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Title image - BAI takes you to: Silk Road

Treasures of the Silk Road FAQ

Here is where you will find answers to some of your questions about this expedition. If you do not find what you need here, please contact us at

Choose the specific question to link to your answer

  1. How demanding is the hike?
  2. Which kind of visas do I need for this trip?
  3. Are entrance fees included?
  4. Which way should I fly to reach Tashkent, where our trip begins?
  5. How about their culture?
  6. How should I pack?
  7. What kind of currency is used?
  8. What are the local languages?
  9. Can I use credit cards?
  10. Are there ATM machines in Tashkent, Bokhara and Samarkand?
  11. What about Travelers Checks?
  12. What kind of dress is appropriate in the cities?
  13. How about on the trek?
  14. What kind of food will we eat?
  15. Which kind of weather should I be expecting?
  16. How much money do we need to bring?
  17. What kind of camera should I bring?
1. How demanding is the hike? Back to Top
Our Fann Mountains trek is a hike of easy to moderate difficulty. If you have not been at altitude before know that sleeping at 14,700 feet (4,480 meters) is high enough that you will need to pay attention to your body's ability to acclimatize. Weather is always a factor on any mountain range.
2. Which kind of visas do I need for this trip? Back to Top
You will need an Uzbek and a Tajik visa. Your Uzbek visa will need to be dual entry, because we will walk out of Uzbekistan into Tajikistan for the Fann Mountains trek and return to Uzbekistan at the end of the trek. This sounds complicated, but we will take care of all the arrangements when you are there, including contact with the appropriate officials at the border crossing.
3. Are entrance fees included? Back to Top
No. Even though our small group will be traveling together, museum entrance fees will be paid by individuals. This will leave us more options for doing more or less as each person feels inclined and to keep our schedule flexible
You will also need to pay Fann Mountains special use permit fees, US$50 per person and the US$1 per person per day “ecological tax” for the Fann Mountains region.
4. Which way should I fly to reach Tashkent, where our trip begins? Back to Top
The most convenient way to travel to Uzbekistan is by taking a flight to Tashkent, the capital, from main international airports of Europe, Asia and the Middle East. The national airline is Uzbekistan Airways (HY), which has significantly expanded its routes since the independence of Uzbekistan. It now offers regular flights to London, Birmingham, Amsterdam, Athens, Frankfurt am Main, Paris, Peking, Bangkok, Dhaka, Delhi, Istanbul, Kuala Lumpur, New York, Seoul, and Tel Aviv. Further, HY offers flights to many destinations within the CIS and Uzbekistan. In addition, Tashkent is also served by several international carriers: Lufthansa (Frankfurt/M and Almaty), Pakistan International Airways (Islamabad), Air India (Delhi), Turkish Airlines (Istanbul), Shinjiang Airways (Urumchi in China) and Arianna (Kabul).
For most of our travelers the European flights will be the best option. We do not recommend that you fly to Uzbekistan with connections through Russia. This will require an additional visa, and Russian airports, such as Swermetoov in Moscow are notoriously inefficient.
5. How about their culture? Back to Top
The culture of Uzbekistan is one of the brightest and most original cultures of the East. It is characterized by inimitable national music, dances and painting, unique national foods and clothes. Uzbek national music is characterized by a variety of subjects and genres. The music can be divided into two groups: that performed for special occasions and the music that is performed at any time. The songs connected with customs and traditions, labor processes, various ceremonies, dramatized entertainment representations and games belong to the first group.
The Uzbek people are well-known for their songs. "Koshuk" is a household song with a small diapason melody, covering one or two rows of the poetic text. The dancing character of a melody of this genre provides the performance in support of comic dances. "Lapar" is a dialogue-song. In some areas the term "lapar" is applied to wedding songs. "Ulan" (which is performed as a dialogue of man and women). "Yalla" includes two kinds of songs: a melody of a narrow range, and solo simultaneously with dance. National and professional poems of the poets of the East are used as the texts for the songs. There is a special place in the Uzbek musical heritage for "dastans" (epic legends with lyric-heroic content). Also "Makoms," the basic classical genre of professional music and oral tradition.
The dances of uzbeks distinguish softness, smoothness and expressiveness of movements, easy sliding step, original movements on a place and on a circle.
The development of national painting began many centuries ago. In the 16th and 17th centuries art of the manuscript and binding in Bukhara and some other urban centers had achieved significant success. The decorating of manuscript included refined calligraphy, decoration by water paints and thin ornaments on fields. In Samarkand and especially in Bukhara the Central Asian school of the miniature has achieved a great success and have developed in many different style directions. One of them, for example, is connected with traditions of Behzod, which is characterized with its gentle style of writing the letter and architectural elements.
6. How should I pack?Back to Top
Please check our gear list. Remember that you will be able to store things at our hotel in Tashkent while on the Silk Road tour, and you will also be able to send things back to Tashkent with our driver before the Fann Mountains trek begins. It is important to have small bags with your name clearly labeled.
7. What kind of currency is used?Back to Top
The local currency is called Sum. Exchange rates change on a daily basis and the Uzbekistan Sum (UZS) is no different. In fact, the Uzbekistan Sum exchange rate may fluctuate many times during the day. At the current exchange rate, if you convert 1 US Dollar into Uzbekistan Sum you'll end up with a total of 1,260 Uzbekistan Sums.
8. What are the local languages? Back to Top
Uzbekistan’s three major languages are Uzbek, Russian and Tajik. Uzbek is the country’s official language. English, French, German and other European Languages are commonly spoken as well.
9. Can I use credit cards?Back to Top
The hotels we use accept major credit cards, as do larger shops that sell souvenirs in the city.
10. Are there ATM machines in Tashkent, Bokhara and Samarkand?Back to Top
Don’t count on it. They do exist, but they are often empty. We recommend that you use credit cards, US Dollar or Euro Cash.
11. What about Travelers Checks?Back to Top
Travelers Checks are becoming increasingly hard to use throughout the world. (They are easy to counterfeit, and are considered risky by merchants and some banks.) If you do use them as a backup, be prepared to look for the best opportunities to convert them and accept that higher commission rates may be charged.
12. What kind of dress is appropriate in the cities?Back to Top
First, do not feel there is a need for extreme modesty during any part of our trip. Western styles pervade in the cities and are well known and accepted everywhere we travel. Having said this it is also worth mentioning that people in Uzbekistan “dress up” a little more than most North Americans do when they are on vacation. Sloppy casual clothes will mark you as a tourist more quickly than anything. It is best to go neat casual, remembering that your outfits will have to be versatile , but also that you will be in museums, restaurants and some hotels where most local people will dress up.
13. How about on the trek?Back to Top
Refer to our gear list and remember mountain weather is changeable! You will be hot, you will be cold, and you will need to make clothing adjustments throughout the day!
14. What kind of food will we eat?Back to Top
The hotels have excellent international menus, as well as nice samplings of local Uzbek and other Central Asian cuisines. Along the road and on the trail you will be made pleasantly aware that Uzbek bread (always fresh baked and served with pride!) is the best in the world. We often enjoy it with fresh salads. This area is also famous for melons, and we will sample many varieties; they will be in season during our stay. There are other excellent fresh fruits readily available as well. In the markets we enjoy trying traditional Silk Road travel foods, dates, figs, nuts, dried cheeses and meats are common and are a nice reminder that this area has known the passage of adventure travelers since ancient times.
Our trek staff will prepare nutritious, complete meals along the trail in the Fann Mountains.
The only things that we cannot provide are things such as cliff bars and power bars and specialized athletic snacks. If a snickers bar, some peanut butter or cheese is just as fine with you, you will be happy. Otherwise we always encourage people to bring a supply of their own preferred snack food from home. If you decide to do this, keep the quantity small. You will be served lots of food by our staff and at our lodges.
15. Which kind of weather should I be expecting?Back to Top
Uzbekistan has an extreme continental climate. It is generally warmest in the south and coldest in the north. Temperatures in December average -8°C (18°F) in the north and 0°C (32 °F) in the south. However, extreme fluctuations can take temperatures as low as -35°C (-31°F). During the summer temperatures can reach 45°C (113°F) and above. Humidity is low. For trekking the summer (July and August) is the best time, because summers are almost dry. In recent years Uzbekistan was notably affected by the global warming and dry-out of the Aral See, which turned snowy cold winters to mild with less precipitation by allowing travelling in the wintertime. Don’t forget that the desert area can be quite cold at night.
The Fann Mountains have classic variable mountain weather, warm in direct sunlight, cool on cloudy days and at night. You will be adjusting your layers all day as you hike. When we reach the pass it can be windy and cold, as well as scorching hot.
16. How much money do we need to bring?Back to Top
Tashkent can be at least as expensive as some European cities. You will not need to have much money, but if you are in the habit of having drinks, buying souvenirs, budget accordingly. It might well be possible to spend as $200 US dollars on entire trip for the occasional meal or drink and incidental expenses. The average is probably 4 times that. Major credit cards are accepted many places and U.S. currency is easy to spend or convert in the cities.
In the mountains however it is quite different. Quite honestly, there is very little to buy there and when you do spend you will need to have currency rather than plastic. Normally groups decide to tip local guides and staff at the end of our trek. I suggest each climber budget $150 to $200 dollars for this. Also, remember that airport taxes and overweight charges are not included. Central Asia is a place where some small amounts of currency, some US $20 bills can be useful.
In Central Asia, as in most other country outside North America you will not be able to spend US currency that is torn or damaged. Take care to bring newer, undamaged bills with you.
17. What kind of camera should I bring?Back to Top
Digital cameras offer the flexibility and economy of working without film. Look for one that is simple, rugged and well sealed. Many models of “point and shoot’ digital cameras tend to be quite fragile in the dust and cold. Look for a camera that is portable enough to be transported easily, yet not so small that controls will be difficult to work with gloves on or with cold fingers.
Rugged SLR film cameras and higher quality Digital SLR’s offer the flexibility of interchangeable lenses and normally perform better in extreme conditions. Even though they are heavier, they are worth bringing if you have experience using them.
Video camcorders are great because they allow for recording sounds and still shots as well as video. Do not leave your video camera or SLR camera at home just because you think they will be too heavy to carry. We will have safe storage for our equipment at all our hotels and camps through our trip.
Regardless of what kind of cameras you bring, be sure to bring the charger for your batteries. You will be able to charge them at all our hotels. If you have a cigarette lighter adaptor bring it; we will also be able to charge batteries while driving. Also bring plenty of film and / or memory cards. Many people underestimate how many pictures they will take!