Day 1: Friday, July 25th 2008 - Urumqi [D]
Arrival in Urumqi, capital of the Uyghur Autonomous Province of Xinjiang, on your own and meet and greet at the airport. You will probably arrive in the afternoon, as flights from Beijing or Shanghai to Urumqi take between 4-5 hours. You will stay in a 4-star hotel in Urumqi. Before dinner, you shall have a small get together and eventually meet with Dr. Na Wang from the Urumqi Observatory and then join dinner, including show in Urumqi’s Uighur district.
Day 2: Saturday, July 26th 2008 - Urumqi [B, L, D]
After breakfast, we will visit the National Museum in Urumqi. The display of ancient mummies is fantastic, as it was in this region that a great number of ancient and well-preserved remains were discovered.
We will then visit Red Hill, which is a symbol of Urumqi, owing to its uniqueness. The body of the mountain, made up of aubergine rock, has a reddish brown color, hence, the name Red Hill. The hill is 1.5 km (0.93 mi) long and 1 km (0.62 mi) wide from East to West. From the Red Hill peak, you will overlook the whole city of Urumqi!
We will then go on shopping tour through the International Bazaar with lunch in a typical Uyghur restaurant.
We then leave the Urumqi region and begin our journey towards the Southeast with late arrival at Turpan, check-in and dinner.
Day 3: Sunday, July 27th 2008 - Turpan (Turfan) Region [B, L, D]
Our day starts early with the visit of the one of the world’s architectural wonders that hides in Yarnaz Valley, 10 kilometers (6.2 mi) west of Turpan. Like a willow leaf, the ancient city of Jiaohe (Yarkhoto) with a history of 2,300 years lies between two rivers on a loess plateau atop a cliff of over 30 meters (100 feet). The largest, oldest and best-preserved earthen city in the world, Jiaohe is 1,650 meters (5,413 feet) by 300 meters (984 feet) at its widest; with an area of 220,000 square meters (2,368,168 square feet).
We then drive to Grape Valley to have lunch (alternatively lunch at Flaming Mountains). This green paradise of 400 hectares (988 acres) is covered with layer upon layer of grapes. It seems that all the water in the desert of Turpan flows into the Karez Systems in the Grape Valley.
We continue our journey to visit Flaming Mountain. With the red Sun overhead, the red mountain looks like a fiery dragon - truly an unforgettable spectacle!
Bizalkik Thousand Buddha Caves stand high on the cliffs of West Mutou Valley under the Flaming Mountain, 45 km (28 mi) East of Turpan. Of the 83 original caves, 57 caves currently remain. The murals cover an area over 1,200 square meters (12,917 square feet) in more than 40 caves.
After a full day of impressions we take dinner at the hotel or another typical place.
Days 4-7: Monday, July 28th to Thursday July 31th 2008 - Barkol and Center Line Location [B, L, D]
After an early breakfast, we head to the Northeast towards Barkol, some 5 hours drive away. After arriving in Barkol, we will have lunch at our specially reserved hotel.
We will then head for "your special eclipse camp", located some 130 kilometers (80 mi) to the north in the middle of the Gobi Desert right on the center line. This location, where you will get just over two minutes of totality, will also be the location for all other visitors on "E-day". Your team and some other small groups will be the only ones staying at this camp, guarded by local military/police and Eclipse-City staff.
There will be no showers at the camp, as you will be a small group staying there. If you want to take a shower, you can do so at our hotel in Barkol (130 km, about 90-120 minutes drive away) or in Santanghu (37 km) at one of our partners’ premises. We will provide daily shuttle services and you may choose to overnight at the camp or the hotel in Barkol.
At the camp, we will provide mobile toilets and water for hand washing only.
Sleeping at the camp (if you chose to do so) will be in local yurts, sleeping up to 8 people on mattresses (bed sheets and pillows provided). If you want your own yurt, please ask for VIP services (at an additional cost). Alternatively, if you want a small tent for single use, we can provide also, but we do not recommend it for your confort. You also have the choice to sleep at the hotel in Barkol (shared double room) from July 28th through August 1st.
We will provide 2-3 yurts/tents for common gathering : 1-2 for the restaurant, one additional as a seating/writing Internet type cafe (this yurt/tent shall be provided with AC if the temperature exceeds 30°C or 86°F). Barkol climate is cool and dry at 1,600 meters elevation, our day camp is hotter at 615 meters. The summer temperatures are normally bearable in that region.
We will provide 110 and 220 V power generators (in total some 5-6 kW) and try to use renewable energy (solar and aeolian).
Food will be processed off-site and delivered via shuttle to the day camp. Food is Uyghur, Kazakh and Chinese. Uyghur-Kazakh diet is based on lamb and cattle (grazing animals) with a lot of vegetable, similar to Turkish food and very tasty. Hot tea and water will be provided at any time.
Besides your passports, we will need a detailed list of equipment you will be bringing along. This list needs to be filled out by each person. There are cases where people had to leave their photographic / astronomical equipment at customs for fear of spying... With your list approved by our contacts in the government, you shall have no problems. The form will be sent to you in due time.
Days 8-9: Friday, August 1st to Saturday August 2nd 2008 - Eclipse Camp [B, L, D]
Camp life as described above or at Barkol (depending on your booking). Showers will be available though at one complimentary suite in Barkol or Santanghu (for those not booking additional rooms in Barkol).
On the evening of "E-day", i.e. the evening after the eclipse on August 1st, you may want to join our Gala Dinner and Show in Barkol or stay at the camp. If you chose to watch the show, we will bring you back to the camp via shuttle service, after the show, around midnight.
After you have packed your equipment on August 2nd (to the latest by noon) we will depart for Urumqi, some 600 km away. Overnight in Urumqi at a 4-star hotel.
Day 10: Sunday, August 3rd 2008 - End of Program [B]
After breakfast, we will take you to the airport, where you shall return to your home countries or continue your own program.