Wildlife Holidays in Uzbekistan

Uzbekistan is a Central Asian country on the “Silk Road,” the ancient overland trading hub between west and east. These days many in Western Europe would struggle to find Uzbekistan on a world map (it lies to the east of the Caspian Sea), and even fewer travel there. But this landlocked country is cradle of culture stretching back two millennia, and its mountains and deserts hold some thrilling wildlife in jaw-dropping settings.

From a cultural point of view, the highlights are the cities of Samarkand and Bukhara, where the mosaic-tiled wonders of Islamic architecture brood under the bright skies. The Kalon Minaret in Bukhara, built in 1127 and standing 47m tall, is so lovely that even the conqueror Genghis (Chinggis) Khan couldn’t bring himself to destroy it. And this is just one of a treasure trove of architectural marvels in the city. In Samarkand the Medieval commercial centre, Registan, with its ornate, intricately decorated medressas, is said to have inspired India’s Taj Mahal. Outside these centres, the stark desert and grand, chiselled mountains are equally stunning for the visitor.

What’s Special about its Wildlife?

Uzbekistan is indeed a west-east hub, combining a pleasing mix of species familiar from Europe with those of a more exotic provenance – so, for example, Greenfinches and Spotted Flycatchers live cheek-by-jowl with White-capped Buntings and Rufous-naped Tits. The mountains of Ugam Chatkal National Park boast gems such as Blue Whistling-Thrush, Turkestan Shrike, Lammergeier and Eastern Rock Nuthatch, while the biggest draw of the Kyzyl Kum Desert is the extraordinary, and very localised Pander’s Ground-Jay. There are a range of interesting reptiles (e.g. Agamas) and mammals (e.g. Ground-Squirrels) too.

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