On the Edge of History!
Here is a 13-day circuit that will allow you to discover part of the famous Silk Road. It can be adapted according to your desires and your availability. It can also be completed by another circuit such as the trek in the desert Badain Jaran camel.
Daily program: Silk Road Tour (11 days) Download the PDF brochure
Day 1: Arrival in Xi'an
Arrival in Xi’an in the morning. Meet with your new English speaking guide, then transfer to the Hotel, well located in the center of Xi’an City. Departure for the famous site of the army in terracotta supposed to protect the tomb of the first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huangdi. 8 discovery of 6,000 warriors and clay horses, life-size, aligned in battle formation. Return to the city center through the Bell Tower, the Drum Tower and the Great Wild Goose Pagoda. In the evening, banquet of ravioli, local specialties, followed by a show of dances and songs of the Tang Dynasty.
Overnight in Xi’an.
Day 2: Xi'an - Jiayuguan
In the morning, walk in the Muslim neighborhood inhabited by the Hui community. Visit the mosque and Gaofu’s house. Attend a shadow theater show. You can then climb and take a walk on the ramparts which measure 14KM. Transfer to Xi’an Airport for your flight to Jiayuguan.
Overnight in Jiayuguan.
Day 3: Jiayuguan - Dunhuang ~ 350 km
In the morning visit the imposing fortress of Jiayuguan and the Great Wall of China located between the Gobi Desert and the Qilian Mountains. Nicknamed the “Impregnable Pass under the Sky” the citadel was the stronghold and the western limit of China and a busy passage on the Silk Road. In the afternoon drive by car through the desert to the Dunhuang site (about 4 to 5 hours). Arrival with the setting sun (7PM30) on the sand dunes singing.
Night rest at Silk Road Hotel 5 *, a kind of caravanserai on the edge of the Taklamakan Desert.
Day 4: Dunhuang - Mogao Caves - Night Train to Turpan
Excursion to the giant dunes of Singing Sands of Mingsha surrounding Blue Crescent Lake, where the oasis meets the desert. Walk in the dunes on the back of camels possible. Continuation to the famous caves of Mogao. These honeycomb caves extend over five levels and 1600 meters on the eastern flank of Mingshan Mountain, 25 km southeast of the city of Dunhuang. There would have been up to 1000 caves and niches, 492 are still visitable today. They hold 2415 painted statues and 45 000 m2 of frescoes. It is one of the greatest architectural, pictorial and sculptural treasures of China. Transfer (2h30) to Liuyuan station for your night train to Turpan (~ 12 h).
Day 5: Turpan - 150m
Discover the city of Turpan, amazing Oasis city, the second lowest place in the world behind the Dead Sea, and the hottest place in China. Road to the valley of grapes, a paradise of vineyards and vines surrounded by the desert. Discovery of the grandiose landscapes of the Enflamed Mountains. Visit of
the ancient city of Gaochang, then passing through the valley of Tuyuk; The small village, framed by the flamboyant mountains, gives a good overview of the Uyghur way of life still little affected by the Chinese modernization. Lunch on site at the inhabitant or in a local inn.
Overnight in Turpan.
Day 6: Turpan - 155m
In the morning visit a Karez well, irrigation system of the Turpan basin consisting of a series of wells interconnected by underground pipes that bring glacial meltwater to the oasis. The survival of the old oases was completely dependent on this system. Visit the ruins of Jiaohe, an ancient citadel founded by the Han to protect the Silk Road.
Back to Turpan. Overnight in Turpan.
Day 7: Turpan - Urumqi - Kashgar
Drive to the capital Urumqi (370km) punctuated by one of the largest wind farms in China, then transfer to the airport for your flight to Kashgar. From Kashgar airport transfer and check in to your hotel. The first free discovery (without a guide) of this fascinating city, a large crossroads where the Uyghur, Tajik, Kirghiz and Uzbek populations mix.
Overnight in Kashgar, charming 3 * Seman hotel located in the area of the former Russian consulate.
Day 8: Kashgar
In the morning, meet your guide and visit the famous Sunday bazaar, market flower, and livestock market the largest and most impressive market in Central Asia. For many centuries the goods of the Silk Road have passed through and been traded on this market. Lunch on site at the inhabitant. Discovery of the tomb of Abakh Hoja, kind of miniature Taj Mahal.
Overnight in Kashgar.
Day 9: Kashgar - Yarkand ~ 190 km
Continued visits to Kasghar Old Town, with Id Kah Mosque appearing straight out of Afghanistan or Pakistan. In the afternoon departure with your guide to the great desert of Taklamakan through the route of the Southern Silk Road, bordering the foothills of the Tibetan plateau. (The stretch of road leading to Yarkand is still in poor condition in 2011. Stop at Yengisar whose name evokes the magic of the Silk Road, the city is famous for its knives.Visit the picturesque old town of Yarkand which was for centuries an important stage for caravans from India: cemeteries of kings and dervishes according to openings.
Overnight in Yarkand.
Day 10: Yarkand - Kargilik - Hotan - Taklamakan Desert ~ 320 km
Continuation on the Silk Road through areas of dunes among poplars. The Taklimakan Desert is known for its poplars that live without water for hundreds of years, called the variegated leaf poplar. Depending on the weather, stop at Karghilik, a nice little town and visit the mosque, passing through the historical city of Xiytiya crossroads of the Silk Road to India and Kashmir. End of the day’s stage in Hotan with possible visits to carpet, silk or jade weaving workshops. City residents bustle in the river in search of fallen jade pieces
Day 11: Hotan - Urumqi
Quiet morning in Hotan, then transfer by car to Hotan airport for your late morning flight to Urumqi. Arrival and transfer by you within the airport to your next flight.