10-Day Classic Xinjiang Silk Road Tour
Route: Urumqi – Turpan – Kashgar – Yopurgha – Taklamakan Desert – Karakorum Highway – Tashkurgan – Oytagh Glacier
Activities: This is one of the most common tours for visitors to Xinjiang. It allows you to experience the culture and custom of various ethnic groups who are living in the mountains and the cities of Xinjiang. It also allows you to ride a camel into the Taklamakan Desert, sleep overnight by campfire when possible then return next day.
Place & Transport: Arrival to Urumqi
Day’s Activities: Airport to Hotel Transfer
Place to Stay: Urumqi
Place & Transport: Urumqi to Turpan then Turpan Tour (180KM)
Day’s Activities: Kariz Water System, Jiaohe Ancient City, Emin Minaret
Place to Stay: Turpan
The drive from Urumqi to Turpan is about 3 hours. On the way we can see the largest wind powered station in China (da ban cheng). After arrival and check-in, we begin our tour of Turpan. Kariz underground water system is the China’s third most important ancient engineering feat with a total length of 3100 miles and dating back more than 2000 years. Jiaohe Ancient City is the oldest, largest, highest ancient city built of mud in the World. Many cultural relics were unearthed, such as antefix of the Tang Dynasty and Buddhist scriptures at the Ancient City of Jiaohe. Emin Minaret was built in 1777, it is the largest extant old tower in Xinjiang and it is the only Islamic tower among the hundred famous towers in China.
Place & Transport: Turpan to Urumqi then Evening Flight to Kashgar
Day’s Activities: Gaochang Ancient City, Astana Ancient Tombs, Tuyuk Village
Place to Stay: Kashgar
After breakfast we drive to Gaochang Ancient City, 47 km east of Turpan. The city was built in the first century B.C; it was a key point on the ancient Silk Road. Then we head to Astana Ancient tombs, the capital tombs and underground museum of Xinjiang where many important writings, paintings and mummies have been discovered. Next we will have a traditional Uygher lunch in Tuyuk Valley. We will visit the Tuyuk Village where we can see traditional Uyghur life. Villagers live in traditional homes made of mud. After lunch we head to Urumqi early in the afternoon to catch the flight to Kashgar (4 hours).
Place & Transport: Kashgar City Tour
Day’s Activities: Apak Hoja Tomb, Sunday Market, Old Town, Id Kah Mosque, Handicraft Street
Place to Stay: Kashgar
We will begin our tour of Kashgar City by visiting the Apak Hoja tomb, also called fragrant concubine tomb (Xingfei in Chinese). This is a very tranquil place and a beautiful example of Uyghur Islamic architecture. Next we will head to the Infamous lively Sunday market, renowned as the biggest market in Central Asia. It is said you can buy anything you want from the Sunday market except chicken milk and Cow eggs. We will then enjoy lunch in a typical Uyghur restaurant. After lunch we will wander through the narrow winding streets of the historic Old town brushing shoulders with the friendly Uyghur residents. Located at the spiritual heart of old town is Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China. We will go inside and have the chance to understand a bit more about the Islamic life of the Uyghur people. We will pass down Handicraft Street where we can view pots being hammered, wood craftsmen at work and traditional musical instrument workshops.
Note: For entering the Mosque visitors should dress respectfully: no shorts or short sleeved shirts and women should cover their heads with a scarf.
Place & Transport: Kashgar to Yopurgha (130km)
Day’s Activities: Davakul Lake, Taklamakan Desert
Place to Stay: Taklamakan Desert Camping
We will travel from Kashgar to Yopurga, the last village before the Taklamakan Desert. We will stop at Yopurga village to purchase food supplies for the trip and then continue to the edge of the desert, where we will then load our baggage onto camels and begin the trek through the desert in the afternoon. Dinner is provided, as are the tents for the night’s accommodation. The evening is spent with the guide and camel man, preparing food and then, wood permitting, sitting around the campfire. If you are lucky your evening kebab could consist of a fresh desert snake!
Place & Transport: Taklamakan Desert to Kashgar (300Km)
Day’s Activities: Desert Sunrise, Camel Trek
Place to Stay: Kashgar
Beginning just after sunrise we will return on the camels to our desert entry point, mid-morning. Our vehicles will be awaiting our return and we will make our way back to Kashgar.
Note: It is essential to bring sun cream for this trip. Sunglasses are also strongly advised.
Long sleeve T-shirts are recommended, as are strong walking shoes.
All camping equipment (sleeping bags, tents etc) is provided.
Place & Transport: Kashgar to Karakul Lake then to Tashkurgan
Day’s Activities: Karakoram Highway, Opal Village, Red Mountain, Corner Lake, Sand Mountain, Mt. Muztagh Ata, Mt. Konger, Karakul Lake
Place to Stay: Tashkurgan
Today we take a drive on the Karakurum highway, renowned as the highest paved border crossing in the world and regarded as one of the world’s most scenic highways. We will see the following on our drive: Opal village is a one hour drive from Kashgar. You will see some fine examples of village life and traditional activities like bread making and Uyghur food stalls. Half an hour’s drive from the village we will arrive at Oytagh Red Mountain. The valley is surrounded by a beautiful backdrop of multi-coloured mountains topped by snowcapped peaks. Corner Lake (Bulung Kul) is a tranquil, shallow lake with stunning reflections of the sand mountains.
We will then enjoy our picnic lunch of fruits and fresh bread from Opal village in a beautiful picnic spot overlooking Karakul Lake. We will take a 1.5 hour drive from Karakul to Tashkurgan, which is a small town located at 3200m on the Pamir Plateau. This area was extremely isolated until the rebuilding of the Karakurum highway in 1987 and even today the local community still lives in a very traditional fashion with only a single access road reaching here from Kashgar, so it has retained a certain uniqueness. This region is commonly known as the main branch of the “Old Silk Road” the main route leading from China to West Asia. The average elevation is 4000 meters.
Place & Transport: Tashkurgan to Karakul Lake (300km)
Day’s Activities:Tashkurgan Stone City, Tashkurgan, Subash Pass
Place to Stay: Kyrgyz Yurt at Karakul Lake
After breakfast we will visit the Stone fort, located in downtown Tashkurgan. It has a history of more than 2000 years – in times gone by it was the central palace of the Tajik kingdom. We will then hike over the Tashkurgan grassland from where we will be able to see Mt. Mutztah Ata and Mt. Pamir. Then, back onto the Karakurum Highway back to Karakul Lake, arriving in the early afternoon. Karakul lake is inhabited during the summer months by nomadic Kyrgyz people who live inside traditional houses called Yurts. We will drink some local yak milk tea and hear stories about traditional nomadic mountain life. We will enjoy the afternoon with trekking around the lake to the Kyrgyz villages on the other side, enjoying breathtaking views of mountains, valleys and glaciers. Mt. Muztagata is said to be one of the five most beautiful mountains in the world. It provides a beautiful backdrop to Karakul Lake at 7546 meters, on the opposite side the yet-to-be-conquered peak of Gonger rises to 7719 meters above sea level. We will arrange for you to spend the evening with a local Kyrgyz family in their Yurt, where you will be able to spend some time with traditionally nomadic people.
Note: while it is not permitted to stay overnight with locals in the village, there are Kyrgyz yurts near the lake.
Place & Transport: Karakul Lake to Oytagh Glacier then to Kashgar (260km)
Today’s Activities: Muztagh Ata, Konger Mountain, Oytagh Glacier
Place to Stay: Kashgar
As soon as the sun rises at the lake with the beautiful scenery of Muztagh ata and Konger Mountain, we will drive to Oytagh mountain where we’ll spend the morning trekking towards the glacier. The early start will allow us to catch the clean morning air and will give us time to hike up to the glacier. Oytagh in the Turkish language means ‘Low Land in Mountain’. Surrounded by rolling ridges and deep ravines, a strip of green land stretches out from Oytagh Valley. Lush grassland is overlooked by snow-capped mountains, and walking up is well worth the effort! One may see lofty mountains, luxuriant trees, glittering glaciers and waterfalls in flight. In summer, huge cascades drop from high ridges, sounds echoing around the foggy valley. We will make our way back to Kashgar in the afternoon.
Note: Guests will need to carry their passports on this tour as they will be required to show these at the Gaz checkpoint both on the way and on the way back. Everybody at this point needs to be registered by the authorities due to its close proximity to many bordering countries. It is also advisable to bring warm clothes as temperatures can be lower than those in Kashgar.
Place & Transport: Airport Drop Off
After breakfast we will take you to the Kashgar airport and help you check in your flight to next destination.