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The southern Silk Road passes through a series of remote oases to the south of the Taklamakan populated almost exclusively by Turkish speaking Uighurs. In its heyday this route supported numerous thriving Buddhist communities whose settlements were made viable by snowmelt rivers coming off the glaciers of the nearby Kunlun Mountains. When these rivers largely dried up whole cities were swallowed up by the desert sands until their rediscovery by various acquisitive Victorian archaeologists in the early part of the last century. Today, though the situation is beginning to change, the area remains one of the least developed in Central Asia and provides a fascinating insight in to the oasis cultures of the Uighurs as well as a glimpse into an earlier past when the Silk Road was perhaps the world’s most important transport artery. At the start of the trip we enter China via Kirghizstan where we are able to enjoy some of this isolated country’s stunning Alpine scenery; at the end we take the train form Urumqi to Almaty where we have a day to explore Kazakhstan's charming capital.


18 Days: Alma Aty - Bishkek - Tourgut Pass - Kashgar - Yarkand - Khotan - Niya - Cherchen - Charkhlik - MIran - Korla - Turfan - Urumqi - Almaty

Starts: Almaty/ Bishkek 17th August 2004; ends: Almaty 3rd September 2004



Day 1 Arrive Alma Aty in Kazakhstan and transfer to Bishkek capital of Kyrghizstan. (Hotel)
Day 2 Full day to explore Bishkek. (Hotel)
Day 3 Drive to Naryn, the last town before the Kirghiz/Chinese border. (Hotel/guesthouse)
Day 4 Cross into China over the Tourgut Pass and drive to Kashgar. (Hotel)
Day 5 Sightseeing in Kashgar including the Id Kah mosque and the Abakh Hoja Mausoleum. (Hotel)
Day 6 Morning visit to the Sunday Bazaar. Afternoon drive via Shache (Yarkand) to Hotian (Khotan). (Hotel)
Day 7 Sightseeing in and around Hotian including Malikawat, ancient capital of the Yutian kingdom. (Hotel)
Day 8 Drive through varied desert scenery to the ancient oasis of Minfeng (Niya). (Hotel)
Day 9 Continue to Qiemo (Cherchen). (Hotel)
Day 10 Drive to Ruoqiang (Charkhlik). Visit Miran, an important ancient site to the south of the Lop Nor desert. (Hotel)
Day 11 Drive north through the Taklamakan desert to Korla. (Hotel)
Day 12 Continue from Korla to the Turfan oasis, the second lowest place on Earth. (Hotel)
Day 13 Full day of sightseeing in and around Turfan including Gaochang and Jiaohe ruins, Bezeklik caves, the flaming mountains and the Sugong ‘Bullet’ minaret. (Hotel)
Day 14 Drive to Urumqi. Afternoon explore Urumqi, evening board train for Almaty. (Train)
Day 15 On board train. (Train)
Day 16 Arrive Almaty. Afternoon free. (Hotel)
Day 17 Sightseeing Almaty. (Hotel)
Day 18 Journey’s end.

*       *       *

Mode of Travel Travel by private minibus/landcruiser. 
Accommodation  Comfortable tourist class hotels throughout apart from Naryn where we will stay in a local guesthouse.  
Food Meals are included in China but not in Kirghizstan.
Group minimum 6 - maximum 12
Staff Escorted throughout by a leader from The Oriental Caravan assisted by English-speaking local guides in Kirghizstan, Kazakhstan and China
Price £1440  (excluding international airfares)

click here for a brief history of the silk road

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             Revised and last updated: November 20th 2013. Links