Destinations
Turkmenistan
Activity
Adventure, Active, Nature & Wildlife, Culture, Solo Travel
Tour Type
Small group tour

Good to know

  • Expert local guide
  • Small groups (max 12)
  • Flexible rebookings: change dates at no cost

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, 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.

Suggested Itinerary

Recommended route & experiences

Arrival in Ashgabat

Early morning arrival in Ashgabat via Istanbul (Turkish Airlines). Complete arrival formalities. Private transfer to the hotel. Immediate check-in at the hotel on arrival. Rest and breakfast at hotel.

In the afternoon we will have the orientation tour of the city. We will explore most striking structures of the city. We will stop at such impressive buildings as the Monument of Independence (resembling a white-marble “Eiffel Tower” located in a beautiful park), a rocket-like Arch of Neutrality, “Palace of Happiness” (the official name for the wedding registration office) shaped like a 3D octagon star, the National Memory complex consisting of an eternal fire rising up to the skies and the Earthquake Memorial (topped by a sculpture of a large bull holding the Earth on its horns). As the sun sets in the evening, we will drive past numerous impressive monuments to enjoy unrealistic views of the “white city” and its extraordinary buildings, shining brightly in the dark.

Please note: If you like, you may visit Tolkuchka Sunday market in the first half of the day (most active on Sundays but also functioning on Thursdays and Saturdays).

Hotel Divan 5* or similar.

Ashgabat City Tour – Mary (flight)

Breakfast at hotel. We start our touring today with the visit of the ruins of Old Nisa (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the earliest of the Parthian Empire capitals. Erected on the top an irregular pentagon hill at the foot of the Kopet-Dag Mountains, in atmospheric outskirts of the city, Old Nisa is a beautiful landmark. 14 ha in size, the fort accommodates two semi-excavated complexes of the Parthian period (III c. BC - III c. AD), designated as royal residence and temple complex. Abandoned at the end of the Parthian period, Old Nisa conveyed its functions to New Nisa, another archaeological site located a couple of kilometres to the west, an important medieval Silk Road city. After sightseeing at Old Nisa we proceed to Kipchak village to visit a complex of the biggest mosque in Turkmenistan and the family mausoleum of the first President, Turkmenbashi. Then we return to Ashgabat to visit the National Museum of History (more than 327.000 objects on a display) and observe an exclusive collection of ancient artifacts from different historical and archeological sites of Turkmenistan, such as Old Nisa, Ancient Merv and others.

In the afternoon, fly to Mary by T5-131 at 5:55 PM – 8:35 PM (flight times are subject to change). On arrival, transfer to hotel.

Hotel Margush 3* or similar

Ancient Merv – Ashgabat (flight)

After breakfast, we drive towards Bayram-Ali, the contemporary re-incarnation of 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, demonstrating exquisite Seljuk period brickwork and architectural décor. After sightseeing, we head back to Mary to visit local History Museum, presenting a wide array of archaeological finds (dating back to the III mill. BC through the late XIX century) from both Ancient Merv and Bronze Age sites of the Margush country as well as interesting ethnographic displays reconstructing the scenes of daily life of the Turkmen population and other minorities of the Murghab oasis. Then we fly back to Ashgabat T5-132 at 7:35 PM – 8:15 PM (flight times are subject to change). On arrival in Ashgabat, transfer to hotel.

Hotel Divan 5* or similar

Ashgabat – Darvaza (280km, c. 4-5h)

Today morning we will travel 12 kilometres east of Ashgabat towards modern Anau, to visit a former medieval city of Bagabad, featuring the citadel of an important Timurid-period centre and the ruins of the Seyit Jemaleddin mosque, which is referred to in many historical sources as “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, evidences of which were discovered and extracted during archaeological researches throughout the XX century. Near Anau we will visit a private stud farm, home of the famous Akhal-Tekke horses. Welcome tea. The Akhal-Tekke breed is one of the oldest in existence and is well known for elegance, swiftness, and stamina. Having finished our photo session with the horses, we return to Ashgabat.

In the afternoon, we will travel inland through the Kara Kum desert (280 km/4-5 hrs) with its moving sands and sparse vegetation of saksaul, acacia and kandym bushes. Arriving at the border between the northern and southern regions of Turkmenistan we turn off the main road for an exciting eight-kilometre desert drive. The drive over, we find ourselves a couple of hundred metres away from the Darvaza flaming crater. At daylight, it seems more of an ordinary whole in the ground slightly smoked by fire. We go for a walk around the crater, while our barbecue dinner is being prepared. By the time we notice the smell of a fire-cooked dinner, the simple whole of the crater turns into what may seem a front door of hell, a fire temple or any other mysteriously spectacular place that a romantic’s imagination may associate with fire. We finish the day tasting delicious nomadic food, pondering over the meaning of life in the serene atmosphere of beautiful evening sky and flickering lights of the “eternal” fire. Dinner and overnight in the yurt camp.

Yurt Camp with shared bathroom facilities

Darvaza – Konye-Urgench – Dashoguz (330km, c. 6h)

After breakfast, we continue our northward trip towards Konye-Urgench (UNESCO World Heritage Site), a former capital of the medieval Khorezmshah empire (230 km/4-5 hrs). On arrival in Konye-Urgench we will have a chance to take a close look at outstanding monuments of the medieval Khorezm. We will visit the 14 century mausoleum of Turabek Hanum, one of the best living examples of the architecture of its period; minaret of Kutlug Timur, a former highest minaret of Central Asia that used to form a part of the main cathedral mosque of the city; mausoleum of Sultan Tekesh, a beautiful 12 century mausoleum with one of the earliest portals of the east and a unique cone of a dome; Kyrk-Mollah mound, the fabled al-Mamun’s Academy of Sciences; and mausoleum of Il-Arslan, a tiny precursor of unique Khorezmian mausoleums with a pyramidal cone as its dome. Having finished sightseeing, we drive to Dashoguz (100 km/1.5 hrs).

Hotel Dashoguz 3* or similar

Dashoguz – Turkmenbashi (flight) – Avaza

Breakfast at hotel. Transfer to the airport for flight to Turkmenbashi by T5-235 at 11:40 AM - 12:50 PM (flight times are subject to change). Free time at leisure to enjoy the blue of the Caspian sea. If weather permits, it would be possible to swim in the sea, take 1 hour cruise along the shoreline on a boat (subject to availability), visit city market in Turkmenbashi or just take a walk through the city.

Hotel Bagtyar 3* or similar

Avaza – Yangykala/ Yangysuv Canyons – Avaza (400 km, c. 6h)

After breakfast drive east to the so-called Yangikala canyons (180 km/4 hrs). We will spend about an hour here to explore the land of the red canyons, enjoying the “Martian” scenery around. Then we continue further north (30 km/1 hr) and, diving into the precipice of the Kara-Bogaz gulf, discover the sparkling Yangysuw canyons. Picnic lunch. Having travelled from the fiery red of the Mars to the blinding snow-white of the moon we take a farewell glance at the canyons and set back off towards the Caspian shore, crossing boundless empty steppes of this region. Enjoy this evening at the luxury of the hotel and the blue of the “Khazar” sea.

Hotel Bagtyar 3* or similar

Avaza – Turkmenbashi – Ashgabat (flight)

Early in the morning transfer to the airport for our flight to Ashgabat T5-242 at 8:40 AM - 9:40 AM (flight times are subject to change). Check in at hotel after 12:00. Afternoon free time for rest, to shop for souvenirs, visit any of the museums if willing and packing up for departure home.

Please note: On April departure we can join the celebrations of the “Turkmen Horse Day” today, which takes place on the last Sunday in April.

Hotel Divan 5* or similar

Departure from Ashgabat

Early morning transfer to the airport for departure home by Turkish airlines via Istanbul.

Please note: If you prefer to fly to Almaty, you can take the evening flight to Ashgabat on day 7 and take the morning flight on day 8 (Thursday) to Almaty.

Upcoming departures

Departing Returning    
21 Apr 2024 29 Apr 2024 Enquire
3 Oct 2024 11 Oct 2024 Enquire
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Good to know

  • Expert local guide
  • Small groups (max 12)
  • Flexible rebookings: change dates at no cost

How To Book

We aim to provide absolute peace of mind when booking with us. A €500 per person deposit is required at the time of booking, and you may cancel or re-book your dates up to 15 days prior to departure.

A single supplement of €450 is required for solo travelers.

All group departures have a maximum group size of 12 guests. All departure dates are guaranteed.

You can also opt to book the whole itinerary as a private tour. We can arrange extra nights before or after the trip, and suggest private tour extensions.

We can advise and take care of any required visas. Citizens of most countries are eligible for an e-visa for Tajikistan, and a visa on arrival for Turkmenistan, with a letter of invitation pre-arranged by us. Other countries are visa-free for most nationalities. Contact us for advice.

We are happy to advise on your international flights, please contact us for more assistance.

Tour inclusions

Get in touch now for more details

Included Accommodation

Accommodation based on double room sharing, incl. early check-in on Day 1

Included Guided excursions

English-speaking local tour guide accompanying the group; All entrance tickets as per the itinerary.

Included Ground transfers

All transfers by minibus/ 4WD cars according to the itinerary, as well as your airport transfers

Included All meals

Full board (breakfasts, lunches, dinners)

Included Internal flights

Economy class plane tickets for the flights Ashgabat-Mary, Mary-Ashgabat, Dashoguz-Turkmenbashi, Turkmenbashi-Ashgabat

Included Support

Visa support invitation letter and registration

Reviews

What people are saying about Kalpak Travel

P
Pat H
11/05/2022

We loved our tour of Uzbekistan! From the start of the process Luca was very helpful and provided lots of information, then when we had to reschedule twice because of the pandemic he moved the booking on and kept the price the same. As we got closer to actually going we had lots of questions which Luca answered very comprehensively. The organisation of the tour was excellent and our guide Umid was exceptional. Uzbekistan was a long time coming because of the pandemic but it fully lived up to our expectations and Kalpak was a big part of that. Would recommend highly.

L
Lydia D
19/10/2022

We booked an 8 day Best of Uzbekistan trip and added 3 nights so we could fly direct from the UK. Luca was absolutely brilliant with suggestions for places to go and sites to visit to make best use of the time, he arranged drivers, guides, meals and hotels and they were all excellent. We visited Khiva, Bukhara, Samarkand, Shakrisabz and Tashkent, each very different from one another but all really interesting, welcoming and as photographers offered great shots. In Samarkand we had dinner in a local property and a plov cooking demonstration, great fun and as the lone vegetarian, I can put my hand on my heart and say I had an excellent meal!

D
Dirk W
12/10/2022

Nothing is ever too much for Luca to make sure your trip runs like clockwork. He prepares the itinerary meticulously and adjusts to your specific preferences. He will answer emails or whatsapp immediately, no matter the day or time (does the man ever sleep ?!). I covered Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan in 33 days and saw the very best of Central Asia. Luca organized the complex logistics of this trip, with comfortable rides (cars, trains, planes) and local guides at every location. Luca and his team are not only super professional, they are also easy and friendly to work with. Simply could not be better ! There's only 1 option when you visit "The Stans" : talk to KALPAK.

W
Wally C
08/11/2022

My trip with Kalpak to Central was phenomenal. It far exceeded my expectations. Everything was top quality including the accommodations, food, sights, itinerary and outstanding guides in each country. It was an excellent quality tour for the money. Great quality value. I would highly recommend the trip to anyone considering going. Central Asia is the best kept secret that one doesn’t hear much about.

S
Sten-Enok, Norway
01/11/2018

I got a tip to visit the webpage for Kalpak and have not regretted since. They arrange trips to Central Asia and do it really well. They are professional, respond to inquiries instantly, are very flexible and know the region well. I was in contact with Luca for a combination of mountain biking and trekking in the Fann mountains in Tajikistan. My experience is solely positive; truly professional and passionate about the region.

Mind you, Kalpak uses local resources and is responsible tourism. I really recommend Kalpak Travel! They make astonishing trips to Central Asia and are professional, serious and responsible.

S
Spencer, Australia
01/07/2018

We had a fabulous 13-day tour of Central Asia - Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan - in May/June. Luca, the owner of Kalpak Travel, has been very reliable and committed to giving excellent service. He was constantly keeping in touch during our trip to ensure that everything was running smoothly.

The guides in each city spoke excellent English and were extremely informative on all aspects of Central Asia. In Almaty, we were invited to have dinner at our tour guide's home. The food was fabulous and we had a wonderful evening….

We were very lucky to have Kalpak Travel as our tour company which exceeded our expectations with flying colours. We highly recommend Kalpak Travel if you are planning a hassle-free tour of Central Asia.

R
Rebecca, USA
01/07/2018

We had a wonderful 3.5 week trip through the 5 Stans. I feel like I've seen the highlights in case I don't get the opportunity to return, but I most certainly DO want to return and see more. These are the warmest and most welcoming people I have every encountered.

My regret is that Kalpak does not arrange trips for other parts of the world, as I truly enjoyed every minute of working with them, and would love to do so again. SUPERLATIVE service.

  • Ashgabat

    Ashgabat

    Ashgabat is a wonder, in that it is a huge, richly decorated, marble clad capital city that’s streets are largely empty of people...
  • Merv

    Merv

    ...
  • Ashgabat

    Ashgabat

    Ashgabat is a wonder, in that it is a huge, richly decorated, marble clad capital city that’s streets are largely empty of people...
  • Darvaza

    Darvaza

    ...
  • Dashoguz

    Dashoguz

    ...
  • Avaza

    Avaza

    ...
  • Avaza

    Avaza

    ...
  • Ashgabat

    Ashgabat

    Ashgabat is a wonder, in that it is a huge, richly decorated, marble clad capital city that’s streets are largely empty of people...
  • Ashgabat

    Ashgabat

    Ashgabat is a wonder, in that it is a huge, richly decorated, marble clad capital city that’s streets are largely empty of people...
Days

9

From only

$2,820 pp

Contact us now for more information about this trip
This tour is operated by
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