Camping in the Hills of Tavaksay

Dad, Ocean and Nadia at our campsite

Last weekend we camped with friends near the Tavaksay Canyon, which is in the foothills overlooking the town of Chirchiq, about an hour and 15 minutes-drive from our home in Tashkent. We had a lot of laughs and it was a beautiful evening under the half moon. The temperature was perfect and I slept very comfortably in our tent.

A windy set-up

It was my wife’s and Ocean’s favorite type of camping. It involved no hiking and backpacks. We just drove to the spot, parked, and set the tent next to the car. It was quite windy in the late afternoon Saturday when we set up the tents so we used our vehicles as a windblock. Thankfully, the wind abated and it was a glorious evening. It is so relaxing to be out in nature. We went for a walk up a ridge in the evening and I discovered the iPhone with it’s 3-second button, takes really nice night photos (see below).

The cliffs and lights of Chirchiq in the distance

It was a quiet evening as we were alone with the sheep and cow herds that ranchers take up to graze. The grasses are green at this time of the year. As spring turns into summer, the shepherds take their herds further up the mountains. I am interested in their lives and watched with interest as they guided the sheep to different grazing areas over the weekend. The Central Asian sheepdogs faithfully follow the herds and the herders are either on horseback or foot, corraling wayward sheep and cows. I think I might enjoy being a herder for a summer. It would be fun and relaxing to be outdoors all the time, but I think after a few weeks, it might get a bit boring. Once again, I must state, however, that I would like to see these hills without livestock grazing it all the time. The views are beautiful but there are not many plants, birds, and wildlife and it is mostly a sterile environment, thanks to our habit of eating a lot of meat.

It was cool to hear the call to prayer in the distance. I also got to ride my gravel bike a lot on Sunday morning. I will definitely head back up there during our upcoming Eid break to cycle more of the areas I didn’t get to. There were also a surprising number of cars driving around the hills in the evening. Uzbeks like to go up into the mountains for picnics or drinking. They are not big campers, however, as we foreigners stood out with our brightly colored tents. The mountains are my favorite aspect of living in Tashkent and I can’t wait to explore other areas this spring.

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