Silk Road China 2006

16 days

Silk Road was named in the middle of 19th century by the German scholar, Baron Ferdinand von Richthofen, the Silk Road – perhaps the greatest East-West trade route and vehicle for cross-cultural exchange – was first traveled by General Zhang Qian in the second century BC while on a mission from Emperor Wudi of the Han Dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). Zhang was sent to recruit the Yueh-chih people, who had recently been defeated by the XIongnu (Huns of the Turkish Decent) and driven to the western fringes of the Taklamakan Desert.

Zhang with caravan of 100 men sent out in 138 BC from the Chinese Capital og Chang’an (present-day Xian) only to be soon captured by the Huns as they passed through the hexi Corridor in northwest Gansu.

Alexander the Great’s expansion into Central Asia stopped far short Chinese T urkestan, and he appears to have gained little knowledge of the lands beyond. The Romans with only a slight better understanding, were convinced that the Seres (the silk People, or the Chinese) harvested silk from trees, the ‘wool of the forests’ according to Pliny. The Parthians along with the Sogdians, Indians, and Kushans soon became prominent middlemen in the trade of silk, reaping tremendous profit, bartering with Chinese traders who escorted their merchandise to Dunhang and as far as Loulan, in the heart of Lop Nor Desert beyond the Great Wall, and carrying the trade on to Persian, Syrian and Greek merchants.

Experiencing the sights and sounds of the Silk Road is for most Westerners the fulfillment of their own Marco Polo adventure fantasy, and the opening of the China Pakistan border at the kunjerab Pass in 1996 made that dream an exciting reality. The pass is open to foreign tourists from May to at least the beginning (and as late as the end) of November, depending on weather conditions. Postal services and border trade continue throughout the year. Since late 1991 it has also become possible to enter China via the Moscow-Urumqi railway, which by-passes the Aral Sea.


Day 1 Arrive Islamabad – Transfer to hotel. Afternoon sightseeing: Fiasal Mosque, Shakarparian, Daman-e-Koh view points and Rawal Lake. Overnight at hotel.
Day 2 Drive to Besham, overnight at hotel. The area around PTDC Motel is very beautiful. It is located at the bank of river Indus. Marvelous views for photography.
Day 3 Drive to Gilgit. Gilgit at an altitude of 5000 ft. is a thriving frontier town with a population of over 40,000. The small town of Gilgit is quaint and has a Cluster of interesting places to visit within a short radius . This includes a beautiful rock carving of Buddha, a 700 years old monument of Taj Mughal and the longest suspension bridge in Asia, 600 ft long. The favorite sport in Gilgit is polo which the locals claim originated here.
Day 4 Drive to Karimabad. Visit Baltit Fort. The Baltit Fort is said to be 700 years old Tibentan in style, it was reputedly built when a “Princess” of Baltistan married the reigning Mir and brought with her hundreds of Balti craftsmen and masons to build Baltit Fort as part of her dowry. Superb chances for photography.
Day 5 Karimabad- Morning visit Altit Fort and village. Afternoon drive to Sost. Over night at hotel.
Day 6 Sost / Khunjirap /Tashkorgan / Karakol Lake. Drive from Sost to Tashkurgan via the Khunjerab Pass. Then from Tashkurgan driving over an altitude of 3,900 meters by the shores of Karakol Lake, We’ll photograph the great rolling grasslands and the mountains beyond. And visit with the local nomadic people and spend the night in a yurt, the round tent-like homes common to central Asia. Overnight at Yurt.
Day 7 Karakul Lake/Kashgar. Today you will have time to take a walk along the lake and take photos to the lake and the massive Muztagata Mountain, the “Father of the Ice Mountains”. Here the glaciers and snowfields are overwhelming. The high wind swept the plateaus between the parallel ranges that constitute the Pamirs, the “Roof of the World” (called the Onion Mountains in early Chinese records), are the home of a branch of the nomadic Kirghiz people known as the KaraKirghiz. Pack-camels amble between their encampments of round ak-oi (yurts covered in thick felts of goat or camel hair.) After lunch beside the lake, we will drive along the Karakoram Highway winding for several hours through the narrow gorge of the Gez River. Then you head for the Silk Road center of Kashgar. Overnight at hotel.
Day 8 Kashger. Our city tour includes the tombs of Abakh Hoja Tomb, well-known Kashgar Bazaar, the famous Id Kah Mosque and the most unique old town with typical Uyghur styled homes. We visit the various shopping alleys full of noodle shops, bakeries, teashops, blacksmiths and carpenters. If today is Sunday, you will be very lucky to visit one of the great markets of central Asia, the traditional Sunday Bazaar (local people call it BAZAAR) where various Moslem nationalities in colorful costumes arrive by donkey cart, on horseback or on foot, to bargain for animals, fruit, clothing, electronic goods and household wares. We’ll spend most of the day there immersing ourselves in the activities. It’s a photographers paradise as food, animals, cloth goods, and metalwork are bought and sold in this vast open-air market. Through our interpreters, we’ll learn about the Uyghur people and bargain with them for their handiwork. Overnight at hotel.
Day 9 Kashgar/Yarkant/Hotan.Toady we will traveled from kashgar to hotan(kothan) bout 500km over the gobi foot the trails of great explorer,mark polo along the south route of silk road , the capital of the ancient yutian kingdom. A pearl on the silk road famous for its unique ruins of ancient city and specialties as hetian jade, silk, carpet…on the way,we will visit yarkant aketun mosque, king sayidia?s tomb, imperial concubine amannisahan (1526-1560) tomb and a uighur graveyard, and can have a view of some landscape of kunlun mountains and taklamakan desert. Overnight at hotel.
Day 10 Hotan. Today, we?ll pedal out to the carpet factory to watch how beautiful works of art are crafted by hand from mere patterns and intricate combinations of fine wool yarn.then visit to the ruins of the important city of the ancient Yutian Kingdom-Malikwat;Hotian Museum,Jade Purchasing Station,then visit to Yuetkhan Ruin that has been thought to be the capital city of ancient Yutian Kingdom; see the special old tree: a wualnut tree of 5 hundred years,which the natives call as ” The King of Walnut”, and a fig tree 4 hundred years old, named by the natives ”The king of fig trees”. In the late afternoon We make our way to the next oasis, Keriya or Yutian. Beyond Keriya the desert becomes hotter and more barren, and we begin to appreciate the subtle variations in the desert scenery as we drive on to Menfeng, the modern town which has supplanted the ancient city in the desert 120km to the north. Overnight at hotel.
Day 11 Niya/Taklamakan Desert/Kuqa. This is the day for our remarkable journey through the world’s second largest desert, the Taklamakan, which in the local Uygur language means “desert of no return”. These days it’s easier to come out, as we drive through the middle on a superbly built highway that takes us to the oasis of Kuqa at the center of the Western Regions, it held a strategic place on the Central Route of the Silk Road. It thus was there different cultures came into contact with each other and has always been a place of songs and dances. Overnight at hotel.
Day 12 Kuqa/Aksu. Today we will visit the Beautiful Murals at the Kizir Thousand Buddha Caves,the largest Buddhist grottoes in western China–Kizir Thousand Buddha Caves–lie some 70 kilometers from Dunhuang. One of the four major grottoes in China, it has a longer history than those at Dunhuang. we will also visit the Kuqa Mosque in the central Asian architectural style and its minaret reflecting Western Regions traditions. And the ruins of the ancient town of Subashi, cover an area of some 200,000 square meters, though there are no city walls, ubiquitous to other ancient towns. Monk Xuan Zang did, however, record in his travel records that “there is a river with two temples, both called Zhaohuli Temple, on the two sides opposite each other.” The ruins on both sides of the river actually were grounds for the temples. In the late afternoon we drive to Aksu. (formerly called Baluka or Kum). Aksu lies below barren yellow loess cliffs, its oasis stretching in a long green belt alongside the banks of the Aksu River. The area is frequently visited by light dust storms, generating an eerie, creeping fog around the base of sand mounds and the scattered ruins of the Han Dynasty beacon towers. Neolithic artifacts from 500BC have been discovered in the area. Overnight at hotel.
Day 13 Kuqa/Aksu. A short city orientation of this new and modern industrial city this morning before a 7-8 hour journey to kashgar.
Day 14 Kashgar/Tashkurgan. Drive from Kashgar to Tashkurgan. Overnight at hotel.
Day 15 Tahkurgan/Sust/ Karimabad. Morning we drive conquering the world’s highest border crossing to Sust and then drive to Karimabad. Overnight at hotel.
Day 16 Drive to Chilas. Overnight at hotel.
Day 17 Drive to Islamabad. Arrive and transfer to hotel. Overnight at hotel
Day 18 Fly to onward destination – END OF OUR SERVICES


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