Xi'an to Istanbul Itinerary

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Blue tile roofed traditional architecture, Uzbekistan

Amazing Tower in Tehran Azadi Square, Iran

Ancient Ruins of Persepolis, Iran

Elderly Sufi Priest, Esfahan, Iran

Terracotta Warriors of Xian, China

Monks in red gathered on the steps of a temple, China

Kazakh Yurts in Heavenly Lakes, China

Dunhuang traditional dancers, China

Days 1-2 Xi'an

Begin this journey from Xi'an to Kashgar by visiting a 2,000-year-old army of Terracotta Warriors, built to protect an emperor.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Day 3 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 4 Gansu Corridor, Lanzhou

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

Days 5-6 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 7 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 8 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 9 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 10-11 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 12 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 13-14 Turpan

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

Days 15-16 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 17-18 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 19-21 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 22 Karakol

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

Day 23 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 24 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 25 Kochkor

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

Days 26-27 Bishkek

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

Days 28-29 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 30 Cholpon Ata/Issyk-kul Lake

Farewell the Kyrgyzstan mountains and head to Cholpon Ata, nestled on the shores of the vast and beautiful Issyk-Kul Lake.
ACCOM: Guesthouse - 1

Day 31 Karakol

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

Days 32-33 Djety Oguz Valley

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

Day 34 Kochkor

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

Days 35-36 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

Day 37 Bush Camp

Hit the road back to Bishkek, stopping to camp in the wilderness overnight.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Day 38 Bishkek

Back in Bishkek, why not stretch the legs with a walk through Oak Park? Or perhaps just kick back in one of the park's open air cafes.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Days 39-40 Zhabagly-Aksu National Park

Make tracks into Kazakhstan and enjoy a night with a local family in Zhabagly, before exploring the grasslands of Asku National Park.
ACCOM: Camping (with facilities) - 1, Homestay - 1

Days 41-42 Tashkent

Arrive in Tashkent, the final stop on this tour. Shop for fresh produce at the Chorsu Bazaar and perhaps grab some Soviet paraphernalia from a market.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Days 43-45 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 46 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 47-49 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 50-51 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 52 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 53 Darwasa

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

Days 54-56 Ashgabat

Wander among 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 57 Shirvan

Make tracks towards the Iranian border today and explore Shirvan, nestled on the banks of Atrak River.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 58 Damghan

Take a walk around the ancient city of Damghan, perhaps stopping to visit one of the oldest mosques in the world - Jamrh.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 59 Garmeh/Dasht-e Kavir Desert

Travel into the heart of the central Iranian desert and enjoy a homestay in the small village of Garmeh.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Days 60-61 Yazd

Wind through the old city of Yazd - reputedly one of the oldest towns in the world. Sign up for a scrub in a local hamam or sample some tasty Iranian cuisine.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Day 62 Zein-o-din Caravanserai

Keep quiet at the Zoroastrian Tower of Silence before heading to the historical Zein-o-din Caravanserai.
ACCOM: Guesthouse - 1

Days 63-64 Shiraz

Explore the magnificent ruins of Persepolis en route to Shiraz. Spend free time in town visiting magnificent mosques and mausoleums or shopping in the fabulous Vakil Bazaar.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Days 65-67 Esfahan

With stately bridges, blue-tiled Islamic buildings and a gargantuan city square, Esfahan provides welcome splashes of lush colour after a few days in the dry countryside. Take in the splendour of this city by visiting ornate mosques and historic palaces.
ACCOM: Hotel - 3

Days 68-69 Tehran

Discover the capital of Iran, Tehran, a sprawling, fascinating and intoxicating place. Visit the impressive Golestan Palace or get lost in one of the Tehran's museums.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Days 70-71 Bush Camp

Camp in the wilds of this beautiful, mountainous region. Discover the unique rock formations in the enchanting Kandovan region.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 2

Day 72 Dogubayazit

Nestled at the foot of Turkey's highest peak, Dogubayazit has a romantic palace-fortress that is fascinating to explore.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Days 73-74 Bush Camp

Travel overland into Eastern Turkey via ancient trade routes. Explore the Enchanted Valley where cones of soft volcanic rock have been carved to create mystical churches and mysterious dwellings.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 2

Days 75-76 Goreme

Discover Cappadocia's Goreme Valley and underground troglodyte cities, fairy chimneys and caves. Perhaps also enjoy a traditional Turkish bath or sip tea with locals in the quaint cafes of this fascinating area of Turkey.
ACCOM: Camping (with facilities) - 2

Day 77 Tuz Golu

Farewell the fairy chimneys of Goreme and travel to the beautiful salt lake, Tuz Golu.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Days 78-80 Istanbul

Visit Istanbul's Grand Bazaar to hunt for a bargain, admire the Blue Mosque or the imposing Aya Sofya. On the cobblestone streets of this fascinating city is where the Turkic and Persian Splendours adventure comes to an end.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2