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Welcome to Urumqi, in Xianjiang, a massive province which shares borders with eight countries! A number airlines service Urumqi and our tour starts at this point. Arrival transfer from airport to hotel.
Capital of Xinjiang, a largely desert and grassland province fringed by some of the highest mountains in the world, Urumqi sits amidst beautiful scenery, with the snow-clad Tian Shan range to the city’s east. We enjoy an excursion to Tian Chi (Heaven Lake), located at an altitude of 2,000m among the Tian Shan Mountains. Later, fly west to Kashgar.
Kashgar’s importance grew from its location as an oasis at the point where the northern and southern routes of the ancient Silk Road converged. See the Id Kah Mosque, Aba Khoja Mausoleum, where the local cemetery filled with distinctive mud and brick tombs is still used by the local Uighur peoples and the colourful Old Town.
A visit is made to Kashgar’s local market with free time to explore. Later, a flight to Urumqi.
Enjoy an excursion to the southern mountain pastures before continuing by road to Turpan. Located on the northern Silk Road, Turpan is a rural Uighur settlement, descended from nomadic Siberian and Central Asian tribes who settled the region in the 9th century. Renowned for its grape production, you’ll visit Putao Gou (Grape Valley).
We drive to Bezeklik past the Flaming Mountains which due to sun and shadow at certain times of the day seeming to flicker as though glowing poker-hot and visit the Bezeklik Caves which once formed part of a Buddhist monastery. Beyond here are the Astana tombs and the impressive ruins of Gaochang city. Tonight, enjoy a traditional show of song and dance.
Visit to Imin Ta (Imin Minaret) constructed in 1778, before heading beyond Turpan to the Jiaohe Ruins. Occupying a spectacular position on a steep plateau, the ancient street plan is still evident. A stop is also made at some 2,000-year-old Karez water channels, an irrigation system that many Silk Road cities and towns relied upon.
Arrive Liuyuan, and continue to remote Dunhuang, a small and strategically important desert oasis town on the Silk Road, a stone’s throw from the end of the Great Wall. Visit Yueya Quan (Crescent Moon Lake), a small spring-fed lake surrounded by gigantic sand dunes, that has been a vital source of water here for millennia.
Visit perhaps Dunhuang’s most famous attraction, the UNESCO-listed Mogao Caves. The colourful cave paintings which were the legacy of travelling pilgrim monks, merchants and nobles form the most fascinating repository of Buddhist art in China.
Enjoy a visit to Jiayuguan Fort at Jiayuguan Pass - the farthest outpost of the Great Wall which was built here by the Ming in 1372, over 5,000km from the wall’s easternmost point at Shanhaiguan. Situated between striking mountain ranges, everything that travelled between central Asia and China had to file through the Jiayuguan Pass.
Day at your leisure. Evening transfer to the station for sleeper train to Urumqi. T197 19：02/07:25+1 or T193 22:04/10:23+1
Arrival in Urumqi and end of our arrangments.
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