Indian travellers typically limit themselves to the Middle East, the South East Asian islands, or a backpacking-trip-friendly Europe. But for those of you who want to tread the unbeaten path and explore different lands, Central Asia is the place to be. Central Asia is the stretch between the Caspian Sea in the west to China in the east, and from Afghanistan in the south to Russia in the north, encompassing Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.
We don’t usually hear these names as holiday hotspots, but there are a plethora of treasures to uncover in these rugged countries, also commonly referred to as the ‘Stans’. It is imperative that you also take necessary precautions, like securing travel insurance, picking up on colloquial terms etc.
Let’s list down 10 reasons for why you should consider visiting the ‘Stans’ in Central Asia, ranging from their medieval blue-domed cities to kinetic bazaars.
The pristine culture:
The Central Asian landscape is tucked away from the ravenous gaze of the travellers, relatively speaking. Right now, the time is just perfect for you to witness the authenticity of the place before it is swarmed with reckless tourists. Their dishes are liberally flavoured with oil. Their textiles are made from felt from the wool of local sheep. Visa restrictions have already been eased at Kyrgyzstan, so you can easily book a homestay and get on with your time away!
The Markets – the Silk Route legacy:
The legacy of the Silk Trade Route can be found in the form of local spices, dried fruits, nuts, fresh meat, clothing, and housewares. The best markets include Osh in Kyrgyzstan, Almaty in Kazakhstan, Bukhara in Uzbekistan and Ishkashim on Afghanistan border. It is easy to give in to your hoarding instincts and buy a lot of memorabilia but remember, you will need to keep your stuff safe too. Ensure protection for your belongings with a travel insurance policy like the Bajaj Allianz travel insurance that can cover you with emergency cash benefits and the costs of procuring a duplicate passport in case of loss or misplacement.
Now that we are talking about the Silk Route, it is worth mentioning that these places come with rich histories: you can visit towering forts and fortresses, visit the Bibi Fatima natural hot springs or gaze at the petroglyphic engravings in Tamgaly in Kazakhstan.
A dose of nature:
We all know being out in nature boosts our health, but here you’ll find vast expanses of uninhabited lands, with rivers streaming through the mountain ranges and a clear sky. If you are lucky, you might be able to spot a Marco Polo Sheep or a snow leopard on one of your casual strolls.
The Pamir Highway:
Trekking through the Pamir mountains and highway will bring you face to face with one of the few places here that have been kept safe from war and insurgency. At 4,655 meters (15,270 feet), this is the second-highest highway in the world! Going back into history, this was also an important route during the Silk Road days, so cycling, hitch-hiking or driving on these roads will be a visual treat. The best part? The local people and communities will wave at you as you pass by!
The majesty of the mountains:
The Pamir mountains are mostly situated in Tajikistan and Afghanistan, although they go as far as China and Pakistan. Often referred to as “The Roof of The World”, these snow-capped peaks are beautiful.
The sheer ethnic potpourri:
The Central Asian region is also a melting pot of people and ethnicities due to its proximity to China, Mongolia, Iran, and Russia. Central Asia is a diverse land with many ethnic groups, languages, religions, and tribes1, including Romanian, Greek, Tajik, Iranian, Persian, Armenian, Ukrainian.
No trip to Central Asia is complete without sleeping in a yurt beside a burning stove. Made from wooden beams, latticework, sheep’s wool, felt and canvas, these homes are natural temperature regulators – they are warm in the winters, yet cool in the summers. These portable and rugged circular tents have historically been a great accoutrement for the nomadic people. The yurt camps are also often the beginning of adventure tours, bringing us to our next attraction.
This part of the world isn’t for superficial beach sauntering or Instagrammable aesthetics. It is rugged and rough, making it ideal for the adventurous and intrepid travellers. Choose your pick: Horse-trekking, camping, helicopter rides, camel-riding, road trips through the mountains and hiking over high passes. It would be wise to have travel insurance cover for these activities, or a rider for adventure insurance.
The history and vibrancy:
Fountains, marble boulevards, gold statues. They all carry with them a story from the past. You feel like you are swinging between historic worlds and dystopian worlds as relics of the Soviet past make themselves visible.
Embarking on a journey to Central Asia would require extensive preparation from your end. Consider getting a travel insurance policy if you want to wade through the waters, ruminate along the mountains and explore uncharted lands peacefully.
What is travel insurance? A comprehensive travel insurance policy like Bajaj Allianz Travel Insurance will not just cover minor out-patient expenses but in case of a life-threatening situation, it extends coverage to pre-existing ailments as well.
Health care throughout Central Asia is basic, at best. Any serious problems will require evacuation. A Bajaj Allianz travel insurance policy available on Bajaj Finserv MARKETS, whether an individual one for solo trips or a family policy for the entire family, can cover you against unforeseen medical emergencies, change in travel plans, trip cancellation or loss of personal belongings, among other untoward situations, so you can enjoy your vacation to the hilt. Remember, the costs of not getting travel insurance can be astronomical. Head over to Bajaj Finserv MARKETS now!
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