The typical Central Asian Bazar of Turkestan
The typical Central Asian Bazar of Turkestan

Turkestan and Southern Kazakhstan – is this what they call Silk Road?

Last updated:
bazar Turkestan Silk Road
bazar of Turkestan

The Silk Road in Kazakhstan: Turkestan

and the Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi

Instead of bicycle touring Kazakhstan, so far we basically were on a hitchhiking trip of the northern Silk Road route. Our visa issues, caused by the drunk Uzbek consul, forced us to rush through the steppe of Kazakhstan. But after leaving Aralsk, we’re more than half-way our way to Kyrgyzstan, we soon can resume cycling.

In the meantime, we finally hit the real Silk Road, approaching the city of Turkestan, the core of the Timurid empire, and today inhabited by an Uzbek majority.

[divider]a Silk Road diary[/divider]

And here we go, another truck! A broken-down, shaky one from the times of the Czars. The driver goes up to Taraz but we get off close to Turkestan, otherwise, I think we would come back in small pieces. Luckily for him, the driver’s seat looks a little more comfortable than ours. But still, quite a job to drive this thing on these roads every day.


The Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi in #Turkestan was commisioned by #Timur himself. An impressive and beautiful building

A post shared by Cycloscope (@cycloscope_globecycling) on

Turkestan: the Kazakh side of the Silk Road

In Turkestan, cheerful town on the Silk Road, we see the Mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi, one of the few historic buildings in Kazakhstan, the bazaars, beautiful and chaotic, and a lovely square with a fountain, where some kids are taking a bath. We are also tempted, but in a rare moment of wisdom, we desist.

Here we finally find a stereotyped Silk Road atmosphere. Indeed this city has a long history, dating back to the 3rd millennium BC, and was a headquarter of the Timurid empire, Timur itself commissioned the mausoleum, dedicated to a Sufi mystic and poet who lived during the XI century, and whose name was indeed Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi.

Disclosure: Some of our articles contain affiliate links, that means we might receive a small percentage compensation if you purchase one of the linked product within a certain time frame. This comes at no additional cost for you and helps us keep this website up and running. (as an Amazon affiliate I earn from qualifying purchases)
mausoleum Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi
mausoleum of Khawaja Ahmed Yasawi

Back on track: bicycle touring Southern Kazakhstan

We leave the city and cycle until the heat is overwhelming, which happens fairly quickly, and then we get on the last truck to Shimkent. The driver is crazy, drives like a Georgian and sings.

Finally, we can ride our bicycles again! We did a little bit less than 3000km in a week and we have 8 days left to get to Kyrgyzstan, we should make it in time.

The road begins to ascent, and the landscape starts to change, there are even some trees and small rivers, we wash our bodies by a rivulet, very cute but freezing.

We sleep there, it’s the first wet place in a long while. We meet a man with a ton of kids around him, they’re curious but not intrusive.

Turkestan square
fountain bathing kids staring at our bicycles

[divider]25 August 2014[/divider]

Today we climb, climb, climb, but luckily the temperature is not exaggerated. This is one of the few more inhabited areas of Kazakhstan. At the top begins a long descent that takes us to a beautiful park of olive trees along a river where a woman on a bicycle is fishing.

We sleep well, and ride for almost a hundred kilometers the next day, across Taraz, where it seems to be not much to see, except the pretty waitress of the restaurant where we stopped to eat the usually fried eggs (Daniele got some pasta with sheep, way better). Along the way we stop for ice cream in a gas station, we get to talk with people there, they offer us a beer and that after Cto chilometra 

(100km) mnoga marijuana iest (there is a lot of…).


A moment to meditate about how far we got with our bikes.

A post shared by Cycloscope (@cycloscope_globecycling) on

[divider]Bicycle Touring and Hitchhiking Kazakhstan – our video[/divider]

[divider]Read it later! Save it on Pinterest (pass the mouse over the image)[/divider]

travel silk road turkestan kazakhstan

Follow us while we get lost

Stay in touch while we get lost! Follow us on Social Media

Sharing is caring!

More Stories
thermarest pro lite review
Thermarest ProLite Review: A Through Field Test and a Comparison of the different models

Privacy Preference Center