Duration: 13 days/14 nights
Route: Ashgabat – Turkmenbashi – Yangikala – Balkanabat – Nokur – Ashgabat – Dashoguz – Kunyaurgench – Darvaza – Damla – East Karakum off-road – Gonur - Mary/Merv-Turkmenabat-Koytendag/Hojapil-Turkmenabat-Ashgabat.
Day 1: Ashgabat arrival (B)
Early in the morning arrive to Ashgabat International airport with TK from Istanbul (optional-subject to possible change). After Customs formalities meet Turkmen guide and driver. Transfer to hotel for rest and overnight at hotel.
After breakfast in hotel start sightseeing of Ashgabat, visit independence-period parks and monuments, including the Park of Independence, Neutrality Square, and some others. Tour today also includes visits to Old Nissa fortress (UNESCO site), Turkmenbashi Ruhy mosque in Kipchak, and National Museum (closed on TUE), demonstrating a rich collection of artifacts from all over Turkmenistan, including ivory rhytons from Old Nisa, the museum will also offer us reconstruction models of most of the sites that we are going to visit. Rest of the time is free at leisure. Overnight at hotel in Ashgabat.
Day 2: Ashgabat – Turkmenbashi (flight) – Yangykala (ca 200 km) (B)
In the morning take a flight to Turkmenbashi at 08:30 (subject to possible change). On arrival meet your driver; brief tour of Turkmenbashi City on arrival, visit local Fish market and Caspian Seaside/Awaza (optional).
PM drive to Yangykala canyons. These canyons are known for their multi-colored cliffs once located on the coast of the Caspian Sea. Dinner and overnight in tents (wild camping).
Day 3: Yangykala – Balkanabat – Nokhur (ca 400 km) (B, D)
After camp breakfast drive to Nokhur via Balkanabat. En-route visit Gozli Ata shrine. Dinner & overnight in local house in Nokhur village (subject to availability) or tents (wild camping).
Day 4: Nokhur – Ashgabat (ca 200 km) (B)
After breakfast drive to Ashgabat. En-route visit Kov Ata underground lake and Geokdepe mosque. On arrival, transfer to hotel. Time at leisure. Overnight at hotel in Ashgabat.
Day 5: Ashgabat – Dashoguz (flight) – Kunya-Urgench - Darvaza (ca 420 km) (B, D)
Early in the morning take a flight to Dashoguz at 06:00 am (subject to change). On arrival at 06:50 pm, meet local driver; drive to Kunya-Urgench (UNESCO World Heritage Site; 100 km) to see outstanding monuments of the Turkmen Khorezm. KU tour includes visits to the following monuments:
- The mausoleum of Turabeg Khanum (15 c.)
- The minaret of Kutlug Temur (11-14 cc.), the highest medieval minaret in Central Asia
- The mausoleum of Sultan Tekesh (late 12 c.), with a turquoise cone of a dome
- The mausoleum of Il-Arslan (the mid 12 c.), the founder of the pre-Mongol Khorezmshah empire.
Sightseeing over, drive to Darvaza. Dinner & overnight in tents not far from the burning gas crater (wild camping).
Day 6: Darvaza – Ashgabat (260 km/3.5-4 hrs)
After camp style breakfast drive to Ashgabat. Transfer to hotel on arrival. Time at leisure. Overnight at hotel in Ashgabat.
Day 7: Ashgabat – Mary drive (360 km)
After breakfast at hotel drive to Mary, visiting en-route historical sites of Annau and Abiverd. Overnight at hotel in Mary.
Day 8: Mary/Gonur depe/Margush (ca 250 km; total off-road) (B, L)
After breakfast at hotel drive to Gonur depe/Margush– the largest Bronze Age archeological complex of Central Asia! The American newspaper "Boston Glob" wrote that before we knew the four oldest centres of the world's civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and China, and due to the fantastic results of the Margiana expedition it is quite possible to think that there was another, the fifth center. En-route visit ruins of ancient caravan-seray Gobekli and Nestorian church Haroba-Koshuk.Sightseeing on arrival. Picnic lunch. Then drive back to Mary to visit Mary History Museum. Rest of the time is free at leisure. Overnight at hotel in Mary.
Day 9: Mary – Merv – Turkmenabat (250 km) (B)
In the morning visit Ancient Merv Historical Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Consisting of a series of cities, succeeding one another as capitals of the famous oasis, Ancient Merv is the only site of its kind in Central Asia. Today we’ll see:
- The 7 c. BC Erk-Kala (Alexandria of Margiana in the 4 c. BC)
- The 3 c. BC Gyaur-Kala (Antioch of Margiana)
- Medieval Sultan-Kala (Seljuk “Queen of Cities”), Abdullakhan-Kala and Bayramalikhan-Kala
- The oldest of still standing corrugated mud-brick “keshks” – Great and Little Kiz Kalas
- Magnificent Seljuk mausoleums of Sultan Sanjar and Muhammad ibn Zaid
- The palace and keshk in the royal Seljuk citadel of Shahriar Ark
- Timurid eyvans and Arab tombs of the Profet’s companions, Askhabs, and some others.
PM drive to Turkmenabat across eastern Karakum desert. Transfer to hotel on arrival. Overnight at hotel in Turkmenabat.
Day 10: Turkmenabat – Koyten (ca 450 km) (B, D)
After early breakfast at hotel drive to Koyten village. En-route visit medieval mausoleums of Alamberdar and Astana-baba near Atamurat town (formerly Kerki). About 20 km before the village we might also stop at Kaynar-baba lake (originating from a natural spring this lake is known for its medicinal qualities and considered as a natural phenomena, the lake is quite popular among the locals; swim (optional) in the lake if a season and if you like). On arrival to Koytendag, transfer to a local guest-house (also known as “Tourist base”). Dinner and overnight in the local guest-house.
Day 11: Koyten/Hojapil (B, L, D)
All day Koytendag area exploration, see the Dinosaur plateau, Hojapil village and Umbar-dere canyon/gorge. Dinner and overnight in the guest-house.
Day 12: Koyten – Turkmenabat – Ashgabat (flight) (B)
After breakfast drive back to Turkmenabat. On arrival transfer to local airport to take an evening flight to Ashgabat. Transfer to hotel for rest and overnight.
Day 13: Ashgabat
Day in Ashgabat with your guide and driver to see the sites of the city you did not have a chance to visit on previous day. Rest of the day is free at leisure. Overnight in hotel.
Day 14: Departure
Early morning transfer to ASB intl. airort for your flight to home with TK (optional). End of services.
NOTE: B – breakfast, L – lunch, D – dinner.