This trip to Turkmenistan includes all the most important and interesting places in the country. Our journey begins in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan, which holds the Guinness World Record for the city with the most marble buildings. We will visit the archaeological complex of Nisa before heading to the city of Mary, where we will explore the archaeological complex "Ancient Merv" - an important stop on the Silk Road. Along the way, we will stop at the ancient settlement of Abiverd, one of the eight historic reserves in Turkmenistan.
Next, we will visit the village of Geok Tepe, which boasts an old mosque, the Akhal-Teke horse farm, and the underground lake of Ko-Aitau, where we will have the opportunity to swim in the hot mineral water. We will spend the night in a guest house in the authentic village of Nokhur, near the Iranian border. Our hosts will be the people of a local Turkmen tribe living in the area.
The next stop will be Turkmenbashi, the largest city and port on the Caspian Sea. We will stay at the Auaza resort on the beach and explore the Yangi Kala canyon - an extensive area with 60-100 meter high rocks colored in pink, red, and yellow. This place is virtually unknown and rarely visited by tourists.
Afterward, we will visit the fiery craters of Darvaza (the Door to Hell or Gates of Hell). We will sleep in yurts or tents near the largest crater and have a barbecue on the edge of the crater in the evening. On the way to the craters, we will stop at Yerbent, a unique Turkmen village almost buried in the Karakum Desert. From Darvaza, we will continue to Kunya-Urgench (UNESCO), an archaeological complex with monuments from the 11th to the 16th century. Finally, we will fly from the city of Dashoguz on the Turkmen-Uzbek border back to Ashgabat, from where we will fly back home.
All photos and travel notes are from our trip to Turkmenistan.
Dates: May 15-23, 2023; There will probably also be dates in September 2023.;
Duration: 7 nights/8 days;
Group: 6 people;
Program price in Turkmenistan excluding international airfares: 1,995 euros/person;
The price includes:
Guides: Bulgarian (Pavel Gospodinov) and a local guide;
Transportation: comfortable air-conditioned bus with a local driver ; 3 domestic flights in Turkmenistan as follows: Mary - Ashgabat; Turkmenbashi - Ashgabat and Dashoguz - Ashgabat; all transfers to/from the airports;
Accommodation: Turkmenistan - Ak Altyn Hotel in Ashgabat or similar (4 stars); Hotel in Mary "Mary" (4 stars) or similar; guesthouse in the village of Nokhur; Deniz Hotel in the resort town of Awaza (4 stars); overnight stay in tents in Darvaza;
Accommodation in hotels is in double/twin rooms with breakfast included.
Food: all breakfasts and dinners;
Entrance tickets: Entrance tickets for all museums and places to visit;
Taxes/insurance: daily tax collected in each hotel or place of stay in Turkmenistan; visa services for issuing a Turkmen visa (excluding the visa itself);
Price does not include:
The immigration fee for Turkmenistan is around $14 and is collected separately at the airport. A Turkmen visa costs $87/€79. Travel insurance can be purchased from your own country or we can arrange it for you. The price does not include lunches and personal expenses.
(1) Flight tickets with Turkish Airlines:
Istanbul 20.30 - Ashgabat 02.10;
Ashgabat 03.30 - Istanbul 05.40;
We can book your flights from any location in the world to Istanbul airport, where the group will meet, or directly to Ashgabat.
Visas and fees:
To obtain a Turkmen visa, you need to have:
We provide a Letter of Invitation (LOI) from Turkmenistan, and its cost is included in the package price. The deadline for issuance is 14 working days. To obtain this invitation, you need to send us a well-scanned copy of your passport, 2 color photos, and a completed visa form. We will provide you with the visa form when you sign up for the trip. Please note that this invitation is issued in advance, and you will need to obtain the visa at the airport in Ashgabat. The Turkmen visa is issued at Ashgabat airport and costs $87, which is not included in the package price.
The migration fee for Turkmenistan is $14 and is payable upon arrival at Ashgabat airport. Please note that this amount is not included in the package price.
We process all necessary documents!
Entry conditions into Turkmenistan in connection with COVID-19: Additional information will be provided.
This program provides an overview of the main elements of the trip. If you want concrete solutions tailored to your specific case and circumstances, please email us. We can arrange flight tickets from anywhere in the world to the starting point of the trip. Additionally, we can take care of hotel transfers, specific documents, or provide advice on Covid-related travel requirements. We will assist you at every stage of the organisation. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us!
Day 1: Arrival in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan; Nisa
We will arrive in Ashgabat at night. We should arrive at the hotel around 4am (an overnight stay is included in the price). After resting at the hotel, we will take a tour of the city. The main attraction in Ashgabat is the huge marble city, which is the largest in the world, and listed in the Guinness Book of Records. Our itinerary also includes a visit to the Ertugrul Gazi Mosque, as well as a walk around the parks and squares of the capital.
During our visit to Ashgabat, we will also explore the Turkmenbashi Mosque and the Kipchak Mausoleum. In addition, we will take a special walk before sunset to enjoy the beautiful nighttime views of the city.
Today, we will visit the archaeological complex of Nisa. Here, we will see the remains of brick buildings, including fortifications, palaces, temples, a ceremonial hall, and a treasury for storing valuables. These are remnants of an ancient Persian civilization.
Excavations began in the 20th century and continue to this day. It is believed that Nisa was the first capital of the ancient Persian civilization, serving as a barrier to Roman expansion. It was also an important trade and communication center in the region. Overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 2 Ashgabat - Merv - Ashgabat
We will be heading to the city of Merv (350 km) in the morning.
En route, we will make a stop at the ancient settlement of Abiward (or Abi-ward), one of the eight historical reserves in Turkmenistan, along with Kunya-Urgench, Nisa, and Merv, among others. Ancient Abiward was one of the major centers of Northern Khorasan, mentioned in ancient written sources as "... a city with fertile lands and rich harvests, famous for its magnificent market and mosque."
In the afternoon, we will arrive in Merv (near Mary), one of the most famous cities on the "Silk Road." This place is about 2500 years old and is part of UNESCO's World Heritage. We will see the first ancient ruins around the town of Baýramaly. The complex consists of 5 important places, which we will visit: the ruins of Erk Kala, Gyaur Kala, the mausoleums of Sultan Kala and Sultan Ahmad Sanjar, the tomb of Yusuf Hamadany, and the mausoleum of Mohammed Ibn Zaid, as well as the palaces of Gyz Kala.
Merv was a city located at the crossroads of four major trade routes: one to Kunya-Urgench in the north, another to Bukhara and Samarkand in the east, a third to Herat in the south, and a fourth to Mashhad (in present-day Iran) in the west.
Tonight, we will be staying in Mary.
Day 3: Ashgabat - Geok Tepe - Kou Ata - Nokhur Village
This morning, we will take a domestic flight to Ashgabat. Our bus will be waiting at the airport to drive us directly to the village of Geok Tepe, which is famous for its old mosque.
Afterward, we continue to Akhal-Teke horse farm. The local breed of horses is a direct descendant of the Turkoman breed used since 2400 B.C. During the Middle Ages (500 to 1500 A.D.), Akhal-Teke horses lived with nomadic tribes around the Kopet Dag mountains. The horses were treated as part of the families and even raised in their shelters. In the 19th and 20th centuries, the Russians used these horses as cavalry. Nowadays, these horses are mainly used for racing due to their exceptional toughness and resilience. These traits have been passed down from ancient times, as the horses were raised by nomadic tribes in the isolated region of the Karakum Desert. Horseback riding is optional and available at an additional cost.
Our next destination is the Kou Ata Cave. There, we will see an underground lake filled with warm mineral water where we can swim. The location is truly unique.
Afterwards, we will visit the village of Nokhur, located near the Iranian border, where the Turkmen Nokhur tribe resides. We will walk along its steep streets and brick houses. We will have a rich dinner with local traditional dishes at the guest house and get acquainted with the customs, culture, and daily life of our hosts. We will stay overnight with them.
Short text and photos of the unique cemetery in the village
Day 4: Nokhur Village - Turkmenbashi City - Awaza
Today we are heading west towards the Caspian Sea and Turkmenbashi, the largest city and port in Turkmenistan. After exploring the city, we will travel a short distance north to the resort town of Awaza, where we will spend the night in a hotel. If the weather is good, we can enjoy the beach or take a leisurely stroll. We will spend the night at the resort.
Day 5: Awaza - Yangykala canyon - Ashgabat
After breakfast at the hotel, we head to the Yangykala canyon. We will drive and hike through it, stopping at various points for photos and panoramic views. This is a place that very few people have heard of, and even fewer have seen. It is an extensive area with cliffs that are 60-100 meters high, colored in pink, red, and yellow. The place is prehistoric (5.5 million years old), as evidenced by the red limestone cliffs, remains of massive coral reefs from the prehistoric Paratethys sea.
In the evening, we have a return flight to Ashgabat and overnight stay at the hotel.
Day 6: Ashgabat - Darvaza
Today, we will travel to Darvaza. On the way, we will stop by Yerbent, a unique Turkmen village almost buried in the Karakum Desert.
In the evening, we will begin to see the gas craters. Some are filled with water or mud, but all of them bubble with spontaneously leaking gas. At one point, we will reach the largest gas crater. The eruptions are best observed at night. We will have a picnic next to the crater and spend the night in tents or yurts.
Day 7 Darvaza - Kunya-Urgench (UNESCO)
After breakfast, we will visit Kunya-Urgench (UNESCO), located on the left bank of the Amu Darya River. Urgench was once the capital of the Khorezm region, which was part of the Achaemenid Empire. The old town contains monuments mainly from the 11th to the 16th century, including a mosque, caravanserai gates, fortresses, mausoleums, and a 60-meter minaret. These monuments are exceptional achievements in architecture and craftsmanship, whose influence extends to Iran and Afghanistan.
After exploring the park, we will head to the city of Dashoguz, near the border with Uzbekistan. We will take an evening flight to Ashgabat, have dinner somewhere until midnight, and then head to the airport for an early morning flight to Istanbul.Please note that this overnight stay is not included in the price.
Day 8 Flight back to Istanbul and your home country
Today's flight is at 03:30 in the morning.
How to join us
Please email us if you would like more information about this trip or to sign up. We will respond as soon as possible and keep you updated on the organisation and all other details. If you are a group of at least 5 or 6 people (maximum 8), we can discuss dates that work for your group. You can also sign up for future trips. To join the list, simply send us your names. That's it!