Xi'an to Istanbul

Trip Map


Trip Validity

  • 2013-01-01 - 2013-12-31

Take a Silk Road adventure from Xi’an to Istanbul

Get ready for a massive Overland adventure from the metropolitan core of Xi'an, China, to the bustling streets of Istanbul city. Travel through some of the planet's most remote, wild and uniquely beautiful wildernesses along the legendary Silk Road. See the flaming mountains of the oasis town of Turpan, pitch a tent beneath the stars in the Karakum Desert, step back in time sleeping in an ancient caravanserai and tour Kyrgyzstan’s dramatic mountain-scapes. This adventure will take you through the pages of time and introduce you to the friendly and hospitable locals who call these rugged lands home. If you're longing for an epic Overland odyssey, away from the tourist crowds and through some of the world's last wild terrains, then this epic journey is just for you.

  • Be mesmerised by Istanbul’s Blue Mosque
  • Purchase Soviet paraphernalia in Bishkek
  • Relax by the deep blue waters of Heavenly Lake
  • See Xi’an’s impressive Terracotta Warriors
  • Spend the night with Uzbek locals on a homestay in a desert yurt camp
  • Tour the underground houses of Goreme
  • Wander the streets of enchanting Xiahe
  • Witness a field of fire at the Darvaza Gas Crater

Xi'an to Istanbul Summary

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Days 1-2 Xi'an

As the start of the ancient trading route the Silk Road and an imperial centre for 2,000 years, Xi'an has a fascinating history and rich cultural sites to discover.

Day 3 Pingliang/Mount Kongtong

Pingliang is a city in China's Gansu Province that is overlooked by the beautiful and sacred Kongtong Mountains.

Day 4 Gansu Corridor, Lanzhou

With the Yellow River running through the city, Lanzhou has a number of interesting mosques, temples, parks and museums to visit.

Days 5-6 Xiahe

The colours of Tibet can be seen on the streets of Xiahe, a celebrated town for Tibetans due to the Labrang Monastery and its stunning surrounding landscapes.

Day 7 Liujiaxia

Liujiaxia lies along the Yellow River and is known for its hydroelectric power station and close proximity to the intriguing Bingling Si Caves.

Day 8 Bingling Si/Zhangye Bush Camp

Formerly known as Ganzhou, Zhangye was an important stop along the Silk Road and is close to the intriguing multi-coloured Danxia landforms.

Day 9 Jiayuguan/Great Wall

Home to a 14th-century fort and a well-preserved part of the Great Wall, Jiayuguan is a legendary part of the Silk Road marking the line between China and barbarity.

Days 10-11 Dunhuang

Once an important stop on the Silk Road and a city of incredible historical and cultural riches, Dunhuang is a spectacular desert oasis.

Day 12 Bush Camp

Continue the overland adventure towards the ancient oasis town of Turpan. Spend the night wild camping beneath the desert stars.

Days 13-14 Turpan

Once an important staging post on the Silk Road, Turpan is an attractive town famous for its vineyards, stone fruits, melons and the nearby Flaming Mountains.

Days 15-16 Urumqi & The Heavenly Lake

With the bluest of blue waters, tiered mountains of green and white, and soft, billowy clouds moving across the sky, no wonder this is called Heavenly Lake.

Days 17-18 Bush Camp

The Taklamakan Desert covers an immense area of northwest China and while a treacherous part of the Silk Road journey, stunning sunsets and sunrises have long enthralled travellers.

Days 19-21 Kashgar

Traditionally an important trading city along the Silk Road, Kashgar is still at the crossroads of trade due to its location in the heart of Central Asia.

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.

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.

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.

Day 30 Karakol

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

Days 31-32 Djety Oguz Valley

Hike through dramatic canyons and sandstone cliffs in Djety Oguz Valley.

Day 33 Kochkor

Enjoy more traditional Kyrgyz hospitality on a homestay in Kochkor village.

Days 34-35 Song Kul Lake

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

Days 36-38 Kyrgyz Fergana Valley

Spend a leisurely three days journeying through the stunning mountains and lakes of Kyrgyzstan's Fergana Valley.

Day 39 Arslanbob

Make tracks across the Ferghana Valley to Arslanbob.

Day 40 Kokand/Fergana City

Enter Uzbekistan and see the palace of the former Khan of Kokand.

Days 41-42 Tashkent

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

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.

Day 46 Yurt Stay

Spend a night in a yurt camp with the local nomads, sleeping among the dunes of the Red Desert.

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.