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A 48 Day Adventure Tracking the Great Silk Road from Xi’an to Istanbul

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Price available on enquiry

More information available upon request. Minimum duration may apply.
Please read our terms and conditions before booking.

Embark on a transformative journey with this extraordinary expedition together with our partner, offering a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for those with the luxury of time to trace the entirety of a major Silk Road branch.

Spanning across Asia, this epic odyssey stretches from Xi'an in central China to the enchanting city of Istanbul in Western Turkey, covering a staggering distance of approximately 12,000 kilometres and traversing six contrasting countries.

In the footsteps of renowned travel luminaries such as Marco Polo, Ibn Battuta, Hsuan-Tsang, and countless ancient Silk Road traders, participants will not only behold iconic landmarks like Xi'an's Terracotta Army, Samarkand's Registan Square, and Istanbul's Blue Mosque but will also traverse mountains, deserts, and grasslands. Along this historic route, encounters with the Uighur, Kyrgyz, Uzbek, and Turkmen peoples will provide a rich tapestry of cultural experiences, as these communities have shaped the very lands we traverse.

This expedition is a profound tribute to the spirit of exploration, treading in the footsteps of those who journeyed before us. With a nod to history and a focus on cultural immersion, this grand expedition invites guests to join guides on this epic continental voyage through one of the world's most captivating and lesser-known regions.

Sample Itinerary

Day 1 Tour starts in Xi'an (China)

Your epic trip begins this evening in Xi’an, an ancient city famed for being the starting point of the Silk Road. After an introductory briefing, you'll venture out for your first group dinner.


Day 2 Xi'an

This morning you'll visit the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and explore the old town, where we will be able to see the massive city walls which at 14km in length enclose the historic centre. We’ll wander through the narrow streets of the Muslim Quarter and visit the Great Mosque, one of the oldest, largest and best-preserved Islamic mosques in China. The afternoon has been left free to allow time for personal exploration of this endlessly fascinating city.


Day 3 Xi'an - Lanzhou

A highlight of any visit to Xi'an is a visit to see the Terracotta Warriors, one of the greatest archaeological finds of the last century. Amazingly nothing was known of the existence of the life-size soldiers of the Terracotta Army until a peasant digging a well in 1974 stumbled upon them. The underground battle formations of life-sized pottery warriors, archers, horses and chariots have been left in situ in three large excavated pits and we’ll visit them all. Later in the day we’ll return to Xi'an to board our overnight train heading along what was the first stage of the westbound Silk Road towards Lanzhou.


Day 4 Lanzhou - Xiahe

The capital of Gansu Province, Lanzhou was once an important link along the Northern Silk Road and a major crossing point of the Yellow River. Today it provides you with your gateway into the culturally rich landscapes of the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. On arrival in Lanzhou you'll continue on to Xiahe by road. Home to the famous Labrang Tibetan Buddhist Monastery, one of the largest outside Tibet, the town of Xiahe sits alongside the Daxia River amidst a rural mountainous landscape populated largely by ethnic Tibetans.


Day 5 Xiahe

One of the six great monasteries belonging to the Geluk (Yellow Hat) School of Tibetan Buddhism, Labrang Monastery was founded in 1790 by the first Jamyang Zhaqypa, Ngawang Tsondru. Situated at the intersection of four major Asian cultures - Tibetan, Mongolian, Han Chinese and Chinese Muslim - during the 20th century, it was one of the largest Buddhist monastic universities in the world. Located at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain, the monastery boasts a collection of Buddha statues that number in their tens of thousands and is still an important pilgrimage site for Buddhists across the region, with the largest number of monks in residence outside the Tibet Autonomous Region. We’ll have the whole day to explore this fascinating place.


Day 6 Xiahe - Lanzhou - Jiayuguan

Making your way back to Lanzhou today, you'll first pay a visit to the Binglingshi Caves located on the Yellow River, which have Buddhist carvings dating back over 1500 years. A scenic speedboat ride takes us to the entrance, from where we will be able to enjoy walking around this impressive site. Returning by boat to meet our bus, we’ll continue to Lanzhou to catch the overnight train through the Gansu Corridor to Jiayuguan, where we will find the first pass at the western end of the Great Wall. We’ll arrive in the city early tomorrow morning.


Day 14 Kashgar - Sary Tash (Kyrgyzstan, 3,163M)

An early start sees us drive out of Kashgar due west along the main artery of the Old Silk Road to the Irkishtam Pass (2950m). This is a stunning drive through an area of outstanding natural beauty, with multi-coloured sedimentary sandstone flanking our route. At the pass we will cross into Kyrgyzstan then continue on towards Sary Tash along another staggering road, this time with the high Pamirs rising to the south. We’ll stay the night with a local family in their cosy house.


Day 23 Mary

After breakfast today we will drive to Ancient Merv to see remaining traces of the glorious “Maru Shahu Jahan” – “Queen of Cities”. Due to its size and historical importance, Merv is one of the most significant sites in Turkmenistan, indeed in all of Central Asia. It consists of a series of towns each succeeded by another throughout the course of history. We’ll see the remains of Erk Kala (6th C BC) with its citadel, Gayur Kala (3rd C BC), Sultan Kala (8-11th C AD), Abdullakhan Kala and Bairamalikhan Kala (15th C AD), Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar – the last ruler of a great Seljuk Empire (12th C AD), Great Kala and Little Kyz Kala (6-7th C AD), and the Mausoleum of Muhammed Ibn Zeid (12th C AD). Later this afternoon we’ll return to Mary to visit the highly acclaimed History Museum.


Day 42 Cappadocia

We will spend the whole day exploring some of the highlights of the region, beginning at the Göreme Open Air Museum, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here we will walk through the valley and explore the painted churches of this former Byzantine monastery. This afternoon we’ll visit Kaymakli underground city, originally carved out by the Hittites around 3000BC, and then Uchisar Fortress, built by the Romans, from where we’ll be able to enjoy spectacular views of the area. We’ll also take a walk to visit the fairy chimneys known as 'Love Valley' before returning to Avanos for the evening.

Price available on enquiry

More information available upon request. Minimum duration may apply.
Please read our terms and conditions before booking.

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