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The Marco Polo Explorer Beijing - Istanbul

Trip Overview

We have travelled the Silk Route between Istanbul and Beijing for way over 15 years, but we have now amended this trip to add in Armenia and a whole bunch more in Turkey, so that this ultimate Silk Road journey has just got better.

There is no journey, that we know that will give you such variety of culture, history and landscapes, and to travel overland allows us to get beyond the tourist hotspots of Bukhara, Samarkand, Xi’an and into the wilds of the deserts and mountains of this ancient region.

These are 2020/2021 departures only. For 2019 departures, click here.
105 DAYS THROUGH Armenia, Azerbaijan (+ 6 more countries)
RATING:
of 0 reviews
PRICE FROM:
Was From: $12,520 USD + 3,470 KITTY USD
Now From: $10,642 (USD) + 3,470 KITTY (USD)
DURATION:
105 days
TRANSPORT:
Overland expedition vehicle, Jeep, Public bus, Russian bus, Taxi, Boat, Metro
CREW:
2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary, 1 local crew in certain areas
ACCOM:
15%
85%
PHYSICAL CHALLENGE:
LIFESTYLE CHALLENGE:
TRIP CODE:
EUBN
DEPOSIT:
$700 USD

Highlights

  Explore the amazing sights of Istanbul

  Guided tour of the valley & underground cities of Cappadocia

  Fully explore the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China at Jinshanling

  See Bingling Si's vast Buddha statue and outstanding cave sculptures

  Wild camp near the 'Door to Hell' Darvaza Crater

  Guided tour of Xi'an's world famous Terracotta Warriors

  Guided tour of the historic city of Samarkand and surrounding area

  3 days overlanding through the stunning Kyrgyz Fergana Valley

  Visit the nightclubs and Imperial Russian-style cabaret restaurants of Tashkent

  Explore the colourful natural phenomenon of the Rainbow Mountains

  SHOW MORE HIGHLIGHTS  

Although this is not a particularly exacting journey, it is long. It is ideally suited for travellers who really wants to experience the local life of the Silk Road. It is an epic route, with some camping to allow us to get away from the tourist centres, but also enough hotels and homestays to make the journey comfortable and interesting.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Beijing ( 13th Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Head out to see an acrobatic or martial arts show in Beijing, always an incredible mix of athleticism and choreography

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

Free
Explore the vast Temple of Heaven, once the site of an annual religious ceremony conducted by the Emporer to pray for a good harvest
CNY 10
Visit the beautiful Tibetan-style Lama Temple (Yonghe Temple) in Beijing
Free

See the iconic modern 'Bird's Nest' Stadium, the centrepiece of the 2008 Olympic Games

CNY 50
Day 2 - Beijing ( 14th Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Guided visit to the Forbidden City in Beijing

Included in Kitty
Day 3-4 - Chengde ( 15th Jul 2020 to 16th Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
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
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

See the beautiful Putuo Zongcheng Temple, modelled after the famous Potala Palace in Tibet
CNY 80
Day 5 - Jinshanling ( 17th Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Fully explore the awe-inspiring Great Wall of China at Jinshanling, one of the most spectacular stone sections of the wall

Included in Kitty
Day 6-7 - Datong ( 18th Jul 2020 to 19th Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

2 nights to explore Datong's Hanging Monastery and the stunning Yungang Caves

Included in Kitty
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
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Journey through the remarkable industrial heartland of the north, the powerhouse of modern China

CNY 60
See the beautiful and ornate Nine Dragon Screen, a screen of glazed tiles depicting nine multi-coloured interweaving dragons
CNY 10
Day 8-9 - Wutai Shan ( 20th Jul 2020 to 21st Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the myriad of temples at Wutai Shan, one of the Four Sacred Mountains of Chinese Buddhism

Included in Kitty
Day 10-11 - Pingyao ( 22nd Jul 2020 to 23rd Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Freely explore the old town of Pingyao, a well preserved walled city that offers a fantastic glimpse into 'Old China'

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the incredible Shuanglin Temple near Pingyao, with its 2000 colourful sculptures of various gods and warriors

CNY 25

Visit the 10th-century Zhenguo Temple, one of the oldest wooden buildings in China

CNY 25
Take a day trip to the photogenic Mian Shan Mountain Resort, and explore the incredible array of buildings and scenery there
CNY 160
Take a day trip out to the impressive Wang family compound and the Zhang Bi underground village near Pingyao
CNY 205
Day 12 - Lijiashan ( 24th Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the beautiful and ornate Black Dragon temple near Lijiashan

Included in Kitty
Stay overnight in a local guesthouse built into a cave, in the cliff-side village of Lijiashan
Included in Kitty
Day 13-14 - Yan'an ( 25th Jul 2020 to 26th Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the Revolution Museum and the Yangjialing Headquarters site, the former headquarters of Mao Tse Tung's Communist Party during the revolution

Included in Kitty
Day 15 - Xi'an ( 27th Jul 2020 )

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 16 - Xi'an ( 28th Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

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

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Wander through the atmospheric Muslim Quarter and visit the Xi'an Great Mosque, the first mosque constructed in China

CNY 30

Visit the mind-blowing Tomb of Emporer Jingdi of the Han Dynasty, containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures

CNY 90

Visit the ornate 14th-century Bell and Drum towers, which originally marked the sunrise and sunset

CNY 50

Walk or cycle around the Ming Dynasty Xi'an City Wall, the largest city wall in the world

CNY 90

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

CNY 30

Visit the impressive Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an's most famous landmark dating from the Tang and Ming Dynasties

CNY 90

Visit the Forest of Stelae Museum, a collection of 3000 stone tablets of Chinese calligraphy that has been collected here since 1057

CNY 75
Visit the huge former Tang Dynasty royal palace of Daming, and explore its vast parks and gardens
Free
Day 17 - Xi'an ( 29th Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the ornate 14th-century Bell and Drum towers, which originally marked the sunrise and sunset

CNY 50

Wander through the atmospheric Muslim Quarter and visit the Xi'an Great Mosque, the first mosque constructed in China

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

CNY 30

Visit the mind-blowing Tomb of Emporer Jingdi of the Han Dynasty, containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures

CNY 90

Visit the Forest of Stelae Museum, a collection of 3000 stone tablets of Chinese calligraphy that has been collected here since 1057

CNY 75

Walk or cycle around the Ming Dynasty Xi'an City Wall, the largest city wall in the world

CNY 90

Visit the impressive Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an's most famous landmark dating from the Tang and Ming Dynasties

CNY 90
Visit the huge former Tang Dynasty royal palace of Daming, and explore its vast parks and gardens
Free
Day 18 - Xi'an ( 30th Jul 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

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

Included in Kitty
Day 19-20 - Pingliang ( 31st Jul 2020 to 1st Aug 2020 )

Today we will drive to the 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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the stunningly beautiful Mt. Kongtong and its temples

Included in Kitty
Day 21-23 - Xiahe ( 2nd Aug 2020 to 4th Aug 2020 )

Today we set off to the enchanting Tibetan town of Xiahe where we spend the next 3 nights. 

Estimated Drive Time - 9 -10 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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

3 night detour to the Tibetan town of Xiahe, one of the main pilgrimage sites for Tibetan Buddhists

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Climb up onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan Plateau

Free
Take a day trip up into the Sangke or Ganjia grasslands of the lower Tibetan Plateau surrounding Xiahe
CNY 400
Day 24 - Liujiaxia, Bingling Si ( 5th Aug 2020 )

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: 4-5  hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

See the vast Buddha statue and the outstanding Buddhist cave sculptures at the fabulous Bingling Si gorge

Included in Kitty
Day 25 - Zhangye ( 6th Aug 2020 )

Today we will have a full day's drive towards Zhangye. This evening we will find a place to camp in the hills surrounding Zhangye. 

Estimated Drive Time - 7-9 hours.

Day 26 - Zhangye, Jiayuguan ( 7th Aug 2020 )

Today we will have a short drive to the incredible Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains - we will spend some time exploring the beautiful scenery, before continuing our drive on to Jiayuguan where, tomorrow, 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 adobe, unlike the more famous stone sections further easy. 

We will camp near an adobe section of the Great Wall near Jiayuguan.

Estimated Drive Time: 5-6 hours.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Journey down the Gansu Corridor to Jiayuguan Fort, our first stop at the Great Wall

Included in Kitty

Explore the incredible and colourful natural phenomenon of the Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains

Included in Kitty
Day 27-28 - Dunhuang ( 8th Aug 2020 to 9th Aug 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Guided tour of the Mogao caves, Dunhuang

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Stopover and time to explore historic Dunhuang

CNY 20

Take a camel ride at Crescent Moon Lake.

CNY 240
Day 29-30 - Turpan ( 10th Aug 2020 to 11th Aug 2020 )

Today we will have an early start and a big drive to the oasis town of Turpan.

Estimated Drive Time: 10-13 hours.

Please note that due to the political tension in Western China there are many police checkpoints that we must go through to show our passports in the Xinjiang province. Sometimes it may be preferred by the group and the leader to split this drive over 2 days, finding a local hotel in between to break up the travel day. 

On the following day we will have a free day to explore the surrounding sites including the famous Jiaohe ruins.

In Turpan we will stay in a local hotel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Exploration of the oasis and the Jiaohe ruins at Turpan

Included in Kitty

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

Included in Kitty
See the striking red sandstone landscape of the Flaming Mountains near Turpan
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

See the Emin Minaret, a beautiful Uighur mosque built in the 18th century which is the tallest minaret in China
CNY 30
Explore the ancient oasis city of Gaochang, once a bustling trading trading centre along the Silk Road
CNY 40
Day 31-32 - Heavenly Lake, Urumqi ( 12th Aug 2020 to 13th Aug 2020 )

Today we will continue on to Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang province.

Estimated Drive Time: 4-5 hours.

We will stay here for 2 nights on the 2nd day we will have an included visit to Heavenly Lake to enjoy the incredible scenery in the Tian Shan Mountains and walk around the lake.

In Urumqi we will stay in a local hotel. 

Day 33-34 - Bayanbulak, Aksu ( 14th Aug 2020 to 15th Aug 2020 )

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 35-37 - Kashgar ( 16th Aug 2020 to 18th Aug 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore Kashgar's Sunday market and Animal market.

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the Id Kah Mosque, the finest example of Islamic architecture in Kashgar and the centre of religious life in the city

CNY 45

Discover the history of the ancient Silk Road at Kashgar's Silk Road Museum

CNY 45

Visit the mausoleum of the 17th-century religious leader Afaq Khoja, considered the holiest site in Xinjiang Province

CNY 30
Day 38 - Kashgar ( 19th Aug 2020 )

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

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore Kashgar's Sunday market and Animal market.

Included in Kitty

Hike up to Shiptons Arch - the largest natural arch in the world. 

Included in Kitty
Day 39-40 - Tash Rabat ( 20th Aug 2020 to 21st Aug 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the ancient Silk Road caravanserai at Tash Rabat, close to the Kyrgyzstan-China border

Included in Kitty
Cross into Kyrgyzstan via the stunning and remote Torugart Pass in the Tian Shan Mountains
Included in Kitty
Day 41 - Kochkor ( 22nd Aug 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village

Included in Kitty

See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

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!
KGS 1000
Day 42 - Bishkek ( 23rd Aug 2020 )

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 43 - Bishkek ( 24th Aug 2020 )

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!*

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Begin our journey in picturesque Bishkek

Free

Freely explore the vast Osh Bazaar, Bishkek's largest market

Free
Explore Bishkek's past at the State Historical Museum on Ala-Too Square
KGS 150
Day 44-45 - Ala Archa, Chong Kemin Valley ( 25th Aug 2020 to 26th Aug 2020 )

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!).

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the beautiful Chong Kemin valley on horseback

KGS 300

Head out on a white-water rafting adventure through the stunning Chong Kemin valley

KGS 1800
Walk around the incredible scenery of the Chong Kemin valley
Free

Wild camping and hiking in the beauty of Ala Archa Gorge

Free
Day 46 - Karakol, Cholpon Ata ( 27th Aug 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Tourist time: pedalos, sand, sun. On Lake Issyk-Kul, it?s a time warp

Included in Kitty
Day 47-48 - Jeti Oguz Valley ( 28th Aug 2020 to 29th Aug 2020 )

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).

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Trek into the wilds of the Jeti-Oghuz Gorge on the edge of the Tian Shan mountains

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the incredible mountain landscapes of the Jeti Oguz Valley by horseback

KGS 800
Day 49 - Kochkor ( 30th Aug 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village

Included in Kitty

See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here

Included in Kitty
See an incredible demonstration from a traditional eagle hunter near Kochkor
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

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!
KGS 1000
Day 50-51 - Song Köl Lake ( 31st Aug 2020 to 1st Sep 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Experience the daily life of the Kyrgyz mountain shepherds.

Included in Kitty
Day 52-54 - Kyrgyz Fergana Valley ( 2nd Sep 2020 to 4th Sep 2020 )

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.

 

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan

Included in Kitty
Day 55 - Arslanbob ( 5th Sep 2020 )

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 56 - Fergana Valley, Fergana City ( 6th Sep 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

See the silk-weavers of the Fergana Valley at the Yodgorlik Silk Factory

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the impressive 19th-century Juma Mosque in Kokand in the stunning Fergana Valley

UZS 17500
Day 57 - Tashkent ( 7th Sep 2020 )

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 58 - Tashkent ( 8th Sep 2020 )

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.*

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore urbane Tashkent and experience a surreal cabaret dinner

Free

Visit the nightclubs and Imperial Russian-style cabaret restaurants of Tashkent

Free
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
USD 5
Day 59 - Samarkand ( 9th Sep 2020 )

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 60-61 - Samarkand ( 10th Sep 2020 to 11th Sep 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

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

Included in Kitty

Visit the Guri-Amir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur

Included in Kitty

Explore the stunning plaza of The Registan, a world-famous and iconic symbol of Central Asia

Included in Kitty

Discover the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once one of the largest mosques in the world and the jewel in Timur's empire

Included in Kitty

See the beautiful and moving ancient mausoleum of Shah-I-Zinda

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit to Shakhrisabz city

USD 20
Wander through the markets and carpet vendors of Samarkand, and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the local carpet weavers
Free
Day 62 - Nurata ( 12th Sep 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight in the Kyzylkum Desert staying in yurts.

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Take a short camel ride around the sand dunes of the Kyzylkhum Desert
UZS 5000
Day 63 - Bukhara ( 13th Sep 2020 )

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 64-65 - Bukhara ( 14th Sep 2020 to 15th Sep 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the city's oldest Islamic monument, the 10th-century mausoleum of Ismail Samanid, the founder of the Samanid Dynasty

Included in Kitty

Discover the ruins of the ancient 5th-century fortress of the Bukhara Ark

Included in Kitty

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

Included in Kitty
Visit the magnificent 16th-centrury architectural ensemble surrounding the Lyab-i Hauz ponds, once the city's principal source of water
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

See the Indian-style Char Minar Minarets, four towers nestled in a maze of alleyways in downtown Bukhara

Free

Visit the gruesome museum at the old prison of Zindon

UZS 4500
Watch an entertaining evening puppet show, featuring many local Uzbek and Tajik poems and songs
USD 5
Day 66-67 - Khiva ( 16th Sep 2020 to 17th Sep 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
See the beautiful turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret, one of the iconic symbols of Khiva
Included in Kitty
Visit the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassa, a museum dedicated to the Khan that surrendered to the Russians in 1873
Included in Kitty
Explore the incredibly photogenic blue palace of Tash Khovli in Khiva
Included in Kitty
Learn all about the Khoezm culture and handicrafts at the Islam Hodja Madrassa, Khiva's newest monument
Included in Kitty
Explore the incredible Juma Mosque and the 12th century fortress of the Kukhna Ark
Included in Kitty
Visit the mausoleum of Pahlavon Mohammed, the legendary 14th-century poet, philosopher, wrestler, and patron saint of Khiva
Included in Kitty
Day 68 - Kunye Urgench ( 18th Sep 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overland into the green Oxus Valley to the ancient ruined city of Kunye Urgench

Included in Kitty
Day 69 - Darvaza ( 19th Sep 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

See the bizarre and incredible burning gas crater at Darvaza, popularly known as the 'Door to Hell'

Included in Kitty
Day 70 - Ashgabat ( 20th Sep 2020 )

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 71 - Ashgabat ( 21st Sep 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

See a myriad of incredible and impressive hand-woven carpets in the Ashgabat Carpet Museum (if open)
USD 10
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
Free
Day 72 - Turkmenbashi ( 22nd Sep 2020 )

This morning we have a full days drive to Turkmenbashi, on the shore of the Caspian Sea. If time permits we will stop at the spectacular Kow Ata Underground Lake on the way. 

Estimated Drive Time - 10 - 11 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!).

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! When applying for your Azerbaijan E Visa please ensure when submitting your application that you state your entry date as arriving a few days prior to the actual date on your trip notes incase your ferry departs earlier than expected. 

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 73 - Caspian Sea ( 23rd Sep 2020 )

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 generally only be seats on the ferry overnight

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Cross the Caspian Sea on a local transporter ferry between Baku and Turkmenbashi
USD 100
Day 74-75 - Baku ( 24th Sep 2020 to 25th Sep 2020 )

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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Learn all about the Shirvan Muslim history of Baku at the Palace of the Shirvanshahs
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Audio Guided trip around old town Baku including the Maiden Tower & Shirvan Shakh Palace

AZN 10

Explore the mysterious and iconic Maiden's Tower in Baku's Old Town

AZN 2.50
Day 76 - Baku ( 26th Sep 2020 )

Border Information: If joining in Baku, you will most likely enter Azerbaijan at Baku Heydar Aliyev International Airport (IATA code: GYD).

There will be an important group meeting at 6.00pm - please look out for a welcome note from your tour leader when you arrive at the joining hotel in Baku. 

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Baku before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales Team or your Sales Agent if you would like to book pre - tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Baku. 

In Baku we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. 

* Important note - 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. *

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Audio Guided trip around old town Baku including the Maiden Tower & Shirvan Shakh Palace

Included in Kitty

Explore the mysterious and iconic Maiden's Tower in Baku's Old Town

Included in Kitty
Learn all about the Shirvan Muslim history of Baku at the Palace of the Shirvanshahs
Included in Kitty
Day 77 - Baku ( 27th Sep 2020 )

Today we will have free time to explore all the sites of Baku and the surroundings. 

In Baku we will stay in a local hotel. 

Day 78 - Lahij Village, Gobustan ( 28th Sep 2020 )

This morning we will make our way to Lahic Village. An old coppersmiths village, nestled in the mountains. On the way we will stop in Gobustan, near the coast of the Caspian Sea where we will have a visit to the ancient petroglyphs and the mud volcanoes that this area is famous for. 

Tonight we will camp with facilities. 

Estimated Drive Time 3 - 4 hours

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Day trip to Gobustan to see the mud volcanoes and the petroglyphs

Included in Kitty
Day 79 - Sheki ( 29th Sep 2020 )

Leaving the village behind we make our way to the old town of Sheki this morning. Here 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 3 -4 hours

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Overnight in an atmospheric converted Caravanserai at Sheki

Included in Kitty

Explore the exquisite Palace of the Sheki Khans, built in 1797

Included in Kitty
Day 80 - Lagodekhi ( 30th Sep 2020 )

Border Information: Exit Azerbaijan at Balakan, enter Georgia at Lagodekhi.

Today we will continue our journey west 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

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Discover the ancient capital of the 16th-century Kingdom of Kakheti at the Gremi Architectural Complex

GEL 10

Take some short exploratory walks around our wild camp in the beautiful forested Lagodekhi National Park

GEL 5
Day 81 - Telavi ( 1st Oct 2020 )

Today we will drive to the Alazani valley and on to Telavi, where we will base ourseves 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 82 - Telavi ( 2nd Oct 2020 )

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.

We will spend a 2nd night in a family-run guesthouse

Daily Activities

Included Activities

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

Included in Kitty
Day 83 - Stepantsminda ( 3rd Oct 2020 )

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 family-run guesthouse. 

Estimated Drive Time 4 - 5 hours

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Hike to beautiful 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, set in the stunning mountains above Stepantsminda

Included in Kitty
Day 84 - Mtskheta ( 4th Oct 2020 )

We spend the 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 Mskheta we will stay overnight in a local guesthouse. 

Estimated Drive Time 3 -5 hours

Day 85 - Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park, Vardzia ( 5th Oct 2020 )

After breakfast we will make our way to Borjome National Park where we will have time to do a small hike through the ancient forest and an optional cable ride up the mountain. 

In the afternoon we will continue on to Vardzia where we will find a place to wild camp for the night in the stunning valley. If time permits we will have an included visit to the Vardzia Caves this afternoon if not we will have the chance to explore them tomorrow morning also. 

Tonight we will wild camp

Estimated Drive Time  4 - 5 hours

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the impressive Vardzia Cave Monastery

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Cable Car ride to the pine woods of Borjomi Plateau

GEL 3
Day 86 - Armenian Highlands ( 6th Oct 2020 )

We continue south towards the Armenian border this morning. Once we have crossed we will drive through the beautiful Armenian Highlands before finding a place to bush camp for the night. 

Tonight we will wild camp

Estimated Drive Time 5- 6 hours

Day 87-88 - Yerevan ( 7th Oct 2020 to 8th Oct 2020 )

Today we will make our way to the city of Yerevan. On the way we will have an included visit to Khor Virap Monastery. 

We will have 2 nights in Yerevan on the 2nd day we will have free time for optional activities or simply relaxing and soaking up the city atmosphere. 

Estimated Drive Time 4 - 5 hours

For the next 2 nights we will stay in a comfortable hotel. 

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Visit the Garni Temple and learn about its fascinating pre-Christian history

Included in Kitty

Visit the Medieval Geghard Monastery

Included in Kitty

Explore the beautiful Khor Virap Monastery near the Turkish border. On a clear day you will have stunning views of Mt Ararat in the background.

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Take a tour of the Ararat Brandy Museum and discover the history of Armenian Brandy

USD 25
Day 89 - Lake Sevan ( 9th Oct 2020 )

We will leave the city of Yerevan behind this morning and make our way to the World Heritage - listed Geghard Monastery which has been carved out of the rock face of the Azat River Gorge. We will also spend some time exploring the Garni Temple before we continue onto the beautiful Lake Sevan.

Tonight we will camp by the sparkling waters of Lake Sevan

Estimated Drive Time 4 -5 hours

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Camp on the shores of Lake Sevan 

Included in Kitty
Day 90 - Tbilisi ( 10th Oct 2020 )

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 6.00pm - on arrival please look out for a note from your leader 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 Tbilisi before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales Team or your Sales Agent 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.*

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Enjoy an evening of local dancing and music at a Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi

GEL 35
Learn all about the history of Georgia during Soviet times, and the struggle for independence, at the Museum of Soviet Occupation
GEL 3
Explore the ancient Narikala Fortress and take in the fantastic views of Tbilisi below
Free

Visit the beautiful Orthodox Sioni Cathedral in Tbilisi's Old Town

Free
Discover the folk architecture, craftwork and culture of the various regions of Georgia at the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography
GEL 1.5
See the incredible collection of historical artefacts at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia
GEL 3
See the grandiose modern Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Church
Free
Day 91 - Kutaisi ( 11th Oct 2020 )

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 Bagrati 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.

Daily Activities

Included Activities
Explore the colossal and awe-inspiring Prometheus Caves near Kutaisi
Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the beautiful 11th-century Bagrati Cathedral, a symbol of the city of Kutaisi
Free
Explore the incredible 11th-century monastery complex of Gelati, near Kutaisi (if time allows)
Free
Day 92 - Batumi ( 12th Oct 2020 )

Today 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.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the Batumi Archaeological Museum, home to many historical exhibits found in excavations in the area
GEL 2
Day 93 - Sumela ( 13th Oct 2020 )

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.

Day 94 - Zara ( 14th Oct 2020 )

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 95-96 - Göreme ( 15th Oct 2020 to 16th Oct 2020 )

Today we will complete our drive to Göreme, a small enchanting town in the heart of the Cappadocia mountains.

In Göreme we will stay 2 nights here in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are sometimes used here.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.

One the second day we will explore Goreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will also be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during your time here. 

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Explore the Early Christian underground cities of Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı, used as a hiding place from persecutions for centuries

Included in Kitty

Walk through the beautiful ancient valley of Ihlara, containing the beautiful rock-hewn churches built by the Cappadocian Greeks during the Byzantine era

Included in Kitty
Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Explore the ancient pre-iconoclastic Byzantine rock monastery of Zelve

TRY 15

Guided tour of Cappadocia and underground troglodyte cities and caves

TRY 5

Discover the ancient techniques of Cappadocian pottery at the village of Avanos

Free

Take a hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia

USD 180
Day 97 - Egirdir ( 17th Oct 2020 )

After breakfast we will continue south towards the town of Egirdir, today will mostly be a travel day. 

Estimated Drive Time 7 - 8 hours

Tonight we will wild camp near the small town of Egirdir

Day 98-99 - Olympos ( 18th Oct 2020 to 19th Oct 2020 )

This morning we will continue onto the ancient beach town of Olympos on the Southern Turkish coast. 

On the way we will make a small detour to visit the ancient city of Termessos in Gulluk Dagi National Park.

Estimated Drive Time - 6 -7 hours

We will have 2 nights in Olympos staying in a local guesthouse. 

On the second day there will be plenty of time to explore and participate in optional activities, in the evening we will walk up to the Chimera Fire Mountain and toast some marshmallows. 

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Hike up Chimera Mountain and witness the natural phenomenon of never ending fires emerging from the rocks. 

TRY 7

Half day Sea Kayaking adventure exploring the many different caves and beautiful coastline of the Southern Turkish Coast. 

EUR 15
Day 100 - Pamukkale ( 20th Oct 2020 )

Today we will head back inland to the small village of Pamukkale. Either this afternoon or tomorrow morning we will have time to visit the thermal hot springs and traverse the travertine pools and terraces. 

Estimated Drive Time 5 - 6 hours

Tonight we will either camp near the village or stay in a local hotel. 

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Admire the brilliant white travertine terraces and submerge yourself in the warm mineral rich pools and hot springs

TRY 35
Day 101-102 - Selcuk ( 21st Oct 2020 to 22nd Oct 2020 )

We only have a short drive this morning to make it to our next destination Selcuk where we will have two nights. On arrival we will have free time to explore the local area or simply relax in one of the many cafes or tea bars which are great for people watching. 

On the second day we will spend the day exploring the Ephesus Ruins and Terraced Houses. 

Estimated Drive Time 2 - 3 hours

For the next two nights we will stay in a local hostel.

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Guided Tour of Ephesus Ruins and the Terraced Houses

Included in Kitty

Walk the marbled streets of Ephesus, one of the best preserved ancient cities.

Included in Kitty
Day 103 - Gallipoli Peninsula ( 23rd Oct 2020 )

After breakfast we will leave Selcuk and drive to Helsik following the coast. Here we will have an included tour of the Troy Ruins. 

In the afternoon we will cross the Dardenelles by ferry to arrive into Ecebat where we will stay the night in a local hostel. 

Estimated Drive time 6 -7 hours

Tonight we will stay in a local hostel. 

Daily Activities

Included Activities

Pay your respects to the fallen at Gallipoli on a guided tour through the battlefields.

Included in Kitty
Day 104 - Istanbul ( 24th Oct 2020 )

Rising early we will have an included tour of Gallipoli with our local guide. 

After lunch we will then jump on the truck one last time to make our way to the bustling city of Istanbul.

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 - 5- 6 hours

Day 105 - Istanbul ( 25th Oct 2020 )

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 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.

Daily Activities

Optional Activities

These activities are not included in the itinerary, however they are available to book and/or payable locally.

Visit the incredible Byzantine cathedral of Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th century

TRY 25

Explore the atmospheric underground Basilica Cisterns, built by the Byzantines in the 6th century

TRY 20

Explore the majestic Topkapı Palace, the huge palace of the Ottoman Sultans for over 400 years

TRY 35

Visit the Çemberlitas Baths, a traditional Turkish Hammam, for a bath and massage!

USD 20

Explore the phenomenal Blue Mosque, built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I - a stunning icon of Istanbul

Free

See the splendour of Istanbul from a boat trip on Bosphorus Strait, which marks the boundary of Europe and Asia

USD 17
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
Free

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Trip Notes
Departing: 13 Jul 2020
Returning: 25 Oct 2020
Duration: 105 days
Route: Beijing - Istanbul
$10,642 USD + $3,470 Kitty (USD)
Was $12520.00 - Save $1878
Deposit: $700 USD
closed
FULLY BOOKED
Departing: 3 Aug 2020
Returning: 15 Nov 2020
Duration: 105 days
Route: Beijing - Istanbul
$10,642 USD + $3,470 Kitty (USD)
Was $12520.00 - Save $1878
DEPARTURE GUARANTEED
Deposit: $700 USD
limited
Departing: 12 Jul 2021
Returning: 24 Oct 2021
Duration: 105 days
Route: Beijing - Istanbul
$12,830 USD + $3,470 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $700 USD
available
Departing: 2 Aug 2021
Returning: 14 Nov 2021
Duration: 105 days
Route: Beijing - Istanbul
$12,830 USD + $3,470 Kitty (USD)
Deposit: $700 USD
available
* Sale price is for a limited time only and is subject to change at any time.