kirghiz nomads khunjerab pass china

Kirghiz nomads near the Khunjerab Pass, China

Kirghiz nomads still live in traditional yurts in the high Pamirs, the lofty peaks that separate western China and Tajikistan. We meet many nomads as we cross the trans-Pamir roads in the footsteps of the Great Game.

Photo by Pam Shandrick

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The Great Game

The Silk Road through the Pamirs & Tian Shan Mountains
Repertory Trip: No Future Dates Set

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 25 days
Arrive: Kashgar, China
Depart: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Lodging: 24 nights in hotels, guest houses
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Walking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Cultural exploration and walking tours, rugged road travel


  • The Silk Road Cities of Kashgar, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Tashkent
  • Visit Kyrgyz nomad yurt camps
  • Breathtaking scenery of the High Pamirs and Tian Shan Mountains

This was a real expedition! For me, a dream come true.Judith M.—Albuquerque, NM

Choosing the Right Trip

We work hard to help you choose the right trip for you, paying attention to your individual interests, abilities, and needs. If you have questions about the level of comfort or any of the activities described in this itinerary, please contact us.


We are proud to have an exceptionally high rate of repeat travelers. For more information, we would be happy to put you in touch with a client who has traveled with us.

Departure Notes

Once you have signed up on the trip, we send a complete packing list, relevant health information, and required travel documents.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  Future dates have not been set for this trip, but you can see the “Itinerary at a Glance” and the “Full Detailed Itinerary” below (there may be small changes to the itinerary for the future departures, and prices will be finalized closer to departure). Contact us to receive early notification of the trip dates. These special trips fill very quickly once the exact dates are set!

Our grand Central Asian odyssey links some of the most far-flung and spectacular destinations of “The Great Game,” as the 19th century diplomatic rivalry between the British Empire and Tsarist Russia was known. With long-time Central Asia explorer Roger Williams, we visit the Silk Road outpost of Kashgar, the awe-inspiring valleys of Kyrgyzstan, lying below the Tian Shan Mountains, then head into mountainous Tajikistan via the rugged 14,042-foot Kizilart Pass. We journey a remote road across Tajikistan’s spell-binding High Pamirs, with its lakes, canyons and massive glaciers, and visit a local Afghan market. Our grand finale is in the fascinating old Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara, and Tashkent. Along the way, we soak up phenomenal mountain scenery and meet the Uighurs, Kirghiz, Tajiks, Uzbeks, and other peoples whose cultures are deeply tied to this desert and mountain realm.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-9
Kashgar, China / Osh, Kyrgyzstan

In Kashgar, an isolated Silk Road oasis with an end-of-the-world feel, we roam the bazaar, explore Karakol Lake and Tashkurgan, then make a spectacular drive into Kyrgyzstan, where we meet Kirghiz nomads and admire views of the Tian Shan Mountains.

Days 10-12
Murgab, Tajikistan / Leyangar

We cross the Kizilart Pass and enter mountainous Tajikistan, visiting shepherds' settlements and enjoying views of Muztagh Ata.

Days 13-19
Khorog, Tajikistan / Dushanbe / Khujand

The Pamir Highway brings us to Khorog, in Tajikistan, and onward to Dushanbe, the capital, where we visit the Tajik National History Museum and Gissar, a Silk Road center of commerce and learning still dominated by its 18th century Ibrahim Beg fortress. Crossing two passes, we continue to Khujand, Tajikistan’s second largest city, founded by Alexander the Great around 2,300 years ago.

Days 20-25
Samarkand, Uzbekistan / Bukhara / Tashkent

Crossing our last border, we enter Uzbekistan and arrive in Samarkand, a city of almost mythic fame, with its soaring minarets and gleaming blue-tiled domes. Our excursions today include Samarkand’s breathtaking main square, the Registan, with its panorama of handsome mosques and 15th century madrassas (religious schools). Our journey continues to Bukhara, once a major stopping point on the Silk Road, and we end our adventure in Tashkent, the capital and one of the oldest cities in Uzbekistan. Depart on Day 25.

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

What the Trip is Like

This trip is rated Level 3, Moderate. While the trip is not expected to be physically strenuous, the rustic accommodations, long travel days, and transportation conditions may be quite demanding. Our expedition travels to areas that have experienced very little tourism. We believe that the most important requirements are a spirit of adventure and the understanding that you are visiting a remote and fascinating region. This is not designed as a hiking trip, but we do hope to have a few exploration walks of several hours during the journey.

Accommodations are in good city hotels and in basic guesthouses, with one night in a homestay and one night in a tented village.

Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included in the program. Continental breakfasts are included at hotels. We usually arrange other meals at local restaurants instead of using the set meals in the hotel. Bottled water is provided throughout the trip. Village food tends to simpler and oilier than city food, but it is also an excellent chance to sample the food in rural areas.

Ground transportation is by bus and jeeps. We have taken local travel times into account in planning the itinerary, though road conditions can change from week to week. While traveling in rural areas, there are few decent public bathroom facilities. We recommend that rather than using local facilities on drives, you do what the locals do and opt for a “nature break” when on road journeys.

Explanation of Trip Levels