The 5 'Stans of Central Asia
Central Asia's 'Stans are five incredible destinations ready to be discovered by the keen adventurer. The five former Soviet republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan are all connected by their rich cultural heritage of having once served as the ancient Silk Road nations. Linked by the common suffix "-stan", which translates as "of land" in Persian, these five little known destinations possess a certain mystical quality. To a certain extent the 'Stans represent a bygone era, promising diverse landscapes and breathtaking architecture. So join us we explore these incredible countries!
Kazakhstan is the largest of the 'Stans and the 9th largest country in the world with regards to land mass. This diverse, landlocked country is home to deserts, steppes, lowlands and snowy mountain ranges. Kazakhstan's abundance of natural resources means it is estimated to be the most economically advanced of the 'Stans. Kazakhstan is a haven of oil, natural gas, uranium and other minerals, as well as being simply stunning!
What to do in Kazakhstan
So what can you do whilst visiting Kazakhstan? We would recommend exploring the simply stunning city of Almaty. 'Almaty' translates into "city of apple trees", which is fitting given Kazakhstan's verdant scenery often pitted against a backdrop of snow-dusted mountains and relative warm climate which allows apple trees to grow in abundance. Almaty is the epitome of opulence and sophistication as shown through its incredible architecture. The magical-looking Zenkov Cathedral serves as a reminder of a bygone era in Kazakhstan's history and is guaranteed to take your breath away!
Kyrgyzstan lies to the south of Kazakhstan and to the west of China. It is famed for its natural beauty and unspoiled scenery; think luscious pastures teeming with wild flowers and dramatic rugged landscapes gifted by the Tien Shan mountain range. Thus the natural paradise of Kyrgyzstan is bursting with flora and fauna. Mountain goats and yaks roam the hillsides and snow leopards can even be glimpsed high up on the mountain tops.
What to do in Kyrgyzstan
For those searching for something adventurous, why not try out horse-riding across the steppes of Kyrgyzstan? Embrace the country's celebrated nomadic culture and traditional past-time by trekking across this remote and mythical land. Historically, you'll be following in the footsteps of the ancient Skill Road traders, shepherds and travelers. Few places on earth are as tranquil and serene as that of Kyrgyzstan's "Mountains of Heaven", so embrace this remote location for all it is worth and take in the awe-inspiring, untouched landscape around you.