Travels on the Silk Route
Overland from Uzbekistan via Kyrgyzstan to China | 34 days
A spectacular journey following the silk road thousands of miles from Khiva in the heart of Central Asia across China to Beijing. Journey by air, road and train, passing through rural markets and great Imperial cities, visiting tranquil pagodas, historic palaces and world renowned monuments along the way. We can also extend your trip to include the magnificent Yangtse River, the longest in China and Asia.
Day 1: Fly to Tashkent, Uzbekistan’s capital city
Day 2: Fly to Urgench
Day 3: Visit the fabled Khanate of Khiva
Day 4: Drive to Bukhara
Day 5: Tour the dazzling Islamic monuments of Bukhara
Day 6: Drive to Samarkand, Tamerlane’s imperial capital
Day 7: Visit Samarkand, Uzbekistan’s greatest architectural treasure
Day 8: Return to Tashkent by road
Day 9: Fly to the Kyrgyz capital of Bishkek
Day 10: Drive to Issykul
Day 11: Drive to Naryn
Day 12: Overnight in yurts at the Tash Rabat Caravanserai
Days 13/14: Cross the remote Turugart Pass to Kashgar in China
Day 15: Drive to Yarkand, oasis city in northwestern China
Day 16: Drive to Bachu
Day 17: By road to Kucha, city on the southern slopes of the ‘Celestial Mountains’
Day 18: Drive to Korla in the Xinjiang province
Day 19: Drive to Urumqi
Day 20: Enjoy Urumqi’s lush pastures in the Tien Shan Mountains
Day 21: Drive to Turpan
Day 22: Drive to Hami and explore both the new and old city
Day 23: Drive to Dunhuang
Days 24-25: Explore Dunhuang and the Mogao Caves
Day 26: Drive to Jiayuguan
Day 27: Train to Lanzhou
Day 28: Fly to Xi’an, one of China’s six ancient capitals
Days 29-30: Tour Xi’an and its Terracotta Warriors
Day 31: Fly to Beijing
Days 32-33: Beijing
Day 34: Return flight to London
guide price £6,775 per person
Fiona’s travel tips
THE GREAT GAME: The Great Game refers to the 19th century battle for supremacy played out by the Russian and British empires for political dominance in Central Asia. While Russia spread east, swallowing up the Silk Route khanates of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, Britain edged determinedly north towards the forbidden land of Tibet, with the aid of knowledge accumulated by fabled pundits like Nain Singh. The very centre of this political chessboard was the Gilgit Valley, where, high among the mountains, the borders of India, China, Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan all converge.
DON’T MISS: Drinking green tea in Bukhara’s Lyiab-y-hauz in the shade of an ancient mulberry tree, watching some of the elders sitting cross-legged on charpoys bent over a chess board.
BOOKS: Peter Hopkirk’s The Great Game and Eastern Approaches by Sir Fitzroy Maclean.
BEST TIME TO GO: The ideal time to travel is May to September, apart from Turkmenistan where the height of summer is better avoided.
FOR THE ACTIVE: For wild, remote, back to nature trekking, Tajikistan is perfect.
WHY NOT: Start your journey in Azerbaijan and cross by local ferry from Baku into Turkmenistan, the hottest, driest and harshest of the stans, where Ashkhabad’s Sunday Market will be swarming with the dominant Turkmen tribe, the Tekke, resplendent in their extraordinary shaggy hats.
Kazakhstan: 9 hours (direct)
Kyrgyzstan: 9½ hours (direct)
Tajikistan: 9 hours (indirect)
Turkmenistan: 9 hours (indirect)
Uzbekistan: 8¾ hours (direct)
Clients’ comments“Our journey along the Silk Route was truly memorable. These beautiful ancient lands with their Khanate cities and bazaars, unforgiving deserts and high, snow-capped mountains with lakes and lonely passes are memories we will treasure. Our guides were knowledgeable, helpful and fun, sharing their own family lives and culture with us, helping put all that we saw into a social context. The planning and organisation of our trip was faultless and Fiona’s first-hand knowledge and contacts in Central Asia smoothed a forced change in plans at short notice efficiently and effortlessly. Thank you so much."
Mr and Mrs Rob Aylott, Central Asia from Baku to Urumqi