Beijing to Istanbul

Get ready for a massive overland adventure from the bustling streets of Istanbul to the metropolitan core of Beijing. Travel through some of the planet's most remote, wild and unique wildernesses along the legendary Silk Road into China. Pass through the mountainscapes of Iran, pitch a tent beneath the stars in the Karakum Desert and arrive at secluded sections of the snaking Great Wall. From Turkey to Turkmenistan and beyond, this adventure will introduce you to the friendly and hospitable locals who call these rugged lands home. If you're longing for an epic overland odyssey, away from the tourist crowds and through some of the world's last wild terrains, then this epic journey is just for you.

Itinerary

Days 1-2 Beijing

Ni hao and welcome to China where a grand adventure awaits! Begin by joining the buzzing hive that is Beijing - a place where discovery and intrigue lie around every corner. Visit the Forbidden City to admire imperial architecture or the sprawling Summer Palace on the banks of Kunming Lake.

Day 12 Shapotou

The reward for a morning of travel is letting off steam in Shapotou, where daredevils will delight in the dune sliding madness of this sandy wonderland. And if the stars align, embark on an overnight camel safari on the fringes of the stunning Tengger Desert.

Days 15-18 Xi'an

Admire the 2,000-year-old army of Terracotta Warriors and explore significant cultural sites and museums both in and around Xi'an. Enjoy a plate of hand-pulled noodles as you watch the locals dance, eat and practice martial arts in South Park.

Day 3 Qing Dongling

Journey into the valley of the Changrui Mountains, where emperors and their concubines lay entombed at Qing Dongling.

Day 4 Huairou

Take a walk along the monumental Great Wall as it snakes its way through rolling hills as far as the eye can see. Imagine the exhaustive effort of farmers and labourers who toiled for many generations to construct the Wall.

Days 5-6 Chengde

Stroll through the lush Shanzhuang gardens in the footsteps of past Emperors who holidayed here. Take in the rich heritage of Chengde by bicycle or admire the Mongolian and Tibetan influences in local temples and monasteries.

Days 7-8 Datong

Marvel at the Hanging Monastery, delicately perched on a steep cliff face in Golden Dragon Gorge, and explore the World Heritage listed Yungang Grottoes, home to a staggering collection of over 50,000 statues and fascinating ancient rock art.

Days 9-10 Hohhot

Travel to the cultural centre of Hohhot at the gateway to Inner Mongolia. This busy ancient city gives off a laidback vibe making it the perfect place for to reload before embarking on a Mongolian homestay. Yak butter tea, anyone?

Day 11 Yinchuan

After a pit stop at the grand temples of Zhongwei Gao Miao, enjoy fraternising with locals in the friendly city of Yinchuan, amid the ebb and flow of daily life in provincial China.

Day 23 Liujiaxia

At the crossroads of Qinghai and Gangsu, arrive at Liujiaxia. Visit the Bingling Si Buddhist Grottoes to see intricate cliff-side carvings.

Days 26-27 Dunhuang

Arrive in Dunhuang and relax in this Gansu oasis trading town. Visit the nearby Mogao Caves and discover their breathtaking Buddhist art.

Days 29-30 Turpan

Escape the desert sands in the laidback town of Turpan.

Days 44-45 Chong Kemin Valley

Set off on a leisurely hike along Chong Kemin River. Or if feeling adventurous, perhaps tackle one of the tough 4000m passes.

Days 48-49 Djety Oguz Valley

Hike through dramatic canyons and sandstone cliffs in Djety Oguz Valley.

Day 53 Chaek

Hit the road back to Bishkek, stopping to camp in the wilderness overnight.

Day 54 Bishkek

Back in Bishkek, why not stretch the legs with a walk through Oak Park. Or perhaps just kick back in one of the park's open air cafes.

Days 57-58 Tashkent

Arrive in Tashkent, the final stop on this tour. Shop for fresh produce at the Chorsu Bazaar and perhaps grab some Soviet paraphernalia from a market.

Days 59-61 Samarkand

Travel to one of Central Asia's most magical cities, Uzbekistan's Samarkand. Discover the romance of the Silk Road in this perfectly preserved city full of exotic architecture and majestic buildings.

Day 62 Yurt Stay

Spend a night in a yurt camp with the local nomads, sleeping among the dunes of the Red Desert.

Days 63-65 Bukhara

Get to know Central Asia's holiest city, where the combination of buildings spanning a thousand years and a thoroughly lived-in Old Town combine to create an awe-inspiring atmosphere.

Days 66-67 Khiva

Gaze up at the ancient walls surrounding Khiva and imagine how they once provided sanctuary for weary Silk Road travellers. Explore the historic and perfectly preserved Old Town, beautifully decorated in classic turquoise tiles.

Day 68 Kunye Urgench

Follow a local trading route through harsh desert sands, and meet the nomadic people who call this inhospitable region home.

Day 69 Darwasa

Drive across the Karakum Desert. If time allows, see the amazing Darvaza Gas Crater.

Days 70-72 Ashgabat

End your Samarkand and Tamerlane's Testament adventure among the futuristic architecture of Ashgabat's skyline. Spy the world's largest hand-woven rug or learn about the city's traumatic history at the Earthquake Museum.

Day 73 Shirvan

Make tracks towards the Iranian border today and explore Shirvan, nestled on the banks of Atrak River.

Day 74 Damghan

Take a walk around the ancient city of Damghan, perhaps stopping to visit one of the oldest mosques in the world - Jamrh.

Days 76-77 Yazd

Wind through the old city of Yazd - reputedly one of the oldest towns in the world. Sign up for a scrub in a local hamam or sample some tasty Iranian cuisine.

Day 78 Zein-o-din Caravanserai

Keep quiet at the Zoroastrian Tower of Silence before heading to the historical Zein-o-din Caravanserai.

Days 79-80 Shiraz

Explore the magnificent ruins of Persepolis en route to Shiraz. Spend free time in town visiting magnificent mosques and mausoleums or shopping in the fabulous Vakil Bazaar.

Days 81-83 Esfahan

With stately bridges, blue-tiled Islamic buildings and a gargantuan city square, Esfahan provides welcome splashes of lush colour after a few days in the dry countryside. Take in the splendour of this city by visiting ornate mosques and historic palaces.

Days 84-85 Tehran

Discover the capital of Iran, Tehran, a sprawling, fascinating and intoxicating place. Visit the impressive Golestan Palace or get lost in one of the Tehran's museums.

Days 86-87 Bush Camp

Camp in the wilds of this beautiful, mountainous region. Discover the unique rock formations in the enchanting Kandovan region.

Day 88 Dogubayazit

Nestled at the foot of Turkey's highest peak, Dogubayazit has a romantic palace-fortress that is fascinating to explore.

Day 93 Tuz Golu

Farewell the fairy chimneys of Goreme and travel to the beautiful salt lake, Tuz Golu.

Days 94-96 Istanbul

Visit Istanbul's Grand Bazaar to hunt for a bargain, admire the Blue Mosque or the imposing Aya Sofya. On the cobblestone streets of this fascinating city is where the Turkic and Persian Splendours adventure comes to an end.

Days 13-14 Gansu Province/Mount Kongtong

Admire the view from atop the temple-studded Kongtong Mountain and enjoy the spoils of Gansu Province, which has a rich and colourful history as one of the important links on the ancient Silk Road.

Day 19 Pingliang, Gansu Province & Mount Kongtong

Overland through the province of Gansu to Pingliang, which sits at the edge of the beautiful Kongtong Mountain. Peruse the wonderful shops or climb the mountain for rewarding views.

Day 20 Gansu Corridor, Lanzhou

Travel down the fertile Gansu Corridor, a rugged stretch of the famed Silk Route.

Days 21-22 Xiahe

Travel to the Tibetan monastery town of Xiahe, often described as one of the most enchanting places to visit in China.

Day 24 Bingling Si/Zhangye Bush Camp

Continue the journey west towards Jiayuguan, where we set up camp en route.

Day 25 Jiayuguan/Great Wall

Arrive in Jiayuguan after a full day of driving, and discover deserted sections of the Great Wall.

Day 28 Bush Camp

Continue the overland adventure towards the ancient oasis town of Turpan. Spend the night wild camping beneath the desert stars.

Days 31-32 Urumqi & The Heavenly Lake

Travel towards the Tian Shan mountain range, and arrive at the pristine Heavenly Lake. Located at the top of a mountain and in the middle of a desert, this is a remote spot, perfect for relaxation.

Days 33-34 Bush Camp

Head to the outskirts of the enormous Taklamakan Desert. Travel into seemingly unchartered terrain and begin two days on an overland adventure.

Day 35-37 Kashgar

Arrive in Kashgar, an exotic fusion of Chinese, Uzbek and Kyrgyz cultures. Wander the streets that weave through the old town and discover the markets and bazaars of this diverse city before saying goodbye to this incredible part of the world.

Day 46 Cholpon Ata / Issyk-Kul Lake

Farewell the Kyrgyzstan mountains and head to Cholpon Ata, nestled on the shores of the vast and beautiful Issyk-Kul Lake.

Day 47 Karakol

Enjoy the remote, picturesque town of Karakol, complete with quaint tree-lined streets and colonial houses.

Day 50 Kochkor

Enjoy more traditional Kyrgyz hospitality on a homestay in Kochkor village.

Day 51-52 Song Kul Lake

Spend the night in a yurt and join in a game of ulak-tartysh.

Days 55-56 Zhabagly / Aksu National Park

Make tracks into Kazakhstan and enjoy a night with a local family in Zhabagly. Explore the grasslands of Aksu National Park.

Day 75 Garmeh / Dasht-e Kavir Desert

Travel into the heart of the central Iranian desert and enjoy a homestay in the small village of Garmeh.

Days 89-90 Bush Camp

Travel overland into Eastern Turkey via ancient trade routes. Explore the Enchanted Valley where cones of soft volcanic rock have been carved to create mystical churches and mysterious dwellings.

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