Local child and overland truck | China
FROM: AUD $3,350 pp

Journey through the stunning scenery of China on this 22-day overland group tour which follows the Chinese stretch of the ancient Silk Road. Marvel at the incredible Shipton's Arch in Kashgar and cross the sprawling Taklamakan Desert. Explore the oasis town of Turpan, relax on the shore of Heavenly Lake and see the most westerly point of the Great Wall of China. Pay a visit to Mt Kongtong in Pingliang and take in the incredible Terraccotta Warriors in Xi'an.

Prices & Dates
Westbound Trip

Trip Highlights

Jiayuguan - visit the impressive Jiayuguan Fort which marks the most westerly point of the legendary Great Wall of China
Mt Kongtong - discover one of the holiest sites in Chinese Taoism and stroll around the temples which dot the mountain
Xi'an - marvel at the sculpted army of Terracotta Warriors which was created to protect Emperor Qin Shihuang in the afterlife
Bingling Si Caves - see the giant 27-metre tall Maitreya Buddha statue at this incredible cave complex on the Yellow River
Xiahe - spend two days relaxing in the rural town which is dominated by Tibetan culture
Urumqi - stroll around dazzling Heavenly Lake and admire the rugged mountains and pristine scenery that surround the lake
Kashgar - enjoy an included visit to Shipton's Arch which is the tallest natural archway in the world
Zhangye Rainbow Mountains - explore this colourful mountain range which was created by tectonic movement over millions of years
Turpan - stay at the oasis desert town and pay a visit to the 2nd century ruined city of Jiaohe
Dunhuang - take in the Mogao Buddha Caves which are home to an array of Buddhist artwork spanning 1,000 years of history


5 breakfasts, 2 lunches and 2 dinners
2 nights camping without facilities
Services of two crew (drivers/tour leaders) and local guides along the way
Sightseeing as per itinerary
Guided tour of the Mogao Caves in Dunhuang
Excursion to see the Terracotta Warriors near Xi’an
19 nights in hotels and guesthouses
All necessary camping equipment (excluding sleeping bags)
Transportation in an overland expedition vehicle
Hike to Shipton’s Arch in Kashgar
Visit to the Great Wall and fortress at Jiayuguan

Not Included

International flights and visas
Tipping - an entirely personal gesture
Local Payment: $730pp, paid in USD
Items of a personal nature, additional meals and drinks
Sleeping bag and roll mat - please bring your own for camping


Day 1

Welcome to Kashgar

Welcome to China. On arrival in Kashgar, make your way to our joining hotel. There will be a group Welcome Meeting at 18:00 during which you will meet your group and tour leader. The rest of the day is free to explore the city.
Overnight: Kashgar

Days 2-3

Exploring Kashgar

On day 2 we visit the animal market and the sprawling Sunday Bazaar. There’s also an included visit to Shipton’s Arch, which is the largest natural arch on the globe. Optional activities in Kashgar include a visit to the Id Kah Mosque and the Silk Road Museum, where you can learn more about the diverse history of this part of the world.

You may also use your free time in the city to explore this remote western outpost. Wander through the ethnically diverse old town to see blacksmiths, cobblers and other ancient crafts still being practiced using traditional methods.
Overnight: Kashgar

Days 4-5

The Taklamakan Desert

Kashgar - Aksu - Korle. On day 4 we board our overland truck for the first time and leave Kashgar, beginning our drive through the 250,000 square kilometre Taklamakan Desert. Some Uyghur sources claim that the name “Taklamakan” translates to “once you get in, you'll never get out” due to the size and remoteness of this vast wilderness. It is roughly the size of the entire country of Germany and was once a major obstacle for ancient travellers on the Silk Road.

However, thanks to a modern Chinese highway through the desert, the route will be less hazardous for us. During our crossing of the desert, we’ll stay in local hotels en route, most likely in the towns of Aksu and Korle.
Overnight: Aksu (1), Korle (1)  |  Breakfast x 2

Days 6-7

Urumqi & Heavenly Lake

Korle - Urumqi. On day 6 we complete our drive through the Taklamakan Desert and arrive in Urumqi, the capital of the province of Xinjiang. We’ll spend two nights here and on day 7 we visit nearby Heavenly Lake. This dazzling lake is surrounded by mountains and is one of the most beautiful spots in the region. There will be opportunities for walking in the area and boating on the lake.
Overnight: Urumqi

Days 8-9

Terrific Turpan

Urumqi - Turpan. On day 8 we arrive in the Turpan Basin, the hottest place in China. Average temperatures in summer can easily reach over 30° Celsius but the lack of humidity makes the heat bearable. The oasis town of Turpan was a crucial stop for traders on the Silk Road to rest and resupply their caravans.

During our stay in Turpan we visit the ruins of Jiaohe - a 2nd century fortress and city. We also discover the ingenious irrigation system that allowed Turpan to flourish as a trading town despite the hostile climate. Optional activities in the area include an excursion to see the Emin Minaret, which is the tallest minaret in China. You can also opt to visit the ancient Silk Road trading city of Gaochang.
Overnight: Turpan

Days 10-11


Turpan - Dunhuang. On day 10 we have a long drive to the city of Dunhuang. The next day there’s an included visit to the incredible Mogao Buddha Caves. This gigantic complex of caves contains thousands of examples of Buddhist art, spanning a 1,000-year period from the 4th to the 14th centuries AD. During our stay in Dunhuang you can opt for a camel ride to the nearby Crescent Moon Lake.

Please note: If preferred by the group, we may split the long drive (10 - 13 hours) on day 10 into two, wild camping or staying in a local hotel in-between. This will mean reducing the number of days we spend in Pingliang towards the end of our trip.
Overnight: Dunhuang

Day 12

Jiayuguan Fort & the Great Wall

Dunhuang - Jiayuguan. Today we drive to Jiayuguan for an included visit to Jiayuguan Fort. This impressive fortress marks the western starting point for the legendary Great Wall of China. Construction on this mudbrick section of the wall began in 1372 CE and took around 170 years to complete. The fort is well preserved with watchtowers and imposing defensive walls. After our visit we camp near a section of the wall.
Overnight: Jiayuguan   |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 13

Zhangye Rainbow Mountains

Jiayuguan - Zhangye. Today we drive to the breathtaking Zhangye Danxia Rainbow Mountains. This incredible mountain range has earned its name because of the colours of the rocks in the area. Tectonic movement has led to the deposits of sandstone and minerals over the last 24 million years and the layer cake of rocks has been sculpted beautifully by erosion. Marvel at hills and ravines of red, yellow, blue and green. Tonight, we’ll camp nearby.
Overnight: Zhangye Rainbow Mountains   |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 14


Zhangye - Liujiaxia. Today we have a long drive onto the lower slopes of the remote Tibetan plateau before we reach our hotel for the night in the small city of Liujiaxia.
Overnight: Liujiaxia

Days 15-17

Bingling Si Caves & Xiahe

Liujiaxia - Xiahe. On day 15 we visit the famous Bingling Si Caves, located along the Yellow River. The main attraction of the site is the centrepiece Maitreya Buddha statue. This 27m-tall statue is dug into the cliff. However, there are over 180 caves and more than 700 statues at the site in total.

We continue to the town of Xiahe, our base for the next two days. Xiahe is a very rural town and is populated largely by native Tibetans. There’s plenty of time to explore the town - take a guided visit to the Labrang Monastery, a popular pilgrimage destination for many Tibetans. You can also opt for a day trip into the Sangke or Ganjia grasslands on the lower Tibetan plateau.
Overnight: Xiahe

Day 18


Xiahe - Lanzhou. Leaving Xiahe, we head to the bustling city of Lanzhou. There’s free time this evening to discover the city independently.
Overnight: Lanzhou

Days 19-20

Pingliang & Mt Kongtong

Lanzhou - Pingliang. On day 19 we drive to Pingliang, at the base of Mt Kongtong. The mountain is one of the holiest in Chinese Taoism and we have plenty of time to explore the temples and pilgrimage routes with a full day included excursion. The rest of our stay in Pingliang is free to relax or explore.

Please note: If the drive between Turpan and Dunhuang was split over two days, there will only be one night in Pingliang and a half-day exploration of Mount Kongtong.
Overnight: Pingliang

Day 21


Pingliang - Xi’an. Today we travel to Xi’an, our final destination and the end of the Silk Road. On arrival, the rest of the day is free to explore the city independently. Perhaps visit the Muslim Quarter or admire the imposing city walls, which are the largest city walls in the world.
Overnight: Xi'an   |  Breakfast

Day 22

The Terracotta Warriors

Today our tour comes to an end, but not before we climb aboard our truck one final time. We enjoy an included visit to the incredible Terracotta Warriors just outside Xi'an. This sculpted army, 7-000 strong, was built to protect Emperor Qin Shihuang in the afterlife in around 210BC. After our visit, you say goodbye to your crew and overland truck.

If you wish, book a few extra nights accommodation in Xi’an to explore this fascinating city and join some of our optional activities including a cycle ride on the City Walls or a tour of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda.


Overlanding is not a style of travel that will suit everyone so please carefully read the Trip Notes before selecting this tour and be realistic about your ability and desire to join such a trip. If you’re the adventurous type who’d rather spend a night roughing it in the wilderness enjoying spectacular scenery, than luxuriating in a boutique hotel, then overlanding is for you. You just need the right attitude, an open mind, and a desire to participate fully in the trip.

Overland travelling can be demanding and challenging. The pace of the trip can be tiring at times and facilities can be basic. On your trip you’ll travel in a purpose-built expedition vehicle on an off-the-beaten-track adventure along rugged roads, sometimes across vast distances and at altitude. You will find the drive times noted on the Trip Notes.

On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger, these are full participation trips and everyone gets involved and pitches in! You will also be expected to erect your own tent and help with camp chores including cooking meals for the group on a rota basis. Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

The type, variety and standard of accommodation can vary greatly from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to comfortable hotels with good facilities. Generally in hotels most rooms will be twin-share, but some may be triple/quad-share. Hostels and yurts are nearly always multi-share and may be mixed sex. On the Trip Notes you will find more information about the accommodation each night.

The campsites we use range from basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and a bar. On occasions we wild camp with no facilities, which means there are no toilets - just the vast expanse of the great outdoors and a shovel!

Our overland journeys are designed to offer freedom, and many of our routes have a large degree of flexibility rather than a strict hour-by-hour or even day-by-day itinerary. We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed and it sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our planned itinerary.

Prices & Dates

Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling.

Read More

Local payment - $730pp, paid in USD

Please note that this is payable locally on day 1 of your trip in the currency specified.

Prices & Dates

Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling.

Read More

Local payment - $750pp, paid in USD

Please note that this is payable locally on day 1 of your trip in the currency specified.

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AUD $3,440
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In Brief

July & August
Hotel Rating
Simple hotels, guesthouses & camping
Local Payment
$730pp, paid in USD
Tour Guide
Escorted by a tour leader
Breakfast: 5, Lunch: 2, Dinner: 2
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