The countries (or ‘Stans’) of Central Asia have long held an almost mythical fascination for me. The history of the Silk Route, the beautiful architecture, the landscapes – they all seem so wonderful!
Uzbekistan: A country that is very high up on my bucket list of countries to visit. The stunning architecture of Samarkand, the ancient cities of Bukhara and Khiva, these are all exotic places that I would love to experience. Another place that I only discovered while doing some research online is Shahrisabz, the birthplace of Emperor Timur.
Kyrgyzstan: This land-locked country is considered to be the country that’s farthest from any sea. In fact, it also does not have rivers flowing through it that empty into a sea! Geography might be the primary reason to visit this place. It does have one entry in the UNESCO World Heritage Site – the sacred Sulayman Mountain in the city of Osh.
Tajikistan: The smallest country in the region. The primary reason to visit would be to explore the UNESCO World Heritage Listed Pamir National Park, which is part of the Pamir Mountains, considered as the “Roof of the World”.
Turkmenistan: The country with the lowest population in the region, this was an important stop on the Silk Road. The country’s ancient history can be explored in places such as Konye-Urgench, Merv and Nisa, near Ashgabat.
Kazakhstan: The 9th largest country in the World is also the world’s largest land-locked country. The southern part of the country was on the Silk Road. Turkestan in this region has the UNESCO World Heritage listed Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi. I would also love to do some bird-watching at the Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve, located to the west of Astana (Nur-Sultan). This is an important wetland and stop-over point for many birds that migrate to the Indian sub-continent.