One of our readers, Anne Rothwell from West Yorkshire, fulfills her childhood dream to explore the sand and starlight of Uzbekistan in this month's Great Escape. 

We stood in a line on the hilltop, cameras poised, waiting for the sun to set. This was the best time of the day, not only for photography but for relief from the heat. A large dragonfly flew by. It was an unexpected sight in the dry Uzbekistan desert.

Since reading The Golden Road to Samarkand as a child, I’ve always wanted to go to Uzbekistan. I was finally here.

Uzbek

After the sun had set, we slithered down the sandy slope to the yurts below. Entering through the wooden doors, the four of us on the expedition flopped onto our mattresses and gazed in the dim light.

We ate a meal and went outside to find a large campfire surrounded by chairs. A local musician began to sing. Happy yet weary, I went to the yurt, crawled into my sleeping bag and listened from there.

During the night, I came outside and looked up: what a glorious sight! My patch of earth was completely enveloped by the soft black night and myriad brilliant constellations. No light, no sound; just nature in all her pristine glory.

 

 

"No light, no sound; just nature in all her pristine glory"

 

 

The next morning, after an Uzbek breakfast of bread, meat, cheese, boiled eggs, fruit and green tea, we set off with camels to walk to the Aydar Lake a few miles away. We loped along in the heat, my Bactrian camel stopping at every thorny bush to snatch a mouthful, which he crunched noisily.

Then the lake came into view: a beautiful deep blue, mirroring the cloudless sky. The water was clear and clean and refreshingly cool. After a picnic on the shore, we travelled to see turquoise mosaic buildings and the fabled Silk Road of Samarkand—the city that inspired my trip!

 

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