It’s amazing to think that people have been travelling along the Silk Road since 206BC. The road took its name from the most famous product that was transported from one end, starting in China, to the other end in Europe.
So significant was the Road that it’s thought to have played a significant role in developing civilizations in huge areas of the world that we know today including China, Korea, Japan, India, Iran, Afghanistan and Europe as well as the Horn of Africa and Arabia.
Although trade along the road has dramatically diminished since ancient times, the Chinese in particular have not given up on it and thanks to a jaw-dropping $800 billion investment in their Belt and Road Initiative (which is designed to link countries stretching between East Asia and Europe) the Silk Road is regaining its pre-eminence in the world.
Admittedly you probably won’t see caravans of camels laden with silks and spices, but that’s not deterring tourists who are flocking to see it at first hand. And you could stay in a converted ‘caravansaries’ where the ancient traders would have rested their camels and slept too.
Here in the UK, Joanna Lumley’s recently screened TV series ‘Silk Road Adventure’ has probably helped create interest in it as a possible holiday destination but across the world, other countries are waking up to it too. The result is that Uzbekistan is now reporting a 40 percent year-on-year rise in tourism whilst Azerbaijan is tipped to rank among the fastest-growing tourism destinations in Europe and Central Asia.
If these tourists are looking for an ‘authentic’ experience then they’ve probably chosen the right place to visit. Some areas along the road remain forbiddingly remote and although there is now a network of highways, railways and airports linking the sixty five countries associated with the road, and improved safety and easier-to-access visas, a visit there would probably still classify as an ‘intrepid’ one.