Overland Along The Silk Road

Travel the Silk Road from Istanbul to Beijing, tracing the footsteps of adventurers and traders across remote regions of central Asia.

The Pamir Highway


The journey along the iconic Silk Road has to be one of the great overland adventures.

Borders along this ancient route may have changed many times over but the stunning landscapes, rich cultures and the ways of life remain little altered over centuries. 


The name Silk Road, or Silk Route, is a relatively modern term used to refer to the extensive network of interlinking trade routes stretching across Europe, central and south-east Asia, and into northern Africa. 

Many different goods have been traded along the route but, as I’m sure you know, it is from the lucrative silk trade from China that the name derives. 

Which countries will you likely visit?

  • Turkey
  • Georgia
  • Armenia
  • Azerbaijan
  • Turkmenistan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Tajikistan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Kazakhstan
  • China

Some trips also include: 

  • Mongolia
  • Tibet
  • Nepal 

The Basics 

I’ll begin with some basic information about overland trips along the Silk Road, then give details about the countries you be visiting along the way. 

Burana Tower Kyrgyzstan


Duration – From Istanbul to Beijing is generally a 13 to 14 week trip. If you want to include more of China and visit Tibet and Nepal, expect to be away for around 21 weeks. 

The journey can also be done in reverse and at least one company listed below runs trips beginning in London.


Some adventure travel companies offer tours covering sections of the Silk Road, with itineraries of anywhere between 2 and 11 weeks duration.


Accommodation – The percentage of nights spent camping varies from as little as 35% to as high as 75%, so do check trip details. 

Other accommodation is likely to include hostels, guest houses, homestays and standard hotels. 

Further general information about overlanding can be found on the Overland Trips page.


See the Adventure Travel Companies listed below for details of individual trips.


Highlights & Activities

With itineraries differing from trip to trip, the best I can hope to achieve here is to give you a general idea of the places you will visit and the highlights and activities likely to be on offer.

Many excursions and visits will be included in the trip but some activities will be optional extras.


Turkey

Istanbul, the fascinating city that fuses two continents; its major landmarks known the world over.

Selalesi Waterfall


Contrast this with the natural wonderlands of Cappodocia and Goreme, famous for their mystical rock sculptures. 


On route to the Black Sea coast there are many landscapes to explore, historical sights to discover and hidden villages to stumble upon. 


Highlights may include: 

  • Istanbul – Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar & Spice Market
  • Ephesus – explore these amazing ancient ruins
  • Sea kayaking on clear, turquoise seas

See full list


Georgia & Armenia

Follow the Silk Road through the beautiful Caucasus Mountains before dropping into Georgia wine growing region. 

Highlights may include:

  • Trekking & mountain biking in the Caucasus Mountains
  • Inspiring glaciers
  • Bethlemi cave

See full list


Azerbaijan & Turkmenistan

Gorgeous mountain scenery and wonderful Islamic architecture await in Azerbaijan, then it’s a ferry crossing to Turkmenistan where the Silk Road enters the desert. 

Highlights may include: 

  • Sheki - Khan’s summer palace
  • Gobustan - 40,000 year old rock carvings
  • Mud volcanoes

See full list



Uzbekistan

Islamic architecture Uzbekistan

Follow the Silk Road through remote landscapes where nomads still live in traditional felt yurts, visiting medieval cities of winding alleyways and ornate mosques along the way. 

 Highlights may include:

  • Moynoq – former fishing port left isolated by the receding Aral Sea
  • Walled city of Khiva
  • Camel riding

See full list


Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan

Follow the Silk Road through the Tien Shan mountain range, the high peaks sheltering beautiful lakes and valleys of rich pasture.

Highlights may include:

  • Istaravshan – an age old city in the foothills of the Turkistan range
  • The Pamir Highway – the Silk Road route through difficult mountain terrain
  • Trekking

See full list


China & Mongolia

Explore the real China, delving into its history and experiencing the rich natural and cultural diversity along the old Silk Road route as it winds across this vast country.

Camel caravan Mongolia

Highlights may include:

  • Kashgar - bustling market town in Xinjiang province
  • Taklimakan desert bush camp
  • The Great Wall of China

See full list


Tibet

Cross the vast Tibetan plateau, taking time to acclimatise to the high altitude. Marvel at the breathtaking Himalayan mountain scenery, visit isolate villages, cross hidden passes and immerse yourself in Tibetan culture.

Highlights may include:

  • Lhasa - Barkhor Square, Jokhang temple & the impressive Potala Palace
  • Beautiful Lake Nam-tso
  • Wilderness camping in the foothills of the Himalayas

See full list


Nepal

A land of mystery, high adventure and some of the most stunning scenery in the world.

Highlights may include:

  • Trekking
  • Whitewater rafting
  • Bungee jump – one of the world’s highest
  • Bridge swing
  • Canyoning
  • Exciting Kathmandu

Finding the right trip

Kazakh eagle hunter


There can be no denying that to travel the Silk Road across Central Asia is an incredible journey, and it's one I’d love to make some day.

The companies listed below all run excellent trips and everything you need to know prior to booking is well laid out on their websites, so have a browse and start dreaming.

For more active trips in Central Asian countries see the Destinations page.


Adventure Travel Companies offering Overland along The Silk Road

  • Dragoman
  • Endeavour Overland
  • Madventure Travel
  • Odyssey Overland
  • Intrepid




Other useful pages

Insurance - conventional travel insurance doesn’t normally cover adventure travel. Here is some info to help you choose the right insurance and a list of some of the top providers.

Visas If you are travelling outside Europe and have a UK passport, you will very likely need to apply for a visa for the country you want to visit. Find tips and Visa providers.

Useful websites - world weather, time zones, currency converter & lots more.


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