Brought to you by Pilot Productions - producers of addictive travel and adventure TV shows that take you to unforgettable destinations around the planet. Globe Trekker is the ultimate intrepid traveller's guide to exploring our wonderful world.

Presenter : Ian Wright

Central Asia – Uzbekistan & Kyrgyzstan

The former Soviet Republics of Uzbekistan and Kirghistan are in the heart of Central Asia. The area is a vast inaccessible wilderness, surrounded by harsh deserts and high mountains. It was once the site of the ancient caravan routes and its towns were oases on the Great Silk Road of the East.
On the road to Bukhara
Traveller Ian Wright’s journey begins in the smallest of these oasis towns, Khiva. Khiva is a strange time capsule in the middle of the Kara-Kum desert. The city grew up around one small well and the old inner town with its mud streets and squares has been perfectly preserved as a museum. Ian wanders the streets and attends anUzbek wedding. Later that evening he takes part in a wrestling contest.

Ian drives to Bukhara and swims in the sacred pool in the centre of town called Lyab-i-Haus. He visits a holy Imam at the tomb of Sheikh Bakhautdin just outside Bukhara and joins some old men discussing Islamic and Soviet history.

Tashkent is Ian’s next destination and he arrives in time for the Independence Daycelebrations. From Tashkent he flies to Bishkek, the capital of the Republic of Kirghistan. Kirghistan is a mountain paradise surrounded by deserts and populated mostly by nomads who were never quite tamed by the Soviet regime. The mountains and high pastures have been spared Soviet industrialization and Kirghiz, Russians, Uzbeks, Ukranians, Germans and Koreans live peacefully side by side.

Ian makes his way into the Tian Shan mountains, where he meets an eagle trainer and watches his eagle hunt a badger. He climbs to a higher plateau where some local villagers haveimage: Camping with the Nomads in the Tian Shan Mountainsgathered to celebrate the festival for ‘Manas’, a mythical folk hero. Karakol serves as a base for horse trekking, climbing and skiing expeditions to the Tian Shan mountain range. Impossibly remote, they are seldom visited, with jagged peaks stretching to 7000 metres. From Karakol, Ian hitches a ride in an old Red Army helicopter and goes heliskiing with them.

Ian travels to the remote and stunning Arshane Valley in a bumpy wagon. He goes on a horse trek and meets nomadic shepherds who live in an oval-shaped tent called a ‘yurt‘. On special occasion they prepare a feast called abeshparmak, where they kill and cook a sheep. They have so few Western visitors that they prepare a feast especially for Ian. Ian has to plait the intestines and cook the sheep’s head in the fire. He then shares a meal with the nomads and has to eat the sheep’s eye, which is offered only to the honoured guest and to refuse is an insult.

Places Mentioned - Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, The Silk Road, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

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