In 1932, long before travelling in Central Asia became fashionable, Ella Maillart travelled to Russian Turkestan, bordered by China, Tibet, Pakistan, and Afghanistan. Her dream was to see the mountains that lay on the fringes of China and the Takla Makan desert. She travelled like a nomad - slowly, by camel and on foot. Setting out from Moscow, she crossed Kyrgyzstan as far as the Tien Shan range (the Celestial Mountains). She climbed the 5,000 metre-high Sari Tor on makeshift skis, explored the legendary cities of Tashkent, Samarkand, Khiva and Bukhara, travelled down the Amu Daria river and crossed, solo, the freezing and hostile wastes of the Kizil Kum, the Desert of Red Sands. Her companions are drawn from both past and present - Mongolian princesses rub shoulders with Trotskyist exiles, whilst pilgrims and dervishes ride alongside emperors and kings. Even today, a trip like this would be considered daring. That Ella Maillart did it, largely alone and more than 70 years ago, makes her journey all the more remarkable.
Ella Maillart was one of the outstanding travellers of the 20th century. She was born in Geneva in 1903, the daughter of a Swiss father and a Danish mother A successful athlete, writer and passionate photographer, she travelled widely throughout Europe, Russia, Central Asia, the Middle East, India and Nepal during her life. Ella Maillart continued to travel and work until her death in 1997. Dervla Murphy, the celebrated travel writer, was born in County Waterford, Ireland. For three decades she has been regularly publishing descriptions of her journeys - by bicycle and on foot - in the more remote areas of four continents. Her many acclaimed books include Where the Indus is Young, South from the Limpopo, Eight Feet in the Andes, The Waiting Land and Through the Embers of Chaos.
"Ella Maillart lived with great zest a rather vagabond life...a Swiss counterpart to Freya Stark. The Times"'
Turkestan Solo remains an adventure classic over 70 years after its initial publication.'
GlobalNATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC TRAVELLEROne of their best ever travel books
Imprint: Tauris Parke Paperbacks
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co LtdPaperback
Publication Date: 04 Oct 2005
Number of Pages: 352
Illustrations: 32 b&w photos