This page is intended to give some facts, figures, and useful resources for cycling from Khiva to Bukhara across the Kyzyl Kum desert. We cycled this stretch in mid/late-January 2015 and due to the winter cold it was important (for us) to find shelter (not our tent) every night.
Finding shelter and supplies is much easier in this desert stretch than in the Beyneu to Nukus stretch!
1. From Khiva we cycled southwest out towards the town of Bagat. The road from Khiva to Bagat is not great, but improves after Bagat;
2. From Bagat we continued in a southwesterly direction (on a slightly improved road) until just before Balyqchi where we turned left (it is a large intersection that you should not miss), crossed the Amu Darya, and just followed the road all the way up to the A380;
2a. The road from the Amu Darya to the A380 is not great; so expect to lose some speed on this section;
3. It is roughly 80km from Khiva to the turn off just before Balyqchi;
4. It is roughly 20km from the turn off to the A380;
4a. There would be opportunities to camp on this 20km stretch, but if you can make it to the A380 then the opportunities become more frequent;
4b. We picked up water and chocolate at a small shop just before we turned on to the A380;
5. From the A380 turn off, it is roughly 4km to a hotel. We did not stop at the hotel, but presumably they could register you if you were worried about that;
6. From the hotel it is roughly another 12km to four çayhanas;
6a. We stayed in the first çayhana (we enquired in all of them and only the first one would let us stay);
6b. We stayed for free in the çayhana; it had a simple menu of fish and eggs; it had a (very) simple shop, but certainly enough to buy some chocolate, bread, and coffee. The man running the place was super nice and let us keep our bikes inside next to where we slept;
6c. We covered just under 115km on our first day from Khiva and had time to spare;
7. It is roughly 60km from where we slept to the next çayhana, the road is excellent, and if it hadn’t been for the immense cold and head wind I am sure this would have been a wonderful ride;
8. From the çayhana it is a further 40km to a police check point; there is a small shop there, that sells the most amazing cake we have had on our journey!
8a. We managed to stay in a local house just past the police checkpoint, however we would not recommend it. We got in, and got setup and then they asked us for money, after we had already agreed that it was not going to cost anything. There are plenty of opportunities for camping around here;
8b. The road is still excellent all the way to the police checkpoint;
8c. We covered just over 95km on our second day from Khiva and again we had time to spare;
9. From the police check point it is roughly 25km to a çayhana; we did not go in but it looked large and there were a few trucks parked there. You could almost certainly get supplies, and stay.
9a. If we had known that this çayhana existed we would have pushed on from the police check point and stayed there;
9b. Somewhere between the police checkpoint and the above-mentioned çayhana the road deteriorates so your speed will drop. On the positive side, there is a lot of work going on to improve the road so it may be better by the time you cycle it ☺
10. It is a further 20km to a çayhana, we had breakfast here and it was excellent; you would almost certainly be able to stay here for free (super nice people);
11. Roughly 40km further on is a very good çayhana where we had excellent Manti for lunch; there is also a basic shop here;
12. From the lunch çayhana it was a further 40km to Gazli. We stopped at the first çayhana we came to. It is just before the town on the left hand side of the road. This is where we spent our third night;
12a. It is worth stopping here just for their lagman (the best we had had up until that point in time);
12b. We stayed for free, and our bikes were allowed to come inside with us.
12c. Word of warning though, the older lady who runs the place is super nice, the younger lady was super nice, but tried to make us pay in the morning; we refused as it had been agreed it was free;
12d. We covered just over 125km on our third day from Khiva;
13. From Gazli to Bukhara there are numerous çayhanas, and more being built;
13a. The last 20km or 30km into Bukhara are not the best for cycling as it is built up, the road deteriorates, and the driving becomes aggressive. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time as it is quite stressful;
13b. We cycled just over 100km to get to Bukhara from Gazli.
Khiva accommodation – we stayed at the Guest House Alibek, which is located just outside the western wall of the old town. Could not recommend this more highly. The breakfast was included and was excellent. Because it was low season in Khiva very few of the restaurants were opened so we ate at the Guest House Alibek every night for 20,000Som (for two of us). The dinners were excellent and well worth the money.
Bukhara accommodation – we stayed at the Sarrafon B&B (If you are using Google maps it is situated very close to the Sarrafon Mosque). This was also excellent. Breakfast is included (it is not quite as good as Hotel Alibek’s breakfast, but still very good). We also ate dinner here a couple of times for 40,000Som (for two of us). The dinners were absolutely enormous and perfect for cycle tourists. We considered them reasonably priced if you are getting a good rate for the Uzbek Som.
The following map shows many of the locations mentioned above:
View Khiva to Bukhara in a larger map
Note: Clicking on the blue markers will bring up the related photo
We found the following blogs useful, and the authors were always happy to help with any questions we had:
Please let us know (via our Contact Us page) if you have any questions, we will answer them as soon as we can.