I've got some projects going and thought this would be a useful thread in general.
The European powers (not counting Russia) were just starting to truly penetrate Central Asia/"Inner Asia" during the Victorian era. The Great Game was afoot and many discoveries were being made in the name of science...and espionage and conquest.
I define "Central Asia" (I prefer the more evocative "Inner Asia") as anywhere north of Persia, south of the Arctic, east of the Urals and west of China proper (Chinese Turkestan was a Chinese colony, pure and simple). Any of you are free to disagree, it matters not to me.
This region possessed picturesque cities like Samarkand and Tashkent, ruins galore and plenty of ethnic groups hostile to foreigners. It also hid dread citadels of mystery like Leng, Yian-Ho and Yahlgan. Adventure and eldritch horror were to be found for anyone crazy enough to make the arduous journey just to get there.
I hope others have something to contribute. There are some materials I find difficult to track down. Letters to/from Victorian Brits who worked in the fields of exploration and/or intelligence are eluding me. To get things started, here are two travellers/explorers who bracket the era...
James Holman, the "Blind Traveller", nearly crossed Russia from the Baltic to the Pacific:
Here is the account of a dedicated hunter in Turkestan during the 1890s:
A group of investigators would do well to have a man like this along when heading out into the trackless wastes of Inner Asia.