knowledge who share our vision of authentic exchange and real exploration with a responsible tourism approach. Whether you like your adventures to include trekking, touring, cycling, mountaineering, kayaking or cruising www.silkroadguide.con can make it happen for you. We hope you will join us for a life changing experience!
Trip Duration 19 days Grade Adventure touring level Activities Adventure Touring Accommodation 15 nights hotels, 4 nights train (soft-sleeper)
why travel with World Expeditions?
When planning travel to remote and challenging destinations, many factors need to be considered. Our extra attention to detail and operations on the ground ensure that you will have a memorable experience. We take every precaution to ensure smooth logistics, our vehicles and equipment are the best available on the market. Most importantly, our adventures have always sought to benefit the local peoples we interact with, safeguard the ecosystems we explore and contribute to the sustainability of travel in the regions we experience. You will be accompanied by local guides whose knowledge and passion for this region will add a unique dimension to your trip. Their experience and enthusiasm ensures that we maintain the leading edge in adventure travel and therefore providing excellent value for money. Given our local knowledge, experience and excellent leadership, we are quite sure that this tour will be a trip of a lifetime.
he Silk Road conjures images of caravans carrying incredible wealth across the deserts and mountains - images of colourful bazaars, priceless jewels and richly woven carpets and fabrics; exotic perfumes and spices. This remarkable journey takes you along the Chinese part of this ancient route. In Beijing we visit the Great Wall; Xian we view the Terracotta Warriors while the enormous Buddhist monastery at Xiahe will surely impress. In Dunhuang we appreciate the magnificent Buddhist grottos before skirting the Gobi Desert to the oasis town of Turpan and continuing on to the the frenetic market town of Kashgar.
at a glance
DAY 1 ARRIVE BEIJING
DAY 2 VISIT TO THE GREAT WALL
DAY 3 SIGHTSEEING IN BEIJING
DAY 4 AT LEISURE IN BEIJING BEFORE EVENING TRAIN TO XI'AN
DAY 5 IN XI'AN
DAY 6 IN XI'AN
DAY 7 IN XI'AN. OVERNIGHT TRAIN TO LANGZHOU
DAY 8 IN LANZHOU
DAY 9 TO XIAHE (250 KM)
DAY 10 LABRANG MONASTERY
DAY 11 RETURN TO LANZHOU AND OVERNIGHT TRAIN TO JIAYUGUAN.
DAY 12 IN JIAYUGUAN
DAY 13 TO DUNHUANG
DAY 14 MOGAO CAVES. TRAIN TO TURPAN
DAY 15 IN TURPAN (OR TULUFUN)
DAY 16 DRIVE TO URUMQI
DAY 17 IN URUMQI. EVENING FLIGHT TO KASHGAR
DAY 18 SUNDAY MARKETS IN KASHGAR
DAY 19 TRIP CONCLUDES IN KASHGAR
Assistance in arranging visa
Local cash payments are becoming increasingly popular with many operators in the adventure travel industry. The policy seems to benefit the tour operators, more than the local economies or travellers, as it avoids local taxes and transfers the cost and risk of cash handling to travellers. In accordance with our Responsible Travel practices we have chosen a policy not to ask for such payments.
DAY 1 Arrive Beijing
If you are arriving into Beijing on the group flight you will be met and transferred to the group hotel. If you are not on the group flight and would like to arrange a transfer from the airport please ask our staff for current prices.
DAY 2 Visit to The Great Wall
We will make an early morning start today to explore the Great Wall at the Mutianyu section. This is approximately a 1.5 hour drive outside of Beijing, slightly further than the popular and very busy Badaling Gate section. On arrival we will have the option to complete a 2 -3 hour walk along this beautiful section of the wall. Mutianyu is renowned for its Ming Dynasty guard towers and superb views. The scene here is as one would expect of one of the world's great man made wonders, with huge steep ramparts criss crossing this mountainous area. Those deciding not to undertake the walk will be able to enjoy this section of the wall by cable car. The Great Wall of China is one of the Seven Wonders of the World and is one of the world's most unusual and awesome sites. Commenced 2000 years ago, it was built as a defence line to keep out invaders, along the course of several thousand kilometres. The Emperor Qin Shihuang unified the various northern walls into the Great Wall we see today. We return to Beijing in the evening for a traditional Peking Duck dinner.
Meals: B, D
DAY 3 Sightseeing in Beijing
This morning we visit the beautiful Forbidden City, which is a masterpiece of 5000 years of Chinese civilisation and still vividly displays the power and prestige of the former dynasties. Sprawling over acres, the City is a magnificent group of palaces, pavilions, courtyards and deep terracotta walls. Ornately furnished palace rooms, priceless artworks and treasures are all now open to the public after 500 years of seclusion. Time permitting we will also visit the Summer Palace. In the evening there is an option to see an acrobatic show.
Meals: B, D
responsible travel DAY 4 At leisure in Beijing before evening train to Xi'an
The environments we travel through are fragile. It is our responsibility as visitors to minimise the impact of our
This is an adventurous journey and we aim to keep the 'accent on the active'. We therefore suggest that any physical training you complete before undertaking the trip will be to good effect. Although there is no sustained physical activity during the trip, to get the most out of it you should exercise regularly before departure. There will be opportunities to ascend the ramparts of the Great Wall or climb a sand dune, and the fitter you are the more this will enhance your experience and enable you to fully participate in the trip.
There are long distances covered by road and train during the trip and some of the roads travelled may be bumpy and at times uncomfortable. You should be fit and healthy and mentally prepared to deal with 19 days travelling and the remote nature of the trip, accepting that things don't always go to plan, despite our best intentions.
Today has been set aside for leisure time to rest or catch up on shopping. Our local guides will be happy to make suggestions and organise arrangements as required. In the afternoon, we transfer to the train station for our overnight journey to Xi'an.
Meals: B, L
DAY 5 In Xi'an
Xi'an is the traditional starting point of the Silk Road. Today the old walled city of Xi'an, the capital of Shaanxi Province, is a vivid example of the old and new China. The modernized new city bustles around the quaint, winding lanes of the Old Quarter, where old men can be seen smoking pipes as butchers pull their carcass-laden carts and hawkers sell their wares. We will have a tour of the old Muslim section of Xi'an and the inner city. There is also an option this evening to dine at a special dumpling restaurant, which is highly recommended and very unique. There is a supplement for eating at this restaurant of 90 yuan (subject to change).
Meals: B, D
DAY 6 In Xi'an
The thousands of Terracotta Warriors who stand outside the tomb of Qin Shihuang, were uncovered in 1974 by peasants digging a well. Each warrior stands over six feet tall and has individual features and characteristics. Some stand in a vanguard with crossbow and longbow bearers, others hold spears, daggers and axes at the ready. They are accompanied by dozens of horse-drawn carriages and enormous terracotta horses. The sight of the warriors arising from their muddy grave, some intact, others still submerged in the ground, is an extraordinary one. This evening we have the option to attend a Tang Dynasty Dance Show - the cost of this option is 150 yuan (subject to change).
Meals: B, D
DAY 7 In Xi'an. Overnight train to Langzhou
We visit the Big Goose Pagoda in Xi'an which is a classic example of Chinese temple architecture. Built in 652AD it houses Buddhist scriptures brought back from India along the Silk Road. We also visit the fascinating Shaanxi Provincial Museum which houses a collection devoted to the Silk Road. In the late afternoon we will make our way to the train station to catch the overnight train to Lanzhou. xcolreturnxxcolreturnx
Meals: B, D
DAY 8 In Lanzhou
Camel caravans traversed the rugged and barren Province of Gansu, as they threaded their way along the Silk Road. The capital Lanzhou is one of the oasis towns the caravans stopped in along the way. It has since become an industrialised city and remains a hub for travellers to this day. The Gansu Provincial Museum is home to the "Cultural Relics of the Silk Road" exhibition and has some beautiful artifacts and a skeleton of a giant mammoth. We spend the afternoon visiting sights along the Yellow River and, if we are lucky, an amateur performance of Chinese opera.
Meals: B, D
DAY 9 To Xiahe (250 KM)
The bus trip from Lanzhou to Xiahe (pronounced Shar-her) takes between eight to ten hours depending on road conditions (road works are continuing on certain stretches of this road) and passes through beautiful, mountainous scenery and fascinating microcosms of minority life in China. From Lanzhou we ascend out of the city smog, through a tunnel, and into the clean mountain air. On passing over a bridge we enter the Hui minority area, characterised by the appearance of mosques. A Hui man wears a small white cap, while the women generally wear green scarves. Ascending further into the mountains we pass stupas identifying the beginning of the Tibetan minority area.
adventure travel plan to visit a Tibetan family for afternoon tea today or tomorrow at a village down the valley from the main town. On arrival in Xiahe you may notice the increase of altitude as the town is located at
By its very nature adventure travel
involves an element of the
Meals: B, D
unexpected. In remote and developing countries do not expect DAY 10 Labrang Monastery
standards you are used to at home. Remote areas are sometimes unpredictable and itineraries may be altered. To get the most out of your adventure it is important that you are flexible, positive and eager to take on all the challenges that arise. If you are uncertain about your suitability for this trip we recommend that you speak with your consultant of travel
Within Xiahe is the enormous Tibetan Monastery of Labrang, an important place of pilgrimage for Buddhist monks and is second only in size to the Potala Palace in Lhasa. Tibetan nomads dressed in their finest traditional clothing mingle with monks in bright pink robes and lamas in deep burnished saffron robes. Monks can be seen debating and deep in preparations for religious ceremonies, practicing ritual music and meditation. The Lamasery, built in 1709, has more than 10,000 rooms, where over 3,000 lamas were once accommodated. It has a collection of books exceeding 65,000 volumes. Watch out for the huge pot in the Lamasery yard in which four oxen can be cooked together. In the afternoon, time permitting, we have the option to hire bikes and explore the valley further or you can explore the town by foot.
Meals: B, D
agent. DAY 11 Return to Lanzhou and overnight train to Jiayuguan. Our return journey is just as impressive as mountains give way to fields of wheat and orchards
bursting with fruit. Depending on the season, we may stop at one of the many roadside stalls selling These trip notes represent the most local fruit and nuts. Back in Lanzhou we will grab some refreshments before we catch the overnight train to Jiayuguan.
current information for this itinerary,
Meals: B, L
and may supersede any information
in the current brochure, including but
not limited to the itinerary and price.
The itinerary should be seen as a guide only. This itinerary may change at any time due to inclement weather, forces of nature and other circumstances beyond our control.
DAY 12 In Jiayuguan
Jiayuguan is the western most point of the Great Wall. Built during the Ming dynasty, the wall is guarded by the famous Jaiyu Fort, known as "the most Impregnable Pass Under Heaven". It was the last major stronghold of the empire to the west and remains an impressive and formidable sight. Then on to the Black Mountain to climb a restored section of the wall.
Meals: B, D
DAY 13 To Dunhuang
xcolreturnxWe leave the Great Wall and follow the snaking Silk Road into the desert through the Hexi (pronounced "Hersh") Corridor. The drive from Jiayuguan to Dunhuang, another of the Silk Road's oasis towns, takes around five hours with the geographic boundaries of the Gobi Desert to the north and the Qilin Mountains to the south defining the Hexi Corridor. On the drive we will pass many beacon towers which were used to send messages along the Silk Road. Oasis meets desert at the Crescent Moon Spring, a lake miraculously lying in the midst of the Singing Sand Mountains. Despite the constantly shifting sands, the 100 metre lake has never been filled. The view from the top of the dunes is magnificent. We might be lucky enough to view a sunset from the Mingsha dunes, the tallest of which, Mingsha Mountain, is 250m high. The dunes make a beautiful backdrop to the city of Dunhuang.
Meals: B, D
DAY 14 Mogao Caves. Train to Turpan
Dunhuang is home to China's most magnificent Buddhist grottos. The grottos are set amidst mountainous towering sand dunes. The Mogao Caves, also known as the Thousand Buddhist Grottos, are 1,000 metres long, and are filled with superb Buddhist art, dating from 366AD. Over 45,000 square metres of frescos in the nearly 500 caves record the life of the Buddha. They are one
of the great sights of China. We spend the afternoon wandering around the markets and may visit the Dunhuang County Museum if desired. This evening we board the train for the overnight journey to Turpan.
Meals: B, L
DAY 15 In Turpan (or Tulufun)
The province of Xinjiang lies at the heart of the Eurasian continent. Skirting the hostile Gobi Desert it is a region of endless grassland, the Taklamakan Desert, snow peaked mountains, lakes, and primitive forests. We enter the Turpan basin, home of the Uighur (pronounced "Wee Ger") people. The town of Turpan is broad and flat with low slung mud brick houses and open channels from which the Uighur draw their water. The slow pace and vast expanses of the surrounding desert and sky make Turpan a wonderful place for relaxation. Grape Valley is a small oasis of vineyards in the desert that we visit with its mazes of grapevines and mud brick buildings used for drying, before heading to the ruins of Jiaohe. Constructed over 2000 years ago, the Karez Underground Irrigation Channels are one of ancient China's most remarkable public works. The 1000 wells that make up the system have been sunk to collect ground water from the melting snow of the Bogdashan Mountains. The water passes from the wells through underground channels to irrigate farms in the valley below, and is fed entirely by gravity.
Meals: B, D
DAY 16 Drive to Urumqi
The Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves are picturesquely located on a cliff face overlooking a river valley. We visit them before moving on to the Atsana Tombs. The tombs contain portraits of the dead of Gaochang painted on the walls with two well-preserved corpses housed in another. In the afternoon we drive to Urumqi (4 hours).
Meals: B, D
DAY 17 In Urumqi. Evening flight to Kashgar
Situated at the foot of the Tian Shan Mountains, Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. With the opening of the Silk Route, Urumqi became a junction for cultural exchange between the east and west. Today it is an interesting insight into Communist architecture. One of the most impressive sights in China is certainly Tianchi, or Heaven's Lake. Set amid the Tian Shan Mountains below the imposing Bogda Peak (5445m).The deep blue lake is framed by fir trees and mountain peaks, and it is sprinkled with yurts and Kazak nomad summer camps. We return to Urumqi and take an evening flight to Kashgar.
Meals: B, L
DAY 18 Sunday Markets in Kashgar
Kashgar is a bustling market town which is prominent on the silk route, and is at the junction between the two main north/south arteries. On Sundays traders come from all over to sell their livestock, amongst thousands of different types of produce. Being populated by an overwhelming majority of Uygur people (93%), it seems on arrival that you have left China. This impression is quickly reversed on viewing the massive monument of Mao near the Idkah Square. Our time in Kashgar is spent predominantly at the markets where we can watch the traders dressed in their Sunday best (waistcoats and all), selling their sheep which were brought from miles away on their donkey cart. We will also wander through the different sections of the market, where hats, spices, kitchenware, carpets, musical instruments richly decorated, clothing and tailors, and almost any other products are sold. The Fragrant Concubines tomb will be visited in the afternoon together with the Idkah Mosque. Kashgar was the centre of the Great Game staged between Britain and Russia in their attempts to secure the Central Asian states. We plan to stay at the Seaman Hotel which is the
old Russian Embassy and home to the Great Game players. Tonight is our final night together, a perfect opportunity to have a group dinner and celebrate our amazing journey across the Chinese Silk Road.
Meals: B, D
DAY 19 Trip concludes in Kashgar
Our trip concludes in Kashgar this morning after breakfast. If you have international flights booked out of Beijing or other Chinese cities you will need booke return flight from Kashgar. This will require two flights – one from Kashgar to Urumqi and one from Urumqi your destination. Please ask your local World Expeditions office regarding arranging these flights.
This itinerary is subject to change with any change in Community regulations as well as Governmental changes and natural circumstances beyond our control.
Silk Road to Samarkand via Kashgar
Taskhent to Isfahan
Alexander the Great conquered the Persian Empire in 330 B.C, and with him, came Greek ideas, mythology and the language. It is believed that the people of the Hunza valley in the Karakoram are the direct descendents of the army of Alexander. After the Greeks, the tribes from Palmyra in Syria and then Parthia took over control of the Karakoram region. What follows is a history of conquest as various local peoples vied for supremacy. The ancestors of the Huns and Kushan people among them. The remnants of Greek culture eventually fused with Buddhism. The Romans, it is thought, first encountered silk in 53 B.C during their campaigns against the Parthians. Learning from Parthian prisoners that the silk came from a mysterious tribe in the east they sent agents to explore the route. The birth of the Silk Road in China came as the Warring States period was brought to an end with the consolidation of the Qin Dynasty. This saw the unification of language, the standardisation of systems and the birth of Xi'an as the capital, as well as the joining of the sections of the Great Wall. In 138B.C the Western Han Dynasty emperor Zhang Qian, in an attempt to shore up alliances against troublesome northern tribes, sent emissionaries west to gather intelligence. Their stories of hitherto unknown states and of a strange large breed of horse, led to further exploration. What ensued was a history of capture and escape; at one stage the emissionaries were captured and held hostage for 10 years. In pursuit of the now immortalised horses, others pushed further west and may have reached Persia. They brought back with them many objects of art and beauty, including early Buddhist art, and in doing so opened the ancient world's most valuable trading links. Perhaps the most significant commodity to be carried along the route was religion. Buddhism came to China from India along the northern branch of the Silk Road. Various emperors sent missions to India to learn more about this mysterious religion. Slowly, as merchants, pilgrims and missionaries came into contact with Buddhism it spread along the route and stampas, monasteries and grottos bearing murals and Buddhist artwork, began to appear(some of the finest examples we will see in Dunhuang). China never fails to conjure up myriad feelings, images and a sense of mystery. Its history cannot be summed up here in a few paragraphs and to fully appreciate the currents that have shaped the country and its people; you must take the time to read at least one of the many excellent books available. Within the almost four million square miles of China's vast territory live more than 1.2 billion people, which makes it the most populated nation on earth. For centuries, outsiders have yearned to visit China and it's only since 1976 that tourism really started.