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Since the first trip back in 1981, Dragoman has been at the forefront of overland vacations, taking people on unique, off the beaten track adventures in their iconic custom-made orange trucks. Dragoman make it a whole lot easier to get off the tarmac and to take the road less-travelled be it a short trip or an epic journey. It is this ability to go beyond the traditional tourist tails on a life changing overland journey that attracts people from all over the world ranging in age from 18 to 80!. Now as much as we love the highlights of the places we visit, it is often the journey where the real magic happens. Be it the the small village stop in Benin, trying to spot Jaguars in the dense Amazonian jungle of Guyana or staying with the nomadic people of Mongolia. Our balanced itineraries give you the chance to get under the skin of the country and get a true insight into the local culture. Start your overlanding adventure and become part of the family.
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Reisroute

Silk Route between Istanbul and Ulaanbaatar

Day 1 Ulaanbaatar

Border information: If you are joining in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely enter Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport (IATA code: ULN). There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting, but please do not be alarmed if the note is not there as this is often a travel day for the tour leader and they may arrive in the afternoon. If you arrive early, the rest of the day will be free to explore the Mongolian capital! Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ulaanbaatar before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ulaanbaatar. In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Day 2 Ulaanbaatar

This morning we head out on a guided tour to see some of Ulaanbaatar's best and most treasured sights, including the Gandan Monastery and the National Museum. This afternoon we will spend a few hours exploring the Black Market. This huge market contains every single item a Mongolian may need, so a trip here will certainly give visitors a fascinating insight into people's lives, whether they are nomads or urban apartment dwellers.
Activities(Included)
Take a guided tour of the Gandan Monastery, the largest Buddhist Monastery in Mongolia
Visit the infamous Black Market in Ulaanbaatar, and explore the traditional clothes stalls and saddle markets within
Explore the incredible history of the country from the Neolithic era to the present day, at the National Museum of Mongolia

Activities(Optional)
Head out for a cultural show or a performance from a traditional folk band, featuring the unique art of throat-singing - Cost: USD 12
Visit the intriguing International Intellectual Museum, dedicated to puzzles and games made by local artists - Cost: MNT 3000
Discover a remnant of Mongolia's imperial past at the Winter Palace of the Bogd Khan - Cost: MNT 6000
See the superb collection of paintings, carvings and sculptures at The Zanabazar Museum of Fine Arts - Cost: MNT 5000
Discover the unique showcase of religious art and learn about the Buddhist history of Mongolia at the Chojin Lama Temple Museum - Cost: MNT 5000
Visit the Grand Chinggis Khan Square and see the statue of Damdin Sukhbaatar, one of the leaders of the struggle for independence in the 1920s - Cost: MNT
Climb to the Zaisan Memorial, an interesting remnant of Mongolia's communist past that affords incredible views over Ulaanbaatar - Cost: MNT

Day 3 OEgii Lake

Today we drive out of the city and into the vast plains of Mongolia. We hope to arrive at Khar Bukh Balgas ruins in the early afternoon. Khar Bukh Balgas was built during the Kitan period in about 1000CE, and was part of a chain of fortresses that were used to govern and control the northern region and borders of the Kitan state. Upon arrival at the site, we will explore the ruins and learn about the various kingdoms that dominated Mongolia during that era. After our visit to the ruins we will drive to Ögii Lake where many nomadic families spend their summer. The lake is famed for it's great bird watching opportunities where it is not uncommon to spot at Swan Goose, White Spoonbill and Dalmatian Pelicans. In Ögii Lake we will stay in a local nomadic ger-tent camp set up for guests. These are large gers, each usually containing 2 or 4 beds. Please note that we cannot give any accurate drive time estimations for our Mongolia trip as the journey times are heavily dependent on the state of roads, which is in turn heavily dependent on the weather. The roads in Mongolia are mostly dirt tracks in very poor condition, which means that an even greater degree of flexibility is needed for this trip in all regards.
Activities(Included)
See the ancient Orkhon Inscriptions, two large monoliths with inscriptions in Old Turkic script
Explore the ruins of the 10th-century Kitan fortress of Khar Bukh Balgas, an interesting slice of Mongolia's pre-Genghis Khan history

Day 4 Kharkhorin

Today we have an early start as we head to Mongolia's earliest capital, Kharkhorin (otherwise known as Karakoram). Our first stop on the way to Kharkhorin will be at the Kultigen Monument. This massive stone tomb was built in honour of a Turkic prince and warrior killed in a nearby battle. We then continue on a fairly short drive to Kharkhorin. Kharkhorin was famed throughout Asia at the capital of the Mongol Empire. We will visit the ruins of the old city, the Erdene Zuu monastery, and other historical monuments in the area. In Kharkhorin we will stay in a ger camp.
Activities(Included)
Visit the huge monastery of Erdene Zuu, Mongolia's oldest Buddhist monastery to survive the purges of the 1930s
Learn all about Karakorum, the former capital of the Mongol Empire that once stood here, at the Kharkhorin Museum

Day 5 to 6 Orkhon Valley

Today we head south, driving into the stunning region of the Orkhon Valley. We will drive to the beautiful volcanic canyon that runs along the Orkhon River and we can take an easy hike along the canyon ending near a pool at the bottom of the Red Waterfalls where we can take a cool swim! We will wild camp in a remote area of the Orkhon Valley tonight. The following day we will continue our journey through the Orkhon Valley to the Tuvkhon Monastery, which we can embark on a two and a half hour trek to visit (the first hour will be uphill!). This monastery was established during the 1650s by Zanbazar, one of Mongolia's most respected religious leaders. The monastery's wooden buildings are integrated with a natural system of caves perched near a hilltop, from which you have beautiful views of the Orkhon Valley and the surrounding pine forests. After our visit we will wild camp nearby. Please note that on occasion it is impossible to reach the Tuvkhon Monastery due to river flooding or the ground being impassable - the roads are in a particularly bad state here and are very susceptible to being rendered impossible to drive on if there has been rain recently. Although we will do our best to make this visit, your understanding is appreciated if we cannot. Please also note that the order of our visits to the 2 main highlights in the Orkhon Valley is interchangable, depending on the road conditions.
Activities(Included)
Explore the stunning volcanic and forested landscapes of the Orkhon Valley and see Ulaan Tsutgalan, Mongolia's largest waterfall
Hike up through the forests to the beautiful Tuvkhon Monastery on the summit of Ulaan Uul mountain

Day 7 to 8 Tsenkher

Today our trip heads north, crossing the Khangai Nuruu Mountains through a series of passes until we reach an area that Mongolians call 'The Paradise of the Horse Herders' due to its lush grasses and open valleys. We drive to the Tsenkher hot springs, where water flows out of the ground at 82°C, and where we can enjoy a relaxing soak. The following day we will take a short, easy walk to meet one of the many nomadic families that spend their summers in the region. The afternoon is free to explore the valley and surrounding hills either by foot or by horseback. In Tsenkher we will stay at a ger camp.
Activities(Included)
Walk around the surrounding valley and visit one of the local nomadic families to learn all about their way of life (if available)
Enjoy a relaxing soak in the natural hot springs

Activities(Optional)
Head out horse riding through the incredible forest scenery surrounding Tsenkher (if helmets available) - Cost: USD 32

Day 9 Tsetserleg

This morning we drive to Tsetserleg, the provincial capital, where we will make a short visit to the local market. If time permits, we will also visit the provincial museum. We will then continue our journey north past the Tamir river, and will wild camp tonight.
Activities(Included)
See the huge rock monolith of Taikhar Chuluu, covered in inscriptions in a myriad of different scripts dating from the 6th century to the modern era

Activities(Optional)
See a variety of fascinating exhibits about the Mongolian way of life at the Arkhangai Aimag Museum in Tsetserleg (if time allows) - Cost: MNT 5000

Day 10 Chuulut Canyon

Today we continue noth past Taikhar Chuluu (a massive rock which is connected to local mythology) and the Chluulut Canyon to arrive at our ger camp near the Khorgo volcano. In Chuulut Canyon we will stay at a nearby ger camp.

Day 11 Khorgo

This morning we will take a hike to the top of the Khorgo Volcano and take in the incredible views over its perfect crater. From the top of the volcano we continue our hike though fields studded with pine trees, stopping off en route at the Yellow Dog Cave, an interesting volcanic phenomenon. We will then return to the truck and continue our journey north. We will aim wild camp tonight in the remote plains north of Khorgo.
Activities(Included)
Explore the incredible volcanic landscape of Khorgo and Terkhiin Tsagaan Lake by foot

Day 12 to 13 Zuun Lake

Over the next few days we continue driving north on one of Mongolia's most beautiful routes, crossing high mountain passes, vast grasslands, and small creeks! We will pass by the beautiful alpine Lake Zuun en route.  We hope to arrive at Mörön, the provincial capital, the following afternoon. We will visit the local market, Danzadarjaa Monastery and the local museum. If we don't have time on this section of the trip, then we can visit the town after coming back from Khövsgöl Lake. We will aim to wild camp near Zuun Lake and near the town of Mörön.
Activities(Included)
Discover the mysterious ancient Deer Stones near Mörön, erected by Bronze Age nomads over 3000 years ago

Day 14 to 15 Khoevsgoel Lake

This morning we will drive out to an ancient burial site featuring Mongolia's mysterious deer stones, these are memorial stones representing important leaders and warriors, carved with deer motifs. After visiting the site, we continue our trip northward to one of the world's biggest fresh water sources, the stunning Khövsgöl Lake. Khövsgöl Lake and its amazing surroundings are home to several of Mongolia's ethnic minorities as well as a refuge for a wide variety of wildlife. One of the most interesting ethnic groups living near the lake is the Tsaatan, also known as 'The Reindeer People'. A small tribe of Tsaatan consisting of about 40 families lives with its herds of reindeer in the forests around the lake. These graceful animals provide the tribe with all its basic needs - milk, meat and transportation. As there are very few Tsaatan left and this is a mobile population, we may meet them but there are no guarantees - however, the scenery of the area is well worth the exploration. The following day we will take a hike around the forests and meadows near the lake. Lying at about 1650m above sea level, surrounded by mountains rising above 3100m, the waters of Khovsgol are deep and spectacularly clear and pure. We will hike through thick pine forests carpeted with flowers and explore the setting of Mongolia's 'Blue Pearl'. In Khövsgöl Lake we will stay at a ger camp.
Activities(Included)
Walk through the beautiful area of Khovsgol and try to meet the local Tsataan Reindeer Herders (if available)

Activities(Optional)
Take a horse ride through the incredible Siberian forest scenery surrounding Khövsgöl Lake (if time allows) - Cost: MNT 10000

Day 16 to 18 Selenge River

We will spend the next 3 days crossing central-northern Mongolia on our way back towards the capital of Ulaanbaatar. The long road offers diversified landscapes, from vast, open steppes to beautiful sand dunes. We will aim to wildcamp in the plains east of Mörön on the first day of this journey, by the Selenge River on the next day, and on the outskirts of the town of Bulgan on the day after that.

Day 19 Amarbayasgalant Monastery

This morning we will try to visit the Amarbayasgalant Monastery. Built between 1727 and 1736 by the Manchu Emperor Enkh Amgalan, Amarbayasgalant is among the largest monasteries in Mongolia to have survived the purges of the 1930s. With about 60 monks living and studying here, the monastery functions today as one of Mongolia's central religious institutions, and consists of 29 different temples, all built in the classic Tibetan style. Tonight we will wild camp near the monastery.
Activities(Included)
Visit the Chinese-style Buddhist monastery of Amarbayasgalant near the Selenge River

Day 20 Ulaanbaatar

Today we have a full day drive from northern Mongolia back to the city of Ulaanbaatar. This evening is free to relax and explore, and to have a well-earned final meal and drinks in one of the city's many restaurants! In Ulaanbaatar we will stay in our comfortable joining hotel.

Day 21 Ulaanbaatar

Border Information: if joining in Ulaanbaatar, you will most likely enter Mongolia at Ulaanbaatar Chinggis Khaan International Airport (IATA code: ULN). There will be a short group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ulaanbaatar before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ulaanbaatar.

Day 22 Sainshand

Today we will leave the Mongolian capital behind us as we begin our overland journey south towards China. We may have the opportunity to visit the Dechinchoinkhorlin Monastery in Sainshand en route (please note this is not always open for visitors). We aim to wild camp near the town of Sainshand tonight. Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
Activities(Optional)
Visit the Khamaryn Khiid Monastery near Sainshand, dedicated to Danzan Ravjaa, a 19th-century religious leader of the 'Red Hat' branch of Buddhism - Cost: MNT
Visit the modern working Buddhist monastery of Dechinchoinkhorlin Khiid, near Sainshand - Cost: MNT

Day 23 Erlian

Border information: Exit Mongolia at Zamyn-Uud, enter China at Erlian. Today we will drive to the border town of Zamyn-Uud and cross the border into China! Please be aware that the border procedures can take around 5 hours to complete. Once we have crossed into China we will most likely stay in a local hotel in Erlian (the town on the Chinese side of the border), or wild camp out of town. Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Day 24 Beijing

Today we have an early start and will have a long drive to China's capital, Beijing. In Beijing we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. Estimated Drive Time - 10-12 hours.

Day 25 Beijing

Border Information: if joining in Beijing, you will most likely enter China at Beijing Capital International Airport (IATA code: PEK). There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting. The rest of the day will be free to explore the incredible city of Beijing! Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Beijing before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Beijing. In Beijing we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Activities(Optional)
Head out to see an acrobatic or martial arts show in Beijing, always an incredible mix of athleticism and choreography - Cost: CNY 250
Discover all about the varied and interesting history of China at the National Museum, with its huge collection of over a million artifacts - Cost: CNY
Explore the vast Temple of Heaven, once the site of an annual religious ceremony conducted by the Emporer to pray for a good harvest - Cost: CNY 10
Visit the beautiful Tibetan-style Lama Temple (Yonghe Temple) in Beijing - Cost: CNY
See the iconic modern 'Bird's Nest' Stadium, the centrepiece of the 2008 Olympic Games - Cost: CNY 50

Day 26 Beijing

Today we will head out on the Beijing metro to the city centre's famous Tiananmen Square, which we will walk through and then take a tour of the Forbidden City. We will then have a free afternoon to further explore the many sights, sounds and flavours of Beijing.
Activities(Included)
Guided visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing

Day 27 to 28 Chengde

This morning we will start our journey with a drive to the city of Chengde. Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!). On the following day we will have a full day to explore the Puning Temple and the famous Imperial Summer Resort. In Chengde we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Activities(Included)
Explore the Imperial city of Chengde, summer home to the Emperor's family
Explore the incredible Imperial Summer Resort in Chengde, a vast park with a variety of gardens, pagodas, temples and palaces from various regions of China

Activities(Optional)
See the beautiful Putuo Zongcheng Temple, modelled after the famous Potala Palace in Tibet - Cost: CNY 80

Day 29 Jinshanling

This morning we will have a short drive to one of the world's most incredible sights - the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall of China! We will have time this afternoon to thoroughly explore and walk along the Great Wall. In Jinshanling we will stay in a basic local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 1-2 hours.
Activities(Included)
Fully explore the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China at Jinshanling, one of the most spectacular stone sections of the wall

Day 30 to 31 Datong

Today we will drive to the city of Datong in China's Shanxi province. Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours. On the following day we will head out of Datong in the truck on an included visit to the awe-inspiring Yungang Buddha Caves.  In Datong we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Activities(Included)
2 nights to explore Datong's Hanging Monastery and the stunning Yungang Caves
Explore the phenomenal site of the Yungang Caves, a network of 252 caves containing over 51,000 incredibly crafted sculptures of Buddha from the 5th and 6th centuries

Activities(Optional)
Journey through the remarkable industrial heartland of the north, the powerhouse of modern China - Cost: CNY 60
See the beautiful and ornate Nine Dragon Screen, a screen of glazed tiles depicting nine multi-coloured interweaving dragons - Cost: CNY 10

Day 32 to 33 Wutai Shan

This morning we continue to the stunning mountainous area known as Wutai Shan, one of the holiest sites of Chinese Buddhism and a major centre of pilgrimage in the country. We will have an included visit to the incredible Hanging Monastery en route. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours. On the following day we will have a full day to explore the area and visit its incredible array of temples and religious sites. In Wutai Shan we will stay in a basic local hotel.
Activities(Included)
Explore the myriad of temples at Wutai Shan, one of the Four Sacred Mountains of Chinese Buddhism

Day 34 to 35 Pingyao

We will then drive to China's best-preserved ancient walled town, Pingyao.  Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours. We will stay for 2 nights in Pingyao, giving us plenty of time to explore this ancient town and surrounding sites such as the Mian Shan Mountain Resort and the Zhangbi Underground City. In Pingyao we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Activities(Included)
Freely explore the old town of Pingyao, a well preserved walled city that offers a fantastic glimpse into 'Old China'

Activities(Optional)
Visit the incredible Shuanglin Temple near Pingyao, with its 2000 colourful sculptures of various gods and warriors - Cost: CNY 25
Visit the 10th-century Zhenguo Temple, one of the oldest wooden buildings in China - Cost: CNY 25
Take a day trip to the photogenic Mian Shan Mountain Resort, and explore the incredible array of buildings and scenery there - Cost: CNY 160
Take a day trip out to the impressive Wang family compound and the Zhang Bi underground village near Pingyao - Cost: CNY 205

Day 36 Lijiashan

Today we continue our journey to visit the ancient village of Lijiashan, famed for settlement of cave dwellers and still home to more than 600 families. We will stop en route for an included visit to the Black Dragon Temple just outside of Lijiashan. In Lijiashan we will stay in a cave room, run by a local family and set up for guests. Please note that some caves include a traditional 'Kang Stove bed'. The Kang bed is a hollow platform made from bricks that is used both as a bed and as a work area, these are common in remote villages in Northern China. In winter a coal fire can be lit under the bed, providing a huge amount of warmth day and night and it is very common for the whole family to sleep on one large bed. This means there may be times that members of the group may have to share 1 large bed with others in the group. Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.
Activities(Included)
Visit the beautiful and ornate Black Dragon temple near Lijiashan
Stay overnight in a local guesthouse built into a cave, in the cliff-side village of Lijiashan

Day 37 to 38 Yan'an

Today we make our way to the city of Yan'an. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours. Yan'an is famous for being the ending point for those on the 'Long March', and became the CCP headquarters for a brief period. During our time here we have an included visit to the Revolutionary Museum and the CCP Headquarters site. In Yan'an we will stay in a local hotel.
Activities(Included)
Visit the Revolution Museum and the Yangjialing Headquarters site, the former headquarters of Mao Tse Tung's Communist Party during the revolution

Day 39 Xi'an

Today we will drive to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! On arrival we will have a free afternoon to explore the city of Xi'an, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter. In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

Day 40 Xi'an

This morning we head out of Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour. We will return to Xi'an for a free afternoon to further explore this diverse city.
Activities(Included)
Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife

Activities(Optional)
Wander through the atmospheric Muslim Quarter and visit the Xi'an Great Mosque, the first mosque constructed in China - Cost: CNY 30
Visit the mind-blowing Tomb of Emporer Jingdi of the Han Dynasty, containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures - Cost: CNY 90
Visit the ornate 14th-century Bell and Drum towers, which originally marked the sunrise and sunset - Cost: CNY 40
Walk or cycle around the Ming Dynasty Xi'an City Wall, the largest city wall in the world - Cost: CNY 80
Learn about the fascinating history of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'an at the Shaanxi History Museum, without doubt one of the finest museums in China - Cost: CNY 30
Visit the impressive Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an's most famous landmark dating from the Tang and Ming Dynasties - Cost: CNY 80
Visit the Forest of Stelae Museum, a collection of 3000 stone tablets of Chinese calligraphy that has been collected here since 1057 - Cost: CNY 50
Visit the huge former Tang Dynasty royal palace of Daming, and explore its vast parks and gardens - Cost: CNY

Day 41 Xi'an

Border Information: if joining in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport (IATA code: XIY). Welcome to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! We will have a free day to explore the city, it's famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter. There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Xi'an before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Xi'an. In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Activities(Optional)
Visit the ornate 14th-century Bell and Drum towers, which originally marked the sunrise and sunset - Cost: CNY 40
Wander through the atmospheric Muslim Quarter and visit the Xi'an Great Mosque, the first mosque constructed in China - Cost: CNY 30
Learn about the fascinating history of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'an at the Shaanxi History Museum, without doubt one of the finest museums in China - Cost: CNY 30
Visit the mind-blowing Tomb of Emporer Jingdi of the Han Dynasty, containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures - Cost: CNY 90
Visit the Forest of Stelae Museum, a collection of 3000 stone tablets of Chinese calligraphy that has been collected here since 1057 - Cost: CNY 50
Walk or cycle around the Ming Dynasty Xi'an City Wall, the largest city wall in the world - Cost: CNY 80
Visit the impressive Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an's most famous landmark dating from the Tang and Ming Dynasties - Cost: CNY 80
Visit the huge former Tang Dynasty royal palace of Daming, and explore its vast parks and gardens - Cost: CNY

Day 42 Xi'an

This morning we head out of Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour. We will return to Xi'an for the afternoon, where we'll have a free afternoon to further explore this incredible city.
Activities(Included)
Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife

Day 43 to 44 Pingliang

Today we will drive to the small town of Pingliang at the base of the Mount Kongtong, one of the holiest mountains in Chinese Taoism. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!). On the following day we will have an included visit to Mount Kongtong, and will have the full day to explore the temples and walk and explore the pilgrimage routes on the mountain.  In Pingliang we will stay in a decent local hotel. Please note that if the group and leader prefer to split the drive between Turpan and Dunhuang over 2 days, there will only be 1 night in Pingliang and a half-day exploration of Mount Kongtong.
Activities(Included)
Explore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples

Day 45 Lanzhou

Today we will head to the chaotic capital city of Gansu province, Lanzhou. We will have some free time this evening to explore the city. In Lanzhou we will stay in a comfortable hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Day 46 to 47 Xiahe

Today we set off to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe where we spend the next 2 nights. We will have an included visit to the incredble Bingling Si Buddha Caves en route. Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours. The next few days are free to explore this beautiful town and surrounding grasslands. We can take a guided visit to the Labrang Monastery where Tibetan monks can be seen doing their daily rituals and chants. There may also be a chance to go trekking, horse riding or exploring the surrounding grasslands, visiting Tibetan families and perhaps trying the local Yak butter tea. In Xiahe we will stay in a local Tibetan-owned hotel.
Activities(Optional)
2 night detour to the Tibetan town of Xiahe, one of the main pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhists - Cost: CNY 40
Climb up onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan Plateau - Cost: CNY
Take a day trip up into the Sangke or Ganjia grasslands of the lower Tibetan Plateau surrounding Xiahe - Cost: CNY 400

Day 48 Liujiaxia

Today we will leave Xiahe behind us to reach the small city of Liujiaxia. We will have an included visit to the incredible Bingling Si Buddha Caves en route. In Liujiaxia we will stay in a basic local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
Activities(Included)
See the vast Buddha statue and the outstanding Buddhist cave sculptures at the fabulous Bingling Si gorge

Day 49 Zhangye

Today we will drive to the incredible Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains - we'll spend some time exploring the region before heading off to wild camp nearby. Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.
Activities(Included)
Explore the incredible and colourful natural phenomenon of the Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains

Day 50 Jiayuguan

Today we continue our journey with a drive to Jiayuguan, where we will have an included visit to the Jiayuguan Fort - the most western point of the Great Wall of China. Please note that the Great Wall here is abode, unlike the more famous stone sections further east. We will wild camp near an adobe section of the Great Wall near Jiayuguan. Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
Activities(Included)
Journey down the Gansu Corridor to Jiayuguan Fort, our first stop at the Great Wall

Day 51 to 52 Dunhuang

Today we will continue our journey westwards to reach the city of Dunhuang. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours. On the following day we will have an included visit to the awe-inspiring Mogao Buddha Caves in the morning. We will then have a free afternoon to explore this amazing town and it’s surroundings - there are possibilities for camel rides along the sand dunes and bicycle rides out to the nearby White Goose Pagoda! In Dunhuang we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Activities(Included)
Guided tour of the Mogao caves, Dunhuang

Activities(Optional)
Stopover and time to explore historic Dunhuang - Cost: CNY 20
Take a camel ride to Crescent Moon Lake, Dunhuang - Cost: CNY 120

Day 53 to 54 Turpan

Today we will have an early start and a big drive to the oasis town of Turpan. Estimated Drive Time - 10-12 hours. Please note that sometimes it may be preferred by the group and the leader to split this drive over 2 days, wild camping in between - in this case we will have 1 less night in Pingliang towards the beginning of the trip. On the following day we will have a free day to exploring the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins. In Turpan we will stay in a local hotel.
Activities(Included)
Exploration of the oasis and the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan
Learn about the Karez water system, the ingenious method of irrigating the area that was developed by the Han Dynasty and allowed Turpan to flourish as an oasis town
See the striking red sandstone landscape of the Flaming Mountains near Turpan

Activities(Optional)
See the Emin Minaret, a beautiful Uighur mosque built in the 18th century which is the tallest minaret in China - Cost: CNY 30
Explore the ancient oasis city of Gaochang, once a bustling trading trading centre along the Silk Road - Cost: CNY 40

Day 55 to 56 Heavenly Lake

Today we will continue on to Heavenly Lake, a beautiful lake set in the Tian Shan mountains. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours. We will stay here for 2 nights, and will have many opportunities to relax in the incredible scenery and walk around the lake. In Heavenly Lake we will stay in local yurts with very basic facilities.
Activities(Included)
Enjoy a tranquil yurt stay at the beautiful Heavenly Lake

Day 57 to 58 Bayanbulak

Today our journey continues westwards through the Taklamakan Desert. Our crossing of the desert usually takes 3 days/2 nights, and we plan to stay in local hotels near Korla or Bayanbulak on our first night and Aksu on our second. Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours each day.

Day 59 to 61 Kashgar

Today we complete our journey to the far west of China, arriving in Kashgar, once one of the ancient trading posts on the Silk Route!  Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours. We will spend 3 nights in Kashgar, during which time there will be lots of opportunity to explore the city and its central Id Kah Mosque. We will also have an included visit to the animal market just outside of town, and then the famous Kashgar Sunday Bazaar. In Kashgar we will stay in a hotel with good facilities.
Activities(Included)
Explore Kashgar's Sunday market and Animal market.

Activities(Optional)
Visit the Id Kah Mosque, the finest example of Islamic architecture in Kashgar and the centre of religious life in the city - Cost: CNY 20
Discover the history of the ancient Silk Road at Kashgar's Silk Road Museum - Cost: CNY 15
Visit the mausoleum of the 17th-century religious leader Afaq Khoja, considered the holiest site in Xinjiang Province - Cost: CNY 15

Day 62 Kashgar

For everyone that is continuing with us to Kyrgyzstan, there will be quick pre-departure meeting in the early morning in order to explain the next 6 days until Bishkek, and your leader will collect the kitty for this linking section. In the afternoon we will do an included visit to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world! Tonight we will stay in a good quality local hotel
Activities(Included)
Take in the spectacular mountain scenery on our drive along the Karakorum Highway to Lake Karakol
Stay overnight in a traditional yurt owned by Kyrgyz and Tajik families near the beautiful Lake Karakol, set amongst the 7500m-high mountains of the Tian Shan range
Explore Kashgar's Sunday market and Animal market.
Hike up to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world. 

Day 63 to 64 Tash Rabat

Border Information: Exit China at Torugart, enter Kyrgyzstan at Torugart. Today we will have a full day drive over the 3752m Torugart Pass into the magical mountain kingdom of Kyrgyzstan! We will head just over the border to Tash Rabat, once a key staging post on the Silk Road close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border. During our time here we will visit an ancient caravanserai and have some time to explore the surrounding area. In Tash Rabat we will wild camp. In cold weather (or if simply the group prefers and there is availability), we may choose to stay in local nomadic yurts that are set up for guests near the caravanserai, sleeping 8-10 people per yurt. We will spend 2 nights in Tash Rabat. On the second day we will have time to explore the local area.  Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
Activities(Included)
Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai at Tash Rabat, close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border
Cross into Kyrgyzstan via the stunning and remote Torugart Pass in the Tian Shan Mountains

Day 65 Kochkor

Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality! Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up! In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours. Please note that if nobody from this group is leaving in Bishkek, we may choose to stay instead in a guesthouse in the small town of Naryn (a 2-3 hour drive from Tash Rabat). This is so that we don't repeat Kochkor unnecessarily on the next section and can have more time to explore the area of Tash Rabat this morning.
Activities(Included)
Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village
See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here

Activities(Optional)
Visit a folklore demonstration near Kockhor where you can learn all about the handicrafts of the area, see a fantastic outdoor concert of traditional music and help to erect a yurt! - Cost: KGS 1000

Day 66 Bishkek

Today we have a short drive to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan. The remainder of the day is free to explore the relaxed and atmospheric city. In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours (from Kochkor).

Day 67 Bishkek

Border Information: if joining in Bishkek, you will most likely enter Kyrgyzstan at Bishkek Manas International Airport (IATA code: FRU). There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting. The rest of the day is free for you to explore this relaxed and atmospheric city. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Bishkek before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Bishkek. In Bishkek we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. *Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.* *Another important note - please be aware that all itineraries in Kyrgyzstan are highly weather-dependent. The itinerary described in these notes are a statement of best intention, but we must approach each trip in Kyrgyzstan with a large degree of flexibility, as our leaders and local guides will have to 'play things by ear' according to the local conditions and weather. In low season certain routes become impossible and it may become far too cold to camp - in all cases there are fantastic and well-tried alternatives in place which means we can always run an excellent and comprehensive trip here, but please do not treat the exact details of the itinerary listed here as gospel - thanks for your understanding!*
Activities(Optional)
Begin our journey in picturesque Bishkek - Cost: USD
Freely explore the vast Osh Bazaar, Bishkek's largest market - Cost: USD
Explore Bishkek's past at the State Historical Museum on Ala-Too Square - Cost: KGS 150
Civilisation again, in the picturesque city of Bishkek - Cost: KGS 60

Day 68 to 69 Ala Archa

The next 2 days will need to be fairly flexible. Many of the group will apply for Uzbekistan visas in Bishkek. However, the Uzbek Embassy opening times will often vary and therefore our itinerary will need to remain flexible over the next 2 days to accommodate this. As a general guide, we will most likely spend our first night camping in stunning mountainous Ala Archa National Park near to Bishkek. We will then return to Bishkek on the following day in order to submit our visa applications. Once this is process is complete we will continue to Chong Kemin National Park, where we will have free time to explore and hike in this beautiful area, or to get involved in an optional white water rafting excursion if time allows. In Chong Kemin and Ala Archa we will wild camp. If it is too cold or simply preferred by the group, we may choose to camp in the grounds of a guesthouse in Ashu, a village in the Chong Kemin valley, where there could be the possibility to upgrade to rooms. Estimated Drive Times - 3-5 hours each day (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
Activities(Included)
Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan

Activities(Optional)
Explore the beautiful Chong Kemin valley on horseback - Cost: KGS 300
Head out on a white-water rafting adventure through the stunning Chong Kemin valley - Cost: KGS 1800
Walk around the incredible scenery of the Chong Kemin valley - Cost: KGS
Wild camping and hiking in the beauty of Ala Archa Gorge - Cost: USD

Day 70 Karakol

Today we will drive to the northern shore of Lake Issyk Köl and visit the ancient petroglyphs at Cholpon Ata. We will then continue to the Russian-style town of Karakol, where we will have a free evening to explore and relax! In Karakol we will stay in a decent local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
Activities(Included)
Tourist time: pedalos, sand, sun. On Lake Issyk-Kul, it?s a time warp

Day 71 to 72 Jeti Oguz Valley

Today we drive up into the mountains to the alpine trekking region of Jeti Oguz. The next day we will have a free day to hike in the incredible scenery here, or take an optional horse ride with some of the local nomads! In Jeti Oguz we will camp close to a local family yurt. Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours. Please note that on trips in the low season we may not be able to camp in Jeti Oguz due to low temperatures. If this is the case, we will take a stunning and incredible drive up a mountain in a Russian 4x4 truck to Altyn Arashan, a hot spring development in a stunning alpine setting, staying in dormitory accommodation. We will then stay for 1 night in a local hotel at the base of Jeti Oguz Valley (allowing time for some day walks).
Activities(Included)
Trek into the wilds of the Jeti-Oghuz Gorge on the edge of the Tian Shan mountains

Activities(Optional)
Explore the incredible mountain landscapes of the Jeti Oguz Valley by horseback - Cost: KGS 800

Day 73 Kochkor

Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local family-run guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality! En route we will have an included demonstation from a local 'eagle hunter'. Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up! In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Activities(Included)
Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village
See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here
See an incredible demonstration from a traditional eagle hunter near Kochkor

Activities(Optional)
Visit a folklore demonstration near Kockhor where you can learn all about the handicrafts of the area, see a fantastic outdoor concert of traditional music and help to erect a yurt! - Cost: KGS 1000

Day 74 to 75 Song Koel Lake

Today we will drive to the incredible Song Köl Lake, where we will spend the next two nights. We will have free time here to explore the area, and to enjoy some optional activities including hiking or horse-riding!  At Song Köl we will stay in traditional felt yurts. Estimated Drive Time - 4-7 hours. Please note that trips during the low season will not be able to visit Song Köl Lake, as temperatures will be below freezing, the road will be snowed over, and there will be no yurts to stay in! Instead we will likely stay in yurts on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Köl.
Activities(Included)
Experience the daily life of the Kyrgyz mountain shepherds.

Day 76 to 78 Kyrgyz Fergana Valley

We will spend the next 3 days overlanding through the stunning and remote Kyrgyz Fergana Valley, stopping often to admire the views and perhaps take some impromptu hikes in the hills and countryside. During these days we plan to wild camp en route. Please note that trips running in low season (May to mid-June and October to November), we may not be able to camp if temperatures are too low, in which case we will stay in local guesthouses along the route instead. Estimated Drive Times - 4-8 hours each day.  
Activities(Included)
Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan

Day 79 Arslanbob

Today we will complete our drive to Arslanbob in Kyrgyzstan's Fergana Valley - if we have had a slow journey in the previous days with lots of stops, we may choose to stay in the closer town of Jalalabad instead. In Arslanbob we will stay overnight in a local family-run guesthouse. Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.

Day 80 Fergana Valley

Border information: Exit Kyrgyzstan at Dustlik, enter Uzbekistan at Andijon. Today we will have a full day's drive across the Uzbek border to the eastern city of Fergana. In Fergana we will stay in a basic local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Activities(Optional)
Overland through Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley including historic Kokand and Fergana City - Cost: UZS 3000
Explore the impressive 19th-century Juma Mosque in Kokand in the stunning Fergana Valley - Cost: UZS 17500
See the silk-weavers of the Fergana Valley at the Yodgorlik Silk Factory - Cost: USD

Day 81 Tashkent

This morning we travel in local transport to Kokand, where we will have the oppurtunity to visit the Khudayar Khan's Palace and the nearby Margilan Silk Factory before completing the journey over the Kamchik Pass to Tashkent, the Uzbek capital. The truck must pass over the Kamchik Pass without passengers and will rejoin us this evening in Tashkent. In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Day 82 Tashkent

Border Information: if joining in Tashkent, you will most likely enter Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport (IATA code: TAS). There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting. We will then have a free afternoon to explore the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Tashkent before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Tashkent. In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. *Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*
Activities(Optional)
Explore urbane Tashkent and experience a surreal cabaret dinner - Cost: USD
Visit the nightclubs and Imperial Russian-style cabaret restaurants of Tashkent - Cost: USD
Visit the religious centre of Tashkent at Hast Imam Square and see the Uthman Koran, believed to be the world's oldest extant copy of the Koran - Cost: USD 5

Day 83 Samarkand

Today our journey begins with a drive to the fascinating ancient city of Samarkand, where we will stay for the next 3 nights. In Samarkand we will stay in a good hotel on the outskirts of town. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Day 84 to 85 Samarkand

Today we will have a guided tour of the incredible historic city of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including the Registan, Ulug Beg Observatory, Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda. On our second day, we will have a free day to further explore the beautiful city and its surroundings.
Activities(Included)
Learn about the area's scientific heritage with a visit to the 15th-century Ulug Beg Observatory, once the finest observatory in the Islamic world
Visit the Guri-Amir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur
Explore the stunning plaza of The Registan, a world-famous and iconic symbol of Central Asia
Discover the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once one of the largest mosques in the world and the jewel in Timur's empire
See the beautiful and moving ancient mausoleum of Shah-I-Zinda

Activities(Optional)
Visit to Shakhrisabz city - Cost: USD 20
Wander through the markets and carpet vendors of Samarkand, and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the local carpet weavers - Cost: USD

Day 86 Nurata

Today we will drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert near the town of Nurata. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to take a swim in Lake Ajdar Kul and head out on an optional camel ride into the desert! In the Kyzylkhum Desert we will stay in a desert yurt camp. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Activities(Included)
Overnight in the Kyzylkum Desert staying in yurts.

Activities(Optional)
Take a short camel ride around the sand dunes of the Kyzylkhum Desert - Cost: UZS 5000

Day 87 Bukhara

Today we will drive to the beautiful city of Bukhara, where will spend the next 3 nights. Our drive will take us via the desert town of Nurata, which we will have a brief stop.  In Bukhara we will stay in a comfortable local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

Day 88 to 89 Bukhara

Today we will have a guided tour of Bukhara and the surrounding area, including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison and the Ark Fortress. On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore this incredible historic city and its surroundings.
Activities(Included)
Explore the city's oldest Islamic monument, the 10th-century mausoleum of Ismail Samanid, the founder of the Samanid Dynasty
Discover the ruins of the ancient 5th-century fortress of the Bukhara Ark
Explore the colossal Kalon Mosque and Minaret, which has survived without restoration for 850 years and impressed Genghis Khan so much that he ordered the building to be spared
Visit the magnificent 16th-centrury architectural ensemble surrounding the Lyab-i Hauz ponds, once the city's principal source of water

Activities(Optional)
See the Indian-style Char Minar Minarets, four towers nestled in a maze of alleyways in downtown Bukhara - Cost: USD
Visit the gruesome museum at the old prison of Zindon - Cost: UZS 4500
Watch an entertaining evening puppet show, featuring many local Uzbek and Tajik poems and songs - Cost: USD 5

Day 90 to 91 Khiva

Today we have a full day drive to the incredible historic town of Khiva.  Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours. On the next day, we have a guided tour of the ancient city of Khiva during the morning. In the afternoon we will have plenty of free time to further explore this wonderfully preserved Khanate town. In Khiva we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Activities(Included)
See the beautiful turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret, one of the iconic symbols of Khiva
Visit the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassa, a museum dedicated to the Khan that surrendered to the Russians in 1873
Explore the incredibly photogenic blue palace of Tash Khovli in Khiva
Learn all about the Khoezm culture and handicrafts at the Islam Hodja Madrassa, Khiva's newest monument
Explore the incredible Juma Mosque and the 12th century fortress of the Kukhna Ark
Visit the mausoleum of Pahlavon Mohammed, the legendary 14th-century poet, philosopher, wrestler, and patron saint of Khiva

Day 92 Kunye Urgench

Border Information: Exit Uzbekistan at Nijazov, enter Turkmenistan at Shovot. This morning we will drive across the border into Turkmenistan, visit the markets in the border town of Dashoguz, and explore the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day. We will wild camp in the deserts near Kunye Urgench tonight. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Activities(Included)
Overland into the green Oxus Valley to the ancient ruined city of Kunye Urgench

Day 93 Darvaza

Today we continue south through the Karakum Desert. We will have an included side trip to the amazing flaming Darvaza Gas Crater (also known as the 'Door to Hell'!). We will wild camp in the deserts near Darvaza Crater tonight. Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.
Activities(Included)
See the bizarre and incredible burning gas crater at Darvasa, popularly known as the 'Door to Hell'

Day 94 Ashgabat

Today we will complete our drive to the interesting capital of Ashgabat, usually arriving mid-afternoon. In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Day 95 Ashgabat

Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB). There will be an important group meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a welcome note from your tour leader when you arrive at the joining hotel in Ashgabat.   Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ashgabat before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Ashgabat. If arriving at Ashgabat airport you will also need to have a confirmed arrival transfer and representative from our local supplier to meet you at the airport. Please contact your sales agent for prices and to book.  In Ashgabat we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. *Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*
Activities(Included)
Explore, shop and haggle at the vast Tolkuchka Sunday Market
Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city

Day 96 Ashgabat

Today we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses. The afternoon will be free to freely explore Ashgabat and its museums.
Activities(Optional)
Learn about the history and culture of Turkmenistan at the huge National Museum in Ashgabat - Cost: USD 10

Day 97 Ashgabat

This morning we have some time to further explore Ashgabat. This afternoon we will drive to the spectacular Kow Ata Underground Lake. We will have some time this afternoon to explore this superb lake of naturally-heated clear water. Tonight we will wild camp in this area of Kow Ata or Geok Tepe. Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
Activities(Included)
Explore Turkmenistan's unique underground lake at Kow Ata and swim in waters naturally heated to around 36°C

Activities(Optional)
Visit the huge Turkmenbashi Ruhy mosque on the outskirts of Ashgabat, built in 2004 as the mausoleum of Saparmurat Niyazov, the first president of Turkmenistan after the fall of the Soviet Union - Cost: TMM

Day 98 to 99 Turkmenbashi

Today we will complete our drive to the city of Turkmenbashi, on the shore of the Caspian Sea. Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours. Our itinerary in Turkmenbashi and over the Caspian Sea must remain very flexible and is very much determined by sailing times of the local ferries. Please note that there is no regular schedule for the ferries, they are notoriously unpredictable, and information from the ferry operators regarding the sailing times constantly changes (or is non-existant) up until the point of departure. Maximum flexibility, open-mindedness and co-operation with your tour leaders are absolutely essential here!  In Turkmenbashi we will stay in a local hotel for as many nights as is needed until we finally depart on the ferry over the Caspian Sea. Most trips tend to be able to set off on the ferry 1 or 2 days after arriving in Turkmenbashi.

Day 100 Caspian Sea

From Turkmenbashi, we will take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to Baku in Azerbaijan. The ferry is a fantastic local experience, but please do not expect any luxury whatsoever! These ferries are budget vessels for the locals and cargo hauliers, and are not designed with tourists in mind. We must be prepared for very basic conditions and limited provisions on board. Please also note that the time that the ferry takes to cross is also highly unpredictable, as it is often forced to wait outside of the port in Baku while they arrange the unloading of the cargo on the boat. There will be basic cabins on the ferry overnight.
Activities(Included)
Cross the Caspian Sea on a local transporter ferry between Turkmenbashi and Baku

Day 101 to 102 Baku

Border information: Exit Turkmenistan at Turkmenbashi, enter Azerbaijan at Baku. Today we plan to disembark the Caspian ferry and enter Azerbaijan. We will have free time on these days to explore all the sights of Baku and the surroundings. In Baku we will stay in a local hotel. Please note that we have built in significant time in the above itinerary to allow for delays with the Caspian ferry. If the ferry comes in earlier than this, we may choose to move on from Baku earlier than listed to allow more time exploring the rest of Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Activities(Included)
Audio Guided trip around old town Baku including the Maiden Tower & Shirvan Shakh Palace
Explore the mysterious and iconic Maiden's Tower in Baku's Old Town
Learn all about the Shirvan Muslim history of Baku at the Palace of the Shirvanshahs

Day 103 Gobustan

Today we will continue our journey to Gobustan, near the coast of the Caspian Sea. Whilst here we will visit the ancient petroglyphs and the mud volcanoes that this area is famous for. In Gobustan we will wild camp near the mud volcanoes, or continue further and wild camp en route. Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.
Activities(Included)
Day trip to Gobustan to see the mud volcanoes and the petroglyphs

Day 104 Sheki

Today we will continue to the old town of Sheki, where we can visit the exquisite Khan's Palace. In Sheki we will stay in a comfortable hotel built inside an old caravanserai. Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.
Activities(Included)
Overnight in an atmospheric converted Caravanserai at Sheiki
Explore the exquisite Palace of the Sheki Khans, built in 1797

Day 105 Lagodekhi

Border information: Exit Azerbaijan at Balakan, enter Georgia at Ladodekhi.  Today we will continue our journey east and cross the border into Georgia.  We will wild camp tonight, most likely in the Lagodehki National Park shortly after crossing the border. Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
Activities(Optional)
Discover the ancient capital of the 16th-century Kingdom of Kakheti at the Gremi Architectural Complex - Cost: GEL 10
Take some short exploratory walks around our wild camp in the beautiful forested Lagodekhi National Park - Cost: GEL 5

Day 106 Telavi

Today we will drive to the Alazani valley and on to Telavi, where we will base ourselves for 2 days to explore this fascinating region. We will visit the Gremi citadel en route, and have a free afternoon on arrival in Telavi to explore the area. In Telavi we will stay in a local family-run guesthouse. Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

Day 107 Telavi

The area of Telavi is well known for its vineyards and wineries - there are hundreds of different grapes grown here, and every village has its own particular variety. We will visit some of the local vineyards today, where we can hopefully see some of the local traditions including grape harvesting and wine making, and enjoy some famous Georgian hospitality.
Activities(Included)
Head out on Telavi's 'Big Day Out' - a tour of the town's monasteries, bee-keepers and textile-weavers, followed by lunch and wine tasting at a local family-run winery

Day 108 Tbilisi

Today we will complete our journey to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, where we will have an afternoon to freely explore the city. In Tbilisi we will stay in a comfortable hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 2-4 hours.

Day 109 Tbilisi

Border information: if you are joining in Tbilisi, you will most likely enter Georgia at Tbilisi International Airport (IATA code: TBS). There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - on arrival please look out for a note from your leader with more information about this important meeting. This afternoon we will visit the old town of Tbilisi and visit sites including the National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the Metekhi Temple. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Tbilisi before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Tbilisi. In Tbilisi we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. *Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*
Activities(Optional)
Learn all about the history of Georgia during Soviet times, and the struggle for independence, at the Museum of Soviet Occupation - Cost: GEL 3
Enjoy an evening of local dancing and music at a Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi - Cost: GEL 25
Explore the ancient Narikala Fortress and take in the fantastic views of Tbilisi below - Cost: GEL
Visit the beautiful Orthodox Sioni Cathedral in Tbilisi's Old Town - Cost: GEL
Discover the folk architecture, craftwork and culture of the various regions of Georgia at the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography - Cost: GEL 1.5
See the incredible collection of historical artefacts at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia - Cost: GEL 3
See the grandiose modern Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Church - Cost: GEL

Day 110 Stepantsminda

Today our journey begins with a beautiful drive to the spectacularly located town of Stepantsminda (formerly known as Kazbegi). Either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, we will take a trek up to the Tsminda Sameba Church (the Church of the Holy Trinity), a beautiful small church nestled in the mountains. In Stepantsminda we will stay in a local hotel or family-run guesthouse. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
Activities(Included)
Hike to beautiful 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, set in the stunning mountains above Stepantsminda

Day 111 Stepantsminda

We spend this morning in and around Stepantsminda, where we can trek to the Tsminda Sameba Church if we haven't done so already. This afternoon we have a beautiful drive to the UNESCO world heritage site of Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia. Whilst here we will explore the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral. In Mtskheta we will stay overnight in a local guesthouse.  Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

Day 112 Kutaisi

This morning we drive to Gori, the birthplace of Stalin - here we will have a guided tour of the city and the Stalin Museum. We then make our way to the ancient town of Kutaisi. This afternoon we will visit the medieval Bragrati cathedral and the Gelati monastery. In Kutaisi we will stay in a local hotel or a family-run guesthouse. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Activities(Included)
Explore the colossal and awe-inspiring Prometheus Caves near Kutaisi

Activities(Optional)
Visit the beautiful 11th-century Bagrati Cathedral, a symbol of the city of Kutaisi - Cost: GEL

Day 113 Batumi

This morning we will continue to the port town of Batumi, where we will have a free afternoon to explore. In Batumi we will stay in a comfortable hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.
Activities(Optional)
Visit the Batumi Archaeological Museum, home to many historical exhibits found in excavations in the area - Cost: GEL 2

Day 114 Sumela

Border Information: Exit Georgia at Sarpi, enter Turkey at Sarp. This morning we will continue to the border and cross into Turkey. We will reach the awe-inpsiring Sumela Monastery near the town of Macka, which we will either visit in the afternoon or the next morning. We will camp overnight in a campsite near Sumela if conditions allow. In cold weather we may opt to stay in a local hotel in Macka or Trabzon. Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.
Activities(Included)
Exploration of the Black Sea mountain monastery at Sumela

Day 115 Zara

This morning we will visit the beautiful Sumela Monastery if we didn't have time yesterday, and then start our drive through central Turkey towards Göreme. We will break the journey with a wild camp near Zara or the village of Alucra. Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.  

Day 116 Goereme

Today we will complete our drive to Göreme, a small enchanting town in the heart of the Cappadocia mountains. In Göreme we will stay in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are sometimes used here. Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.

Day 117 to 118 Goereme

We now have a 2 full days to explore Göreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during our time here.
Activities(Included)
Explore the Early Christian underground cities of Derinkuyu or Kaymakli, used as a hiding place from persecutions for centuries
Walk through the beautiful ancient valley of Ihlara, containing the beautiful rock-hewn churches built by the Cappadocian Greeks during the Byzantine era

Activities(Optional)
2-3 nights to discover Cappadocia's Goreme Valley and underground troglodyte cities and caves - Cost: TRY 15
Take a hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia - Cost: EUR 150
Explore the ancient pre-iconoclastic Byzantine rock monastery of Zelve - Cost: TRY 15
Guided tour of Cappadocia and underground troglodyte cities and caves - Cost: TRY 5
Discover the ancient techniques of Cappadocian pottery at the village of Avanos - Cost: USD
Head out for a fun evening of dinner and various Turkish dancing displays - Cost: TRY 90
Witness the hypnotic Sufi Whirling Dervishes ceremony at an ancient caravanserai near Göreme - Cost: EUR 35

Day 119 Istanbul

Today we will have a full day's drive west to arrive in Istanbul, the only city in the world that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia. In Istanbul we will stay in dorm accommodation in a fantastic hostel with good facilities, which is a 5 minute walk from the Blue Mosque. Estimated Drive Time - 10-11 hours.

Day 120 Istanbul

Border information: if leaving the trip in Istanbul, you will most likely exit Turkey from Istanbul Atatürk International Airport (IATA code: IST). Today will be free to explore the many sights of the incredible exotic city of Istanbul, including the Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorus River and the phenomenal Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia! Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Istanbul. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
Activities(Optional)
Explore the colossal markets of the Grand Bazaar - once the centre of all trading between Europe and Asia, and the most visited tourist attraction in the world - Cost: USD
See the splendour of Istanbul from a boat trip on Bosphorus Strait, which marks the boundary of Europe and Asia - Cost: USD 17
Explore the phenomenal Blue Mosque, built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I - a stunning icon of Istanbul - Cost: USD
Visit the Çemberlitas Baths, a traditional Turkish Hammam, for a bath and massage! - Cost: USD 20
Visit the incredible Byzantine cathedral of Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th century - Cost: TRY 25
Explore the atmospheric underground Basilica Cisterns, built by the Byzantines in the 6th century - Cost: TRY 20
Explore the majestic Topkapi Palace, the huge palace of the Ottoman Sultans for over 400 years - Cost: TRY 35
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Overland expedition vehicle, Jeep, Private bus, Public bus, Russian bus, Taxi, Boat, Overnight boat, Metro