A Photo Journey Along The Silk Road

Last updated on: 35 Comments

Carving culture and history through the sands of time, few trading routes have continued to capture the imagination of explorers and travellers quite like the Silk Road.

From Istanbul to Xian, traversing mountains and deserts, between valleys and rivers, it is a pilgrimage shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Pockets of antiquity still live on today, having withstood onslaughts from conquerors, natural disasters and looting.

Across Central Asia and spreading into China and the Middle East and, the Silk Road countries form a journey like no other.

In 2015 we travelled through Western China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan over 5 months, documenting the ancient mausoleums and madrassas and exploring the fascinating cultures we came across along the way. It was one of the most inspiring trips we have ever done.

We hope this photo journey across the Silk Road inspires you to wander between the minarets and mosaics as well.

Click here to explore more of our Silk Road posts.

Samarkand Sunset Silk Road Photo Journey
Sunset at the Registan in Samarkand.
Uzbek Lady Extract Silk Road Photo Journey
A lady extract silk from worms in Uzbekistan’s Ferghana Valley.
Aba Khoja Mausoleum Silk Road Photo Journey
The Aba Khoja Mausoleum in Kashgar, China.
Balbals Silk Road Photo Journey
Ancient balbals in Jailoo Kyrchyn, Kyrgyzstan. These are used as memorials for the deceased.
Kutlug Timur Minaret Silk Road Photo Journey
Turkmenistan’s Kutlug Timur Minaret, standing 60m tall, in Konye Urgench.
Shashlik Xian Silk Road Photo Journey
A man cooks shashlik (meat kebabs) in Xian, at the historic end of the Silk Road in China.
Bukhara Tiles Silk Road Photo Journey
Beautiful tile work on one of Bukhara’s Islamic masterpieces.
Yamchun Fort Silk Road Photo Journey
The Yamchun Fort in the Wakhan Valley was an important Silk Road stronghold, which now lies between the border of Tajikistan and Afghanistan.
Registan Night Silk Road Photo Journey
The Registan at night. Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Carpet Silk Road Photo Journey
A lady uses traditional weaving techniques to make a silk carpet in Uzbekistan.
Aidar Yurt Camp Nurata Uzbekistan Silk Road Photo Journey
Sunset over the Aidar Yurt Camp in Nurata, Uzbekistan.
Turkistan Silk Road Photo Journey
A family walks towards the Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi in Turkistan, Kazakhstan.
Registan Walls Silk Road Photo Journey
The walls of the Registan.
Kyrgyz Eagle Hunter Silk Road Photo Journey
Eagles have been used to hunt for centuries. Training these birds of prey is not an easy task, but once they become used to their owners they stay with them for up to 20 years.
Burana Tower Kyrgyzstan Silk Road Photo Journey
The Burana Tower in Kyrgyzstan.
Livestock Market Kashgar Silk Road Photo Journey
A man sorts ties the legs of his goat at the livestock market in Kashgar, China.
Turabek Khanum Konye Urgench Silk Road Photo Journey
Ladies waiting for a bus outside the Turabek Khanum Mausoleum in Turkmenistan’s Konye Urgench.
Gur-e-Amir Samarkand Silk Road Photo Journey
Gur-e-Amir, the sacred mausoleum of the great conqueror Tamerlane, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan.
Bread Silk Road Photo Journey
Bread is the staple diet for people living in Central Asia.
Khiva Minaret Silk Road Photo Journey
The famous Kalta Minor minaret in Khiva, Uzbekistan.
Kashgar Old Town Silk Road Photo Journey
Young boys run through the Kashgar Old Town. Once an important hub, this place is now on the verge of collapse.
Turkistan Silk Road Photo Journey
A man brushes his hand along the mosaic tiles in Turkistan, Kazakhstan.
Kok Boru Silk Road Photo Journey
Young men play a match of kok boru in Kyrgyzstan. Similar to polo, this game requires competitors on horseback to throw a goat carcass into large barrels at either end of a field.
Bukhara Silk Road Photo Journey
The captivating historical centre of Bukhara, Uzbekistan.
Workshop Kashgar Silk Road Photo Journey
A man carves out wooden decorations in a workshop in Kashgar, China.
Tamerlane Mausoleum Silk Road Photo Journey
Approaching Tamerlane’s mausoleum at the blue hour.
Cauldron Turkistan Silk Road Photo Journey
The spectacular bronze cauldron inside the Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi in Turkistan, Kazakhstan.
Petroglyphs Kyrgyzstan Silk Road Photo Journey
3000 year old petroglyphs in Cholpon Ata, Kyrgyzstan.
Kashgar Livestock Market Silk Road Photo Journey
A man inspects his sheep at the Kashgar livestock market.
Turkistan Silk Road Photo Journey
Kazakhstan’s most impressive historical site – the Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi in Turkistan.
Our Silk Road journey through China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and most of Kyrgyzstan was completed independently, while Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and parts of Kyrgyzstan were explored in partnership with the overland adventure tour operator, Dragoman. All thoughts and images are, as always, our own.

About the author

Alesha and Jarryd

Hey! We are Alesha and Jarryd, the award winning writers and photographers behind this blog, and we have been travelling the world together since 2008. Adventure travel is our passion, and through our stories and images we promote exciting off-the-beaten-path destinations and fascinating cultures as we go. Follow our journey in real time on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

35 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Alesha and Jarryd,
    What an amazing trip you had! A couple of questions – how did you get from place to place? And you’re so lucky to have five months to do the trip – do you think it would be possible to do the trip in less time for less lucky people (one month perhaps?)? How did you decide your route? And what were the major challenges?
    Thanks so much, what a great life you have!
    Jemima

    All the photos are spectacular, really capture the spirit of the Silk Road. I love the Burana tower one! I did the same trip myself -with a different company- and while I went to pretty much the same places my photos are nowhere near as good as this ones. I really loved Central Asia, specially Uzbekistan. Thank you guys for the stunning shots. By the way, I think we met the same eagle trainer!

      Thank you so much. Burana Tower is definitely one of our favourites too. Uzbekistan was incredible. The mausoleums are so intricate. So glad you had a great time too through that area. The eagle hunter was a nice guy. We learnt so much through that area. Happy travels Daniel.

    I absolutely love your photos. They are so beautiful! Having been to Central Asia last summer, I know how difficult it is to take mice pictutes of those buildings and choose a good angle. You managed to do it perfectly!

    Also, I am a bit jealous you got to see the Kashgar Sunday Market. We went there, too. But since the president was coming to Kashgar, the market had been cancelled and we ended up stuck outside the city limits with nothing to see and a lot of police barriers.

      Thank you so much. We were in Kashgar at the right time. Oh no, what a bummer. So sorry you never got to experience it. You will have to go back then cross into Kyrgyzstan. 🙂

    Hello, guys,
    You did a great job and for sure it is far more superior than many of the on-the-payroll tourism promoters could ever dream of doing.

    Central Asia is now opening to the global audience, with tourism and hospitality industry becoming an important part of its development. People like you who come to visit the region is an amazingly valuable asset to promote it to millions.

      Thank you so much. We were definitely amazed by the beautiful in this area and loved learning about the culture and history.

    Absolutely spectacular photographs of an under-visited part of the world. Thank you so much for sharing these.

    i really enjoyed these photos. They were super beatiful. I hope to visit the Silk road some day, but my wife won’t let me :p

      Thank you for your comment Elmo. It was a great journey. We hope you and your wife get to do it one day. All the best.

    Your photography is always amazing. This is one of my bucket list trips. I hope I’m able to go someday.

      You should do it Katrina, It was amazing. We loved exploring this part of the world and the mausoleums… WOW! Hope you get there soon. Happy travels

    What should I say about the pictures. They are stunning. I have been intrigued my Old Silk Route for a long time and it’s my most cherished dream to see it before I die. Your post has piqued my interest even more. Thanks for sharing such a beautiful blog post.

      You will not be disappointed Archana. It is an amazing part of the world. We did parts of the Silk Road with a company called Dragoman. If you are hesitant on going on your own this is a great option. We had a local guide for each country and juiced all the information out of them as we could. It was awesome and we learnt so much about the history of the countries. You definitely can do it on your own if you want too. It is more challenging and more patients needed in areas. All the best and we hope you get there soon.

    I have to say that your images are incredible! Congratulations! No doubt you’ve capture all the beauty of the places you have passed. It must have been a spectacular trip. I confess that I still lack the courage to embark on such a long journey. In terms of costs, did you find it too expensive?

      Thank you so much Marlene. 🙂 We have some better gear now. We would love to go back and experience it all again. The area was not the cheapest out of the Asia countries, but maybe the same as Eastern Europe. Don’t know if that helps in any way, but I would say we were under $80 USD per day (that is on the expensive side and only for part of the trip). The prices in each country were totally different. It was an amazing area to see.

    Really stunning photos and I am always excited whenever I read your travel posts.Have you been to Sri Lanka which is also in the Silk road route?

      Thank you so much Amila. We really appreciate it. No we haven’t been to Sri Lanka. We would love to one day. It has been coming up a lot lately when we talk to others. Maybe this is a sign. 🙂

    Hey guys, this photo essay about Central Asia is truly amazing! I had already read some of your Central Asia articles before and, I found them very inspiring. Which one was your favorite by the way? I feel that Turkmenistan must be the most surrealistic one, isn’t it? The people in this country (at least the Government) still have a Soviet Union mentality. How did you find the people there?

    I’m also going there in April. Well, firstly, I will go to Pakistan and then enter into Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan through China, but I’m not planning to say in China for so long. I’ll be traveling around the region for 5-6 months. I will definitely read more of your travel tips before going there. Safe travels!

      Thank you so much Joan. We really appreciate it. Definitely Turkmenistan was a surreal country. You are very controlled there in what you can take a photo of and where you can go. The people we dealt with were friendly. We had a local guide as we were on a tour with Dragoman to travel through the country. We took the local bus in Ashgabat thinking we will have some opportunities to interact with locals but didn’t really happen.

      Your trip sounds awesome. Southwest China was an awesome experience. Kashgar was beautiful and it is the gateway to Central Asia. Definitely check that place out. If you are into trekking, definitely do a trek along the Karakoram Highway. We went with Old Road Tours. They did a great tour of Kashgar too. You can organise to enter Kyrgyzstan through them too. To travel Tajikistan you need to get a visa and a GBAO pass if you want to go along the Pamir Highway. Awesome thing is that you can get this all online now. Wish that was available when we travelled there. You can easily enter Kazakhstan from Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) by a mini bus. That is a beautiful country too. Wish we spent more time there. Check out Apple Hostel in Kyrgyzstan. They have a few there now. Aigul speaks perfect English and is a massive help with information.

      Anyway safe travels and if you have any questions, send us an email. We are happy to help.

    Those images are just stunning. I really appreciated the little captions beneath though so I could know where they were taken and what was happening. What a trip that must have been. ^^

      Thank you Hallie. It was an incredible trip. We highly recommend travelling that area. The countries are stunning and the people are so beautiful and welcoming.

    Did you just get lucky with the weather there or is that how it is year round? Because holy shit those blue skies are amazing! The sunset over the yurt looking things too.

      lol I think we may have. The crazy thing was that we were there in Autumn. On some day were stormy and raining but the blue skies came out briefly . But other than that we had great weather just a little crisp in the mornings. The yurt photo, it was a stormy day. We were meant to go for a walk but it had been raining and was cold. Then a sunset the rain stopped and the clouds cleared. We were so lucky. 🙂

    These photos, and this journey, are absolutely stunning! Such diversity in the series and a lot of raw, natural scenes. I think my favourite is the man and the eagle!

      Thank you so much Rhiannon. It is a fascinating place to travel and learning all about the history. That’s on of our favourite shots too. 🙂

    Beautiful photographs from the Silk Road. The Silk Road is definitely on my list.

      Thank you so much Mike. Definitely get there one day. Amazing countries.

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