Kashgar to Xi'an Trip Notes

    • 22
    • CDOK
    • Trip Price tool tip
      USD $1,935
      CAD $1,975
      AUD $2,015
      EUR €1,475
      GBP £1,205
      NZD $2,390
      ZAR R18,330
      CHF FR1,725
    • Kitty tool tip
      USD $600
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $2,495*
      CAD $2,571*
      AUD $2,634*
      EUR €1,905*
      GBP £1,576*
      NZD $3,123*
      ZAR R23,964*
      CHF FR2,255*
      *
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    • Overland
    • Basix
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‡ As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only - please click here to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
Print Version
Last Modified: 03 Jun 2014
Kashgar to Xi'an
Trip code: CDOK
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2015
Discover China away from the tourist trail. Beginning at the famous market town of Kashgar, this trip will explore China's remote west. Our route skirts the edge of the isolated Taklamakan Desert, stopping along the Silk Route at the oasis of Turpan. Many travellers to China visit the Great Wall, but few see the remote western end of it at Jiayuguan, 3000 miles from Beijing. From here the road climbs up to the Tibetan Plateau, and we visit the pilgrimage site of Xiahe before descending to the historic city of Xi'an, home of the Terracotta Warriors.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
ThemesImportant notesVisas
MapGroup sizeIssues on your trip
ItineraryYour fellow travellersWhat to take
We also recommendSingle travellersHealth
Itinerary disclaimerAccommodationSafety
Culture shock rating Meals introductionTravel insurance
Physical ratingMealsResponsible Travel
Physical preparationTransportA couple of rules
Included activitiesGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
KittyJoining point Carbon offset
Optional activitiesArrival complicationsFeedback
Spending moneyFinish point
TippingEmergency contact
Style
Basix
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Themes
Overland
Map
Kashgar to Xi'an
Itinerary
Days 1-3 Kashgar
Nimen Hao! Welcome to China.
The trip begins with a group meeting at 6pm.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Kashgar is very much a frontier town, quickly developing to take advantage of its geographical location right in the heart of Central Asia. From Kashgar, roads lead into Pakistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and beyond. There are few signs that you are still in China - other than the the country's largest Chairman Mao statue, that is. This once ancient city is quickly modernising. In 2011, the Chinese government started rapid demolishing of the Old Town of Kashgar due to being overcrowded, with poor drainage and vulnerable to earthquakes thus relocating Uighur families to newly built apartments. It’s hard to predict what will be left in this area in the coming years.
Early the next morning we visit the animal market just outside of town and then the famous Kashgar Sunday Bazaar.
Kashgar's main attraction is undoubtedly the Sunday Bazaar. 50,000 people migrate for the day into the town. The Chinese have split the market in two and moved the animal market out of town. This is a must for the visitor, as it exemplifies the daily life of the indigenous people. The noise, smells, the animals, the traders, the junk, toot, cloths, rugs, jewellery, tapes and ghetto blasters. Horses, cows, donkeys, sheep and goats all awaiting the inevitable sale.
Day 3 is free to explore the town, perhaps heading off to the main landmark of the town, the Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square.
The town's main landmark is the Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square, from which dusty old lanes lead off, crammed full of shops, food stalls and Uyghur locals living a lifestyle virtually unchanged for a hundred years.
Take advantage of the proximity to Pakistan by having a meal of curry and chapattis at a Pakistani café, play a round or two with the lads handing out at the open door pool tables on Id Kah Square, get lost meandering down lanes and alleyways, stopping at stalls selling tandoori-baked bagels or mulberry juice, learn some funky moves at a Uyghur disco or visit some of the city's holy sites.
Included Activities
  • Kashgar - Sunday & Animal Bazaars
Optional Activities
  • Id Kah Mosque - CNY20
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Days 4-5 Aksu & Bayanbulak Wildcamps
We leave Kashgar and begin our 2-day overland journey skirting the edge of the Taklamakan Desert wild camping en route.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nts)
Days 6-7 Heavenly Lake
We drive towards the Tian Shan mountain range, and on to Heavenly Lake. Accommodation at the lake is in basic yurts for 2 nights. This is a great opportunity for some relaxation time and there may be an opportunity for horse riding around the lake.
Urumqi is the capital of Xinjiang, but for the overland traveller it has little of interest. We do not stop in the city but head north into the beautiful mountains to the Heavenly Lake. Here, a deep blue lake set on a mountain in a desert, provides us with a well earned rest. We will stay with the local Kazakh herders in their yurts.
Accommodation
Yurt (2 nts)
Days 8-9 Turpan
East of Urumqi lies one of the hottest places on Earth, the Turpan Basin. Nestling between the Northern and the Southern Tian Shan Mountains, this dry dusty bowl is the lowest basin in China. The oasis town of Turpan was crucial to the traders on the Silk Route providing a staging post and a market place for the traders to exchange goods and to re-equip their caravans. Although Turpan is the hottest place in China the lack of humidity makes the atmosphere pretty bearable. The town is a very relaxed, tranquil place and there are numerous things to do and see around the area.
We arrive into the oasis town of Turpan in the morning. Here we spend 2 days exploring the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins. Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel.
Once an important staging post on the Silk Road, Turpan is an attractive oasis town famous for its vineyards, stone fruits, melons and the nearby Flaming Mountains. The country roads on the outskirts are lined with poplars and lovely old mud brick dwellings of the Uyghur people, while the modern 'inner' town has shiny new buildings, spacious streets and public squares.
In free time during the evening, choose to join the locals on the square for socialising or visit one the night market for all the flavours of the region and plenty of interaction. There's also a cultural show held at a nearby hotel where you can witness the fast-paced drumming and dancing traditional to the Uyghur people (and don't be surprised if you are asked to join in!)
Included Activities
  • Turpan - Jiaohe ruins
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 10 Hami Wildcamp
We set off in the overland truck in the early morning and drive approximately 500km towards the ancient Silk Road town of Dunhuang. Wild camping tonight en route.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 11-12 Dunhuang
Today we drive the remaining 350 km to Dunhuang, arriving in the early evening. The evening is free to explore Dunhuang. Accommodation tonight is in a comfortable hotel.
Dunhuang is one of the largest and historically most important of Gansu's oasis trading towns. Surrounded by fertile agricultural fields, an oasis in an otherwise barren desert, offset by distant sand dunes and mountains, the setting is spectacular and a good enough reason totravel here alone. However most visitors make the long journey to the city to see the fantastic Buddhist art in the nearby Mogao Caves. This is an extraordinary site even by Chinese standards and yet it's visited by relatively few tour groups.
Day 12 we visit the Mogao Caves in the morning. The afternoon is free to explore this amazing town and its surroundings, options include a camel ride along the sand dunes or perhaps a bicycle ride out to the White Goose Pagoda.
Included Activities
  • Dunhuang - Mogao Caves
Optional Activities
  • Crescent Moon Lake camel ride - USD20
  • Bike hire - USD5
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 13-14 Jiayuguan & Zhangye Wildcamp
Full day drive to Jiayuguan (approximately 400 km), Jiayuguan is the location for the western end of the Great Wall. The first night will be spent wild camping at the Great Wall of China.
In the morning we will visit the Great Wall and the old fort. Once our visit to the wall is complete we will head off in the truck towards Liujiaxia wildacamping en route.
The town's impressive fort remains a remarkable sight with 17 m-high towers flanking the main gates. We explore it, as well as see some of the remnants of the wall.
Included Activities
  • Entrance Jiayuguan fort
Accommodation
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 15-16 Liujiaxia
We drive approximately 500 km up onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan plateau towards Liujiaxia. Accommodation tonight is in a basic local, friendly hotel.
The next morning we visit the Bing Ling Si caves near Liujiaxia.
While Bingling Si is one of numerous thousand Buddha caves that can be found in China, these ones are very special. They contain 694 statues and 82 clay sculptures. The highlight of the cave is the 27 metre high seated statue of Maitreya Buddha. Indeed this cave complex is one of the best in China and yet because of its relative isolation, it is less visited than the main Chinese sites.
The caves are a set of Buddhist grottoes are carved into the cliff of a 60 metre high gorge. They are most impressive especially because they are surrounded on one side by the waters of the Liujiaxia Reservoir.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt), Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 17-18 Xiahe
Today we set off to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe where we spend the next 3 nights. We will visit the Binglingsi Caves en route. The next few days are free to explore this beautiful town and surrounding grasslands. Options include a guided visit to the Labrang Monastery where Tibetan monks can be seen doing their daily rituals and chants. There may also be a chance to go horse riding in the surrounding grasslands visiting Tibetan families and perhaps trying the local Yak butter tea. Accommodation in a local and very friendly hotel.
Xiahe has been described as "one of the most enchanting places to visit in China". Certainly it has a wonderful tranquil
atmosphere and a beautiful setting. Many Tibetans come here on pilgrimage - and the combination of the many monasteries, saffron-robed monks, fluttering prayer flags and spectacular scenery make this small town feel very like Tibet as well. Indeed, in all but name, you are in Tibet; Xiahe is right up on the edge of the Tibetan Plateau and the population here is over 45% Tibetan.
Today is free to explore this beautiful town and surrounding grasslands.
Accommodation
Guesthouse (2 nts)
Day 19 Lanzhou
We drive 240 km to Gansu’s capital, Lanzhou. Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel.
Lanzhou is the capital of Gansu Province, but holds little of interest for the traveller. It is a sprawling Chinese Town but does have a number of interesting sites in the surrounding area. The most appealing of these are the caves and carvings at Bingling Si. Here, a set of Buddhist grottoes are carved into the cliff of a 60 metre high gorge. They are most impressive especially because they are surrounded on one side by the waters of the Liujiaxia Reservoir. Bingling Si is yet another of the numerous Thousand Buddha Caves that can be found in China, but it is very special. They contain 694 statues and 82 clay sculptures. The highlight of the cave is the 27 metre high seated statue of Maitreya Buddha. Indeed this cave complex is one of the best in China and yet because of its relative isolation, it is less visited than the main Chinese sites.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 20 Pingliang
In the morning we set off towards Pingliang in China's Gansu Province. The main reason to visit Pingliang is Mount Kongtong, during our time here we will have the opportunity to explore the mountain. Accommodation is in a comfortable hotel.
The streets of Pingliang are lined with wonderful shops and you can spend hours exploring them, but the main attraction of this city is the mountain range, which contains the Kongtong mountains, which has been used as a mythical meeting point in the past. If you have the opportunity to climb this mountain, do so, as the views from the top are beautifully rewarding.
Close to the city of Pingliang is Mount Kongtong, an important sacred site for believers in Taoism. It's usually possible to climb the mountain and you'll be rewarded with magnificent views from the top as you emerge from the rich and verdant vegetation that cover the surrounding hillsides. As you climb, you will ascend through five different "terraces", passing many temples and shrines along the way. The highest peak is known as "The Emerald Screen Peak", rising to 2100 metres above sea level.
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 21-22 Xi'an
Today we begin our overland journey to Xi’an. we arrive late in the afternoon and settle straight into our comfortable hotel that is located right in the heart of this ancient city. After checking in the evening is free to explore, perhaps walking to the night market to buy some souvenirs or catching a cultural show over a dumpling banquet.
The imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites. A monument pays homage to the fact that this was the start of the famous ancient trading route of the Silk Road and the city is still surrounded by city walls.
The next day we travel on the truck to the place that has perhaps made Xi'an most famous around the world - the site of the Terracotta Warriors. It takes around an hour to get there and we'll hear all about this incredible archaeological find. Once the guided tour is over we will travel back to Xi'an.
The most popular attraction in Xi'an, and the place that has made the city most famous around the world, is the Terracotta Warriors. The Warriors are certainly an incredible archaeological find, discovered by farmers digging a well in 1976 after being buried for thousands of years. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots all standing in battle formation were commissioned by the emperor of the Qin dynasty as part of his mausoleum and a number of pits are now on view to the public. More pits were recently opened so you may even be lucky enough to see archaeologists at work, carefully unearthing and restoring these ancient relics.
Please note that this is the final day of the West China Adventure trip and accommodation is not included tonight unless you are travelling onto Dragoman's next Xian to Beijing trip.
Included Activities
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors guided tour
Optional Activities
  • Cycling on City Wall - CNY80
  • Bell & Drum Towers - CNY50
  • Great Mosque - CNY25
  • Small Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY50
  • Folk house - CNY15
  • Shaanxi History Museum - Free
  • Terracotta Warriors - CNY150
  • Big Wild Goose Pagoda - CNY80
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
    We also recommend
    If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
    • Silk Road - China & Kyrgyzstan (CBSK)
    • Beijing to Xi'an (CDOA)
    • Xi'an to Beijing (CDOB)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    The comforts of home are more of a rarity. English isn't common and the food will be quite different to home. It's important to observe some of the local customs to not cause offence. Many of the locals’ standard of living may be confronting.
    Physical rating

    This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
    Physical preparation
    In Asia you will need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climate, from hot deserts through to cold of the high mountains. Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days and dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up, and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step-up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high can become tiring. You need to judge if you are physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large, our Asia trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping, so that life is not too rough.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Kitty
    On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund and overseen by travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals and all included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases.This Kitty price indicated on the trip notes below is indicative only. Please refer to the 'Check availability' page on the website for the up-to-date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.
    Your kitty will be collected when you arrive for your trip, either on day 1 or, if on a combination trip, in stages throughout your trip.
    You may pay your kitty in a mixture of US Dollars cash and the rest in local currency (amount and type of currency to be agreed by the leader at the start of the trip). Most of our travellers chose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.
    If you do choose to pay part in local currency your trip leader will confirm the current exchange rates with you so you will know exactly how much to hand over.
    Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.
    Kitty does not cover food while staying in hotels and hostels.
    KITTY CHANGES:
    We constantly monitor local price changes and exchange rate fluctuations that could affect kitty expenses. Final kitty contributions are likely to be different from those quoted in the brochure or at the time of booking so you must check the final amount just before departure.
    As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
    Optional activities
    A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination.
    Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    If you are happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
    Tipping is entirely voluntary. The crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    LOCAL PARTNER:
    Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.
    MINIMUM AGE:
    The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
    CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS:
    Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground.
    CHANGES TO PLANNED DRAGOMAN ROUTES:
    We intend following the planned route but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, often in areas without western infrastructure. You should expect that some these areas do not adhere to western safety standards.
    Group size
    Maximum of 19 travellers per group.
    Your fellow travellers
    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
    Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    Single travellers
    Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (11 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (4 nts), Yurt (2 nts), Camping (with facilities) (2 nts), Guesthouse (2 nts)
    Dragoman overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels, ranging from twin to multishare. The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hotels.
    In Asia it is often not practical to camp when staying in towns and cities, so we use hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of hotel stops depends on the route and area.
    Campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. We will also arrange as many village or local homestays as possible, allowing us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
    Meals
    All meals when camping
    Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
    USD 500.00
    On an Overland journey you are more than just a passenger, you’re part of the crew - pitching in to set up camp, shopping for food, cooking and generally helping out. We operate a rota system, dividing the group into smaller units of 5 or 6 people, so that these duties are shared equally amongst the group. These jobs will include things like collecting water and firewood, loading the back locker, supervising the kitty and food stores etc. While camping on overland journeys, all meals will be included in the kitty and this means that you will be working as a group to prepare meals and cook for your group. If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting.
    A typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, cereal and something hot such as eggs or pancakes as well as tea and coffee. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto, pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.
    Transport
    Overland vehicle
    Roads in Asia can be very rough which makes for long, slow travel days. It is however all worth it for the spectacular scenery and novelty of truck travel!
    The step up into the overland truck, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down at least 8-10 times a day, as can the constant setting and packing up of camp.
    Group leader
    On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.
    While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. In East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.
    We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders
    On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
    Joining point
    Seman Hotel 色满宾馆
    337 Seman Road 新疆维吾尔自治区喀什市色满路337号
    Kashgar
    CHINA
    Phone: +86 09982552129
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    Please also make sure have a copy of the local operators Emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
    Finish point
    Xi'an Garden Hotel 西安唐华宾馆
    No. 40, Yanyin Road (to the east of Dayan Pagoda) 中国陕西省西安市(大雁塔东)雁引路40号
    Xi'an
    CHINA
    Phone: +86 2987601111
    Emergency contact
    We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left home and in the event
    of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that
    real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.
    If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in
    these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked
    and the crew informed if necessary.
    Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    CHINA - DRAGOMAN 2014/15
    Please apply in advance for your visa. The visa is valid for 3 - 6 months from the date of issue and has a validity of 30, 60 or 90 days. All nationalities should check with the respective embassies for more information and costs.
    You require a single entry tourist visa for either 30, 60 or 90 days depending on your trip.
    It is advised that you do not mention Kashgar, Urumqi, Turpan or Tibet anywhere on your Chinese visa application form as this may lead to your application being rejected.
    Please note Dragoman will require a clear photocopy of your passport as soon as possible after booking.
    HOW TO OBTAIN A VISA SUPPORT LETTER:
    Dragoman will apply for the letter of invitation / Visa support letter on your behalf. In order to do this we need you to complete the Visa support form found here:
    http://dragoman.thevisamachine.com/visa-support.
    Once you have completed this form we will need you to email the supporting documents to visasupport@thevisamachine.com with your name in the subject of the email followed by 'Dragoman LOI'.
    Please complete the Visa Support form as soon as possible after booking. Any delays in returning this form, along with the associated documents, will have a knock on effect to the amount of time you have in applying for the actual visa.
    Once a letter of support / Letter of Invitation has been authorised a copy will be sent to you. You can then begin the process of applying for your visa.
    *Please note that if you decide to obtain your visa in a different location, a new letter of invitation will be required which
    will delay you obtaining your visa therefore it is vital that you are clear on where you will obtain your visa. *
    Issues on your trip
    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
    We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
    You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
    What to take
    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
    Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).
    PERSONAL MEDICAL KIT:
    All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only. Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit.
    ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT
    Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle´s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points, so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.
    SLEEPING BAG:
    Please bring a sleeping bag (4-season is recommended - check what the weather will be like over the dates you are travelling), sleeping mat and a pillow as these items are not provided.
    WATER BOTTLE:
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
    Health
    All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
    You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
    BIRD FLU:
    There have recently been a number of isolated cases of Bird Flu in Asia. While the risk to travellers is very low, we will continue to monitor the situation and follow the advice of local authorities and the World Health Organisation. WHO recommends basic hygiene practices to limit the risk of infection:
    • Avoid visiting live animal markets and poultry farms
    • Avoid contact with surfaces contaminated with animal faeces
    • Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw poultry, egg or duck dishes
    • Do not attempt to bring any poultry products back
    • Do not pick up or touch dead or dying birds
    • Exercise good personal hygiene with frequent hand washing
    For further information please visit: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/avian_influenza/en/index.html
    Safety
    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
    We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
    Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
    For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
    DRAGOMAN SAFETY
    HOTELS:
    • Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.
    • Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.
    • Study the fire instructions in your room if available.
    • Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.
    • If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.
    • Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.
    • Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavor to sort the situation out.
    • Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under Western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care.
    • We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.
    • If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or home stays
    CAMPSITE FIRE SAFETY:
    • Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is.
    • Know how to raise the alarm.
    • Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.
    • Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.
    • Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.
    OTHER CAMPSITE SAFETY
    • Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.
    • Group tents around our vehicle wherever possible.
    • No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.
    • Ensure cooking area is well away from the tents.
    • Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.
    • Ensure any soil toilets are min 50m away from tents & cooking area.
    • All food waste should be burnt or buried – min 100m away from the site.
    • Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife.
    • Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.
    • Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.
    • Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.
    • Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.
    • If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.
    • When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group.
    FOOD SAFETY
    • We prepare many meals during the tour and our crew are hygiene trained; however, some general tips can help in order to avoid the possibility of stomach upsets;
    • Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.
    • Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.
    • Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables, (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).
    • In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.
    • On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.
    • Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.
    • Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.
    • Restaurant Food: This is grassroots travel and many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as
    individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the Western World. Unfortunately this is
    part of travel in these regions. Therefore think carefully about what food you order and be aware of the risks.
    DRAGOMAN TRANSPORT SAFETY
    • Our own vehicles have fully fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.
    • If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.
    • Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.
    • Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion
    • Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells
    • Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window or a roof hatch.
    • Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
    • Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver
    • Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.
    DRAGOMAN PERSONAL SAFETY:
    One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling.
    There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise you to leave any valuable jewellery, watches, etc, at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:
    • Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.
    • Be aware, stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.
    • Avoid carrying too much money.
    • Use of a money belt / neck wallet or is encouraged at all times while travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport,
    air tickets, cash and other valuable items.
    • Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.
    • Ensure your valuables are left secure when you go out.
    • In any hostels/hotels, place all valuables in a safety deposit box, where available or with reception or locked away
    by the crew.
    • Do not take any valuable jewellery/watches etc. away with you.
    • If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.
    Travel insurance
    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
    When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
    If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    Responsible Travel
    We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
    LOCAL DRESS:
    When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees for men and women.
    A couple of rules
    Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
    The Intrepid Foundation
    Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
    The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 902.00 kgs per pax.
    Feedback
    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.
    Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.