Trading goods and exchanging ideas must have provided conversations one can only imagine at ruins of caravansersais, the ancient rest stops for massive caravans seeking respite, eleven centuries ago.
A critical crossroad for over three millennium, layers of antiquity provide archaeological wonders from Oxus Treasure to Buddhist relics, to magnificent mosques and to mausoleums and medieval fortresses. Walk in the path of conquerors who left their mark: Cyrus and his Persian Empire, Alexander the Great and Genghis Khan.
Central Asia is still a source of conflict and many nations vie for control of the area. Witness today's version of the Great Game with poppy fields supporting the ubiquitous drug trade and armament check points. Drive along the Panj River bordering Afghanistan, visit the second highest botanical garden in the world and gaze at turquoise lakes.
Cross the border into China for destination Kashgar, a strategic city boasting a rich tapestry of cultures and customs for more than 2,100 years. The colorful Sunday Bazaar, the Livestock Market and Qiasha Alley in the Old City put you in touch with people. These are mostly Uighurs, who continue to struggle to maintain their traditional ways.
Return through Kyrgyzstan, also deceiving in its bucolic splendor and fields of petroglyphs. Don't miss this spectacular route via the Pamir Highway which Marco Polo described in the 11th century as "perhaps the highest place in the world" and one of "perilous passes."