In three months we are travelling the Silk Road from Istanbul to Beijing. No big deal these days – and we will only take a month to complete the trip. It used to take 3 months just to cover the section from Urumqi to Kashgar. We will be crossing one of the most daunting mountain ranges (the Tian Shan) and skirting two of the harshest deserts (the Taklamakan and the Gobi) on the planet – and all in relative comfort – we trust!
Because I would rather not come home to find my home burgled, I am keeping this blog anonymous and will invent a suitably misleading name for my wife, who is accompanying me. However, the blog itself will be truthful and as accurate as I can make it.
We have been working up to this trip for a while and finally decided that we should do it before decrepitude rules it out. The organisation has been done by Wild Frontiers, who have tailored a trip for us.
Fly to Istanbul – two nights there.
Fly on to Tashkent – a night there and then train to Bukhara.
Two nights in Bukhara, then drive to Samarkand via Shakhrisabz (birthplace of Tamerlaine).
Registan Square, Samarkand
Two nights in Samarkand, then a long drive via Tashkent to Kokand in the Fergana Valley.
One night in Kokand and then on for another long drive to Osh in Kyrgyzstan.
One night in Osh and an epic drive to the dusty mining community of Kazarman (one probably rather bleak night there) en route to Son Kul Lake, where we stay two nights in a yurt.
Son Kul Lake
From Son Kul we drive to Tash-Rabat, a caravanserai near the Chinese border.
Tash-Rabat caravanserai, Kyrgyzstan
Two nights in a yurt at Tash-Rabat, then drive through the Torugart Pass and cross the border into China. With probably a lengthy immigration process! We pick up a new guide and driver on the other side and descend into Kashgar.
On the road to the Torugart Pass
Two nights in Kashgar, timed to coincide with the Sunday Market.
Fly to Urumqi. Two nights there, then drive to Turfan.
Two (or possibly one) night in Turfan and then we take an overnight train to Dunhuang (Mogao Grottoes).
Mogao Grottoes, Dunhuang
A night in Dunhuang and then fly to Xi’an (terracotta warriors), where we spend two nights. Then take a high-speed train to Beijing (three nights there).
Terracotta soldier, Xi’an
Sounds like a lot of travelling!