All, Cultural Trails, Wild Trails

Small group:Ningxia and Silk Corridor – Following Tangut Footsteps

All, Cultural Trails, Wild Trails

Small group:Ningxia and Silk Corridor – Following Tangut Footsteps

All, Cultural Trails, Wild Trails

Small group:Ningxia and Silk Corridor – Following Tangut Footsteps

  • Visit the Western Xia Imperial Tombs, the best-preserved historic cultural heritage representing the Tangut civilization at the largest scale and in the highest rank.
  • Deep into Badain Jaran Desert, explore the abandoned Western Xia fortress – Khara Khoto, also known as the Black City. It was deserted for 700 years and until in 1907 A.D Russia explorers excavated and looted amount of valuable scriptures and antiques from the city.
  • Soak up the dramatic natural landscapes of the vast Badain Jaran Desert by Jeep;
  • Marvel at magnificent Mogao Caves, and its “Sister Cave” of Yulin Cave, appreciate Buddhist art treasures;
  • Special offer: Wine tasting at the foot of Helan Mountain;
  • Private coach and guide service;
  • Well selected hotels;
  • Taste local dishes;

Ningxia, China

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Day 1

ARRIVAL YINCHUAN

We start our 10-day adventure in the city of Yinchuan, a strategic point on the Silk Road where the desert, mountains and plains converge at the Yellow River in the north-west region of the country. At the airport, we will be met by our guide and transferred directly to check-in to the hotel. In the afternoon, we start our exploration by taking a step back in time at the Ningxia Museum which details the city’s rich cultural melting pot of Han, Hui, Manchu Mongolian and Chaoxian influences. This fascinating facility features a comprehensive collection of over 40,000 cultural relics spread across 12 exhibition rooms and English language audio guides are available. We then return to the hotel in time for a buffet style dinner.

Food

-/-/D

Accommodation

5 star hotel

Day 2

YINCHUAN

Marvel at the magnificent Western Xia Imperial Tombs and ancient rock carvings ahead of an afternoon of wine tasting.

After breakfast, we set off to the tombs which dominate a 50 sq-km space at the foot of the Helan Mountains in the vast Gobi Desert. The tombs served as the mausoleums of Western Xia dynasty emperors and the site comprises nine imperial mausoleums, 254 subordinate tombs, an architectural complex and more than 10 brick-and-tile kiln sites. We then set off in search of the tens of thousands of ancient rock carvings found on the slopes of Helanshan. These date back over 6,000 years and they were left by nomadic tribes who populated the area. We then enjoy a well-deserved lunch and spend the afternoon taking a guided tour of Yuanshi Vineyard Wine Cellar, as local wine production is a highlight of modern Ningxia traditions. This includes three wine tastings served with biscuits. We then return to the hotel, and dinner will be on your own choice.

Food

B/L/-

Accommodation

5 star hotel

Day 3

YINCHUAN / ZHONGWEI/ZHANGYE

After breakfast, we check-out and head to Tongxin County, enjoy lunch at a Muslim restaurant in Tongxin. Next, we visit the Grand Tongxin Mosque which dates back to the early years of the Ming dynasty and this structure blends Hui and Han culture. We then continue to Zhongwei, where we explore Gaomiao Temple, a multi-faith shrine which caters to the religions of Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism.

After a local dinner, take the night train to Zhangye in central Gansu( T303 23:16-05:23+1, or similar). Overnight on train with soft sleepers.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

Train SOFT SLEEPER

Day 4

ZHANGYE/BADAIN JARAN DESERT

Today’s itinerary will bring us in the shadow of the reclining Buddha at Dafo Temple. This is China’s largest reclining Buddha and this 12th century statue stretches an impressive 35 metres. We then drive to Danxia Landform Geopark on a 45 minute, 39 km journey. This destination is home to incredible ‘rainbow mountains,’ layers of different coloured sandstone and minerals that rise and fall like waves across the surreal landscape. The colourful rolling hills span about 300 sq-km and they are an incredible natural phenomenon formed over 24 million years.Today we enjoy a local lunch with Yugu Minority dancing show.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

3 star hotel

Day 5

BADAIN JARAN DESERT / ALASHANYOUQI

Soak up the dramatic natural landscapes of the vast Badain Desert. After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and start our incredible desert exploration by Jeep. Badan spans 49,000 sq-km, making it China’s third largest desert. It is also home to some of the world’s highest dunes, with some towering over 500 metres. The highest dune, Bilutu, stands as the third highest dune in the world. The desert is also dotted with over 100 picturesque lakes, hence the name of Badan, which translates in Mongolian as ‘mysterious lakes.’ We enjoy lunch with some local families who live on the banks of the lakes and then continue with our desert exploration. Afterward, drive to Alashanyouqi for overnight and taste a Mongolian style dinner at hotel.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

4 star hotel

Day 6

ALASHANYOUQI/EJINA QI

Today’s road trip is to the ancient city of Khara Khoto. After breakfast, we check-out and hit the road on an 8.5 hour, 460 km road trip. En route, we stop at Haishen Chulu Stone Forest and drive into the park to enjoy a picnic in the shadows of the spectacular stone forest towers that have formed over millions of years. We then continue to Khara Khoto, a ruined Tangut city that dates back to 1032. This was abandoned in the 14th century and it was buried under centuries of sand storms until it was re-discovered in 1907. We check-in to a government four-star (local rating) hotel in this destination, with time to refresh ahead of dinner.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

3 star hotel

Day 7

EJINA QI / KHARA KHOTO / JIAYUGUAN

After breakfast, we check out of the hotel and start to explore the incredible site of Khara Khoto, which is also known as the Black City. Home to forests and lakes, Khara Khoto was founded in 1032 and it became a thriving centre of western Xia commerce in the 11th century. This walled fortress was taken by Genghis Khan, the ruler of the Mongol Empire and it continued to thrive under Mongolian rule until the 14th century when it was abandoned and then discovered by explorers in 1907. The site was excavated between 1927 and 1931 and over 2,000 books, scrolls and manuscripts in the Tangut language were recovered. We can explore the remains inside the nine metre-high walled city, whose outer walls ran about 421 metres east-to-west and 374 metres north-to-south, followed by drive to Jiayuguan(410 kilometers, 6 hours).The Jiayuguan section of the Great Wall dates back to the Ming Dynasty and it took 168 years to build. It served as a fortress to protect vulnerable entry points in a desert valley which is flanked by rugged mountains. The pass marks the end of Imperial China and the start of the Silk Road which connected China with the West.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

4 star hotel

Day 8

JIAYUGUAN / DUNHUANG

After breakfast, we set off on a four hour, 375 km drive to Dunhuang. En route we visit Yulin Caves, built since North Wei Dynasty (356AD-534AD), listed as UNESCO Cultural Site. Although the area of murals is not as large as Mogao Caves, many murals are more exquisite and delicate than Mogao Grottoes. Among them, cave 25 is known as the most prominent cave in the middle Tang Dynasty, and it is also one of the most excellent work in Dunhuang frescoes. In addition to cave 25, the mural about the Monk Xuanzang in cave 3 is also a representative work during Xixia Period.

Arrive in Dunhuang and check into the hotel for a rest. Dinner will be at leisure, feel free to explore the local cuisine!

Food

B/L/-

Accommodation

4 star hotel

Day 9

DUNHUANG

Prepare to be blown away by two magnificent natural wonders. After breakfast, we spend the morning exploring the Mogao Caves, a Buddhist complex of 492 ornate grottoes carved into cliffs above the Dachuan River. These intricate structures were created from the 4th century onwards. We then return to the hotel for lunch, before driving to Dunhuang Yadan National Geologic Park. This Geopark is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site and Global Geopark, awarded in recognition of its importance in history as a major point on the Silk Road, as well as the uniqueness of the landscape. We will explore the park by Jeep and see the collection of Yadan landforms that rise from the Gobi Desert – like a scene from another planet. We then return to our accommodation with time to refresh before being served a feisty farewell dinner.

Food

B/L/D

Accommodation

4 star hotel

Day 10

DUNHUANG DEPARTURE

At leisure until transfer to airport.

Food

B/-/-

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