The traditional equestrian game of Buzkashi (also called uloq and kupkari), is a spectacle that will leave guests with unforgettable memories. It is not only an amazing demonstration of the might and mastery of local horsemen, but is also an evidence of local culture at its best and a strong affinity for the upkeep of tradition.
During the tour, guests will spend a day in a picturesque steppe together with other spectators of this fascinating sport. The competition will take place in Koshrabad (90 km from Samarkand) or Nurabad (70 km from Samarkand), where guests will be taken in a car or minivan. Before the beginning of the competition, guests will take their places at a safe distance around the playing field. At around 12:00 noon, the arbiter will explain the rules and begin the competition. Up to 50 contestants will enter the playing field (usually an open meadow), dressed in high leather boots, and quilted jackets over traditional long chapans and protective headwear, riding specially trained purebred horses. The game is played with a beheaded calf ("boz") or goat carcass that had been soaked in cold water for 24 hours before the game to acquire the required stiffness. According to the general rules of the game, the aim of the participants is to steer the calf through other players and pitch it into a target circle called hallal ("circle of justice"). At the end of the game the winners are rewarded with prizes like chapans, carpets, animals (sheep, goat and camel) or cash.
The tradition of buzkashi competitions is common in Central Asian nations and is usually a part of the Navruz celebration - spring celebration of New Year. Hundreds of people gather to take part or watch the competition. The idea of this game is to challenge the strength, courage and dexterity of participants. Being a buzkashi player ("chavondoz") requires intensive training for several years. The game also requires specially trained horses that are taught to stand still when a rider has fallen and to gallop forcefully when their rider gets hold of the carcass. These horses cost as much as US$10,000 to 15,000.
On the way back to Samarkand, guests will have a lunch at a local choikhona.