Hibiscus Tours launches series of Silk Road packages

NEW YORK -- For more than 1,500 years, from 138 B.C. to the 15th century, the Silk Road was the principal commercial and cultural artery that connected the Chinese, Mongolian, Indian, Persian, Egyptian, Byzantine, Greek and Roman civilizations.

The 7,000-mile route ran from the Mediterranean to China's Yellow River Valley.

Starting in July, clients of New York-based Hibiscus Tours will be able to explore the spectacular art and architecture that was created as a result of this multinational commerce along the Silk Road in a series of itineraries.

In addition to art and monuments, Silk Road travel also fostered the spread of Buddhism, Islam and Christianity; facilitated the conquests of Genghis Khan, Alexander the Great and Tamerlane, and extended the influence of great thinkers and explorers.

Guided by experts in art, architecture and history, members of each Hibiscus tour will learn about the powerful commercial, religious and cultural forces unleashed by trading along the Silk Road.

The first of a series of Silk Road tours, each limited to 15 people, will depart July 7 to China, where the art of silk making is believed to have been created.

Subsequent tours will explore Azerbaijan and Georgia, Aug. 4 to 18; Mongolia, Aug. 18 to Sept. 8; Central Asia, Sept. 1 to 22; Italy, Sept. 22 to Oct. 7; Turkey and Greece, Sept. 29 to Oct. 15; Pakistan, Oct. 6 to 20; Iran, Oct. 6 to 29; Egypt, Nov. 3 to 17; Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, Nov. 3 to 24; India, Nov. 30 to Dec. 18; the Himalayan Kingdoms, Jan. 12 to Feb. 2, 2001, and Japan and Korea, May 19 to June 2, 2001.

All tours are 12% commissionable.

The July China tour, dubbed Art Along the Chinese Silk Road, is repeated Sept. 23. It costs $6,995 per person, double.

It includes air fare on Air China from New York (Kennedy), hotel accommodations in seven cities, air travel within China, all meals, sightseeing, hotel transfers and the services of a guide.

The China tours are led by China art historian and painter Vito Giacalone, a professor at Union, N.J.-based Kean University.

Included in the China tour is a visit to Kashgar, modern China's westernmost city and the site of a bumper market that takes place every Sunday on the eastern fringe of town.

To this bustling and chaotic centuries-old market, a remarkable confluence of traders from all along the Silk Road -- Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and elsewhere -- still come by the thousands to sell everything from dumplings and silk goods to stallions and washing machines.

In Hibiscus' tour of India, travelers explore the Silk Road treasures of the Delhi Museum and take an elephant ride to view wildlife.

In Georgia, tour participants visit Mtskheta, one of the world's most ancient cities, preserved by Unesco as a world museum town.

Enjoying Mideastern Euphrates River Valley landscapes that have been inaccessible to Western travelers for centuries, Hibiscus travelers explore the rock-cut city of Petra, hidden like a gem in the desert.

In Iran, after two revolutionary decades, renewed stability allows visitors to tour the palace at Persepolis.

On the route between Pakistan and China, travelers along the Khunjerab Pass will learn how competing traders spied on each other to discover who was taking what where.

In Venice, Marco Polo's birthplace and the terminus of the Silk Road, travelers will seek out surviving silk embroidery among church treasures and visit a modern silk factory on Lake Como.

Hibiscus Tours
Phone: (800) 653-0802 or (212) 759-9087

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