|Day One main activities||Meet up in Kashgar, visit Kashgar Night Market.|
|Day Two main activities||Tour Kashgar's Old Town, Id Kah Mosque, Tomb of Xiangfei, Grand Bazaar.|
|Day Three main activities||Drive to Lake Karakul, overnight in tents at 204.|
|Day Four main activities||Hiking in foothills of Mt Muztagh-Ata, overnight in tents at nomad settlement.|
|Day Five main activities||Hike back to 204, drive back to Kashgar.|
|Day Six main activities||Visit Livestock Market, free time before the flight out.|
Kashgar is an ancient city in the far west of China, with many historically interesting sites and a strong Muslim influence from the large Uyghur community.
The earliest recorded mention of Kashgar can be found in Han Dynasty records that date back to 125 BC. At that point it was already one of the many stops on the Northern Silk Road, and, despite wars and battles, has been populated ever since.
In Kashgar, we will visit many of the most interesting sights.
Kashgar Old City
Known as an excellent example of a traditional Islamic city, Kashgar’s Old City has undergone significant changes in recent times—some parts have been knocked down due to new regulations about building to meet earthquake and fire codes, and some sections are undergoing reconstruction.
While the Old City might not be totally as aesthetically pleasing as it used to be, it’s still very much worth a visit just to get a look at the daily life of the local residents, and to sample a little bit of the naan bread sold at streetside stalls.
Id Kah Mosque
With a history that stretches back until at least the 14th century, the Id Kah Mosque is an active mosque and perhaps the largest in China. While we can’t enter during the times of prayer, we’ll try to time it so we can get a look inside.
Kashgar’s Grand Bazaar covers a huge area and sells a little of everything—carpets and silk, spices, dried fruit, animal skins and fur, hats, clothing, trumpets, drums, and other musical instruments, and much more!
Tomb of Xiangfei, the ’Fragrant Concubine’
Commonly known as the Tomb of the Fragrant Concubine, it is more accurately described as the tomb of Afaq Khoja, a religious and political leader said to be a relative of Muhammad, and is one of the key Muslim sites in Xinjiang.
The mausoleum was built around 1640 for Muhammed Yusuf, the father of Afaq Khoja, and is a domed structure with four corner minarets and a beautiful cladding of glazed tiles.
The key points of the story of the Fragrant Concubine differ greatly, depending on which side is telling it. One side has it that her captivating scent caused her presentation as a gift to the Emperor, who she grew to love until her death. The other side has it that she was kidnapped and held against her will in the Forbidden City, where she plotted to kill him until she was murdered by the Empress Dowager.
* If the market is not open we will offer a different activity.
Trekking in the Karakul and Muztagh-Ata area
The tall and snowcapped mountains in this remote and relatively unpopulated area form a superb backdrop for our high-altitude hike between small settlements and seasonal nomad camps.
The long road from Kashgar up and over the Karakorams and on to Pakistan passes by Lake Karakul, a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains. On a clear day, it’s possible to see the 7,500m-plus peaks of Kongur-Tagh, Kongur-Tiube, and Muztagh-Ata pointing up from the line of mountains in the distance. We’ll stop at Karakul to take a walk by the lakeside before heading on to our first campsite
With a peak at 7,546m, Muztagh-Ata is the second-highest mountain in the area, and will form an impressive backdrop for much of our trek. Our hike will be along trails in the foothills of the mountain, following part of the path climbers take up on the way up to the basecamp.
On the second night of the trek, we’ll camp at a nomad settlement near the stream that runs down through the basecamp from the mountain’s glacier. The large boulders strewn over the foothills of Muztagh-Ata give an indication of the previous size of the glaciers in the area – very large!
While trekking, we’ll have camels with us to carry all our equipment—you’ll just need a day pack to carry your snacks and water. If there’s a spare camel, we can all have a go at travel-by-camel.