Trans Eurasia travel

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Just over an hour northeast of Tashkent by car lies Ugam-Chatkal National Park , an outdoor haven loaded with hiking and adventure-sport opportunities as well as more relaxing pursuits. This entire area is known locally as Chimgan, a reference to both its biggest town and its central peak, Bolshoy (Big) Chimgan (3309m).

Once the tsarist governor-general had a house here at the foothills of the western Tian Shan, the social elite also built summer cottages, only for the Bolsheviks to requisition them for sick workers after the revolution. The Russian love of winter sports and the Soviet addiction to sanatoria guaranteed Chimgan's growth.

The mountains here are not quite as extreme or scenic as the higher peaks around Almaty and Bishkek, but certain activities (heli-skiing, trekking and rafting come to mind) are more accessible and at least as challenging.

A major sanatoria centre in Soviet times, today it has hatched a few newer resorts and retreats to complement the usual diet of decrepit yet still-functioning concrete Soviet hulks.