Best of Turkmenistan Tour

Highlights of Turkmenistan

Experience the cultural & natural highlights of Turkmenistan

Days

9

Price

€2480

Briefing

Comfort level:

Physical rating:

Group size: Max 12 persons

Countries: Turkmenistan

Route:

  • Ashgabat
  • Gonur Tepe & Merv
  • Darvaza
  • Awaza
  • Yangykala
  • Ashgabat

Themes: Cultural Tours

Kalpak Travel would like to introduce you to Turkmenistan – a fascinating country like no other. In one week we take you to the country’s most interesting historical, natural and architectural highlights: You will visit the marble city of Ashgabat, the ancient ruins at Merv and Gonur Depe, camp next to the burning gas crater known as “Gate of Hell”, visit Yangykala Canyon and go swimming in a luxury beach resort on the Caspian Sea. Turkmenistan is a country full of amazing contrasts and on this tour, you will see them all.

highlights

  • Ashgabat – The City of White Marble and World Records
  • Ancient ruins at Merve & Gonur Depe – UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • Visit stud farm of Akhal Teke horses, the pride of Turkmen Nation
  • Camp beside burning gas crater at Darvaza, the “Gate of Hell”
  • Visit Turkmenbashi at the Caspian Sea and overnight in beach resort Awaza
  • Stunning Yangykala Canyon – “Grand Canyon of Central Asia”

ITINERARY & MAP

Best of Central Asia: Ashgabat-capital of Turkmenistan

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*

Merv mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar

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*

Darvaza in Turkmenistan

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)

Ashgabat in Turkmenistan

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

Yangykala Turkmenistan

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)

Turkmenistan Awaza Beach

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

Awaza building in a shape of a Turkmen flag

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

departure passport with stamps

Transfer to airport for departure flight back home.

Inclusions

Transport
Airplane, Minivan, Jeep
Meals
Full Board - 8 Breakfasts, 7 Lunches, 7 Dinners
Accommodation
Hotel 4*/5* (7 nights, incl. early check in on day 1), Tent (1 night), Yurt (1 night)
Included Activities
  • Ashgabat – City Tour
  • Ruins of Ancient Merv
  • Gonur Depe ruins
  • Yangykala Canyons
  • Local oriental market in Ashgabat and Turkmenbashi
  • Relaxing at beach resort Awaza
  • Camping next to burning gas crater at Darvaza

dates & price

You can choose to join a small group on a guaranteed departure or book a private tour on the date of your choice
*
*
*
Total trip price

€2480

Euro

9

Days

Single supplement available for €780

Deposit: €500

Departing
Finishing
Status
Booking
8 May 2021
16 May 2021
+ Available
18 Sep 2021
26 Sep 2021
+ Available
Price includes
  • Full board (breakfasts, lunches, dinners)
  • Letter of invitation, registration
  • Accommodation as per program above
  • A/C land transport as per program, incl. 4WD vehicles (3 people in a car) on unpaved roads and long rides
  • Airport transfers
  • Domestic flights Ashgabat-Mary-Ashgabat; Ashgabat-Turkmenbashi-Ashgabat
  • English speaking tour leader accompanying the group through the country
  • All entry fees as per itinerary
  • Camping gear
  • Photo camera fees at sites/ museums
Price does not include
  • International airfares to and from Turkmenistan
  • Visa fees
  • Migration duty – $14 per person (must be paid at the border on arrival)
  • Hotel charges for additional services
  • Travel insurance policy
  • Personal expenses (e.g. souvenirs etc)
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Tips for guides and drivers

Important notes

  • Travel insurance is required for this tour
  • Departure for this tour is guaranteed
  • Maximum group size is 12 people
  • Best time to travel to Turkmenistan is Spring and Fall with pleasant temperatures

TURKMENISTAN TRAVEL INFORMATION

MONEY & COSTS:

The Turkmen currency is called the Manat. In Ashgabat, you may find ATMs that accept international payment cards. VneshEkonomBank for example accepts Visa credit cards. However, most ATMs accept only local cards issued by Turkmen banks. Credit cards may be accepted in a few high-end hotels, but most stores and restaurants do not accept any cards. We recommend bringing all money in cash, in new USD banknotes of denominations of at least 20 USD. They will be easy to exchange. An emergency fund of around 500 USD in cash is always good to have during guided trips to Central Asia.

SAFETY:

Turkmenistan is a safe country and most trips are trouble-free. There is a visible police presence and most citizens are law-abiding. That said, you are advised to wear a money belt, watch your belongings, steer clear of dark streets at night and avoid taking rides in unofficial taxis alone. Your safety is our first priority at Kalpak Travel; we know and regularly assess all our Turkmen partners and we closely monitor political events.

ENTRY & EXIT:

Citizens of every country in the world need a visa to enter Turkmenistan. As soon as you book a tour, we will ask you to provide some additional information to apply on your behalf for a letter of invitation. If the Ministry of Foreign Affairs approves your application, we will send you a letter of invitation. With this letter, you will be able to purchase the visa on arrival at Ashgabat Airport. Please note: your application for a letter of invitation may be rejected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Turkmenistan. Please do not book any flights or other non-refundable travel services prior to checking with us. Depending on your nationality, and circumstances we can advise you on your chances of getting the visa letter approved for Turkmenistan.
As soon as we receive the deposit payment for your tour, we will confirm your booking and send you an email with important pre-departure information. Please read it carefully as it contains important information on customs regulations for Turkmenistan.

BEST TIME TO GO:

The climate of Turkmenistan is continental and dry and the best seasons to visit are Spring and Autumn, from mid-April until early June and then again from September until early November. Autumn is drier than Spring, but even in Spring chances are high you can enjoy the bluest sky you have ever seen. Autumn is also the time when the country goes to harvest, meaning markets are full of fresh fruit and vegetables. If you don’t mind dry heat of 40° Celsius, sometimes more, summer is the best time to go. There are few tourists and the sun is shining every single day. If you are considering visiting Turkmenistan in winter you will practically have the country all to yourself. We recommend you go in November or December when daytime temperatures are still around 10° Celsius and the often chilly winds of January & February have not yet begun to make their presence felt.

HEALTH:

Do not drink water, unless it is bottled, filtered or boiled. Do not use tap water for brushing teeth or making ice either. Do not eat ice cream. Only eat well-cooked meat and fish, preferably served hot. Vegetables should be cooked and fruit peeled. If you follow these basic rules, you are likely to avoid any health issues like traveler’s diarrhea. Diphtheria, Hepatitis A and Tetanus are recommended vaccinations for Turkmenistan. Ensure you are fully insured for medical emergencies including repatriation. Medical services in Turkmenistan are basic at best.

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