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Central Asian Discoverer Istanbul - Xi'an

Trip Overview

Overlanding started along the Silk Route back in the 60s, the famed Hippy Trail. Our route takes us along the northern Silk Route, across the heart of Central Asia. From the legendary city of Istanbul crossing the wild mountains and lush valleys of the Caucasus, through Georgia and Azerbaijan; both countries renowned for their food, home stays and hospitality.

The Caspian Sea is the divide between true Central Asia, the deserts and nomads of Turkmenistan and the infamous city of Ashgabat. In the north of the Karakum deserts, lies the country’s most bizarre attraction, the Darvaza Crater. Crossing the Oxus River is the heart of the route, Uzbekistan’s fabulous cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand. Towering above the deserts are the Tian Shan Mountains and the lands of Kyrgyzstan; home to shepherds and horseman; this is our opportunity to really get to grips with the local life.

Crossing the Torugart Pass, the lands of Western China open up at Kashgar; ahead lies the vast bowl of the Taklimakan Desert and then it’s onto the edge of the Tibet Plateau and the Tibetan town of Xi’ahe. But no trip to China can be complete without a visit to the seminal city of Xi’an, home of the terracotta army.

We are running a new route for this trip in 2020! See here for more details.
1 DAYS THROUGH Azerbaijan, China (+ 5 more countries)
RATING:
of 13 reviews
PRICE FROM:
N / A
DURATION:
1 days
TRANSPORT:
Overland expedition vehicle, Jeep, Private bus, Public bus, Russian bus, Boat, Overnight boat
CREW:
2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary, 1 local crew
ACCOM:
20%
80%
PHYSICAL CHALLENGE:
LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE:
TRIP CODE:
EUX
DEPOSIT:
$ USD

Highlights

  Visit the incredible Blue Mosque

  Explore the many amazing sites of Istanbul

  Guided tour of the valley of Cappadocia

  Visit the Black Sea at Batumi

  Visit the Stunning Bagratu Cathedral & Gelati monastery

  Trek up to the Tsminda Sameba Church at Stepantsminda

  Stop at Gori, the birthplace of Stalin and tour the museum

  Visit Georgian vineyards in Telavi for wine tasting

  Overnight in an atmospheric converted Caravanserai at Sheiki

  Explore the mud Volcanoes and wilds of Gobustan

  SHOW MORE HIGHLIGHTS  

This great road journey through Asia, crosses different cultures and religions. It is ideal for lovers of history and culture. A great trip to meet different peoples and for lovers of stunning scenery, from deserts, river valleys.

Itinerary

We are running a new route for this trip in 2020! See here for more details.
Day 1 - Istanbul ( 7th Dec 2019 )

Border Information: if joining in Istanbul, you will most likely enter Turkey at Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IATA code: IST).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - on arrival please look out for a note from your leader with more information about this important meeting. If you are travelling beyond Tbilisi, your tour leader will need to carefully check your visa situation for your entire trip.

The afternoon will be free to explore the many sights of the incredible exotic city of Istanbul, including the Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorus River and the phenomenal Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia!

In Istanbul we will stay in dorm accommodation in a fantastic hostel with good facilities, which is a 5 minute walk from the Blue Mosque.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Istanbul before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Istanbul.

*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the incredible Byzantine cathedral of Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th century

TRY 25

Explore the atmospheric underground Basilica Cisterns, built by the Byzantines in the 6th century

TRY 20

Explore the majestic Topkapı Palace, the huge palace of the Ottoman Sultans for over 400 years

TRY 35

Visit the Çemberlitas Baths, a traditional Turkish Hammam, for a bath and massage!

USD 20

Explore the phenomenal Blue Mosque, built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I - a stunning icon of Istanbul

Free

See the splendour of Istanbul from a boat trip on Bosphorus Strait, which marks the boundary of Europe and Asia

USD 17
Explore the colossal markets of the Grand Bazaar - once the centre of all trading between Europe and Asia, and the most visited tourist attraction in the world
Free
Day 2 - Göreme ( 8th Dec 2019 )

Today we start our journey with a full day's drive east to Göreme, a small enchanting town in the heart of the Cappadocia mountains.

In Göreme we will stay in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are sometimes used here.

Estimated Drive Time - 10-11 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Day 3-4 - Göreme ( 9th Dec 2019 to 10th Dec 2019 )

We now have a 2 full days to explore Göreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during our time here.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the Early Christian underground cities of Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı, used as a hiding place from persecutions for centuries

Included in Kitty

Walk through the beautiful ancient valley of Ihlara, containing the beautiful rock-hewn churches built by the Cappadocian Greeks during the Byzantine era

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the ancient pre-iconoclastic Byzantine rock monastery of Zelve

TRY 15

Take a hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia

USD 180

Guided tour of Cappadocia and underground troglodyte cities and caves

TRY 5

Discover the ancient techniques of Cappadocian pottery at the village of Avanos

Free

Head out for a fun evening of dinner and various Turkish dancing displays

EUR 30

Witness the hypnotic Sufi Whirling Dervishes ceremony at an ancient caravanserai near Göreme

EUR 35
Day 5 - Zara ( 11th Dec 2019 )

Today we continue our journey east with a full day's drive towards the Sumela monastery.

We will break the journey with a wild camp near Zara or the village of Alucra.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

Day 6 - Sumela ( 12th Dec 2019 )

Today we will reach the awe-inpsiring Sumela Monastery near the town of Macka, which we will visit in the afternoon.

We will camp overnight in a campsite near Sumela if conditions allow. In cold weather we may opt to stay in a local hotel in Macka or Trabzon.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Exploration of the Black Sea mountain monastery at Sumela

Included in Kitty
Day 7 - Batumi ( 13th Dec 2019 )

Border Information: Exit Turkey at Sarp, enter Georgia at Sarpi.

This morning we will continue to the border and cross into Georgia, reaching the port town of Batumi.

In Batumi we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the Batumi Archaeological Museum, home to many historical exhibits found in excavations in the area
GEL 2
Day 8 - Kutaisi ( 14th Dec 2019 )

After a relaxing morning, we leave the port town of Batumi behind us and make our way to the ancient town of Kutaisi. This afternoon we will visit the medieval Bragrati cathedral and the Gelati monastery.

In Kutaisi we will stay in a local hotel or a family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Explore the colossal and awe-inspiring Prometheus Caves near Kutaisi
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the incredible 11th-century monastery complex of Gelati, near Kutaisi (if time allows)
Free
Visit the beautiful 11th-century Bagrati Cathedral, a symbol of the city of Kutaisi
Free
Day 9 - Gori, Mtskheta ( 15th Dec 2019 )

This morning is free to explore the charming town of Kutaisi. This afternoon we make our way to Gori, the birthplace of Stalin - here we will have an included guided tour of the city and the Stalin Museum. 

We will then continue on to the ancient UNESCO world heritage site of Mtskheta where we will stay overnight in a local guesthouse. 

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Learn about the early life of Joseph Stalin, one of the 20th century's most infamous world leaders, at his birthplace in Gori
Included in Kitty
Day 10 - Stepantsminda ( 16th Dec 2019 )

This morning we will explore the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.

This afternoon we have a beautiful drive to the spectacularly located town of Stepantsminda (formerly known as Kazbegi).

Either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, we will take a trek up to the Tsminda Sameba Church (the Church of the Holy Trinity), a beautiful small church nestled in the mountains.

In Stepantsminda we will stay in a local hotel or family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Hike to beautiful 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, set in the stunning mountains above Stepantsminda

Included in Kitty
Day 11 - Tbilisi ( 17th Dec 2019 )

We spend this morning in and around Stepantsminda where we can trek to the Tsminda Sameba Church if we haven't done so already.

This afternoon we will drive to Georgia's capital Tbilisi.

In Tbilisi we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Enjoy an evening of local dancing and music at a Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi

GEL 35
Day 12 - Tbilisi ( 18th Dec 2019 )

Border information: if you are leaving in Tbilisi, you will most likely exit Georgia at Tbilisi International Airport (IATA code: TBS).

Today will be a free day in Tbilisi to relax and freely explore the city, or take an optional city tour where we can visit the old town, the National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the Metekhi Temple.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Tbilisi. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Learn all about the history of Georgia during Soviet times, and the struggle for independence, at the Museum of Soviet Occupation
GEL 3
Explore the ancient Narikala Fortress and take in the fantastic views of Tbilisi below
Free

Visit the beautiful Orthodox Sioni Cathedral in Tbilisi's Old Town

Free
Discover the folk architecture, craftwork and culture of the various regions of Georgia at the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography
GEL 1.5
See the incredible collection of historical artefacts at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia
GEL 3
See the grandiose modern Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Church
Free
Day 13 - Tbilisi ( 19th Dec 2019 )

Border Information: if joining in Tbilisi, you will most likely enter Georgia at Tbilisi International Airport (IATA code: TBS).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 6:00pm - please meet at the joining hotel reception at this time. Please do not be alarmed if there is no note from you leader on arrival, as this is often a travelling day for the crew and they will not arrive until about 4:00pm. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Tbilisi before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Tbilisi.

In Tbilisi we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

*Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Enjoy an evening of local dancing and music at a Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi

GEL 35
Day 14 - Tbilisi ( 20th Dec 2019 )

Today we will visit the old town of Tbilisi and visit sites including the National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the Metekhi Temple.

We will have a second night in our comfortable local hotel in Tbilisi.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Learn all about the history of Georgia during Soviet times, and the struggle for independence, at the Museum of Soviet Occupation
GEL 3
Explore the ancient Narikala Fortress and take in the fantastic views of Tbilisi below
Free
Discover the folk architecture, craftwork and culture of the various regions of Georgia at the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography
GEL 1.5

Visit the beautiful Orthodox Sioni Cathedral in Tbilisi's Old Town

Free
See the incredible collection of historical artefacts at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia
GEL 3
See the grandiose modern Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Church
Free
Day 15 - Telavi ( 21st Dec 2019 )

This morning we will drive to the Alazani valley and on to Telavi, where we will base ourselves for 2 days to explore this fascinating region. We will have a free afternoon to explore the area on arrival.

In Telavi we will stay in a local family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-4 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Day 16 - Telavi ( 22nd Dec 2019 )

The area of Telavi is well known for its vineyards and wineries - there are hundreds of different grapes grown here, and every village has its own particular variety. We will visit some of the local vineyards today, where we can hopefully see some of the local traditions including grape harvesting and wine making, and enjoy some famous Georgian hospitality.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Head out on Telavi's 'Big Day Out' - a tour of the town's monasteries, bee-keepers and textile-weavers, followed by lunch and wine tasting at a local family-run winery

Included in Kitty
Day 17 - Lagodekhi ( 23rd Dec 2019 )

Today we leave the wine region behind us as we make our way towards the Azerbaijan border. We will visit the Gremi citadel en route.

We will wild camp tonight, most likely in the Lagodehki National Park close to the Azeri border.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Discover the ancient capital of the 16th-century Kingdom of Kakheti at the Gremi Architectural Complex

GEL 10

Take some short exploratory walks around our wild camp in the beautiful forested Lagodekhi National Park

GEL 5
Day 18 - Sheki ( 24th Dec 2019 )

Border information: Exit Georgia at Ladodekhi, enter Azerbaijan at Balakan.

Today we cross the border to Azerbaijan and continue to the old town of Sheki, where we can visit the exquisite Khan's Palace.

In Sheki we will stay in a comfortable hotel built inside an old caravanserai.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight in an atmospheric converted Caravanserai at Sheki

Included in Kitty

Explore the exquisite Palace of the Sheki Khans, built in 1797

Included in Kitty
Day 19 - Gobustan ( 25th Dec 2019 )

Today we will continue our journey to Gobustan, near the coast of the Caspian Sea. Whilst here we will visit the ancient petroglyphs and the mud volcanoes that this area is famous for.

In Gobustan we will wild camp near the mud volcanoes.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Day trip to Gobustan to see the mud volcanoes and the petroglyphs

Included in Kitty
Day 20-22 - Baku ( 26th Dec 2019 to 28th Dec 2019 )

This morning we have a short drive to the Azeri capital, Baku. During our time in Baku we will have free time to explore all the sights of the city and the surroundings.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

Our itinerary in Baku and over the Caspian Sea must remain very flexible and is very much determined by sailing times of the local ferries. Please note that there is no regular schedule for the ferries, they are notoriously unpredictable, and information from the ferry operators regarding the sailing times constantly changes (or is non-existant) up until the point of departure. Maximum flexibility, open-mindedness and co-operation with your tour leaders are absolutely essential here! 

In Baku we will stay in a local hotel for as many nights as is needed until we finally depart on the ferry over the Caspian Sea.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the mysterious and iconic Maiden's Tower in Baku's Old Town

Included in Kitty
Learn all about the Shirvan Muslim history of Baku at the Palace of the Shirvanshahs
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Audio Guided trip around old town Baku including the Maiden Tower & Shirvan Shakh Palace

AZN 10
Day 23 - Caspian Sea ( 29th Dec 2019 )

From Baku, we will take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan. The boat docks at the city of Turkmenbashi.

The ferry is a fantastic local experience, but please do not expect any luxury whatsoever! These ferries are budget vessels for the locals and cargo hauliers, and are not designed with tourists in mind. We must be prepared for very basic conditions and limited provisions on board.

Please also note that the time that the ferry takes to cross is also very unpredictable, as it is often forced to wait outside of the port in Turkmenbashi while they arrange the unloading of the cargo on the boat.

There will generally only be seats on the ferry overnight.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Cross the Caspian Sea on a local transporter ferry between Baku and Turkmenbashi
Included in Kitty
Day 24 - Turkmenbashi ( 30th Dec 2019 )

Border information: Exit Azerbaijan at Baku, enter Turkmenistan at Turkmenbashi.

Today we plan to disembark the Caspian ferry and enter Turkmenistan.

We will be either staying at a local hotel in Turkmenbashi or we will start our journey towards Ashgabat and wild camp en route.

Turkemenistan Visa Note - as the timing of the Caspian ferry crossing can be very unpredictable, please get your Turkmenistan visa issued with at least 2 'flexible' days before the entry date listed on these notes. If you arrange the visa through The Visa Machine they will be aware of all the correct dates for your visa according to the date of your trip. Please see the detailed visa notes below.

Day 25 - Geok Tepe ( 31st Dec 2019 )

Today, if we are off the ferry in good time by this stage, we will continue our drive to the spectacular Kow Ata Underground Lake. We will have some time either this afternoon or tomorrow morning to explore this superb lake of naturally-heated clear water.

Tonight we will wild camp in the area of Kow Ata or Geok Tepe.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore Turkmenistan's unique underground lake at Kow Ata and swim in waters naturally heated to around 36°C

Included in Kitty
Day 26 - Ashgabat ( 1st Jan 2020 )

This morning we have a short drive to Turkmenistan's bizarre modern capital, Ashgabat. This afternoon we will have some free time to explore.

In Ashgabat we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the huge Turkmenbashi Ruhy mosque on the outskirts of Ashgabat, built in 2004 as the mausoleum of Saparmurat Niyazov, the first president of Turkmenistan after the fall of the Soviet Union
Free
Day 27 - Ashgabat ( 2nd Jan 2020 )

Today we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses. 

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore, shop and haggle at the vast Tolkuchka Sunday Market

Included in Kitty
Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Learn about the history and culture of Turkmenistan at the huge National Museum in Ashgabat

USD 10
Day 28 - Ashgabat ( 3rd Jan 2020 )

Border Information: If finishing in Ashgabat, you will most likely exit Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Ashgabat. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Day 29 - Ashgabat ( 4th Jan 2020 )

Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.

After the meeting we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ashgabat before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ashgabat. If arriving at Ashgabat airport you will also need to have a confirmed arrival transfer and representative from our local supplier to meet you at the airport. Please contact your sales agent for prices and to book. 

In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel.

*Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city
Included in Kitty
Day 30 - Darvaza ( 5th Jan 2020 )

Today we set off north from Ashgabat and head into the Karakum Desert. We will have an included side trip to the amazing flaming Darvaza Gas Crater (also known as the 'Door to Hell'!).

We will wild camp in the deserts near Darvaza Crater tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Daily Activities

Included Activities

See the bizarre and incredible burning gas crater at Darvaza, popularly known as the 'Door to Hell'

Included in Kitty
Day 31 - Kunye Urgench ( 6th Jan 2020 )

Today we will continue our overland journey north across the Karakum. We will visit the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day.

We will wild camp in the deserts near Kunye Urgench tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overland into the green Oxus Valley to the ancient ruined city of Kunye Urgench

Included in Kitty
Day 32-33 - Khiva ( 7th Jan 2020 to 8th Jan 2020 )

Border Information: Exit Turkmenistan at Shovot, enter Uzbekistan at Nijazov.

This morning we will visit the markets in the border town of Dashoguz, before driving across the border into Uzbekistan and continue to the beautiful historic town of Khiva. 

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

The following day we have a guided tour of the ancient city of Khiva during the morning. In the afternoon we will have plenty of free time to further explore this wonderfully preserved Khanate town.

In Khiva we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
See the beautiful turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret, one of the iconic symbols of Khiva
Included in Kitty
Visit the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassa, a museum dedicated to the Khan that surrendered to the Russians in 1873
Included in Kitty
Explore the incredibly photogenic blue palace of Tash Khovli in Khiva
Included in Kitty
Learn all about the Khoezm culture and handicrafts at the Islam Hodja Madrassa, Khiva's newest monument
Included in Kitty
Explore the incredible Juma Mosque and the 12th century fortress of the Kukhna Ark
Included in Kitty
Visit the mausoleum of Pahlavon Mohammed, the legendary 14th-century poet, philosopher, wrestler, and patron saint of Khiva
Included in Kitty
Day 34 - Bukhara ( 9th Jan 2020 )

Today we will have a full day's drive to the fascinating city of Bukhara, where will spend the next 3 nights.

In Bukhara we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.

Day 35-36 - Bukhara ( 10th Jan 2020 to 11th Jan 2020 )

Today we will have a guided tour of Bukhara and the surrounding area, including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison and the Ark Fortress.

On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore this incredible historic city and its surroundings.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Visit the magnificent 16th-centrury architectural ensemble surrounding the Lyab-i Hauz ponds, once the city's principal source of water
Included in Kitty

Explore the city's oldest Islamic monument, the 10th-century mausoleum of Ismail Samanid, the founder of the Samanid Dynasty

Included in Kitty

Explore the colossal Kalon Mosque and Minaret, which has survived without restoration for 850 years and impressed Genghis Khan so much that he ordered the building to be spared

Included in Kitty

Discover the ruins of the ancient 5th-century fortress of the Bukhara Ark

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Watch an entertaining evening puppet show, featuring many local Uzbek and Tajik poems and songs
USD 5

See the Indian-style Char Minar Minarets, four towers nestled in a maze of alleyways in downtown Bukhara

Free

Visit the gruesome museum at the old prison of Zindon

UZS 4500
Day 37 - Nurata ( 12th Jan 2020 )

Today we will drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert near the town of Nurata. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to head out on an optional camel ride into the desert!

In the Kyzylkhum Desert we will stay in a desert yurt camp.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight in the Kyzylkum Desert staying in yurts.

Included in Kitty
Day 38 - Samarkand ( 13th Jan 2020 )

This morning we will spend some time exploring the Nurata Hills with the option of taking a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul. After lunch we will drive to Samarkand where we will stay for the next 3 nights.

In Samarkand we will stay in a good hotel on the outskirts of town.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Day 39-40 - Samarkand ( 14th Jan 2020 to 15th Jan 2020 )

Today we will have a guided tour of the incredible historic city of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including the Registan, Ulug Beg Observatory, Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda.

On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore the beautiful city and its surroundings.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the Guri-Amir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur

Included in Kitty

Explore the stunning plaza of The Registan, a world-famous and iconic symbol of Central Asia

Included in Kitty

Learn about the area's scientific heritage with a visit to the 15th-century Ulug Beg Observatory, once the finest observatory in the Islamic world

Included in Kitty

Discover the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once one of the largest mosques in the world and the jewel in Timur's empire

Included in Kitty

See the beautiful and moving ancient mausoleum of Shah-I-Zinda

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit to Shakhrisabz city

USD 20
Wander through the markets and carpet vendors of Samarkand, and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the local carpet weavers
Free
Day 41 - Tashkent ( 16th Jan 2020 )

This morning we will have a little more free time to explore more of Samarkand. After lunch we will drive to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.

In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Day 42 - Tashkent ( 17th Jan 2020 )

Today we will have a free day to explore Tashkent.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore urbane Tashkent and experience a surreal cabaret dinner

Free

Visit the nightclubs and Imperial Russian-style cabaret restaurants of Tashkent

Free
Visit the religious centre of Tashkent at Hast Imam Square and see the Uthman Koran, believed to be the world's oldest extant copy of the Koran
USD 5
Day 43 - Tashkent ( 18th Jan 2020 )

Border Information: if finishing in Tashkent, you will most likely exit Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport (IATA code: TAS).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Tashkent. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Day 44 - Tashkent ( 19th Jan 2020 )

Border Information: if joining in Tashkent, you will most likely enter Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport (IATA code: TAS).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.

The rest of the day is free to explore the Uzbek capital.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Tashkent before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Tashkent.

In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

*Another important note - please be aware that all itineraries in Kyrgyzstan are highly weather-dependent. The itinerary described in these notes are a statement of best intention, but we must approach each trip in Kyrgyzstan with a large degree of flexibility, as our leaders and local guides will have to 'play things by ear' according to the local conditions and weather. In low season certain routes become impossible and it may become far too cold to camp - in all cases there are fantastic and well-tried alternatives in place which means we can always run an excellent and comprehensive trip here, but please do not treat the exact details of the itinerary listed here as gospel - thanks for your understanding!*

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore urbane Tashkent and experience a surreal cabaret dinner

Free

Visit the nightclubs and Imperial Russian-style cabaret restaurants of Tashkent

Free
Visit the religious centre of Tashkent at Hast Imam Square and see the Uthman Koran, believed to be the world's oldest extant copy of the Koran
USD 5
Day 45 - Fergana Valley, Fergana City ( 20th Jan 2020 )

This morning we travel in local transport over the Kamchik Pass to Kokand, where we will have the oppurtunity to visit the Khudayar Khan's Palace and the nearby Margilan Silk Factory before completing the journey to Fergana. 

The truck must pass over the Kamchik Pass without passengers and will rejoin us this evening in Fergana.

In Fergana we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overland through Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley including historic Kokand and Fergana City

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the impressive 19th-century Juma Mosque in Kokand in the stunning Fergana Valley

UZS 17500

See the silk-weavers of the Fergana Valley at the Yodgorlik Silk Factory

Free
Day 46 - Arslanbob ( 21st Jan 2020 )

Border information: Exit Uzbekistan at Andijon, enter Kyrgyzstan at Dustlik.

This morning we leave Uzbekistan behind and make our way into the magical mountain kingdom of Kyrgyzstan! 

Once we have crossed the border we continue our journey to Arslanbob in Kyrgyzstan's Fergana Valley - if we are delayed at the border we may choose to stay in the closer town of Jalalabad instead.

In Arslanbob we will stay overnight in a local family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Day 47-49 - Kyrgyz Fergana Valley ( 22nd Jan 2020 to 24th Jan 2020 )

We will spend the next 3 days overlanding through the stunning and remote Kyrgyz Fergana Valley, stopping often to admire the views and perhaps take some impromptu hikes in the hills and countryside.

During these days we plan to wild camp en route. Please note that trips running in low season (May to mid-June and October to November), we may not be able to camp if temperatures are too low, in which case we will stay in local guesthouses along the route instead.

Estimated Drive Times - 4-8 hours each day.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan

Included in Kitty
Day 50-51 - Song Köl Lake ( 25th Jan 2020 to 26th Jan 2020 )

Today we complete the drive to the incredible Song Köl Lake, where we will spend the next two nights.

We will have free time here to explore the area, and to enjoy some optional activities including hiking and horse-riding.

At Song Köl we will stay in traditional felt yurts.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-8 hours.

Please note that trips during the low season will not be able to visit Song Köl Lake, as temperatures will be below freezing, the road will be snowed over, and there will be no yurts to stay in! Instead we will likely stay in yurts on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Köl.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Experience the daily life of the Kyrgyz mountain shepherds.

Included in Kitty
Day 52 - Kochkor ( 27th Jan 2020 )

Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality!

Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up!

In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village

Included in Kitty

See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here

Included in Kitty
See an incredible demonstration from a traditional eagle hunter near Kochkor
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit a folklore demonstration near Kockhor where you can learn all about the handicrafts of the area, see a fantastic outdoor concert of traditional music and help to erect a yurt!
KGS 1000
Day 53-54 - Jeti Oguz Valley ( 28th Jan 2020 to 29th Jan 2020 )

Today we drive along the southern shore of Lake Issyk Köl and up into the mountains to the alpine trekking region of Jeti Oguz. En route we will have an included demonstation from a local 'eagle hunter'.

The next day we will have a free day to hike in the incredible scenery here, or take an optional horse ride with some of the local nomads!

In Jeti Oguz we will camp close to a local family yurt.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Please note that on trips in the low season we may not be able to camp in Jeti Oguz due to low temperatures. If this is the case, we will stay for 1 night in a local hotel at the base of Jeti Oguz Valley (allowing time for some day walks) and then move via a stunning and incredible drive up a mountain in a Russian 4x4 truck to Altyn Arashan, a hot spring development in a stunning alpine setting, staying in dormitory accommodation.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Trek into the wilds of the Jeti-Oghuz Gorge on the edge of the Tian Shan mountains

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the incredible mountain landscapes of the Jeti Oguz Valley by horseback

KGS 800
Day 55 - Karakol ( 30th Jan 2020 )

Today we will move on from Jeti Oguz or Altyn Arashan to the Russian-style town of Karakol, where we will have a free afternoon to explore and relax!

In Karakol we will stay in a decent local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Day 56-57 - Chong Kemin Valley, Cholpon Ata ( 31st Jan 2020 to 1st Feb 2020 )

Today we will drive to the northern shore of Lake Issyk Köl and visit the ancient petroglyphs at Cholpon Ata. We will then continue to the beautiful area of Chong Kemin where we will spend 2 nights.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

The next day we will have a free day to explore and hike in this stunning area, or to get involved in an optional white water rafting excursion!

In Chong Kemin we will wild camp. If it is too cold or simply preferred by the group, we may choose to camp in the grounds of a guesthouse in Ashu, a village in the Chong Kemin valley, where there could be the possibility to upgrade to rooms.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan

Included in Kitty

Tourist time: pedalos, sand, sun. On Lake Issyk-Kul, it?s a time warp

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the beautiful Chong Kemin valley on horseback

KGS 300

Head out on a white-water rafting adventure through the stunning Chong Kemin valley

KGS 1800
Walk around the incredible scenery of the Chong Kemin valley
Free
Day 58 - Bishkek ( 2nd Feb 2020 )

Today we have a short drive to the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek, with the opportunity to visit the Burana Tower en route. We will have free time to relax and explore the city upon arrival.

In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Day 59 - Bishkek ( 3rd Feb 2020 )

Border Information: if finishing in Bishkek, you will most likely exit Kyrgyzstan at Bishkek Manas International Airport (IATA code: FRU).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Bishkek. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Begin our journey in picturesque Bishkek

Free

Freely explore the vast Osh Bazaar, Bishkek's largest market

Free
Explore Bishkek's past at the State Historical Museum on Ala-Too Square
KGS 150
Day 60 - Bishkek ( 4th Feb 2020 )

For everyone that is continuing with us to China, there will be quick pre-departure meeting at 10:00am in order to explain the next 6 days until Kashgar, and your leader will collect the kitty for this linking section.

The remainder of the day is free to explore the relaxed and atmospheric city of Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Hotel for the night: Hotel Asia Mountains
Hotel Asia Mountains
1a Lineinaja St
Bishkek 720021
Kyrgyzstan
Tel: +996 312 694 075

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Begin our journey in picturesque Bishkek

Free

Freely explore the vast Osh Bazaar, Bishkek's largest market

Free
Explore Bishkek's past at the State Historical Museum on Ala-Too Square
KGS 150
Day 61 - Kochkor ( 5th Feb 2020 )

Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality!

Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up!

In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Please note that if the group has no new people joining in Bishkek, we may choose to stay instead in a guesthouse in the small town of Naryn (a further 2 hour drive beyond Kochkor). This is so that we don't repeat Kochkor unnecessarily and can have more time to explore the area of Tash Rabat the following day.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village

Included in Kitty

See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit a folklore demonstration near Kockhor where you can learn all about the handicrafts of the area, see a fantastic outdoor concert of traditional music and help to erect a yurt!
KGS 1000
Day 62 - Tash Rabat ( 6th Feb 2020 )

Today we continue our journey south to Tash Rabat, once a key staging post on the Silk Road close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border. During our time here we will visit an ancient caravanserai and have some time to explore the surrounding area.

In Tash Rabat we will wild camp. In cold weather (or if simply the group prefers and there is availability), we may choose to stay in local nomadic yurts that are set up for guests near the caravanserai, sleeping 8-10 people per yurt.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours (from Kochkor).

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai at Tash Rabat, close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border

Included in Kitty
Day 63 - Kashgar ( 7th Feb 2020 )

Border information: Exit Kyrgyzstan at Torugart, enter China at Torugart.

Today we will have a full day drive over the 3752m Torugart Pass, crossing into China and heading down to the Uighur city of Kashgar.

In Kashgar we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Day 64 - Kashgar ( 8th Feb 2020 )

Today we will have free time to explore the city of Kashgar and partake in any optional activities

Tonight we will stay in a good quality hotel

Day 65 - Kashgar ( 9th Feb 2020 )

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore Kashgar's Sunday market and Animal market.

Included in Kitty

Hike up to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world. 

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the Id Kah Mosque, the finest example of Islamic architecture in Kashgar and the centre of religious life in the city

CNY 45

Discover the history of the ancient Silk Road at Kashgar's Silk Road Museum

CNY 45

Visit the mausoleum of the 17th-century religious leader Afaq Khoja, considered the holiest site in Xinjiang Province

CNY 30
Day 66 - Kashgar ( 10th Feb 2020 )

Border Information: if joining in Kashgar, you will most likely enter China at Kashgar Airport (IATA code: KHG).

Welcome to Kashgar, one of the ancient trading posts on the Silk Route! If you are joining in Kashgar, you are free to explore the city, and there will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm. Please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note at the hotel on your arrival, as this is often a travelling day for the tour leader and they will often arrive in Kashgar mid-afternoon.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Kashgar before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Kashgar.

In Kashgar we will stay in a hotel with good facilities.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Hike up to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world. 

Included in Kitty
Day 67-68 - Kashgar ( 11th Feb 2020 to 12th Feb 2020 )

Today we will visit the animal market just outside of town, and then the famous Kashgar Sunday Bazaar.

We will also have an included visit to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world! 

The following day we will have a free day to explore the town, the central Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square, while your crew finalise the customs procedures for our truck to continue further into China.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore Kashgar's Sunday market and Animal market.

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the Id Kah Mosque, the finest example of Islamic architecture in Kashgar and the centre of religious life in the city

CNY 45

Discover the history of the ancient Silk Road at Kashgar's Silk Road Museum

CNY 45

Visit the mausoleum of the 17th-century religious leader Afaq Khoja, considered the holiest site in Xinjiang Province

CNY 30
Day 69-70 - Aksu, Bayanbulak ( 13th Feb 2020 to 14th Feb 2020 )

Our journey through China begins as we leave Kashgar and head east through the Taklamakan Desert! Our crossing of the desert usually takes 3 days/2 nights, and we plan to stay in local hotels en route.

Estimated Drive Times - 8-9 hours each day (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Day 71-72 - Heavenly Lake ( 15th Feb 2020 to 16th Feb 2020 )

Today we will complete our drive through the Taklamakan Desert and arrive at Heavenly Lake, a beautiful lake set in the Tian Shan mountains.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-9 hours.

We will stay here for 2 nights, and will have many opportunities to relax in the incredible scenery and walk around the lake.

In Heavenly Lake we will stay in local yurts with very basic facilities.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Enjoy a day to walk around Heavely Lake, or maybe take the boat out onto the water. 

Included in Kitty
Day 73-74 - Turpan ( 17th Feb 2020 to 18th Feb 2020 )

Today we will travel to the oasis town of Turpan, where we stay for 2 days exploring the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins.

In Turpan we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Exploration of the oasis and the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan

Included in Kitty

Learn about the Karez water system, the ingenious method of irrigating the area that was developed by the Han Dynasty and allowed Turpan to flourish as an oasis town

Included in Kitty
See the striking red sandstone landscape of the Flaming Mountains near Turpan
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

See the Emin Minaret, a beautiful Uighur mosque built in the 18th century which is the tallest minaret in China
CNY 30
Explore the ancient oasis city of Gaochang, once a bustling trading trading centre along the Silk Road
CNY 40
Day 75-76 - Dunhuang ( 19th Feb 2020 to 20th Feb 2020 )

Today we will have an early start and a big drive to the city of Dunhuang.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-11 hours.

Please note that sometimes it may be preferred by the group and the leader to split this drive over 2 days, wild camping in between - in this case we will have 1 less night in Pingliang towards the end of the trip.

The following day we will have an included visit to the awe-inspiring Mogao Buddha Caves in the morning. We will then have a free afternoon to explore this amazing town and it’s surroundings - there are possibilities for camel rides along the sand dunes and bicycle rides out to the nearby White Goose Pagoda!

In Dunhuang we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Guided tour of the Mogao caves, Dunhuang

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Stopover and time to explore historic Dunhuang

CNY 20

Take a camel ride at Crescent Moon Lake.

CNY 240
Day 77 - Jiayuguan ( 21st Feb 2020 )

Today we continue our journey with a drive to Jiayuguan, where we will have an included visit to the Jiayuguan Fort - the most western point of the Great Wall of China. Please note the Great Wall in this area is adobe, unlike the more famous stone sections further to the east.

We will wild camp near an adobe section of the Great Wall near Jiayuguan.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Journey down the Gansu Corridor to Jiayuguan Fort, our first stop at the Great Wall

Included in Kitty
Day 78 - Zhangye ( 22nd Feb 2020 )

Today we will drive to the incredible Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains - we'll spend some time exploring the region before heading off to wild camp nearby.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the incredible and colourful natural phenomenon of the Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains

Included in Kitty
Day 79 - Liujiaxia ( 23rd Feb 2020 )

Today we will drive onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan plateau and reach the small city of Liujiaxia. 

In Liujiaxia we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

Day 80-82 - Xiahe, Bingling Si ( 24th Feb 2020 to 26th Feb 2020 )

Today we set off to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe where we spend the next 3 nights. We will have an included visit to the incredible Bingling Si Buddha Caves en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

The next few days are free to explore this beautiful town and surrounding grasslands. We can take a guided visit to the Labrang Monastery where Tibetan monks can be seen doing their daily rituals and chants. There may also be a chance to go trekking, horse riding or exploring the surrounding grasslands, visiting Tibetan families and perhaps trying the local Yak butter tea.

In Xiahe we will stay in a local Tibetan-owned hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

See the vast Buddha statue and the outstanding Buddhist cave sculptures at the fabulous Bingling Si gorge

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Climb up onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan Plateau

Free

3 night detour to the Tibetan town of Xiahe, one of the main pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhists

Free
Take a day trip up into the Sangke or Ganjia grasslands of the lower Tibetan Plateau surrounding Xiahe
CNY 400
Day 83 - Lanzhou ( 27th Feb 2020 )

Today we will leave Xiahe and head to the chaotic capital city of Gansu province, Lanzhou. We will have some free time this evening to explore the city.

In Lanzhou we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

Day 84-85 - Pingliang ( 28th Feb 2020 to 29th Feb 2020 )

Today we will drive to the small town of Pingliang at the base of the Mount Kongtong, one of the holiest mountains in Chinese Taoism.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

The following day we will have an included visit to Mount Kongtong, and will have the full day to explore the temples and walk and explore the pilgrimage routes on the mountain. 

In Pingliang we will stay in a decent local hotel.

Please note that if the drive between Turpan and Dunhuang was split over 2 days, there will only be 1 night in Pingliang and a half-day exploration of Mount Kongtong.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples

Included in Kitty
Day 86 - Xi'an ( 1st Mar 2020 )

Today we will journey to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! We will have a free afternoon to fully explore the city, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.

In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Day 87 - Xi'an ( 2nd Mar 2020 )

Border Information: if finishing in Xi'an, you will most likely exit China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).

This morning we head ouf Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour.

We will return to Xi'an for the afternoon, where we'll have a free afternoon to further explore this incredible city.

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Xi'an. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales Team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Walk or cycle around the Ming Dynasty Xi'an City Wall, the largest city wall in the world

CNY 90

Wander through the atmospheric Muslim Quarter and visit the Xi'an Great Mosque, the first mosque constructed in China

CNY 30

Learn about the fascinating history of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'an at the Shaanxi History Museum, without doubt one of the finest museums in China

CNY 30

Visit the mind-blowing Tomb of Emporer Jingdi of the Han Dynasty, containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures

CNY 90

Visit the ornate 14th-century Bell and Drum towers, which originally marked the sunrise and sunset

CNY 50

Visit the impressive Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an's most famous landmark dating from the Tang and Ming Dynasties

CNY 90

Visit the Forest of Stelae Museum, a collection of 3000 stone tablets of Chinese calligraphy that has been collected here since 1057

CNY 75
Visit the huge former Tang Dynasty royal palace of Daming, and explore its vast parks and gardens
Free

DATES & PRICES

This group overland journey has multiple departures.
Please refine your search by selecting your preferred dates of travel.

I'd like to travel in:

This tour does not have a set date. Please fill in the form below with the preferred dates you would like to take this tour.

We are running a new route for this trip in 2020! See here for more details.

REVIEWS FROM OUR PASSENGERS

I love travelling with Dragoman. It is the perfect mix of company and solo travel
Charlotte F
A great itinerary and fantastic crew. As ever some quite challenging travelling conditions and a bit of seemingly unnecessary variety in the accommodation when kitty was subsequently returned.
Ian F
The trip itinerary and planning for contingencies was extremely good.
Kit G
Loved the wild camping and the guest houses were also great.
Robyn V
Enjoyed Kyrgyzstan the most - lovely mountains, lakes and small towns.
John P
Kyrgyzstan was a standout memory staying in yurts and interacting with the people.
Peter S
Enjoyed all of it, really. but the varied beauty and the people of Kyrgistan were most memorable.
John B
Fantastic, well organised, would love to repeat
Eleanor O
Great leader and driver. Well planned out itinerary.
Christian F
Everything was great and well maintained, thanks Jim!
Julia S
Cook groups were great...we always ate wonderful meals. Tents were top quality. Everything worked well.
Robyn D
I had a wonderful trip and felt that our guides and driver did the best for us in sometimes difficult circumstances. I felt safe following their advice. I liked the mixture of free time and guided activities, and also the mix of accommodation. The camping was fun, as were the home stays. The trip was well planned and the destinations were all memorable.
Robyn D
Overall, we had a wonderful time - endless new places, faces, adventures, misadventures, changes of weather and itinerary, culinary and navigational challenges, etc etc! Domingo and Euan were excellent leaders, guides, mechanics and 'daddies' to us all, and certainly did their very best to ensure we all had as good and safe an adventure as possible.
Peter R