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Eva Strasburger, September 2013
For several of our recent family trips I have used a Conde Nast Traveler Specialist with great success. Therefore, back in May this year when our family (with 4 daughters aged 25, 22, 20 and 18) decided that it was time to explore a part of the world we knew little about I looked up the Conde Nast Specialist for Central Asia and saw Silk Road Treasure Tours. I immediately liked the sound of this agency as the owner, Zulya Rajabova is actually from Uzbekistan and though she now lives in the USA she worked for the Uzbek Tourism Ministry for 8 years. Therefore, I knew she had to be perfect for us as she would have an insider's knowledge of the region and local personal contacts.
When I called the agency I was immediately greeted with great warmth and enthusiasm by Zulya. She told me that my family was in for an amazing trip and that she would be proud and honoured to introduce us to her beloved part of the world. I was sold and from then on developed a great relationship with Zulya as she sent me options for itineraries, made sure to include special requests and handled all the rather complicated visa requirements. One of our requests was to have a focus on fashion and textiles and I was very impressed that Zulya arranged several activities to incorporate this, including meeting with Faculty members and the Head of the Institute of Textile and Fashion Design in Uzbekistan as well as with other well known designers.
Altogether we spent 18 fabulous days in August, 2013 traveling through Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. The trip was a perfect combination of culture, adventure, history, politics and natural wonders. We visited evrything from UNESCO World Heritage sites to magnificent mountain ranges and deserts. We clambered over Parthian and ancient mud fortresses, slept in the desert next to a giant gas crater, enjoyed the friendly hospitality of yurt camps, marveled at the beauty of the blue tiled mausoleums and rode horses next to a stunning glacial lake. None of us had any knowledge of this region and now we know so much about the land of Alexander The Great, Ghengis Khan, Tamberlane, Uzbeks, Turkmen, Tajiks, Kazakhs, Kyrgys and Soviets. Furthermore, we were really fond of our guides who had our best interests at heart and became a part of our family.
Our only hiccup was when one of our daughters needed to make a visit to the local State Hospital in Bukhara. Zulya, who was in constant contact with our guides or me throughout our trip, immediately arranged for a friend of hers in Bukhara to meet us and make sure that we received the best attention possible from the top doctors at the hospital. Without this friend's help we would have had a difficult time negotiating our way through the hospital. We were so grateful that we had chosen to work with Zulya who has both family and friends in several of these cities that she could call on to help us.
Bottom line is that I highly recommend Zulya to anyone thinking of traveling to Central Asia. Zulya's warm and respectful personality, her love for her homeland, and her desire to give us the best trip possible made this an easy and fun trip to plan and a wonderful one to experience.
If you have a moment you can see a short video one of my daughter's made of our trip which really sums it up:
SEPTEMBER 29, 2013
Seen at the Conde Nast Traveler Magazine, http://www.cntraveler.com/travel-tips/travel-specialists/zulya-rajabova