Caravanistan was born out of a frustration to find reliable information about Central Asia and the Silk Road on the internet, or anywhere else for that matter. We knew we were not alone: we saw the same questions popping up on forums over and over without anyone having a trustworthy answer. So we started thinking how we could help.
With Caravanistan we aim to do 3 things.
Our primary mission is to provide accurate, up-to-date information about what matters most to people traveling in Central Asia and the Silk Road: visa rules, transport options, places to stay, where to go and what to do.
Secondly, we want to inspire. We are big proponents of slow travel. We want to encourage travelers to delve deeper, stay longer and go further. There is so much to see beyond the advertised highlights, and we hope you take the time to go and find it. We are aiming for meaningful travel.
We also hope (long-term goal) to change the story on the region. For newspaper editors, it is autocracy and environmental disasters. For travel bloggers, everything is simply awesome. We hope to de-romanticize that story, bring it down to its real proportions, and inject a larger degree of nuance.
When talking about the business of travel, our goal is to make it easier for travelers to choose a reliable service provider that suits their needs and style of travel, while giving local people the opportunity to earn money gracefully thanks to a tourism that is focused on quality rather than quantity.
That’s it. We know we are not there yet, but we are working hard to make this site a reliable reference for everyone who is (dreaming about) traveling in Central Asia and the Silk Road. You can find some testimonials here.
Steven and Saule
Born in Belgium in the early 80s, after graduating university I spent some years roaming Eurasia. I have always had a deep interest in the power of media over our lives and, after having worked for a tv production company and a newspaper, I had a strong desire to start my own medium. Caravanistan was originally intended as a writing exercise – I thought I wanted to be a journalist in Central Asia – but it veered into a different direction that suited me more.
After 6 years, I still enjoy what I do: it satisfies my numerous interests and I have met a lot of interesting people along the way. It remains very rewarding to read all your positive comments, and I hope to continue exploring this beautiful region and making this website a better resource for fellow travelers in the years to come.
You can find out a bit more about me in this interview. Fresh out of university, I wrote an article about Pessoa, Lisbon and the meaning of travel which I still stand by all these years later.
As a ceramic artist and theatre fan with a degree in hospitality and tourism, I always dreamed of travel to be able to learn about foreign cultures, history, and arts. After working throughout my student years in Kazakhstan, I finally found opportunities to travel thanks to the corporate world; after several years of labouring in sales and marketing in Kazakhstan, I found a job first in England and later in Germany.
When I met Steven, we roamed Eurasia for a while, trying to figure out our lives. This way, I gradually got involved with the website.
Today I am happy to find myself doing a really useful project for travelers. My task is to hold tour companies in the region against the light, regularly kick their ass for not replying on time and to give travelers advice on who to choose/how to plan/what to expect on an organised trip.
I simply want everyone to have a good time, hassle free. It remains a challenge :-) I am always meeting tour companies, scrutinizing them and collecting gossip to make sure that we have, perhaps fewer, but carefully selected offers for any budget.
What I love about Caravanistan is how I tend to meet a lot of interesting people (plenty of annoying ones too, don’t worry). They keep me inspired.
How we keep the site going
We work together with travel companies in different countries. We only work with a few select companies: people we know well and trust to give a reliable 5-star service.
When you buy a service from them through Caravanistan, we get a commission. You pay the same as if you would go directly via them (sometimes even less); it is their contribution that keeps us financially motivated to keep up the site.
There is also some traditional banner advertising and affiliate marketing (links to Amazon and booking.com, mostly) on Caravanistan.