I used a number of travel agents and can recommend them all.
I used Academservice of Moscow (E-mail: email@example.com) for my Moscow hotels – the Moskva and Novotel. They supplied the support letter for the Russian visa application after I faxed them my credit card number. I also asked them to send a car to the airport, but the driver never showed up. After waiting half an hour I got a taxi from the airport taxi stand for $20. (I have asked Academservice for a refund, but so far they have ignored my emails.) I also made hotel reservations in Uzbekistan with Academservice: the Uzbekistan in Tashkent and the Samarkand in Samarkand. Other than the no-show driver, things went as I expected.
I had Salom Travel Agency in Bukhara (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) get my Tashkent-Bukhara air ticket ($45 plus $10 service charge.) As it worked out I did this backwards. I should have used an agent in the city the flight originated from, as tickets can only be issued from there. If I had I could have avoided the service charge.
In Bukhara I met a great resource: Aminjon Ahmedov (Email: email@example.com). He arranged my trip from Bukhara to Samarkand via Tim ($20 each for two of us) and came along as guide/interpreter. We also spent several very pleasant evenings talking at Labi-hauz. I suspect that if you are in Bukhara, you won’t have to look for Amin – he will find you. I highly recommend him.
I used Fson Travel in Samarkand (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) for the trip to Shakhrisabz. I just happened to walk by the office one day and asked the price. They supplied a full-size Mercedes and driver for $40 – my hotel wanted $50. I split that with three other travelers so it only cost $10 each. After the trip to Samarkand in the little Daewoo, it was a relief to ride in a real car. The whole trip only took about five hours.
I used Sairam Tourism of Tashkent (E-mail: email@example.com) for help with my trip to Turkestan in Kazakhstan. They arranged my flight from Samarkand back to Tashkent ($54) and for a car from the airport to the border and then back to my hotel when I returned the next day ($20). They also referred me to a Kazakh agent for the rest of the trip.
I used Turan Asia LTD of Almaty (E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org) for the Turkestan trip. They supplied a car, driver, guide and hotel for the two-day, one-night trip to see the Khodja Akhmet Jassavi mausoleum. They charged me $215. This was the lowest quote I received – others were $300 or more. They also supplied the support letter for my visa.
Why, you might reasonably ask, did I use so many different agents? In the beginning I didn’t have a clear idea what I wanted to do and kept adding flights and side trips as I got closer to departure. In hindsight it’s clear that it would have been more efficient to use just one agent, but in the end I met many helpful and friendly agents this way. Like I said, I can recommend them all.