THE GREAT SILK ROAD

For two millennia, the Great Silk Road was the key trade route linking the pinnacles of eastern and western civilization. Caravans, laden with people and goods, crossed mountains, deserts, rivers, and continents, spreading ideas, technology, religions, and wealth to peoples and cultures along their path. A primary artery of the Great Silk Road passes through the Land of the Kyrgyz, whose hospitality and mountain springs offered respite from the desert lands of neighboring peoples. The dales and valleys of the Tien-Shan provided shelter for the merchants, workers, clergymen, and soldiers who journeyed the 6500 kilometers between the east and the west. At the height of the Silk Road’s significance, three trade routes traversed Kyrgyzstan, prompting UNESCO to name the Chang’an-Tianshan Corridor a World Heritage Site in 2014. The well-preserved Tash Rabat Caravanserai, at 3200 meters in Kyrgyzstan’s Naryn Province, is a classic example of 15th century lodging for Silk Road travelers. Tourists can revisit these historical routes and World Heritage Sites by horseback, off-road vehicle, bicycle or motorbike, some of which are served by yurt camps.