Summer 2016: Caroline Takes on Central Asia

After spending a lot of time thinking about where I have traveled, where I want to travel, and the amount of ground I can and want to cover during three months on the road next summer, I have finally decided where I will be beginning my travels and the general plan of action for the trip. I’m going to Central Asia! Central Asian countries are pretty up and coming in the long-term traveler/backpacker scene specifically the countries of Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. Now, many Americans especially will look at those countries and immediately think of wars and danger, but these four countries in the region are stable and welcoming to foreigners.

I want to leave my plans relatively loose for this trip so I have the ability to go with the flow, but due to needing a visa in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, I will need to have my plans for those two countries semi-firm. Kyrgyzstan is visa-free for US travelers and Kazakhstan is currently in a visa-free pilot program through December 31, 2017. I definitely want to take advantage of that as visas in this region are expensive and supposedly a pain in the butt. The visas for Uzbekistan and Tajikistan alone will set me back $250.

I still have a lot of planning to do, but the one thing I am sure of is that I want to travel along the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan which passes through the 15,270 ft high Ak-Baital pass. Here is a general look at my plans for traveling through the four -stans. It is likely that travel will be via a combination of train, bus, and hired driver.

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Following my travels around Central Asia is when the trip gets a little more up in the air. I have a visa for Russia that is still valid, so I will likely travel through Russia and down to Georgia and Turkey, or I will travel through Russia and then to Eastern Europe. I will not have a flight booked for my return so it gives me the utmost flexibility to travel in the direction and at the speed I would like. If I have at least a month left, that will make it more likely that I will travel to Georgia and Turkey, whereas if I am running short on time I will travel to Russia and perhaps on to the Ukraine and other areas of Eastern Europe. Depending on how I am feeling, I also have the option to travel east to China as I have a Chinese visa too.

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I hope to lock down my outbound flight in the next few weeks so I can start working through the visa process. The big question that I don’t know the answer to yet is whether I should get my visa for Tajikistan before I leave or if I should get it in Uzbekistan.

Have you traveled to Central Asia? Do you have any tips? Do you have any interest in traveling to Central Asia?

2 Comments

  1. There are some interesting award hacks, it’s a pity the great Lifemiles and US Airways angles are dead, but I suspect you’ll still find some hidden city options on your departure that get you to another region for cheaper.

    1. Haven’t played around with it too much, but I would like to think so. Might have to powwow with you sometime for some ideas. The one worry that I have is that I will hit against segment limits… We’ll see. It’s on the list of things to do in Jan!

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