Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Understanding the 'Stans

Zegrahm Contributor|November 16, 2016|Blog Post

The block of former Soviet republics—Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and Tajikistan—is the new frontier for audacious adventurers. Here’s what you need to know about visiting Central Asia.


It’s About Time

Travel to Central Asia is most pleasant during spring and autumn months, avoiding the blistering desert heat during summer and the sharp chills of winter. While we have timed our Route of the Caravans expedition for maximum comfort, keep in mind that the mountainous regions can get quite cold as early as mid-October, so pack accordingly.


A Road Less Taken

Westerners are just beginning to get a peek at the post-Soviet ‘Stans, and they’re finding as-of-yet little infrastructure for tourism or other aspects of modern life. Visitors should expect lodging and dining that are rustic in the truest sense of the word, and be prepared for extended bus journeys over often-rough roads.


Just You Wait

Due to those aforementioned infrastructure issues, itineraries are apt to change—venues may be closed, service is often slow, flight times can fluctuate, and delays at border crossings are common. One thing’s for certain: The exotic experiences to be had on our Route of the Caravans trip are definitely worth the added wait time.


Play It Safe

It is a frustrating fact of modern-day life: No country is immune from acts of terrorism. Nor can it be denied that the alert level is greater in some of the countries we visit. Rest assured, we take every precaution to keep our travelers as safe as is humanly possible. Solo travel in the region is highly discouraged.


So, To Speak...

Each of the ‘Stans speaks its own variation of the Turkish language, although Russian is the official lingua franca. Travelers should not expect English to be spoken, and we recommend learning the Cyrillic alphabet and numerals (we promise it's not that hard!) in order to read street signs and such.


You’re So Sensitive

Conscientious world travelers are sensitive to local cultures and customs. Please recognize that, in certain settings, you will need to remove your shoes as well as cover your head and shoulders if you’re a woman. 


For more information, visit Route of the Caravans.

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