Istanbul to Xian Itinerary

Explore the vast lands of Turkey, Iran, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and China on this unique Overland tour from Istanbul to Xian.

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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.
Dunhuang traditional dancers, China

Kazakh Yurts in Heavenly Lakes, China

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

Terracotta Warriors of Xian, China

Elderly Sufi Priest, Esfahan, Iran

Ancient Ruins of Persepolis, Iran

Amazing Tower in Tehran Azadi Square, Iran

Blue tile roofed traditional architecture, Uzbekistan

Days 1-2 Istanbul

Welcome to incredible Istanbul! Have your fortune told in the Taksim, bargain up a storm in the Grand Bazaar or admire the imposing Blue Mosque.
ACCOM: Hostel - 2

Day 3 Tuz Golu/Bush Camp

Visit Turkey's salt lake, Tuz Golo, which provides 63% of Turkey's salt. Bush camp in the evening.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Days 4-5 Goreme

Discover Cappadocia's Goreme Valley and underground troglodyte cities, fairy chimneys and caves.
ACCOM: Camping (with facilities) - 2

Days 6-7 Bush Camp

Travel overland into Eastern Turkey via ancient trade routes. Camp under skies that have been gazed at for centuries by fellow travellers.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 2

Day 8 Dogubeyazit

The town of Dogubayazit is at the foot of Mount Ararat, reportedly where Noah's Ark came to rest after The Flood.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 9 Kandovan

Enjoy the first night in Iran at Kandovan, an ancient village of caves built into the volcanic rock - and where locals still live.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Day 10 Zanjan

Explore Zanjan's delightful bazaar and check out the beautiful handicrafts on sale here - perhaps answer the question: does a handcrafted rug fit in a backpack?
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Days 11-12 Tehran

Travel to Tehran and be awed by this vibrant city where ancient meets modern. There is plenty of time here to explore the incredible Golestan Palace.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Days 13-15 Esfahan

Spend three days in this breathtaking city and take time trawling the souqs, bazaars, beautiful squares and blue-tiled Mosques of Esfahan.
ACCOM: Hotel - 3

Days 16-17 Persepolis/Shiraz

Explore the ancient ruins of Persepolis, Persia, and visit the stunning Islamic Shiraz - discovering its impressive citadel and mosques.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Day 18 Zein-o-din Caravanserai

Feel transported back in time while staying in a traditional caravanserai in the Dasht-e Lut desert.
ACCOM: Guesthouse - 1

Days 19-20 Yazd

Wind through the old city of Yazd - reputedly one of the oldest towns in the world.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Day 21 Dasht-e Kavir Desert/Khoor

Travel through the Dasht-e Kavir Desert, which lies in the middle of the Iranian plateau, to the tranquil oasis of Khoor.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 22 Damghan

Explore Iran's oldest surviving mosque - dating back to the 1st century - in Damghan.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 23 Shirvan

Relax by Shirvan's Atrak River, which gives this small town a lush and peaceful feel.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Days 24-25 Ashgabat

Say goodbye to Iran and travel into Turkmenistan. Continue the adventure among the futuristic architecture of Ashgabat.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Day 26 Darvaza

Sleep under the stars in the Karakum Desert. See the spectacular fires of the Darvaza Gas Crater.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Day 27 Bush Camp

Continue the Overland journey through the Karakum Desert, and take in the parched landscape of Asia's hottest desert.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Days 28-29 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

Days 30-32 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 help create the awe-inspiring atmosphere.
ACCOM: Hotel - 3

Day 33 Nurata

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

Days 34-36 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

Days 37-39 Tashkent

Continue your adventure in the most modern of Uzbekistan’s cities. Visit Tashkent’s thriving Chorsu Bazaar to pick up Soviet-style souvenirs and admire the ornately decorated Kukeldash Medressa.
ACCOM: Hotel - 3

Days 40-41 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. Kazakhstan's oldest national park is a scenic wonderland full of mountain lakes, rivers and glaciers, plus all sorts of unusual flora and fauna.
ACCOM: Camping (with facilities) - 1, Homestay - 1

Day 42 Bishkek

Soak up the relaxed charm of Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan's capital. Wander through its wide streets and admire its wealth of handsome houses.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Days 43-44 Chong Kemin National Park

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 45 Cholpon Ata/Issyk-kul Lake

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

Day 46 Karakol

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

Days 47-48 Djety Oguz Valley

Admire the lofty sandstone cliffs in Djety Oguz Valley.
ACCOM: Camping (with facilities) - 2

Day 49 Kochkor

Mingle with friendly locals and relish Kyrgyz hospitality while enjoying a homestay in Kochkor.
ACCOM: Homestay - 1

Days 50-51 Song-Kol Lake

Spend the night in a yurt near Song-Kol Lake and join in a game of ulak-tartysh.
ACCOM: Yurt - 2

Day 52 Bush Camp

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

Days 53-54 Bishkek

Take time out in Bishek. Why not stroll through the city's markets and haggle for bargains. Alternatively, relaxing in an Oak Park cafe and reflecting on the adventure is another good option!
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 55 Kochkor

Make Kyrgyz friends on an authentic homestay experience in Kochkor.

Day 56 Bush Camp

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

Day 57 Kashgar

The striking atmosphere of Kashgar provides a refreshing contrast to the past two days' travel. Soak up the exotic sights, sounds and smells of this unique destination.

Day 58 Karakol

Set off early to get to stunning Lake Karakol. Spend the day wallowing in the surrounds of this magnificent setting before spending the night in traditional yurts.

Days 59-61 Kashgar

Travel to the westernmost end of China and visit Kashgar, an exotic fusion of Chinese, Uzbek and Kyrgyz. Wander the streets that weave through the old town and discover the markets and bazaars of this diverse city.
ACCOM: Hotel - 3

Days 62-63 Bush Camp

Leave Kashgar and head to the outskirts of the enormous Taklamakan Desert. Travelling into seemingly unchartered terrain, spend two days on an overland adventure.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 2

Days 64-65 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 66-67 Turpan

Escape the desert sands in the laidback town of Turpan. Explore the famous Jiahe ruins, visit the night market or perhaps soak up the lively energy among locals in the town square.
ACCOM: Hotel - 2

Day 68 Bush Camp

Continue the Overland adventure towards the ancient Silk Road town of Dunhuang. Spend the night wild camping beneath the desert stars.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1

Days 69-70 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

Days 71-72 Bush Camp/Great Wall

Drive to Jiayuguan and discover deserted sections of the Great Wall.
ACCOM: Camping (with facilities) - 2

Days 73-74 Liujiaxia

At the crossroads of Qinghai and Gangsu, arrive at Liujiaxia. Visit the Bingling Si Buddhist grottoes to see intricate cliff-side carvings.
ACCOM: Bush camp (no facilities) - 1, Hotel - 1

Days 75-76 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 77 Lanzhou

Make tracks to Lanzhou and relax beside the rushing waters of the Yellow River.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Day 78 Pingliang

Overland to lovely Pingliang, located at the base of the verdant Kongtong Mountain. If feeling energetic, climb through five lush terraces to the scared site of Mount Kongtong, passing temples and shrines along the way.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1

Days 79-80 Xi'an

Admire the 2,000-year-old army of Terracotta Warriors at the end of this journey from Kashgar to Xi'an.
ACCOM: Hotel - 1