Overland Route 3: Kazakhstan – China – Tibet – Nepal

Duration: 20 days
Distance: ca. 6.200 km
Best travel time: May, June, September, October


Duration Details
Day 01

Kazakhstan (Korgas border) – China:

Border crossing. Meet your guide at the border. Fromalities at the border. Continue to Ili (Yining).

Distance: approx. 100 km

Day 02
Ili (Yining)

Formalities at the traffic administration. You will receive your temporary Chinese driving license and number plate after the vehicle check. Yining was occupied by tsarist troops from 1872 to 1881. In 1962, major clashes between Chinese and Soviets took place along the Yili River.Possibilities to visit two mosques

Day 03
Ili – Bayingolxiang

Bayingol Prefecture, one of the largest prefectures in China. Located in the middle of the ancient Silk Road in Xinjiang, this is a must-see stopover due to its beautiful natural landscapes. And for good reason, it is in Bayingol that the immense Taklamakan desert is located.

Distance: approx. 380 km

Day 04
Bayingolxiang – Kuqa

Kuqa (Kucha) was an important stop on the Silk Road and a Buddhist center. It was Kumarajiva’s hometown that translated several Buddhist sutras from Sanskrit to Chinese.

Distance: approx. 215 km

Day 05
Kuqa – Turpan

Turpan is an oasis city located in the Uighur autonomous region of Xinjiang, China.This place has been for centuries the centre of a fertile oasis (grape production, among others) and an important commercial city on the Silk Road.

Distance: approx. 690 km

Day 06
Turpan visiting day

Visiting day in Turpan.Cultural influences are multiple here. The encounter between the culture of the West and that of the East is perfect. The caves of the thousand Buddhas of Bezeklik, the ruins of Jiaohe and Gaochang are very beautiful witnesses of the rich history of the region. The Flamboyant Mountains are among the sites to visit during your visit to Tourfan. A stifling heat emanates from it but the places have become very popular following the famous novel The Journey to the West by Wu Cheng’en. The Emin Minaret is the oldest Islamic tower built in Xinjiang. It is located in the very city of Turpan.

Day 07
Turpan – Hami (Kumul)

Walk to the Mazar Village of the Tuyugou Valley, this village is known as the oldest village in the Uygur. Visit the desert park near Shanshan and Hami Hui Kings Tomb…

Distance: approx. 410 km

Day 08
Hami – Dunhuang

Drive to Dunhuang in the morning. Visit Dunhuang Caves, Moon Fountain and Mingsha Sand Hill in the afternoon.

Distance: approx. 490 km

Day 09
Dunhuang – Jiayuguan: Jiayuguan Fort, Overhanging Great Wall

The city of Jiayuguan has a population of about 300,000. It is located at the entrance to the Gobi Desert and near the Qilian Mountains. Jiayuguan, one of the province’s first cities, has a history dating back more than 600 years. The city was then a strategic gateway on the ancient Silk Road.The Jiayuguan Fort marks the western end of the Great Wall of China.The Great Hanging Wall is the other jewel of the Great Wall of China to be found in the city of Jiayuguan. Because of the 45 degree inclination of the walls, one would think that the walls fell suddenly from the sky…

Distance: approx. 370 km

Day 10
Jiayuguan – Zhangye – Mati Si

Located 65 kilometers from Zhangye, the caves and temple of Mati, or Matisi, were established under the Northern Liang dynasty, about 1600 years ago. The temple is embedded in the mountain which itself is pierced by many caves. It preserves more than 500 Buddha sculptures and more than 1200 square metres of frescoes.

Distance: approx. 280 km

Day 11
Mati Si – Qinghai lake (south shore)

Qinghai Lake is not only the largest lake in China but also an extraordinarily salty lake, at an altitude of 2,205 meters. A paradise for ornithologists and cyclists, this bluish vastness is a beauty. Around the lake, villages are there to remind us of the cultural mix so specific to the Qinghai region.It is an important pilgrimage site for Tibetans and attracts many believers. They go around the lake, but it takes about eighteen days on horseback and twenty-three on foot. To the west of the lake is an island, with a temple called “Mahādeva”, i. e. the heart of the lake, which was the residence of about twenty monks.

Distance: approx. 410 km

Day 12
Qinghai lake – Golmud

Golmud is a city-district of the Mongolian and Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Haixi in Qinghai Province. The city is located in the south-central part of the Qaidam basin at an altitude of 2809 meters. It is nevertheless a stopover town on the road to Tibet.

Distance: approx. 660 km

Day 13
Golmud – Nagqu

The Nakchu (Naqu) region is located in northern Tibet, between Chamdo in the east, Lhasa in the south, Ngari in the west and Xinjiang in the north. It is distinguished by its vast meadow (the Qiangtang meadow), as well as by its large uninhabited and mysterious spaces, both of which inevitably make a strong impression on tourists.

Distance: approx. 830 km

Day 14
Nagqu – Lhasa

Lhasa, sacred city, heart of Tibet but also roof of the world is a historical capital and a holy city for all Buddhists. Nevertheless, for travellers who venture there, the wonder at the power of the Potala Palace and its spiritual atmosphere will make you feeling something special.

Distance: approx. 335 km

Day 15
Lhasa visiting

Lhasa was reportedly established more than 1,300 years ago. Its population is now estimated at about 400,000 inhabitants, more than 200,000 of whom live in the mountains. Lhasa is world-renowned for its cultural and historical sites of interest estimated at several thousand years. The splendour and immoderation of the Potala Palace is undoubtedly the most powerful symbol of the enigmatic political and religious power of the Tibetan region.

Day 16
Lhasa – Gyangtze

Gyantse was once famous for its carpets. South of the city, the Khampa Dzong region, was the home of a family craft industry. Near the hill of Dzong Fortress, the carpet factory once again became a quality production centre. The manufacturing is always done by hand. It is possible to visit the workshops.

Distance: approx. 270 km

Day 17
Gyangtze – Shigatse – Lhatse: Visit Tashilhunpo on the way

The monastery of Tashilhunpo, whose name in Tibetan means “all the wealth and happiness gathered here”, is located on a hill in the centre of the city of Shigatse. It was founded in 1447 by the first Dalai Lama Genden Drup, a disciple of Tsongkhapa. At its peak, Tashilhunpo was home to nearly 4000 monks compared to 600 today.

Distance: approx.250 km

Day 18
Lhatse – Everest Base Camp

Everest Base Camp, or EBC, is located not far from Rongbuk Monastery. It is from here that expeditions leave to try to climb the northeast slope of the highest peak in the world. Located at an altitude of 5,200 metres on the Rongbuk glacier, the Everest base camp also offers a fantastic view of this Mother Goddess of the World.

Distance: approx. 190 km

Day 19
Everest Base Camp – Gyirong

After nearly two and a half years of closure, China and Nepal officially reopened the (only) land crossing between the two countries to travellers at the end of August. Good news for access to the Tibet Autonomous Region from/to Nepal

Distance: approx. 260 km

Day 20
Gyirong – Nepal border

Exit to Nepal border

Distance: approx. 60 km


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