Silk Road Tour / 16 days
Day1: Arrival at Urumqi airport. Meet the guide and transfer to the hotel
Day 2: Urumqi day tour: visit the Heavenly Lake, 110 km from Urumqi. In the afternoon visit the Xinjiang Museaum with its great collection of mummies. Diner in an Uyghur restaurant, evening flight to Kashgar.
Day 3: Kashgar city tour: visit Apak Hoja Tomb (nice Islamic architecture), then to the lively Sunday Market, the biggest market in Central Asia. Then off to the Old Town, where we wander around and visit the Id Kah Mosque, the largest mosque in China. Last we visit the handicraft street.
Day 4: Drive to Hotan (540 km). On the way we visit the knife factory and two hours further we visit the Golden Graveyard. This graveyard is from the 17th century and from the royal family of the Yarkand kingdom. Then to the tomb of Aman Nihasan, this lady was a famous poet, musician and composer. After lunch we continue to Hotan (1 1/2 hours)
Day 5: In the morning we visit the amazing Hotan Sunday Market, a huge lively market. We visit the White Jade River and see how jade is processed into jewelry. You can try to find jade in the river yourself! Then we visit a wool factory since Hotan is very famous for its high quality wool carpets. In the afternoon we take a camel ride into the Taklaman desert and camp there. We enjoy a camp finer diner and breakfast in the desert. (Note: we will provide all the camping equipment and blankets and so on).
Day 6: Today we drive to Aksu, 650 km on the Taklaman Desert Highway. The Taklaman Desert is the second largest shifting sand desert in the world, called the Sea of Death by the Silk Road traders as many have never been seen again after crossing it (that should make you feel good!)
Day 7: Today we drive from Aksu to Kuqa (320 KM). On the way we visit the Kizil Thousand Buddha Caves, dating from 5th and 6th century. These are the second best preserved Buddha caves in China. Kuqa is the center of Buddhism in Southern Xinjiang. We enjoy a Chinese lunch at the caves.
Day 8: From Kuqa to Korla (320 KM). We first visit the Kuqa Great Mosque and stroll through the streets of Kuqa's old town. We also visit the Beacon Tower, the highest tower on the Silk Road, made of mud and wood. Then off to Subash ancient city, where the Uyghur in the olden days used to worship Buddhism. We will arrive in Korla early afternoon. Korla is widely regarded as the cleanest city in Xinjiang province. We visit the Iron Gate, where in the olden days the Silk Route traders had to be registered along their route.
Day 9: We head to Turpan, across the Tian Shan Mountains, the mountain range which divides Xinjiang in two, north and south. The Uyghur people call this the God Mountain. We arrive in Turpan in the late afternoon, leaving free time to wander the city.
Day 10: Turpan City tour: we visit the ancient city, built in 1st century AD, a key point on the ancient Silk Road. We visit the Astana Ancient Tombs, where many important writings, paintings and mummies have been discovered. We also visit Tuyuk Valley, where traditional Uyghur life can been seen with people living in traditional houses made of mud.
Day 11: Tonight we take the train to Dunhuang, but before we leave Xinjiang province, we first visit the Karitz Underground Water System, a 2000 year old engineering feat. Then to Jiao He Ancient City, the world's largest, highest and oldest mud city. Last stop in Turpan is the Emin minaret from 1777.
Day 12: After arriving by train in Dunhuang, we first go to the hotel to freshen up. Then we go to the spectacular Mogao Caves, the worlds richest collection of Buddhist murals, sutras and sculptures. It was build between the 4th and 14th century. After lunch we head off to the Crescent Moon Spring, an oasis in the desert. Although the area is very dry, the pool does not dry up. In the evening, after diner, we enjoy the FeiTian (Flying Sky) Show, traditional Buddhist dance show.
Day 13: After breakfast we go to the Jade Gate, during the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 220 AD) this was one of the west gates out of the country. After that we visit the Great Wall of the Han Dynasty.We take an evening flight to Xi'An
Day 14: A highlight of a visit to China is the terracotta warriors museum, where 8000 terracotta warriors and horses are displayed. They we build to guard the tomb of emperor Qin during the Qin dynasty.
Day 15: City tour of Xi'An, during which we visit the ancient city wall, the Shanxi Historical Museum and the Big Wild Goose pagoda.
Day 16: Transfer from hotel to airport