exceptional journey makes a special landscape known
to you – the Tarim Large Valley and the Taklamakan
Desert – as well as the history of this region,
which is closely connected with the landscape. Besides
the terrific scenery, you will get to know the cultural
accomplishments of the sundry peoples, who lived in
this area, and become acquainted with the cultural
exchange, which came along with the trading at the
Silk Road. Flourishing oases, ancient, yet still functioning
water supply systems, Buddhist rock grottos and Islamic
Mosques give you an insight into the inventive power
of human being. Perished cities of which we admire
nowadays the ruins that show the opposite as well.
Desiccated rivers and cities, which sink in the desert
sand, witness the climatic and environmental changes,
which are caused partially by human being. The experiences
you make during this somewhat laborious journey, the
beautiful scenery and the amiable people, whom you
will meet, will stay forever in your memory.
Tarim Large Valley and the Taklamakan Desert
The river, which crosses the desert in the left
half of the picture, is the Hotan River. To
the east (right) of it, you can see the Keriya
River, which ends in the desert. The Turfan
Basin is at the south of the mountains, top
right edge of the picture.
The picture is based on NASA data and was compiled
by the “Earth Observatory team”
http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/ and made available
by the “Visible Earth team” http://visibleearth.nasa.gov/
Fly to Beijing.
|Day 2: Beijing / Urumqi
|| Xinjiang Hotel****
in Beijing, delivery of the flight tickets and flight
to Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang province. Greetings
by your tour guide and transfer to the hotel.
3: Urumqi / Turfan
|| Oasis Hotel***
Go to the legendary Flaming Mountains,
red sandstone rocks at the northern corner of the
Turfan basin. The mountains were made famous by the
classic novel Journey to the West.
The ascending hot air above the red rocks in contrast
to the blue sky generates the appearance of mountains
on fire. Afterwards visit the Bezeklik Grottos.
In this region, the first Buddhist Caves in China
are situated. The cave art (e.g. mural paintings)
began in the Southern and Northern Dynasty and ended
in the 13th century with the ingress of Islam. The
remains that still exsit today provide a very interesting
insight into the worldwide trade and cultural exchange
of that time. Visit the Gaochang Ruins
near the Flaming Mountains. The city was founded by
the Han Emperor Wudi (141 – 87 BC) and it became
an important center of the Uigur Realm later, but
it was destroyed in the 14th century in the war. In
the afternoon, you will visit Turfan’ landmark
- the Emin Minaret (Sugong Ta), a
part of the Sulaiman Mosque. This 44 m high tower
is made of clay bricks and is in geometric and plant
patterns. It was built in 1777 under Emperor Qianlong
and it is an excellent example of Uigur architecture.
Day 4: Turfan / Kucha
you will be surprised by the ingenious and still working
Karez Water Supply System (also known as
the "Ganats system"), which was developed
in the arid regions of Middle Asia and spread along
the Silk Road. It consists of more than one thousand
canals, which lead the water from the 40 km distant
Bogda Mountain to the fields of the Turfan oasis.
Visit the Jiaohe Ruins, 10 km outside
Turfan, the capital of a kingdom during the Han Dynasty.
The city was built of clay bricks on a loam plateau.
After the returning to Turfan, go for a ramble at
the bazaar and transfer to the train station
in the evening. Then go to Kucha by train in a first
class sleeping wagon.
|Day 5: Kucha
Arrival in Kucha,
the political and cultural centre of western China
in the period of prosperity of the Silk Road. After
breakfast in the hotel, visit the Ruins of a large
monastery city situated at an impressing river landscape
at the foot of Tianshan Mountain. Then you will see
the highest Beacon Tower along the Silk Road and the
Kizil Thousand Buddha Cave. Go there through
a marvellous canyon landscape of Tianshan Mountain.
The grottos are carved into an about 1 km long scarp
along the Muzati River. The oldest of the former over
200 grottos were formed in the third century. Therefore,
they are the oldest Buddhist Cave Temples in China.
Return to Kucha afterwards.
|Day 6: Kucha / Minfeng
||A local guesthouse
and exciting journey awaits you today. Go from North
to South across the Taklamakan Desert on the Oil Road
- the Taklamakan Desert Highway, which was built to
open up crude oil sources. The Taklamakan Desert is
the largest cohesive sandy desert (By comparison,
only 20 % of the Sahara Desert is covered by sand).
Here you will get to know the difficulties of the
construction and preservation of such a road. Cross
the Tarim River through its famous gallery forests
in the midst of the desert and enter the more than
400 km wide “ocean” of sand dunes, which
towers up to 200 m. You will be charmed by the undescribable
beauty of the dune landscape, which changes its formation
again and again, the lines of light and shadow narrowed
to the simplest and the particularly enchanting sentiment
of the desert. It is a foretaste of the imminent adventures.
In the evening, reach the small village Minfeng
(Niva) about 50 km, at the southern route of the Silk
Road. Overnight stay at a local guesthouse.
|Day 7: Minfeng / Yutian (Keriya) / Balguntai
the morning, go to Yutian (Keriya) by bus in the western
direction, there you will change to off-road vehicles.
Afterwards leave the south route of the Silk Road,
which means parting for 10 days from civilisation.
Loaded with victuals, go by off-road vehicles on a
road along the Keriya River, which becomes even drier,
into the Taklamakan Desert. It is the centre of the
Tarim Large Valley, which is surrounded by high mountains
in the North, the West and the South. On the way you
will come across small oasis villages, which are encircled
by poplar boulevards time and again. An about 200
km long and several km wide belt, in which poplars
and tamarisks turn up again and again, accompanies
the river into the inside of the desert. Overnight
stay at the small Uigur settlement - Balguntai - just
as in the coming days - in tents.
8: Balguntai / Daheyan
In the morning,
go forward into the desert. Arrive at the small village
Daheyan in the afternoon. The small settlement
amidst the desert owes its existence to the Keriva
River, which is fed by melt water from the Kulun Mountains
– albeit the river is often desiccated at this
place. Here you will get the possibility to become
acquainted with the caravan guides and to become familiar
with the camels.
9-14: Taklamakan Desert
The great adventure begins today. Travel with a grand
caravan of up to 30 camels into the ocean of dunes,
which seemed endless. Now, go on a camel ride through
the heart of the Taklamakan for one week. The dunes,
which constantly change their shapes and formations
due to the wind, are up to 200 m high. You will be
fascinated by the ostensible infinity of the dune
landscape, the quiescence and the particular sentiment
of the desert. The play of colour, light and shadow
is overwhelming. You will cover a distance of about
20 km (airlane distance about 15 km) every day. The
celerity is in commensurate with the common celerity
of the caravans. But it is not a walkaway. It requires
a good physical condition for climbing up the dunes,
marveling at the impressing scenery and in addition,
taking photos on the way. Not everywhere the sand
is consolidated as it is at the windward side of a
dune. Strong wind and variations in temperature of
up to 30 degrees between day and night are not uncommon.
Good physical and psychological constitution, as well
as team spirit, is very important. I am sure you will
have an unforgettable experience. During theses days,
a chef will cater for you ordinary but nourishing
and palatable food (picnic at noon, and a hot meal
in the evening).
|Day 15: Mazatagh
During the day, you will reach the Mazatagh
Mountain at the Hotan River that crosses
the entire desert and flows into the Tarim River,
and which, as well as the Keriya River owes its
existence to the melt water of the mountain. The
mountain can be seen in the flickering air already
one day before the arrival so that it can serve
as an orientation. At the mountain, ruins of a fortification
are located, where the long ago vanished trade route
along the Hotan River across the desert was under
control. It throws a short bright light on the changeful
history of the region. The ascendency on the mountain
gives you the opportunity to watch a wonderful sunset.
|Day 16: Mazatagh / Hotan (Hetian)
morning, you have to say goodbye to the caravan guides
and the animals, which you will cherish in the days
to come. Go by off-road vehicles on a sabulous road
along the Hotan River, about 250 km in the south out
of the desert. Here the river is accompanied by a
wide belt of poplars and tamarisks. When you arrive
at the southern boarder of the Taklamakan - Hotan
(Hetian), you will find the civilisation there. The
old kingdom Hotan at the southern route of the Silk
Road was a symbol for the wealthiness during the time
of prosperity of the Silk Road. It was the most important
distributor and emporium for jade, silk and carpets.
After the arrival at the hotel, a refreshing shower
and change of clothes, you can make a city tour there.
Visit the Old Town
and the bazaar with oriental mediaeval appearing hurly-burly
of life and homesteads, where silk fabrics and mulberry
paper are produced in the same practices as 2,000
years ago. Then you can go for a Jade Search in the
“ White Jade River”, one of the sources
of the Hotan River, and then visit a jade carving
establishment. Time permits, you will visit the museum,
where mummies from the desert among other things are
18: Hotan / Kashgar
Today, make a
journey along the southern edge of the Taklamakan
desert to Kashgar. The southern route of the Silk
Road is the oldest part of this trade route and due
to its remote site, a lot of its original shape is
still preserved today. During the drive, at your left
side is the Kunlun Mountains, while at your right
side the desert is situated. You will reach Yarkant,
an old oasis kingdom between Kashgar and Hotan about
noon. Visit the Mausoleum of the Yarkant Kings
and the Mosque. Arrive in
Kashgar in the late afternoon.
19: Kashgar (Karakorum Highway, Karakul
Make a day trip
to the Pamir Mountains today. Go
there through the Karakorum Highway, which goes from
Kashgar to Islamabad. As soon as you leave Kashgar,
you will see the impressing scenery of the snow covered
mountains with the double peaks of the Kongur Mountain
(7719m) and the Muztagh-Ata Mountain (7546m). And
then you will reach the Karakul Lake
at an altitude of 3,600 m. Enjoy the life of the nomads
and the different culture around the lake.
20: Kashgar / Urumqi
Acity sightseeing in Kashgar with the Bazaar, the mediaeval
appearing craftsmen street and the Old Town awaits
you today. Visit the more than 400 years old Id
Kah Mosque, the largest Mosque in China today.
It is said that there is place for about 10.000 believers.
And you will see the Abakh Hoja Tomb,
a masterpiece of Uigur architecture. From the year
1640 on, 72 members of the Abakh hoja Family were
buried in 58 graves there. In China, the tomb is also
known as that of the "Fragrant Concubine".
In fact, this Uigur concubine of Emperor Qianlong
of the Qing Dynasty was buried in the Eastern Qing
Tombs close to Beijing, archaeological research found
out. Fly to Urumqi in the evening.
21:Urumqi / Heaven Lake / Urumqi
make a city tour there. Urumqi is a modern and lively
city. It is the centre of Xinjiang Uigur Autonomous
Region at the northern mountainside of Tianshan Mountain.
Then visit the Red Mountain, and
from its peak you will get a view of the beautiful
city and the 5445 m high Bogda Mountain in the distance.
Then make a trip to the Heaven Lake,
which is situated at a 1,900 m height, and is surrounded
by the snow covered Tianshan mountain.
22: Urumqi / Beijing
the airport and fly to Beijing.Greetings by your tour
guide and transfer to the hotel. The rest of the day
is at your disposal.
Transfer to the
airport and go back home.
End of the travel.
B: Breakfast L: Lunch
Camel Ride across the Taklamakan Desert
Single room extra charge
(Minimum number of participants: 6 persons)
Due to the climatic characteristics of this area,
the journey can be conducted only in the time from
the end of August to the end of October. The temperature
during the day can be up to 40 degrees, while at night,
the temperature is around the freezing point. This
has to be taken into consideration in the travel planning.
Therefore you need both light cotton clothes, which
absorb the sweat, and warm clothes, which are suitable
for temperatures around the freezing point. Likewise,
your sleeping bag should be suitable for temperatures
up to at least 10 degrees below zero. Good physical
and psychological constitution, team spirit and spirit
of adventure, flexibility, tolerance and patience
are essential for this journey. You will receive a
detailed check list of the equipments after the registration.
Turfan Oasis Hotel***
Kucha Kucha Hotel**
Yutian – Balguntai - Mazatagh Tent
Hotan Zhejiang Hotel***
Kashgar Qiniwake Hotel***
Urumqi Xinjiang Hotel***
-- All overnight accommodation in double rooms shared
by two adults with breakfast,
lunch and dinner.
-- All transfers and entrance tickets as listed in
-- Inland flight tickets including all fees.
-- Local English-speaking tour guide.
-- All the necessary additional expenditures like
camel, chef, off-road vehicles, tent,
-- International flight tickets
-- Visa for China
-- The service that has not been mentioned in the
-- Personal expenditures, tips etc.
-- Children less than 12 years old can be given discounts.
-- The hotels, trains and flights listed in the itinerary
may be changed into the ones
of similar category if necessary.
-- If you need more information, please contact