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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: To Besham; The Karakoram Highway
In the morning we leave for Besham, driving through the lush green monsoon fed hills of Hazara following the Indus River, which meets the Karakoram Highway just before the Town of Besham. You will experience a rapidly changing variety of landscapes and tribal settlements along the way.
Day 3: Scenic drive to Gilgit; First Century Petroglyphs
After breakfast we depart on our long but stunning drive to Gilgit. We continue along the Karakoram Highway, with frequent scenic photos stops. Upon arrival in Chilas, we stop for lunch. Chilas is a small bazaar town from where we can glimpse petroglyphs dating back 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: To Shigar; Gateway to the World's Highest Mountain Ranges
After breakfast we visit the 7th Century Buddha carving at Karga Nala by jeep. We later return to our bus and proceed to Skardu. We temporarily leave the Karakoram Highway at the confluence of the Indus and Gilgit Rivers and turn eastwards to Skardu.
Day 5: Sites of 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.
Day 6: To Skardu a.k.a. Little Tibet
After breakfast, we depart for Skardu, the capital of Baltistan and is the gateway to the beautiful trekking routes in the Karakoram mountain range. Skardu is also known as "Little Tibet" and the local language is called Balti, which is spoken in Baltistan, Kargil and Ladakh regions in India. This morning we visit the local bazaar followed by lunch at a local restaurant.
Day 7: To Hunza Valley a.k.a Shangri-La
We have an early morning departure for the Hunza Valley driving along the Indus River, stopping in Gilgit for lunch. After lunch, we visit the 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 stop at a viewpoint above Altit Fort and Altit Village. Altit Village is one of three ancient villages of Hunza Valley, which has retained its old traditional homes.
Day 9: Hunza, Baltit Fort, to Gulmit
This morning we visit the almost 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. It 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 lunch make our way to the newly developed Ata Abad Lake. We enjoy a scenic boat ride on the lake with spectacular views of the Gojal Valley and the snow covered peaks along the Ata Abad Lake enroute to Passu. Upon our arrival in Passu (time permitting) we will visit families at the Women"s Embroidery Centre at the Passu Village.
Day 10: Khunjerab Pass - Highest International Border Crossing in the World
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, that at 4,730m (15,372ft), is the highest international border crossing in the world and has spectacular mountain views.
Day 11: To Kashgar via Karakul Lake & 2 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. Dinner and overnight in Kashgar.
Day 12: Kashgar - Id Kah Mosque & Sites
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. Dinner and overnight in Kashgar.
Day 13: Ancient Kashgar Market
Today we visit the fabulous market in Kashgar. This bazaar is the destination for a variety of colorful Central Asian nationalities that 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: Stunning scenery of 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 our lakeside hotel as we prepare to continue on to Bishkek the following day. Dinner and overnight in Cholpan Ata, Lake Issyk-kul.
Day 16: To 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.
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.
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 Tour
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 can savor our experiences along the Silk Road at our Farewell 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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