Drive the Silk Road - From Zurich to Hong Kong 2014

Despite the great distance between Asia and Europe, the two regions had contact prior to the first century AD. Traders, pilgrims and warriors all travelled along the Silk Road from the Mediterranean region in the West to as far as China in the East. Cultures spread through interaction among merchants, travellers and conquerors. The most profound influence of all were those brought by conquering civilizations. To understand the history of cultural diffusion, one must understand the major empires of the Silk Road and the effects that they had on the exchange and spread of culture.

Our one-of-a-kind overland adventure “Drive the Silk Road: Zurich to Hong Kong” program, from August to November, will take place again in 2014. The trip is divided into 4 sections and travellers will have the option of participating in one section, or all combined sections.

The journey reveals various regions along this historical and legendary route taking travellers into many unspoiled and off-the-beaten-path places. By driving through and visiting these places, our participants have realized that the Silk Road is not a legend that belongs to the past, but full of liveliness and present-day activities, and the knowledge gained from the journey shall be much greater than those from the history books. Journey with us in the footsteps of legendary explorers ,along the greatest thoroughfare in human history.

Days Program Accommodation Nutrition 
Day 1 Journey start from Zurich Hotel D
Day 2 Zurich – Liechtenstein  Hotel B/L/-
Day 3  Liechtenstein – Salzburg, Austria (356 km) Hotel B/L/-
Dey 4  Salzburg Hotel B/L/-
Dey 5  Salzburg – Bled, Slovenia  (240 km) Hotel B/L/-
Day 6  Bled – Liubliana – Opatija, Croatia (167 km)  Hotel B/L/-
Day 7  Opatija, Croatia – Plitvice Lakes NP (188 km) Hotel B/L/-
Day 8  Plitvice Lakes National Park – Split (273 km) Hotel B/L/-
Day 9  Split – Mostar, Bosnia (144 km)  Guesthouse B/L/-
Day 10 Mostar – Dubrovnik, Croatia  (123 km) Hotel B/L/-
Day 11  Dubrovnik  Hotel B/L/-
Day 12    Dubrovnik – Kotor, Montenegro (88 km) Hotel  B/L/-
Day 13 Kotor, Montenegro – Elbasan, Albania (284 km) Hotel  B/L/-
Day 14 Elbasan, Albania – Demir Kapija, Macedonia (283 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 15  Demir Kapija, Macedonia – Sofia, Bulgaria (230 km) Hotel B/L/-
Day 16  Sofia Hotel B/L/-
Day 17  Sofia – Plovdiv (132 km)  Hotel B/L/-
Day 18 Plovdiv Hotel B/L/-
Day 19  Plovdiv – Istanbul, Turkey (380 km) Hotel B/L/-
Day 20  Istanbul Hotel B/L/D
Day 21  Istanbul Hotel B/-/D
Day 22  Istanbul Hotel B/L/D
Day 23 Istanbul – Ankara (580 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 24  Ankara  Hotel B/L/D
Day 25 Ankara – Cappadocia (530 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 26  Cappadocia Hotel B/L/D
Day 27 Cappadocia  – Malatya ( 430 km)    Hotel B/L/D
Day 28 Malatya – Mt. Nemrut (152 km)    Hotel B/L/D
Day 29  Mt. Nemrut – Gobekli Tepe – Batman (381 km) Hotel B/L/D 
Day 30 Batman – Hasankeyf – Van (319 km) Hotel B/L/D 
Day 31  Van – Dogubayazit (48 km) Hotel B/L/D 
Day 32  Dogubayazit – Kars (190 km) Hotel B/L/D 
Day 33  Kars Hotel B/L/D 
Day 34  Kars – Akhalkalaki, Georgia (180 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 35  Akhalkalaki – Yerevan, Armenia (80 km)  Hotel B/L/D
Day 36 Yerevan (65 km)  Hotel B/L/D 
Day 37 Yerevan Sevan Lake – Dilizhan (325 km)  Hotel B/L/D
Day 38 Dilizhan  (80 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 39  Sevan Lake – Tbilisi, Georgia (170 km)  Hotel B/L/D
Day 40 Tbilisi  Hotel B/L/D
Day 41 Tbilisi Sighnghi (111 km)                                                Hotel B/L/D
Day 42 Sighnaghi Sheki, Azerbaijan (161 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 43 Sheki Hotel B/L/D
Day 44 Sheki – Baku (300 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 45 Baku  Hotel B/L/D
Day 46 Baku – Caspian Ferry  Caspian Ferry B/L/D
Day 47 Arrive Turkmenistan  Hotel B/L/D
Day 48 Arrive Ashgabat Hotel -/-/D
Day 49 Ashgabat Hotel B/L/D
Day 50 Ashgabat Hotel B/L/D
Day 51   Ashgabat Darvaza (255 km) Desert Camping B/L/D
Day 52 Darvaza Dashoguz Khiva, Uzbekistan  (395 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 53  Khiva  Hotel B/L/D
Day 54 Khiva – Bukhara (410 km)  Hotel B/L/D
Day 55  Bukhara Hotel B/L/D
Day 56 Bukhara – Samarkand (280 km)  Hotel B/L/D
Day 57 Samarkand  Hotel B/L/D
Day 58 Samarkand – Tashkent (310 km)  Hotel B/L/D
Day 59 Tashkent – Ferghana Valley – Osh (426 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 60 Osh – Chichkan Valley (430 km)  lodge B/L/D
Day 61 Chichkan Valley – Kochkorka (260 km) Family stay B/L/D
Day 62 Kochkorka – Naryn (130 km)  Family stay B/L/D
Day 63 Naryn – Kashgar, China (330 km)  Hotel B/L/D
Day 64 Kashgar  Hotel B/L/D
Day 65 Kashgar  Hotel B/L/D
Day 66 Kashgar – Khotan (520 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 67 Khotan Minfeng (288 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 68 Minfeng Korla (780 km)  Hotel B/L/D
Day 69 Korla Turpan (390 km)  Guesthouse  B/L/D
Day 70  Turpan   Guesthouse  B/L/D
Day 71 Turpan Dunhuang (840 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 72 Dunhuang  Hotel B/L/D
Day 73 Dunhuang Jiayuguan (520 km)   Hotel B/L/D
Day 74 Jiuquan Zhangye (400 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 75 Zhangye Xining (337 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 76 Xining – Qinghai Lake – Xining  Hotel B/L/D
Day  77 Xining – Tongren (181 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 78 Tongren – Xiahe (122 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 79 Xiahe – Langmu (67 km)   Guesthouse B/L/D
Day 80 Langmu – Songpan (397 km)  Hotel B/L/D 
Day 81 Songpan – Chongqing  (641 km) Hotel B/L/D 
Day 82 Chongqing             Hotel  B/L/D 
Day 83 Chongqing – Guiyang  (376 km)  Hotel B/L/D
Day 84 Guiyang – Kaili – Xijiang Miao Village (268 km)  Village House B/L/D 
Day 85 Kaili – Duyun (195 km) Hotel  B/L/D 
Day 86 Duyun – Longshen, Guangxi (346 km) Guesthouse B/L/D 
Day 87 Longshen Guesthouse B/L/D
Day 88 Longshen – Guilin (90 km) Hotel B/L/D 
Day 89 Guilin – Yangshuo – Guilin Hotel B/L/D
Day 90 Yangshuo –Shenzhen (622 km) Hotel B/L/D
Day 91 Shenzhen             Hotel B/L/D
Day 92 Shenzhen – Hong Kong/ End of the Silk Road drive!   B

Route maps:

Map I – Austria to Croatia

Map II – Croatia to Macedonia

Map III – Bulgaria to Turkey

Map IV – Turkey

Map V – Turkey to Azerbaijan

Map VI– Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan)

Map VII - China

Section 1: 
Dates: August 30 – September 19, 2014
Length: 21 days
Countries to be visited:  Switzerland – Liechtenstein – Austria – Slovenia – Croatia – Montenegro – Albania – Macedonia – Bulgaria – Turkey
Total distance:  ±2555 km
Per person price:  USD 9550 (based on twin-share)                                                          
                                  USD 2680 (single room supplement)

Section 2:
Dates: September 19 – October 14, 2014
Length: 26 days
Countries to be visited: Turkey – Armenia – Georgia – Azerbaijan
Total distance:  ±4400 km
Per person price:  USD 12750 (based on twin-share)
                                   USD 2990 (single room supplement)

Section 3:
Dates: October 16 – November 03, 2014
Length: 19 days
Countries to be visited: Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan – Kyrgyzstan – Xinjiang, China
Total distance: ±3646 km
Per person price: USD 9360 (based on twin-share)
                                 USD 1980 (single room supplement)

Section 4:
Dates: October 31 – November 29, 2014
Length: 30 days
Countries to be visited: China
Total distance: ±7813 km
Per person price: USD 11920 (based on twin-share)                                                      
                                USD 2850 (single room supplement)


What's included in the payment?

- 4WD vehicle throughout the journey (3-4 people per vehicle). 
- Petrol charges, toll fees, maintenance and repair of the vehicle. 
- Leadership of experienced Group Leaders including mechanical support.
- Local sightseeing with entrance fees (sometimes via chartered coach).
- Accommodation: 4 & 5-star hotels in major cities, best available in remote areas and camping facilities. 
- Hotel taxes and service charges.
- All meals.
- Arrival and departure transfers.
- All cross-border handling.
- Banquets, parties and special events.
- Travel manual and educational materials.
- Use of travel accessories (i.e., GPS, maps, GMRS Radio Walkie-Talkie, tools, general emergency kit)


What is not included?
- International airfare (from home city to Istanbul and from Beijing to home city)
- Travel insurance (mandatory)
- Visa fees
- Expenses of personal nature such as beverages, laundry, telephone/internet fees, etc.



Why is there a cash payment?

Your cash payment will cover all gratuities and incidentals. In the countries we travel through, tipping is a common practise. Your guides, the hotel staff, restaurant staff, bus drivers, people who operate boats, wash and service cars, etc., are all to be tipped. Our group leader will collect 500 EUR or 700 USD cash payment from each participant at the group’s departure meeting in Istanbul and this cash payment will cover gratuities of all mentioned above. 

How & when to register?
“Drive the Silk Road:  from Istanbul to Beijing” is planned for a maximum of 16 travellers. Therefore it is recommended to register early to secure your place on the trip. If you are in the USA or Canada, the quickest way to make a reservation is to call us at 1-866-564-1226. If you are in Europe or Russia, please contact us by mail . You may also mail or fax in the reservation form (e will send you reservation form as soon as you ask).  We accept Visa, MasterCard and American Express, cheque or wire transfer for the initial deposit. The balance of the land cost must be paid by cheque or wire transfer. 
Early reservations are recommended, since group size is limited and the trip requires extra preparation time.


How will I know when the trip is confirmed?
Total seats available: 16. Minimum number of passengers for a guaranteed departure: 8.  
This trip is based upon a minimum of 8 registrants. Should we receive less than 8 people, we reserve the right to cancel the trip, or apply a surcharge as in our experience most participants usually prefer to pay an additional cost rather than have their trip cancelled. You will be notified as early as possible should this situation arise.
Final confirmation date (should the minimum number of travellers not be reached earlier): 90 days prior to departure.

What happens after I pay my deposit?
Upon receiving your reservation form and deposit, we will hold your space and send you a notice confirming receipt. The minimum number of passengers on this trip is 8.  Once we receive bookings from this number of people, the departure will be confirmed, and we will send you a trip information kit.  
The trip information kit contains general and practical information on the countries you will be visiting, a suggested reading list and packing list; as well as a medical information disclosure form and liability waiver form, which you need to fill out, sign and return to us. 
Your trip dossier will be sent out approximately 3 weeks prior to departure. The trip dossier contains more detailed information related to many aspects of the journey such as detailed itineraries, local contact numbers and group meeting locations, maps, etc - all of which are useful in the final planning of your journey.

Do I need to get visas for this trip?
It is safe to assume that visa will be required for all countries on this trip. Many of these visas will require an invitation letter from the local tour operator or an official visa authorization confirmation from the government. We will obtain these documents on your behalf. 
It is your own responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a passport (with at least six months validity from the date of return at the end of the trip) and any visas necessary to enter the countries involved in the journey.


How challenging is this trip?
While this trip is not extremely strenuous, there are periods when the driving times are long and the conditions basic. All participants should be in relatively good health and be prepared to experience long days on the road travelling over varying types of terrain. A willingness to be involved, a positive and flexible approach to travel and an understanding of the particular demands of this trip will ensure your enjoyment on one of the greatest travel adventures of your life. In addition, this is a driving adventure program. You will be required to drive a 4x4 vehicle provided by us. Currently, what we provide you is Land Rover Discovery II with automatic transmission. You need to send us a copy of your driver's license (an electronic scan via email will be OK). So far, an international driver’s license has not been required by any country's authority, if the situation changes, we will inform you or your agent. We should receive your driver's license copy at least 90 days prior to departure since in certain countries, it takes time to get you a local driving permit.

When and where will I meet the group?
You will find the start and end dates on the itinerary page. It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in Istanbul on or before the start date, where you will be met at the airport by our local representative. Similarly our services will end with a transfer to the airport in Beijing for your departure home. Should you require extra pre or post-tour accommodation please contact our office and we will be pleased to assist you.

Are sightseeing and activities all pre-arranged and included?
Yes! Our sightseeing activities are specifically arranged for this program and will vary according to the local conditions. ‘Scheduled Sightseeing’ is part of the itinerary inclusions and is generally by minibus or coach but occasionally we will use the Land Rovers. All sightseeing programs include transportation, entrance fees and English-speaking local guides.
Please note that there are only two activities are not included and it is totally up to you to decide if you would like to participate in or not. One is the hot-air-balloon ride in Cappadocia, Central Turkey. The other one is the camel ride over the Singing Sand Dune in Dunhuang, China. These activities may not be for everyone and also their operation depends on the local weather condition. Therefore we didn't include the cost in the total price.

How should I pack for the trip?

Due to the nature of this trip space will be limited. Each Land Rover will need to carry essential supplies and it is therefore strongly recommended that all participants limit their luggage to one main piece per person. We recommend bringing a single backpack or soft bag for the journey. A moderate sized suitcase with retractable handle and wheels is also acceptable. Please do not bring oversized suitcases or bags. You should also carry a small day-pack for personal items used during the day (camera, water, snacks etc.). A hidden money belt for carrying valuables is also useful.


Will there be changes to the itinerary?
We will take every measure to ensure the accuracy of itineraries and promotional literature. However, circumstances beyond our control may necessitate changes to our route, accommodation, date and activity.  In the case of program change, you should refer to the daily itinerary included with your final documents package as it may have been updated since you booked your trip. In the case of a shift in dates, we will notify you as early as possible of such changes so that necessary adjustments can be made. Changing conditions in the field may also necessitate itinerary modifications after the trip has departed. Participants may be asked to share any increased costs associated with the changes. We also reserve the right to change hotels with properties of similar standard when necessary.
Please note that we are travelling through some of the most remote regions of the world: the trip could be delayed because of weather, road conditions, political conflicts, sickness or other contingencies for which we cannot reasonably make provision.  The cost of the delay and/or trip interruption is not included in your payment.
In consideration of, and in part payment of, the right to participate in the trip, you will fully assume all risk of the above hazards and hereby release and discharge us and our agents from all actions, claims or demands resulting from your willing participation in the trip.


What is your Cancellation Policy?
Cancellations or revisions must be made in writing and your right to a refund if you cancel your trip is as follows:

Cancellation Made (days before departure)   Cancellation Penalty
More than 90 days prior                         Loss of deposit
89 - 60 days                                       50% of your payment             
59 - 0 days                                        100% of your payment

There are no refunds for no-shows or any unused portion of the trip. Cancellation fees will apply and are non-refundable for any reason whatsoever. In the event that the tour price increases by more than 7% from the time of booking by the passenger, the participant has the right to cancel the contract for travel and obtain a full refund of payment(s) made to us by providing written notice at any time after a payment has been made up to and including the date of departure as set out in this brochure, unless the increase in the tour price is as a result of government taxation or a fuel surcharge permitted by the National Transportation Agency with respect to charter air travel services, as may be applicable.


What other important information do I need to know?

Pre-arranged Travel Insurance
Travel insurance is mandatory for this trip. Policies must provide adequate coverage for the loss of personal items and any potential medical expenses. You will be required to provide your medical insurance provider’s contact details and your policy number in case of emergency.

Health & Government Travel Advisories
It is your sole responsibility to inform yourself of the prevailing travel advisories issued by the government of your country regarding the risks and associated precautions (including health) related to travel to the countries and regions visited on this trip. Health advice is available from travel health specialists and international bodies such as the World Health Organization. OUr company will not be responsible for advising you of such travel advisories or of any changes that occur to such travel advisories prior to departure of the trip

Health & Fitness
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are have a suitable level of fitness to undertake this journey and that you have received the required vaccinations. We recommend that you consult with your doctor or travel health specialist regarding the specific health recommendations for travel to the countries and regions visited en route. You must inform Us of any medical condition that may prevent your full participation in the trip. Should you fail to do this and Our Company. or your group leader find that you are medically unfit to participate in the trip or should your medical condition deteriorate during the trip, to an extent where you are no longer able to fully participate in the trip, you will be required to leave the trip. No refund will be made for any unused services in such an event. Our company. and our agents reserve the right to withhold or withdraw tour participation for anyone whose inappropriate behaviour ormedical condition is likely to affect the smooth operation of the trip or adversely affect the safety or enjoyment of other travellers on the trip. As well, Our company. reserves the right at any time to insist on a current medical certificate stating that you are fit to travel, and may refuse your participation if a satisfactory certificate is not supplied. Any decision to exclude a passenger for any reason will be made by OUr company. without any further recourse. When joining Drive The Silk Road you accept the authority of the Group Leader.

In case there are political crisis or military conflicts taking place while we are in the region...During the past few years, we haven't experienced any political crisis or military action throughout the Silk Road trip and our driving adventure was never interupted or re-schduled. This doesn't mean that we are not placing the precautions and safety/security issues on the very top of our list. We are fully aware of what is happening within the countries that we will drive through and keep close contact with our local operators, guides, friends and associations to make sure our information is up-to-date. We also prepared two alternative routes, one is going through the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia and Azerbaijan) after Turkey and around Iran; the other one is going through Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia into Inner Mongolia of China. We have our support teams in these places in case there are difficulties for us to enter Iran or Western China


Section 1: ZURICH TO ISTANBUL – from the Alps to the Balkan Countries

Dates: August 30 – September 19, 2014
Length:   21 days
Countries to be visited:   Switzerland – Liechtenstein – Austria – Slovenia – Croatia – Montenegro – Albania – Macedonia – Bulgaria – Turkey

Total distance:  ±2555 km

Per person price: USD 9550 (based on twin-share)                                                           
                                  USD 2680 (single room supplement)


Day 1. Saturday, August 30.  Journey start from Zurich, Switzerland
Our 2014 Silk Road drive will start from Zurich, Switzerland.
As a “metropolis of experiences” by the water, with a magnificent view of the snow-capped Alps on the horizon, Zürich offers a unique mixture of attractions – over 50 museums and more than 100 art galleries, international fashion labels and Zürich designs, and the most flamboyant and lively nightlife in Switzerland.
If you need more time in Zurich, feel free to arrive a couple of days earlier. A relaxed stroll through the city reveals something amazing at every corner: architectural highlights, historic squares, streets and districts, churches, works of art and much more.
Today, upon arrival in Zurich, you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.
Welcome dinner.
Cordial Theaterhotel Wien

Day 2. Sunday, August 31 . Zurich, Switzerland – Liechtenstein (driving distance: 110 km)
This morning we will familiarize our vehicles before heading to Liechtenstein.  Lunch en route.
Afternoon arrive Triesenberg, Liechtenstein.
Sandwiched between Austria and Switzerland, little Liechtenstein is in fact a record holder - it has the world's lowest external debt. Other than that thrilling claim to fame, it is a (somewhat unheralded) destination for winter sports, thanks to its position in the Alps. The capital Vaduz is more popular as a tax haven than for city breaks.
Visit Vaduz Castle, Liechtenstein National Museum, and Liechtenstein Art Museum.  Check into a hotel in Triesenberg.
Dinner will be on your own. 
B/L Hotel Oberland

Day 3. Monday, September 01. Liechtenstein – Salzburg, Austria (driving distance: 356 km)
Departing Liechtenstein in the morning, we will head east to Salzburg, Austria’s prettiest city.
Today’s drive is long but very scenic. Having lunch en route, we will arrive Salzburg in the afternoon. The city’s "Old Town", with its world famous baroque architecture, is one of the best-preserved city centers in the German-speaking world and was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1997. We will spend two nights in this charming city.
B/L Mercure Salzburg Central Hotel

Day 4. Tuesday, September 02. Salzburg 
We will visit the Hohensalzburg Fortress and Mozart’s birthplace in the morning with an English-speaking guide. Lunch in the city. Free time in old town on your own. 
B/L Mercure Salzburg Central Hotel

Day 5. Wednesday, September 03. Salzburg – Bled, Slovenia  (driving distance: 240 km)
After breakfast, we drive southbound for about 3 hours through beautiful alpine region into Slovenia.  Arrive Bled and check into our hotel by the lake side. Lunch en route.
Bled, also called “the mountain pearl” is Slovenia’s most visited scenic spot. The town is best known for its lake, Lake Bled, with a little island in the middle, where we will take a boat ride to visit. Visit Bled Castle standing on a high cliff overlooking Bled Lake and enjoy fantastic panoramic view of landscape around it.
B/L Park Hotel

Day 6. Thursday, September 04. Bled – Liubliana – Opatija, Croatia (driving distance: 167 km)
In the morning we will drive to Liubliana, Slovenian capital (55 km) to meet up with our guide Dragan Bekcic for a morning tour of the city.
We will take a stroll in old part of the city – we will visit St. Nicholas Cathedral, Preseren’s Square, the Triple bridge, the Dragon Bridge. We will also get on top of the famed Nebotičnik (Slovene for "Skyscraper"), a prominent high-rise located in the centre of Ljubljana. It is one of the city's most recognizable landmarks.  Its thirteen storeys rise to a height of 70.35 m (231 ft). It was designed by the Slovenian architect Vladimir Šubic  for the Pension Institute, the building's investor. Construction began in July 1930 and the building opened on 21 February 1933.  It was, upon completion, the tallest building in the Kingdom of Yugoslavia, and the ninth-tallest high-rise in Europe.  
Leave Ljubljana after lunch and head south to drive into Croatia and visit Opatija, a town in western Croatia on the Adriatic coast. Overnight at this very scenic town of Croatia.
B/L Milenij Hotel

Day 7. Friday, September 05. Opatija, Croatia – Plitvice Lakes NP (driving distance: 188 km)
After some leisure time in the morning, we will drive westbound along the scenic coast towards Plitvice Lakes National Park.Lunch en route.
Enjoy a visit to Plitvice Lakes National Park, a string of 16 turquoise coloured lakes linked by 92 waterfalls and cascades and surrounded by densely wooded mountains and lush vegetation. Admire the landscape formed by the mineral-rich waters which carve new paths through the rock, and enjoy your time in the middle of nature.
Arrive hotel in late afternoon.  
B/L  Plitvice Hotel

Day 8. Saturday, September 06. Plitvice Lakes National Park – Split (driving distance: 273 km)
Drive to Split in the morning.  Split is the second largest city in Croatia, with just over 200,000 inhabitants, and is the largest city on the Adriatic coast. Coupled with its strong history - it emerged from a settlement around a palace built by Roman emperor Diocletian, and this lively city was also important within Yugoslavia.
Lunch en route.
Afternoon tour the Diocletianus’ Palace. Split. Within area of Split and Solin the oldest findings are from the time of Neolithic and Eneolithic. In late ancient period during the Roman administration, the splendid Diocletian Palace was built. 
B/L  Hotel Palace Authentic Luxury Rooms

Day 9. Sunday, September 07. Split – Mostar, Bosnia (driving distance: 144 km)
Drive to Bosnia and overnight in Mostar. Upon arrival, check into hotel.
The historic town of Mostar, spanning a deep valley of the Neretva River, developed in the 15th and 16th centuries as an Ottoman frontier town and during the Austro-Hungarian period in the 19th and 20th centuries. Mostar has long been known for its old Turkish houses and Old Bridge, Stari Most, after which it is named. In the 1990s conflict, however, most of the historic town and the Old Bridge, designed by the renowned architect Sinan, was destroyed. The Old Bridge was recently rebuilt and many of the edifices in the Old Town have been restored or rebuilt with the contribution of an international scientific committee established by UNESCO. 
B/L Shangri-La Guesthouse

Day 10. Monday, September 08. Mostar – Dubrovnik, Croatia  (Driving distance: 123 km) 
Drive back to Croatia and arrive Dubrovnik.
Often being described as "Paradise on Earth" and "a Jewel in the Crown of the Adriatic", Dubrovnik has also been regarded as the most perfectly preserved medieval town in the world and is a city which for centuries rivaled Venice as a major sea trading port. It has now been fully restored to its former glory and is an ultimate expression of all that is fine in medieval building. The enormous walls, built between the 11th and 17th centuries are still intact and provide a beautiful setting for the numerous cafes and restaurants that they house.
We will spend two nights in this historical city. Afternoon at leisure.
B/L Dubrovnik Palace Hotel 

Day 11. Tuesday, September 09. Dubrovnik  
Half-day old town tour of Durbrovnik.
We will spend the morning in the old town with an English-speaking guide. After lunch, enjoy some free time.
B/L Dubrovnik Palace Hotel

Day 12. Wednesday, September 10. Dubrovnik – Kotor, Montenegro (driving distance: 88 km)
Today we will drive along the coast into Montenegro and arrive Kotor to spend the night.
The Old City of Kotor is an ancient trade center, due to its fortified entrance to the sea. It's also a UNESCO World Natural and Historical Heritage Site and Montenegro's most famous town. The Old Town is a well-preserved collection of buildings, churches, squares and stone streets that date back to the Middle Ages. Our hotel is located inside the car-free, walled town. We need to pack an overnight bag to enter the old town while parking the cars outside of the city wall. 
Tour of old town.
B/L Hotel Vardar

Day 13. Thursday, September 11. Kotor, Montenegro – Elbasan, Albania (driving distance: 284 km)
Today we will leave Montenegro and enter Albania.
Lunch en route.
Arrive Elbasan in the afternoon.
Elbasan is located in central Albania. It is one of the largest and most historical cities in Albania.
Elbasan is the site of the ancient city of Skampa founded in the 1 st century A.D. It developed during the construction of Via Egnatia a main road artery in the land communication and trade and interchanges between the Apennine – Peninsula and the Balkan Peninsula. The surrounding walls of the town were built in the 4 th century, having 3 entrances and 26 towers. Its Fortress was built during the Byzantine Emperor Justinian I (483 – 565) by which time Skampa had become the seat of Bishop with Cathedral and basilica outside walls.
Before the 2nd World War, Elbasan was a city with a mixture of eastern and medieval buildings, narrow cobbled streets and a large bazaar. There was a clearly defined Christian settlement within the castle walls, a Vlach district on the outskirts of the city and several fine mosques and Islamic buildings. 
After checking into hotel, we will walk around the old town.
B/L Elbasan Grand Hotel 

Day 14. Friday, September 12. Elbasan, Albania – Demir Kapija, Macedonia (driving distance: 283 km)
We will leave Albania and drive into Macedonia.
After crossing the border into Macedonia, we will arrive Demir Kapija. Demir Kapija is a small town, located on the left bank of the Vardar River in the Povardarie region in southern part of Macedonia. Demir Kapija is known as for the production of red paprika and for it's wineyards.
The name Demir Kapija is preserved from the Ottoman period, which means literally means Iron Gate. We will overnight at a local vineyard hotel here.
The Popova Kula Hotel and Vineyard offers unique experience to its guests with its comfortable rooms and impressive wine production. We will enjoy wine-tasting here tonight.
B/L/D Polova Kula Hotel and Vineyard

Day 15. Saturday, September 13. Demir Kapija, Macedonia – Sofia, Bulgaria (driving distance: 230 km)
Today we drive through Macedonia and enter Bulgaria from its Southern border. Upon arrival, check into the city center hotel to rest.
B/L Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan 

Day 16. Sunday, September 14. Sofia
 A walking city tour will take up the whole morning. Visits include: Alexander Nevski Cathedral, National Assembly Square, Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, Former Royal Palace (now Ethnographic Museum and National Revival Art Gallery), National Theatre, National Archaeological Museum, Presidency, St. George Rotunda, Central Square with closed market, St. Nedelya Old Metropolitan Church, the 16th century Banya Bashi Mosque and the Synagogue.
Afternoon at leisure.
B/L  Sheraton Sofia Hotel Balkan

Day 17. Monday, September 15. Sofia – Plovdiv (driving distance: 132 km)
Drive to Plovdiv, entering the old city and settle in our historical hotel.
Afternoon, tour the old city including the Roman theatre, the Roman mosaics, and the presumed beginning of Via Trayana.
Plovdiv is a modern city with an ancient spirit and charm, emanating from its numerous remains of old times. Enjoy some leisure time walking through the city.
B/L Dedeman Hotel Plovdiv

Day 18. Tuesday, September 16. Plovdiv 
This morning head towards the beautiful Rodopi Mountains (the widest mountain massif in Bulgaria) passing through the pretty town of Asenovgrad. Nearby we will see the remarkable remains of King Ivan Asen's fortress - a wise ruler of the Second Bulgarian Kingdom. There we are to find an ancient church dating from the 12th century painted with some authentic pieces of iconography as well as the stone inscription carved by King Ivan Asen. Going deeper in the Rodopi Mountains towards Bachkovo Monastery, we will visit this second largest monastery in Bulgaria, founded in 1083, one of the most sacred places in Bulgaria’s history.
Lunch will be at a restaurant by the Waterfall.
After lunch a light hike in the Red wall reserve will lead us to see a beautiful waterfall, chapels, the miraculous icon as well as drink holy water out of the sacred well of a chapel. Return to Plovdiv late afternoon.
B/L Dedeman Hotel Plovdiv

Day 19.  Wednesday, September 17. Plovdiv – Istanbul, Turkey (driving distance: 380 km)
Drive towards Turkey via Svilengrad.  After border-crossing formalities, will drive into the crowded city of Istanbul. Check into a centrally located hotel in Sultanahmed area.
B/L  Seven Hills Hotel

Day 20.  Thursday, September 18. Istanbul
Welcome to Istanbul!
In the morning visit the Blue Mosque, built in 1616 unequalled for its mosaics, and the Haghia Sophia dedicated in 536 AD during the reign of Justinian, we will also visit Topkapi Palace, which was built by Mehmed the Conqueror.  Afternoon at leisure.
Evening dinner and cruise along the famed Bosphorus.
B/L/D Seven Hills Hotel

Day 21. Friday, September 19. Depart Istanbul
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
This will be the end of the first section and the beginning of the second section of the journey.


Section 2: ISTANBUL TO BAKU – The Ottoman Empire and the Caucasus

Dates: September 19 – October 14, 2014
Length: 26 days
Countries to be visited: Turkey – Armenia – Georgia – Azerbaijan

Total distance:  ±4400 km

Per person price: USD 12750 (based on twin-share)
                                 USD 2990 (single room supplement)


Day 01. Friday, September 19. Istanbul
Arrive Istanbul. Transfer to hotel and rest. Welcome dinner.
D Seven Hills Hotel

Day 02. Saturday, September 20. Istanbul
Tour Istanbul for the day.
In the morning visit the Blue Mosque, built in 1616 unequalled for its mosaics, and the Haghia Sophia dedicated in 536 AD during the reign of Justinian, we will also visit Topkapi Palace, which was built by Mehmed the Conqueror.
This evening we shall have a memorable dinner on a boat cruising along the Bosphorous.
B/L/D Seven Hills Hotel

Day 03. Sunday, September 21. Istanbul – Ankara (driving distance: 580 km)
This morning there will be an orientation session with our Land Rover Discovery before we start to drive to Ankara, the capital. Arrive in late afternoon. We will spend two nights at a boutique hotel near the old city of Ankara.
B/L/ D Divan Çukurhan Hotel

Day 04. Monday, September 22. Ankara
Today, we visit the historical remains in the city, the old citadel "Hisar", where according to legend, an anchor was found while it was being constructed, from which the city took its name "Ancyra". Inside its walls it contains examples of old Turkish houses alongside the ancient ruins. There is also a covered bazaar, called "bedesten", close to the gate "Hisar Kapisi".
After lunch, visit the very fine Museum of Anatolian Civilizations which details the ebb and flow of cultures that have passed through the area, from the Hittites, the Phrygians, Lydians and Persians to the Galatians, Romans, Byzantines, Seljuk Turks and Ottomans.
B/L/ D Divan Çukurhan Hotel

Day 05. Tuesday, September 23. Ankara – Cappadocia (driving distance: 530 km)
Drive to Cappadocia, have lunch en route and arrive in our cave hotel in a small village of Cappadocia.
B/L/D Gamirasu Cave Hotel

Day 06. Wednesday, September 24. Cappadocia
Full day tour in Cappadocia. Visit to the enchanting "fairy chimneys" (conical and unusual rock formations) in Devrent Valley. We continue to the Goreme Open Air Museum, where we will see the finest examples of religious frescoes in rock-cut churches from the 10th to the 13th centuries.
Enjoy Pasabag Valley, and then continue to Avanos, centre of terra cotta work. Afternoon visit Derin kuyu underground city. 
B/L/D Gamirasu Cave Hotel

Day 07. Thursday, September 25. Cappadocia  – Malatya (driving distance: 430 km)                                     
Optional hot-air balloon tour is available for the ones can get up very early in the morning (weather permits).
After breakfast, drive eastbound to Malatya.
Located in the Upper Basin of Firat River, Malatya has been chosen as the settlement place by many groups of people for not only its geographical situation and abundant water resources but also for being on the route of Silk Road, King’s Road since the Neolithic Era.
Malatya has an elevated and mountainous terrain form. Expansive orchards are spread over the villages and provincial regions, apricot being the chief. It has a continental climate; hot and arid in the summertime while cold and mostly snowy in the winters.
The researches and archeological excavations reveal that settling in Malatya, whose history dates back to the Paleolithic Period, began around B.C. 7000 The region has witnessed the reigns of the Hittites, Assyrians, Urartu, Persians, Romans, Byzantines, Arabians, Seljuks, and the Ottomans.
B/L/D Anemon Hotel

Day 08. Friday, September 26.  Malatya – Mt. Nemrut (driving distance: 152 km)                                         
We will first head to an interesting town, Kâhta, from there, taking the mountain road to our hotel in Mt. Nemrut. Rest for the afternoon.
We shall summit the mountain at the mountain at sunset to visit the magnificent ruins and stone statues.  Visit some Kurdish villages in the surrounding area. Enjoy some light hiking.                                                                                                                                                           B/L/D Euphrat Hotel

Day 09. Saturday, September 27. Mt. Nemrut – Gobekli Tepe – Batman (driving distance: 381 km)
Leaving the mountain, we will head east to Batman, an ancient town near the famous Hasankeyf.
En route, we will stop at the Gobekli Tepe, the site of World’s first temple.
When archaeologist Klaus Schmidt from the German Archaeological Institute in Istanbul was called out to investigate some strange stones found by a wandering shepherd in Eastern Turkey in 1994, he quickly realized that he was dealing with something of immense importance. He also realized that if he did not turn and walk away at that very moment, he would spend the rest of his life amongst the incredible stones of Göbekli Tepe. Dr. Schmidt is still excavating Göbekli Tepe, and he has decided to take things very slowly for fear of damaging the site in rushing to find the ancient truth of this special place, as many archaeologists have done at other important sites. 
After exploring the amazing site, we will drive to Batman.
For centuries, Batman was just a sleepy village called Iluh, but in the 1940s, oil was discovered in the area, and Iluh—now just a mile or two south of the nation’s largest petroleum field—became a boomtown almost overnight. In 1957, it was renamed for the nearby Batman River, a tributary of the Tigris. Travellers stop by in order to visit Hasankeyf archeology site.
We will arrive late in the afternoon and rest.
B/L/D Grand Hasankeyf Hotel

Day 10. Sunday, September 28. Batman – Hasankeyf – Van (driving distance: 319 km)                                                             
Morning drive 30 km to visit Hasandeyf.
Hasankeyf is an ancient city, and has been identified with the Ilanṣura of the Mari Tablet (c. 1800 BC).[5] The Romans had built the Cephe fortress on the site and the city became the Kiphas fortress and a bishopric under the Byzantine Empire. It was conquered by the Arabs, in ca. 640, renamed Hisn Kayf. In the 12th century, the city was successively captured by the Artukids as their capital. During this period, Hasankeyf's golden age, the Artukids and Ayyubids built the Old Tigris Bridge, the Small Palace and the Great Palace. The infrastructure, location and significance of the city helped increase trade and made Hasankeyf a staging post on the Silk Road.
Arrive Van in the evening.
B/L/D Rescate Hotel

Day 11. Monday, September 29. Van – Dogubayazit (driving distance: 48 km)                                                                                           
In the morning, we will take the boat to cross the lake and visit the Akdamar church, which is built on an island in the lake by the Armenians.
Lake Van was the center of the ancient kingdom called Urartu by the Assyrians that flourished in the ninth to eighth centuries B.C. The Urartu called themselves the Biaini, which may be the origin of Van. It was an important culture, excelling in the casting and sculpturing of bronzes, many of which were exported to the West, including mainland Greece and Italy. The Armenians, who may have been related to the Phrygians of central Anatolia, migrated into the Van region in about the sixth century B.C. 
After the boat ride, we will pass the old city of Van,  which lay at the foot of the rock of Van (the ancient citadel of the Urartu) was obliterated in a fire as the retreating Russians left their Armenian allies to the mercies of the advancing Turks, at the close of World War I. From the rock, one can make out in the surrounding green fields the outlines of the old neighborhoods and see the ruins of about half a dozen mosques.
After lunch by the Muradiye Waterfalls, a short drive will take us to the border town of Dogubayazit dominated by the towering peak of Mount Ararat.
The old town of Dogubayazit was once an important staging post on the Silk Road. Visit the Ishak Pasa Palace. If the sky is clear, we will have a chance to enjoy the nice view of Ararat.                              
B/L/D Golden Hill Hotel

Day 12. Tuesday, September 30. Dogubayazit – Kars (driving distance: 190 km)                                                       
A beautiful drive northbound will bring us to Kars.
En route, we will drive by some amazing volcano ground formation.
Upon arrival in Kars, check into hotel.
B/L/D Büyük Kale Hotel

Day 13. Wednesday, October 01. Kars
About 45 km outside of the city, we will visit the medieval Armenian capital of Ani, impressive fortified walls still encircle the ruins of numerous churches, mosques and caravanserais.
Today is our last day in Turkey.
B/L/D Büyük Kale Hotel

Day 14. Thursday, October 02. Kars – Akhalkalaki, Georgia (driving distance: 180 km)                                                                 
Today we will cross the border entering Georgia. Drive along the mountain road to overnight at the city of Akhalkalaki. This city is the centre of a historical region called Samtskhe-Dzhavakhetia located in the utmost southwest of Georgia . It is a high-mountainous area of subalpine and Alpine meadows with many crystal water springs and brine wells.
The city of Akhalkalaki , according to historians, was founded in the 11th century. In the 15th century it was almost completely destroyed and in the 17th -18th centuries rebuilt by Turks and transformed into a powerful fortress. We shall visit an old fortress en route.
Ararat Guesthouse 

Day 15. Friday, October 03.  Akhalkalaki – Yerevan, Armenia (driving distance: 80 km)                                                                    
Drive to Georgia/Armenia border in the morning and process the border-crossing formalities. Then drive to Yerevan, the capital of Armenia.  Enjoy some leisure time in the city.
B/L/D  Golden Tulip Hotel

Day 16. Saturday, October 04. Yerevan (driving distance: 65 km)  
Today visit two major sites near Yerevan.
The Church of St. John (St. Hovanes), also known as Mastara Church, in Mastara, Armenia dates from the 5th century. It features a variation of the cruciform plan and central cupola'd church. In accordance with its square plan, the four projecting apses, inward-facing circular and outward facing polygonal, offer the requisite supports to hold up the imposing polygonal cupola.    
In the afternoon, drive through the picturesque Avan Canyon, skirting formidable cliffs and passing exotic-looking gorges until a green plateau by the Azat River comes into view. Here, in the harmony of the relief and the virgin nature you will see the pagan Garni architectural complex of the 1st century and feel the spirit of ancient ages. Another ten minutes ride through the gorge will take you to the cave monastery of Geghard. 
B/L/D  Golden Tulip Hotel

Day 17. Sunday, October 05. Yerevan Sevan Lake – Dilizhan (driving distance: 325 km)                                                                            
Today we will trace the ancient Silk Road through Southern Armenia driving towards the town of Ararat. We will have a wonder view of the Caucasus Mountain range and visit one of the old Caravanserais. 
Also visit the Hayravank Monastery and Noraduz Village close to the town of Gavar where lies the famous Noeaduz Cemetery. 
After some bumpy road driving, we will reach Dilizhan by the Lake Sevan and spend two nights.                                                               B/L/D Tufenkian Heritage Hotel Old Dilizhan Complex

Day 18. Monday, October 06. Dilizhan  (driving distance: 80 km)                                                               
Dilizhan area of Armenia is affectionately known as the "Little Switzerland".
Hidden in forest inside of Dilizhan National Park, there lies a handsome monastery from the century XII (Haghartsin means "dance of the eagles"). Enjoy the drive and tour, then some hiking by the Lake Sevan.
This evening, we will visit a Molokans family in a hidden village.
During the 19th Century, Tsarist officials instituted policies designed to force Molokans from Central Russia to the periphery of the empire. Accordingly, Molokan communities developed in Caucasus and Central Asia.
One Molokan community in Armenia is located near Dilizhan, a village with a population of about 1,500. This is one of the nine Molokan communities in Armenia, with a total population of about 5,000. About a decade ago there were an estimate 12,000 Molokans in Armenia. The rapid reduction in numbers is in part connected with the struggling Armenian economy.
The community we visit has the feel of an ethnic Russian village. Conversations heard around town are conducted entirely in Russian, and villagers live according to long-held traditions, eschewing many modern conveniences. For example, women rely on devices called pakhtalkas, or butter churns. The primary source of revenue is production of cabbage. We will enjoy a dinner with the family.
B/L/D Tufenkian Heritage Hotel Old Dilizhan Complex

Day 19. Tuesday, October 07. Sevan Lake Tbilisi, Georgia   (driving distance: 170 km)  
Today we will drive north-bound  towards Georgia border. En route we will visit a very interesting village of the Russian Molokan people.
Russian Tsar Nikolai I in 1830 signed a decree prohibiting “Molokans” to live in the central areas of Russia. This made them resettle in Transcaucasus. The villages of the Molokans are still existing in Northern Armenia. Molokans live in complete harmony with nature. They preserve not only the fields, but also the forests. They collect wild berries, pears and grow cabbages. Their home-made jams, cheese and pickles are fantastic.
There will be some border-crossing formality from the Armenia side and then enter Georgia.
Arrive Tbilisi in the afternoon.                                                                                                                     
B/L/D Marriot Courtyard Hotel

Day 20. Wednesday, October 08. Tbilisi                                                       
Full day of sightseeing in Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia. 
The city was found in the 5th century by King Vakhtang Gorgasali.  We will take a walk around the old town, Kala, which developed within the walls of a citadel and reached the bank of the river Mtkvari; visit centuries old churches, treasuries of museums and other important cultural and religious sites.
B/L/D Marriot Courtyard Hotel

Day 21.Thursday, October 09. Tbilisi Sighnaghi (driving distance: 111 km)                                                                                            
Drive eastbound to the city of Sighnaghi.
Explore picturesque and the most fertile part of Georgia - Kakheti, which borders the Great Caucasus range from the north Alazani Valley, summits of which are over 3,000 m.
This region is known as a birthplace of viticulture and wine-making. The rich land, burning sun and hard work have developed about 500 varieties of wine in Georgia. The history, culture and lifestyle of Georgians are embodied in Georgian wine. It is a symbol of Georgian hospitality, friendship, tolerance and a key to the mystery of Georgian longevity. Enjoy breathtaking views of Kizikhi area and unusual Charm of Signagi Royal Town. Take a walk in narrow streets of the town in shadow of wooden balconies richly decorated with the lace of carved ornaments.
B/L/D Hotel Solomoni 

Day 22. Friday, October 10.  Sighnaghi Sheki, Azerbaijan (driving distance: 161 km)                                              
Today we cross the border to enter Azerbaijan. We will cross the border at the Lagodekhi border post, and continue on to Sheki, about 160 km from the border.
Upon arrival, we will check into a hotel converted from an ancient karavansarai. Enjoy some home-made wine and food at a local family.
B/L/D Karavansarai Hotel

Day 23. Saturday, October 11. Sheki
One of the most ancient settlements and cultural centres of Azerbaijan, Sheki was founded more than 2700 years ago at the southern slopes of the Major Caucasus Mountains Chain (370 kilometres to the north-west from Baku). During its millennial historical the town used to be devastated many times, so the most part of the historic and architectural monuments currently preserved are dated to the 16th-19th centuries.
Magnificent Royal Palace of Sheki Khans (Kings) constructed in 1762 without a single nail is one of the most marvellous monuments of its epoch, which the Shekians are particularly proud…
In the afternoon, we will drive to a village 40 km outside of Sheki  to trek up to an ancient fortress in the mountain.
B/L/D Karavansarai  Hotel

Day 24. Sunday, October 12. Shaki Baku (driving distance: 300 km)                                                        
Today we will depart Sheki for Baku.
Drive through the Muganly Mountain Pass. Photo stops on the most beautiful viewpoints on the mountains.
Arrival to Shamakha visit historical mosque Juma (Friday), mausoleum of Yeddi Gumbez – (Seven Domes) – grave yard of Shirvan Shahs.  We will also visit to Diri Baba mausoleum in Maraza village.
Arrive Baku in late afternoon.
B/L/D Park Inn Hotel

Day 25. Monday, October 13.  Baku                                                                                                                     
Baku sightseeing for the day. Visit to Memory Alley – “Shehidler Khiyabany”, panoramic view of Baku city from the park. Visit to the State Carpets museum. Visit to medieval fortress of Old Baku – “Icheri Sheher” and “Maiden Tower”, the complex of Shirvan Shahs Palace, medieval Caravansaray and so on.
B/L/D Park Inn Hotel

Day 26. Tuesday, October 14. Depart Baku 
Today we will be at leisure until the time for boarding the Caspian ferry.
Those who leave the group from Baku, will be transferred to airport for your homebound flight.

Section 3: ASHGABAT TO KASHGAR – Unveil Central Asia

Dates:  October 16 – November 03, 2014
Length:  19 days
Countries to be visited:  Turkmenistan – Uzbekistan – Kyrgyzstan – Xinjiang, China

Total distance:  ±3646 km

Per person price:  USD 9360 (based on twin-share)
                                  USD 1980 (single room supplement)


Day 01. Thursday, October 16.  Arrive Ashgabat                                                    
Those who joins the group for the Central Asia section should arrive Ashgabat today and will be transferred to hotel in Ashgabat.
Welcome dinner.
D Grand Turkmen Hotel 

Day 02. Friday, October 17. Ashgabat
Explore Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat while waiting for vehicles and the rest of the group members to arrive. The group should arrive in late afternoon.
B/L/D Grand Turkmen Hotel

Day 03. Saturday, October 18. Ashgabat
Today we will have a full day of sightseeing in and around Ashgabat; including a city tour, a visit to the Carpet Museum, visiting the Bakharden underground lake as well as Kipchak Mosque. Later, we will tour the Old Nisa – the remains of the Parthian kings’ residence. Continue to National museum and return Ashgabat.
B/L/D Grand Turken Hotel

Day 04. Sunday, October 19. Ashgabat Darvaza (driving distance: 255 km)                                                    
Morning at leisure in Ashgabat. After lunch depart for a night of camping in the Karakum Desert.  Tonight there will be an amazing experience of a life time!                                                                                                            
B/L/D Desert Camping

Day 05. Monday, October 20. Darvaza Dashoguz Khiva, Uzbekistan  (driving distance: 395 km)
Drive through the desert and arrive at Dashoguz, a small town by the Uzbek border. After lunch, we will cross the border to enter Uzbekistan.      
Upon arrival in Khiva, check into the hotel and walk around the old city at leisure.                                 
B/L/D  Hotel Kheivak Malika

Day 06. Tuesday, October 21. Khiva 
Khiva was the capital of the Khiva Khanate in the 17th century, and has still retained the exotic flavour of a medieval Oriental town. Today we will tour Ichan-Kala (the inner town), which is encircled by brick walls, whose foundations are believed to have been laid in the 10th century. Our visits will include: Mohammed Amin Khan Madrassah, Kunya Ark, Islam Khoja Madrassah and Minaret, Jummi Mosque, and Tash Hauli Palace. We will also see desert sights such as Toprak Kala and Koi Krylgan Kala.                                      B/L/D  Hotel Kheivak Malika

Day 07. Wednesday, October 22. Khiva Bukhara (driving distance: 410 km)                                                                
Drive to Bukhara through the KizilKum Desert. The drive can be very difficult if the new road is not yet ready.
En route we stop to see the Amudarya River, known to many western explorers as the Oxus River. Local fish restaurant for lunch. We will arrive at Bukhara in the late afternoon. In the evening we will see a folk performance in Nadir Devanbegi Madrassah.
B/L/D Asia Hotel Bukhara

Day 08. Thursday, October 23. Bukhara
Bukhara is the only city in Central Asia where the flavour of the East has been preserved intact. It is a town-museum with about 140 architectural monuments dating back to the Middle Ages. Today our excursion in Bukhara includes visits to the mausoleum of Ismail Samani, a masterpiece of classical Eastern architecture, and the Poi Kalon Ensemble with its 50 meter-tall minaret decorated with unique patterns, towering over the centre of ancient Bukhara. In evening we will have dinner in a local traditional style restaurant.                                                                                                                                            
B/L/D Asia Hotel Bukhara 

Day 09. Friday, October 24. Bukhara Samarkand (driving distance: 280 km)                                                    
After breakfast we will start our trip to Samarkand, arriving in the afternoon where we will have lunch and some leisure time.
B/L/D President Hotel Samarkand 

Day 10. Saturday, October 25. Samarkand 
Samarkand was once known as the Garden of the Universe. It reached the height of its glory during the reign of Tamerlane who cherished the dream to make his capital the most beautiful city in the world. Today we will have a city tour of Samarkand including the famous Registan, Bibi Khanum Mosque, Shah-i-Zinda Ensemble, Ulugbek Observatory (15th century), and Chupan Ata (1440s). Later we will visit Khoja Abdi Darun, Khoja Abdi Birun and Ishrat Khana Mausoleums, and the famous Samarkand carpet factory.          
B/L/D President Hotel Samarkand 

Day 11. Sunnday, October 26. Samarkand Tashkent (driving distance: 310 km) 
In the morning we will start out for the capital, Tashkent. Upon arrival, check into the hotel and rest. Leisure time in the afternoon.
B/L/D Tashkent Palace Hotel

Day 12. Monday, October 27. Tashkent Ferghana Valley Osh (driving distance: 426 km)
Today we will start early in the morning heading towards Eastern Uzbekistan: the famous Ferghana Valley. The road from Tashkent to Ferghana Valley is a bit challenging, crossing many mountain passes on the way. We will arrive in Ferghana for lunch.
In the afternoon drive to the Kyrgyz border and continue to Osh, the second largest city in Kyrgyzstan; reputed to be about 3000 years old. There are several legends about the origin of the city, including claims that it was founded by Solomon or Alexander the Great. Even if such a grand personage did not establish Osh, its position at a crossroads along the ancient trading routes that became known as the Silk Road almost guaranteed that it would become a major settlement.                                                                                     
Excursion to Osh Bazaar, one of the biggest bazaars in Central Asia, stretching for about one kilometre along the river. Visit holy mount Suleiman-Too (Solomon’s Throne). According to legend this mount appeared after King Solomon rested here. For Central Asian Muslims, “Taht-I-Suleiman” is the 3rd most sacred place after Mecca and Medina. At the top there is a 16th century mosque and a museum.                                                                                    
B/L/D Sunrise Hotel

Day 13. Tuesday, October 28. Osh Chichkan Valley (driving distance: 430 km)                                                      
Drive to the Chichkan Valley.  Following the Ferghana Valley the road climbs through spectacular mountains and follows the Naryn River. We will overnight in the valley at a newly built lodge by the river.
B/L/D Oson Lodge

Day 14. Wednesday, October 29. Chichkan Valley Kochkorka (driving distance: 260 km)
 Today the drive becomes challenging after 155 km of paved road. The route takes us through some of the alpine mountains and meadows of Kyrgyzstan. Along the way we will get a chance to meet Kyrgyz shepherds, and learn about their paths and their nomadic life. Drop in at a local nomadic yurta for tea.
In the afternoon, arrive the village of Kochkorka and stay at a local B&B-style accommodation.  Enjoy a Kyrgyz dinner and folk show.     B/L/D Family stay

Day 15. Thursday, October 30. Kochkorka  Naryn (driving distance: 130 km)                                                         
Today we will drive along the gravel road to Naryn. En route visit villages and trek a bit in the mountains.                  
B/L/D Family stay 

Day 16. Friday, October 31. Naryn Kashgar, China (driving distance: 330 km)                                                                 
Our departure will be early in the morning! Drive from Naryn to the border; we need to arrive at the border before noon. After the border-crossing, drive onto Kashgar via the Torugart Pass.  Arrive into Kashgar late in the afternoon.                                                             B/L/D Shenhang International Hotel

Day 17, Saturday, June 08. Kashgar
Kashgar, the largest oasis city in China and Central Asia, used to be the last outfitting station on the centuries-old Silk Road.
Today we explore this exotic city by visiting the Great Id Kah Mosque and the tomb of Abakh Hoja.  
B/L/D Grand International Hotel

Day 18, Sunday, June 09. Kashgar                                                                                                                    
A city of bazaars, two-wheeled carts, dusty streets and 4000 mosques, Kashgar reveals a strong Islamic influence. Its narrow maze of alleyways and open air markets display all the myriad faces of Central Asia with Uygur, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Kazakh merchants and locals, all busy haggling over camels and sheep, brightly coloured fabrics, fur hides and hats, handmade carpets and knives. Trade remains timeless still, especially on Sundays, when the entire community gathers at the one of the world's liveliest markets.
B/L/D Grand International Hotel  

Day 19, Monday, June 10. Depart Kashgar
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your onward flight.
This will be the end of the third section and the beginning of the fourth section of the journey.

Section 4: KASHGAR TO HONG KONG – Cross the Taklamakan Desert & Explore Amdo (Upper Tibet) and Southwestern China

Dates:  October 31 – November 29, 2014
Length: 30 days
Countries to be visited: China

Total distance:   ±7813 km

Per person price: USD 11920 (based on twin-share)                                                      
                                  USD 2850 (single room supplement)


Day 01. Friday, October 31. Arrive Kashgar, China 
Upon arrival in Kashgar, the west-most city of China, you will be transferred to hotel and rest.
Welcome dinner.
D Shenhang International Hotel

Day 02. Saturday, November 01. Kashgar
Kashgar, the largest oasis city in China and Central Asia, used to be the last outfitting station on the centuries-old Silk Road. Today we explore this exotic city by visiting the Great Id Kah Mosque and the tomb of Abakh Hoja. 
B/L/D Shenhang International Hotel

Day 03. Sunday, November 02. Kashgar  
A city of bazaars, two-wheeled carts, dusty streets and 4000 mosques, Kashgar reveals a strong Islamic influence. Its narrow maze of alleyways and open air markets display all the myriad faces of Central Asia with Uygur, Kyrgyz, Tajik and Kazakh merchants and locals, all busy haggling over camels and sheep, brightly coloured fabrics, fur hides and hats, handmade carpets and knives. Trade remains timeless still, especially on Sundays, when the entire community gathers at the one of the world's liveliest markets. Leisure day in Kashgar exploring the market.                                                                                                             
B/L/D Shenhang International Hotel

Day 04. Tuesday, November 03. Kashgar – Khotan (driving distance: 520 km)
Drive from Kashgar to Khotan, the capital of jade. 
On the southern part of the Silk Road, Khotan was an early centre for the spread of Buddhism from India into China. It fell to the Arabs in the 8th century and grew wealthy on the proceeds of the caravan trade that travelled the route between China and the West.
B/L/D West Lake International Hotel

Day 05. Tuesday, November 04. Khotan Minfeng (driving distance: 288 km)
Drive from Khotan to Minfeng; visit the local ethnic groups en route.                                                                
B/L/D Niya Hotel

Day 06. Wednesday, November 05. Minfeng Korla (driving distance: 780 km)
Drive from Minfeng to Korla crossing the Taklamakan Desert from south to north along the longest desert highway in the world.  Upon arriving in Korla, the sense of achievement is quite overwhelming.          
B/L/D Loulan Hotel

Day 07. Thursday, November 06. Korla Turpan (driving distance: 390 km)
Drive from Korla to Turpan.
Turpan is located in the Turpan Basin at the southern foot of the Tianshan Mountains. The city has a population of nearly 200,000, most of whom are Uygurs. The Turpan Basin is the lowest area in China, in which the Aiding Lake, with its surface being 154 meters below sea level, is the second lowest spot in the world, next only to the Dead Sea.
B/L/D Silk Road Guesthouse 

Day 08. Friday, November 07. Turpan 
Visit to the Kan-er Waterwell, and the ruins of Jiaohe City, now on the list of UNESCO's historical and cultural sites, which protects the Tang Dynasty ruins of homes, garden walls, government offices, pottery kilns, temples and pagodas, all of which are still easily recognizable. Evening dinner will be arranged at a local Uygur house.                                                                                                      

Day 09. Saturday, November 08. Turpan Dunhuang (driving distance: 840 km)
Depart Turpan early in the morning, leaving the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region. After lunch at Hami, we enter Gansu Province and arrive Dunhuang in the evening. Dunhuang was once an important
junction on the Silk Route, where it split into different branches, this oasis in northwest China, on the edge of the Gobi Desert, is surrounded by sand dunes. By the 4th century AD, the route had brought the city both commercial prosperity and a growing Buddhist community.                                                               
B/L/D Dunhuang Sun Grand Hotel

Day 10. Sunday, November 09. Dunhuang
This morning, take a bus tour to visit the Mogao Grottoes, a series of 500 caves which contain the world's most valuable display of Buddhist art - manuscripts, some 2,400 painted sculptures and 45,000 square metres of frescoes. In the late afternoon, tour the Singing Sand Hill and Crescent Moon Lake. Be prepared for a camel ride over the sand dunes!                                       
B/L/D Dunhuang Sun Grand Hotel 

Day 11. Monday, November 10. Dunhuang Jiayuguan (driving distance: 520 km) 
Drive to Jiayuguan and visit the Jiayuan Pass - the western end of the Great Wall.                                        
B/L/D Dynasty Hotel 

Day 12. Tuesday, November 11. Jiuquan Zhangye (driving distance: 400 km)
Drive to Zhangye and visit the Zhangye Museum. This museum is located in the Giant Buddha Temple, which is the largest architectural relic in Gansu Province, of the Western Xia (1038-1227) period. China's largest reclining Buddha is well preserved in this temple. Marco Polo spent one year in the town of Zhangye.                                                                                                                             
B/L/D Jiaheng Grand Hotel

Day 13. Wednesday, November 12. Zhangye Xining (driving distance: 337 km)                                                    
Today we start to head towards Amdo, Qinghai Province, the Upper Tibet region.
Arrive Xining in late afternoon.
Referred to as China's Summer Resort Capital, Xining, the capital of Qinghai Province, is located on the eastern edge of Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the upper reaches of Huangshui River.
The activities of human beings in this region can be traced to 2,100 years ago. During the Western and Eastern Han Dynasties, owing to its developing agriculture, Xining was paid more attention due to its economic and martial significance. As well as being the important hinge between the central plains and the western part of China in ancient time, Xining was the most common passing channel of the Silk Road. Until now, it is still the only road by which to enter the hinterland of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau.
B/L/D Xining Hotel

Day 14. Thursday, November 13. Xining – Qinghai Lake – Xining 
We will visit the Ta’er Monastery and Qinghai Lake.
Qinghai Lake (Tso Ngonbo in Tibetan and Kokonor in Mongolian) is the largest lake on the Tibetan Plateau and the largest in China. It is in the far northeast corner of the Amdo region of Tibet (the Upper Tibet). It sits at 3200m / 10,500 feet. Numerous nomads live around the lake. Qinghai Lake is a salt lake and is covered in thick ice during the brutally cold winters.
B/L/D Xining Hotel  

Day 15. Friday, November 14. Xining – Tongren (driving distance: 181 km)
We drive to the town of Tongren today.
Lying in the southeast of Qinghai Province, Tongren County borders Xiahe County of Gansu Province to the east, Guide County to the west, Zeku County to the south and Xuanhua and Jianzha counties to the south, and is 181 kilometres from Xining.
Tongren was a place for nomadic ethnic minorities in history. Situated at the transitional zone between the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the Loess Plateau, the Longwu River runs across the city from south to city. Belonging to the cold-temperate arid climate zone, Tongren is a natural summer resort. It abounds in mineral resources and wild plants and animals, and rare medicinal herbs as well.
Tongren County is also the birthplace of the Regong Art. As an important art school of Tibetan Buddhism, Regong Art has a history of more than 700 years. The Tangka, barbola and sculptures of Regong Art feature refined craftsmanship and fancy colors, and enjoy great fame in the Southeast Asia, America and Germany, etc. Regong, which means "golden valley", is the appellation for Tongren area in the Tibetan language. Most of the murals, barbolas and sculptures in Tibetan areas were the works of Regong artists here.
B/L/D Tongren Hotel   

Day 16. Saturday, November 15. Tongren – Xiahe (driving distance: 122 km)          
Driving onwards to Xiahe and upon arrival, visit the famous Labrang Monastery.
The Labrang Monastery is located at the foot of the Phoenix Mountain northwest of Xiahe. A propitious place in the hearts of the Tibetan, it stands by the Daxia River and faces the Dragon Mountain.
The architectural layout of the Labrang Monastery belongs to the Tibetan style and the construction patterns are mostly Tibetan. The symbols of the whole construction are the White Towers both in the northeast and in the northwest. The grand sutra and Buddha halls are located in the northwestern part centered around the Grand Sutra Hall. Other halls spread in a shape similar to a crescent moon.
B/L/D Xiahe Palace Hotel

Day 17. Sunday, November 16. Xiahe – Langmu (driving distance: 67 km)
Enjoy the scenic drive to Langmu Monastery. Overnight in the village of Luqu County. This is a very colorful township with many ethnic groups living side by side. 
Upon arrival, we will check into a local guesthouse and visit the Langmu Monastery.
B/L/D Local Guesthouse

Day 18. Monday, November 17. Langmu – Songpan (driving distance: 397 km)
Today’s drive will be long and arduous.  Leaving Gansu Tibetan region, we will drive into Sichuan Province and overnight in Songpan.
Located in the northern part of Sichuan, Songpan is a small colorful minority town worthwhile exploring. With the ethnic minorities people of Hui, Tibetan and Qiang inhabiting there, Songpan itself is very lively. Songpan is also a historic town, featured by a peace-craving political marriage of Princess Wencheng in the 6th century BC of Tang dynasty and the Songpan Battle in the famous 25,000km Long March (1934 to 1936) of Chinese Red Army. A sculpture and a monument was built in Songpan to memorize the historical events respectively.
Rest and visit the town center and historical monuments.
B/L/D Songpan Hotel

Day 19. Tuesday, November 18. Songpan – Chongqing  (driving distance: 641 km)          
Drive to Congqing, China’s biggest city with a population close to 30 million.
By the mighty Yangtze River, Chongqing has been a very important city in China’s history. We will check into a hotel in the city and enjoy some very tasty Sichuan food!
B/L/D King World Hotel

Day 20. Wednesday, November 19. Chongqing                     
Visit the Panda House at the suburb of Chongqing. Reminder of the day at leisure.
B/L/D King World Hotel

Day 21. Thursday, November 20. Chongqing – Guiyang  (driving distance: 376 km)           
An easy high-way drive to Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province.
Guiyang, capital of Guizhou Province, is located in the southwest of China, on the eastern side of the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau. Guiyang is renowned for its colorful culture represented by various ethnic groups. It is said that in ancient times, the city was surrounded by dense bamboo groves and was famous for producing a musical instrument known as Zhu.
Guiyang is one of China's Spring Cities like Kunming. The climate is often mild and moist, neither extremely hot nor very cold. Spring, summer and autumn are the best seasons for visiting Guiyang.
A great number of attractive sights are to be found here, the Red Marple Lake (Hongfeng Lake), Flower Stream Park and an abundance of historical relics of the Ming and Qing dynasties, such as the Jiaxiu Tower, Wenchang Pavilion, Yangming Cave and Qingyan Ancient Town. All of these scenic spots have their own interesting stories.
Guiyang is home to more than 30 minority ethnic groups including Miao, Buyi, Dong and Hui, etc. Consequently the city abounds with unique folk culture and traditions that give rise to many colorful ethnic minority activities.
B/L/D Jinhe Grand Hotel

Day 22. Friday, November 21. Guiyang – Kaili – Xijiang Miao Village (driving distance: 268 km)          
Drive to Kaili visiting some colorful ethnic villages en route. After lunch in Kaili, drive through the mountains into a hidden Miao Village and overnight.
B/L/D Miao Village House

Day 23. Saturday, November 22. Kaili – Duyun (driving distance: 195 km)            
Drive to Duyun, known for its green tea plantations and enjoy the scenery en route. 
Upon arrival, check in hotel for the night. Walk along the river and attend a tea ceremony.
B/L/D Golden Dynasty Hotel

Day 24. Sunday, November 23. Duyun – Longshen, Guangxi (driving distance: 346 km)          
Today it will be a long day.
First, we will drive out of Guizhou Province and enter Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Zone.  En route, we will have lunch in Sanjiang, where three main rivers meet. 
After lunch, drive to Longsheng, known for its stunning rice terraces.
We need to pack an overnight bag to hike for one hour to our accommodation, where we will get the best view of the terraces. Alternatively, a sedan chair can be arranged if you wish not to hike.
B/L/D Longsheng Terrace Guesthouse

Day 25. Monday, November 24. Longshen
Spend the day leisurely enjoy the autumn view of the rice terraces.
B/L/D Longsheng Terrace Guesthouse

Day 26. Tuesday, November 25. Longshen – Guilin (driving distance: 90 km)            
Get off the mountain and return to our vehicles.
Drive to Guilin, Guangxi Province. Walk along the scenic Li River in the evening and visit some local art galleries.
B/L/D Royal Garden Hotel

Day 27. Wednesday, November 26. Guilin – Yangshuo – Guilin             
Today board the Li River Cruise to Yangshuo. Return after lunch.
B/L/D Royal Garden Hotel

Day 28. Thursday, November 27. Yangshuo –Shenzhen (driving distance: 622 km)            
Leaving Guangxi, we will drive along the highway to Guangdong Province and check into hotel in Shenzhen, 18 km to Hong Kong. This is our final driving destination.
Dinner and celebration.
B/L/D Jinbi Hotel 

Day 29. Friday, November 28. Shenzhen                        
Enjoy some leisure time in this modern city.
Farewell dinner in the evening.
B/D Jinbi Hotel

Day 30. Saturday, November 29. Shenzhen – Hong Kong. Depart Hong Kong for home city           
Transfer to Hong Kong airport for your onward flight.
If you wish to have some extended time in Hong Kong, a separate arrangement can be arranged.

End of the Silk Road drive!