most neglected countries on the map and it seems to be that way even today. But there’s no reason why it should remain this way! Tajikistan has just as much to offer as any other country, especially when considering its pristine and unforgettable mountain views, historical treasures, and cultural uniqueness. Therefore, I think it would be quite appropriate to outline five of the top sites and things to do while visiting Tajikistan.

Pamir Mountains
While always having been a magnet for hard-core trekkers, it is possible for casual hikers to enjoy the magnificent beauty of the Pamirs, too. If you aren’t interested to tighten the laces on your hiking boots through the western arm of the Himalaya Mountain Range, you can capture the adventure by traveling on the world famous Pamir Highway (M41) that takes you from Dushanbe and eastward into the Pamir Mountains and onwards to the northeast where Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan meet. Five Stans Adventure offers tour packages that can accommodate any hiker who’s in reasonable shape to enjoy the scenery, or for those who wish to venture on their own choice of transportation.


While it is the capital of Tajikistan and its largest city, Dushanbe still has the feel of a large village. People on the street are kind and curious. There are many things to do in the city, and much depends on your interests. In my experience of living in the city, my top choice for my guests was the Ayni Opera and Ballet Theater. A wonderful example of Soviet architecture, you can even find the time to catch a performance!


 Gissar Fort
The city of Gissar is only a short 15 km drive from Dushanbe, so take advantage of the moment to visit this ancient wonder. It was once an independent khanate, and it was the winter residence of the governor of Eastern Bukhara. The fort has been dated to Cyrus the Great – about 2,500 years ago. Near the fort there are two huge plane trees that are approximately 500-700 years old.


Iskandarkul Lakes
Surrounded by the Fann Mountains, this glacially-formed lake comes as one of the most preferred destinations by the locals. The lake’s name comes from Alexander the Great, who passed through this area during his conquests. To gain a full appreciation of the beauty this lake possesses, it is best to set up camp and enjoy Mother Nature at its most pristine.


Located in eastern Tajikistan, Khorog is known for its beautiful poplar trees that dominate the flora of the city. It is 7,200 feet above sea level and lies on the border with Afghanistan. If anything, it’s the trip to Khorog that will give you lasting memories, whether it’s by jeep or airplane.


Posted by Greg Stephenson at 9:25 AM

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Top 5 Place to Visit in Kazakhstan

 By far, Kazakhstan is the largest of the 5 ‘stans. In fact, the country is big enough to cover most of Europe! So as you can probably guess, it is a big challenge to name the top 5 tourist attract
ions in a country so large. Geographically diverse in many ways, this list will remain perpetually malleable. Five Stans Adventure offers tours to all of these locations, and a lot more. Be sure to contact us if you have any questions about our itineraries.

So, here we go!

Almaty is a cosmopolitan city that walks with a purpose. It’s easy to get around on public transportation to see the things that appeal to you, and there are plenty of those! However, I highly recommend that you visit the Zenkov Cathedral of the Holy Ascension. Construction of the wooden church was completed in 1906 and amazingly done without nails. A few years later, its design was strong enough to survive the earthquake in 1911. Simply put, it is a beautiful example of Orthodox Church architecture.


Astana has been the capital of Kazakhstan since 1997. Located in the northern part of the country, the city has witnessed a huge construction boom over the years. One of the examples of this construction is the Bayterek Tower. This 105 meter-high monument and observation tower has become the symbol of the country and even appears on the Kazakh tenge (currency). The shape of the tower represents a poplar tree holding a golden egg, which comes from one of the popular folk tales of Turkic legend.

The city of Taraz has been dated to be 2,000 years old, which is well before my time. Located near the border with Kyrgyzstan, the city arbitrarily celebrated its 2K anniversary in 2001. The city boasts of two architectural wonders that cannot be ignored. One is the Babaji-Khatun Mausoleum and the other is the Aisha-Bibi Mausoleum. They are masterpieces of ancient architecture and have been recognized by UNESCO as World Heritage Sites.

Babaji-Khantun Mausoleum circa. 11th-12th A.D.


Aisha-Bibi Mausoleum circa. 11th-12th A.D.

Chimbulak is a ski resort located 25 km from Almaty in the breathtaking Zailiyskiy Alatau Mountains. While I’m not a skier, if I was I would certainly want to go here. If I went there, they have trainings and the slopes to accommodate the novice. On the other hand, if you can ski like a professional, there are plenty of slopes that can give you the “high” that only this sport can give. When you’re ready to take a break, the resort boasts of a hotel, restaurants, cafes, and a coffee shop. In the summer, it doubles as a place to go hiking and camping.

Baikanur Cosmodrome
The Baikanur Cosmodrome is the world’s first and largest operational space launch facility and is located about 124 miles east of the Aral Sea. This site is leased to the Russian Federation by the Kazakhs and is managed by the Russian Federal Space Agency and the Russian Aerospace Defense Forces.  It is used for all types of commercial, military, and scientific missions, and currently is the only space port that launches manned flights in the world. There are opportunities to travel to Baikanur to witness the lift-off of all types of rockets.

Posted by Greg Stephenson at 9:25 AM


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The comfortable speed train shuttles passengers between Tashkent and Samarkand.

Wouldn't it be great to be able to travel from Central Asia to China by rail? I've always wanted to do this, but there’s never been a connection between the two. As a friend of mine told me today, “I’d much prefer to travel the Great Silk Road by train than by hopping from region to region by airplane.” With the news out of Uzbekistan today, it appears that we’re one step closer to realizing this dream.

On November 29, Uzbekistan and China signed agreements worth $400 million on Friday, with China financing two tunnels on a railway linking eastern Uzbekistan to the rest of the country.

Uzbekistan is building a 120-kilometer link to go through the imposing Kamchik Pass and China will finance its most difficult tunnels for $350 million, according to the AFP news agency. The Kamchik Pass is 2,267 meters above sea level and is located on the only road between Tashkent and the Ferghana Valley. Once this link is completed, it will facilitate the connection to China.

When this railroad link is successfully completed, not only will it open markets between China and Central Asia, but it could facilitate the transportation of travelers in both directions.

The deal was inked during the visit of Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang to Uzbekistan, where he met President Islam Karimov late Thursday. Other deals aim to boost cooperation in banking, tax, tourism and culture.

The future looks very good for traveling by train along the Great Silk Road!

Posted by Greg Stephenson at 12:47 PM

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Golfing in Central Asia

The Lakeside Golf Club near Tashkent, Uzbekistan

 Golfing??? In Uzbekistan??? What???

That was my first reaction when a friend asked if I wanted to hit the links. While I’m not a golfer, I have played the game a few times in my life with little to show for my effort. I just couldn’t get the hang of hitting that little ball straight. Despite this, I always enjoyed the camaraderie that goes with the game. And that was the only reason that I went to play golf in the first place. I went to the course in Tashkent twice and had a great time.

If you are an avid golfer and you want to play while you are touring Central Asia, then I highly recommend that you hit the links in Tashkent. The Lakeside Golf Club is 18 miles south of Tashkent and features 7,015 yard, 18-holes, and two lakes on the 265 acre property. The clubhouse offers a fully stocked pro shop, a restaurant, and alcoholic beverages.

Kyrgyzstan opened its first golf course in 2002 and it’s located about 20 minutes from Bishkek. Named the Maple Leaf Golf and Country Club, the 9-hole, 3,289 yard, and par 39 course offers breathtaking views of the Tien Shan Mountains. The clubhouse offers a pro shop and bar; a driving range is available, too.

Kazakhstan has two golf courses that are open to the public. The first is the Zhailjau Golf Resort which is located close to Almaty. Opened in 2006, there are two 18-hole courses available for play and both of them are a par 72. This course is part of a huge complex that has a restaurant, conference rooms, spa, and fitness rooms. A driving range is available, too.

The second course is located close to Almaty and is called the Nurtau Golf Club. Opened in 1996 as a 9-hole course, it has expanded over the years and today has three courses available for play and all are a par 72. To accommodate the growing interest in golf in Kazakhstan, Nurtau offers a children’s academy, golf pros to help your game, and tournaments for both men and women.

Turkmenistan has announced that it will construct a golf course at Avaza, a tourist zone that’s located on the Caspian Sea. Check with our staff to learn the latest news of this new development.

Tajikistan has announced that they are going to construct their own golf course in Dushanbe, but little information is available on its status. Plans have been drawn for the Sogdiana Golf Club, but it appears that its construction is at a standstill.

If you’ve got a few spare hours and you’d like to add an exotic course to your “resume”, I suggest taking advantage of the facilities that are available in Central Asia. Check with our staff at Roxana Tour for the latest information on green fees and availability. I can assure you that you’ll have a great time!

Posted by Greg Stephenson at 2:46 PM

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Standing in the middle is Nellya at the Registan in Samarkand.

 Say hello to Nellya Mukhamedova!

Nellya is one of those people who just seem to have been born to be a tour guide and it shows in her warm and outgoing personality. “Ever since I was young I’ve always found it easy to meet people and make new friends”, she related one day. At Roxana Tour, we are thankful that she’s a member of our staff for this reason and many more.

Nellya was born and raised in Tashkent, and still lives there today. After graduating with degrees from the Tashkent Architectural Institute and the Uzbekistan State University of World Languages, she set her sights on a career that would give her the most fulfillments. “I’ve always loved meeting new people, especially those from different parts of the world”, she said. Coupling this with her profound understanding of Uzbekistan and its historical presence in the world, she chose her career in tourism. “I’ve spent a lot of time studying the architectural gems of Central Asia, and I want to share this knowledge with people from all over the world”, she said.

While Nellya is an accomplished English-speaker, she also speaks Spanish, Russian, and Uzbek. “I enjoy learning languages because it brings me into contact with more people”, she said. Roxana Tour offers special tours in English, Spanish, French, and Russian to our clients.

So if you speak any of those languages, you won’t be lost at Roxana Tour. Nellya will make sure that your visit to Uzbekistan will be full of great memories. Just as importantly, you will make a new friend!

Posted by Greg Stephenson at 8:25 AM

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Every seasoned traveler has their own strategies for packing for a trip. It seems that the more a person has traveled, the less they carry with them for the road. I remember when I made my first trip overseas. While I didn’t bring all of my possessions, I certainly carried much more than I needed! While this list is far from exhaustive, it will give you a few good packing tips before your arrival in Central Asia.

1.      Pack light. I can’t emphasize this enough. In reality, there isn’t much you’ll need while you’re traveling. Leah, a woman who recently returned from Uzbekistan on a tour with Roxana Tour, told me that all she needed was in a carry-on bag. Essential toiletries (including anti-diarrhea medicine), sunglasses, hat, sunblock, prescription drugs, and a change of clothes are the barest minimum. Of course, many of you will want to travel with a camera and some other type of electronic device. Keep In mind that you can buy just about anything you’ll need in-country if you really need it.

2.      Hotels can help. All hotels on your itinerary offer laundry services, including ironing and dry-cleaning. If you prefer, you can wash your own clothes in the tub. All you need to do is buy some laundry detergent at one of the many nearby kiosks in the city. For those of you who have hair (unlike me!), there are hair-dryers available.

3.     Concerning your electrical devices. All electrical outlets in Central Asia are 220 volt, 50 HZ frequency. The sockets conform to the European-style (round) of plugs. I highly recommend that you bring two converters with you. Also, if you are carrying a lap top and/or a camera, bring an extra battery with you.

4.      Footwear. Comfortable footwear is essential. Without it, your trip will be a miserable one. Lightweight running shoes work quite well, but you may have a different preference. Just make sure that they are comfortable and can handle the rigors of walking on uneven terrain or on a sidewalk. You may want to pack an inexpensive pair of sandals for the shower. Bring a few pairs of high-quality socks with you, too.

5.      Documents, credit cards, and money. I recommend that you buy a handy pack that you can attach to your belt or fit in your pocket. Make sure it’s big enough to handle your plane tickets, credit cards, and other important documents. It’s always advisable to keep things in one place instead of distributed haphazardly. Thieves are endemic throughout the world, so use your common sense when you are on the town.

6.      Swimwear. Yes, swimwear! Many of the hotels have a swimming pool. At the end of the day, why not go for a dip?

7.      Pack snacks. Energy bars are always a great way to tie you over between meals.

Posted by Greg Stephenson at 9:42 AM No comments:

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Beating jet lag is the biggest challenges that travelers face today. In my time, I’ve traveled back and forth from Central Asia many times and I’ve learned a lot in the process. You can ask many people what they do to beat this malady, or you may have a few of your own. In any event, here are a few suggestions to help you enjoy your time in Central Asia without being grumpy from the effects of the time change.

1. Adjust your internal clock. A few days before your departure, begin adjusting your internal clock to the one in Central Asia. For example, when it’s 12:00 p.m. in New York, it’s 10:00 p.m. in Tashkent (one the same day). Therefore, it is advisable to try to go to bed a little earlier in the evening and wake up an hour or so earlier than usual.

2. Choose an overnight flight. One of the benefits of flying to Central Asia is that all of the flights arrive early in the morning. This means that your day will be starting the same as it is for everyone else!

3. Curtail coffee. Personally, I never drink coffee when I’m traveling and I think this is good advice for anyone. My goal is that when I fall asleep in my new time zone, I want to be sure that I sleep long and soundly. Coffee has a tendency to disrupt sleeping.

4. Stay hydrteda. Experts say that the traveler should drink 8 ounces of water/hour while flying. If you wear contact lenses, clean them before you fly, use eye drops, and you may want to remove them when you take a short nap. It’s always a good idea to carry a bottle of moisturizing lotion, lip balm, and wet wipes to keep you fresh.

5. Avoid alcohol. Alcohol dehydrates the body, which increases the hassle of jet lag.

6. Try to sleep on the plane. Experts recommend that you get some sleep, but personally I’ve limited myself to a couple of catnaps. I’ve always believed that too much sleep will only prolong the ill effects of jet lag.

7. Use sleeping pills wisely. Personally, I’m not a proponent for sleeping pills, but some travelers find them to be helpful. If you decide to use them, be sure to verify the duration of the effects of the pill. You don’t want to arrive in Central Asia still feeling drowsy. Also, if you don’t have experience with them, don’t test them out for the first time during your flight. Some experts have suggested that melatonin is the best non-prescription drug on the market.

8. Get outside. As I stated earlier, most international flights arrive in Central Asia early in the morning. This benefit allows you to start the day the same time as everyone else. At Roxana Tour, we like to start our tour of Tashkent after you’ve settled into your hotel, which means by late morning you’ll be out and about in the city. Another benefit is that you’ll be getting plenty of fresh air and sunshine, and enjoying the stimulating effects of being in a foreign country. This will do wonders helping you adjust to your new time zone.

9. Don’t drift off to bed too early. This is especially true on your first day in-country. Do all you can to fight the urge to sleep until evening at a normal hour. If you must sleep in the day, make sure it’s for only 30 minutes or so. Too much sleep in the daytime will only hurt you in the long run.

Maybe you have a technique or two you like to share with us?

Posted by Greg Stephenson at 6:32 AM No comments:

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Over the past few weeks I've noticed an increase in the number of stories about the Uzbek political situation and prognostications on the future of the country. I've been following Uzbek politics for 15 years, and if there's one thing I've learned, it's that Uzbek politics are opaque. There is no other word that sufficiently describes this. What I've read on the websites has been pure speculation by outsiders, which is a highly unreliable source for information. Without having any numbers to crunch, I would dare say that 99.99% of these stories are based on creativity and hearsay.

The Uzbek political scene is run by a tight-knit group of people who are very loyal to the power structure. Very rarely will an outside political observer (e.g. journalist) have access to meetings, learn what was discussed, or even the results of the discussion. Above all, one never hears of a "leak" to the media. In other words, nobody talks to journalists to divulge information about the current administration.

So as you're reading about politics in Uzbekistan, remember that most of the information is highly biased and and slanted against the current leadership. I'm not saying that I'm against a vibrant media that actively pursues the truth and holds government officials accountable for their actions. What I am saying is that reporting accurately on the political situation in Uzbekistan is nearly impossible.

So keep that in mind as you read the reports.

Posted by Greg Stephenson at 6:45 AM No comments:

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Peeking through the door is one of the best tour guides in Uzbekistan!

 Say hello to Dilya Amanova!

Dilya was born and raised in Tashkent, and still lives there today. Ever since she was a kid, she was always interested in meeting people from other countries. She shares this interest with her fellow Uzbeks, too, because they have an eternal curiosity to learn about other people and other parts of the world. Personally, I think this is one of the remnants of the ancient Silk Road that once traversed through Central Asia.

After graduating with a degree in English from the University of World Languages in Tashkent, Dilya became a guide with Roxana Tour and has been with us since 2007. She has supplemented her education by studying voraciously the long history of the Uzbeks in Central Asia. You see, some people are born for certain occupations, and Dilya was born to be a tour guide. “I love my job because not only do I represent my country to our guests, but I can learn from them, too”, she said the other day. And after a slight pause she added excitedly, “My country is a shining jewel and the people are the friendliest in the world! I want people to come here to learn about this for themselves!”

So when you come to Uzbekistan, be sure to take the time to visit with Dilya. She will make sure that you receive the very best that her country has to offer, whether it’s the architectural wonders, the outstanding food, or the best places to shop!

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Nosir at the Tashkent Earthquake Monument of 1966

 As you go through life, you’ll meet people that brighten your day because they’ve got that infectiously cheerful disposition that makes one feel safe, secure, and comfortable. At Roxana Tour, we’re proud to say that Nosir is one of those people.

Nosir was born and raised in Tashkent, and is a graduate of the Tashkent Textile Institute. After graduating in 1978, he decided to pursue a career in tourism because he enjoyed meeting people from other countries. At first, he worked with InTourist, the former Soviet Union’s tourist agency, but in 2006 he brought his talents to Roxana Tour and has been working with us since then. In total, Nosir has 35 years of experience working in the tourism industry in Uzbekistan!

“I love making new friends from throughout the world”, Nosir said. After some thought, he added that “I’m a very hard worker and I want to make certain that my guests in Uzbekistan receive the highest quality and comfort possible.” While these are his words, other people have chimed in with the same opinion. Recently, I spoke with Leah after she returned from her tour in Uzbekistan and she had the highest praise for Nosir. “I can’t say enough about Nosir,” she told me the other day. “He made my husband and I feel like royalty, and it was obvious that he put our needs above everything else,” she added.

Another aspect to Nosir is that he has traveled to other countries throughout the world as a tourist. This experience allows him to appreciate what life is like through a tourist’s eyes, especially when they are in Uzbekistan. “I know what it’s like to be in a foreign land with its unfamiliarity and that’s why I want to do everything I can to make my new friends feel comfortable.”

While you are in Uzbekistan, we encourage you to accept Nosir’s invitation to visit his family at his house. He, his wife, many children, and even more grandchildren, would love to have you come over to relax and have a cup of tea. The experience of meeting an average Uzbek family at their home will be one that you’ll appreciate for years to come!

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After I dropped my kids off at school this morning, I checked the news stories coming from Uzbekistan and stumbled upon this one. Now, this is the type of story I like to wake up to on a Monday morning!

For as many years as I’ve been following the economic development of Central Asia, it always baffled me why they couldn’t cooperate together to enable their mutual prosperity. The formula was always there, but the political will power always failed them. Also, there is an historical precedence that many of us westerners do not know that impedes their progress. Other issues of importance are safe and secure border checkpoints; improved logistics services to support manufacturing networks, and linking roads and rails to key ports. Another is the lack of a fair and equitable tariff system that encourages trade between the Central Asian nations and the outside world.

Much to my delight when the 10 members of the Central Asia Regional Economic Cooperation (CAREC) program met earlier this month, they endorsed a plan develop their key trade routes with China and South Asia. This plan is designed to align its corridors to new routes and develop long-distance multi-modal transport services that combine road and rail. The plan will require a $38.8 billion dollar investment and aims to be completed by 2020. The Asian Development Bank is the lynch pin for this plan and will require CAREC’s full participation for it to become a reality.

It’s this type of news that gives me hope that Central Asia will one day become a viable, economic player in the world economy. All the tools are there. They just need to use them.

CAREC is comprised of Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.

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A selection of various refreshments at the Filatov Winery and Museum in Samarkand.

In the mood for some wine-tasting? Believe it or not, Uzbekistan has 14 of its own wineries and most of them are ready and waiting for you to visit and sample the best they've got to offer.

The most famous winery in Uzbekistan is the Filatov Winery and Museum in Samarkand. Opened in 1868 by the Russian entrepreneur D.L. Filatov, the wine from this region soon gained its rightful international reputation at various wine-tasting competitions in 1883. Due to the political upheaval in Russia, Filatov was forced to leave his winery. Before he left, he stored a collection of wines in a secret location within the winery in 1908 that weren't discovered until the building was re-constructed in the 1930s. In 1927, Mikhail Khovrenko became its director and its wine production has continued through the Soviet Union era to this day. Since then, its wine has won 80 international awards and continues to produce award-winning wines.

Today, it produces a wide variety of wines, vodkas, cognacs, and brandies – 16,000 tonnes annually! The museum guides speak English and are always glad to welcome guests to their historic and venerable winery.

Expand your comprehension of wines throughout the world by taking the time to visit one our wineries! The tour itself is relatively inexpensive and Roxana Tour can arrange a visit for you that will be treasured forever!

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