Commonly referred to as “the Stans“, the countries that make up the Central Asian region are: Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. This ancient land is drenched in history and culture and with so few tourists daring to venture here! Being so different in the modern history all Central Asian states have a common history, kindred customs and traditions.
Exciting Culture and Art
For centuries, the region was a major contributor to the arts, sciences, medicine, and trade. With the mixing of agrarian, nomadic and industrial societies, it is a mosaic of cultures, languages, and political systems.
The culture of Central Asia encompasses the collective and diverse customs and traditions of art, architecture, music, literature, lifestyle, philosophy, politics and religion that have been practiced and maintained by the numerous ethnic groups of the region since prehistory.
Strategic and historic position of Central Asia around the East-West axis and the major trading routes guaranteed a steady influx of ideas and conflicting notions of tribalism and traditionalism. However, the region was conquered and dominated by a variety of cultures.
Each country has its own unique culture and customs, but there are many similarities between them. Throughout the region people are traditionally nomadic, horses are the means of getting around in the countryside and everyone has a strong connection with their family and community.
Due to its proximity to China, Mongolia, Iran and Russia, this part of the world is an interesting melting pot of people and ethnicities! Central Asia is a diverse land with many ethnic groups, languages, religions and tribes. The nations which make up Central Asia have a total population of about 70 million.
You may be in Tajikistan, but find yourself looking at someone with green eyes, light skin and a thin nose. Tajiks are actually descendants from the Aryan people, meaning they are closely related to Iranians/Persians.
Regardless of whether the people look Asian, Persian, European or Arabic, everyone is extremely warm and welcoming here. Locals will be happy to welcome you into their home or yurt to join them for dinner.
Central Asia, is an outdoor enthusiast's dream, with its snowcapped mountains, sweeping steppes, primeval forests and turquoise lakes. Central Asia is an endless source of wonders and intriguing adventures. Overnights on the shore of beautiful lakes, ancient shepherds' trails, breathtaking mountain passes, picturesque panoramas of landscapes and traditional Asian lifestyle complemented by nomadic roots create an unforgettable experience. Rugged and remote wilderness of famous Pamir and Tien-Shan combined with quiet valleys and lakes offer excellent possibilities for both adventure trekking and mountaineering as well as cultural adventure tours.
With magnificent mountains, ancient cities and little-known region, the republics of Central Asia offer drama, intrigue and natural wonders galore.
Central Asia is a place where adventure isn’t just possible: it’s unavoidable.
The towering mountains in the Central Asian region are some of the highest in the world. Pamir Mountains are formed by the meeting of the Himalayas with the Tian Shan. These massive, snow-capped peaks are commonly referred to as “The Roof of the World”.
Pamir Mountains are mostly situated in Tajikistan, but span north to Kyrgyzstan, south to Pakistan and east to China. Seeing these beautiful ranges is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are an outdoor enthusiast's dream, with its snowcapped mountains, sweeping steppes, primeval forests and turquoise lakes offering numerous hiking and climbing paths for people with different level of training.
Historical Sights and Ancient Heritage
The remnants of pre-Islamic Central Asia are really fascinating and there are multiple interesting sites to explore along the Great Silk Road. Because of the semi-nomadic life of the people who have lived there, it isn’t hard to find the remains of ruins, old mosques and minarets.
Interested in architecture? Central Asia is great destination to travel not only because of the Great Silk Road and fantastic nature but also because of astonishing monuments of the deep past – the petroglyphs that are extremely numerous on the territory of Central Asia. All this cultural phases have developed their own art and used the rock surface for the expression of certain feeling and ides.
You should not miss accessible petroglyphs of Tamgaly in Kazakhstan included in the UNESCO’s List of World Heritage Sites and petroglyphs of Cholpon-Ata but also fantastic and remote collection of petroglyphs of Saimaluu-Tash, both in Kyrgyzstan.
The Great Silk Road
Central Asia has a long history as a crossroads between East and West. In the past, it was home to the great commercial and cultural centers of the Silk Road. The Silk Road, or known as the Silk Route, is one of the world’s most famous trading routes. For centuries, the famous Silk Road passed through Central Asia bringing goods between China and Europe. Those trading routes also brought interweaved cultures and various ethnical groups, and many cities became globally renowned centers of culture and learning.
Mixed culture and history along this route make it one of the world’s greatest journeys. The Silk Road represents an early phenomenon of political and cultural integration due to inter-regional trade. Under its strong integrating dynamics on the one hand and the impacts of change it transmitted on the other were drawn to the riches and opportunities of the civilizations connected by the routes, taking on the trades of marauders or mercenaries. A Silk Road tour is a life time trip that every world traveler should take. Follow the footsteps of traders, tyrants and artists along this ancient trading road.
Bright Traditions and National Games
In Central Asia the traditional knowledge, cultures, and customs of the indigenous nomadic tribes have long been transmitted from generation to generation, making it impossible to talk about safeguarding intangible cultural heritage without discussing oral traditions and epics. The countries of Central Asia were once the center of multiple nomadic empires and tribes, including the Scythians, Mongols, and Turks. This had a big influence on the traditions and cultures of many Central Asian countries to this day reflected in breathtaking and sometimes severe horseback riding competitions, songs and poetry reading accompanied by music of national instruments, unique wedding and baby treating ceremonies as well as in each aspect of daily life.
Experience the legendary Central Asia and discover the awe-inspiring beauty of its hidden corners.
The mention of Central Asian foodways usually conjures up competing images of nomadic and sedentary lifestyles. In one, the roving sheep-herder astride a brawny steed, between base camp and mountain pasture, clutches a leather pouch of fermented milk. The other vision includes the long-beard in his colorful robe and headdress, enjoying perfumed pilaf in a tranquil teahouse. While scholars quibble over cultural and physical boundaries of Central Asia, culinary cultures of the region represent an intriguing mix of steppe and settlement, highlands and lowlands, Turkic and Iranian.
Bring a taste of Central Asia into your home – locals will be glad to share a recipe.
Flora and fauna
Looking for a rare edelweiss or Kaufmann Tulip, gorgeous Tien-Shan blue fir or boundless forests of walnut trees? Central Asia is a destination to go… Mountain regions of Central Asia is a huge windfall for any botanic who will find out rare and endemic plants here.
The wildlife of Central Asia is diverse and unique. Its representatives have adapted to different climatic conditions - from the hot summer of the deserts to severe winters of the mountains. Central Asia is home to many species that can hardly be found anywhere else in the world: Snow leopards, Turkestan lynx, Saiga antelope, Central Asian Red Deer, Marco Polo sheep and others…
One of the most exciting experiences for a traveler in Central Asia is a traditional bazaar. Bazaars are hubs of entrepreneurial power in Central Asia, and that power is expressed both formally and informally. Oriental bazaar is a dynamic center of the community, a place where goods and produce as well as ideas, news, philosophies, culture and politics are traded. So it was in antiquity, still remains to this day. You will be impressed by uniqueness of each bazaar – all built in different styles but all equally blooming.