We're a couple of independent American travelers going to Uzbekistan as part of a larger five week trip in late April and May, also involving Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. We speak a little bit of rudimentary Russian, and we have experience traveling in the Caucasus, northeast Asia, and Eastern Europe.
Our plan is to fly into Tashkent, acclimate for a few days and then fly one way to Urgench in order to visit Khiva. We would then work our way east over land via public transport.
A few transportation-related and logistical questions:
From Khiva, what's the the best way to see the various old fortresses in the desert, such as Ayaz Qala? I image it's necessary to hire a driver, either a taxi or a 4x4? What should this cost and what's the most economical way to do it? Which are the most interesting fortresses to visit in a day of sightseeing? Is it possible to do this with only two people in an affordable manner?
What's the best/quickest way from Khiva to Bukhara over land? I'm assuming a taxi to Urgench and then a marshrutka to Samarkand? Approximately how long will this take? Anything we should see in between?
What's the best/quickest way from Bukhara to Samarkand over land? Train or marshrutka? We'd prefer not to travel overnight, and we've also heard that the trains fill up fast.
Finally, what's the best/quickest way to get from Samarkand to Osh? Can this even be done in one day of travel, or would it be better to break up the journey and stay for another day or two in Tashkent? Best to go via marshrutka, or via train, then marshrutka?
Finally, would you recommend using Osh as a route into Kyrgyzstan in terms of scenic interest, or would it be better to go north, via Kazakhstan (we will have a visa)?
Thanks in advance for your help.