Stanning for the ‘Stans

Greetings from Estonia!

The past few newsletters I’ve mentioned trips coming up in the short-to-medium term and thus it’s time for a zag into things further away on the horizon.

I’ve spent a good chunk of time this week poring over details for a trip I find myself particularly salivating over, a rail journey that I’ve been keen to put together for several years now. I’m a huge fan of iconic rail journeys and they’re something we aim to offer at least once, maybe twice a year in our W&A trip lineup.

It’s tough to do more in a calendar year because there aren’t tons of them, they tend to require more advanced planning than usual, and the ideal timing of them tends to overlap, forcing us rail enthusiasts into tough decisions.

Looking back a few years, the belligerence of the power hungry cost us our much-anticipated Trans-Siberian rail journey that was scheduled for September 2022. This was many, many orders of magnitude less of a tragedy for us than for millions others, but disappointing nonetheless, and at present it seems unlikely to be on our trip roster again for quite some time.

Post-pandemic chaos in 2022 meant we weren’t able to get one scheduled for 2023, but in June of 2024 we’ve got a group crossing southern Africa on our African Rail Odyssey program, a trip which undoubtedly fits the iconic theme we’re going for.

That brings us to 2025, and I’m very excited to soon be releasing another in the same mold, our Silk Road Adventure rail program through Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan and happening in March of 2025.

Once-in-a-lifetime is thrown around far too often in the travel world, yet it occasionally rings very true. I’d have to think odds are pretty good that those of us who make it to the ‘Stan countries will only do so once in our lives as travellers.

This is primarily because most of us don’t know a whole lot about them (myself included) and because the distances are so vast that a proper exploration of the region requires covering some serious territory.

The route we’ll be following takes us along a portion of the famous Silk Road trade route, an archetypical traveller’s journey staggering in its immensity even now, to say nothing of what an undertaking for the intrepid travellers and merchants of its time.

Though it has been relegated to the back shelves by today’s modern trade routes and technology, this was of the most important passages for goods and ideas in the history of human civilization, and as such the region is rich in historical and cultural marvels for the modern traveller to discover.

For that modern traveller, the comforts of covering 1,800km+ by train rather than by coach or car are nearly incomparable, and while you could of course fly between the countries and make your way around, I think the historical importance of the Silk Road as an overland route is best honoured by traversing it in similar fashion.

I won’t get into the specifics of the various stops and UNESCO sites along the way here (though I did in brief in my video below), but I certainly will in our upcoming webinar for the program which is happening on October 10 at 11 AM EST, and for which you can register via the link in the webinars section in your newsletter.

For train enthusiasts, it’s a must-do; for the traveller who has thought about visiting the region, it’s well-worth considering as your method of getting around; and for the traveller who has never even considered it, it squarely fits in that once-in-a-lifetime category and will most assuredly not disappoint.

And while March 2025 may seem a long ways away, the relative scarcity of trains and operators in the region means we need a longer window to lock down the space for a group from our community. So if it’s on your list (or if it could be!) then do join us for a closer look at the trip, with the full itinerary coming out around the same time.

Lots more to come, all hinted at in our expanding list of other webinars in your newsletter. Stay tuned for all that and more, and do get in touch should you have any questions or feedback.

Cheers!

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