Beijing to Istanbul Itinerary

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turkey istanbul blue mosque temple village city

china beijing forbidden city canal gold temple city village

china camels sand dunes line herd transport desert

china dunhuang traditional dancers gold costume celebration

china great wall empty path climb tour trek adventure

china heavenly lakes kazak yurts huts village local

china monks sharing red robes laughing temple

china xian terracotta warriors statues ancient

turkey cappadocia dinner tourists local cuisine

turkey country rocks stone desert formations

Days 1-2 Beijing

Ni hao and welcome to China where a grand adventure awaits! Begin by joining the buzzing hive that is Beijing - a place where discovery and intrigue lie around every corner. Visit the Forbidden City to admire imperial architecture or the sprawling Summer Palace on the banks of Kunming Lake.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Days 3-4 Chengde

Stroll through the lush Shanzhuang gardens in the footsteps of past Emperors who holidayed here. Take in the rich heritage of Chengde by bicycle or admire the Mongolian and Tibetan influences in local temples and monasteries.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Day 5 Jinshanling

Take a walk along the monumental Great Wall as it snakes its way through rolling hills as far as the eye can see. Imagine the exhaustive effort of farmers and labourers who toiled for many generations to construct the Wall.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Days 6-7 Datong

Marvel at the Hanging Monastery, delicately perched on a steep cliff face in Golden Dragon Gorge, and explore the World Heritage listed Yungang Grottoes, home to a staggering collection of over 50,000 statues and fascinating ancient rock art.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Days 8-9 Wutai Shan

A famous pilgrimage site, Wutai Shan is believed to be the earthly abode of the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri. Visit sacred temples, go hiking or simply soak up the serene atmosphere in a local cafe.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Days 10-11 Pingyao

Stroll the ancient, and well preserved streets on Pingyao. This Han Chinese walled city is designed in the traditional bagua (octagonal) layout with architecture dating back centuries.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Day 12 Lijiashan

Visit the incredible cave houses of Lijiashan - built over 500 years ago - and spend the night in a cave room.
ACCOM: Cave house - 1

Days 13-14 Yan'an

Get an insight into China's communist beginnings with a visit to Yan'an, once the Chinese Communist Party's headquarters during the 1930s and 40s
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Days 15-18 Xi'an

Admire the 2,000-year-old army of Terracotta Warriors and explore significant cultural sites and museums both in and around Xi'an. Enjoy a plate of hand-pulled noodles as you watch the locals dance, eat and practice martial arts in South Park.
ACCOM: Hotel - 4

Day 19 Pingliang/Mount Kongtong

Overland through the province of Gansu to Pingliang, which sits at the edge of the beautiful Kongtong Mountain. Peruse the wonderful shops or climb the mountain for rewarding views.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 20 Gansu Corridor, Lanzhou

Travel down the fertile Gansu Corridor, a rugged stretch of the famed Silk Route.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Days 21-22 Xiahe

Travel to the Tibetan monastery town of Xiahe, often described as one of the most enchanting places to visit in China.
ACCOM: Guesthouse - 2

Day 23 Liujiaxia

At the crossroads of Qinghai and Gangsu, arrive at Liujiaxia. Visit the Bingling Si Buddhist Grottoes to see intricate cliff-side carvings.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 24 Bingling Si/Zhangye Bush Camp

Continue the journey west towards Jiayuguan, where we set up camp en route.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Day 25 Jiayuguan/Great Wall

Arrive in Jiayuguan after a full day of driving, and discover deserted sections of the Great Wall.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Days 26-27 Dunhuang

Arrive in Dunhuang and relax in this Gansu oasis trading town. Visit the nearby Mogao Caves and discover their breathtaking Buddhist art.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Day 28 Bush Camp

Continue the overland adventure towards the ancient oasis town of Turpan. Spend the night wild camping beneath the desert stars.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Days 29-30 Turpan

Escape the desert sands in the laidback town of Turpan.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Days 31-32 Urumqi & The Heavenly Lake

Travel towards the Tian Shan mountain range, and arrive at the pristine Heavenly Lake. Located at the top of a mountain and in the middle of a desert, this is a remote spot, perfect for relaxation.
ACCOM: Yurt - 2

Days 33-34 Bush Camp

Head to the outskirts of the enormous Taklamakan Desert. Travel into seemingly unchartered terrain and begin two days on an overland adventure.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 2

Days 35-37 Kashgar

Arrive in Kashgar, an exotic fusion of Chinese, Uzbek and Kyrgyz cultures. Wander the streets that weave through the old town and discover the markets and bazaars of this diverse city.
ACCOM: Hotel - 3

Day 38 Karakol

Set off early to get to stunning Lake Karakol. Spend the day wallowing in the surrounds of this magnificent setting.

Day 39 Kashgar

Hike the lakeside mountains or ride the perimeter of the lake on horseback to wear yourself out before the drive back to Kashgar. Take time out in comfort this evening to relax and recuperate.

Day 40 Bush Camp

Take a good book as today's lengthy border crossing meanders through the Torugart pass and into Kyrgyzstan.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Day 41 Kochkor

Spend some time getting to know the locals of Kochkor with a traditional Kyrgyz homestay and experience a glimpse of daily life.

Days 42-43 Bishkek

Driving into the capital city, explore the crowded bazaars and vast bustling squares of this modern city.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Days 44-45 Chong Kemin Valley

Set off on a leisurely hike along Chong Kemin River. Or if feeling adventurous, perhaps tackle one of the tough 4000 m passes.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 2

Day 46 Karakol

Enjoy the remote, picturesque town of Kara-kol, complete with quaint tree-lined streets and colonial houses.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Days 47-48 Djety Oguz Valley

Hike through dramatic canyons and sandstone cliffs in Djety Oguz Valley.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 2

Day 49 Kochkor

Enjoy more traditional Kyrgyz hospitality on a homestay in Kochkor village.
ACCOM: Homestay - 1

Days 50-51 Song Kul Lake

Stay in traditional yurt accommodation and experience nomad life in the lush pastures surrounding the beautiful Song-Kol Lake.
ACCOM: Yurt - 2

Days 52-54 Kyrgyz Fergana Valley

Spend a leisurely three days journeying through the stunning mountains and lakes of Kyrgyzstan's Fergana Valley.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 3

Day 55 Arslanbob

Make tracks across the Ferghana Valley to Arslanbob.
ACCOM: Guesthouse - 1

Day 56 Kokand/Fergana City

Enter Uzbekistan and see the palace of the former Khan of Kokand.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Days 57-58 Tashkent

Arrive in Tashkent, shop for fresh produce at the Chorsu Bazaar and perhaps grab some Soviet paraphernalia from a market.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Days 59-61 Samarkand

Travel to one of Central Asia's most magical cities, Uzbekistan’s Samarkand. Discover the romance of the Silk Road in this perfectly preserved city full of exotic architecture and majestic buildings.
ACCOM: Hotel - 3

Day 62 Yurt Stay

Spend a night in a yurt camp with the local nomads, sleeping among the dunes of the Red Desert.
ACCOM: Yurt - 1

Days 63-65 Bukhara

Get to know Central Asia's holiest city, where the combination of buildings spanning a thousand years and a thoroughly lived-in Old Town combine to create an awe-inspiring atmosphere.
ACCOM: Hotel - 3

Days 66-67 Khiva

Gaze up at the ancient walls surrounding Khiva and imagine how they once provided sanctuary for weary Silk Road travellers. Explore the historic and perfectly preserved Old Town, beautifully decorated in classic turquoise tiles.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Day 68 Kunye Urgench

Follow a local trading route through harsh desert sands, and meet the nomadic people who call this inhospitable region home.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Day 69 Darwasa

Drive across the Karakum Desert. If time allows, see the amazing Darvaza Gas Crater.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Days 70-72 Ashgabat

Marvel at the futuristic architecture of Ashgabat's skyline. Spy the world's largest hand-woven rug or learn about the city's traumatic history at the Earthquake Museum.
ACCOM: Hotel - 3

Day 73 Geok Tepe

Travel to the spectacular Kow Ata underground lake. Take a walk around - and perhaps dip a foot into - the incongruously warm waters before continuing on and making camp for the night.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Day 74 Turkmenbashi

Head to the shores of the Caspian sea and relax and unwind In Turkmenbashi while waiting for the ferry to arrive.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 75 Overnight Ferry

Continue the adventure by boarding an overnight freight ferry and travelling across the Caspian sea toward Azerbaijan. Rusty, rugged but full of memorable moments, this intrepid experience is grassroots adventuring at it's finest
ACCOM: Overnight ferry - 1

Days 76-78 Baku

Explore Azerbaijan's rapidly evolving capital. Stroll the Old Town for a hint of the regions medieval past, check out the cosmopolitan cafe culture and be romanced by the leafy parks on the seaside promenade.
ACCOM: Hotel - 3

Day 79 Gobustan

Drop by the geologically themed town of Gobustan, known for it's rock art and mud volcanoes.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Day 80 Sheki

Continue to the cobblestone streets and forested hills of Sheki. Explore the exquisite Khan's Palace and the Museum of History for a solid dose of Silk Rd heritage.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 81 Bush Camp

Cross the border into Georgia and get acquainted by the lush surrounds of the Alazani valley.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Days 82-83 Telavi

Enter into Georgia's famed wine country and spend two days exploring the vineyard clad town of Talavi. Sample unique local drops, and keep an eye out for local traditions such as grape harvests and the keipi (banquet). Then, work off all that wine-tasting by taking a walk to the sixth century Shaumta Monastery, which is beautifully located on an isolated forest hilltop.
ACCOM: Homestay - 2

Days 84-85 Tbilisi

Tbilisi is one of Europe's most regal, yet largely under appreciated cities. Spend free time perusing the fine architecture, and perhaps climb to the top of Narikala Fortress for a view over the surrounding hills.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Day 86 Kazbegi

Marvel at a mixture of Soviet kitsch and jaw-dropping views over Mt Kazbek in the small town of Kazbegi. Take a stroll to the top of Tsminda Sameba Church and be blown away by the stunning scenery of rural Georgia.
ACCOM: Homestay - 1

Day 87 Gori

Another day, another glorious set of hillside scenery.With a name meaning 'hill', Gori was the birthplace of Joseph Stalin. History buffs will revel in a chance to visit to the Stalin museum, which houses artefacts that provide an insight into his early life.
ACCOM: Homestay - 1

Day 88 Kutaisi

Get a dose of Georgian history in Kutasi - one of the oldest cities in the world. Enjoy a guided walk around the ruins of Bragrati Cathedral before getting an unique insight into Georgian life by spending the night at the home of a local family.
ACCOM: Homestay - 1

Day 89 Batumi

Swap the hills for the Black Sea coast and explore the picturesque port town of Batumi. Perhaps settle in at a riverside cafe and sip a Turkish Coffee while watching the ships go by.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 90 Sumela

Cross the border to Turkey and climb into the incredible Sumela Monastry. Nestled high in the cliffs above the evergreen forests and rushing streams of Altindere National Park, this peaceful sanctuary is the perfect place to take some time out and breathe the fresh air of the Turkish countryside.
ACCOM: Camping (with facilities) - 1

Day 91 Bush Camp

Continue to Zara and watch the changing landscapes of rural Turkey pass by.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Days 92-93 Goreme

Admire the otherworldly cone formations of Goreme, a truly unique location in the heart of Cappadocia. Perhaps enjoy a guided tour of the network of honeycombed caves that have formed an underground city, complete with churches and dwellings, or take to the skies on a hot air balloon to see this dramatic landscape from above.
ACCOM: Camping (with facilities) - 2

Day 94 Bush Camp

Head west toward Istanbul, stopping to make camp for the night in the Turkish countryside.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Days 95-96 Istanbul

Arrive in Istanbul, a city that has for centuries been the crossroads of the East and West. Take in the aromatic smells of the thousands of bazaars that line the streets, browse stunning islamic architecture and see why Istanbul is one of the world's most exotic, invigorating cities.
ACCOM: Hostel - 1