On the Silk Road to Khiva

Along the Amudarya river and through the Karakum desert

These are the last days in Uzbekistan for my clients and me. (Zum deutschen Blog und noch mehr Fotos.)

highway between Bukhara and Khiva (Chiva)
highway between Bukhara and Khiva (Chiva)

Early in the morning we depart for a long drive from Bukhara to Khiva.

The longest part of the route takes us through the Karakum desert. For the first hour of the trip, the road is so bad that I can´t image how we should finish the 470 km until the evening. Our driver Gafur can hardly drive more than walking pace. But with decreasing vegetation and increasing desert, the road gets better.

Through the desert
Karakum desert
Karakum desert

A 4 lane highway is under construction. After all, two tracks are passable. It is partly built by South Korea; a finished section is from a German company. For kilometers it runs almost straight through reddish sand dunes and sparse vegetation. Every now and then we see buzzards or even one or another goat- or sheep herd. In between, we sometimes see a refinery for natural gas.

desert flowers in the Karakum desert
desert flowers in the Karakum desert

For lunch we stop at a rest house where we get the obligatory bread that was baked in a clay oven, soups and kebabs. Then we head on. Soon we are on a mountain top where we have a wide view over the river Amudarya that is vital for Uzbekistan.

a typical clay oven for baking bread in Uzbekistan
a typical clay oven for baking bread in Uzbekistan

It carries only little water, and there is less and less, because it loses more and more on its way from the source to the delta in the Aral Sea.

view over the Amudarya river
view over the Amudarya river

The Aral Sea as such hardly exists anymore. The whole climate there has changed to the worse by drying out. Towards evening and in the rain, we drive through a very fertile area around Urgench, which is located just before Khiva.

city walls of the old part of Khiva
city walls of the old part of Khiva
In Khiva

we stay at the Orient Star Hotel, which is located directly at the city wall; it is an old madrasa from the 18th century. A huge minaret overlooks the entrance to the hotel.Thanks to the the city walls the Old Town is so small, that the minarets are not necessarily adjacent to a mosque.

entrance to the old fort
entrance to the old fort

Each of us moves to his “cell” that all look a little different. All have in common an elaborately carved front door.The next morning we can sleep in a little, because we are just walking around in the old downtown.

an old medresa
an old madrasa

Next to our hotel there is one of the former gates. Here we pay our photo fee that is valid for the entire stay and the entire city of Khiva. These are 9000 Sum, a little over two Euros. Then we start. Almost every building here is either a former madrasa, a mosque or a mausoleum of an Islamic scholars.

the harem part of the old palace of Khiva
the harem part of the old palace of Khiva

Only the citadel and the palace of the ruler are different with its beautiful court for his harem. We see how the small ornate carvings are made, with how much difficulty tapestries are embroidered and silk carpets are woven. Of course, I buy, like the other women of the group, a hand-woven silk scarf. If I wouldn´t have any at home…

Khiva
Khiva

But with this one, I now know the artist personally ! In the late afternoon I climb on viewing balcony in the citadel. Only surefooted people should take these steep staircases, almost everywhere the railing is missing and the stairs are very high. For this trouble, we get rewarded with an almost incredible view over the ancient caravan city of Khiva.

the minarett in front of the Orient Star Hotel with a view over the ancient Khiva
the minarett in front of the Orient Star Hotel with a view over the ancient Khiva

What a sight!  The minarets rise above the houses and magnificent buildings made of clay.

graves in Khiva
graves in Khiva

For dinner, we will be rewarded with an amazing sunset behind the domes of the old town.

A nice end to our trip, in the morning we go back to Tashkent by plane, from there we take the flight back home.

Hi and bye from Khiva
Hi and bye from Khiva


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