Who Pays the Ferryman
Khiva Travel Blog› entry 71 of 80 › view all entries
Khiva is at the heart of an ancient trade-route through Asia. The area north-east of Khiva has about 40 ancient fortresses some of which are worth a visit. To do this means hiring a car and driver so we put out word through the friendly manager of the Mirzoboshi guest house that we are interested in the trip to the fortresses and want to find 1 or 2 others to share. He is true to his word and finds two french girls who are happy to join us and share the cost.
Th fortresses don't look far on the map but it seems to take for ever to reach the first one - the impressive Ayaz-qala. This is set on a hill right on the edge of the desert overlooking the valley to the south.
The way back is shorter as we take a more direct route, but as there are no bridges here we need to wait for a small ferry across the river. This is a vehicle ferry unlike any I have ever seen before - it is a pontoon towed by what looks like a tiny motorboat. It fits 6 or 8 cars at a time. Initially I can't believe the boat has enough power to tow the pontoon against the current and though it looks to be struggling when I look back I see that we are making good speed across the river. The return drive takes us right up to the border with Turkmenistan - our driver tells us that it is only a few hundred metre away but there is nothing unusual to see. We eventually return after 6pm, it's been a longish day but well worth the effort.