80 Photos that will make you want travel the Silk Road

The Silk Road was a network of trade routes that connected West and East, and Central Asia, today known as the Stans, was the heart of it.

From Alexander the Great to Marco Polo, many civilizations, empires, and traders have traveled across these lands leaving their footprints behind.

Today, Centra Asia is a culturally rich region full of history, mind-blowing architecture and where you find some of the most important cities in the Ancient world.

However, this remote part of the world is also home to a beautiful and accessible nomadic lifestyle that can’t be compared to anywhere else, as well as some of the most jaw-dropping mountains in the Asian continent.

I spent 5 months traveling in Central Asia and, in this article, I will tell you my journey through 80 photos which, hopefully, will inspire you to also travel the Silk Road.

A nomad lady baking bread with Lenin Peak (7100 meters) in the background, Kyrgyzstan

 

This is Tulpar Lake, a dreamy, alpine lake located in the Alay Valley in Kyrgyzstan, a few kilometers before Lenin Peak base camp

 

On the way to Lenin Peak advanced base camp, one of the most epic treks I have ever done

 

The landscape in this part of the world changes dramatically. These landscapes still belong to the trail to the advanced base camp of Lenin Peak

 

This is, officially, Lenin peak advanced base camp

 

The Pamir Highway in Tajikistan, often called the roof of the world and one of the most epic roads to drive through. In the end, you can see lake Karakul

 

A Marco Polo sheep statue and the border between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, at 4280 meters above sea level

 

Kyrgyz people doing a horse race. Note that this photo belongs to Tajikistan, not Kyrgyzstan. Most people living in the eastern Tajik Pamirs are ethnically Kyrgyz

 

Walking over the Pamir Highway, or M-41, once an important ”Silk Road” route, along which Marco Polo, as well as tens of civilizations and empires, traveled

 

More Kyrgyz people, this time practicing horse wrestling, a popular sport among Kyrgyz nomads

 

A Kyrgyz nomad milking her yak, somewhere in the Tajik Pamirs, very close the border with Kyrgyzstan

 

A Kyrgyz Muslim woman during her prayer time and her family, somewhere in the Tajik Pamirs

 

A nomadic yurt camp and some yaks

 

A Kyrgyz nomad separating the fat from the milk

 

A Kyrgyz grandfather and her grandchildren, inside their yurt

 

At the top of Gumbezkul Pass, a 5200m mountain pass that belongs to the Pamir range in Tajikistan

 

The Tajik Pamirs. Photo taken from 5000m above sea level. Can you spot a very tiny person?

 

Getting down from Gumbezkul pass, extremely steep, and so dangerous

 

Murghab’s main mosque, the main settlement in the Pamir Highway.

 

Murghab, the main settlement in the Pamir Highway, and a water tank which they still use from the Soviet Union times

 

Turkestan, the most important Silk city in today’s Kazakhstan

 

A beautiful Kazakh woman playing traditional music in Turkestan, Kazakhstan

 

A smiley Kazakh woman selling eggs in Shymkent, Kazakhstan

 

A cute nomadic Kyrgyz girl, somewhere in the Tien Shan mountains in Kyrgyzstan

 

This is Tash Rabat, and the building used to serve as a caravanserai during the Silk Road times

 

Taking a break after a long trek with this beautiful horse, somewhere near Tash Rabat, Kyrgyzstan

 

Horse trekking, on our way to Tash Rabat Pass, at 4000m

 

Balbals, a sort of grave marked by the Turks during their journey through Central Asia – Kyrgyzstan

 

One of the most outstanding Silk Road Heritage sites in Kyrgyzstan, Burana is a minaret, the only thing that remains from an ancient city once called Balasagun, which was sacked by the Mongols in the 12th century and then finally destroyed in the 14th

 

Beautiful Song Kul, one of the most visited places in Kyrgyzstan

 

Kyrgyz nomads live in these tents made of animal skin. They are called yurts

 

An epic sunset over a nomadic camp

 

More Kyrgyz man practicing horse wrestling, but this time in actual Kyrgyzstan

 

A young boy eating shorpo, a traditional regional broth

 

A nomadic Kyrgyz woman preparing some shorpo

 

Uzbek girls from Arslanbob, a town in Kyrgyzstan with a majority of Uzbek population

 

A Uzbek young boy and his donkey in Arslanbob, Kyrgyzstan

 

A beautiful yurt somewhere in the Alay Valley

 

The Alay Valley in Kyrgyzstan is one of the most beautiful places in the country. This picture was taken at more than 3000m above sea level

 

Walking along the Alay Valley in Kyrgyzstan

 

The former Aral Sea, what used to be one of the largest bodies of water on Earth is today a desert that has turned into a ship graveyard. Photo taken in Moynaq, Uzbekistan

 

Bukhara, the birthplace of Imam Bukhari, a Muslim scholar and narrator of Prophet Muhammad, who wrote the Bukhari Shareef, the most important book about Islam after the Quran

 

Chor Minor, a tiny mosque with very little historical importance but it is very cute and very different from any other mosque I had seen before, Uzbekistan

 

The city walls of Khiva

 

The Old City of Khiva, Uzbekistan

 

Khiva is my favorite city in Uzbekistan, as it is small, cute and very pleasant to walk around

 

An Uzbek family wandering around the old city of Khiva at sunrise

 

The old city of Khiva

 

One of the many boats you can find in Moyaq, Uzbekistan

 

In the dried-out Aral sea, we camped next to the ship graveyard

 

A wedding in front of the Registan, in Uzbekistan

 

Traveling on a Soviet train through the endless Kazakh steppe

 

The train station of Atyrau, Kazakhstan

 

A camel wandering around the city of Aralsk

 

The semi-abandoned city of Aralsk, Kazakhstan

 

Aralsk used to be one of the most important cities for the fishing industry in the Soviet Union but today, it is a city filled with abandoned factories. The disappearance of the Aral Sea is the planet’s worst environmental disaster

 

This Lenin bust is located of a hanging out area that belongs to an abandoned factory in the city of Aralsk

 

Dried fish is a popular snack sold during the long train journeys in Kazakhstan

 

Aralsk and the dried out Aral Sea

 

A statue of Yuri Gararin, the first person to ever go to outer-space, today one of the most heroes in the former Soviet Union. I took this photo in the forbidden city of Baikonur, Kazakhstan

 

The Wakhan Valley, Tajikistan. The left side of the river belongs to Afghanistan, and the right side Tajikistan

 

Afghan people in the weekly market that takes place in no man’s land, between Tajikistan and Afghanistan

 

Wakhi people somewhere in the Wakhan Valley, Tajikistan

 

More pictures of the Wakhan Valley. This is Panj river, whose left side is Afghanistan and the right side Tajikistan

 

Traditional, Tajik people somewhere in the Fann Mountains of Tajiistan

 

Happy kids somewhere in the Fann Mountains of Tajikistan

 

Doing village-hopping in the Fann Mountains of Tajikistan

 

A little shepherd girl and her baby goat, one of the most beautiful portraits I have ever taken

 

Tajik women hanging out in Khujand

 

Tajik women selling fruit in the main market of Khujand

 

A Tajik family hanging out in Khujand

 

The Silk factory of Margiland, Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

 

The Silk factory of Margiland, Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

 

The Silk factory of Margiland, Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

 

Muslim man in Andijan, the most Muslim city in Central Asia, Fergana Valley, Uzbekistan

 

The Registan is the most imposing building in Uzbekistan and, perhaps, the most breathtaking Islamic building in the world, as its dimensions can’t be compared to anywhere else, not even the Shah mosque in Esfahan, Iran.

 

Inside the Registan

 

Uzbek woman visiting a beautiful shrine in Samarkand

 

Composed of three giant madrassas, you can easily spend the whole afternoon in the Registan. I recommend you come at sunrise, when nobody is around and, if you bribe the guard, you will be allowed to climb the minaret.

 

A beautiful mosque in Bukhara

 

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2 comments

  1. Thanks for these pictures and all your interesting blogs. It brought back many happy memories of our tour through these Silk Road countries in Central Asia. Just a pity that we Covid is keeping us home bound! I don’t know when we will ever be able to leave our country (South Africa) since the virus has not even reach a peak yet. We would have touring Western Turkey in September…! So for now we can only dream! Good luck with your plans.

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