Ultimate Silk Road: Beijing to Ashgabat
from $11455
Duration: 41 Days
Unlock the secrets of the Silk Road on this immersive journey across Central Asia. From Beijing all the way to Ashgabat, this epic 41-day trip heads west across China, showcasing stunning relics, dynastic palaces, Muslim minarets, hidden grottoes and rock-cut Buddhist masterpieces. Continuing into Kyrgyzstan and to the heartland of Uzbekistan, be dazzled by Central Asia proper: the tranquil landscape of Song-Kol Lake; wild boar and deer around Chychkan Gorge; Solomon's Throne in historic Osh; and the superb mosques and museums of Samarkand. Finish up in the often forgotten Turkmenistan, watching eternal flames glazing over Darvaza crater, visit settlement of Yerbent in the desert and blow your imagination of Central Asia in the futuristic Ashgabat. Full of warmly hospitable locals, spectacular expanses and constant evocations of a legendary past, this is Silk Road and Central Asia at its magical best.
  • Follow the route of the ancient Silk Road, travelling in the footsteps of countless generations of nomads and traders
  • Discover the unreal, rainbow-coloured landscape of Zhangye, a UNESCO site that looks like countless pots of bright paint have been spilled across sandstone mountains. You won't be able to put your camera away!
  • Uncover the ‘other terracotta warriors’ in Xi’an’s Hanyangling Mausoleum, an authentic and more personal burial site that’s home to tens of thousands of buried pottery figures
  • Experience the unique atmosphere of Kashgar’s Sunday Market
  • Central Asia is a fascinating and unique mix of ancient Silk Road culture, Soviet influence and striving to redefine nations post independence. Geographically and for a time historically, it is the real centre of Asia.
  • The much-photographed Registan in Samarkand is one of the true pinnacles of Islamic architecture. You'll be wowed by the scale, grandeur and beauty of the monuments to iconic figures such as Tamerlane and the Persian influenced madressas, mosques and mausoleums.
  • Experience for yourself the legend that is Central Asian hospitality - there's really nothing like being welcomed into a local home or yurt for a meal, chatting with stall holders at bazaars or simply marvelling at the sights alongside locals.
  • Kyrgyzstans mountains are its monuments and its majesty. The landscapes here will stay with you long after the journey is over.
  • Marvel at the beautiful Song Kol Lake, where in mid-summer you may see flocks of sheep, goats and herds of horses watched over by nomadic herdsmen and their families.
  • Stay overnight in a yurt lakeside and live like the locals have for centuries in these portable, felt lined traditional tents.
  • Reflect on the important role horses have played in the traditional Kyrgyz nomadic life style while witnessing horseback sports like odarysh (wrestling on horseback), tiyin-enish (where riders try to pick up coins at full gallop) or kok-baru (goat polo).
  • Xi'an - Muslim Quarter walking tour
  • Xi'an - Terracotta Warriors
  • Zhangye - Danxia Landform Geological Park
  • Jiayuguan - Hanging Great Wall
  • Jiayuguan - Fort
  • Dunhuang - Mogao Caves
  • Dunhuang - Crescent Moon Lake & Singing Sand Mountains
  • Turpan - Jiaohe Ancient City
  • Kashgar - Livestock Market & Grand Sunday Bazaar
  • Bishkek - City Tour
  • Shamsy Valley - Burana tower
  • Don Aryk - Local home visit & horsemanship demonstration
  • Kochkor - Market
  • Kochkor - Women's Felt Co-op
  • Uzgen - Uzgen Minaret & Complex
  • Osh - Sulaiman-Too Mountain
  • Osh - National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex
  • Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar
  • Tashkent - Khast Imom Complex & Moyie Mubarek Library Museum
  • Tashkent - History Museum of the People of Uzbekistan
  • Day 1 Location: Beijing
    Nimen Hao! Welcome to Beijing - the capital of the most populous country on earth. China's capital is quickly shedding its historical face in favour of modernity, however there are still plenty of places that give an insight into the nation's ancient past, as well as sights that showcase China's contemporary culture. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm today, where your insurance and next of kin details will be collected. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where the meeting will take place – if you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. Any free time today in Beijing is taken at your leisure, so get out and start exploring this vast and amazing city. It's recommended that you arrive a few days early to experience all that Beijing has to offer. Beijing's food is a highlight, from the famous Beijing Roast Duck to dumplings in a tiny backstreet eatery, there’s no chance you’ll go hungry here!
    Day 2 Location: Xi'an
    Catch the bullet train to Xi'an (approximately 5-6 hours). Once the imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xian is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting historical sites to explore. Enjoy a walking tour of the Muslim Quarter of Xi'an with your group. After the walking tour, why not visit the Great Mosque, one of the most important in China. This area has plenty of interesting shops, lively street stalls and roving groups of white-bearded men in skull caps. This evening enjoy some free time to uncover what was once the start of the ancient trading route of the Silk Road.
    Day 3 Location: Xi'an
    Enjoy a free day to explore Xi'an at your leisure. Perhaps hire a bike and ride along the city walls, which are the most complete in China, or climb to the top of the Bell and Drum towers for impressive views. Perhaps visit the impressive Tang Dynasty Small or Big Wild Goose Pagodas. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is in a scenic area which also includes the Shaanxi History Museum and Da Cien Temple. It's very popular with locals, especially in the evenings when there is a nightly light and music show around the many fountains. The Small Wild Goose Pagoda is inside the Jianfu Temple and Xi'an Museum is also nearby.
    Day 4 Location: Xi'an - Overnight Train
    Today you’ll journey out in to the countryside surrounding Xi’an (approximately 2 hours) and visit what is undoubtedly one of the man-made wonders of the world – the Terracotta Warriors. You’ll learn all about this incredible archaeological find, discovered after being buried for 2,000 years by farmers digging a well in 1976. These clay statues of soldiers, horses and chariots (and originally individually painted) were commissioned by the emperor Qin Shi Huangdi as part of his mausoleum after he ascended to the throne in 264 BC. Three main pits are open for you to view, where over 1,000 warriors are displayed – each individually sculpted from clay, each having a different costume, height, and even facial expressions – stand in battle formation. The scale is incredibly impressive.In the evening the group boards the first overnight train to Zhangye. Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious but it's certainly one of the best ways to come face to face with the country and its people as it's the main form of transport for locals. We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys. These are not as rough as they sound – compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded three-tiered berths (6 to a compartment). Sheets, pillows and a blanket are provided. Some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Safe, hot drinking water is always available. It is a good idea to bring a mug, spoon, knife and fork if you will be preparing your own hot drinks or food on the train (as these are not provided in cabins). Basic bathroom facilities with toilets and washbasins are situated at the end of each carriage. As toilet paper isn't always available, it's best to bring an emergency supply. Keep in mind general train cleanliness may not be to the same standards you are accustomed to. Food is available on the train, but it's a good idea to stock up on snacks for the trip.
    Day 5 Location: Zhangye
    Disembark after an overnight train ride to Zhangye, arriving at around midday. Check into your hotel and take an orientation walk with the group leader around this leafy town of temples and parks. The city was established 1000 years ago as the headquarters of General Huo when he controlled the ‘Hexi Corridor’. Controlling this area meant controlling the lucrative Silk Road, as the corridor is one of the few ways through the Qilian Mountains to the north and the desert and peaks to the south. Zhangye is home to China’s largest reclining Buddha, which would have been visited by Marco Polo in the 13th century while he waited for permission from Kubilau Khan to continue on to the Mongolian capital. Relax with free time for the rest of the afternoon and evening as you prepare yourself for some truly spectacular scenery tomorrow.
    Day 6 Location: Zhangye - Danxia Geological Park
    Today pack your sunscreen, hat and water as you head to see the unreal landscapes of Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park, where it looks like millions of coloured paint pots have been spilled across the mountains. This 400-square-kilometer World Heritage site was formed over 24 million - 100 million years ago. The area was originally a lake fed by rivers, which brought many layers of sand and mineral deposits. When the lake dried up the mineral elements oxidised, giving the lake its unique colour palette. The elements then eroded the lake into mountainous shapes and unusual formations. The result looks like an oil painting, with colours ranging from pink and orange to earthy brown. The scale of the formation and the swirling patterns of rainbow colours are stunning. Take a hike around this grand and magnificent area at sunset, and discover that every angle is a photographers dream.
    Day 7 Location: Jiayuguan
    Today there is an option to rise early and return to the Zhangye Danxia Landform Geological Park for an unforgettable sunrise over the hills. Later at midday the group will catch a day train to Jiayuguan (approximately 1.5-2 hours). Jiayuguan was the last outpost on the edge of the ancient Han Chinese Empire, the last Chinese-controlled stop for travellers and traders before they passed into the uncertain and dangerous deserts beyond. While exploring the city you might notice the growing Muslim influence as we travel further west.
    Day 8 Location: Jiayuguan - Dunhuang
    Today explore Jiayuguan Fort and a remote section of the Great Wall, which you will either visit today before heading to Dunhuang. The Ming dynasty built a series of forts and towers in Jiayuguan to secure their hold over the area and Jiayuguan Fort, though restored, still offers a feeling of desolation as you look out into the desert from atop its walls. Here we visit a section of the Jiayuguan Pass, which is the western end of the Great Wall built during the Ming Dynasty. Travel to Dunhuang in the afternoon, which is about five hours drive. 
    Day 9 Location: Dunhuang
    This morning the group can decide if they want to drive out of the city and watch the sun rise over the nearby dunes at Crescent Lake. The oasis, which take the shape of a crescent moon, is believed to have existed for around 2,000 years and is surrounded by Mingsha Shan (Singing Sand Dunes). Today you will also visit the nearby Mogao Caves, which house some of the most stunning Buddhist murals in the world, and are perhaps the greatest store of Buddhist art in the world. The first cave was carved out and painted in 366 AD after a Buddhist monk, passing through on the Silk Road, had a vision of a thousand Buddha faces appearing on the cliff. The caves were largely forgotten until a Taoist monk stumbled upon them in 1907. Currently there are more than 492 caves, most containing murals, manuscripts, and over 2,415 coloured statues. Return to your hotel in Dunhuang for the night and perhaps enjoy a drink at the unique beer gardens off the nearby night market.
    Day 10 Location: Turpan
    Travel by private bus this morning to Liuyuan train station and board a day train to Turpan (approximately 3.5 hours). A transfer will be waiting in Turpan to take you to the hotel. Once an important staging post on the Silk Road, Turpan is an attractive oasis town famous for its vineyards, stone fruits, melons and the nearby Flaming Mountains. The Turpan Depression is second only to the Dead Sea in Jordan as the lowest point on earth. It's a small city by Chinese standards, but the surrounding area is full of interesting places. The country roads on the outskirts are lined with poplars and the lovely old mud brick dwellings of the Uyghur people, while the modern ‘inner’ town has shiny new buildings, spacious streets and public squares.
    Day 11 Location: Turpan
    Explore Turpan with your local guide. Visit the ruins of the once great Silk Road city of Jiaohe, one of Xinjiang’s best historical sites and one of the most rewarding to visit. Bring plenty of water and sunscreen with you as things will be heating up! During free time this afternoon, choose to join the locals socialising in the square, or visit the market tonight for all the flavours of the region and plenty of interaction.
    Day 12 Location: Overnight Train
    Take the last train journey to Kashgar, which departs between 11am and 1pm (approximately 24 hours). See mirages in the Turpan basin, then climb through a high mountain pass, switch-backing up the peak of the Tian Shan Mountains. By morning you will have descended down the other side into the Tarim basin, skirting the northern edge of the sandy Taklamakan desert, passing isolated communities eking out a living in a harsh environment.
    Day 13 Location: Kashgar
    Arrive into Kashgar around midday today. Once a frontier town straddling the crossroads of empires and trading routes, Kashgar is now very much a modern, fast developing city that continues to take advantage of its geographical position near the border of Pakistan and Central Asia. Far from Beijing it may be, but there are still plenty of signs that you are still in China, such as the country's largest Chairman Mao statue. The once extensive Old Town is just about all but gone, with only a few areas still left to be demolished or rebuilt under the guise of it being overcrowded, with poor drainage and vulnerable to earthquakes. There has been a huge loss of culture with Uyghur families being relocated to newly built apartments. The town's main landmark is the Id Kah Mosque and its surrounding square. The dusty old laneways are crammed full of shops, food stalls and Uyghur locals living a lifestyle virtually unchanged for a hundred years. Take advantage of the proximity to Pakistan by having a meal of curry and chapattis at a Pakistani café or play a round or two with the lads hanging out at the pool tables on Id Kah Square. Alternatively, you can get lost meandering down lanes and alleyways, stopping at stalls selling tandoori-baked bagels or mulberry juice. 
    Day 14 Location: Kashgar
    Kashgar's main attraction is undoubtedly its markets, which you’ll visit today. It’s said to have some of the biggest markets in Central Asia, and on Sundays, the main trading day, it can feel like everyone from hundreds of miles around has converged on the city. We first take private transport to just outside the city to the Livestock Market. One of the best known markets of it's kind in the region, it's considered a "must see" sight in Xinjiang. Watch the bargaining and bustle of local herdsmen and farmers as they buy and trade sheep, goats, cows and donkeys. It's a big social occasion for the local community too, as rural families gather to share a meal and a chat. Then return to the city to visit the Grand Sunday Bazaar, open every day but most alive today with traders selling all kinds of wares – rugs, hats, spices, boots, dates, ingredients for traditional medicines, auto parts, brightly coloured material for clothing, electrical goods, household items, you name it and it's probably here. Browse the market at your own pace and a free evening tonight.
    Day 15 Location: Kashgar
    There are no activities planned for today and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
    Day 16 Location: Bishkek
    Travel on to Bishkek, where you will have free time until you meet your new group and leader at 6pm tonight.
    Day 17 Location: Bishkek
    Take a trip down memory lane today with a city tour showcasing the country's fascinating history. The centre of the city is Ala-too Square, which was known as Lenin Square in Soviet times. Lenin used to stand in his concrete overcoat in the middle of this square, proudly gesturing towards the mountains. A great place  for a wander is Dubovy (Oak) Park, where you'll find a few open-air cafes. The century-old oaks here and all along Freedom Avenue make Bishkek one of the greenest cities in Central Asia. In the afternoon, you'll have some free time to further explore Bishkek. Quite the contrast to the relaxed quiet streets, square and parks in the city center, Osh Market is noisy, crowded, and a perfect peek into local life. You'll find all kinds of things on sale here from spices and fruits to clothes and carpets. Get together with your travel mates and enjoy an optional final dinner together tonight to celebrate a great journey through Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.
    Day 18 Location: Don Aryk - Issyk Kul - Kochkor
    Drive 60 km to the 11th-century Burana tower, an ancient minaret from the Silk Road period. In the nearby village of Don Aryk, visit a local home. Reflecting the important role horses have played in the traditional Kyrgyz nomadic life style, the country is famous for at least four types of horse games such as odarysh or wrestling, tiyin-enish, where riders try to pick up coins at full gallop and kok buru or buzkashi, a type of goat-snatching polo. We'll take the chance here to watch the how the locals play some of these horse sports here and enjoy a tasty lunch with the family. Continue to Issyk Kul lake – the second largest alpine lake in the world. This beauty is one of the biggest natural water reservoirs in the world, at 170 km long and 70 km wide. A combination of extreme depth, thermal activity and mild salinity means the lake never freezes. Next, continue to Kochkor. Explore a small local market in the centre of the village, and, depending on our arrival time, a local co-op that provides training for local women in traditional handicrafts.
    Day 19 Location: Son-Köl
    Make the 130 km drive to Son-Köl, one of the largest lakes in the country. This beautiful alpine lake is considered a sacred place for many Kyrgyz people as well as one of the best summer pastures for nomadic herders. In the middle of the summer, you'll see nomadic herdsmen and their families watching over goats, sheep, and horses. Enjoy exploring your surroundings for the rest of the day. There are many beautiful lake trails to hike along. Alternatively you may be able to visit some ancient petroglyphs in the local area, or visit a nomad camp for a first-hand look at nomadic life. Simply sit and take in this beautiful corner of the world. Tonight we stay in yurts set up along the lake shore. Made of felt and tarpaulins on a round frame, yurts are the traditional dwellings of the Kyrgyz people. Sleeping arrangements are on a multi-share, mixed-gender basis with mattresses on the floor. It can get very chilly in the evenings, so there's a stove for heating and plenty of blankets. There are no bathroom facilities inside the yurts, so outdoor toilets are to be expected. Those daring enough for an invigorating morning splash can use the lake nearby. All meals are included during our stay here.
    Day 20 Location: Kyzyl-Oi
    Today you travel along gravel roads to the tiny village of Kyzyl-Oi squeezed between the mountains. On our way, we will pass large coal deposits and travel along the Kökömeren river which feeds into the Syr Darya - one the major rivers of Central Asia that used to fill the Aral Sea. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the river in the shade of the trees and use your free time to explore the village once we arrive. 
    Day 21 Location: Suusamyr Valley - Chychkan - Kok-Bel
    A full day of driving though big, beautiful landscapes today. As the roads in Kyrgyzstan see little regular maintenance, even short distances on a map can take hours. The road crosses the Suusamyr Valley – a high steppe plateau situated at around 2,200 metres above sea level. The mountainous, lush surroundings are often photogenically dotted with yurts. We then follow the Chychkan river that cuts through the Tien Shan range. Stop here for a while and soak up the amazing scenery. You will arrive at tonight's accommodation in Kok-Bel sometime in the early evening. 
    Day 22 Location: Osh
    After breakfast, get ready for another all-day journey to the second-largest city in Kyrgystan – Osh. Located in the Fergana Valley in the south of the country, Osh is often referred to as the 'Capital of the South'. With a history that dates to the 500 BC. Stop en route at Uzgen, an ancient trading town and handicrafts center on the Silk Road. Although much of the ancient city has been destroyed, a minaret and three mosques that have survived to this day remain important examples of medieval Central Asian architecture.
    Day 23 Location: Osh
    Rise and shine for a visit to the only World Heritage Site in Kyrgystan – Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain, also known as Solomon's Throne. For centuries Silk Road travellers have sought out the mountain's caves and their petroglyphs in the belief that they would be blessed with longevity. Visit the National Historical & Archaeological Museum Complex. In the afternoon, enjoy some free time. Perhaps visit the Jayma Bazaar, where you might pick up an interesting souvenir or two. Or maybe take a self-guided tour of the remnants of Osh's soviet past with a walk to the giant Lenin statue in the city square. The many murals praising the Soviet Union also give an idea of just how deeply these ties went.
    Day 24 Location: KGZ/UZB border crossing - Andijan - Tashkent
    This morning we drive to Kyrgyz – Uzbek border which is just outside of the city. After passing through the border (approx. 1-2 hours), we meet farewell our Kyrgyz guide, meet our new Uzbek guide and transfer to Andijan. From here we take a local train to Tashkent (approx. 5.5 hrs). Arrive at our Tashkent hotel in the evening.
    Day 25 Location: Tashkent
    Begin your introduction to Uzbekistan by exploring the capital today. Our sightseeing today in Tashkent will include a visit to State History Museum, the Abdul Khasim Medrassah with its hujra cells used as metalwork craft workshops to produce jewellery and other goods, and the Khast Imom Complex. After lunch, lose yourself in the exciting Chorsu Bazaar, browsing traditional wooden cradles, handmade musical instruments, and the extensive vegetable and spice markets.
    Day 26 Location: Samarkand
    Transfer to the station for the high speed train to fabled Samarkand (approx 2 hours). This city is located at the very centre of the ancient Silk Road. Enjoy some free time in the city on arrival, saving some of the key sights for our tour tomorrow. Maybe inspect the remains of the remarkable medieval observatory developed by Ulug Beg, Tamerlane's (Amir Timur) brilliant astronomer grandson. These days, only half of the below-ground semi-circular track can be seen, but there is an the excellent small museum close by. Or visit the Afrosiab Museum with its fine collection of treasures unearthed from the site, including world famous 10th century frescoes.
    Day 27 Location: Samarkand
    Be blown away by the sights you'll take in today. First, the great central square of Samarkand, the Registan. Then, Guri-Amir, where Tamerlane is buried, and finally the enormous Bibi-Khanum Mosque. Then we drive to Konigil village in the outskirts of the city for a special lunch with a family who have been making paper by traditional methods as long as they can remember. After lunch we'll learn about this unique way of paper making from mulberry. Returning to Samarkand, visit the impressive Shak-i-Zinda ensemble of mausoleums. This unusual necropolis has monuments from the 14th and 15th centuries, reflecting the development of the monumental art and architecture of the Timurid dynasty and is photo worthy at every turn. 
    Day 28 Location: Samarkand - Shahrisabz - Bukhara
    Continue tracing the Silk Road towards Bukhara. One of the most important portions of this ancient route connects these two major cities of the area and takes us through the town of Shahrisabz - the home town of revered national hero Tamerlane. Sadly, Shakhrisabz has recently lost much of its authentic flavour through over enthusiastic restoration works. We make a stop here, visiting the legendery Ak Saray Palace, Dor-ut Tilovat Memorial Complex, Dorus Saodat Complex and Kok-Gumbaz Mosque. Then we'll continue to Bukhara where we we stay for the night.
    Day 29 Location: Bukhara
    Today, we'll enjoy a full day of sightseeing in beautiful Bukhara. First, you'll visit the lovely Sitora-i Mohi Khosa, once the summer residence of the last Emir. Designed by Russian architects, it has lavish interiors decorated with traditional filigree plaster, mirrored surfaces and delicate floral wall paintings by local artisans. Then to the peaceful 16th century Chor Bakr necropolis, where you'll enjoy the simplicity of the Khonako-Medressa  & Mosque complex that is typical of Bukharian style. In the afternoon, visit the Ark Fortress and Kalon Mosque, the symb of Bukhara, then to one of Central Asia's oldest and most exquisite structures, the 10th century Ismail Samani Mausoleum, whose superb decorative brickwork has survived 1,000 years of rugged history. From here it is only a short distance to the Lyabi-Haus area. After dinner, there's time to wander the small craft studios tucked into the ancient nearby madrassas and trading domes.
    Day 30 Location: Gijduvan - Bukhara
    Historically, Gijduvan was one of the caravan stops on the way to Bukhara. Ulugbek, the famous astronomer ruler of Samarkand and grandson of Tamerlane, built a medrassah here, just next to the grave of a Sufi saint. The town gained further fame as a centre of glazed pottery production. Visit the private studio of a local ceramic artist, meet the family and watch them at work. Later you can have some free time to explore this small town. For lunch we recommend the juicy kebabs of Gijduvan that are famous throughout Uzbekistan. On your way back, stop to see a minaret from the late 12th century in Vobkent.
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    Last modified (date)

    26 Feb 2020

    Trip title

    Ultimate Silk Road: Beijing to Ashgabat

    Trip code

    CBSBC

    Validity

    Validity: 01 Jan 2020 to 31 Dec 2020

    Introduction

    Unlock the secrets of the Silk Road on this immersive journey across Central Asia. From Beijing all the way to Ashgabat, this epic 41-day trip heads west across China, showcasing stunning relics, dynastic palaces, Muslim minarets, hidden grottoes and rock-cut Buddhist masterpieces. Continuing into Kyrgyzstan and to the heartland of Uzbekistan, be dazzled by Central Asia proper: the tranquil landscape of Song-Kol Lake; wild boar and deer around Chychkan Gorge; Solomon's Throne in historic Osh; and the superb mosques and museums of Samarkand. Finish up in the often forgotten Turkmenistan, watching eternal flames glazing over Darvaza crater, visit settlement of Yerbent in the desert and blow your imagination of Central Asia in the futuristic Ashgabat. Full of warmly hospitable locals, spectacular expanses and constant evocations of a legendary past, this is Silk Road and Central Asia at its magical best.

    Style

    Original

    Themes

    Explorer

    Transport

    Overnight sleeper train,Private vehicle,Public bus,High speed train,Metro/Subway,4x4 Vehicle,Plane,Taxi

    Physical Rating

    3

    Physical preparation

    You need to have a good level of fitness and be in excellent health to take part in this trip. It's important that you are able to carry your own luggage (pack light!) as there is a lot of local transport on this trip and you will need to be able to take it on and off vehicles and trains as well as negotiate steps and train platforms etc. You also need to be able to cope with extremes in temperature (up to 45C) and some long, hot travel days.

    Joining point

    Beijing King's Joy Hotel 北京西华京兆酒店

    81, Meishi Street 地址:北京市西城区煤市街81号

    Xicheng district

    Beijing

    CHINA

    Phone: +86 1052171900

    Joining point description

    Located almost right in the heart of Beijing, King’s joy hotel offers great convenience for your stay in Beijing. Hotel is closed to Qianmen Hutong Area with 2 min walk, only 1km away from Tian’anmen Square & Forbidden City, 2km to Temple of Heaven. Metro is also nearby, Qianmen Station (前门站) for Line 2 is only 5 minute walk which gives you easy access to the all the major sites in Beijing. Free WIFI and no-smoking room are available. 24 hours front desk service is provided. Rooms are equipped with en-suite bathroom, A/C, and other basic facilities. In the private bathroom basic show facilities are available. Other services like bike hire, internet, and laundry are also available. A fine selection of Chinese food and local Beijing cuisine can be enjoyed at the restaurant on site.

    Joining point instructions

    Beijing Capital International airport is located north-east of Beijing, 25 km from the city centre. One of the biggest airports in the world, it is relatively easy to navigate and many signs are written in English. Most international flights arrive at Terminal 3. For more information about Beijing Capital Airport, please go to http://en.bcia.com.cn/ An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through your booking agent. If you have pre-arranged an arrival transfer with us, our local operator, Ms Qi (Ms Chee), will have sent a driver to the airport who will be holding a sign with our company logo on it and your name. If you arrive at Terminal 2, please meet your driver at the entrance/exit #7 after you go through the baggage claim area. If you arrive at Terminal 3, please meet your driver in front of the white jade screen wall with the dragon pattern, after you walk through Exit B. Exit B is the only international arrival gate in Terminal 3. Please note that Beijing Airport is very crowded so please be patient. If you have any problems finding the driver go to the information desk near your exit and ask them to call Ms Qi at (+86) 13671299816. In any case, please take a printed copy of your hotel name and address in Chinese as shown in the joining point hotel section with you. Below are hotel information in both English and Chinese: Hotel name: Beijing King's Joy Hotel 北京西华京兆饭店 Hotel address: No. 81 Meishijie, Xicheng District 北京市西城区煤市街81号 Hotel contact number: +86 10 5217 1900 If you are making your own way to the joining hotel: By taxi (the easiest option): Metered taxis are available outside the airport terminal building. You can follow the airport signs to reach to the official taxi stand. The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotels takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour and should cost around CNY120 (include CNY10 for the airport expressway toll). Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown below. **PLEASE AVOID TAXI DRIVERS WHO DON'T WAIT IN THE TAXI LINE FOR CLIENTS AND APPROACH YOU IN THE QUEUE CLAIMING THEY USE METER** By airport express and taxi: You can follow the airport signs to reach to the airport express station. Take the airport express (CNY25, service time: 06:20 to 22:50) to Dongzhimen station. It is suggested to hail a passing by taxi to go to your hotel. It will cost around CNY30 from Dongzhimen Station to your hotel. Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown in the Joining Point Section. **THERE IS NO TAXI LINE AT THIS STATION. AVOID USING TAXIS THAT ARE WAITING JUST OUTSIDE THE STATION EXITS. THEY DON'T USE METER AND TEND TO OVERCHARGE. **

    Alternate Joining point

    For trips departing on the following dates, use this joining point.

    18 May 2020 (CBSBC200518), 10 Aug 2020 (CBSBC200810), 17 Aug 2020 (CBSBC2008172), 24 Aug 2020 (CBSBC2008242), 31 Aug 2020 (CBSBC200831), 07 Sep 2020 (CBSBC200907), 14 Sep 2020 (CBSBC200914)

    King Parkview Hotel (Huayu Hotel) 北京华育宾馆

    55 Shatan Hou Street 地址:北京东城区沙滩后街 55号 (近五四 大街,在景山公园东门对面的胡同里)

    Dong Cheng District

    Beijing

    100009

    CHINA

    Phone: +86 (010)58757888

    Alternate Joining point description

    King Parkview Hotel is centrally located in Beijing, close to many historical and cultural landmarks, including Jinshan Park, the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square and the National Art Museum, and the hutong areaThe hotel offers comfortable rooms including en-suite bathroom, TV & AC. Hotel rooms may include a vanity pack which are not complimentary. You will be charged at checkout if you open or use the vanity pack.

    Alternate Joining point instructions

    Beijing Capital International airport is located north-east of Beijing, 25 km from the city centre. One of the biggest airports in the world, it is relatively easy to navigate and many signs are written in English. Most international flights arrive at Terminal 3. For more information about Beijing Capital Airport, please go to http://en.bcia.com.cn/ An arrival transfer from the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through your booking agent. If you have pre-arranged an arrival transfer with us, our local operator, Ms Qi (Ms Chee), will have sent a driver to the airport who will be holding a sign with our company logo on it and your name. If you arrive at Terminal 2, please meet your driver at the entrance/exit #7 after you go through the baggage claim area. I f you arrive at Terminal 3, please meet your driver in front of the white jade screen wall with the dragon pattern, after you walk through Exit B. Exit B is the only international arrival gate in Terminal 3. Please note that Beijing Airport is very crowded so please be patient. If you have any problems finding the driver go to the information desk near your exit and ask them to call Ms Qi at (+86) 13671299816. In any case, please take a printed copy of your hotel name and address in Chinese as shown in the joining point hotel section with you. If you are making your own way to the joining hotel: By taxi (the easiest option): Metered taxis are available outside the airport terminal building. You can follow the airport signs to reach to the official taxi stand. The taxi ride from the airport to our starting point hotels takes about 45 minutes to 1 hour and should cost around CNY120 (include CNY10 for the airport expressway toll). Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown below. **PLEASE AVOID TAXI DRIVERS WHO DON'T WAIT IN THE TAXI LINE FOR CLIENTS AND APPROACH YOU IN THE QUEUE CLAIMING THEY USE METER** By airport express and taxi: You can follow the airport signs to reach to the airport express station. Take the airport express (CNY25, service time: 06:20 to 22:50) to Dongzhimen station. It is suggested to hail a passing by taxi to go to your hotel. It will cost around CNY30 from Dongzhimen Station to your hotel. Show the taxi driver the address of the hotel in Chinese characters as shown in the Joining Point Section. **THERE IS NO TAXI LINE AT THIS STATION. AVOID USING TAXIS THAT ARE WAITING JUST OUTSIDE THE STATION EXITS. THEY DON'T USE METER AND TEND TO OVERCHARGE. **

    Finish point

    Hotel Mizan Отель "Мизан"

    55 Arcabil (1939) Sayoly

    Ashgabat

    TURKMENISTAN

    Important information

    1. A Single Supplement to have your own room is available on this trip, excluding nights in yurts, homestays, guesthouses and overnight trains. 2. As Central Asian immigration and customs officials are notoriously strict, please make sure you keep all forms for when you exit the country. A lost customs or immigration form could result in a fine or being detained at the border. You must also declare ALL currency when entering and exiting the country; keep all currency exchange slips or ATM receipts. 3. A scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport is required at time of booking in order for us to purchase your train tickets. 4. Overnight train accommodation on this tour is in 6-berth ‘hard-sleeper’ class. Bedding is provided and wash basins and toilet facilities (usually one with a toilet seat and one squat-style in each compartment) are available on all trains, but there are no showers or baths. 5. While traveling through mainland China you will not be able to access some popular internet websites. 6. As this is a combination trip your leader and group composition will change along the way. You will have a Chinese, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbek and Turkmen leader in each country. For the border crossing between China & Kyrgyzstan and for the overnight stay in Naryn you will be accompanied by an Intrepid representative.

    Group leader

    All Intrepid group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Intrepid endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders. Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Intrepid we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

    Safety

    Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trips. We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, flight tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage. Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests or relax and take it easy. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns. For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/au/safety-guidelines

    CHINA China is a safe country to travel in and very few travellers will experience any safety concerns. Serious crime against foreigners is relatively rare, but incidents do occur. Foreigners can be targeted for passports, electronic devices, mobile phones, purses and handbags. Major tourist sites and areas frequented by foreigners attract thieves and pickpockets. Take extra care at major tourist sites, street markets, Beijing International Airport, major international events and conferences and popular bar areas after dark. There are occasional incidents with taxi and pedicab drivers who insist the passenger misunderstood the fare. Avoid travelling in unmarked or unmetered ‘taxis’ and insist on paying only the meter fare. Ask the driver for a receipt (fapiao), on which the taxi number should be printed. You can take this to the police to lodge a complaint. Counterfeit bank notes (especially RMB100) are increasingly common. They are generally crumpled to avoid detection. Unscrupulous traders may try to switch your genuine bank notes for counterfeits. A common scam when paying a taxi fare with a RMB100 note occurs when the taxi driver swaps the note for a fake note, and returns the fake note to the passenger, refusing to accept it for payment as it’s counterfeit. Check carefully before accepting notes. It is quite normal to do so. Beware of scams particularly in popular tourist areas. A regular example is the ‘tea tasting’ scam. Scams usually involve a foreign national being invited to visit a bar, shop or cafe – for example to practice English or meet a girl - but results in demands for an exorbitant fee, often payable by credit card. This can result in threats of violence or credit card fraud.

    XINJIANG UYGHUR AUTONOMOUS REGION There is a general threat from terrorism in China, but the risk of attacks is increased in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous region. Attacks could occur in places visited by foreigners however foreigners have not been specifically targeted. You should be particularly vigilant while traveling in this region.

    KYRGYZSTAN Few travellers will experience any safety issues in Kyrgyzstan if general precautions are followed. Take care if you go out after dark. Keep large amounts of money hidden at all times and be wary of strangers offering help or being over-friendly. Be particularly aware of your surroundings when using currency exchange offices. Thieves posing as off duty police, uniformed police or unsolicited 'meet and greet' drivers at airports are known to target travellers. Avoid walking alone at night and don’t travel in unofficial taxis. Carry your passport, or a certified copy, at all times: identification checks by police are common.

    UZBEKISTAN Uzbekistan is generally a very safe place to travel. Petty crime targeting foreigners and tourists sometimes occurs in Uzbekistan. A regulation has been introduced allowing only licensed taxis (with certain colour and signs and card payment equipment) to operate in Uzbekistan. However, unlicensed taxis continue to operate. You should use official taxis where possible. There have been reports of robberies by individuals posing as police officers. Avoid obvious displays of wealth, particularly in rural areas. Crime levels are higher at night. Avoid walking alone. It is illegal to photograph government and military buildings, and also public transport infrastructure, including metro stations. This may result in confiscation of equipment or detention. Check before taking photographs of government or security infrastructure. You should carry your passport with you at all times as this is a legal requirement in Uzbekistan. The police often carry out checks. There is a ban on the sale of alcohol and tobacco to those under 20.  Homosexuality is illegal under Uzbek law and is still very much frowned upon socially. You should take care over public displays of affection.

    TURKMENISTAN Incidents of mugging, theft and pick pocketing are rare, but take sensible precautions and keep valuables out of sight. Women should avoid going out alone late at night. Please note the Government of Turkmenistan is intending to make the country free from smoking and drug taking. As a result, smoking has been prohibited in ALL public places, including streets, parks, airports, practically everywhere except specially equipped areas. If spotted smoking, you will be taken to the nearest police station and be told about their laws and the harmful nature of smoking. You will be required to sign some related forms, and as a result will have to pay a formal fine of approximately 300 manat. Those who refuse to go to the police station, pay the fine, or quarrel with police officers (swear or shout) may even end up in a temporary detention for up to 15 days. Attempts to import cigarettes into Turkmenistan or transit across the country territory of the amounts exceeding the permitted (no more than 40 cigarettes/2 packs per person for private use only) will also result in some unpleasant procedures at the arrival border port and issuance of a formal fine – 500 manat. Driving standards are poor. Road travel at night outside cities is particularly dangerous because of the condition of the roads. Seat belts, if fitted, should be worn at all times. Licensed taxis are clearly identified and yellow in colour. Although taxis have meters, drivers will usually ask foreign nationals for a set fee of around 5 to 10 Manat. Taxis from the airport cost more and drivers usually ask for US$. Most taxi drivers do not speak much, if any, English. Using unlicensed taxis is not recommended.

    Visas

    As a general rule most countries expect that your passport has a minimum of 6 months validity remaining. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking and airline tickets. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Your consultant will contact you when this is required. Take a copy of the main passport pages and other important documents with you, and leave another copy at home with family or friends. Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time. Your passport details are required to complete your booking. Please ensure the name on your passport matches the name on your booking CHINA: Most nationalities require a visa for mainland China. You must obtain your Chinese visa in advance. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival and Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain outside your country of residence. You may be able to apply for your visa in Hong Kong if you have time there before joining your trip. You will need a Single Entry Tourist for this trip valid for 30 days. Please make sure if you have a transit anywhere in China before arriving at your destination that you check with your airline to see if the transit will require using your visa. INFORMATION & DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR CHINESE VISA APPLICATION: You will be provided with a Hotel List and Letter of Invitation to assist you in applying for your visa. These are the primary documents you should use to apply for your visa as they are issued by our local office in China. Name of Host/Inviting Organisation: Intrepid Travel Beijing Co. Ltd. 606 InterChina Commercial Building 33 Dengshikou Street Dongcheng District Beijing 100006 +86 10 6406 8022 * Hotel List - this will be sent to you by Intrepid or your travel agent at time of booking. If you do not receive this, email us with your booking number and trip details. * Official invitation from licensed Chinese tourism company - this will be provided from us together with the Hotel List to all travellers regardless of whether it is required by the consulate or not and will assist with your application. * Itinerary – print off a copy of your specific trip itinerary from our website www.intrepidtravel.com and include it with your application, marking the dates you will visit each destination if required (exception - Tibet tours) * Photocopy of your passport * Passport size photos (up to 4 may be required) * Check with the consulate for any other specific requirements * Please note that if you are not applying for Chinese visa from your passport country, you may be required to submit further documents, ie. employment letter, immigration card, etc. Please check with your local embassy or consulate for specific requirements. TIBET: You will be given a specific itinerary to use if booking a Tibet trip. While Tibet is not off limits to travellers, you must first obtain a Chinese visa BEFORE we apply for your Tibet permit on your behalf. Do not mention Tibet anywhere on your application form, even if your tour goes here. Including Tibet on your visa application without being booked on a government arranged tour will lead to your visa being rejected. HONG KONG: Hong Kong is not considered part of mainland China for immigration purposes and most nationalities do not require a visa. Please check with an embassy for specific requirements for Hong Kong. DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR CHINESE TRAIN TICKET BOOKINGS: Intrepid requires you send the following at the time of booking or at least 30 days prior to travel: *Clear, colour scanned copy of the personal details page of your passport. Please make sure that this copy is for the passport that you will be travelling on. If you have to renew your passport after booking please notify us as soon as you have a new passport number and bring your old passport with you on your trip in case it is also requested. KYRGYZSTAN Most nationalities do not require a visa to travel to Kyrgyzstan for up to 60 days, including Australia, Belgium, UK, Germany, Netherlands, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland, USA and Switzerland. Other nationalities should check with their nearest embassy and obtain a visa in advance if required. Please contact us should you need any supporting documents for your visa application. If you do require a visa you will need to obtain one through your closest consulate. UZBEKISTAN VISAS Many nationalities no longer require a visa for stays of up to 90 days, including most European countries, Great Britain, Australia & Canada.You can check if you are eligible for the visa free scheme here: https://e-visa.gov.uz/main E-VISAS For nationalities not included in the visa exemption list, including US citizens, an e-visa is available. The e-visa is issued for a period of stay in the territory of Uzbekistan up to 30 days with a single entry and is valid for 90 days from the date of issue. Travellers must submit an online application for a visa at least three working days before the planned date of travel to Uzbekistan. The consular fee for processing and issuing an e-visa is US$20 to be paid online. Please check if you are eligible for an e-visa and apply here: https://e-visa.gov.uz/main INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR E-VISA APPLICATION - Address of your joining point hotel (or if visiting Uzbekistan mid-trip, use: Hotel Uzbekistan 45 Mirzamakhmud Musakhanov Street Tashkent) - You will need to have a scanned PDF copy of your passport to upload for your application - You will need to upload a passport photo that meet the standard of ICAO - you can check here for the standards of the photo http://www.cgiistanbul.org/frontEnd/userfiles/files/ICAO%20Guidelines%20on%20Passport%20Photographs.pdf - Your passport will need to be valid for at least three months after you’ve entered Uzbekistan to obtain a visa. REGISTRATION IN UZBEKISTAN All visitors to Uzbekistan must register with the local department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs within 3 working days after arrival. When staying at a hotel, you will be registered automatically. Please ensure you keep any registration documents issued by the hotel until you exit the country. CUSTOMS Some medications available over the counter or by prescription in other countries, such as sleeping tablets, may be illegal or restricted in Uzbekistan. You should declare all prescription medications and other restricted items on arrival in Uzbekistan, and carry a copy of the prescription with you. TURKMENISTAN All travellers to Turkmenistan require a visa. A Letter of Invitation (LOI) is also required before you can apply for the visa. We recommend all travellers plan to receive a Visa on Arrival at either the airport or land border, depending on your itinerary. Please follow the instructions below to have your LOI for visa on arrival issued before you travel. To apply for your LOI we require the following: - clear, colour scan of the photo page of your passport - digital copy of a colour passport photo (not a scan of a printed photo) - Turkmen LOI Application form (please contact your booking agent) After submitting these documents to your booking agent our local partners will process your LOI. This service is included in your trip cost. We advise that you apply for your LOI no later than 3 months before your trip to allow time for processing. Turkmenistan LOIs are processed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Turkmenistan and usually take around 4 weeks to be processed, with up to 6 weeks in peak travel season not uncommon. We strongly suggest submitting all documents no later than 2 months before arrival in order to allow sufficient time for processing. NOTES: - Independent travel in Turkmenistan is not permitted and your visa will only be valid for as long as tour services (including accommodation, guides, transport etc) are provided. - Make sure you have a print out of your LOI before boarding your flight or leaving for your trip. - Having an LOI doesn't mean you have a visa. You will need to apply for your visa as per the way you choose for when applying for LOI. If you've chosen to get visa on arrival, you will need to pay visa fee at approx. US$ 80 (to be paid in USD), complete a migration card and pay a US$15 migration fee on arrival in Turkmenistan. This fee could change without notice. Your leader will be able to advise you on exactly how much the visa fee will be. - You will need 2 printed passport photos for your leader to submit to the migration office after your arrival in country. CUSTOMS: - A number of medications containing tramadol, morphine, opiates or any other similar constituent component are banned in Turkmenistan and are considered narcotic drugs. Do not bring any medications containing these drugs into the country.

    Why we love it

    Follow the route of the ancient Silk Road, travelling in the footsteps of countless generations of nomads and traders

    Discover the unreal, rainbow-coloured landscape of Zhangye, a UNESCO site that looks like countless pots of bright paint have been spilled across sandstone mountains. You won't be able to put your camera away!

    Uncover the ‘other terracotta warriors’ in Xi’an’s Hanyangling Mausoleum, an authentic and more personal burial site that’s home to tens of thousands of buried pottery figures

    Experience the unique atmosphere of Kashgar’s Sunday Market

    Central Asia is a fascinating and unique mix of ancient Silk Road culture, Soviet influence and striving to redefine nations post independence. Geographically and for a time historically, it is the real centre of Asia.

    The much-photographed Registan in Samarkand is one of the true pinnacles of Islamic architecture. You'll be wowed by the scale, grandeur and beauty of the monuments to iconic figures such as Tamerlane and the Persian influenced madressas, mosques and mausoleums.

    Experience for yourself the legend that is Central Asian hospitality - there's really nothing like being welcomed into a local home or yurt for a meal, chatting with stall holders at bazaars or simply marvelling at the sights alongside locals.

    Kyrgyzstans mountains are its monuments and its majesty. The landscapes here will stay with you long after the journey is over.

    Marvel at the beautiful Song Kol Lake, where in mid-summer you may see flocks of sheep, goats and herds of horses watched over by nomadic herdsmen and their families.

    Stay overnight in a yurt lakeside and live like the locals have for centuries in these portable, felt lined traditional tents.

    Reflect on the important role horses have played in the traditional Kyrgyz nomadic life style while witnessing horseback sports like odarysh (wrestling on horseback), tiyin-enish (where riders try to pick up coins at full gallop) or kok-baru (goat polo).

    Is this trip right for you

    Central Asia is a remote destination, perfect for intrepid travellers in the true sense of the word! You will venture well away from cities, right off the beaten track and be able to immerse yourself in local food, life and culture. Accommodation may on occasion be more basic than what you are used to in homestays, guesthouses and yurt stay. Shower and toilet facilities will be limited in some places and non existent in others. While the comfort level won't always be high, the rewards of living in true local style in this far-out part of the world are immeasurable. This is an overland journey, so there will be some very long days of travelling and driving, often over rough terrain. This can be tiring at times and will require a great deal of patience at others, especially at border crossings.  What Kyrgyzstan lacks in "sights" compared to the Silk Road monuments and old towns of Uzbekistan and China, it makes up for in alpine landscapes, opportunities for interaction with local families and plenty of time spent on the road or outdoors exploring natural surroundings. This trip travels on overnight hard sleeper trains on sections of the journey. Train travel in China may not be entirely luxurious, but it's certainly one of the best ways to travel long distances and come face-to-face with the country and its people. It's the main form of transport for locals, so take the chance to interact. There are few places like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan on earth - isolated geographically and long secluded politically. It's probably unlike anywhere you have ever been, so be prepared to be surprised and for things to run a little differently to home. Here's some of what to expect: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-expect-on-a-trip-to-turkmenistan/ Tourism is strictly controlled in Turkmenistan, with Letters of Invitation needed in advance in order to apply for your visa (which you can then get on arrival) and guides tending to be protective of what tourists see and fiercely proud of their nation and its leaders. Those used to more freedom of exploration and tour guides with a more global perspective may find their experience here different from in other destinations.  As there are a number of long travel days, plenty of time spent on your feet and days can be hot and dusty you'll need excellent general health and fitness to get the most out if this trip. There is one night of basic camping included on this trip in the Karakum Desert. Sleeping bags, mattresses and tents are all provided, but there are no bathing or permanent toilet facilities at the campsite. 

    Health

    All travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid Travel reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund. You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared. BIRD FLU: The World Health Organization (WHO) has previously confirmed human deaths from avian influenza in China. There is a very low risk to travellers. For further information please visit: http://www.who.int/influenza/human_animal_interface/en/ AIR POLLUTION IN CHINA: Air pollution is a recognized issue for travelers in China, particularly in Beijing where the geographical location of the city exacerbates its effects. We provide travellers with certified PM (particulate matter) face masks as an option to be worn as protection during times of high levels of pollution. On days where the Air Quality Index (AQI) is above 101, some activities may be altered for the health and safety of our travellers and leaders. The US Embassy in Beijing provides a hourly updated AQI reading and explanation of the levels here: http://beijing.usembassy-china.org.cn/aqirecent3.html The high levels of air pollution in major urban and industrialised areas in China may aggravate bronchial, sinus or asthma conditions. Children, the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions may be especially affected. Please ensure you bring the required medication with you if you have any of these type of medical conditions. You can check the pollution index levels for many cities in China on the following website: http://aqicn.org/city/beijing/ CENTRAL ASIA: Some medications available over the counter or by prescription in your home country, such as sleeping tablets, may be illegal or restricted in Central Asia. Ensure you have a copy of any prescriptions as well as a letter from your doctor and be prepared to declare any prescription medication at customs. Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne diseases. Ticks are very common in country areas and are most active from spring to autumn. Take precautions against insect bites, including the use of insect repellent. Medical facilities are limited in Central Asia, with doctors and clinics often requiring payment in cash prior to providing services, even for emergency care. Standards in remote areas will be very basic. The diet and hygiene standards of Central Asia may be very different from what you are used to so please take care with washing hands before meals etc and bring some medication/re-hydration salts etc should you experience stomach problems. Giardia intestinalis, a parasite that can cause diarrhoea, is reported from time to time in the water supply and which may not be eradicated by purification methods such as tablets or iodine are used. For this reason we recommend against drinking unboiled tap water in all Central Asian cities. Malaria is endemic in the southern and western parts of the country bordering Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, particularly in Batken, Osh and Zhele-Abdskaya provinces. KYRGYZSTAN Malaria is endemic in the southern and western parts of the country bordering Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, particularly in Batken, Osh and Zhele-Abdskaya provinces. Travel in forested areas brings the risk of exposure to tick-borne encephalitis. Ticks are very common from spring to autumn. Ensure you take precautions to prevent insect bites, such as covering up and using insect repellent. Medical facilities in Bishkek are limited and in remote areas the standard of medical services is very basic.

    Food and dietary requirements

    FOOD IN CHINA: What IS authentic Chinese food like? Check out these articles to get a taste: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-trip-blog/ https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-food-stereotypes/ https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-guide-to-traditional-chinese-street-food/ VEGETARIANS & VEGANS: Vegetarians in China certainly won't go hungry as there are always plenty of meat free options on menus including vegetable, tofu and egg dishes. Your leader can advise on some local favourites. Dairy is uncommon in Chinese cooking, although in some regions like Tibet, Xinjiang and Yunnan you will find milk products as part of the local cuisine. Vegans should also have few problems finding tasty meals in most locations. Nearly all cities will have vegetarian restaurants, often near to temples or monasteries that specialise in Buddhist cuisine. Check out this blog for a guide to eating vegetarian in Beijing: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/a-vegetarians-guide-to-beijing/ DIETARY NEEDS: Wherever possible we will cater for dietary needs for included meals, but there may be times when those with special requirements may wish to supplement inclusions with their own supplies from markets or supermarkets. Please note that some dietary requirements, such as Gluten Free, will be uncommon in China and you may need to explain to your leader what you can and can't eat as well as research common dishes before you travel. ALLERGIES: For those suffering from particular food allergies, your group leader will endeavor to disclose to their fullest knowledge the main ingredients in dishes being consumed. It is, however, your personal responsibility to ensure that you do not ingest any foods to which you are allergic and research suitable local foods before travelling. CENTRAL ASIA The Central Asian diet relies heavily on meat based dishes.There are options available for vegetarians, however these may at times be limited to plain noodles, bread, fruit, nuts, yoghurt, cheese, eggs etc. Those with particular dietary needs may choose to supplement meals with supplies bought from home or stock up at markets and supermarkets as you travel.

    Money matters

    SPENDING MONEY When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). SPENDING MONEY: When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document). CHINA The official currency in China is the Yuan or Renminbi (CNY). 1 renminbi (yuan) = 10 jiao (mao). ATMs are widespread, so the easiest way to access cash on your trip is to bring a credit/debit card. Please check with your bank about overseas withdrawal fees before you depart and look for ATMs with your card logo. You may find that your card does not work in certain ATMs, so we recommend purchasing some CNY in your home country so you have some cash for your first day. Currency exchange is available at major banks and some hotels. The easiest foreign currencies to exchange are USD and EUR, however please be aware of the security risk of carrying large amounts of cash. Commission is sometimes charged for currency exchange. Check the rate before you exchange and carefully check the amount you are given and ask for a receipt. Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in China it may not be possible to change left over CNY back into foreign currency, so please plan your budget and spending money well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go. TIPPING IN CHINA: If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many of our destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. In China tipping is not compulsory, but has become expected in the travel industry and is considered a way of showing appreciation for great service. The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: - Restaurants, markets, and taxi drivers - tipping is not customary and is not expected by the locals. - Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your tour leader. We suggest US$2-US$5 per day for local guides depending on their service and their involvement with the group. - Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$2-US$4 per day for drivers. - Your Tour Leader: You may also consider tipping your tour leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$4-US$6 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult. Depending on the type of trip you are doing and the number of local staff involved, your tour leader may discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent. The record can then be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip. KYRGYZSTAN The official currency of Kyrgyzstan is the Kyrgyzstan Som (KGS). This can only be obtained within Kyrgyzstan. Conversion of KGS back into other foreign currencies may prove difficult, even in neighbouring countries.  Kyrgyzstan is primarily a cash economy. ATMs are not widespread outside of Bishkek. Your leader will advise on the best places and times to withdraw or exchange money and suggest suitable amounts. EUR and USD are the best currencies to bring for exchange. UZBEKISTAN: The currency is the Uzbekistan som (UZS). UZS is not freely convertible. Exchanging som back into foreign currency can be difficult particularly if you do not retain receipts from the initial exchange into som. ATMs are available in major cities. Currency reforms in 2017 brought major change to private money exchange, making the black market obsolete. Your leader or hotel should be able to advise on the best place to change money nearby, with USD being the easiest to exchange. Some souvenir sellers and tourist restaurants may accept USD or EUR as payment but all other purchases in Uzbekistan must be made in local currency. Please note that you should declare ALL currency on entry to and exit Uzbekistan. You will need to complete a foreign currency declaration form when you arrive, and keep a copy yourself. Failure to do so accurately, or exiting the country with more currency than when you entered may result in delays, fines or the additional sums being confiscated. Ensure you exchange any unspent local currency prior to departure as there is no exchange office at the international airport. TURKMENISTAN The currency of Turkmenistan is the manat (TKM).  There are very few international ATMs in Turkmenistan. At time of writing visa cards are accepted in some of the main hotels, and can be used to obtain cash at the Vnesheconom Bank in Ashgabat, Mastercards at Senagat Bank in Ashgabat. USD can be used in major hotels and in some other tourist facilities. Carry new notes in low denominations. Notes with any additional markings are often refused even by official travel exchange offices. Other currencies are difficult to exchange. Bring enough cash to cover your entire stay in case you are not able to access funds with your credit card.  CENTRAL ASIA & MONGOLIA: If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader. The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers: Restaurants: - we suggest 5% to 10% of your bill, however check if a service charge has already been added. In China tipping in restaurants is not common practice. Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest RUB30-50 (Russia)/US$1-2 (Mongolia, Central Asia)/CNY10 -15 (China) per person per activity day for local guides. Adjust the amount accordingly for guides who are with you for less than a full day. Porters: In some hotels in China a porter may offer to carry your bag to your room. We suggest CNY5 per bag for porters. Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of RUB50/US$2 (Russia/Mongolia/Central Asia) or CNY5 (China) per person per day is generally appropriate. Adjust the amount accordingly for drivers who are with you for less than a full day. Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline $US3-5, or the equivalent in any currency used on the trip, per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service. CONTINGENCY FUNDS We try to plan for every eventuality, but there are still some things beyond our control. Please make sure you have access to an extra US$500 for emergencies (e.g. severe weather, natural disasters, civil unrest) or other events that result in unavoidable changes to the itinerary (e.g. transport strikes or cancellations, airport closures). Sometimes these things necessitate last minute changes to enable our trips to continue to run, and as a result there may be some extra costs involved. The recommended amount is listed in USD for the relatability of universal travellers, however the local currency is needed in the countries you are visiting.

    What to take

    What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking, we recommend you pack as lightly as possible and make sure that you are able to carry and lift your own luggage, and walk with it for short distances. Many travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller suitcases or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry or handles. A lockable bag or small padlock is useful as your luggage may get stowed separately and unattended while you travel on public transport or trains. Where Intrepid covers the cost of luggage storage during included day trips, we allow for one bag/backpack only, so it's advisable that you travel lightly and keep luggage to a limit of one item (plus your day pack). Extra luggage storage will be at your own expense. Below are some ideas and helpful tips on what you specifically need for this trip. ESSENTIALS: - Day pack: for carrying essentials when exploring destinations like water, camera, snacks, jacket, etc. - Lightweight clothing: A mixture of covering lightweight clothing and some warm layers (depending on the season) are recommended. It is best to check the weather and seasonal information before travelling. Please also bring clothing that covers arms and pants/skirts that go past the knee for entry into local religious sites. For women travellers, a light scarf is also a good idea for covering shoulders and arms. - comfortable shoes for full day walking/trekking: Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through cities as well as bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings - Wind and waterproof jacket - Sun protection: hat, sunscreen, sunglasses, and lip balm RECOMMENDED: - Personal medical kit: we recommend you carry items such as mild pain killers, electrolytes, Band-Aids and insect repellent. - Water bottle: We recommend at least a 1.5 litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. - Spare batteries. Our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras most days but we recommend you take spare batteries for your camera. - Electrical travel adapter plug - Inner sleep sheet/bag for trains or overnight stays in yurt - Money belt - Torch or flash light - Hand sanitizer OPTIONAL: - Ear plugs to guard against street noise and snorers. - A good book, a journal and music player for overnight train rides and longer drives. - Images from home: During our trip there will be many opportunities for you to meet and talk with locals. One way to start any conversation is with pictures. We recommend that you bring some photos / postcards of your family, home, city or country where you live, animals peculiar to your country etc. VALUABLES: Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe. We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary. MORE! If you need some further tips for packing, you can always check out our ultimate packing list

    https://www.intrepidtravel.com/packing-list

    WARM CLOTHING: Temperatures can get very low overnight in Kyrgyzstan. Please ensure you have adequate warm clothing, including to sleep in during our yurt stay.

    Climate and seasonal

    CHINESE NATIONAL HOLIDAYS: Please note that China's national holidays are the peak travel season for Chinese nationals. During this time, literally the whole country is on the move - that's over a billion people. Although these are fascinating and exciting times to travel in China, please be aware your group will almost definitely experience transport delays and massive crowds at tourist attractions and train stations. It's common for there to be difficulties in securing train or flight tickets at our preferred times, hotels become overbooked, traffic chaotic and changes to the itinerary are often necessary as a result. If clockwork organisation is important to you we advise you book outside of the weeks of the extended Chinese New Year in January/February, in the first week of May and the first week of October. If you decide to travel during this period please come with an open mind and be prepared for changes on the ground. Here are the major holiday periods in China: Chinese New Year: Feb 4-10 2019, Jan 24-30 2020 Qingming Festival: Apr 5-7 2019, Apr 4-6 2020 May Day: May 1 2019, May 1-3 2020 Dragon Boat Festival: Jun 7-9 2019, Jun 25-27 2020 Mid Autumn Day: Sep 13-15 2019, falls within National Day holidays 2020 National Day: Oct 1-7 2019, Oct 1-8 2020

    A couple of rules

    Everyone has the right to feel safe when they travel. We don’t tolerate any form of violence (verbal or physical) or sexual harassment, either between customers or involving our leaders, partners or local people. Sexual relationships between a tour leader and a customer are strictly forbidden. Use or possession of illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. If you choose to consume alcohol while travelling, we encourage responsible drinking, and expect that you’ll abide by the local laws regarding alcohol consumption. The sex tourism industry is known to exploit vulnerable people and have negative consequences on communities, including undermining the development of sustainable tourism. For this reason, patronising sex workers will not be tolerated on our trips. By travelling with us you are agreeing to adhere to these rules. Your group leader has the right to remove any member of the group for breaking any of these rules, with no right of refund. If you feel that someone is behaving inappropriately while travelling with us, please inform your tour leader or local guide immediately. Alternatively, contact us on the emergency contact number detailed in the Problems and Emergency Contact section of this Essential Trip Information.

    Feedback

    After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/feedback/

    Emergency contact

    While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip. We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager. You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete. For general enquiries or questions about your booking, please contact your agent or adventure specialist, or visit us at www.intrepidtravel.com/contact-us In case of a genuine crisis or emergency, you can reach our local operator on the number below. Intrepid’s Local Operator: +861064067328 Intrepid’s Local Operator: +99893 3337248, +99891 5206833 Intrepid’s Local Operator: +996555303025 Intrepid’s Local Operator: +86 10 6406 7328.

    Responsible travel

    Our Responsible Travel Policy outlines our commitment to preserving the environment, supporting local communities, protecting the vulnerable and giving back to the places we travel. All our trip leaders, suppliers and staff are trained on these principles, and are core to us delivering sustainable, experience-rich travel. Explore the different parts of our Responsible Travel Policy by visiting: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/responsible-travel http://www.intrepidtravel.com/ourtrips/rt/responsibletraveller LOCAL DRESS: As with everywhere we travel, we strongly recommend wearing modest clothing in China (ie. covering shoulders and wearing shorts or skirts to the knee) both for your own comfort, and to respect that standards may be more conservative than in your home country, especially outside of major cities. LOCAL CUSTOMS: It's always a good idea to learn something about local customs before you travel, and visiting China is no exception. Your leader will be on hand to guide you through cultural differences during your trip, but here are some tips to get you started: https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventures/china-etiquette-guide/ LOCAL DRESS We recommend that you dress respectfully at all stages of the trip especially when in and around religious sites. In Central Asia both men and women generally dress very conservatively by covering their legs and shoulders. Women are advised to cover their heads when entering functioning Orthodox churches and mosques, while men should remove their hats.

    The Intrepid Foundation

    Help us change thousands of lives by creating meaningful work and supporting skills training in communities around the world. The Intrepid Foundation is the not-for-profit for Intrepid Group. We work with local organisations around the world to improve the livelihoods of vulnerable individuals and communities through sustainable travel experiences. With our travellers’ help, we’ve contributed more than AU $6 million to over 100 community organisations since 2002. Did you know that tourism is one of the biggest contributors to the global economy, making up 1 out of every 10 jobs? That’s why we support local projects that create meaningful jobs and give people the skills they need to work in the destinations we take you to. And it’s why we exist – to make it easy for travellers to give back to the communities and places they’ve been in an effective and meaningful way. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation are matched by Intrepid Group dollar for dollar (up to AU$10,000 per donor and AU$500,000 in total each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And because Intrepid Group covers all administration costs, every cent goes directly to the projects. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information about the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or visit our website: http://www.theintrepidfoundation.org/

    Accommodation notes

    OCCASIONAL ALTERNATIVE ACCOMMODATION The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances. TWIN SHARE / MULTI SHARE BASIS Accommodation on this trip is on a twin/multishare basis. Please note there may be times where facilities will be shared rather than ensuite and rare occasions when you share a room with passengers travelling on a different Intrepid trip than your own. CHECK-IN TIME Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination. PRE/POST TRIP ACCOMMODATION If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (subject to availability), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights. HARD SLEEPER TRAINS CHINA: We use hard sleeper class trains for most of our overnight train journeys in China. These are not as rough as they sound - compartments are open-plan, clean, with padded berths (6 to a compartment) and sheets, a blanket/quilt & pillow provided. We recommend bringing your own sleeping sheet if you are concerned about the quality/cleanliness of sheets being not what you are used to. Most trains have a dining carriage where meals or snacks are available and all have hot water in each carriage for tea and instant noodles. While we aim to have our groups staying together there may be times where due to ticket availability the group will be staying in different compartments and carriages. While railway services are rapidly being modernised in China, some train journeys on less frequented routes may use older rolling stock and the carriages of a more basic standard. HOMESTAYS: Please note that at our homestays you might be required to share a room with people of other genders, or with your leader. Because we stay at real people's homes, beds might be pull-out couches or mattresses on the floor, or even a yurt in their backyard. Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses, yurts and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only or no bathroom facilities.

    Travel insurance

    Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects. When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader. If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country. http://www.intrepidtravel.com/insurance.php

    Your fellow travellers

    As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. SINGLE TRAVELLERS: Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Essential Trip Information. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

    Itinerary disclaimer

    ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

    Accommodation

    Hotel (31 nts),Overnight Sleeper Train (2 nts),Guesthouse/Homestay (5 nts),Yurt (1 nt),Camping (1 nt)

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