Welcome to Central Asia and the Caucasus, two beautiful regions on the crossroads of Asia and Europe. Often overlooked as travel destinations, the countries here provide some of the most rewarding and unique experiences. From stunning mountain landscapes of the Pamir Highway to historic monasteries in Armenia, from spectacular monuments along the ancient Silk Road to the modern skylines of Baku and Astana.
We begin this journey in Samarkand, one of the most iconic cities along the ancient Silk Road. Located in Uzbekistan, it’s full of remarkable monuments but also provides a good introduction into daily life, especially in the lively farmers markets and bazaars. After Samarkand, we go to the Caucasus, to visit the fast developing capital city of Azerbaijan, Baku. Visiting the modern shopping malls and vibrant streets gives an interesting contrast with the narrow alleys of the old town here, and the wide promenade facing the Caspian Sea.
The Pamir Highway in Tajikistan is one of the most challenging, but also rewarding, travel destinations in Central Asia. It requires solid preparation, and many tourists decide to hire experienced travelers and guides for their trips. Back in Uzbekistan, the Fergana Valley takes you back in time, with charming villages, and an opportunity to view a traditional silk weaving factory.
Astana, now known as Nur-Sultan, is the modern capital city of Kazakhstan, and sometimes nicknamed as ‘Dubai of the Steppe’. It’s an interesting place to visit, and attracts people from across the country to work, study, and live. Back in the Caucasus, Tbilisi is steeped in history, and full of culture and charisma. The stunning Tsminda Sameba Cathedral is an important place of worship in the Georgia’s Orthodox Christian religion.
In Kyrgyzstan you will find some of the region’s most traditional ways of life, as nomadic shepherd families still move from villages to classic yurts. Traveling across the green pastures is a great way to experience a lifestyle that seems unusual in many societies these days. The capital city of Turkmenistan, Ashgabat, is a peculiar place on the list. Regarded as a secretive dictatorship, Turkmenistan is also one of the most mysterious and closed countries in the world. Keep in mind that people here face severe limitations in their daily lives.
Armenia is a beautiful destination in the Caucasus, and includes the friendly capital Armenia, and several stunning medieval monasteries. We finish this journey in Bukhara, another important stop on the historic Silk Road. There are many mosques and other landmarks to visit, but it’s also just a friendly town where you can eat some delicious food and soak up the relaxed atmosphere.
( Source: Stef Hoffer )