Discover Turkmenistan 8 days/7 nights
- Futuristic architecture of Ashgabat
- Karakum desert
- Flaming Davraza gaz crater
- Secrets of the ancient Merv
Embark on the "Discover Turkmenistan" tour and immerse yourself in the wonders of this enchanting Central Asian country. Explore the futuristic city of Ashgabat with its stunning architecture and vibrant cityscape. Visit the ancient Parthian city of Old Nisa and the historic site of Old Merv, both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Witness the mesmerizing spectacle of the Darvaza Gas Crater, known as the "Door to Hell." Relax in the therapeutic waters of the Kow Ata Underground Lake and discover the grace of the Ahal Teke horses at the Gokdepe Ahal Teke stud farm. Let Turkmenistan captivate you with its history, culture, and natural beauty on this unforgettable journey.
Duration: 8 days/ 7 nights
Route: Ashgabat – Mary/Old Merv – Ashgabat – Darvaza – Ashgabat – Gokdepe – Kow Ata - Ashgabat
Day 1. Ashgabat/Arrival
Arrival at Ashgabat International Airport. Complete arrival formalities. Meet your Turkmen guide/driver and transfer to the hotel. Time at leisure.
PM we will start by exploring the “the City of Love”. Ashgabat greets its visitors with luxurious buildings, numerous fountains, stunning parks, and white marble. Almost all the buildings in the city center, are white! The city holds many institutions and governmental buildings, unique monuments, attractions, and even some Guinness Records awards. Sightseeing will include the “Bagty Koshgi” – Wedding Palace (an outstanding construction in the shape of the national emblem of Turkmenistan/the Star of Oguzkhan) hill platform with a panoramic view of the city, the Monument of Neutrality with a golden statue of the first president of Turkmenistan (uncover the idea behind the design of the monument while taking scenic pictures of the park), the Park of Independence (with the biggest number of fountains included in the book of Guinness World Records and several statues erected to honor the great leaders of Turkmen nation), and the monument to the book of Ruhnama (the Book of Soul, written by the first president of Turkmenistan).
Overnight in Ashgabat.
Day 2. Ashgabat
After breakfast in the hotel, we will spend the morning visiting Tolkuchka bazaar (OPEN ON SATURDAYS AND SUNDAYS ONLY) (28 km from the city), a very famous Sunday market where people come from all corners of Turkmenistan for trade. Here, locals sell goods like jewelry, Turkmen national dress, traditional accessories, carpets, handicrafts, fruits and vegetables, domestic animals, etc. Test your trading skills to negotiate for the best price on your purchases. Return to Ashgabat.
PM we drive to Bagir village to explore the ruins of Old Nisa Fortress (UNESCO World Heritage Site), located 15 km from Ashgabat city center. The earliest of Parthian Empire capitals (III c. BC – III c. AD). Located in an atmospheric area at the foot of the Kopet-Dag Mountains. Archaeological excavations in two parts of the site have revealed richly decorated architecture, illustrative of domestic, state, and religious functions. Situated at the crossroads of important commercial and strategic axes, this powerful empire formed a barrier to Roman expansion while serving as an important communication and trading center between East and West, North and South. After the Old Nisa tour, we visit the National Museum of History (closed on Tuesdays) where you can take a close look at exclusive ancient artifacts and treasuries from different historical and archaeological sites of Turkmenistan.
Overnight in Ashgabat.
Day 3. Ashgabat - Mary
Breakfast and check-out. Drive to Mary (380 km). On the way stop at Seytjemalledin Mosque Ruins in Anau village (build in 1456) which is referred to in many historical sources as the “house of beauty”. Many centuries ago (around the 5th mill. BC) this area accommodated the population of early Central Asian farmers who developed the world-famous Anau culture, evidence of which was discovered and extracted during archaeological research throughout the XX century. The mosque was badly damaged in the 1948 earthquake.
Another stop at Abiverd. 120 km from Ashgabat, we make a short stop to stretch our legs roaming through the ruins of Abiverd, once an important trading town of northern Khorasan and a key link on the Silk Route among Nisa, Merv, and Nishapur.
Arrival in Mary and hotel check-in. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Overnight in Margush or Mary hotel.
Day 4. Mary – Old Merv – Ashgabat
Breakfast in the hotel. Check-out. Drive 40 minutes to Bayramaly village to visit Old Merv the “The Pearl of Seljuk Empire” 11-12th centuries (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The tour will include:
- Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum (the last Sultan of the Great Seljuk Empire)
- Yusuf Hamadani Mosque (Yusuf Hamadani was an important figure in religious affairs during Malik Shah, the father of Sultan Sanjar)
- Erk gala (was founded in the 6th century BCE; in the 3rd century BCE it became the citadel for the larger Hellenistic city of Antiochia/Margiana)
- Sultan gala (built in between 800-1400 AD, Sultan–Kala offers to explore the mudbrick work of Seljuk fortifications)
- Great and Small Gyz kala (7th-12th centuries), known as “Ladies Fortress”. One of the most well-preserved fortresses made from mud bricks.
- Mohammad ibn Zayd Mausoleum (the leader of the Shia movement against the Abbasid Caliphate)
Return to Mary.
- Mary History Museum (including unique treasuries found in the ancient city of Mariana/Gonur depe and Old Merv)
Transfer to airport for flight to Ashgabat. Arrival in Ashgabat and transfer to hotel. (flight schedule is subject to change)
Overnight in Ashgabat.
Day 5. Ashgabat – Darvaza
AM time at leisure.
After lunch we catch our 4×4 AC vehicles and head north towards the central Karakum, to see the Darvaza flaming crater (260 km). On the way to the main crater make a stop by the “bubbing water” and “sulfur-mud” craters. When we reach the Darvaza crater, a short exploration of the area while a nomad-style kebab is being prepared. The crater was formed in the early 1970s when the ground collapsed during a Soviet gas drilling expedition. Scientists reportedly lit the massive hole on fire to prevent the spread of natural gas, and it’s been burning ever since and became a “must-see” site for those who travel to Turkmenistan. The National Geographic expedition revealed that some unusual lifeforms were thriving in the inhospitable conditions of the Darvaza crater. Dinner at sunset in Turkmen yurts or under the open sky.
Overnight in tents or yurts. Wild camping.
Day 6. Darvaza – Ashgabat
After breakfast in Darvaza, we drive back to Ashgabat. En-route stop at Yerbent village to see the local semi-nomadic lifestyle and take some pictures. Arrive in Ashgabat and hotel check-in. PM time at leisure.
Overnight in Ashgabat.
Day 7. Ashgabat – Gokdepe – Kow Ata – Kipchak – Ashgabat
AM we will drive (50 km, 50 min drive) to Gokdepe village to visit Arkadash stud farm where you will have a chance to see, feed and ride the unique breed of Turkmen Ahal-Teke horses. Akhal-Teke horses are a cultural treasure and historic symbol of the tribal, desert nomads of Turkmenistan. Among the oldest and rarest breeds in the world today, they are highly prized internationally for their intelligence, endurance, and speed. Gokdepe village was the site of the biggest battle for Russian domination in Central Asia in the late 19 c. Having finished our photo session with horses, we continue to Kov Ata (meaning “the father of caves”) underground lake (40 km, 40 min drive from Gokdepe). Residents have known about the unusual properties of this lake since time immemorial. Warm mineralized hydrogen sulfide water made the cave a popular place, with which hopes for recovery are pinned. This medicinal water contains hydrogen sulfide, iodine, magnesium, sodium, and sulfate, as well as chlorine, aluminum, bromine, iron, and antimony — a total of 27 chemical elements. Bathing in water has a beneficial effect on the body, and improves blood circulation. A long illuminated staircase of 350 steps leads to the lake. The cave and lake are popular places to visit by residents of Turkmenistan and a tourist attraction. Return to Ashgabat with a stop at Kipchak village to visit the biggest mosque of Turkmenistan “the Spiritual Mosque of Turkmenbashi” and the family mausoleum of the first president of Turkmenistan.
Overnight in Ashgabat.
Day 8. Ashgabat – Departure
Transfer to Ashgabat International Airport for the international flight. End of services.
Tour price information
- Comfort A/C transportation (sedan or minivan in the cities and 4WD in the desserts and off-roads: Darvaza/Mary)
- Accommodation 5*
- Visa support (LOI)
- Water along the way
- Entrance fees to sites
- English-speaking tour guide
- Camping gear for desert overnight (Darvaza)
- Breakfast, and dinner while camping
- Visa cost $50-$100 paid in cash on arrival (depending on the nationality)
- PCR test cost $37 upon arrival
- Migration duty $14 p/p (paid at the border on arrival)
- Additional services in the hotel
- Tips to the guide and the driver (recommended)
- Personal expenses and itinerary modifications
- Photo and video camera fees at sites/museums