We had a vote in the office and decided that if we could invite any celebrity to lunch it would most definitely be … Joanna Lumley! Ben Fogle came a close second but tales of Joanna’s latest ‘Silk Road Adventure’ won the day!  

What is the Silk Road?

The Silk Road is an ancient trade route linking China with the West, transporting goods both ways to benefit various civilisations along the way.  Predominantly the Silk Road was established to transport silk (obviously) between the two great civilisations of China and Rome.  But this soon developed to send gold, silver, wool and other sought after goods back over to the East in return.  And as with any well-travelled route, the Silk Road become a pathway for the transportation of somethings even more valuable than gold.  It transported ideas, religion and diversity!

Where is the Silk Road?

The route itself stretches over 4,000 miles from Xian in modern-day China, tracing the Great Wall and passing by over 40 countries, including Uzbekistan, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Afghanistan.  

Its history is rich and at times fairly blood-curdling. Surviving through countless rulers, civilisations and the re-drawing of boundaries between Europe and Asia, the route also been a place of violence and corruption.  It is even widely thought that the Silk Route was one of the predominant transport vehicles for the Black Death pandemic in the 14th century!

map-of-silk-road www.wearetravel.co.uk

What is the Silk Road like today?

Parts of the route, originally built for caravans and camels, actually still exist today as part of a paved road connecting Pakistan and China. But whilst the original stone road itself may no longer be visible, its legacy and influence certainly are.

The Silk Road gave birth to major cities, ports and communities throughout its history. Places such as Baghdad, Tbilisi and Varanasi would perhaps have never become established without the constant flow of trade across the continent.  Now frequented more by inquisitive travellers and archaeologists than merchants, these cities have developed into thriving tourist destinations.

How Can I Travel the Silk Road?

Well it might take a while to do the whole route, but there’s no reason that you can’t visit a large proportion of it and still stay within your annual leave allowance!  City breaks can often be a way of exploring the Silk Roads less obvious impact. For instance, heading to Venice you can follow in the footsteps of the great Marco Polo as he embarked on his journey to China.

If you have a longer period of time then we recommend taking a more in-depth journey through ‘The Five Stans of the Silk Road‘, spending time in local homesteads, yurts or hotels along the way.  If you’re feeling adventurous take a look at our Ultimate Silk Road 41-day trip taking you from Beijing to Uzbekistan. Or take a shorter 14 day journey exploring the China Silk Road section to retrace part of this iconic route.  Take a look at our recommended trips below.

And finally – if anyone knows Joanna Lumley can you please giver her our number, her lunch is getting cold!