Over two thousand years ago, mankind’s first effort at globalization began. It was called the Silk Road. Our trip will explore the western provinces of Shaanxi, Gansu, and Xinjiang. It was from here, that camel trains ventured west carrying China's first export--the mysterious cloth called silk.
Our trip begins in Beijing, the political and cultural capital of modern-day China. We'll spend the first few days exploring this fascinating city before we travel to the beginning of the Silk route: Xi'An. We follow the path of the early traders to Dunhuang, Turpan, Urumqi, and finally visit Heavenly Lake. Our adventure will conclude back in Beijing.
- Touring Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City in Beijing, hiking the Great Wall,
- A visit to the Army of Terracotta Warriors, a UNESCO World Heritage Site just outside Xi’An, the first capital of unified China over 2,000 years ago.
- Exploring Dunhuang, an oasis town at the western edge of the Great Wall.
- Discover the ancient Islamic outpost of Turpan, the gateway to the northern route around the great Taklamakan Desert.
- Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang and the cultural capital of the Uyghur people.
- Heavenly Lake (Tian Chi), an alpine lake in the middle of barren desert.
Overnight trains (soft sleeper when available), domestic air flights, private and public bus, and yes, even by horse on an optional trip at Heavenly Lake
Tourist class hotels, sleeper train and traditional yurt.
Not included except as indicated on itinerary. Allow $5-$8 per person, per day.
Allow $50-$70 per person for entrance fees and optional day trips during the trip.
Hiking, sight-seeing, and horseback riding (optional)
Day 1 - Arrive Beijing, transfer to hotel. That evening we’ll have a short get together to outline the activities and set up time tables for the next few days.
Day 2 - Today is explore Beijing day. Many of the major sights are within walking distance of our hotel. (Meals: B, D)
Day 3 - Today we travel to the Great Wall (included in trip price). You’ll be able to hike the Wild Wall to your heart’s delight. That night we’ll board the overnight sleeper train to Xi’An. (Meals: B, L)
Day 4 - After checking into our hotel, we will travel to the Army of the Terracotta Warriors, about one hour outside of Xi’An (included in trip price). The afternoon is yours to explore the city—the Big Goose Pagoda, climb the ancient city walls, visit the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, or wander the Muslim Quarter.
Day 5 - We fly to the oasis town of Dunhuang, in Gansu Province. You’ll have the entire day to relax, or take many optional trips such as the famous sand dunes (complete with camel trips), the Magao Caves (a must!), or remnants of the old Wall around this desert outpost.
Day 6 - Spend the morning in Dunhuang to do the things you didn’t have time for yesterday. In the afternoon we’ll travel to the railhead at Liuyuan and catch the overnight sleeper train to Turpan.
Day 7 - Turpan is another oasis town on the northern route around the great desert. It’s called the "fireplace of China" because of the intense summer heat. There are many things to see and experience both in the city and the surrounding countryside.
Day 8 - Today continue your explorations. In the afternoon, we’ll travel to Urumqi. We’ll have time to visit the incredible night markets and have our first taste of the distinctive Uyghur cuisine.
Day 9 - In the morning, we will travel to Heavenly Lake. Situated at almost 6,000 feet, it is a welcome relief from the desert heat. It is a postcard-perfect setting. That night, we’ll have a traditional Kazakh family dinner and stay in a yurt. (Meals: D)
Day 10 - Today you have two options, hike the hills, or for the more adventurous, a horse back ride to the snow line. It is a full day’s ride up and back and it is an experience you will never forget! That afternoon, we’ll transfer back down to our hotel in Urumqi. (Meals: B, L)
Day 11 - The morning is yours as you see fit (we’ll point you in the right direction). In the afternoon, we’ll fly back to Beijing. After transfer to the hotel, the tour ends, although the trip price includes your lodging for this night. For those wanting to extend a day or so, or even continue your exploration of China to different cities, we can help you with the arrangements.