Day 4: Cycle to Hayat Village 61km

We woke up to find our unicycles frozen solid.  For those who were up early, the sunrise over Ortacheku rocks was well worth the effort.

After breakfast we rode through a small village with stone buildings along a dusty dirt road.  We had one of the most fun descents of the tour as we dropped down to the valley and on to the ‘motorway’.

Now, this might well be one of the main trunk roads through Uzbekistan, but what constitutes a motorway can only be described as a potholed, fissured obstacle course.  The road proved more challenging than the off-road, because bumps are more solid and less forgiving than on dirt.  This was our longest day, but despite being only 61km, most of us were glad to make the final climb into Hayat Village.

After having not showered for three days, we were relieved to this available, but to our dismay, solar heating doesn’t work when it there are 17 cyclists and not much sunshine!

Most of the buildings in the village were made of mud-brick, which did a great job of keeping in the heat, so we had a warm cosy night.

We were surprised to see other overseas travelers in the village, which seemed to exist in the middle of nowhere.  Not something you would get out of a guidebook.

Day 3 Lake Turkan to Ortacheku Rocks 41km

After a chilly breakfast, we headed away from the Lake and up the ridge along the Pistalitau mountain.  It was a steady climb but we were rewarded by some breathtaking views of the desert plain below.

After the descent we rode  across the plain, with the mountain range in the distance.   We lunched by a train track, which seemed rather lonely as it cut across the desert.

The ride finished up a small climb into a beautiful secluded spot beneath Ortacheku Rocks- a rather imposing mountain that glowed a fiery orange as the sun set.

It was another chilly night camping but so most of us retired to our tents shortly after dinner.   Those of us with warm gear and plenty of enthusiasm stayed up into the wee hours to go stargazing with David  Weston, our  resident expert.  The clear sky and lack of ambient light made it a perfect opportunity to identify constellations, planets, satellites and the occasional meteor.

Day 2 Cycle to Lake Tuzkan 26km

We get up bright an early for the first riding day.   After breakfast we get in our bus from Tashkent to the our starting point.   As we headed out of the city, there were vast networks of Soviet era irrigation, stretching for miles across the desert landscape.  Perhaps part of the reason behind the demise of the Aral sea. It was 4-5hr drive on bumpy Uzbek roads, so we were glad when we arrived at our lunch stop and the start of the ride.

The trail began on flat sandy track, and pretty much stayed that way.  It was fun but tricky with many hidden obstacles and a quite a few unplanned dismounts.   The desert trail yielded few encounters with civilisation.  We passed the odd local on a donkey cart, a few houses and livestock, but mostly not much.

Our campsite was on the shore of Lake Tuzkan, a massive lake unintentionally created during the Soviet era when their attempts at damming  the Syr Darya river resulted in water overflow into the lowland area.  It is a massive lake, and today supports a small fishing industry after fish was introduced.  For something man made, it was a very picturesque with plenty of interesting wildlife.

It was getting dark and cold when we arrived.  Those of us brave enough to jump in the Lake managed to wash off the sand and dirt accumulated from the days riding.

Day 1 Tashkent

The first experience we all had was of the crazy airport in Tashkent. If you’ve never landed in Uzbekistan before, be prepared to sprint for the immigration queue as soon as you step off the airport bus.   It took us over two hours to clear passport control, pick up Visas and clear customs.   It was a relief to be out of the airport.

Our first official day of the tour had the riders arriving thoughout the day at Hotel Uzbekistan.  The imposing 17 storey hotel was amongst various soviet style buildings in Tashkent with many impressive buildings from that era.  Even the subway awed- there were stations decorated with chandeliers and ornate artwork on the walls.

Those of us who arrived earlier in the day went out to check out the city, including its many markets, bazaar, museums.   We quickly assembled our Unis and went for a ride through town, drawing curious onlookers with many locals asking to see us ride as we walked through the markets.

After exploring the city, we met up for group dinner and briefing.  Jason our guide from Grasshopper Adventures explained the route to us, and it promised to be rough, dry and tough.   We weren’t out of the city yet and we already felt the effects of the dusty dry environment.

The last of our group arrived and we received our T-shirts and Jerseys for the tour.




After much research, I’ve discovered there are two types of taxis in Tashkent: the official ones with signage and a commensurate rate, and then the unmarked taxis used by everyone for a negotiated rate. How do you tell an unofficial taxi from any other car? Simple. You just stand on the street with your arm out and when a car stops and winds the window down, but you’re getting the idea. I’ve seen small boys flag them down, and even a number of people in a line down the road when it is busy.

Negotiating the fee is the next challenge for a foreigner. You show your trusty piece of paper with the address or a tour brochure and after some consideration a price is offered. You can confirm it by holding up the required fingers and a 1000 Som note.

I’ve found them quick but they do not necessarily follow all the road laws, but still an interesting experience.

—David Buchanan

All set for Unistan!

Only two days to go before we meet up in Tashkent.

All the riders are busy packing and doing final tuneups to their unicycles.   We’ll be meeting up  on Monday 21 Oct for a group dinner before setting out on the tour.

Now, David Buchanan is already there,  and possibly the first ever unitourist in Uzbekistan!

David in Tashkent

T-shirts have arrived

Just as well I normally travel light!


And here I am modelling one of the Unistan T-shirts


Unistan T-shirt

Two months before Unistan.  Here’s the Unistan T-shirt:



Last chance to register

Only 4 and a bit months until Unistan!  If you are still insterested in coming, please get in contact as soon as possible.

We have 14 riders registered- lots of old and some new faces.

For those who are registered, please fill in your arrival details in the forum and send me your profiles for the site.


Registrations open

Happy New Year everyone!

Registrations for Unistan are now open, and will remain open until 1 June 2013, or until all 20 places are filled.

You can register by emailing me via Adventure Unicyclist


Ken Looi