16-Day Xinjiang Silk Road Adventure Tour
Route: Kashgar – Karakorum Highway – Base Camp – Tashkurgan – Yarkent – Hotan – Taklamakan Desert Highway – Aksu – Kucha – Korla – Turpan – Urumqi
Activities: Tour starts from Kashgar and ends in Urumqi. During this time, you will be visiting Pamir Plateau on Karakorum Highway, Golden Graveyard in Yarkant, drive cross the Taklamakan Desert to visit historical sites in Turpan, and conclude the tour by visiting Xinjiang Museum in Urumqi
Place & Transport: Arrival to Kashgar
Day’s Activities: Airport to Hotel Transfer
Place to Stay: Kashgar
We will go for shopping for our trekking.
Note: This trek takes you to the remote, untouristed base camp of Muztgata (4500m), the snow-capped peak of which, at 7546m, is one of the most beautiful mountain tops in the world. Glaciers flank the base camp, which sits at the foot of the trail to the summit. It is a high-altitude and adventurous trek which can be tailored to suit the abilities of the trekkers.
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: 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 to Idara Village (15km)
Today’s Activities: Subash Village, Muztaga
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: Small Summer Village
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 Hayde shepherds.
Place & Transport: Qaltumak to Idare (12km)
Today’s Activities: 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.
Place & Transport: Tashkorgan to Kashgar (300km)
Today’s Activities: Tashkorgan Stone City, Tashkorgan Grassland, Subash Pass
Place to Stay: Kashgar
After breakfast we will visit the 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.
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 Hotan (540km)
Day’s Activities: Yegisar Knife Factory, Yarkant Golden Graveyard, Tomb of Aman Nisahan, Yarkand Old Town
Place to Stay: Hotan
We will leave for Hotan after breakfast. On our way to Hotan we will make a stop in the county of 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. Next stop a further two hours down the road will be Yarkand (shache in Chinese). In Yarkand we will first visit the Golden Graveyard. This 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 to Hotan.
Place & Transport: Hotan Tour & Desert Camp
Day’s Activities: Taklimakan Desert, Local Silk, Carpet, Jade Workshops, White Jade River, Hotan Bazaar
Place to Stay: Taklimakan Desert Camp
After breakfast we will visit Hotan’s amazing Sunday Market, a huge lively market which is like taking a journey back in time, experiencing donkey gridlock. Hotan is particularly famous for its high quality Jade products; the best Jade in China being found here in 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. Late 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 to Aksu by Crossing the New Desert Highway
Day’s Activities: Taklamakan Desert Highway
Place to Stay: Aksu
The day’s journey will have us cross the width of the Taklimakan Desert, along the 450km long Taklimakan Desert Highway. Taklimakan desert is the second largest shifting sands desert in the World, covering an area of 337,600 square km. Taklimakan Desert is known as the “sea of death” by the Silk Road traders that used to cross it in their caravans in times gone by. Many traders who entered the desert lost their way and were never to be seen again. We will arrive in Aksu late in the afternoon for dinner.
Place & Transport: Aksu to Kuqa (Kuche) via Bay County (320km)
Day’s Activities: Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves
Place to Stay: Kuqa (Kuche)
After breakfast we will set out from Aksu to Kuqa (Kuche in Chinese). On our way to Kuqa we will visit the Kizil Thousand Buddha caves, dating from the 5th and 6th century AD. These are the second best preserved Buddhist caves in China. We will enjoy a Chinese lunch at the caves before continuing on our journey to Kuqa. 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.
Place & Transport: Kuqa Tour to Korla (320km)
Day’s Activities: Kucha Beacon Tower, Kuqa Grand Mosque, Kuqa Old Town, Subash Ancient City, Iron Gate
Place to Stay: Korla
After breakfast we will visit Kuqa Grand Mosque and have some free time to stroll through the streets of Kuqa’s old town. We will then set off for Korla making a few visits on route. First we will visit the Beacon Tower, the highest tower on the silk road, at 13m high and made of mud and wood. The Beacan Tower was previously used for sending out fire signals to warn of the arrival of enemies. We will then visit Subash ancient city, a well preserved 1 sq km where Uyghur ancestors used to worship in the temples of the city during the Buddhism periods. Then we will carry on our journey to Korla and have a picnic lunch on the way. We will arrive in Korla in the afternoon and explore downtown Korla. Korla is regarded as the cleanest city in the whole of Xinjiang. We will visit the Iron Gate (Tiemenguan), the point where Silk Road travelers were registered along their route.
Place & Transport: Korla to Turpan by Crossing the Tianshan Mountain Range (400km)
Day’s Activities: Tianshan Mountains
Place to Stay: Turpan
After breakfast we will leave for Turpan. Our journey will take us across the TianShan Mountain Range, the range which divides Xinjiang into two parts: Northern Xinjiang and Southern Xinjiang. TianShan Mountain is known to the Uyghur people as “Tangry Tagh” which means “God Mountain”. This was due to the life sustaining properties the first Uyghur settlers found here. The first settlers inhabited both sides of the range and received water from the mountains and green pastures on which to graze their herds. We will enjoy a picnic lunch along the route. We will arrive in Turpan late afternoon and you will have free time to explore the city.
Place & Transport: Turpan Tour
Day’s Activities: Gaochang Ancient City, Astana Ancient Tombs, Tuyuk Village
Place to Stay: Tupan
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.
Place & Transport: Turpan Tour then Turpan to Urumqi (180km)
Day’s Activities: Kariz Underground Water System, Jiaohe Ancient City, Emin Minaret
Place to Stay: Urumqi
After breakfast 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 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). In the late afternoon drive to Urumqi.
Place & Transport: Urumqi Tour then Transfer to Urumqi Airport
Day’s Activities: Xinjiang Museum
After breakfast we will visit the extensive Xinjiang Museum. It is a large integrated museum, holding all key artifacts and cultural relics central to Xinjiang region and the Silk Road. The museum is famous for its rich collections of silk artifacts dating from many periods throughout history. The museum also contains several mummies some of them dating back 4000 years, which can easily rival those found in Egypt. After lunch we will take you to the airport for your respective onward journeys. After lunch we will take you to the airport and help you check in your flight towards home.