ravel warning: Some parts of Central Asia can be unstable: check current government advice before travel. Ongoing military operations in the region mean Western tourists can be the target of terrorism. There are current concerns over terrorism in the region by Islamic militants; check with your embassy before planning your trip. Travellers may find the bureaucratic red tape frustrating, and Central Asia has some distance to go when it comes to ease of movement for independent visitors. Be sure to have all your papers and ID with you at all times as you can be stopped at any time and questioned.

The Central Asia region – UzbekistanKazakhstanKyrgyzstanTajikistan, and Turkmenistan – has, for many years, been off limits to the independent traveller. But thanks to loosening bureaucracy in the new autonomous states, these beautiful, mythic lands are now ripe for exploration.

Central Asia enjoys a sunny climate with largely unspoilt blue lakes, snow-capped mountains, and vast arid deserts. The locals have managed to preserve their traditional nomadic culture in a world that is fast becoming homogenous. So many empires and kingdoms have swept through the region at different times, it’s no wonder that Central Asia is so rich in heritage.

Connected to the rest of the world by the ancient caravan trails that weaved their way through the towns and oases, Central Asia was the original site of the legendary Silk Road – the main trading route between the East and West from the second century B.C. to the sixteenth century A.D. The first item to be transported was silk, from which the route got its name, and later jewellery, glass, and iron were to make the fabled journey.

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