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Not easy to pronounce, and not straightforward to get to, but persevere – Kyrgyzstan is central Asia’s forgotten gem. Travel may be rough and ready at times, but that’s part of the charm: you don’t come here because everyone else is doing it. 90 percent of the country is accounted for by gigantic mountains and their valleys, gorges and lakes – this is a truly stunning country, a place where nature has worked overtime to line up rugged peaks, high altitude lakes such as idyllic Issyk-Kul that are warm enough for swimming, and serene meadows, perfect for that overnight yurt stay. Head to Kyrgyzstan as soon as you can – no country this blessed with beauty can stay secret for long.
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Enchanting Mongolian plains and endless Russian steppe weave with mountains, forests, meadows, lakes and towns as you roll from Ulaanbaatar to St Petersberg on the world's most epic train journey, the Trans Mongolian Railway.
You can spend time, too, at Russia's Lake Baikal, the world's largest body of freshwater with its own unique species of seal, or go on Mongolian safari with yaks as your transport and gers your accommodation in true nomadic style.
Further wander the majestic Gobi desert and Mongolian mountains or delve into the myriad other historical sites of The Stans – including Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan.
Central Asia will astound from high steppe to skyscraper.View all North & Central Asia trips