Stretching east from the Caspian Sea to the western border of China, Central Asia is an arid region where mountain ranges rise from the fabled steppe, a 5,000-mile grassland. Comprising former Soviet republics Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Turkmenistan (and often inclusive of Afghanistan), Central Asia is home to nomadic cultures who thrive amidst incredible natural formations. These rugged landscapes are perfect for outdoor pursuits.
In an area that’s seen the rise and fall of the world’s most fabled empires, with past conquests led by the likes of Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan, an adventure here is just as much about the culture of the Silk Road as it is about the outdoors. And after decades of closed borders, the region is now opening to tourism, including lightened visa regulations, a greater ease in border crossings, and the introduction of high-speed trains.
Here, the not-to-miss adventures in Central Asia, from cycling 15,000-foot passes to trekking in ranges where the elusive snow leopard prowls.