After much planning and two false starts at the beginning of the pandemic, we finally made it to Uzbekistan. We flew into Tashkent on Turkish Airlines via Istanbul and were met by our guide, who was to be with us for the next 12 days. Zulya and her office arranged an amazing trip, customized to meet our needs. Our first stop following an internal flight was Khiva, where we explored what could be best described as a “living museum,” with some of the best-preserved historical architecture. The city is a delight to wander around with its eye-catching towers, mosques, and medressehs, and is a World Heritage site where people still live within the city walls. Our next stop was Bukhara, Zulya’s home. Staying in the center of the old town allowed us to explore on foot the many sites and also allowed for breaks to sip green tea in the various caravanserais. In Bukhara we attended an Uzbek wedding ceremony and participated in the singing and dancing and admired (and tried on) the traditional attire. I have never before had my wife of 53 years bow to me in a wedding costume, something not part of our wedding ceremony! Following this we went to Zulya’s parent’s house, where we were treated to a traditional Uzbek meal with dancing by her niece and nephews. A wonderful introduction to Uzbek culture! More dancing and a fashion display followed in an outside performance at a former medresseh. Day trips took in the countryside, a visit to an eco-center to see endangered mammals in the wild and opportunities to birdwatch. A high-speed train took us onto Samarkand, the other major gem on the silk road, with its famous Registan Square and the mausoleum of Tamarlane. A day trip took us to Shahrisabz, the birth place of Tamarlane and the site of the remains of his giant summer palace. Another high-speed train journey brought as back to Tashkent. This is a very modern city but it has the best food, an extraordinary subway system, and we will never forget seeing from a distance a performance of The Lion King in Uzbek with a background of pulsating fountains in multiple colors. It was also a great base to head up to the mountains, ride a ski gondola and see the snow-capped mountains. Zulya and her team kept in touch throughout the trip, making restaurant reservations and making sure everything was running smoothly. Uzbekistan is full of European tourists but we met very few Americans. More Americans should go to this unique destination.
I want to extend my sincere thanks and great appreciation for the itinerary and experiences that I had in Uzbekistan. It was unexpected in many ways.
Certainly, the highlights were the time at the home in Khiva, and the quite special opportunity to visit with a family at their home in Buhkara! As I had read, everyone’s hospitality was so welcoming and generous. Uzbek hospitality is quite special in today’s world. I hope they never lose it. Everyone went to so much work to prepare for my visits.
I am glad that the timing of my trip allowed me to visit Khiva/Buhkara/Samarkand…all three. And I’m glad it began with Khiva. Not sure I would have enjoyed as much or learned as much had the itinerary been reversed.
Lodging was all perfect…the character and locations I had hoped for. This was excellent listening on Zulya’s part.
I was grateful for the time that area businesspeople spent with me, and I so enjoyed hearing a bit about doing business in UZB. Was especially amazed at the very positive attitude of the working women! All were so forthcoming.
Both Bekhruz and Dilya were fantastic, each in their own way. Dilya was lovely at coordinating the home visit and everything that went on with that. The visit to the summer palace though was a bit anticlimactic after such a wonderful visit.
Bekhruz. Goodness. I don’t know where to begin. I like him so much and we had some fascinating conversations. As I told him on one of the last days: I am not going to learn anything the rest of the year because my brain is full with all I learned from him! He is soooooooooooo knowledgeable. And, he is one of those very unique and gifted people who can make history come alive.
When I mentioned that I wanted time to shop for suzanis, he did point out which merchant he felt would be most reputable and did take me in and had a merchant educate me. That was helpful.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL I traveled to Uzbekistan w/ Zulya in late May/June of this year. Here are the highlights:
* the country was fully open as was Tajikistan. I had originally planned to also travel to Turkmenistan (this trip was originally planned for last year but COVID made it untenable) but it was still closed due to COVID.
* My itinerary was the same as the original one, minus Turkmenistan. It included a week and a half or so in UZB and 3 days of hiking in the Fann Mountains in TJK.
* The logistics were flawless — was smooth and well though out. My guide, Faikhridden, was also great and was w/ me for the entire trip. I also had two drivers as I covered a lot of territory. However, this was unique as I have typically had multiple guides and drivers — often one in each city that I visit as it is more economical. This was a plus for me — it was great to get to know both Faikhridden and the drivers — they were all kind, helpful, and knowledgeable.
* UZB is fully open, despite COVID. I felt very comfortable throughout as I am vaccinated, although I mostly wore a mask b/c of the testing requirement to return to the U.S.
*I traveled to Tashkent, Nukus (Savitsky Museum), Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand and the Tien Shan mountains. The sites were all great and I learned a lot of history about this part of the world that is often overlooked in American schools! In particular, i enjoyed the Savitsky Museum in Nukus. Zulya set up a private tour w/ the Museum exhibition director who is also an art history professor at the local university. She was terrific and spent over 2 hours w/ me. Her explanations of the history in both Russia and Nukus/UZB during the 1920s – 1940s gave me a great perspective on the art. Her descriptions of the artists and their art was also terrific. While it’s not on many itineraries b/c of its remote location and lack of other things to see (although we visited a very interesting cemetery outside of town w/ a beautiful underground mausoleum), people who enjoy art should make the effort!
*Another highlight was Zulya setting up a lunch w/ her parents/family in her hometown of Bukara. It was a real treat to meet her parents as well as many of her siblings and nieces, nephews. The lunch was really tasty and bountiful — they demonstrated how they make plov, the national dish, and also had many other tasty dishes, bread, and homemade fruit juices. After lunch, the children put on a dance show, first the boys and then the girls. I was asked to join them — I am NOT a dancer but gave it a go! Their warm hospitality was much appreciated and I had a wonderful time.
* The ancient cities of Khiva, Bukara, and Samarkand are all wonderful — the architecture is breathtaking, perhaps some of the best preserved Islamic architecture in the world.
* The only disappointment was that the Tajikistan border inexplicably closed a day before I was to travel to TJK!! I don’t think Zulya or her team were able to figure out why (it was only for a short period of dates). So my hiking had to be canceled, a big disappointment. However, Zulya and her team pivoted and were able to organize hiking in the Tian Shan mountains just outside of Tashkent w/in 24 hours, complete w/ a guest house and a local hiking guide. I did 3 hikes and the scenery was great. While I would have preferred to see the Fann Mountains/Seven Lakes, it was great to still be able to do some hiking on such short notice. I appreciated Zulya’s ability to arrange this w/in less than 24 hours’ notice!
*My COVID test was arranged at my hotel 3 days before my departure — very easy and results were provided w/in 24 hours.
Zulya REALLY listened when I described my goals for my special Birthday trip to Uzbekistan with my niece and step-daughter.
She planned and delivered several family, school, and “Behind the scenes” events.
Our young female guide, Iroda, could not have been a better match for our girls trip.
This was my second trip to Uzbekistan. It is a special country, cultural, and people.
I have taken several trips with WOW recommended specialists. Zulya far surpasses all of them in planning, delivery and follow-up
Zulya was with me every step of the way in planning my trip and her sister Dilia in Bukhara was there with me once I arrived in the Stans. I consider guides the most important part of any trip because I am even more interested in life in the places I visit than I am in the sights, and Zulya found me great ones in both Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. Not only did they speak excellent English and know all about the monuments we visited; they were also open about their own experiences. Certainly the highlight of the trip was attending a family wedding in Bukhara; the openness and generosity of Zulya’s family was above and beyond.
Zulya kept in touch throughout to ensure smooth travel on our trip to Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. She kept saying we were VIP and she certainly treated us that way. She is the best travel consultant we have ever used.
We highly recommend Zulya and Central Asia as a destination.
Zulya provides something that is rare, among even top travel agents: a true partnership. Through every step of planning my family’s trip to The Republic of Georgia, she made sure that she was meeting our travel needs and goals. Georgia is not flooded with obvious tourist attractions, so we received a well-rounded itinerary that allowed us to experience its natural wonders and connect with the culture. Never did I dream that my kids would be singing karaoke with Georgian children after lunch in their Soviet-era apartment. Some other favorite activities included cooking with local families in their homes, hiking in the Caucasus mountains and visiting Gergeti church via horse. I think the main reason it was so pleasant to work with Zulya is that she truly cares that you have a wonderful experience on your trip. She is an ambassador of the countries she represents, and we look forward to working with her to travel to other Silk Road destinations.
Zulya Rajabova arranged a 25-day tour of the northern Silk Road. We started in Turkmenistan, then to Uzbekistan, then to China. I usually plan my own tours but was in over my head on this one, so I looked on Wendy’s guide of WOW experts and there was Zulya. Zulya knows the Silk Road like the back of her hand. She arranged a multi-city tour that included guides and drivers. The cities and towns she picked to visit were perfect – areas that hadn’t changed for 1500 years. The guides were terrific. A special benefit was that we were able to get to know the guides personally and felt so comfortable with them. The history was amazing. The people of the countries we visited were amazing, too. In fact, we had lunch with a local family in Bukhara, Uzbekistan, an experience I would never have been able to set up on our own. Our guides told us that Zulya was keeping watch over us from afar by checking in daily on how we were doing. I have no doubt that if anything had gone wrong, and nothing did, that Zulya would take care of it.
I can’t recommend Zulya and her team enough. The trip was flawless. It was an experience of a lifetime.
We had initially contacted Zulya because we were interested in going to all of the “Stans”. After speaking with her at length it became clear with our three-week time frame that was not wise if we wanted to really experience the countries. With Zulyas patient, kind, and detailed help, we narrowed it down to a short time in Turkmenistan and the bulk of our time in Uzbekistan. She put together a spectacular trip for us with fabulous guides, wonderful lodging, terrific transportation, and the most educational and culturally enriching itinerary filled with fun experiences.
The major cities we spent time in were Ashgabat, Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand, and Tashkent.
We can not say enough good things about Zulya and her team. She was always available, even on a Saturday, for conversation. She answered e-mails almost instantly. She held our hands without being there in person. My husband and I are rather experienced over 65 travelers, having been to more than 80 countries, but we still needed her unwavering understanding and support. We were grateful for many things, especially these: visas and meals.
She and her team seamlessly arranged for our visas by assisting us in every way possible and calming my nerves about border crossings and airport entry and departure.
My husband has serious challenges when it comes to eating due to previous illnesses. Zulya was extraordinary in her desire to understand this and convey it to our guides. We both agreed that this was the best trip for him in terms of meeting these challenges. Imagine. Traveling all over the world, and Zulya was able to keep him nourished and well in central Asia! Who would have expected that?!
Our guide in each country, Gulya, and Mashkura went above and beyond, assuring that we did what we wanted and mixed into some real-life situations such as weddings, bazaars, prayer, food shopping, to name just a few. We would never have been able to do this on our own, especially with the language barrier.
We have such wonderful photos!! Both guides were great photographers and never tired of taking our photo or stopping to capture something along the way. Each was so knowledgeable about her country and its history. We never figured we would learn so much about the Silk Road. And Mashkura even carried a folding stool for my husband to rest during our sightseeing days!
I will give you one instance of how having a WOW team makes your trip. On the day we were to arrive in Khiva the Turkmenistan President was due to visit. All the roads into town were closed. Our driver lived in Khiva so he knew all the back roads. We drove through towns that have never seen a tourist. We went over a bridge that wasn’t a bridge. And we walked to our hotel with a police escort pulling my suitcase, right across the street reserved for the motorcade! We both agreed that that was one of our favorite days of the trip.
We could tell Zulya was always watching our trip. She was in contact by email or text while we were there to ask how things were. She even exchanged our train tickets for plane tickets in one instance because the train often was delayed. On our last day, we had a night departure and Zulya arranged for a very late checkout for us at our hotel. Our guide even showed up early thinking maybe we would like to catch a bite before heading to the airport. Things you don’t expect……
We always felt like everything was under control, and everything was. What a marvelous trip!
Zulya is thoughtful, kind, knowledgeable and beyond helpful! She worked extremely hard from the very beginning to ensure the perfect trip! She was always happy to answer questions and answered promptly.
It was a tremendous pleasure working with her and I recommend her highly!
Zulya arranged for us to have lunch with her family in Bukhara. It was amazing. Her mother taught my son how to make Palov. The lunch was a true feast with about 20 family members. After lunch we all got up and danced together. It was an experience my wife, son, daughter in law and I will cherish forever.
Zulya also arranged for a wonderful guide to accompany us throughout Uzbekistan. She stayed with us day and night, shared meals and her culture and helped us navigate a very foreign language. Needless to say, Zulya also followed us during our entire stay, keeping in touch with both us and our local guide. Any problems (very minor) were immediately addressed. I would not only highly recommend Zulya to anyone planning a trip to Uzbekistan I would also recommend Uzbekistan as a travel destination.
Some ten months ago I was contacted by a relative who heard Ms. Zulya Rajabova speak about Central Asia tourism destinations. For 40 years, since studying Silk Road destinations as an art history student, I had dreamed of traveling to these exotic locations but didn’t feel comfortable with any travel planner I’d researched or contacted.
From the beginning, Zulya and her staff at Silk Road Treasure Tours engaged my curiosity, replied to all inquiries, set about attaining realistic goals and expectations and engaged me in the entire process of planning a solo (individual) tour of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. I found Zulya and her staff professional, friendly, honest and willing to go more than the extra mile to ensure my comfort and safety while making sure that my interests were met, and designing a detailed and wholly individualized itinerary.
The private guides selected were English fluent, proud citizens of their respective communities and countries, willing to share and show their customs, traditions, and aspects of Islamic secularism, arts, architecture, handicrafts and cultures. All were personable and professional, and maintained high standards for safety while traveling. The drivers who were hired to chauffeur me about various inner city and countryside regions also maintained superior safety standards.
Hotels, B&Bs and restaurants selected maintained the highest standards of cleanliness and safety. Staffs were friendly, professional and eager for me to gain the most out of my stay in their community. Breakfasts were outstanding in choice and taste as were the afternoon and evening meals.
I truly look forward to asking Zulya to assist in planning another transformative travel experience to this region. Although I am a client, I feel as though I am a member of her family. Journeys are not so much the places seen and visited, although they are certainly special, too. It’s realizing that although we have unique backgrounds, customs, languages, and traditions, we share so much through our common humanity…love, desire, dreams, passion, to have a better life for ourselves and our children and to make the world a better place. That’s why I truly believe that two people who can connect on a personal level can create a transformative experience, maybe a miracle.
Thank you Zulya for helping to allow my miracle to come true.