15-Day China Xinjiang Silk Road Tour
Route: Urumqi – Turpan – Kucha – Taklamakan Desert – Hotan – Yarkant – Kashgar – Karakorum – Base Camp – Tashkurgan – Konjerab Pass
Activities: This tour is not much different from the 16 days Xinjiang Silk Road Adventure Tour. It’s biggest difference is that tour starts from completely opposite direction but the time spend each and every city is almost the same. These are the featured tours for exploring and experiencing history, culture, custom, natural beauty and charm of Xinjiang Silk Road.
Place & Transport: Arrival to Urumqi
Today’s Activities: Urumqi Airport to Hotel Transfer
Place to Stay: Urumqi
Place & Transport: Urumqi to Turpan then Turpan Tour
Today’s Activities: Kariz, Jiaohe Ruins, Emin Minaret
Place to Stay: Turpan
Our guide will meet you at the airport and transfer you to Turpan. The rest of the day you will have time to visit: 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. Jiao he 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 Jiao he. 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 Tour then Night Train to Kucha
Today’s Activities: Gaochang Ancient City, Astana Ancient Tombs, Tuyuk Village, Flaming Mountain
Place to Stay: Turpan
Gaochang Ancient City was built in the first century B.C; it was a key point on the ancient Silk Road. Astana Ancient tombs is known as capital tombs and underground museum of Xinjiang where many important writings, paintings and mummies have been discovered. Tuyuk Village, here the most traditional Uyghur life can be seen with the people living in traditional homes made of mud. Overnight on the train to Kucha.
Place & Transport: Kuche (Kuqa) Tour
Today’s Activities: Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves, Beacon Tower, Subash Ancianet City, Kuqa Old Town, Kucha Grand Mosque
Place to Stay: Kuche (Kuqa)
After breakfast we will set out from Kuqa Kizil Thousand Buddha caves, dating from the 5th and 6th century AD. These are the second best preserved Buddhist caves in China. Kuqa is the biggest county of Aksu prefecture. Kuqa was previously the most important pass on the middle silk road (route) in Xinjiang. Kuqa is also a center for Buddhism in southern Xinjiang. In the after noon you will visit the Beacon Tower, the highest tower on the Silk Road, at 13m high and made of mud and wood. The Beacon Tower was previously used for sending out fire signals to warn of the arrival of enemies. We will then visit the Subash ancient city – Well preserved 1km square in size used to be the temples where Uyghur ancestors used to worship in the Buddhism periods in the late afternoon you will visit Kuqa Grand Mosque and have some free time to stroll through the streets of Kuqa’s old town.
Place & Transport: Kucha to Hotan by Crossing the New Desert Highway (650km)
Today’s Activities: Taklamakan Desert Highway
Place to Stay: Hotan
The day’s journey will have us cross the width of the Taklamakan Desert along the 600km long Taklamakan Desert Highway. Taklamakan desert is the second largest shifting sands desert in the World, covering an area of 337,600 square km. Taklamakan Desert is known as the “sea of death” by the silk road traders that used to have to cross it in their caravans in times gone by, many traders entered the desert lost their way and were never to be seen again. We will arrive in Hotan in time for dinner.
Place & Transport: Hotan Tour & Desert Camp
Today’s Activities: Taklimakan Desert, Hotan Bazaar
Place to Stay: Taklimakan Desert Camping
After breakfast we will visit Hotans amazing Sunday Market, a huge lively market which is like taking a journey back in time, experiencing donkey gridlock. In the afternoon we will take a camel ride out into the Taklamakan Desert and camp over night here. We will enjoy a camp fire dinner and breakfast in the desert.
Note: We will provide you with all the necessary camping equipment, tents, sleeping bags and blankets etc.
Place & Transport: Hotan Tour
Today’s Activities: Local Silk, Carpet, Jade Workshops, White Jade River
Place to Stay: Hotan
Hotan is particularly famous for its high quality Jade products, the best Jade in China being found here in the White Jade River. We will visit the river and try to find some Jade for ourselves and watch the locals at work digging and sifting for the precious rock. We will also visit the white Jade factory to see how the Jade is processed and made into jewelry and ornaments. Hotan is also renowned for its high quality wool carpets. We will visit a carpet workshop to see the weaving process.
Place & Transport: Hotan to Kashgar (540km)
Today’s Activities: Yarkant Golden Graveyard, Tomb of Aman Nisahan,Yarkent Old Town, Yegisar Knife Factory
Place to Stay: Kashgar
Yarkant Golden Graveyard dates from the 17th Century and is the burial place of Royal family members of the Yarkand Uyghur Kingdom . Next to this is the Tomb of Aman Nisahan, the wife of the second King of the Yarkand Kingdom . Aman Nisahan is a famous Uyghur poet, musician and composer. She is most renowned for her transcription of the Twelve Mukam of famous traditional Uyghur music. We will enjoy a traditional lunch of corn noodles, pumpkin dumplings and kebab in a local Yarkand teahouse. After lunch we will continue our journey Yegisar . Yegisar is the most famous region in Xinjiang for making traditional Uyghur knives. We will have the chance to visit one of the many knife factories here and view the making process and purchase souvenirs.
Place & Transport: Kashgar City Tour
Today’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. 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 Karakul Lake (200km)
Today’s Activities: Opal Village, KKH, Corner Lake, Karakul Lake, Kyrgyz Family Visiting
Place to Stay: Karakul Lake
Today we take a drive on Karakoram highway, renowned as the highest paved border crossing in the World and regarded as one of the World’s most beautiful highways). We will see the following on our drive: Opal village is a 1 hour drive from Kashgar. It is a good location to take photos of village life and traditional activities like bread making and Uyghur food stalls. Half an hour drive from the village we will arrive in Oytagh Red Mountain. The mountain valley is surrounded by a beautiful backdrop of multi-colored mountains topped by snowcapped peaks. Corner Lake (Bulung Kul) is a tranquil shallow lake where you can take very nice photographs of the lake with stunning reflections of the sand mountains. Karakul Lake is 3600 meters above sea level. It is located between Mt. Muztagata (7546 meters) and Mt. Gonger (7719 meters), which are said to be 2 of the 6 most beautiful mountains in the World. We will trek around the lake for about 4 Hours then visit the local Kyrgyz Yurts and listen to their stories about traditional ways of nomadic mountain life. We will arrange for you to spend the evening with a local Kyrgyz family in their Yurt, where you will be able to experience the different culture and language of this traditionally nomadic people. you will be staying in a traditional Kyrgyz yurt,.
Note: you are not allowed to stay overnight with Locals in their yurt but traditional Kyrgyz yurt near the lake.
Place & Transport: Karakul Lake – Idara village (15km)
Today’s Activities: Subash village, Muztaga, Kyrgyz Family Dinner
Place to Stay: Idare Village
The day begins with breakfast after which our luggage will be packed onto camels ready to begin our trek at 9:00am. Our guide and camel men will lead you toward Idare village, and due to the high altitude we aim to trek for an achievable four to five hours. Idare village, a settlement comprised of 25-30 stone houses occupied by Kyrgyz people, is situated 15km from Lake Karakul . We’ll arrive at Idare in the early afternoon, and you will then have the opportunity to explore the village and meet with the local children. After a nomadic-style dinner with the families we aim to go to bed early, ready for the next day’s trekking.
Place & Transport: Idara to Base Camp then Qaltumak (14km)
Today’s Activities: Family Visiting
Place to Stay: Qaltumak
The destination for the third day of trekking is the very small summer village of Kyrghyz nomads, Qaltumak. During winter the people move to lower altitudes to avoid the freezing temperatures, but during summer the weather in Qaltumak is warm enough for them to stay for 4 months to feed their animals – yaks, camels and donkeys – up higher. Muztagh Ata is known by locals as The Father of Ice Mountain, and towers at a height of 7546m . We will be able to see the spectacular views of these great mountains while trying to count the hundreds of Marmeds who appear to be playing hide and seek on the slopes. You will also be given the opportunity to meet local Hayed shepherds.
Today’s Activities: Qaltumak to Idara then drive to Tashkurgan
Place to Stay: Tashkurgan
The car will be waiting for us as we journey from Qaltumak to the plains below, descending 900m to Idare. We will take a 1.5 hour drive from Karakul lake to Tashkorgan, an small town located high up on the Pamir Plateau. This area was extremely isolated until the rebuilding of the Karakoram highway in 1987 and even today the local community still lives in a very traditional fashion with only a single road reaching here from Kashgar, so it has retained 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.Stone fort, located in downtown Tashkorgan. It has a history of more than 2000 years, when in times gone by it was the home of the King of the Tajik kingdom. We will hike across the Tashkorgan grassland under the watchful gaze of Mt. Mutztah Ata and Mt. Pamir. We’ll take the Karakorum Highway back to Kashgar, arriving in the late afternoon.
Trekking Tips:Good trekking shoes are required, Long sleeved T-shirts are highly recommended as the sun is very strong at these high altitudes. Medicine to treat the symptoms of high altitude is advised. Headache is the most common side effect from the altitude, so bringing some paracetamol is a good idea. There is a smaller risk of more severe altitude sickness, however we aim to ascend slowly to minimize the effects.
Place & Transport: Tashkorgan to Konjirap then Kashgar (550km)
Today’s Activities: Tashkorgan Stone City, Tashkorgan Grassland, Konjirap Pass
Place to Stay: Kashgar
After breakfast we drive to the China pakistan border to enjoy the fesinating secery of the Pamir mountain then drive back to Kashgar by the same way. We will be in Kashgar by the afternoon.
Place & Transport: Flight from Kashgar to Next Destination
Today’s Activities: Hotel to Kashgar Airport Drop Off
We will see you off at Kashgar Airport and assist you with your checking in luggage.