Where would you go, if you wanted to trek in unspoiled terrain, sleep in local houses, eat homegrown fresh food and best of all have no internet for a week? Nuratau Mountains in Uzbekistan is your destination. Walking with our guide day after day and staying in local houses was a true immersion into local life. When we think of multi day walking, there are big names like Camino de Santiago, Inca Trail, Everest Base Camp to name just a few. Outside of this list, there is plethora of stunning, less known and less crowded treks. They might be harder to find, harder to reach and might required more preparation, but they are so worth the effort. The off beaten track places are truly unspoiled by mass tourism. One of the options is a week long trek between Sentob, Hayat, Uhum and Asraf villages in Nuratau Mountains Uzbekistan.
On day one we were picked up from our accommodation in Bukhara. After a 4 hour long journey through semi desert and mountains, we arrived at Sentob. Rahima our landlady was an excellent cook and within minutes we were fed local specialties.
After the food we met our guide for the week, Alibek. We went for an easy walk around the village and made arrangements for the following day.
The next day was spent walking through the surrounding mountains until evening. We saw ancient petroglyphs and ruins of a town long gone. We sat for a picnic and enjoyed the scenery and tranquility of our surroundings. The perfect balance between walking, sightseeing and relaxing.
The following day we had an early breakfast and we were out walking within no time. We walked to next village, that took us nearly the whole day. Our accommodation was in Hostel Muhammad Ali, so called after the owners 3 year old son. The place was small but tastefully decorated, food was plentiful, the views from the house were superb. Definitely our favorite spot.
All our days on this trek were pretty similar. After an early plentiful breakfast we were ready to go for the walk. A rest for lunch somewhere along the way. Arriving to our accommodation for the night and dinner with our hosts. Despite this our time in Nuratau Mountains was far from boring. We truly enjoyed the walks through undulating arid terrain. For us it was a nice change from wet, often rough Irish hills.
Our guide for the whole time was Alibek, who lived in Uhum, one of the villages on the trek. He was not only very knowledgeable about the area, but also knew everyone we passed on our walks. Often we stopped to talk to one of the local people.
I must say, that because this is so off the beaten track place, we were probably bigger attraction to the locals, than they were to us. Kids loved to wave, or to run to us for a hug, or a bit of talk and laugh.
Life in the villages seemed to flow slowly. There were very few cars on the roads. Locals were busy around their fields and houses. Every morning we met groups of children going to school. There was hardly any phone signal in many villages. It was a common sight in the evenings to see locals sitting high up a hill making calls.
We spent one late evening watching local village life. We watched people bringing their animals home, finishing outside jobs and preparing for dinner. Then, in semi darkness, the first house was lit, then second, third, and so on. Soon the whole valley was brighten by light coming from only the house windows. It was magic standing there and watching life going on.
Our trek was part of social initiative to bring tourism and employment to this remote place. On our trips we often used similar programmes and we found them very enjoyable. We know as well, where the money will go and who will benefit from our visit.
In overall it was great break from all the madrasas and other stunning buildings, which are plentiful in Uzbekistan’s cities. It was a perfect time to take break from our busy lives and enjoy slow, relaxed pace of life again. Highly recommended.
To read about our trip to ancient Silk Road cities Khiva and Bukhara click here.
Practicalities: The trek was organized by Responsible Travel, which we found to be efficient, reliable and delivering their promises. Contact: https://www.nuratau.com/
Food and accommodation on trek were good. Our luggage was either transported by car between places, or by donkey called Shrek. In some places we were the only guests, in some there was few visitors, traveling with different travel agencies. If we were the only guests, we ate with the hosts, which was a lovely addition to the whole experience. In general hospitality in Uzbekistan is next to none and Nuratau region was no exception.
In October the place is very dry and pretty warm. In May and June the mountains are covered by lush vegetation. For the type of walking we did, no special gear was required. Comfortable walking shoes were sufficient for the terrain.