On our journey along the Silk Road, we’ll visit several important outposts including the desert oases of Turpan in Xinjiang Province of northwest China. Our journey will also take us to the World-ONLY natural habitat of Japanese Crested Ibises in Yangxian where the memorial of Cailun, inventor of the wolrd-famous paper making , and the only place where a brown giant panda was found in Foping.In Bifengxia Panda Reserve, the current base of China Wolong Conservation & Research Center for the Giant Panda, witness new-born pandas. Attending a lecture by panda experts, we’ll know more secrets about giant pandas. Finally, browse Chengdu’s Hollywood, Huanglongxi, an old town with a history of over 1,000 years, where old houses from the Qing Dynasty(1644A.D-1911A.D.) are still well-preserved.Cruise Luxi River and marvel at awesome rural views specially in West China.
Days 1. Arrive Beijing
Arrive in Beijing. This evening we’ll enjoy a light but delicious welcome dinner and a brief introduction to the coming adventure. Beijing Airport Hotel (1 night).
Day 2. Beijing to Urumqi
Morning flight from Beijing to Urumqi, capital city of Xinjiang-Uygher autonomous area. In the afternoon, we will visit the Xinjiang Museum. Mummies, some 4000 years old, have been recovered from cities that vanished when the oases shifted. Some of these have beautiful clothing and Caucasian features. Vestiges of old Urumqi trading stalls and vibrant Uygher culture survive at Erdaoqiao. Come evening, streets convert to open air markets and restaurants with kebabs and delicious melon for sale.
Overnight in Urumqi
Day 3. Heaven Lake
Today, we will take an excursion to Heaven Lake, at 6000 feet elevation amidst rolling meadows and spruce forests of the Tian Shan (Celestial Mountains). Heaven Lake, near the foot of 17,000 foot Bogda Peak, was carved by ice-age glacial activity. We’ll travel by boat 2 miles to the upper end of the lake to enjoy a picnic lunch prepared by Kazakh people who spend summers here. We can stroll near the lakeshore and look for Tian Shan wildflowers before our afternoon return to Urumqi.
Overnight in Urumqi
Day 4. Nanshan & Turpan
Foothill grasslands of Nanshan, south of Urumqi, are settled by Kazakh people who live in yurts during the warm part of the year. This morning we’ll visit Nanshan to stroll and visit with a Kazakh family. Afternoon drive to Turpan, an oasis in an arid basin below sea level and one of China’s lowest (and warmest) places. Over millennia, snowmelt from the Celestial Mountains has been brought by tunnel to irrigate the best grape arbors in all of Central Asia. Turpan is friendly and fascinating. Come evening, we’ll enjoy a traditional Uygher cultural performance. Turpan Hotel (1 night).
Day 5 – Jiaohe & Urumqi
Early morning visit to Jiaohe, an ancient city who ruins spread across a river terrace just west of Turpan.
This afternoon, head back to Urumqi. Leisure time for personal interest.
Overnight in Urumqi
Day 6 Fly to Lanzhou. Enjoy sightseeing in this vital caravan stop with its Middle Eastern flavor. The oasis location linked China with Central Asia to the north. Lanzhou, the provincial capital of Gansu, runs along the banks of the Yellow River for 25 miles. It is huddled in a narrow valley dominated on either side by bare brown hills. This unusual geographic setting made the city a defense between China and the West for over 2,000 years. It was the first caravan stop after the ancient silk camel caravan left Xi’an. Marco Polo stayed here for a full year in the late 13th century. In 1925, the famous American botanist-explorer, Joseph Rock visited here and described Lanzhou as the “dirtiest Chinese capital I’ve ever seen”but 10 years later, Peter Fleming, the British journalist and adventurer who visited here, found the streets of the city to be “romantic”.
Visit the Lanzhou Provincial Museum. We’ll see the famous Flying Horse of Gansu and other early Chinese artifacts. The stunning White Pagoda has stood proudly for over 500 years. In the evening , board the train to Jiyuguan.
Day 7 Upon arrival of Jiayuguan, we’ll check in at the hotel.We will visit the magnificent and spectacular Jiayuguang Fortress. The east gate faces China and the west gate faces the Mongol and other nomadic tribes who were different kingdoms at that time (some 600 years ago). Next, we’ll stop at the Suspended Great Wall, farther west. Actually here is the very western-most end of the Great Wall, about 1 mile long meandering all the way up to the two beacon towers, seemingly hanging on the hills ?C hence the name. Though millions have seen the section close to Beijing, you’ll be one of the few to visit this remote site.
Day8 Visit the Great Wall Museum in the afternoon to learn more about the construction and history of the Great Wall and the civilization rising along with the walls.Then drive to Dunhuang.
Day 9 Once an important caravan stop, this 2,000-year-old town is known for its inspiring Buddhist Cave art, including the oldest Buddhist shrine in all of China. The religious- and mythology-inspired carvings were started by a monk in 366 AD and continued by his disciples for the 1,000 years that followed. We’ll go by coach this morning to the Mogao Grottoes, located about 18 miles to the southeast of town. Around 500 of the original 1000 survive and are filled with incredible artwork and treasures. The museum is beautifully renovated to a very high standard.
Day10 Fly to Xi’an, one of four old capitals of civilization in the world, known as the cradle of Chinese Nation and famed as the capital of 13 dynasties. See the world-famous Terracotta Warriors .
Time permits, explore the Old City Wall.
Overnight in Xi’an
Day11 Xi’an/Changqing Nature Reserve
Changqing Nature Reserve focuses on protection of wild pandas and Golden Monkeys.Today we’ll have opportunities to witness Golden Monkeys with beautiful golden hair.
After that ,journey to Caoba , the World-Only natural habitat for wild crested ibises,
known as ” Oriental Precious Stones”.Especially, Crested Ibises show very good loyalty to their lovers .
Time permits, visit the memorial of Cailun, inventor of the wolrd-famous paper making and learn about paper making history.
Overnight in Yangxian. Yangxian Hotel or similar
This morning, following a naturalist , explore Foping(Buddha’s Place)Nature Reserve,
where the first brown giant panda was found.
Afternoon, head back to Xi’an
Day13 This morning, we’ll explore the Wild Goose Pagoda . Afternoon, fly to Chengdu, the bustling queen city and capital city of Sichuan Province, also known as the birthplace of wolrd famous Sichuan Food and paradise of gourmet.
Explore the local pets and flowers market , and enjoy a nice walk on the riverside of Chengdu’s Splendid River, once the moat of Old Chengdu.
This evening, taste the world famous Sichuan Food in a local non-touristy restaurant before a wonderful performance of Sichuan Opera in a nice park.
Yinhe Dynasty Hotel
Travel to Bifengxia Panda Reserve. Attend a panda expert’s lecture in which your questions can be answered. Witness giant pandas and you’ll have opportunties for photos by cuddling a panda(You’re required to pay as a donation.)
Overnight in Bifengxia
Depart for Huanglongxi, an old town known as Chengdu’s Hollywood that lots of films have included. On a pedicab, explore old residences built in the Qing Dynasty(1644AD-1911AD). Enjoy walking on slab-paved streets. Cruise Luxi River with very graceful rural views.
Farewell dinner will be arranged in a special local restaurant.
Overnight in Chengdu.
Yinhe Dynasty Hotel