Silk Road and Beyond: 5 Central Asia Journeys for Autumn

Right now, everyone is looking for something a little different. Luckily, as fall approaches, this part of the continent is experiencing its best weather.

Right now, everyone is looking for something a little different. Luckily, as fall approaches, this part of the continent is experiencing its best weather, so now is the time to start planning your Kyrgyzstan horseback expedition, your Uzbekistan cultural journey, and your Tajikistan hiking adventure. 

THE NARYN RIVER TO OSH

Winter is for the skier in Kyrgyzstan, but fall is for the hiker. Spend eight days discovering Jalal-Abad and Sary-Tash as well as Töö-Ashuu and Ala-Bel on your way to hike in the valley of Chon-Alai.

Pretty much every journey in Kyrgyzstan is going to begin in Bishkek, where travelers will stay in the plushest digs in the country at the Hyatt Regency Bishkek. Visitors will take a day to explore the sights — Philharmonic House with the Statue of Manas, Lenin’s statue, and the National Historical Museum and Museum of Fine Arts — before setting off for the stunning Toktogul reservoir and Töö-Ashuu and Ala-Bel passes. Then it’s off to the legendary town of Jalal-Abad alongside the Naryn river. 

The highlight of the journey, however, is undoubtedly horseback riding in the mountain valley of Chon-Alai, followed by a picnic lunch in a picturesque meadow. Paired with visits and accomodations in Osh, the Fergana valley is the last stop before heading back to Bishkek.  

ANCIENT WONDERS OF UZBEKISTAN BY TRAIN

Travelers to Uzbekistan in September and October will find pleasant weather on this 10-day train journey across the Silk Road, visiting Tashkent, Samarkand, Bukhara, Khiva, and Ayaz Kala.

The sheer size of Uzbekistan is staggering, and a train across the landscape is one of the best ways to see it. Starting off in Tashkent, the first major stop aboard the Afrosiab is Samarkand, the cornerstone of Tamerlane’s mighty empire and one of the most famous cities on the old Silk Road. Visit the turquoise-domed Bibi-Khanym Mosque, experience local delicacies in the Sivab bazaar, and wander among the fountains of Registan Square before heading off to Bukhara for more architecture and untold stories of Central Asia.

Visit Ayaz Kala and the crumbling citadel of Toprak Kala before the final stop on the journey at Urgench before heading back to Tashkent for the journey home.

EPIC TAJIKISTAN TREK: LAKES, MOUNTAINS & VALLEYS

Plan a hiking holiday for September in Tajikistan on this intrepid 16-day trip through the Fann mountains visiting the Karakul River, Sarikhodang Gorge, Lake Koulikalon and more on this photographer’s dream journey.

After a night in Dushanbe, travelers head for the legendary Karakul Lake for your hike into the Fanns. The route will take you through the stunning Varzob Gorge and to the stunning Iskanderkul Lake found at over 7,000 feet above sea level.The next day, travelers trace the Dugdone stream and then onto the Dugdone glacier and Gointan Pass. 

The hike is essentially visiting some of the most beautiful lakes in Asia — if not the world: Ptchikoul, Tchoukourak, Koulikalon, Douchokha, Alaoutdine, and more. This is one of Remote Lands’ most intense hiking journeys and travelers will need a high level of physical fitness.

UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE HOPPING IN TURKMENISTAN

Starting in the cool of September, travelers will have clear, crisp weather for this three day extension to Central Asia journeys going from Ashgabat to Merv.

Turkmenistan doesn’t have much in the way of tourist amenities, but it remains one of the least traveled countries in all of Asia. Still, these three days pack a punch. Known as the “City of White Marble” for its gorgeous architecture, the relatively new city of Ashgabat was born out of a former Russian village on the Silk Road and today is the country’s largest city. In the morning you’ll explore the Bazaar of Tolkuchka and then head out of town to tour the fortress of Old Nisa, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the first Parthian Empire capital. 

On the final day travelers go to the ancient city of Merv, another UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the major archaeological spots in Central Asia. This quickie tour can easily be extended to include Turkmenistan’s most famous sight, the Door to Hell.

CITIES OF KAZAKHSTAN

This urban tour of Kazakhstan is a whirlwind of city sites in a region rarely thought of for its city life. Ideal for history lovers and culture vultures, travelers begin by settling in at the Solaxe hotel in Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) and heading to the Museum of the First President, the Temple of Peace and Accord and enjoy dinner on the 23rd floor of your hotel. 

On the way to travelers will set out to explore the Aksu canyon in the Sairam Ugam National Park, known as the “Valley of a Thousand Eyes”, before reaching Shymkent, and then it’s on to Turkestan for the village of Shaulder, the Otrar ruins, and the Mausoleum of Arystan-bab.

The final stop on this journey is the Uzbek-Kazakh border at Chernyaevka, where travelers can turn back or head into Uzbekistan for a different Central Asia Experience.