Overlanders Tips: Top Five Budget Overlander Hangouts in Central Asia
You have driven hundreds of kilometres all day on dirt tracks, corrugated and potholed tarmac roads, been stopped five times by the police for ‘documents’, then an unfamiliar noise emanates from the engine bay. Your still 10 km outside of an unfamiliar town looking for somewhere to stay that has secure parking and won’t blow your daily budget. You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t need that damn (delete as appropriate) Visa/Registration Document/Permit/Customs Form/Flight Ticket/Spare Part. It’s the usual battle.
We can’t fix the majority of your problems (nobody can) but feel a little more at ease when your GPS is pointing you towards one of these top accommodation options:
1: Lali Opa – Khiva, Uzbekistan
After that ridiculous border crossing, all those police checkpoints and miles upon miles of desert driving on really sh@’^* roads you need somewhere to stop, check emails and relax. The guys at Lali Opa speak English, are super friendly and provide an excellent service. There is room on their drive way for a large 4×4 or a group of bikes and there is WiFi. Take a double room or dorm which were $15 and $12 per person respectively. The place is spotless. Plenty of food options in Khiva so there is no need to drive/ride anywhere.
They can be found here: N 41 22.814 E 060 21.455
Main Website: www.laliopa.com
2: Antica B&B – Samarkand, Uzbekistan
Samarkand is a big place and there are lots of options here. This place is hard to find down a little backstreet but you can drive down here. Rooms are excellent and the shady green courtyard is a refreshing place to update your blog and go through your photos. The staff speak excellent English and are very friendly and accommodating! Our Land Rover was a little big to fit through the gate so we left it outside where we had no problems. Room here for standard or small 4×4’s and a few bikes, WiFi included. Rooms were $45 at the time of writing which included an almighty excellent breakfast. This place isn’t overly cheap but nothing really is in this part of Uzbekistan. Treat yourself to a couple of nights here.
They can be found here: N 39 38.968 E066 58.198
3: Pamir Lodge – Khorog, Tajikistan
Battled your way through landslides, snow and big rivers to reach Khorog? A true overlanders hangout where vehicles and people come together to share stories and a few beers. Relax with Said and Zubaida who will take great care of you. The whole family is super friendly including Grandma. No WiFi here but there is an internet cafe in town for that. The centre is only a 15 minute walk away where you can get everything you need in the bazaar. Rooms are basic but very clean – what more do you need? Storage for three vehicles and loads more bikes. Camping is an option but rooms are only $7-8 per person. Meals can also be provided with a little advanced notice. Said is working on a new toilet block to go with the other rooms built recently. Should be finished for next season.
They can be found here: N 37 29.218 E071 33.741
Main website is a little out of date here http://www.pamirlodge.com/
4: Vamg Guesthouse/Homestay – Yamchun, Wakhan Valley, Tajikistan
Out in the middle of nowhere along the dusty dirt tracks of the Wakhan Valley. When the afternoon westerly winds come, you will be glad you stopped off here at this traditional Pamiri home. A driveway will take 2-3 standard 4×4’s and/or bikes (if the owners GAZ bus isn’t in the way). Rooms are basic but clean and cost $15 per person which includes breakfast and an evening meal. Ask the owner, Aydar (who speaks ok English) to take you to his Pamiri house museum, a reconstruction of his famous Grandfather’s home, a short walk away.
They can be found here: N36 58.871 E072 19.126
5: Nomads Home – Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
So good, we stayed for nine nights! Another great overlanders hangout out on the edge of town with fantastic undercover parking/camping with room for three 4x4s and some bikes. It is also very secure. You can camp (if there is room) under the canopy or pitch your tent in the garden. There are standard rooms, a dorm room, a yurt and camping to choose from with fast and free WiFi available for all. A small outdoor kitchen can be used to cook your own food and there are benches to relax on if your staying put. The family here are very friendly and accommodating, and speak English. If you ask nicely you can leave gear here for collection later and possibly leave your vehicle here in long-term storage.
Camping was $5 per person at the time of writing.
They can be found here: N 42 53.307 E074 37.759
Website here: https://sites.google.com/site/nomadshome/home
Wildcard: Hamsafars Travel Agency / Adventurers Inn – Dushanbe, Tajikistan
Not a great option but if you have nowhere else in Dushanbe then this may work for you. Staff are not helpful and rarely around except to badger you for money. WiFi is available at times. Rooms are clean and are around $15 per person. The nice toilets and showers only have cold water but the crap shower is warm. You can park and camp in the rough garden area (1 4×4 and/or a few bikes) which was $8 at the time of writing. This place has a lot of potential but sadly it’s not great at the moment.
They can be found here: N 38 36.964 E068 46.696
All prices are in US $.