Three weeks ago, 19 of us headed off on an experience of a lifetime. We took part in the 2018 World Challenge trip to Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. We travelled via China where we were in transit for 23 hours so took the opportunity to go to the Great Wall which was such an amazing experience – and we hadn’t even got to our main countries.
From there we started the adventure in Uzbekistan. We arrived in Tashkent and explored a bit and went to Chorzu Bazaar, which was a gorgeous market filled with wonderful smells and sounds – it was truly an all sensory experience. After that was our community phase where we joined the Asraf community, a tiny little paradise filled with plants and animals hidden behind desert mountains with the nicest community of people. There we helped build a small library inside the school and repainted the whole place. It was truly rewarding to be there and very hands-on. We also helped create a well for the villagers, as well as helping with all the food, which was amazing!!
Then we were off to the Silk Route cities. Our first stop was Bukhara where we saw the Arc and Kalon Mosque and minaret. Then to Samarkand, another beautiful city where we spent four amazing days exploring all the sights and we all fell in love.
We then took a 23-hour train ride, which was definitely an experience with all the border security stops, until finally arriving in Kyrgyzstan, the starting point for the trek phase of the expedition. After shopping for food for our tramp and filling four shopping trolleys to the brim, we headed off to the Ala Archa National Park which was absolutely gorgeous. The mountains were amazing. Our hut was up at 3300m and we went for small day walks to a glacier and the summit of one of the peaks (4600m). It was definitely a challenge for all of us but we pushed through and supported each other to achieve it together – a great sense of satisfaction. This was the final phase before we began the long journey home, happy to be seeing our friends and families again but sad to be leaving such an amazing place.
Our experiences over the past three weeks have left lasting impressions on us, changing us for better people, who have a wider understanding of others, other cultures and ourselves. It was a truly amazing, life-changing trip, which we would highly recommend to anyone toying with the idea of travel!