The Great Game

A Grand Central Asian Odyssey
with Roger Williams
Repertory Trip: Next Offered July 16-August 10, 2016 & August 20-September 14, 2016

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: $11,795  
Length: 26 days
Arrive: Kashgar, China
Depart: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Lodging: 22 nights hotels, 2 nights guest houses, 1 night camp
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Walking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Cultural exploration and walking tours, rugged road travel


  • Roam the famed Sunday Market in the Silk Road outpost of Kashgar
  • Experience the breathtaking setting of the Hunza Valley
  • Meet the Uighurs, Hunzakuts, Tajiks, Uzbeks and other Central Asian peoples
  • Cross the spell-binding High Pamirs on the roof of Asia
  • Enjoy one of the great overland journeys of the world

A difficult but wonderful trip. It met with and exceeded all my expectations and fulfilled a lifelong wish to see this part of the world!Jane F.—Naples, FL

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.

Repertory Trip

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered every two to five years.  It will be several years before this journey is offered again. Now is the time to go!

Join Central Asia explorer and Trip Leader Roger Williams to discover the magic of the most far-flung destinations of “the Great Game,” as the 19th century diplomatic rivalry between the British Empire and Tsarist Russia was known. Roger is a veteran of this fabled realm and his long-time friendships here bring us fascinating cultural opportunities as we journey from western China’s Xinjiang Province to northern Pakistan's Hunza Valley, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. We begin in the former Silk Road trading post of Kashgar, with its world-famous Sunday market, then explore dazzling Hunza, known for its spectacular Karakoram Mountains and the warm hospitality of its residents. We then cross the mountains of Kyrgyzstan to Tajikistan on a high, remote road amid the lakes and glaciers of the High Pamirs. One highlight along the way will be gazing into the once-forbidden Wakhan Corridor, a  buffer zone between Tajikistan and Afghanistan created during the Great Game between Russia and Britain. Here the Hindu Kush, Karakoram, and Pamir ranges converge in spectacular fashion and we’ll meet the semi-nomadic Wakhi and Tajik people who herd their yaks beneath snow-capped 20,000-foot peaks. Come along and feast your eyes on phenomenal scenery, visit ancient sites that few travelers ever see, and meet the Uighurs, Hunzakuts, Tajiks, and Wakhis, whose rich cultures are deeply tied to this desert and mountain realm. Note: We do plan to visit the Hunza Valley, but if conditions are not right, our alternative itinerary visit brings us to the former Silk Road hubs of Turpan, Khotan, and Yarkand in China's storied Takla Makan Desert.

Itinerary at a Glance

For a more complete description, Download Full Detailed Itinerary

Days 1-4
Kashgar, China / Tashkurgan

Explore this famously isolated city, launching pad for many Tibet, Pamir, and Karakoram expeditions in the 18th and 19th centuries. We roam the amazing Sunday Bazaar, which still throbs in the heart of Kashgar, and other sites including the green-tiled tomb of Abakh Khodja, a powerful 7th century ruler of Kashgar.  On Day 4, head to beautiful Karakul Lake then over Subashi Pass to Tashkurgan at 12,000 feet.

Days 5-11
Khunjerab Pass / Hunza Valley

Cross the breathtaking Karakorum Mountains into northern Pakistan’s spectacular Hunza Valley, an independent princely state for some 600 years. Hunza’s main town, Karimabad, lies in the shadow majestic snow-covered Rakaposhi (25,501’). In our days here, we visit local homes, tour ancient hilltop forts, enjoy walks along the ancient hand-dug water channels that irrigate the valley’s apricot orchards, and soak up the mountain and glacier views. On Day 11, we head back to Tashkurgan, China.

Days 12-15
Kashgar / Irkishtam Pass, Kyrgyzstan / Murghab Valley, Tajikistan

Returning to Kashgar, we then head to Kyrgyzstan, crossing Irkishtam Pass (9,679’) and contouring below the high Pamirs to Tajikistan, with vistas of Pik Lenin and the snow-capped Pamir Range.  Stunning Pamir panoramas, ancient geoglyphs, and interactions with shepherds make our journey fascinating.

Days 16-25
Khargosh Pass / Wakhan / Khorog / Kala-i-Khum

Traveling along the banks of the Oxus River, we enter the Wakhan region of Tajikistan, where the mighty peaks of the Hindu Kush come into view. The green Wakhan Corridor was created during the Great Game by the British Empire to act as a buffer against Russian ambitions in India. We meet the Wakhi and Tajik people of Wakhan and continue through Badakhshan Province to the pleasant town of Khorog and onward to teh outpost of Kala-i-Khum.

Days 21-26
Dushanbe / Khujend / Tashkent, Uzbekistan

After visiting Dushanbe, the Tajik capital, we enter Uzbekistan and explore Tashkent before departing on Day 26.

Alternative Non-Hunza Itinerary for Days 4-12

If it does not seem wise to visit Hunza for any reason, we instead explore the oasis-cities of the southern Silk Road. We start with Turpan, home to some of the most important Buddhist cave sites in Asia, and the fascinating sites of Khotan, a magnet for Chinese traders even before the Silk Road days, and Yarkand, once an important stop for the Silk Road's cashmere trade.

Days 4-6
Urumqi / Turpan / Bezeqlik Caves

Explore Turpan, set in the Takla Makan Desert and famed for its grapes, melons, and canteloupes. We visit the spectacular Thousand Buddhist Caves at Bezeqlik, dug out of the high cliffs about 400 AD.

Days 7-9
Khotan / Yarkand

Khotan, still a bustling center of silk production on the edge of the Takla Makan Desert, once lay on the Jade Route between China and Mesopotamia, which eventually became the southern branch of the Silk Road. We visit silkworm production facilities and jade-carving centers then journey to Yarkand, an oasis watered by the Yarkand River and a major Silk Road center. In Yarkand's Old Town, we see Uighur craftsmen working in wood and metal andstroll the streets amid traditional food vendors. Yarkand was the capital of the Uighur kingdom in ancient times.

Days 10-12
Kashgar / Tashkurgan

Head to Kashgar for a day to explore the markets, then journey up the Karakorum Highway to beautiful Karakul Lake, with views of Mustagh Ata (24,278'), continuing over Subashi Pass to Tashkurgan (12,000') in the high Pamirs. Return to Kashgar on Day 12 and resume original itinerary.

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 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.

We'll be staying in the best available city hotels, with two nights in basic guesthouses and one night of camping.

Breakfasts, lunches and dinners are included. 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 small bus, minivan, and/or jeep. 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


Departures & Leaders

This is one of our special Repertory Trips offered only every two to five years. This journey will not be offered again for several years. Now is the Time to Go!

Jul 16-Aug 10, 2016  Roger Williams
Aug 20-Sep 14, 2016  Roger Williams

Trip Cost

Prices are for 2016
$11795 (10-12 members)
$12995 (8-9 members)
$13595 (6-7 members)
Single supplement: $1250
Forced single supplement: $1250
Internal airfare: $615 (subject to change) *
*Internal flights required for alternate itinerary only. Internal airfare will not be charged if trip travels via Hunza valley.
more on pricing

Trip Payment Schedule

At time of reservation: $600
90 days prior to departure: Balance

Cancellation and Transfer Fee Schedule

Up to 91 days prior to departure: No charge!
61-90 days prior to departure: 25% of trip cost
46-60 days prior to departure: 50% of trip cost
45 days or less: 100% of trip cost

Trip Cost Includes:

  • Expert leadership of a Wilderness Travel Trip Leader and local guides
  • Accommodations as noted
  • All meals included
  • Land transportation, airport transfers, and sightseeing as noted
  • Entrance fees to all sites listed in itinerary

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

Internal airfare for the alternate non-Hunza itinerary, international airfare, airport departure taxes, individual arrival or departure transfers, any meals not specified after each itinerary day in the Full Trip Brochure, optional tipping or gratuities to the leader, hotels en route to and home from the trip, any additional hotel nights that may be necessary due to international airline schedule changes or other factors, pre-trip expenses of medical immunizations, visa fees, travel insurance, and other expenses of a personal nature (alcoholic beverages, laundry, etc.).

Roger Williams

In 1986, Roger Williams led his first Wilderness Travel trip. Nearly 30 years later, he shows no sign of stopping, with added trips filling up quicker than the one before. If it isn’t the surplus of knowledge Roger brings when he leads a trip that makes it so unique, including his cultural insight to places like Nepal (where he spent eight years studying Tibetan Buddhism, Buddhist iconographics, Himalayan languages, and woodblock art) and Japan (where he spent another two years studying Japanese woodblock art, Japanese language, and Shingon Shu, an esoteric sect of Japanese Buddhism), then it may be his awareness for cultural preservation that keep clients coming back. In July 2014, he returned from The Great Game journey, a special Wilderness Travel Expedition that included visits to the Wakhan Valley as well as Mazar i-Sharif and Balk (formally Bactria) in northern Afghanistan. Roger has also been working as a technical advisor with USAID consulting in tourism development projects in Mongolia, Armenia, and Croatia. When not leading trips, Roger is the director of Snow Lion Graphics/SLG Books in Berkeley, California, a publishing house specializing in books and calendars relating to Asian cultures. “There should be a rating higher than excellent for Roger,” one client wrote after her Central Asia Explorer trip with Roger. “His knowledge, energy, planning, and attentiveness are superlative.”

Upcoming Trips:

India's Malabar Coast, January 27-February 20, 2016
Iran: In the Footsteps of Kings, March 10-April 2, 2016
Iran: In the Footsteps of Kings, April 7-30, 2016
Trans-Caucasus Adventure, May 20-June 13, 2016
Nagorno-Karabakh: Land of the Black Garden, June 13-22, 2016
The Great Game, July 16-August 10, 2016
The Great Game, August 20-September 14, 2016
Wonders of Nepal: Festival of Lights, October 18-November 1, 2016
Eastern Bhutan and India's Wild Northeast Frontier, November 21-December 17, 2016

Client Testimonials:

Roger is a lot of fun, as well as being extremely knowledgeable! He goes out of his way to make the trip interesting and comfortable for those traveling with him. Catherine H., Cambridge, MA
Journey to the Heart of China
Roger is amazing! His knowledge of the history and culture of the area is extensive and he can recall all sorts of information on any number of subjects. His enthusiasm, kindness, and energy never wane. Jane F., Naples, FL
The Great Game
Roger is a flexible leader who listens to his travelers and absolutely cannot do enough for people. He looked after us well and programmed as much variety into the trip as possible. Mary R., New York, NY
Trans-Caucasus Adventure
Roger was well organized, with careful planning and terrific knowledge of the culture and religion. His interaction with the group was unlike anything we have experienced on prior trips. He is a real treasure for WT, one of your best. Donald H., Farmington, CT
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger was nothing short of outstanding as a trip leader...managing people as well as logistics of a 25+ day intensive trip. He has a clear desire to share his knowledge, interest, and excitement about Southeast Asia. We've had a lot of good Trip Leaders and I'd rate Roger as #1 on my list. Greg W., Pittsburgh, PA
The Best of Southeast Asia
Roger is an exceptional trip leader with an historian's grasp of the influences shaping this part of the world. Kathe W., Pittsburgh, PA
The Best of Southeast Asia
I'm struck again with the magnitude of the incredible adventure you led us on. I have pretty much traveled the world since that trip, with adventures galore...but nothing has, or ever will, compare to it. Aleen S., Cedar Mountain, NC
The Great Silk Road
Roger is simply a brilliant organizer and always finds the very best services available. He also brings a wealth of knowledge and insights to anything Asian. Elizabeth M., Providence, RI
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon
Roger has tremendous skills as a trip leader. He has a real gift with people and his relationship with local guides enriches the areas we visit. Joan L., Baltimore, MD
Journey to the Heart of China
Roger is the best tour leader with lots of experiece and profound knowledge of the subject area. Kudos to him and WT. Tan Kiet T., Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Tribal China
There should be a rating higher than excellent for Roger. His knowledge, energy, planning, and attentiveness are superlative. Debra B., Jackson, WY
Central Asia Explorer
Roger's extensive travel experience and knowledge of Asian culture and Buddhism greatly enhanced the trip. And all the planning he did before and during the trip ensured an excellent itinerary and made everything run smoothly. Nancy R., Walnut Creek, CA
Tribal China
Roger provided a unique and enjoyable travel experience. His knowledge and familiarity with the sites visited and enthusiasm for these countries and peoples made this a great travel experience. Judy A., Davis, CA
The Burma Road: Kunming to Rangoon
Roger is a wealth of knowledge and very well traveled. He takes his duties as trip leader extremely seriously and goes out of his way to please each client. Terri H., Berkeley, CA
Armenia and Beyond
Exceptional dedication, passion, and professionalism. Roger has the right personality and attitude for this. Jonathan T., Boston, MA
Passage to India
Roger is clearly a well-seasoned professional. He is passionate about India and it shows everyday, whether it is interacting with the locals or talking about the iconographics and sites. Grace L., Boston, MA
Passage to India
I can understand why Roger has such a big following. He worked all the time to make the trip the best it could be. Marsha S., New York, NY
The Great Game
Tibet is a place like no other on the planet! Roger’s language skills and knowledge of Tibetan Buddhism opened many doors. Connie D., Alamo CA
Heart of Tibet
Exceedingly knowledgeable, very caring. Priscilla and Franklin O., Malvern PA
Mystical Bhutan
Roger knows how to run a trip. He’s very organized and clearly communicates the daily plan. Also, he's a lot of fun and I was impressed with his expertise on Buddhist iconography. Fran M., Mill Valley, CA
Hidden Himalayas
Roger is remarkable. This trip showed him at his best. We could never have traveled across the roof of the world without his preparation and energy. Thanks for a grand experience! Ruth and Frank H., Edmonds WA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger takes good care of his travelers and we learned a lot about the people, their culture, and history. His love for this part of the world is infectious. Ruth G., Del Mar CA
In the Footsteps of the Great Game
Roger is great! Hard working, knowledgeable, personable. He really makes a difference. Bill R., Walnut Creek, CA
Passage to India

Client Comments

A difficult but wonderful trip. It met with and exceeded all my expectations and fulfilled a lifelong wish to see this part of the world! Jane F., Naples, FL Each day was a new adventure. We felt as though we were totally in another world, especially in the mountain communities of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Carole M., Versailles, KY
This was a real expedition! For me, a dream come true. Judith M., Albuquerque, NM