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Day 1: Arrive in Islamabad, Pakistan
Upon arrival in Islamabad, you are met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. The rest of the day is free to relax and recover from the long flights to Pakistan.
Day 2: Islamabad, to Besham
In the morning we have a long drive to Besham, driving through the lush green monsoon-fed hills of Hazara and alongside the Indus River which meets the Karakoram Highway shortly before the town of Besham. We enjoy this scenic and interesting route with a rapidly changing variety of landscape and tribal settlements.
Day 3: Besham, to Gilgit
After breakfast we depart on our long scenic drive to Gilgit. Continuing along the Karakoram Highway, we will stop frequently for scenic photos. Upon arrival in Chilas, we stop for lunch. Chilas is a small bazaar town from where we can glimpse petroglyphs dating to the 1st century BC. In addition, intricate inscriptions and carvings appear on hundreds of rocks along the bank of the Indus River.
Day 4: Gilgit, to Shigar
After breakfast we go by jeep to the 7th Century Buddha carving at Karga Nala. After our visit we proceed to Skardu by bus. After an hour drive we leave the Karakoram Highway at the confluence of the Indus and Gilgit Rivers and turn eastwards to Skardu.
Day 5: Shigar
In the morning we visit Shigar Village to see the 14th century Amburiq Mosque. One of the most ancient mosques in the Shigar Valley, it was built by the Amir Kabir Syed Ali Hamdani, the first Islamic preacher in Baltistan who converted the majority of the people to Islam. Stroll around in the village and visit the small local bazaar and the intricate Khanqa-e-Moallah Mosque. In the afternoon relax or enjoy an optional hike in the Shigar Valley. Dinner and overnight stay at the Shigar Fort Residence.
Day 6: Shigar, to Skardu
Depart Skardu Town to visit the local bazaar. Lunch at a local restaurant.
Day 7: Shangrila, to Hunza Valley
Early morning departure for Karimabad via Gilgit, driving along the Indus River. The road to Gilgit up to the point where it merges into the Karakoram Highway is comparatively narrow and bumpy, with several steep ascents and descents. We have lunch in Gilgit. After lunch we visit Gilgit Bazaar and a suspension bridge dating from the Raj era, which is considered to be one of the longest suspension bridges in Asia.
Day 8: Hunza Valley, Eagle's Nest
On our jeep excursion today we visit Duiker 9514 ft (2,900 meters), a view point above Altit Fort and Altit Village. Altit Village is one of three ancient villages of Hunza Valley which has retained its old traditional houses.
Day 9: Hunza, Baltit Fort, to Gulmit
This morning we visit the 765 year old Baltit fort - a Tibetan style fort built by the Balti artisans. The fort was built as a dowry when a Balti Princess married a Prince of Hunza, and remained the residence of the local ruler until a new residence was built in 1950. The fort was later restored as a historical building. After a short drive to Gulmit, we check in and then have lunch in a local house with food served the traditional way.
Day 10: Khunjerab Pass to Tashkurgan
Today is a long day as we drive over the Khunjerab Pass into China along the Karakoram Highway. This is a fantastic trip through a high pass which at 4,730m (15,372ft), is the highest international border crossing in the world and has spectacular mountain views.
Day 11: Drive to Kashgar, Kara-Kul Lake, Pamir Mountain Giants
This morning we drive to Kashgar, stopping to visit Kara-Kul Lake located between China's two Pamir mountain giants, Mustagh Ata, 24,524 ft (7475 m) and Kongur, 25,086 ft (7646 m). We visit a small village along the way and reach Kashgar in the afternoon, where we settle into our hotel for the next three nights.
Day 12: Kashgar - Id Kah Mosque, Market
A full day to explore the interesting city of Kashgar. In the morning, we explore a cottage industry market, a handicraft factory and the central mosque, Id Kah. In the afternoon, we visit a beautiful mausoleum and wander the streets of the old city. Overnight in Kashgar.
Day 13: Kashgar Market
Today we visit the fabulous market in Kashgar. This bazaar is the destination for a variety of colorful Central Asian nationalities who gather to barter everything from rugs to radios to horses.
Day 14: Drive to Naryn, Kyrgyzstan
We depart Kashgar for the short drive to China's western border with Kyrgyzstan. At the border, we change vehicles for our long drive through the beautiful rural landscape of Kyrgyzstan to the town of Naryn.
Day 15: Lake Issyk-Kul
We drive from Naryn to the shores of Lake Issyk-Kul, the largest lake in Kyrgyzstan and surely its most beautiful. We relax and take in the view from a lakeside 'spa' as we prepare to continue on to Bishkek the following day. Overnight in Cholpan Ata.
Day 16: Bishkek via Altan Mountains
We continue our drive through Kyrgyzstan heading west to the pleasant capital city of Bishkek. The snow-covered 13,000 ft (3962 m) peaks of the Kyrgyz Altan Range are only 25 miles from the city and the melting snow from these mountains provides a continuous source of water, feeding the abundant trees within the city.
Day 17: Fly to Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Today we fly to Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan. Tashkent rightfully claims to be the biggest and most cosmopolitan city of Central Asia.
Day 18: Fly to Urgench, Walled City of Khiva
In the morning, we fly to Urgench, followed by an excursion to the fabled city of Khiva. A trip to Khiva is a journey back in time. The town's mud streets and inward looking squares are so well preserved it feels like a film set.
Day 19: Drive to Bukhara via the Kyzylkum Desert
A full day's drive across the Kyzylkum Desert takes us to Bukhara, regarded by many to be one of the most cultural and evocative cities in the world.
Day 20: Ancient Monuments of Bukhara
A full day to explore the beauty and history of Bukhara; a city rich in historical monuments and dramatic architecture. Our full day tour includes the 1000-year-old tomb of Ismail Samani, the founder of the Samanid Dynasty and the richly-decorated Bolokhauz Mosque - a one time center of the Emirs of Bukhara.
Day 21: To Samarkand
A four hour drive from Bukhara takes us to Samarkand - the Eastern capital of the ancient world. Set on the edge of the Kyzylkum Desert within sight of two mountain ranges, and watered by the Zerafshan River running between them, Samarkand has provided a home to people for the last 10,000 years! Many have called Samarkand the most inspiring city in the world, as all visitors are enchanted by its rich and romantic history. Overnight in Samarkand.
Day 22: Samarkand - Registan Square
In Samarkand we visit the famous Registan Square, Ulughbek's Observatory, the madrassas Shir-Dor and Tillya-Kari, as well as one of the world's most significant monuments - the Mosque of Bibi Khanym.
Day 23: Tashkent City Tour - Navoi Opera and Ballet Theater
This morning we drive from Samarkand to Tashkent. On arrival we embark on a city tour, which includes a visit to the Museum of Applied Arts. Tonight we enjoy an evening performance at the Navoi Opera & Ballet Theater and savor our experiences along the Silk Road at our final dinner. Overnight in Tashkent.
Day 24: Depart Tashkent
Tour arrangements conclude in Tashkent. We transfer to the airport to connect with departing flights.
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