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The tropical southern reaches of the Yunnan province forms the furthest, deepest regions of the Chinese empire. The history of the region is peppered with proud and distinct minority peoples, an ancient tradition of growing China’s fourth and lesser known variety of tea, “Pu’er”, a rich and fragrant tea that works wonderfully as a digestive and, of course, as a vital link in the Southeast Asian ‘Southern Silk Road’, trading jade, tea and silk between Burma, China, Laos and Thailand. Visitors to the region find themselves immediately slowing down to the pace of life which the local people have lived by for millennia.
The five ‘stans of Central Asia – Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan & Kazakhstan – must rank amongst some of the world’s least visited and least well-known destinations, making this trip a true journey of discovery. Offering an incredible diversity of both scenery and culture – from the architectural wonders of Uzbekistan’s Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva to the epic scenery of the Tien Shan ‘Mountains of Heaven’ – we’ll cross vast deserts and mighty rivers and experience local hospitality in homestays in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan. For much of the time we’ll be following ancient trade routes and discovering the remains of a bygone age but we will also experience the Central Asia of today from the bizarre white-marble city of Ashgabat to the cosmopolitan cities of Tashkent and Almaty. This is the perfect trip for anyone who has ever looked at a map and wondered exactly what the area described by Colin Thubron as being The Lost Heart Of Asia was really like. Come and discover it for yourself.
In Afghanistan’s distant north-eastern corner lies the Wakhan corridor. This narrow strip of land once formed the buffer zone between the British and Russian Empires and was of immense strategic importance during the 19th century Great Game. Today the area is inhabited predominantly by Wakhi herdsmen and is not only remote and peaceful, but is also blessed with some of the finest mountain scenery the world has to offer. From Dushanbe in Tajikistan, we will first travel into the Tajik Pamir to witness life here before heading to the Afghan border and into the Wakhan Valley. We will make our way slowly up the valley, visiting villages, taking some day walks and enjoying some traditional Afghan hospitality. We will stay in basic guesthouses throughout our time in Afghanistan as we discover the delights of this famed region. This is a trip right out there on the edge of civilisation: we will find no mobile reception, internet access or even electricity for the most part! What we will experience here though takes us back to another century when people lived in a very different way – unlike so many you hear about, this trip is a true adventure of a life time.
Pakistan is home to some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world, with thriving cities, colourful markets and warm hospitality. While Pakistan is often painted in a negative light in the news, we believe that most areas in Pakistan – particularly around Chitral and the mountains of the north – pose little or no danger within the current geopolitical climate. A trip to this part of the world is bound to excite even the worldliest travellers. On this amazing journey along the Northwest Frontier you will drive up from the capital Islamabad, through stunningly spectacular scenery, to the ancient kingdom of Chitral. Here we will spend two days with the Kalash before heading on over the Shandur Pass to one of the most beautiful places on earth, Hunza. We will complete our circuit by returning to the Islamabad via the Buddhist University town of Taxila.
Pakistan is home to some of the most spectacular mountain scenery in the world, thriving cities, colourful markets and warm hospitality, a trip to this part of the world is bound to excite even the worldliest travellers. Having run trips here for more than a decade, we understand the political complexities of travelling to this fascinating country and our paramount consideration has always been the safety of our clients. Despite the negative images painted by the press, we believe that areas in Pakistan – particularly around the mountains of the north – pose little or no danger within the current climate. On this tour you’ll get to see it all as you travel on an in-depth journey from the plains through the mountains of the north; from the Babusa Pass and Kaghan Valley to the high-altitude Dosai Plateau; from the surreal landscapes of Skardu to the towering Nangha Parbat at Fairy Meadows and majestic Rakaposhi in Hunza; and from the forts of Baltit, Mastuj and Chitral to the otherworldly valleys of the Kalash – this is a trip that gives you everything. With great walks, interesting historical sites and fascinating human culture this is a trip that has it all.
Kashmir. A name that conjures up visions of serene valleys and “heaven on earth. For years out of bounds but has been welcoming visitors for the last decade. This unique trip to Kashmir starts in earnest from neighbouring Ladakh with its strong Tibetan Buddhist influences. This tour literally takes the high road, Nubra Valley has the world's highest drivable pass, via Lamayuru and the Zanskar Valley – to Srinagar and its beautiful alpine mountains and lakes. This itinerary is perfect for those with a real sense of adventure!
China, Pakistan & India – This totally unique itinerary takes us on a wonderful journey along the southern branch of the Old Silk Road. Starting in Kashgar where we will witness the famous Yakshmbe Bazaar – otherwise known as the Sunday Market – we will continue through the stunning mountains of northern Pakistan to the tranquil foothills of the Indian Himalayas. On a journey that traders, warriors, poets and pilgrims have been taking for millennia we will drive the famous Karakoram Highway – the eighth wonder of the world – through Hunza and the beautiful Fairy Meadows and on to Lahore. From here we will cross the border to the Sikh’s holy city of Amritsar, visit the Golden Temple and then head to the mythical land of Kashmir to relax in the mellow forest-clad mountains and on the region's tranquil lakes. All in all, this is an amazing adventure: a journey through a part of the world that will stay with you long after you have finished your travels…
For centuries Tibet remained the inaccessible goal of numerous intrepid, determined and hardy explorers. While Lhasa is no longer a secret city, it remains mystical, and the ancient route west along the top of the Himalayas to the desert oasis of Kashgar is hardly ever travelled beyond the sacred Mountain of Kailash – the source of four great holy rivers, and an opportunity for us to join local pilgrims in a stunning 3-day circumambulation. It is remote and wild with some fascinating sights and truly spectacular scenery. The long forbidden and desolate Aksai Chin, a corner of the high plateau annexed by China from India, almost without them noticing, has remained a political barrier for years. It is now traversable, and this land of ancient kingdoms where herds of wild ass (Kiang) roam and eagles soar high above the immense landscape is waiting to be explored.
Experience the lesser known side of Nepal. The quieter, hidden and more local side. Uncover the soul of this welcoming, warm country as you spend time living with locals in remote rural villages surrounded by lush rice paddies and ancient temples, be blessed by a Tibetan Lama and embrace the magic of an evening aarti ceremony on the banks of the holy Bagmati River. Search for the elusive rhino on elephant back as you explore Chitwan National Park whilst also taking time to understand and appreciate the local Tharu culture. Cook with locals learn their daily way of life. This journey also introduces you to the mysterious and intriguing monastic life where you will better understand and appreciate how the Kagyu and Nyingma Traditions of Tibetan Buddhism are lived. The perfect journey for those who are seeking to discover the off beat and local side to a destination as beautiful and enigmatic as Nepal.
Landlocked and laid-back, Laos has always been considered one of the hidden gems of Southeast Asia. Located in the heart of Indochina, it has somehow managed to avoid the touristic attention received by neighbouring Cambodia and Vietnam, and remains untouched by modern demands. Its beauty lies in the gentle Lao people, century-old heritage, and its lush, pristine landscapes. It's a land of mountains, mists and untamed natural beauty, making it one of the few unspoilt destinations in the region. This trip showcases the hidden charms of Laos, from its rich paddy fields, fertile valleys and striking mountains to the mighty Mekong River. Visiting enigmatic sites such as the Plain of Jars, remote caves crammed full of Buddhist icons, thought-provoking community projects and a plethora of natural wonders, we'll explore every facet of this fascinating country.