So, it’s time to announce the backpacking trip for 2018 – the longest and probably one of the most interesting ones of my life In sha ALLAH (God willing). I plan to make it to some of the Silk Route – visit a few stans of Central Asia, followed by Russia and eventually coming back via Azerbaijan and Iran. Trip of this kind definitely demands a very thorough planning – so that is what I am doing since past few months. There had been many ifs and buts, blunders and blessings – in the end, am excited and looking forward to do it In sha ALLAH.

Central Asia – it’s people and landscape is something that has always fascinated me. I had been planning such a trip for past many years but getting visas always got on the way. Ideally I wanted to make a loop around Central Asia covering China, Kyrgystan and Tajikistan. However, whenever I have tried to hit China, I always had to disappoint. The sweeter than honey thing seems to exist in official talks only. Out of all these countries, it is most difficult to obtain an individual Chinese tourist visa. So this plan never worked out really.

Somewhere back in Jan/Feb this year, I came to know about the Russian visa-free-entry for football fans during world cup days. The idea clicked me immediately and I started planning for it. A big boost to my plan came when I got to know that Azerbijan and Kyrgystan are offering online visas. So I had to secure the football ticket and need to get Iran and Uzbekistan visas to make the plan happen. Iranian visa took a couple of weeks however got managed with the help of an Iranian tour operator. An unexpected turn came in the form of Kyrgyz online visa refusal. I didn’t honestly see it coming as we even had the tickets purchased from Bishkek to Moscow. The plan had to be altered after visa refusal so I rerouted Kyrgystan to Tajikistan. Luckily, Tajiskiatan eVisa turned out to be a piece of cake as I got it back in 24 hours. Uzbekistan had to be done through travel agent which made it bit expensive. Finally I am hitting Afghan embassy tomorrow hoping to get it done easily.

Route Map

The final itinerary seems something like below. Most of the travel is through road and train with a couple of flights. I know it is going to be hectic but then that is how most of my travels had been. Fingers crossed

Wednesday 13-Jun Islamabad Peshawar
Thursday 14-Jun Islamabad Kabul (Afghanistan)
Friday 15-Jun Kabul
Saturday 16-Jun Kabul Mazar
Sunday 17-Jun Mazar Bukhara (Uzbekistan)
Monday 18-Jun Bukhara Samarkand
Tuesday 19-Jun Samarkand Dushanbe (Tajikistan)
Wednesday 20-Jun Dushanbe Khorog
Thursday 21-Jun Khorog
Friday 22-Jun Khorog Dushanbe
Saturday 23-Jun Dushanbe Khujand
Sunday 24-Jun Khujand Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
Monday 25-Jun Tashkent Moscow (Russia)
Tuesday 26-Jun Moscow Kazan
Wednesday 27-Jun Kazan Volgograd
Thursday 28-Jun Volgograd Rostov-on-Don
Friday 29-Jun Rostov-on-Don Sochi
Saturday 30-Jun Sochi Valdikavkaz
Sunday 01-Jul Valdikavkaz Grozny
Monday 02-Jul Grozny Makhachkala
Tuesday 03-Jul Makhachkala Baku (Azerbijan)
Wednesday 04-Jul Baku
Thursday 05-Jul Baku Rasht (Iran)
Friday 06-Jul Rasht Tehran
Saturday 07-Jul Tehran
Sunday 08-Jul Tehran Lahore (Pakistan)
Monday 09-Jul Lahore Islamabad

The author is an IT engineer by profession and an avid traveler and backpacker by passion. He blogs at dashtnavard.wordpress.com

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