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

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

Trip Details at-a-Glance

Cost From: TBA  
Length: 25 days
Arrive: Kashgar, China
Depart: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
Lodging: 24 nights in hotels, guest houses, 1 night camp
Meals: All meals included
Activity: Walking, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level: Cultural exploration and walking tours, rugged road travel
3

Highlights

  • 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


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.

References

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 Hunza, Kyrgystan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. We begin in the former Silk Road trading post of Kashgar, with its world-famous Sunday market, then head out for a week in the dazzling Hunza Valley, known for its spectacular Karakoram Mountains and the warm hospitality of its residents. We then head across 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 geographical buffer zone created during the Great Game between Russia and Britain. Here the Hindu Kush, Karakoram, and Pamir ranges meet 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 visit brings us to the former Silk Road hubs of Turpan, Khotan, and Yarkand.

Itinerary at a Glance

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 explore 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 and over Subashi Pass to Tashkurgan at 12,000 feet.

Days 5-11
Khunjerab Pass / Hunza Valley

Head through the Karakorum Mountains into northern Pakistan’s spectacular and remote 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, Kyrgystan / Murghab Valley, Tajikistan

Returning to Kashgar, we then head out for Kyrgystan, crossing Irkishtam Pass (9,679’). Our journey continues across 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 Corridor / Khorog

We enter Tajikistan’s Wakhan region, one of the remotest parts of Asia, topped by the mighty peaks of the Hindu Kush. 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 small town of Khorog..

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.

Accommodations
We'll be staying in good hotels in the cities and in best available hotels in rural areas, with one night of camping.

Meals
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.

Transport
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

 

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!

2016
Aug 20-Sep 14, 2016  Roger Williams

Trip Cost

Prices for this trip are being finalized. Contact us and we'll send them to you as soon as they are available. 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
  • Arrival and departure transfers for those arriving on the recommended group flight or on the scheduled arrival and departure dates
  • Accommodations
  • All meals included
  • Walking and driving tours per itinerary
  • Professional English-speaking local guides in all cities
  • Entrance fees to all sites listed in itinerary

Trip Cost Does Not Include:

Internal airfare, 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:

China's Wild Southwest, October 13-November 4, 2015
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, August 20-September 14, 2016
Wonders of Nepal, October 2016
Eastern Bhutan and India's Wild Northeast Frontier, November 21-December 17, 2016

Client Testimonials:


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
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
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
Exceptional dedication, passion, and professionalism. Roger has the right personality and attitude for this. Jonathan T., Boston, MA
Passage to India
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
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'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
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 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
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 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
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 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
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 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 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 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 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

Client Comments

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