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Nukus is a city in Qaraqalpakistan, 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 Savitzky gallery.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Uzbekistan Airways [1] operates flights from

  • Moscow Domodedovo International Airport on Mon
  • Tashkent Tashkent International Airport (TAS). Uzbekistan Airways flies Iluyshin IL-114s (2:45h) and Airbus A320s (1:45h) twice a day to Nukus Airport (NCU) [2]

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 rail[edit]

Trains 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 direct train between Nukus and Urgench (for Khiva) as Urgench is on a different branch line.

By car[edit]

Shared taxis from Urgench take 1.5-2 hours and cost about 25000 som per person. Taxis from the Turkmenistan border cost about USD15 for the whole car (for an old Lada).

Get around[edit]

Taxi's are plentiful and cheap - a short hop in town should cost Som500 - 1000, or 4000 som from the taxi station to the centre of town. Everything you'll want to see is in walking distance however.

See[edit][add listing]

Main road leading from Hotel Nukus to the gallery

Do not miss the Karakalpakstan State Museum of Art's Igor Savitzky Collection [3] 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 travelers believe this is the only compelling reason to visit Nukus. 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.

Do[edit][add listing]

Due to being the closest major city to the Aral Sea, Nukus is a good place to start trips to the shore and to Moynoq. The former fishing town is some 200km away and a witness of the dying Aral Sea. Its main "attraction" is the infamous ship graveyard. A taxi from Nukus to Moynaq costs around $70, asking price in Hotels is around $100. For a day trip, start early as it is 3-3,5 hrs one way. Marshrutkas also go to Moynaq via Kungrad.

Buy[edit][add listing]

There is a huge sprawling market near the bus station, selling the usual range of cheap consumer goods, clothing and food. Most of it is under cover and hence not a bad place to wander during the heat of the day. Armed with a camera and a polite 'Mogu li ya snyatʹ vashu fotografiyu?' (may I take your photograph) you can get some very atmospheric pictures.

Eat[edit][add listing]

There are few options in town - both the Mona Lisa, and the Sheraton restaurants, listed in a popular guidebook, have shut / never existed. Searching around you will find acceptable kebab places, such as the one just east of the Savitsky museum (42°27'54.03"N, 59°37'11.17"E, on the corner of Rashidova & Dosnazarov).

Drink[edit][add listing]

Sleep[edit][add listing]

Note: the prices in dollars are higher than prices in Uzbek sums. And the hotels will want you to pay in dollars, not in sums (except in Nukus Hotel).

  • Jipek Jolly Hotel - US$15 single room, $20 double room. It 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. Note, however, that the water is often just turned off.
  • The Nukus Hotel charges about $12 for a bed in a double or triple room - for privacy, book all the beds as there is a good chance that someone will turn up at 11.30pm and snore in the bed next to you. Ask to see your room before paying, the quality varies (in particular the bathrooms). Aircon 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 Tashkent, Berdakha 59 (just south of the main market - its a big tower overlooking the traffic circle), 224 18 28. This big gloomy Soviet tower is not that bad by Nukus standards, but pretty crappy otherwise. Currently closed $25-ish.  edit

Get out[edit]

By plane[edit]

Uzbekistan Airways [4] operates flights to

By shared taxi[edit]

Shared taxis from the South Bus Station leave to

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