Incredible adventures in Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan!
- Tour route: Tashkent –Samarkand –Bukhara – Khiva – Kunya Urgench – Ashghabad – Merw
- Transport: land transport (bus), train, flight
- Days: 13 Nights: 12
Turkmenistan is an eclectic country that oozes history and quirkiness, with warm inhabitants who enjoying extending a welcoming hand to visitors (even if the government is somewhat less effusive). Visit this eccentric nation to forge a path across windswept deserts and jagged mountains, through aromatic spice bazaars, along the ancient Silk Road, all the while encountering the distinctive faces of Central Asia. Turkmenistan is a country in Central Asia bordered by the Caspian Sea and largely covered by the Karakum Desert. It’s known for archaeological ruins including those at Nisa and Merw, major stops along the ancient trade route the Silk Road. Ashgabat is the capital. The full Turkmen experience is ultimately about mingling with the warm and fascinating Turkmen people themselves, whose hospitality is the stuff of legend.
Day 1. Tashkent
Arrival in Tashkent. Transfer to the hotel and check in. City tour, we will see the Amir Timur Square, the Alisher Navoi Theater, the bazaar and other places of interest such as the Khasti Imam Complex and the Kukeldash Madrassa. Lunch and dinner at local restaurants. Overnight in Tashkent.
Day 2. Tashkent – Samarkand
Breakfast at the hotel. Morning drive to Samarkand. Afternoon arrival in Samarkand. Transfer and check in at the hotel. Rest after long drive. Dinner at the local restaurant. Overnight in Samarkand.
Day 3. Tashkent - Samarkand
Breakfast at the hotel. City tour in Samarkand – visit the Gur-Emir Mausoleum – the resting place of the Great Tamerlane, Registan Square with the Ensemble Ulugbek, Shir Dor, Tillya-Kari Madrassas and the Bibi Khanum Mosque. After lunch, continue of the excursion – the Necropolis Shahi-Zinda, the Observatory Ulugbek and the old settlement Afrosiab. Dinner at local restaurant. Overnight in Samarkand.
Day 4. Samarkand – Bukhara
Breakfast at the hotel. Morning drive to Bukhara. Arrival in Bukhara. Check in at the hotel. Rest after long drive. Dinner at the local restaurant. Overnight in Bukhara.
Day 5. Bukhara
Breakfast at the hotel. City tour in Bukhara – visit the Ark fortress, the Bolo-Hauz Mosque, Madrassa Ulugbek, the complex Poikalon. It consists of three architectural buildings, the Minaret Kalon, the Kalon Mosque and the Miri Arab Madrasah. Together, they form Bukhara’s most important building ensemble. Other sightseeing in Bukhara includes the oldest building in the city, the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, as well as the dome bazaar, where carpets, spices and handicrafts are still sold today. Dinner in a medal with folklore in madrasah Nadir Divan Begi. Overnight in Bukhara.
Day 6. Bukhara – Kizilkum Desert – Khiva
Breakfast at the hotel. Morning drive to Khiva through the Kizilkum desert. On the way we will stop at the river Amu Darya, formerly known as Oxus and ending in the Aral Sea. Khiva was conquered in the middle Ages by the army of the famous Chenghis Khan. The completely preserved medieval town has been a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage since 1990. Within the old city wall, all medieval buildings are well preserved. Arrival in Khiva. Check in at the hotel. Rest after long drive. Dinner at the local restaurant. Overnight in Khiva.
Day 7. Khiva
Breakfast at the hotel. City tour in Khiva – visit Madrassa "Itchan Kala", the minaret Kalta Minor, the inner citadel, the madrassa Feruz and Islam Khodja, the mausoleum Pakhlavan-Makhmud. In the afternoon we admire the 213 wooden columns of the Jumah Mosque, the White Mosque and Ich-Hawli, a fortress-like castle which was the main palace of the Khan of Khiva. It consists of three main parts: the harem room, the room for receptions and banquets and the administrative space. Then we see the traditional center of Khoresm, the Madrassa Allakulikhan. Dinner at the local restaurant. Overnight in Khiva.
Day 8. Khiva – Kunya Urgench – Darwaza – Karakum
Breakfast at the hotel. Drive to border to continue your trip to Turkmenistan. Approximately 1-hour drive. Over Dashoguz we drive by car in about 1.5 hours through a rather barren landscape to Kunia Urgench. We visit the once powerful trading center, which was included in the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List in 2005. Various mausoleums from the period of the chorus of the Renaissance are among others. On our program: Mausoleum of the Turabeg Khanum, Sultan Tekesh, Nadjemetdin Al Kubra and Sultan Ali. We then visit the Kutlug Timur Minaret (no climb possible), which is the highest minaret of Central Asia with 62 meters, and the holy mountain Kyrk Molla, the many Turkmen as a pilgrimage destination. After a lunch break, the afternoon is about 4 hours south. On the journey, the landscape is getting drier and we are pushing further and further into the desert. Our goal is the "Gate of Hell", which we reach as planned: the impressive crater Darwaza is far from civilization in the midst of the endless Karakum desert. He was born in 1971 in the search for gas and is still in flames. An incredible natural spectacle! At the camp fire we enjoy our dinner today and have a nice evening. Once again, it is a little easier, because for the sake of nature, we do without sanitation and use the desert. Overnight in tent camp.
Day 9. Karakum – Ashgabat
Breakfast at the tent camp. In the morning, we will drive through the desert in about 4 hours to the extreme south of Turkmenistan to Ashgabat. On the way we make a small stop in the village of Erbent with the people of the Teke. We have the opportunity to get to know some traditions of the desert people and to taste the famous tea with camel milk! Arriving in Ashgabat, we leave the baggage at the hotel and take a 2-hour orientation tour. The city reminds us of a modern fairy tale: Magnificent marble buildings with golden domes characterize the picture, in between generous avenues and gardens, and in the middle stands the gilded statue of Turkmenbashi. We explore the park near the hotel and the Russian bazaar. Use the rest of the afternoon to stroll along the avenues on your own. Overnight in Ashgabat.
Day 10. Ashgabat
Breakfast at the hotel. We explore Ashgabat intensively and only come back in the evening back to the hotel. At the beginning we visit the picturesque Tolkuchka Bazaar. In addition to clothing, jewelry, costumes, carpets and household goods, we also offer food. From the smells and noises let us get carried away and can admire the magic of the old Silk Road. Then we head to the Ertrogul Gazi Mosque, the largest mosque in Ashgabat, which is stylistically oriented towards the Blue Mosque in Istanbul. With the Independence Park and the neutrality arc, we will devote ourselves to the recent history of Turkmenistan, while we return to ancient, wild times when visiting the National Museum. Other activities are Nisa (UNESCO World Heritage Site) and a ride with the Turkmenbashi cable car to a viewpoint with a magnificent view of Ashgabat. Overnight in Ashgabat.
Day 11. Ashgabat – Merw – Mary
Early breakfast at the hotel. Today we have to leave early, because already before 10:00 clock our plane should start to Mary. Once there, a bus takes us to the ruins of Merw. It is one of the largest and most magnificent cities that fell victim to the army of Genghis Khan. Here we explore the sites of Kyz Kala, Sultan Kala, Gyaur Kala and Erk Kala and the Askhab Complex. We also visit the Yusuph Hamadani Mosque and the Ibn Zeyid Mausoleum. In the early afternoon we go back to Mary. Right next to the hotel is the Central Bazaar, where you can enjoy hearty lunch with snacks. In the late afternoon, we will go back for a good hour and check out the main attractions in Mary: the Gurbanguly Haji Mosque, the History Museum and a Russian Orthodox Church. Dinner at the local restaurant. Overnight in Mary.
Day 12. Mary – Gonur Depe – Ashgabat
Early breakfast at the hotel. Today we have to get up early again, because already at 7:00 am we go to the Gonur Depe site. We reach it after an approximately 2.5-hour trip through the desert. Gonur Depe is by far the largest and most important Bronze Age settlement in South Turkmenistan and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After an intensive visit, we will have a picnic in the middle of this historic ambience. In the early afternoon we drive back to Mary to flight to Ashgabat in the evening. Arrival in Ashgabat and check in at the hotel. Dinner at the local restaurant. Overnight in Ashgabat.
Day 13. Ashgabat
Breakfast at the hotel. Transfer to the airport. Departure according to flight schedule.