ITINERARY & MAP
Arrival in Ashgabat early in the morning, for example with Turkish Airlines flight. After the customs formalities, you will meet the Turkmen tour guide and driver. Transfer to the hotel in Ashgabat to relax.
After breakfast in the hotel start sightseeing of Ashgabat, visit independence-period parks and monuments, including the Park of Independence, Neutrality Square, and some others. The tour today also includes visits to Old Nisa fortress (UNESCO site) and Turkmenbashi Ruhy mosque and mausoleum and visit National Museum of history and ethnography, whose halls are dedicated to various themes and historical periods. 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. Welcome dinner in a nice restaurant in the city center.
Hotel Nusay 5*
In the early morning take a flight to Mary (40 mins). On arrival, drive to Gonur Tepe/Margush (100 km including 40 km off road). Here first agricultural settlements appeared in the delta of Murgab River as back as 3 millennium BC. Fertile silt coming from mountains, abundance of water and moderate climate had created favourable conditions for good crops and the progress of the ancient economy was continuing for several centuries. The American newspaper “Boston Globe” wrote that before we knew the four oldest centers 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. Picnic lunch. Later drive back to Mary.
Hotel Mary 4*
After breakfast, we head 25 km to the east of Mary, towards Bayram-Ali, the contemporary re-incarnation and humble suburb of the glorious Ancient Merv (UNESCO World Heritage Site). One of the major archaeological sites of Central Asia, Merv played an important part in the development of the Silk Road for more than 2 000 years. Within the limits of the archaeological park, which is 1200 ha, we will have a chance to observe all constituent parts of the “wandering city”. A series of adjacent cities, which can be roughly divided into the ancient (Erk Kala and Gyaur Kala), the medieval (Sultan Kala with its suburbs), and post-medieval (Abdulla-Khan Kala and Bayram-Ali-Khan Kala), appeared in the course of time as a token of the natural progress of the city from initial stages of its existence to a more advanced level. Besides remnants of the cities of Merv, we will visit the VI-IX cc. AD forts of Big and Little Kyz-Kalas, excellent examples of the so-called corrugated Koshks; the splendid XII c. mausoleums of Sultan Sanjar and Muhammed ibn-Zeyd. After sightseeing, we drive back to Mary where we will have lunch.
In the afternoon we visit the local history museum and do some sightseeing in Mary. In the evening we take a return flight to Ashgabat.
Hotel Nusay 5*
Check-out from the hotel after breakfast. The remains of the Anau-Depe bronze age settlement and the Anau fortress are a 30-minute drive outside Ashgabat in the southeast. The name Anau is derived from Abi-Nau and means “new water”. The site was already in the 4th-3rd Millennium BC inhabited. We also visit a mosque from the 15th century this morning. For lunch we will drive to a local private stud farm nearby where we will see the famous Turkmen Akal Teke horses.
In the afternoon we drive north to the burning gas crater in Darvaza. On the way, we also visit the desert village of Erbent and two other craters, both of which gush from the underground with natural gas – one with water and one with mud. On arrival in Darvaza, we check-in at the yurt camp next to the burning gas crater in the desert. When the sun goes down, the whole crater becomes a door to hell, a fire temple, or another mysteriously spectacular place. Dinner and overnight in a yurt near the burning gas crater.
Overnight in yurt (2 people per yurt, shared toilets)
After breakfast, we drive back to Ashgabat, where we will arrive in time for lunch. Free time for the rest of the day.
Hotel Nusay 5 * or similar
In the morning, at 08:30 am (subject to possible change) take a flight to Turkmenbashi (1 hr with Boeing 737). On arrival, brief tour of Turkmenbashi, visiting local market, city center,and some other sights.
In the afternoon drive to the stunning Yangykala Canyon, known as the ‘Grand Canyon of Central Asia’ and a remarkably beautiful place with pink, white, and yellow sandstone formations, stunning vistas, and the fascinating ‘crocodile’s mouth’ rock formation. En-route visit Gozli Ata shrine. Gozli Ata was reportedly a respected Sufi who lived in the early part of the 14th century.
Overnight in tents (wild camping)
Today morning we explore the canyon landscape a little more and drive down to Yangi-Suu. Then drive back to Turkmenbashi. The modern tourism resort Awaza is located just 12 kilometers west of Turkmenbashi on the Caspian Sea. There we check-in at a beautiful hotel and relax on the beach in the afternoon, including a short excursion in Awaza. Optionally, it is also possible to take a boat trip.
Hotel Yelken Yacht Club 4* or similar
This morning we fly from Turkmenbashi back to Ashgabat (10:30 am – 11:30 am, subject to change). Check-in at the hotel and free time in Ashgabat in the afternoon. Farewell dinner in the evening.
Hotel Nusay 5 * or similar
Transfer to airport for departure flight back home.