NukusQaraqalpakistan, Uzbekistan. It is the capital of the region. However, even by Uzbek standards the town is fairly decrepit and most travellers only stay one night in order to see the Savitsky gallery. Despite this, the locals are a friendly lot. Learn a few words of Qaraqalpaq and you'll be rewarded with delighted smiles.
Nukus AirportUzbekistan Airways operates flights from Moscow Domodedovo International Airport on Mon and Tashkent Tashkent International Airport (TAS) twice a day (Iluyshin IL-114s (2hr 45min) and Airbus A320s (1hr 45hmin), Flying an IL-114 is an adventure itself. They fly slower and lower allowing great views of the Kyzyl Kum desert, the planes are in reasonable conditions.)
By railTrains depart from Tashkent twice a week and head for Kungrad via Samarkand on the way; these trains stop at Nukus station. Note however that there is no direct train between Nukus and Urgench (for Khiva) as Urgench is on a different branch line. As an aside, the main station has open WiFi.
By carShared taxis run to and from Urgench, which is a major interchange with taxi connections to Khiva, Bukhara, and the airport. You will probably need a local taxi between the taxi stand the hotels in the centre of Nukus.
phone: +998 61 222 2556address: K. Rzaev StDo not miss the Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art's Igor Savitsky Collection with its unique collection of many thousands of works by dissenting artists from the Soviet Union during the period in which Stalinist socialist realism was the only permitted form of Soviet art. The documentary film The Desert of Forbidden Art is all about the collection and its history. Many travellers believe this is the only compelling reason to visit Nukus. The Savitsky Collection is often singled out by locals as the best museum in Uzbekistan.
Nearby is the Museum of Applied Arts showing local fabrics, traditional clothing and jewelry. The Karakalpak State Museum exhibits examples of natural history, including the very last Turan Tiger, caught in 1972.
A taxi from Nukus to Moynaq costs around US$70, asking price in Hotels is around US$100. For a day trip, start early as it is 3-3½ hr one way.
Marshrutkas also go to Moynaq via Kungrad.
There are no ATMs in the city, arrive armed with enough US dollars to change. Some places will try to rip you off but it is possible to get very good exchange rates by asking around.
"Samsa" are popular, samosa-type pastries filled with ground beef and onions. 1500-3000 som and they're rather filling. For a meat-free option, some places sell slightly cheaper potato versions, ask for "kartoshka samsa".
Qaraqalpak plov is the unofficial national dish of the region and delicious, especially when homemade. Usually made with chicken.
Perhaps unexpectedly, kimchi is very popular with the locals. Find it at the main fruit and vegetable market. A large Korean community was resettled in Nukus after the second world war and now comprises ~20% of the whole population of the city.
Jipek Jolly HotelIt is quite nice and clean. The shower and toilet are for two rooms. The shower is not that good, but as long as you have hot water, it's tolerable. The water is often just turned off, however.
Nukus HotelIn the double and triple rooms, there is a good chance that someone will turn up at 23:30 and snore in the bed next to you, so you may want to book all the beds for privacy. Ask to see your room before paying, the quality varies (in particular the bathrooms). Air-con is consistently "just being repaired", water supply is uncertain, and in any case it is preferable to use bottled mineral water—even to brush your teeth.
Hotel Tashkentphone: +998 61 224 18 28address: Berdakha 59This big gloomy Soviet tower is not that bad by Nukus standards, but pretty crappy otherwise.