Which trip has impressed me the most in recent years? Difficult to say, but one region definitely comes in the TOP 3: Central Asia! Pure Adventure! The “Stan countries” Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan are certainly not on the typical bucket lists of most travelers – with the exception of perhaps the famous sights in Uzbekistan, especially in Samarkand.
5 reasons why Central Asia should be on your travel bucket list can be found in this article. It could have been 50 without any problems, but as usual I will summarize the highlights in the BIG5.
A suggested route and all the sights of the region can be found here: Central Asia route for 21 days – Nomads & Silk road
What do you learn in this article?
Impressive cultural treasures along the old silk road
The legendary Silk Road – one of the most important trade routes in the world for many centuries.
The postcard motifs of the magnificent old buildings with the turquoise domes are world famous. In Central Asia you will experience this story up close.
Magnificent architecture and colors, bazaars with a long history. Well-preserved old towns with high walls, countless magnificent mosques, madrasas and caravanserais tell you the story of the old caravan stations on the Silk Road.
Experience history like in large open-air museums in the old towns of Samarkand, Bukhara or Khiva in Uzbekistan. Less well known, but no less important as the caravan station of the old Silk Road was Khujand in Tajikistan. Here you will also find imposing old buildings and above all Panjshanbe, the largest market in Tajikistan.
Central Asia: Enjoy the breathtakingly beautiful nature
Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan in particular are not necessarily known for THE iconic sights. What makes a trip here particularly interesting is the picturesque landscape and often untouched nature. Outdoor enthusiasts in particular get their money’s worth here.
In the south of Kazakhstan, this is primarily the Charyn Canyon, a rugged valley that is strongly reminiscent of the famous Grand Canyon in the USA.
In Kyrgyzstan, in addition to the wonderful wide steppe with isolated villages and yurts, large lakes such as the Yssik-Köl, special landscapes such as the Jeti-Oguz gorge, the fairytale gorge “Skazka” and vast high mountain landscapes with picturesque mountain lakes and glaciers await you.
Around two thirds of the area of Tajikistan is classified as mountain area, more than half is higher than 3,000 meters! In the least touristy of the Stan countries of Central Asia, you can look forward to trekking tours in remote canyons and passes.
Admire sights off the typical tourist trail
There are many well-known, but even more unknown sights to see in Central Asia.
Yes, you have probably seen the turquoise domes in pictures several times and maybe even parked your visit to Samarkand on a list of ideas. But have you ever heard of Charyn National Park in the south of Kazakhstan? From the picturesque Yssikköl lake? From the vibrant market in Khujand? Glacier tours in Kyrgyzstan? Magnificent mountain panorama on the Pamir Highway? No? Then you are probably like most. In Central Asia there are still many rather unknown destinations that you often have to share with no or few other travelers.
Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are rightly considered insider tips for hiking and trekking fans.
In most cities along the route you rarely meet other travelers. Everything is real here, no unnecessary staging for tourists. It is a great pleasure to go on a discovery tour. Experience up close how the countries are developing step by step, out of the post-Soviet era.
Time seems to have stopped in many regions, especially if you are further away from the capitals and metropolises.
Central Asia: Experience the warmth of the people
The nomadic peoples of Central Asia are very warm and hospitable people. At first they seem a bit skeptical and reserved, many are not very familiar with travelers. Another factor is the language barrier. You make good progress with Russian, English is much more difficult, other languages even more so.
But you can also communicate well with your hands and feet. If you meet the locals with the necessary respect and honest interest, the ice is quickly broken. Even invitations to the family yurt for kumys (fermented mare’s milk) are not uncommon.
Food and drinks also play an important role in this region. You are often invited to a hearty plov (rice dish with onions, carrots and often mutton, which can be found in every country), manty (dumplings), nan (bread) or shish kebab. A typical drink for the region is tea, especially in Uzbekistan.
Travel to the land of nomads and horses
The vastness of Kyrgyzstan’s steppes is simply fascinating! As in the film, you can see seemingly wild herds of horses galloping across meadows and rivers – apparently wild, because the owner or shepherd is usually not far away.
The Kyrgyz have been nomads for over 3,000 years. A suitable way of life between steppes, mountains and semi-deserts. The importance of this way of life is made clear by the fact that even the current flag of Kyrgyzstan shows the roof element of a yurt, i.e. a nomad tent.
Even today, a considerable part of the population of Kyrgyzstan is at least semi-Normads, who have a permanent house, but spend the summer in the steppe with their herds and often live there with the whole family in traditional yurts.
You see, there is an incredible amount to discover in Central Asia. Make sure to add this exciting region to your personal travel bucket list!
Are you interested in a Central Asia tour with all highlights and potential routes? Then this article is right for you: Central Asia route for 21 days – Nomads & Silk road