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Cycling in Central Asia

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cycling desert kazakhstan

Does this look like fun to you?

Cycle touring overland through Central Asia has become a popular pastime for Europeans. The environment is not very suited to cycle touring, so if you are planning this kind of trip, beware of the possible pitfalls.

The distances are huge and population is sparse, the temperatures fluctuate between scorching heat and bitter cold, roads are often simply dirt tracks, the elevations in the mountains can be terrifying and drivers are reckless and possibly drunk. If all of this doesn’t scare you, well then….welcome!

Bicycle repair

Have a look at the list of bike shops in Central Asia.

Where to cycle

A small, general overview of the different countries and the possibilities they offer for cycle touring. For more, click the links.

Kazakhstan: The vast desert and steppe flatlands of Kazakhstan offer little in terms of visual stimulation and should only be attempted by the hardiest and most mentally stable of cyclists. Having said this, there are some more enjoyable cycling opportunities in certain pockets of the country, notably the south and southeast. It also has the best roads in the region.

Uzbekistan: Apart from the desert in the west of Uzbekistan which holds some world-class sights, most important places are within easy riding distance in the east of Uzbekistan. It is the best place to meet many local people and get a taste of the old Silk Road atmosphere.

Kyrgyzstan: A beautiful country for cycling with a decent-enough infrastructure, which means it attracts more cyclists than any other country. The mountains are steep and the roads are not always great, so come prepared.

Tajikistan: Cycle touring the Roof of the World is tough. Really tough. No doubt it’s beautiful, but it is a hard, lonely journey over some of the most remote mountain passes in the world. Nonetheless, it’s getting more popular every year!

Turkmenistan: Since a transit visa only lasts for 5 days, Turkmenistan is a country you can only hurry through as a cycle tourist.

Afghanistan: Not recommended to cycle through at the moment. It’s more violent than it’s been in a while, and if the Taliban or the Americans don’t kill you, the traffic will.

There is a lot more to say on this subject, and we hope to deliver an extensive guide to cycling in Central Asia at one point. For now, you can enjoy reading some personal experiences from other cyclists.

Overland cycle blogs

There is a ton of overland cycle blogs out there. Listed here is but a small selection that we stumbled across surfing. Let us know if you want your blog listed here too.

2013

2012

before 2012

2 Comments

  1. It’s more violent than it’s been in a while, and if the Taliban or the Americans don’t kill you, the traffic will.

    Obviously written by a European who knows nothing about or has never been to Afghanistan. How many tourists have US forces killed recently? Plus *GASP* there are also European forces operating in Afghanistan!

    • Hi Jack, thanks for the comment! Can you, with your experience, suggest a better paragraph?

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