Soon, we will step out from behind our screens and will be able to travel again instead of arm-chair travelling with our TVs and notepads. Until then, stay healthy and stay positive. And start generating some ideas for your 2021 travel plans.
It is obviously hard to imagine right now airport crowds, border crossings and long-distance travels with many hours flights. Some of us predict only home tourism will be prevalent in the coming years with only few leaving their own countries for leisure. But the truth is that home tourism might in fact be trickier if we think of the virus pandemic, as there might have been more virus hotspots in our own countries than in the ones that we can or plan to visit.
Considering safety, Uzbekistan is among few countries that mainly avoided being affected by pandemic, registered a small number of infected people and due to preemptive quarantine measures successfully stopped the spread of disease at the very start. The country’s immediate neighbors are also among the least affected countries and the whole of Central Asia can be considered quite safe. And with the direct flights to Tashkent resuming from many European airports, you can avoid changing flights in transit countries and have less worries contracting the disease.
This Central Asian nation probably isn’t on your list of places to go, so here's why Uzbekistan deserves to be your travel destination in 2021?
It is still relatively undiscovered although tourist numbers were doubling annually for the last couple of years, meaning relatively soon it will not be so authentic and genuine and might become a mainstream tourist hotspot with all the advantages and tons of disadvantages coming with that.
Visas are no longer required for most nationals, and transport links are very good, with high-speed trains and regular flights circling between Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva.
There is so much to see and experience in this sunny and tremendously hospitable country that this small article won’t be able to fit. The country for centuries was on the crossroads of different cultures and civilizations, starting from Greek and Persian empires, then Islamic and Mongol eras to more recent Russian and Soviet periods.
Just imagine that Alexander the Great reached these places, who even married the Roxanne who captivated him with her beauty. Imagine to see a 2,500-year-old Khiva city – capital of the Khorezm kings who ruled here in the third century – whose mud brick walls and doorways are still visible; or witness unforgettable sunset views across the seemingly endless Kyzylkum desert whilst staying overnight in the yurt camp.
At a time when Europe was still moldering in the dark ages, the land of present day Uzbekistan was soaring into its renaissance. From here came algebra, thanks to Muhammad al-Khwarizmi. Medicine and philosophy came via Avicena in the 10th century. Al-Biruni, a man of astonishing talent, wrote treatises on mathematics, anthropology, astrology and geography in the 11th century.
Centuries later, Ulugh Begh, grandson of Timur and sultan of Samarkand, drew on this ferment of knowledge to found a cutting-edge astronomical observatory on top of a hill in Samarkand. Visitors can still see the ribs of a mighty sextant curling down a trench, the largest meridian instrument of its time. Among other astonishing things, it discovered almost 200 new stars, and predicted, almost to a minute, the exact length of a year.
You will mesmerised by limitless minarets, mosques, madrasas and mausoleums. When in Khiva, visit the Juma mosque and see its 213 wooden columns. Climb the stairs at the North gate of the Ichan Qala mud wall for amazing views at sunset.
In Bukhara, check out the Magok-i-Attari, a ninth-century mosque, and the towering Kalyan Minaret – both among the few structures to survive Genghis Khan.
In the flatlands of the Republic of Karakalpakstan lies a portal to another era, that of the glorious Zoroastrian Persian empire, maybe the world's first superpower, whose demesne once stretched from the Indus River to the Balkans in Europe.
Travelling to Uzbekistan will never disappoint you. This is a cradle of civilizations that passed through many turbulent times and was always reviving one crisis after another. This is a place whose history can encourage all of us in these difficult times and remind that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. Visit Uzbekistan to get inspired.