Travel the Silk Road from China to Uzbekistan
Unlock the secrets of the Silk Road on this immersive journey across Central Asia. From Beijing all the way to Ashgabat, this epic 41-day trip heads west across China, showcasing stunning relics, dynastic palaces, Muslim minarets, hidden grottoes and rock-cut Buddhist masterpieces. Continuing into Kyrgyzstan and to the heartland of Uzbekistan, be dazzled by Central Asia proper: the tranquil landscape of Song-Kol Lake; wild boar and deer around Chychkan Gorge; Solomon's Throne in historic Osh; and the superb mosques and museums of Samarkand. Finish up in the often forgotten Turkmenistan, watching eternal flames glazing over Darvaza crater, visit settlement of Yerbent in the desert and blow your imagination of Central Asia in the futuristic Ashgabat. Full of warmly hospitable locals, spectacular expanses and constant evocations of a legendary past, this is Silk Road and Central Asia at its magical best.
Follow the route of the ancient Silk Road, travelling in the footsteps of countless generations of nomads and traders
Discover the unreal, rainbow-coloured landscape of Zhangye, a UNESCO site that looks like countless pots of bright paint have been spilled across sandstone mountains. You won't be able to put your camera away!
Uncover the ‘other terracotta warriors’ in Xi’an’s Hanyangling Mausoleum, an authentic and more personal burial site that’s home to tens of thousands of buried pottery figures
Experience the unique atmosphere of Kashgar’s Sunday Market
Central Asia is a fascinating and unique mix of ancient Silk Road culture, Soviet influence and striving to redefine nations post independence. Geographically and for a time historically, it is the real centre of Asia.
The much-photographed Registan in Samarkand is one of the true pinnacles of Islamic architecture. You'll be wowed by the scale, grandeur and beauty of the monuments to iconic figures such as Tamerlane and the Persian influenced madressas, mosques and mausoleums.
Experience for yourself the legend that is Central Asian hospitality - there's really nothing like being welcomed into a local home or yurt for a meal, chatting with stall holders at bazaars or simply marvelling at the sights alongside locals.
Kyrgyzstans mountains are its monuments and its majesty. The landscapes here will stay with you long after the journey is over.
Marvel at the beautiful Song Kol Lake, where in mid-summer you may see flocks of sheep, goats and herds of horses watched over by nomadic herdsmen and their families.
Stay overnight in a yurt lakeside and live like the locals have for centuries in these portable, felt lined traditional tents.
Reflect on the important role horses have played in the traditional Kyrgyz nomadic life style while witnessing horseback sports like odarysh (wrestling on horseback), tiyin-enish (where riders try to pick up coins at full gallop) or kok-baru (goat polo).
Central Asia is a remote destination, perfect for intrepid travellers in the true sense of the word! You will venture well away from cities, right off the beaten track and be able to immerse yourself in local food, life and culture.
Accommodation may on occasion be more basic than what you are used to in homestays, guesthouses and yurt stay. Shower and toilet facilities will be limited in some places and non existent in others. While the comfort level won't always be high, the rewards of living in true local style in this far-out part of the world are immeasurable.
This is an overland journey, so there will be some very long days of travelling and driving, often over rough terrain. This can be tiring at times and will require a great deal of patience at others, especially at border crossings.
What Kyrgyzstan lacks in "sights" compared to the Silk Road monuments and old towns of Uzbekistan and China, it makes up for in alpine landscapes, opportunities for interaction with local families and plenty of time spent on the road or outdoors exploring natural surroundings.
This trip travels on overnight hard sleeper trains on sections of the journey. Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious, but it's certainly one of the best ways to travel long distances and come face-to-face with the country and its people. It's the main form of transport for locals, so take the chance to interact.
There are few places like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan on earth - isolated geographically and long secluded politically. It's probably unlike anywhere you have ever been, so be prepared to be surprised and for things to run a little differently to home. Here's some of what to expect: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-expect-on-a-trip-to-tu...
Tourism is strictly controlled in Turkmenistan, with Letters of Invitation needed in advance in order to apply for your visa (which you can then get on arrival) and guides tending to be protective of what tourists see and fiercely proud of their nation and its leaders. Those used to more freedom of exploration and tour guides with a more global perspective may find their experience here different from in other destinations.
As there are a number of long travel days, plenty of time spent on your feet and days can be hot and dusty you'll need excellent general health and fitness to get the most out if this trip.
There is one night of basic camping included on this trip in the Karakum Desert. Sleeping bags, mattresses and tents are all provided, but there are no bathing or permanent toilet facilities at the campsite.
1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip, excluding nights in yurts, homestays, guesthouses and overnight trains.
2. As Central Asian immigration and customs officials are notoriously strict, please make sure you keep all forms for when you exit the country. A lost customs or immigration form could result in a fine or being detained at the border. You must also declare ALL currency when entering and exiting the country; keep all currency exchange slips or ATM receipts.
3. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required at time of booking in order for us to purchase your train tickets.
4. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilet facilities (usually one with a toilet seat and one squat-style in each compartment) are available on all trains, but there are no showers or baths.
5. While traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites.
6. As this is a combination trip your leader and group composition will change along the way. You will have a Chinese, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbek and Turkmen leader in each country. For the border crossing between China & Kyrgyzstan and for the overnight stay in Naryn you will be accompanied by an Intrepid representative.