“Melon Day” Festival tour 5 days/4 nights
Looking for a unique and unforgettable travel experience? Join us on a 5-day tour of Turkmenistan and experience the country's vibrant culture and traditions during the annual Melon Day Festival. Taste the sweet, juicy, and fragrant melons that have been grown in Turkmenistan for millennia, and join in on the festivities that take place all around the country. You'll also have the chance to explore historical sites like the ruins of Old Nisa Fortress, bargain in Tolkuchka Sunday bazaar, as well as visit the Darvaza gas crater, known as “Door to Hell”. With Ayan Travel as your guide, you can rest assured that this will be an unforgettable trip filled with adventure, excitement, and cultural immersion. Don't miss out on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience one of Turkmenistan's most beloved traditions – book your tour with us today!
WHY MELON FESTIVAL IS SO SPECIAL
Gourds have been grown in Turkmenistan for several thousand years, including sweet, juicy, fragrant melons. This is confirmed by archaeological finds: at the excavations of the ancient
settlement of Gyaur-Kala, several melon seeds were found. Turkmen melons to this day remain a favorite delicacy of residents of many countries, especially the former Soviet republics. And in Turkmenistan itself, they are considered part of the great heritage, and national wealth, a symbol of the talent and hard work of local farmers who worthily continue the traditions of their ancestors.
Currently, more than 1.6 thousand varieties of melons are described, which are grown in different countries of the world. More than 400 of them are varieties of Turkmen melons created
by local breeders. More than 200 samples of melons of local selection are cultivated on the melon plantations of the country. Most of them were restored during the years of independence by the joint efforts of scientists and folk breeders. Poets dedicate poems to the “Queen of melon” – this is what the melon is called in Turkmenistan, writers – stories and essays, and artists depict
it in still lifes and landscapes.
On the Day of the Turkmen Melon, mass festivities are organized in the capital of the country, Ashgabat. Here you can visit an exhibition of gourds, try different varieties of melons and
watermelons, as well as national dishes prepared from them. In addition, concerts and fairs are held in different cities of the country. And the President of Turkmenistan on this day awards the best melon growers and collectors of the country - the winners of the competition with the promising name "Golden Melons of the Golden Age".
Duration: 5 days/ 4 nights
Dates: 11-15 August 2023
Route: Ashgabat – Gokdepe – Ashgabat – Darvaza – Ashgabat
Day 1: Ashgabat/Arrival and city tour
Arrival at Ashgabat airport with TK. Greetings and transfer to the hotel. After breakfast in the hotel, we will start by exploring the historical site 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. National Museum of History where you can take a close look at exclusive ancient artifacts and treasuries from different historical and archaeological sites of Turkmenistan.
PM we will explore the “the City of Love”. Sightseeing will include the “Bagty Koshgi” hill platform with a panoramic view of the city, the Monument of Neutrality, the Park of Independence and the Book of Ruhnama. We will also visit the Ertogrul Gazi mosque. Known as a Turkish mosque (because it looks like Blue Mosque in Istanbul) it is present from Turkey to Turkmen in honor of Ertogrul Gazi, a Turkmen leader and the father of Osman, the founder of the Ottoman Empire. A short walk in the “Park of Inspiration” with statues of famous poets of Turkmen literature.
Overnight in Ashgabat.
Day 2: Ashgabat – Gokdepe – Ashgabat
After breakfast in the hotel, we will spend the morning visiting Tolkuchka bazaar (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. Try your trading skills to negotiate for the best price on your purchases.
PM we will drive 50 km to Gokdepe village to visit Arkadash horse farm where you will have a chance to see, feed and ride the unique breed of Turkmen Ahal-Teke horses. From there will stop at Gokdepe fortress and the mosque. The village was the site of the biggest battle for Russian domination in Central Asia in the late 19 c. The fortress is also a site of a beautiful Gok-depe mosque built in 1996 in honor of the fortress defenders. Having finished our photo session with horses and mosque, we continue our drive to Ashgabat, en-route make a stop to visit an impressive complex in Kipchak village, consisting of the largest mosque in Turkmenistan and the family mausoleum of the first president of Turkmenistan.
Overnight in Ashgabat.
Day 3: Ashgabat (Melon day) – Darvaza
Festival day. Deposit luggage to hotel storage and check out. After breakfast, we travel to Anau City to participate in the festivities. Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Melon Day, a national holiday celebrated with great enthusiasm in Turkmenistan. Experience the joyous event featuring melon displays, contests, traditional music, and dance performances. Enjoy the opportunity to taste a variety of delectable melon dishes and experience the sweet essence of this fruit.
PM Drive to Darvaza gas crater (270 km, 4 hours), internationally known as “Gates of Hell”. Stop at “bubbling water” and “bubbling mud” craters on the way. Short tour at the site upon arrival while nomad-style kebabs are being prepared. Dinner at sunset and another photo session by the flaming crater.
Overnight in tents, wild camping.
Day 4: 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 for leisure.
Overnight in Ashgabat.
Day 5: Departure
Transfer to Ashgabat International Airport for departure. End of services.
Tour price information
- Comfort A/C transportation (sedan, minivan, or bus in the cities and 4WDs in the desserts and off-roads)
- Accommodation 4*5*
- Visa support (LOI)
- Water along the way
- Entrance fees to sites
- Bilingual tour guide
- Camping gear for desert overnight (Darvaza)
- Breakfast, and dinner while camping
- Visa cost $50-$100 paid in cash on arrival
- PCR test cost $44 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