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Equestrian tourism in Uzbekistan

Already in the first Chinese chronicles dating 2nd century B. C., it was mentioned that Chinese merchants, who delivered luxury fabrics, jade and chinaware to the West along the Great Silk Road, brought back military horses for Chinese army from the State of Davan, which was situated in Feghana valley surrounded by the Tien-Shan mountains.

As time goes by, our needs and capabilities change; traveling by car or plane one can easily cover the distances between cities and countries, but as before people remain devoted to horses and horsemanship. It seems that it is by the nature itself that horse is destined to carry the horseman on its back. There were numerous cases when horse’s sturdiness and devotion to the rider rescued the rider’s life.

In Uzbekistan during public holidays brave riders, palvans, with real excitement take part in the traditional horse-games named "ulak" – goat-tearing, "kiz quvdi" – catching up with a girl, the games in which a rider should demonstrate his strength, adroitness, high level of horsemanship. Over and over again Uzbek sportsmen won the Olympic Games in Munich, Montreal, Moscow and Seoul in classic types of equestrian sport – in show jumping and dressage.

Those who at least once felt gentle touch of horse’s soft lips grasping a piece of bread from their palm and heard greeting neigh of this beautiful animal, who experienced an unforgettable feeling of flying on the horse’s back, will feel eternal love for this clever and wonderful creature and will long for saddling up a horse.

Some eighty kilometers off Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, there rise snow peaks of the Western Tien-Shan. This wide mountainous area that spread from majestic 7000-metre high mountains, such as Peak Pobedy, and Khan Tengry on the east, to a fertile Tashkent oasis on the west, has been known to travelers surmounting the dangerous passages of the Great Silk Road since the old times. Here, at the junction of three wild mountain rivers, lies Ugham-Chatkal National Wild Park whose rich flora and fauna attracts many tourists from all over the world. In the picturesque valley situated at the height of 1600 meters above sea level, at the footsteps of Bolshoy and Maliy Chimghan, there was built "Chimghan Oromghohi" resort complex famous among the lovers of riding. Several cottages and many-storeyed comfortable hotels with bars and restaurants welcome the guests the whole year round.

In the stables of "Chimghan Oromghohi" there are horses of local breeds, such as kurama and karabair, as well as akhal-teke breed and sturdy half-breds – the result of interbreeding of akhal-teke and karabair breeds with the genuine thoroughbred English horse. Here one can hire a horse and a comfortable saddle and make riding along the picturesque places of the resort area. Experienced instructors will teach the beginners to sit right in a saddle and to ride a horse, while qualified riders can improve their own skills.

Romance of horse riding attracts people of any age and temperament, and unique climatic conditions make horse riding possible all the year round.

Here all the riding tours along reserve sites of the National Park start. One of the most popular routes passes along the banks of the Pskem, a wild mountain river. While horse riding is available for everybody, the horseback long tours are much more preferable for qualified and experienced riders, for those, who strive for adventures, the adventures that inevitably attend every tour.

Surely, such horseback tours require special equipment, such as tents, sleeping-bags. Experienced tourists know that planning a dress for a horseback tour one must avoid bright coloured dress made of rustling fabrics so as not to scare horses. Cavalry saddle with the sweat-cloth is the most comfortable tackle for long horse riding tours. Every riding saddle can be used as a pack-saddle or there could be strapped to it weather-vanes khurdjunes.

As a rule, such a horseback tour lasts for seven, ten days. The route passes along the northern slopes of the Ugham ridge where it is cool and dry. In the ravine of the Pskem river, though, the climate is milder.

Here in the reserve the mountain slopes are covered with relic spruce forests while in the valleys of many rivers one can find birches and walnuts. In the thickets of sea-buckthorn and hawthorn there sing nightingales, goldfinches and orioles. On the plateau there spread alpine grasslands covered with tulips, poppies, rhododendrons, various herbs surrounded by barberry and blackberry bushes.

Among the rocks there take their shelter small lakes, roar rapid rivers and waterfalls. Mysterious caves hide in the mountain slopes; ledges of volcanic rocks keep petrified imprints of dinosaurs. On vertical rocks one can see petroglyphs – ancient rock paintings of animals and hunters with bows and arrows, the pictures made by the primitive men who inhabited this prosperous land in Stone Age.

Along the mountain paths horses move slowly, whereas on the plain they trot. In the thickets of fruit trees and bushes riders can see badgers and wild boars; sometimes a marmot or marten can look out of his ground hole. In the valley of the Pskem and along the banks of its tributary the Maydantal river, one can see wolves, foxes and a peculiar inhabitant of these woods – roe deer. Spruced woods are full of bears and lynxes. There, at night, one can hear hooting of an owl.

Close to the eternal snows on the mountain tops irbis – a snow leopard – takes its shelter, wild rams are capering about the ledges. In alpine grass there hide turkeys and mountain partridges (kekliks).

An impression from the journey along the mountains where fresh, clear air is filled with the superfine aroma of the numerous herbs and flowers, the squeak of a saddle, rhythmical clatter of hoofs and romantic evening meal in front of campfire under bottomless mountain sky with myriads of stars will be long kept in your memory.

For those who prefer to relax in a habitual entourage of comfort, in four kilometres from Chimgan, in Beldersay Tract, there is a four-star hotel equipped in accordance with European standards, and 16 cozy family cottages. From here one can make horse riding trips around the Beldersay ridge along the Chatkal and Koksu rivers.

After horseback traveling tourists are given a unique chance to visit ancient towns of Central Asia – Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Khiva.

All Tourist Gems of Uzbekistan