When embarking on your Silk Road trip, it’s important to remember (or realise) that Central Asia is an unstable region. In the past 10 years, there have been 2 large-scale killings of civilians (Andijan in 2007 and Osh in 2010) as well as several smaller ones, and borders of all countries have closed at certain times due to infectious diseases, trade wars, elections, internal unrest and violent conflict.
In the next 10 years, instability will remain a key characteristic of the region due to climate change, elite power struggles and the spasms of the global financial system.
So be prepared. Of course, some events are impossible to predict, and you will have to improvise on the spot when your original plan becomes impossible. But there are some known hot spots and you can prepare for difficulties in advance.
Turkmenistan transit visa
There is a big chance nowadays that you will not get your transit visa to pass Turkmenistan. Here are your options if you suddenly find yourself stuck in Uzbekistan or Iran.
Pamir Highway closures
In the years since I started this website, the Pamir Highway has been blocked off for some part of the tourist season almost every year. This is going to continue in the future as the country’s political situation is ripe for revolt and higher temperatures result in landslides as glacier-fed rivers overflow.
The Fann mountains and Southern Tajikistan are also very nice. It’s mostly important to not be too disappointed should something happen that will prevent your trip to the Pamirs – you’re not the first. Obviously, the Ishkashim crossing to the Wakhan corridor in Afghanistan is also prone to disruption.
Chinese and Russian visas
These guys change their visa strategy, at times, weekly, or even daily. What was true last week may be invalid for you today. So be warned. If you fail to get the visa and want to catch a flight to Mongolia from Central Asia, these are your options.