Still holding the record for the most obscure region I’ve ever travelled round, the best word I can use to describe Central Asia is vast. And within that vastness is a wealth of gorgeous landscapes. The Middle East is home to gorgeous deserts and searing heats, whereas the more temperate climates of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan herald beautiful mountains and sweeping green vistas. This is a region that is home to far more than just a bunch of countries you can’t pronounce. It has some of the best hiking I’ve done anywhere in the world and is fantastically unique and quirky. Despite its amazing draws, I’m not sure that this is a region which will ever become “on the beaten path”, mainly because of people’s misconceptions. On one hand that’s a shame but one the other, it’s incredibly exciting for travellers who do venture there because it feels as though you’ve stumbled across something truly undiscovered.
This vast, sprawling landscape is both beautiful and quirky in equal measure. In the south, lush Almaty has a European feel, surrounded by nature. In the north, the capital Astana is littered with weird and wonderful architecture. This is a country that wants to become a global tourist destination and perhaps never will. But for those who do venture there, that just makes it all the more exciting. Just definitely don’t mention Borat.
If Kyrgyzstan was anywhere else in the world (or perhaps had a name people could spell and pronounce) it would be a major tourist destination. Beautiful on a scale I can’t even describe with warm, friendly people and a manageable size that makes backpacking relatively easy. There is nothing about this country I didn’t like – go here before everyone else does.
With year-round warm weather, insane skyscrapers and a level of safety that’s not always easy to find in the Middle East, the UAE is becoming a hot traveller destination, in every sense. Whilst I didn’t love Dubai, it’s hard not to be captivated by the incredible architecture of this man-made beast parked right in the middle of a blistering hot desert. If heat’s what you’re after, look no further…