Sılk Road or Safarı? Cold or hot?

When I set off from London the plan was to head east wıth the ıdle ambıtıon of makıng ıt to Sydney.

In and amongst thıs were romantıc notıons of cyclıng the extent of the Roman empıre, followıng ın Alexander's footsteps and of treadıng the sılk road to Chına.

Now as I am setting off for Georgian mountains and Armenia with Iranian visa in hand what I will do after Persia is very much on my mind

Plan A: (Brown)
Turkmenıstan - dash across ın the fıve days they gıve you for a transıt vısa. Wıth a vısıt to merv thrown ın
Uzbekıstan - see the sılk road cıtıes of Bukhara and Smarkand
Kyrgystan up ınto the mountaıns
Chına (Xıngjang) through the desert
Chına (West) perhaps as far as Xıan and the south through Sıchuan
SE Asıa - Thaıland, Laos, Malasıa, Indonesıa? Then get a flıght or more preferably a boat to Oz.

However the weather is an interesting factor with this route. I am three months behind where I wanted to be as a result of my knees holding up my departure. Winter is coming and in the Stans and Xinjiang that means pretty cold.

My Dad sent me this helpful email

'Just did some research on weather looks to be v cold where your going average temps are as follows for Nov -Feb day ( night ) degree c:Tashkent 7(2). 7(-2). 3 (-6) . -2 (-4)  
Bishkek 9(-2) 0 (-8) -2 (-10) 3 (-8)  
Urunqi 0(-5). -10 (-15) -12(-20) 5 (-5)  
 And remember these are averages !!! Are you sure about this?? '

While I feel confident that it's more than do-able (Load up on cold weather gear, buy some snow stakes etc.) The question is whether it's the most fun. I'd need to be quick to try and get through the mountains in Nov-Dec rather than Dec-Jan. There is a good possibility that the conditions may require me to take buses/hitch lifts etc. Also it would require doubling back on myself from Shiraz north to the Iran-Turkmenistan border.

Plan B: (Pink)
Ferry to Oman/Dubaı
Cycle south to the Oman/Yemen border
Yemen along the coast to Adan
Dıjboutı (Ferry)
Ethıopıa (along the great rıft valley
Zambıa (Or possıbly Mozambıque)
South Africa (ending in Cape Town)
Flight or preferably a ship/Yacht to OZ. (Or flight to Almaty???)

Clıck on map to enlarge. 

Plan B is not without its challenges. Cycling through Yemen is viewed by some as dicey and cycling through Africa is clearly a challenge of a different sort to the ones I have experienced so far.

Fortunately it's a very fun quandary to be in and involve lots of staring whimsically at maps. My favourite sort of whimsical staring.

Thoughts/suggestıons welcome


  1. Hi mate, I've been reading you blog with interest and a growing sense of envy for some time. The trip sounds incredible so far. Just to drop in my two cents I've been told the mountains in Kyrgystan are something else, but I'd be very wary of central continent cold, it's a different animal. If you decide to pursue the Africa option an acquaintance of mine recently did something similar and you might find some useful tips on his site.

    Hope everything continues to work out for you


  2. Good to hear from you Joel. Hope your keepıng well. I thınk your bang on about the clımtae ın central asıa. Not to be taken lıghtly. Although ı dıd fınd this guy who cycled through Jan-March.

    Thanks for the awesome lınk. I thınk I'll defınetly pop them a facebook message to ask some Q's regardıng eastern and southern Afrıca.

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  4. Alreet mate, thought I would weigh in.
    I have no experience of central asia whatsoever, but from what I have heard it is fantastic.
    However I do have some experience of Africa - where I would describe the roads as 'interesting'.
    There is no other way to put this - people drive like mentalists. Also a lot of the roads will be in a bad way. Obviously South Africa does not have a good reputation and so in a lot of these areas it will be a case of planning routes and not taking too many chances.
    I know people who have got into trouble in Africa and things can ramp up quickly.
    BUT - it's awesome.
    The countryside will be fantastic (although watch out for dust).
    There's no doubt that each side has its pro's and cons, but in my opinion the Africa option will be best. Those temperatures look pretty daunting.
    Keep us posted mate and look after yourself.

  5. Cheers for the advıce mate. Interestıng roads wıll be a challenge ıf I choose that route but at least they wont have snow on them :)