There are 2 departure dates in 2017
17 – 26 June & 24 August – 1 September
• Cycle between the towering peaks of the Pamir
• Hike to the base camp of Mt. Muztaghata
• Eat a traditional Tajik meal in a yurt
• Camp alongside Lake Karakul
• Explore Uyghur culture in the alleyways of Kashgar
• Wander the ancient Stone Fort in Tashkorgan
• Cycle through Tashkorgan’s largest wetland
Day 1: Assemble in Kashgar
Arrival in Kashgar, an ancient Silk Road stop on the western edge of China’s Xinjiang region. You will be met by our team and transported to our hotel in the city center.
Day 2: Travel to Tashkorgan
At 9:00am Beijing time we will pack our bikes on a truck and board the bus that will drive us south out of Kashgar, up through the mountains into the small town of Tashkurgan. Once we arrive, we will check into our hotel and have a relatively relaxing evening to allow our bodies to acclimatize to Tashkurgan’s 10,500 ft. elevation.
Day 3: Cycle the Tagharma Wetland – 70km
After a quick breakfast at our hotel, we begin our first day of cycling, doing a round-trip outing around the Tagharma highland wetland just north of Tashkurgan. Cycling difficulty is low and non-technical as our route is mostly flat and on paved roads.
We will stop and enjoy a packed-lunch along our route and return to Tashkurgan in the early afternoon for dinner and time to explore the town.
Day 4: Cycle around the Tashkurgan Wetland – 50km
After breakfast, we will enjoy a 50km half-day cycle trip around the picturesque grassland adjacent to the town of Tashkurgan. After completing the cycle trip for the day, we will walk down to the grassland where we will relax in one of the many nomadic dwellings known as “yurts”. It is here that we will be hosted by a local Tajik family and served a traditional Tajik meal. The afternoon and evening time will be spent experiencing one of many possible facets of Tajik culture including a possible wedding celebration or a traditional sport on horseback.
Day 5: Cycle to Subash – 85km
We leave Tashkurgan early and begin our journey north toward Kashgar, cycling 85km to Subash Village. This will be our most strenuous day of cycling, as the 35km before we reach the pass are all uphill. The reward, however, is one of the most visually spectacular stretches of highway and a rapid descent of switchbacks at high speeds.
We will eat a packed lunch en-route and by late afternoon we should arrive at our destination – a small, Kyrgyz villate at the base of Muztaghata mountain – where we will spend the night sleeping in yurts.
Day 6: Muztaghata Base Camp Trek
Hanging up the cycling shoes for the day, we strap on our hiking boots and start on the 23km round-trip trek to the base camp of Mt. Muztaghata (14,600 ft). Throughout the entire hike, we will have an up-close view of some of Muztaghata’s many spectacular glaciers.
A hearty lunch is provided by the base camp cook before we trek back down the mountain, taking time to visit the head of one of the glaciers. The night will be spent in our yurts within the Kyrgyz village.
Day 7: Rest Day at Karakul Lake – 15km
After breakfast, we get back on the bikes for a short cycle to Lake Karakul. This scenic glacial lake, covering a little less than 5 square km, is nestled between the towering Muztaghata and Kongur peaks. Here we can choose to explore the lake on foot or on the back of a horse. We will set up tents close to the water where views of the mountains and the clear, starry night are breathtaking.
Day 8: Descent to Oytagh – 100km
We will continue to cycle toward Kashgar during this 100km downhill stretch. Aside from Mt. Kongur, we will also be passing by White Sands Lake and the colorful Ghez River Canyon. Once we reach Oytagh, our final destination for the day, we will setup camp and eat a hot meal cooked at our campsite.
Day 9: Cycle to Kashgar – 105km
Early in the morning, we eat breakfast and break camp. Once we cycle out of the Ghez canyon and into the wide-open Tarim Basin, we’ll be stopping for a hearty Uyghur lunch at the oasis village of Upal. Our final leg of the journey is on flat, paved roads which lead to Kashgar where we will end our trip with a victory photo shoot at the historic Id-Kah Mosque. Dinner will be at a restaurant and we will relax with a well-deserved swim at our hotel in town.
Price per person:
6 pax – $1997
Singe supplement – $140
Ask about discounts for larger groups
- Giant or Merida-brand mountain bikes that are top quality and well-maintained
- Hotel accommodation in both Tashkorgan and Kashgar (3-4 star hotels)
- Two nights in a traditional yurt at Subash
- Tent stay at Karakul and Oytagh (inc. sleeping bags, mats, tents and all cooking utensils)
- Transportation via air conditioned bus from Kashgar to Tashkurgan
- A support vehicle that will trail us at all times with medical supplies, water and food
- Guides who speak English, Mandarin and Uyghur, the local dialect
- All breakfasts, lunches and dinners throughout the tour
- All international and domestic flights
- Medical insurance (compulsory)
- Additional travel in and around Xinjiang
Welcome to Xinjiang
China’s far western region of Xinjiang is home to over 23 million inhabitants that include a number of different ethnic groups like the Uyghur, Kazakh, Hui, Kyrgyz and Tajik. It is China’s largest region by land area – so large, in fact, that you could fit the entire country of France inside three times! – and yet it is home to only 1.5% of China’s total population. For centuries, caravans of merchants would march across Xinjiang’s vast desert and climb its tall mountains while following along the ancient Silk Road. Today, the vast oil reserves drive much of the economy while tourism continues to attract visitors interested in the Silk Road history. Many Chinese still consider Xinjiang to be the gorgeous, undiscovered “wild west” of China. While Xinjiang has been in the international spotlight for its ethnic tension, tourists have been unaffected and tourism in the region continues to grow at a rapid pace.
Karakoram highway: did you know?
• The entire highway is 1,300 km (800 mi) and only a third of it is on the China side.
• It is one of the most expensive highways ever built – both in money and human lives.
• Although completed in 1978, it wasn’t completely opened to foreigners
• It is the highest paved international road in the world.
Because we will be spending time camping at 4,000m (13,100 ft) and descending to Kashgar at 1400m (4,600 ft), we must be prepared for a broad range of temperatures. Expect to bring clothes to accommodate cold nights, possibly rain and hot summer days. Although winters around Tashkorgan are long and cold, the summer months are usually warm and comfortable with temperatures not exceeding 26°C (80°F) during the day. Nights, however, can dip as low as 7°C (45°F), which won’t be a problem while we’re staying in a hotel, but should be considered as you pack for camping along the highway.
As we get closer to Kashgar, temperatures begin to rise, averaging between 26°C (80°F) to 32°C (90°F). Rain is possible but not common. A simple waterproof jacket for the journey should suffice if needed.
Should you have specific dietary requirements such as allergies or intolerances, we ask that you give us at least 1 month’s advance notice to discuss how we can cater to your specific needs. Please be aware that in Xinjiang, a relatively remote part of China, certain dietary requirements are difficult or even impossible to accommodate. We will work with you as best we can to make sure you get what you need but there are some limited cases where those with certain dietary requirements will be asked to provide their own food. We also ask that if you have severe or life-threatening allergies that you travel with all the necessary medications and be capable of self-administering.
Altus Expeditions provides its own set of Giant or Merida brand mountain bikes that are top quality and well maintained. We work with each participant individually to pair them with a suitable bike and make the necessary adjustments to ensure a comfortable ride. Throughout the journey, should further adjustments or repairs be necessary, our support vehicle will carry the tools and replacement parts. We also provide all camping gear including tents, mats, burners, cooking utensils, etc. Participants who wish to bring their own gear or bicycle are welcome to do so. Traveling with a bike is not as much hassle as one might think.
Hotel accommodation in both Tashkorgan and Kashgar will be 3-4 star hotels that offer air conditioning, two twin beds and western (seated) toilets. During the nights spent in a traditional yurt and a tent, expect to sleep on the ground with either a pad or local padded blankets.
Health & safety
At all times we will have a support vehicle trailing us with basic medical supplies, food, water and phone communication. Should an emergency arise, we are always within a few hours drive from the nearest hospital or airport.
What we don’t provide
While we strive to make this a burden-free trip for you, there are some details that are not included on the journey such as:
• China visa (necessary for all travelers)
• Airfare costs
• Travel Insurance (compulsory)
• Additional travel in and around Kashgar
• Souvenirs (including photos) obtained during the journey
• Expenses resulting from delays due to inclement weather, road conditions, sickness, injury or government action.