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Mustagh Ata and Kar-y-Kul Lake.jpg (48985 bytes)  

The Silk Road Caravan

A fascinating cultural and historical journey over the Karakorum Mountains to the oases of the Taklamakan Desert and on into the heartlands of China.

detailed dossier

detailed dossier by post

outline itinerary

 history of the silk road 

trip details

The ‘Silk Road Caravan’ begins its journey in Islamabad heading north through lush foothills, along the banks of the Indus and then up into the geological wonderland of the Karakorums and the Hindu Kush. Making our way gradually up the Karakorum Highway, itself an engineering wonder of the world, we have ample time to explore this, one of the most beautiful and culturally diverse regions on Earth. We spend time in Gilgit, backdrop to the ‘Great Game’ when Imperial British and Russian governments jockeyed for influence in this strategically vital area. Further north we have time to relax amidst the apricot trees and wooden forts of the old Ismaili kingdom of Hunza. Here beneath the towering majesty of Mt. Rakaposhi it is hard for the visitor not to be struck by the reasons, both natural and cultural, why this valley is considered to be the source of the legend of Shangri- La. We spend our last night in Pakistan in the sleepy, picturesque village of Gulmit before entering China via the stunning Khunjerab Pass. After the dramatic, scenic intensity of the Karakorums we emerge into the gentler, more rolling landscape of the Pamirs and make our way via the Tadjik town of Tashkorgan to Kashgar, the oasis stronghold of the Uighurs.  Our stay is timed to coincide with the Sunday Bazaar when nomads and traders from all over Central Asia gather to do business at this extraordinary market.

Silk Road Camel.jpg (24931 bytes) Great Wall, near Beijing.jpg (64298 bytes) Red_n_green_Uighur.JPG (40247 bytes)


From Urumqi we travel to Turfan to spend time in another oasis town, exploring Buddhist cities by day, and, in the evening, relaxing beneath grape trellises, perhaps to be carried gently back through the centuries by the plaintive desert songs of the Uighurs. We travel on by train, past the snowy peaks of the Tianshan Mountains,  to Dunhuang, home to the most remarkable repository of Buddhist cave art in the world, the Mogao Grottoes. This town was once the last outpost of the Chinese Empire and further south we visit Jiayuguan, the fortress that marks the western end of the Great Wall. We continue through Gansu’s rural hinterland for much of the way following the line of the Great Wall. Eventually we pass through the Wall and after visiting China’s largest statue of the Sleeping Buddha at Zhangye we make our way to the bustling, frontier town of Lanzhou. Here we travel by boat along the reaches and gorges of the Yellow River to see the acclaimed Binglingsi Caves. Moving further into the heart of China we arrive the old imperial capital Xian, formerly Changan and visit the awe inspiring Terracotta Warriors. In today’s capital of Beijing we visit the Great Wall and other ancient sites and also have time to soak up some of the exciting atmosphere of this dynamic modern city.

Horse testing, Kashgar Market1.JPG (112762 bytes) OUTLINE ITINERARY Uighur_man_Kashgar_Market2.jpg (17327 bytes)
Day 1. Arrive Islamabad.  Drive along the Grand Trunk Road to Taxila and then north through progressively more rugged scenery to Besham and our hotel on the banks of the Indus. (Besham)
Day 2. Leaving the Indus behind via the petroglyphs of Shatial to Chilas.  On past the towering ‘Fairy Citadel’ of Mt. Nanga Parbat to Gilgit with it’s lively Bazaar . (Gilgit)
Day 3 Leisurely drive with great views of Mt Rakaposhi to the valley of Hunza. (Karimabad)
Day 4. Visit the recently restored 700-year-old Baltit Fort and its smaller, older neighbour Altit. (Karimabad)
Day 5. Short drive to Gulmit, largest village in Gojal. Opportunities for hiking. (Gulmit)
Day 6. From the Pakistani border post at Sust, enter the Khunjerab National Park, cross the Khunjerab pass and descend to Tashkorgan in China. (Tashkorgan)
Day 7.  Drive via Lake Kar-y-Kul and Mounts Kongur and Mustagh-Ata along the Ghez River to Kashgar. (Kashgar)
Day 8.  Visit the Sunday Bazaar. Explore Kashgar. (Kashgar)
Day 9. More sightseeing in Kashgar and then by air to Xinjiang’s provinial capital Urumqi. (Urumqi)
Day 10. Time to look around Urumqi before a short drive to the oasis town of Turfanwith its ancient cities, tombs and mosques. (Turfan)
Day 11. Sightseeing and relaxation around Turfan. (Turfan)
Day 12. More time to Explore Turfan. Overnight train journey to Liuyan, jumping off point for Dunhuang. (Train)
Day 13. Arrive Liuyan. Drive to Dunhuang via the area’s impressive sand dunes. Time to explore the town. (Dunhuang)
Day 14. Tour of the Mogao Grottoes. (Dunhuang)
Day 15. By road via the Great Wall fortress of Jiayuguan to the town of Zhangye. Visit Dafosi temple. (Zhangye)
Day 16. Continue along the Hexi corridor through loess landscape to Lanzhou and the Yellow River. (Lanzhou)
Day 17. Day trip along the Yellow River to the Binglingsi Caves. (Lanzhou)
Day 18. Fly to Xian. Time to explore this historic city. (Xian)
Day 19. Visit the Terracotta Warriors and also Banpo Neolithic Village. (Xian)
Day 20. Fly to Beijing. Visit the Forbidden City. (Beijing)
Day 21. Day trip to see the Great Wall at Mutianyu. (Beijing)
Day 22.

Free day for shopping or sightseeing. (Beijing)

Day 23.   

Tour ends.


Ruins of Tashkorgan Fort.jpg (96875 bytes)





28/07/2002 - 19/08/2002 (land only)

If travelling from Europe, due to the time difference, you will need to fly out one day earlier.

Accommodation & Meals

In Pakistan five nights hotels with full board; in China sixteen nights hotels, one overnight train, breakfast only.

Mode of travel

Private bus, train, boat and domestic flights as per itinerary.

Staff  Full services of bilingual leader and China expert Phil Colley assisted by local guides and drivers.
Group size Minimum 6 - Maximum 16.
Flights & Insurance For information on visas, insurance and international flights for this trip please contact The Oriental Caravan.
Price Includes... Arrival transfer; full services of tour leader and local guides; all transportation as per itinerary; accommodation (twin share) in comfortable tourist-class hotels; overnight train; Yellow River cruise; meals as per itinerary; sightseeing and entrance fees as per itinerary.
 Price  £1645 - land only (UK Sterling). 

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             Revised and last updated: November 20th 2013. Links