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Mountains & Deserts of Central Asia

Mountains & Deserts of Central Asia

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Kesto
42 päivää
Alkaa
Xian
Päättyy
Tashkent
Ryhmäkoko
26
Since the first trip back in 1981, Dragoman has been at the forefront of overland vacations, taking people on unique, off the beaten track adventures in their iconic custom-made orange trucks. Dragoman make it a whole lot easier to get off the tarmac and to take the road less-travelled be it a short trip or an epic journey. It is this ability to go beyond the traditional tourist tails on a life changing overland journey that attracts people from all over the world ranging in age from 18 to 80!. Now as much as we love the highlights of the places we visit, it is often the journey where the real magic happens. Be it the the small village stop in Benin, trying to spot Jaguars in the dense Amazonian jungle of Guyana or staying with the nomadic people of Mongolia. Our balanced itineraries give you the chance to get under the skin of the country and get a true insight into the local culture. Start your overlanding adventure and become part of the family.
  • Explore Kashgar's traditional Sunday market and Animal market
  • Cross the Taklamakan Desert
  • Exploration of the oasis and the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan
  • Guided tour of the Mogao caves, Dunhuang
  • Camp near an adobe section of the Great Wall near Jiayuguan
  • Explore the colourful natural phenomenon of the Rainbow Mountains
  • Cross the northern end of the Tibetan Plateau
  • Explore Xiahe - one of Tibets most historic cities
  • See Bingling Si's vast Buddha statue and outstanding cave sculptures
  • Explore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples
  • Guided tour of Xi'an's world famous Terracotta Warriors
  • Matkaohjelma

    Mountains & Deserts of Central Asia

    Day 1 Xi'an

    Border Information: if joining in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY).Welcome to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! We will have a free day to explore the city, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting.Please note that many of the optional activities listed will only be possible for those with extra time in Xi'an before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Xi'an.

    Day 2 Xi'an

    This morning we head out of Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour.We will return to Xi'an for the afternoon, where we'll have a free afternoon to further explore this incredible city.

    Day 3 Pingliang

    Today we will drive to the town of Pingliang at the base of the Mount Kongtong, one of the holiest mountains in Chinese Taoism.

    Day 4 Pingliang

    Today we will have an included visit to Mount Kongtong, and will have the full day to explore the temples and walk and explore the pilgrimage routes on the mountain. Please note that if the group and leader prefer to split the drive between Turpan and Dunhuang over 2 days, there will only be 1 night in Pingliang and a half-day exploration of Mount Kongtong.

    Day 5 Xiahe

    Today we set off to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe where we spend the next 3 nights. 

    Day 6 Xiahe

    The next few days are free to explore this beautiful town and surrounding grasslands. We can take a guided visit to the Labrang Monastery where Tibetan monks can be seen doing their daily rituals and chants.

    Day 7 Xiahe

    On your second free day there may also be a chance to go trekking, horse riding or exploring the surrounding grasslands, visiting Tibetan families and perhaps trying the local Yak butter tea.

    Day 8 Liujiaxia

    Today we will leave Xiahe behind us to reach the small city of Liujiaxia. We will have an included visit to the incredible Bingling Si Buddha Caves en route.

    Day 9 Zhangye

    Today we will have a full day's drive towards Zhangye. This evening we will find a place to camp in the hills surrounding Zhangye. 

    Day 10 Jiayuguan

    Today we will have a short drive to the incredible Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains - we will spend some time exploring the beautiful scenery, before continuing our drive on to Jiayuguan where, tomorrow, we will have an included visit to the Jiayuguan Fort - the most western point of the Great Wall of China. Please note that the Great Wall here is adobe, unlike the more famous stone sections further easy. 

    Day 11 Dunhuang

    Today we will continue our journey westwards to reach the city of Dunhuang.

    Day 12 Dunhuang

    Today we will have an included visit to the awe-inspiring Mogao Buddha Caves in the morning. We will then have a free afternoon to explore this amazing town and it's surroundings - there are possibilities for camel rides along the sand dunes and bicycle rides out to the nearby White Goose Pagoda!

    Day 13 Turpan

    Today we will have an early start and a big drive to the oasis town of Turpan.Please note that due to the political tension in Western China there are many police checkpoints that we must go through to show our passports in the Xinjiang province. Sometimes it may be preferred by the group and the leader to split this drive over 2 days, finding a local hotel in between to break up the travel day. 

    Day 14 Turpan

    Today we will have a free day to explore the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins.

    Day 15 Urumqi

    Today we will continue on to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province.

    Day 16 Urumqi

    On the second day we will have an included visit to Heavenly Lake to enjoy the incredible scenery in the Tian Shan Mountains and walk around the lake.

    Day 17 Korle

    Today our journey continues westwards through the Taklamakan Desert. Our crossing of the desert usually takes 3 days/2 nights, and we plan to stay in local hotels near Korla or Bayanbulak on our first night and Aksu on our second.

    Day 18 Aksu

    On our second day travelling through the Taklamakan Desert, we plan to stay the night near Aksu. 

    Day 19 Kashgar

    Today we complete our journey to the far west of China, arriving in Kashgar, once one of the ancient trading posts on the Silk Route! 

    Day 20 Kashgar

    We will spend 3 nights in Kashgar, during which time there will be lots of opportunity to explore the city and its central Id Kah Mosque. We will also have an included visit to the animal market just outside of town, and then the famous Kashgar Sunday Bazaar.

    Day 21 Kashgar

    We have a free day in Kashgar for optional activities. 

    Day 22 Kashgar

    For everyone that is continuing with us to Kyrgyzstan, there will be quick pre-departure meeting in the early morning in order to explain the next 6 days until Bishkek, and your leader will collect the kitty for this linking section.In the afternoon we will do an included visit to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world!Tonight we will stay in a good quality local hotel

    Day 23 Tash Rabat

    Border Information: Exit China at Torugart, enter Kyrgyzstan at Torugart.Today we will have a full day drive over the 3752m Torugart Pass into the magical mountain kingdom of Kyrgyzstan! We will head just over the border to Tash Rabat, once a key staging post on the Silk Road close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border. During our time here we will visit an ancient caravanserai and have some time to explore the surrounding area.In Tash Rabat we will wild camp. In cold weather (or if simply the group prefers and there is availability), we may choose to stay in local nomadic yurts that are set up for guests near the caravanserai, sleeping 8-10 people per yurt.We will spend 2 nights in Tash Rabat. On the second day we will have time to explore the local area. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

    Day 24 Tash Rabat

    We will spend 2 nights in Tash Rabat. On the second day we will have time to explore the local area.

    Day 25 Kochkor

    Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality!Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up!In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home.Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.Please note that if nobody from this group is leaving in Bishkek, we may choose to stay instead in a guesthouse in the small town of Naryn (a 2-3 hour drive from Tash Rabat). This is so that we don't repeat Kochkor unnecessarily on the next section and can have more time to explore the area of Tash Rabat this morning.

    Day 26 Bishkek

    Today we have a short drive to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The remainder of the day is free to explore the relaxed and atmospheric city.In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours (from Kochkor).

    Day 27 Bishkek

    Border Information: if joining in Bishkek, you will most likely enter Kyrgyzstan at Bishkek Manas International Airport (IATA code: FRU).There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.The rest of the day is free for you to explore this relaxed and atmospheric city.Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Bishkek before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Bishkek.*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.**Another important note - please be aware that all itineraries in Kyrgyzstan are highly weather-dependent. The itinerary described in these notes are a statement of best intention, but we must approach each trip in Kyrgyzstan with a large degree of flexibility, as our leaders and local guides will have to 'play things by ear' according to the local conditions and weather. In low season certain routes become impossible and it may become far too cold to camp - in all cases there are fantastic and well-tried alternatives in place which means we can always run an excellent and comprehensive trip here, but please do not treat the exact details of the itinerary listed here as gospel - thanks for your understanding!*

    Day 28 Chong Kemin Valley

    Today we will begin our journey to Chong Kemin National Park, where we will have free time to explore and hike in this beautiful area, or to get involved in an optional white water rafting excursion.In Chong Kemin we will wild camp. If it is too cold or simply preferred by the group, we may choose to camp in the grounds of a guesthouse in Ashu, a village in the Chong Kemin valley, where there could be the possibility to upgrade to rooms.

    Day 29 Chong Kemin Valley

    We will have a free day to explore and hike in this stunning area today or perhaps get involved in an optional white water rafting excursion!

    Day 30 Karakol

    Today we will drive to the northern shore of Lake Issyk Köl and visit the ancient petroglyphs at Cholpon Ata. We will then continue to the Russian-style town of Karakol, where we will have a free evening to explore and relax!

    Day 31 Jeti-Oguz Valley

    Today we drive up into the mountains to the alpine trekking region of Jeti Oguz.Please note that on trips in the low season we may not be able to camp in Jeti Oguz due to low temperatures. If this is the case, we will take a stunning and incredible drive up a mountain in a Russian 4x4 truck to Altyn Arashan, a hot spring development in a stunning alpine setting, staying in dormitory accommodation. We will then stay for 1 night in a local hotel at the base of Jeti Oguz Valley (allowing time for some day walks).

    Day 32 Jeti-Oguz Valley

    We will have a 2nd night here in Jeti Oguz with a chance to hike in the incredible scenery here, or take an optional horse ride with some of the local nomads.

    Day 33 Kochkor

    This morning we will drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality! En route we will have an included demonstration from a local 'eagle hunter'.Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up!

    Day 34 Son-Kol Lake

    Today we will drive to the incredible Song Köl Lake, where we will spend the next two nights.We will have free time here to explore the area, and to enjoy some optional activities including hiking or horse-riding! Please note that trips during the low season will not be able to visit Song Köl Lake, as temperatures will be below freezing, the road will be snowed over, and there will be no yurts to stay in! Instead we will likely stay in yurts on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Köl.

    Day 35 Son-Kol Lake

    On our 2nd day in Song Kul Lake we have free time to explore the area, and to enjoy some optional activities including hiking or horse-riding! 

    Day 36 Kyrgyz Fergana Valley

    We will spend the next 3 days overlanding through the stunning and remote Kyrgyz Fergana Valley, stopping often to admire the views and perhaps take some impromptu hikes in the hills and countryside.During these days we plan to wild camp en route. Please note that trips running in low season (May to mid-June and October to November), we may not be able to camp if temperatures are too low, in which case we will stay in local guesthouses along the route instead.

    Day 37 Kyrgyz Fergana Valley

    We will have another day of scenic driving as we make our way to our second wild camp near Toktugal Lake

    Day 38 Arslanbob

    Today we will complete our drive to Arslanbob in Kyrgyzstan's Fergana Valley - if we have had a slow journey in the previous days with lots of stops, we may choose to stay in the closer town of Jalalabad instead.

    Day 39 Arslanbob

    Today we have a free day to explore the local area. There will be options to do an all day hike to a big waterfall or alternatively do an optional horseride through the Walnut Forest

    Day 40 Fergana Valley

    Border information: Exit Kyrgyzstan at Dustlik, enter Uzbekistan at Andijon.Today we will have a full day's drive across the Uzbek border to the eastern city of Fergana.

    Day 41 Tashkent

    This morning we travel in local transport to Kokand, where we will have the oppurtunity to visit the Khudayar Khan's Palace and the nearby Margilan Silk Factory before completing the journey over the Kamchik Pass to Tashkent, the Uzbek capital.The truck must pass over the Kamchik Pass without passengers and will rejoin us this evening in Tashkent.

    Day 42 Tashkent

    Border Information: if finishing in Tashkent, you will most likely exit Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport (IATA code: TAS).Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Tashkent. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact your sales agent if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
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    Aktiviteetit

    Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife Explore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples

    See the vast Buddha statue and the outstanding Buddhist cave sculptures at the fabulous Bingling Si gorge

    Explore the incredible and colourful natural phenomenon of the Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains

    Journey down the Gansu Corridor to Jiayuguan Fort, our first stop at the Great Wall

    Guided tour of the Mogao caves, Dunhuang

    See the striking red sandstone landscape of the Flaming Mountains near Turpan

    Exploration of the oasis and the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan

    Learn about the Karez water system the ingenious method of irrigating the area that was developed by the Han Dynasty and allowed Turpan to flourish as an oasis town

    Enjoy a day to walk around Heavenly Lake, or maybe take a boat trip out on the water.

    Hike up to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world.

    Hike up to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world.

    Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai at Tash Rabat close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border

    See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here

    See an incredible demonstration from a traditional eagle hunter near Kochkor

    See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here

    See the silk-weavers of the Fergana Valley at the Yodgorlik Silk Factory

    Majoitus

    Comfortable Hotel 4 nights
    Basic Hotel 17 nights
    Guesthouse 3 nights
    Camping without facilities 2 nights
    Yurt Camp 4 nights
    Homestay 3 nights
    Wild Camp 7 nights

    Paikalliset kuljetukset

    Overland Expedition Vehicle, Local Bus, Boat, Jeep, Russian Bus

    Ateriat

    Breakfasts x 50, Lunches x 20, Dinners x 28

    Mountains & Deserts of Central Asia

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