Luxury Small Group Journeys - The Ancient Silk Road with Sujata Raman

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Best time to go: September

9 Nights | from £6,395pp

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Holiday type: Group departure

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HIGHLIGHTS

  • Special access to the rich gallery of Buddhist art at the Mogao Caves
  • The outer reaches of the Great Wall of China
  • Camel safari in the Mingshashan Sand Dunes
  • Up-close observation of Turfan’s ingenious Kerez irrigation channels
  • The Sunday market in the fabled city of Kashgar

Day 1 Arrive Beijing
On arrival into the Chinese capital you are met and transferred to the hotel. This evening join Sujata and your fellow companions for a tour briefing followed by a welcome dinner at the hotel.
Four Seasons Beijing | Meals: Dinner

Day 2 Beijing – Dunhuang
Early this morning transfer to the airport for the flight west to Dunhuang, an important stop on the ancient Silk Road. On arrival visit the Dunhuang museum where there is a collection of artifacts from the powerful Western Han period as well as scrolls from the famous Mogao Caves. After lunch transfer to the hotel for an afternoon at leisure. You may wish to visit the town’s central market area, the largest in Dunhuang, specializing in fresh produce and local handicrafts.
The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 3 Dunhuang
After breakfast visit the Mogao Caves, also known as the Thousand Buddha Grottoes. These represent the most well-preserved repository of Buddhist art in the world and the visit includes special access to some areas which are normally closed to the public. Afterwards we visit the Buddhist Yulin Caves to the east which have a magnificent setting on a cliff face above a dry river gully. The caves vary in quality of mural preservation and there are some outstanding examples from the 11th century.
The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4 Dunhuang
Today the journey takes you to the Yumen Guam, or Jade Gate Pass northwest of Dunhuang. This was a strategic point on the ancient Silk Road and a gateway from central China to the western regions. Nearby is a 2,000 year-old remnant of the Great Wall from the Han Period built from layers of stamped earth, sand, straw and brushwood.
The Silk Road Dunhuang Hotel | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5 Dunhuang – Urumqi
Head out on a camel safari to the towering Mingshashan Sand Dunes which cover hundreds of square kilometres. The dunes are an extension of Mongolia’s vast Gobi Desert to the northeast. The camels here are the two-humped Bactrian species which are found in the colder deserts of Mongolia, northwest China and Kazakhstan. Lunch at a local restaurant and afternoon is at leisure before an evening flight to Urumqi.
Grand Mercure Urumqi Hualing | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6 Urumqi – Turfan – Urumqi
Travel to the oasis town of Turfan to visit the impressive ruins of the ancient city of Gaochang, 47km southeast of Turfan. Built in the 2nd century BC as a garrison town it became a key point on the Silk Road. Explore the ruined temples, palaces and ramparts before heading to the nearby Flaming Mountain. And next visit the 18th century Emin Minaret built of brick and designed in the style of Iran’s pre-Savafid architecture. Sandwiched between a towering mountain range and the Taklamakan desert, Turfan has thrived since the 1st millennium BC mostly thanks to a monumental water irrigation system which you’ll visit today. The Kerez is a series of huge underground wells and channels which collected glacial melt from streams and rivers to form the oasis.
Grand Mercure Urumqi Hualing | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7 Urumqi – Kashgar
A morning visit to the Xinjiang Museum accompanied by a museum expert to learn about the impressive collection of well-preserved Caucasian mummies, as well as historic relics including iron and bronze ware, bright and beautiful brocades, tomb figures, pottery, coins, rubbings from stone inscriptions and weapons. Fly to Kashgar, located in the far west of the country, it is the last great oasis town before reaching the Pamir Mountains of Central Asia. Visit Handicraft Street, home to hundreds of stalls selling folk handicrafts before arriving at the hotel.
Kashgar International Hotel | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8 Kashgar
The first stop today is the Afaq Khoja Mausoleum, one of the finest example of Islamic architecture in the Xinjiang region. Continue by local transport to the great Sunday Market. The bazaar is laid out in an orderly fashion that is marked by the product sold so there is a cloth or textile market, a hat market, a boot market, spice, fruit and food market. In short it is a vast, all-encompassing marketplace that reaches fever pitch on a Sunday when thousands of buyers descend upon the city from the vast network of surrounding oasis towns. This afternoon, visit the Id Kah Mosque and wander through old Kashgar where there are still remains of the old Uighur city and its Turkic traditions. Join a local Uighur family in their home to enjoy the traditional sweet tea and dried fruits favoured for honoured guests.
Kashgar International Hotel | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9 Kashgar
Today’s highlight is a visit to Lake Karakul which sits at an elevation of 3,600m beneath two of China’s highest peaks. Access is south via the legendary Karakorum Highway, China’s road link to Pakistan. The drive is thrilling, crossing desert, grassland, desolate canyon and snow-crowned peaks. It is a highway into another world where Kirgiz nomads drive their flocks of sheep and goats and herds of camels, yaks and horses to the rich highland pastures of the Karakorum. A lakeside picnic is included today giving you plenty of time to enjoy the breath-taking landscape.
Kashgar International Hotel | Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10 Depart Kashgar
Today you are transferred to the airport for your departure flight.
Meals: Breakfast

Back to China


Accommodation

Departure Dates & Pricing

Departure Dates Per Person from
3rd Sep 2017 £6,395Book now
   
   
   
   

 

The above prices include all accommodation, guiding and meals as specified. Subject to availability. Excludes international flights. Single Supplement from £1,455.

 


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Useful info

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Best time to be there

While there are differences in the climate according to the region in China, it is best to travel in Spring and Autumn when the weather is not too hot nor freezing cold. But we also pay attention to festival periods and special occasions.

Fly to

Beijing/Shanghai/Hong Kong (British Airways, Cathay Pacific, Virgin)

flying time

11 hours 20 minutes non-stop

time difference

GMT +7 hours

Visas

Visa required for UK passport holders

Health Requirements

Yellow Fever certificate if arriving from an endemic area

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