Ashgabat to Tbilisi Trip Notes

Ashgabat to Tbilisi

Last Modified: 04 Apr 2016
Ashgabat to Tbilisi
Trip code: KDVB
Validity: 01 Jan 2014 to 31 Dec 2016
Get up close and personal with some of Europe and Asia's most off the beaten track adventures on this overland odyssey through Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan and Georgia. From underground lakes, futuristic cities and ancient desert landscapes to rolling green hills and cobblestone streets, no journey through this unique part of the world is the same.With barely any tourists in site, cross the Capsian Sea in a ferry and head toward the cosmopolitan city of Baku, the quaint villages of Georgia and the regal architecture of Tbilisi. When it comes to one-of-a-kind adventures, they don't come much weirder, or more wonderful than this mind-challengeing, eye opening adventure.
Table of Contents
StyleAccommodation NotesEmergency contact
ThemesMeals introductionVisas
MapMealsWhat to take
ItineraryTransportClimate and seasonal information
Itinerary disclaimerMoney mattersHealth
Physical ratingGroup leaderTravel insurance
Important notesSafetyA couple of rules
Group sizeJoining pointResponsible Travel
Your fellow travellersJoining point instructionsThe Intrepid Foundation
AccommodationFinish pointFeedback
Explorer, Overland

Day 1-2 Ashgabat
Border Information: Welcome to the amazing city of Ashgabat. If joining in Ashgabat, enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat Airport.

There will be a group meeting at 10.00 hrs followed by a trip to Ashgabat's infamous Sunday market.

This wonderful market stretches for hundreds of acres into the desert. Carpets, camels, clothes, pigs, jewelry, goats, cars, chickens, hats and ex soviet military paraphernalia are all readily available. The rest of the afternoon if free to explore this unique modern city. Whilst here we stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Hotel for the night: Ak Altyn

Today is free to explore Ashgabat.

We spend the night in a comfortable hotel.
Hotel (2 nt)
Day 3 Geok-Depe
This morning we have some time to explore Ashgabat. This afternoon we drive (approx 100kms) to the spectacular Kow Ata underground Lake. We will have some time this afternoon to explore this superb lake of clear water naturally heated to about 36°C.

Tonight we will wild camp in this area.
Day 4 Turkmenbashi
This morning we set off for our drive to Turkmenbashi (approx 470kms). Our itinerary in Turkmenbashi and the Caspian Sea must be flexible as it is very much determined by the sailing times of the local ferries. These are notoriously unpredictable and we must adjust our times both in Turkmenbashi and Baku if the ferry is delayed.

We overnight in a comfortable hotel
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 5 Overnight Ferry
From Turkmenbashi we take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to the Azeri Capital, Baku. The boat docks at the city of Baku. Ferry is perhaps a rather misleading word for those used to comfortable holiday boats. Rusty, old and tub are words that might spring to your lips, but there is only one way across the Caspian Sea and beggars can't be choosers.

Overnight in a local hotel.

Please note that if the ferry is delayed we will spend tonight camping near Turkmenbashi.
Overnight ferry (1 nt)
Day 6-8 Baku
Free days in Baku to explore the city.

Overnight in a comfortable hotel

Please note that this nightstop may change depending on when the ferry from Turkmenistan departs to Baku port.
Hotel (3 nt)
Day 9 Qobustan
Today we have a short drive to Gobuston. Whilst here we visit the Rock art and mud volcanoes that this area is known for. This afternoon we will continue driving visiting local villages along the way.

Tonight we will wild camp overnight.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 10 Sheki
Today we continue our drive to Sheki (approx 2010kms). Whilst here we will visit the exquisite Khan's Palace and the Museum of History.

Overnight in a hotel.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 11 Lagodekhi
Border information: Exit Azerbaijan at Balakan, Enter Georgia at Ladodekhi.

Today we cross the border into Georgia. Once the border formalities are over we continue our drive into the lush Alazani valley.

We will wild camp tonight.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 12-13 Telavi
Today we head for the beautiful town of Telavi. The afternoon is free to explore this beautiful region famous for it's local white wine.

Overnight in a home stay.

Today we visit the Sixth Century Shaumta Monastery, which is beautifully located on an isolated forested hilltop. There are hundreds of different grapes grown here, and every village has its own particular variety. We will hopefully see some of the local traditions, including grape harvest, wine making, and most importantly, the keipi (banquet), and also visit some of the local vineyards.

Second night in a comfortable homestay.
Homestay (2 nt)
Day 14-16 Tbilisi
A short drive brings us to Georgia's capital, Tbilisi. This afternooon is free to explore.

Overnight in a comfortable hotel.

Today we will have a guided tour of Tbilisi’s old town, sites include the National Museum, Metekhi Temple and the Sioni Catherdral.

Second night in comfortable local hotel.

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time.
Hotel (2 nt)
Itinerary disclaimer
We've allowed plenty of room for freedom and flexibility in our trips. In fact, flexibility is one of the ingredients that makes each of our trips so exciting. This style of travel offers us some unexpected circumstances at times, for example, bad weather and road conditions, technical defects of transportation, inconveniences caused by local operators and authorities, and other circumstances beyond our control. Changes in the program may be required to make the best of the unique situations that we encounter. Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group. Our described itineraries are to be used as a general guide only.

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are approximate and are for entrance only and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability and it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. This means that it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, however we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with booking these activities. The decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.
Physical rating

In these parts of the world you'll need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climate; from hot deserts through to the cold of high mountain areas.

Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days and dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You'll need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up, and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step-up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high, can become tiring. You need to judge if you are physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day.
Important notes
1. Some destinations visited on this trip do not have consulates in Australia and New Zealand. We recommend that travellers from these countries book the WESTBOUND itinerary of this trip where some visas can be obtained en route.
2. Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.
3. Combination trip. Please see Trip Notes (Important Notes) for more details.

Group size
Maximum of 22 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part. Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own accommodation (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Bush camp (no facilities) (2nt), Homestay (2nt), Hotel (9nt), Overnight ferry (1nt)
The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hostels or hotels. Where it's not practical to camp (ie: in towns and cities), we use hostel or hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of hostel and hotel stops depends on the route and area.

Campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. On some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, which allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.

Please note that camping is participatory, which means you will be expected to set-up and pack down your own tent.
Meals introduction
On an Overland journey you are more than just a passenger, you’re part of the crew - pitching in to set up camp, shopping for food, cooking and generally helping out. We operate a rota system, dividing the group into smaller units of 5 or 6 people, so that these duties are shared equally amongst the group. These jobs will include things like collecting water and firewood, loading the back locker, supervising the kitty and food stores etc. While camping on overland journeys, all meals will be included in the kitty and this means that you will be working as a group to prepare meals and cook for your group. If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting.

A typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, cereal and something hot such as eggs or pancakes as well as tea and coffee. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto, pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit for it.
No meals included
Overland vehicle, Overnight ferry

Roads in Asia can be very rough which makes for long, slow travel days. It is however all worth it for the spectacular scenery and novelty of truck travel!

The step up into the overland truck, while not overly high can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down at least 8-10 times a day, as can the constant setting and packing up of camp.
Money matters
On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund and overseen by travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals and all included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases.This Kitty price indicated on the trip notes below is indicative only. Please refer to the 'Check availability' page on the website for the up-to-date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.

Your kitty will be collected when you arrive for your trip, either on day 1 or, if on a combination trip, in stages throughout your trip.

You may pay your kitty in a mixture of US Dollars cash and the rest in local currency (amount and type of currency to be agreed by the leader at the start of the trip). Most of our travellers chose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.

If you do choose to pay part in local currency your trip leader will confirm the current exchange rates with you so you will know exactly how much to hand over.

Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.

We constantly monitor local price changes and exchange rate fluctuations that could affect kitty expenses. Final kitty contributions are likely to be different from those quoted in the brochure or at the time of booking so you must check the final amount just before departure.

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

For obvious security reasons we hesitate to recommend you bring lots of cash with you, a sensible mix of cash, travellers cheques and ATM cards is best. However, most of our past passengers have said they wished they had been told to bring more cash. Apart from the convenience of being able to change money in many more places, you will sometimes get a much better exchange rate for cash. Note that for trips in Central Asia it's virtually impossible to use traveller's cheques or find ATMs. We therefore recommend that you bring cash in US$.

You should take a mixture of denomination notes. Banks and money-changers in most countries will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are dated from 2003 or later. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Cash machines are available in some areas but are not always reliable therefore we recommend that you do not rely on them as your only source of cash. Credit cards such as Visa, MasterCard and American Express are the most commonly accepted, but be prepared for very high commission charges.

Please do not rely on cards for daily use, as they are not always accepted outside of larger towns and cities. Please bring a mixture of small and large denominations as in more remote areas it can be hard to change amounts over $50.

The official currency of Turkmenistan is the manat (M). It’s set at a fixed government exchange rate, but traded for far less on the black market. As ATM's are virtually non-existent, you're best to exchange foreign currency once inside the country. Don't bother with travellers cheques - they're not accepted anywhere. The black market is easy and accessible to foreigners, and the only place you’ll get a realistic exchange rate.

When it comes to spending money on the trip, every traveller is a little different. You know your spending habits better than we do, so please budget a sensible amount for things like meals not included, drinks, shopping, optional activities and laundry. It's always better to bring a little more than you think you'll need. Also make sure you've read your trip details thoroughly so you know what's included in the trip price and what isn't. This should make budgeting a little easier. You'll find this info in the Inclusions section of your Essential Trip Information (that's this document).

If you are happy with the services providing a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations.

The following amounts are based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

Restaurants: Please check the bill and if there’s an addition of 10% service charge, there’s no requirement for tipping. Otherwise, 10% of the total bill amount is appropriate.
At local markets and basic restaurants: Leave the loose change.
Local guides/Porters: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$1 per person, per day for local guides/porters.
Your crew (including the leader and driver, and perhaps cook depending on your trip): You may also consider tipping your crew for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$2-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-US$10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

Over the years we have found that many of our travellers find the need for tipping to be both tiresome and embarrassing, especially if they don't have the correct small change. To overcome this, we have established a tipping kitty system. At your group meeting, your tour leader may discuss the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your tour leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members.

Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult

All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.

Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.

Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (e.g. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Group leader
On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.

While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. Dragoman trips use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.

We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders

On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure and ensure that your travel insurance covers you for all areas your itinerary covers. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your Leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:

Where we use a local partner to fully operate one of our itineraries, we use the travel advisory of the country where that operator is based rather than the Australian DFAT advisory. This itinerary is operated by our local partners Dragoman, and as such will follow the British Government (FCO) Travel Advice. To view these travel advisories please log on to:

While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair or on the floor and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

The vehicle has fully lockable doors and windows, which is an obvious advantage, but it will probably be necessary to guard it at times and everyone should be prepared to share in this responsibility.

In most areas there is very little to fear from the point of view of violence. But in all areas 'tourists' are a tempting target for pickpockets and con-men. Always be aware of this and be especially careful when leaving banks or money-changers, in any crowded areas, etc. NEVER leave things lying around - they will almost certainly get stolen. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to always be security conscious and to take all necessary precautions. Great inconvenience and distress can be caused by having your documents or possessions stolen.

A few of our past group members have had the unhappy experience of having their belongings stolen before the trip starts. Beware of carrying your passport and other valuables around with you in cities. We strongly suggest you deposit your valuables in your hotel safe on arrival.
Joining point
Ak Altyn Hotel
Magtymguly şayoli 141/1
Phone: +993 12363700
Joining point instructions
There are licensed taxis in Turkmenistan, which are clearly identified and yellow in colour. Although the taxis have meters to calculate the fare, drivers will usually ask foreign nationals for a set fee of around 5 to 10 Manat (taxis from the airport cost more and they usually ask for US$). Most taxi drivers do not speak much English. It is also possible to flag down ordinary cars from the roadside and negotiate a fee with the driver for the journey to your destination. We advise against this as there is usually no insurance cover, the servicing of the cars is very likely to be infrequent and of poor quality and they are unlikely to have working seatbelts.

Alternatively transfers from Ashgabat airport to your hotel can be booked through us in advance. Please contact our reservations department.

All tourists must register within three days of arrival in Ashgabat with the State Migration Service of Turkmenistan. This registration procedure will be carried out by Dragoman’s local agent in Turkmenistan on arrival at your hotel in Ashgabat (if arriving before the trips start date) or with the group on the first day of your trip.

Due to the registration procedure we ask all clients arriving in Ashgabat before your trip starts to contact us with full arrival details i.e. flight number, date and time of arrival at Ashgabat airport. We also ask that all clients wishing to book pre trip accommodation do so directly with Intrepid in order for the registration procedure to be carried out. Please contact us for full details and prices of pre trip accommodation in Ashgabat.
Finish point
GTM Kapan Hotel
Metekhi Ascent 4, Tbilisi 0148, Georgia
Emergency contact
Dragoman have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left home and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

For further contact details please use the following page:

For general contact details please use the following page:

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. Entry requirements can change at any time, so it's important that you check for the latest information. Please visit the relevant consular website of the country or countries you’re visiting for detailed and up-to-date visa information specific to your nationality. Your consultant will also be happy to point you in the right direction with acquiring visas. Visas can take several weeks to process, so familiarise yourself with any requirements as soon as you have booked your trip to allow for processing time.


This trip visits multiple countries for which visas can be difficult and time consuming to obtain. Please ensure that you have enough time to apply for all visas you require before booking this trip.

You will need to plan very carefully how and where you will obtain your visas as some Central Asian destinations may not have an embassy in your country. Some countries also require a Letter of Invitation (LOI) in order to apply for your visa. Specific information about visas for each destination on this trip can be found in the Trip Notes. Please remember that while Intrepid, Dragoman and The Visa Machine are able to provide some advice about visas, it is the responsibility of the individual traveller to ensure that all correct and necessary information and documents are supplied on time for their own Letters of Invitation and visa applications. While it is possible to apply for visas independently, some travellers choose to use a visa service or agent for the process. Your booking agent can advise of a reputable service.

We strongly advise booking this trip on its own or taking it at the beginning of your broader travel plans as the already complicated visa process will only be further complicated by trying to get visas on the road.

This trip travels to one or more countries which may require a Letter of Invitation (LOI) in order to apply for your visa. Please check the country specific visa information below to see if this requirement affects you and your trip.

In order for Dragoman to apply for the LOI on your behalf through our partners The Visa Machine you will need to do the following immediately after booking:

1. Complete & submit the following form:

2. Email the following documents tomailto: with your full name in the subject of the email followed by "Dragoman LOI":
* Clear, colour scanned copy of your passport (+ passport PHOTO scan for Turkmenistan LOI)
* Letter of Employment or Study (Uzbekistan LOI). This must be a letter from your employer or place of study on a business letterhead that states clearly that you are travelling for tourism purposes only. If you are retired or self-employed, please indicate this on the form above.

Submitting this information for your LOI is the responsibility of the traveller. Please complete the Visa Support form as soon as possible after booking. Any delays in returning this form, along with the associated documents, will have a knock on effect to the amount of time you have in applying for the actual visa.

Please be aware that LOIs can take up to 30 days to be processed and can only be applied for 3 months before entry in order to remain valid. The Visa Machine will be able to advise you on the expected time frame in which you will receive your LOI. You must indicate where you will apply for your visa on the above form and any changes in this information will result in your LOI being delayed so please plan carefully.

Once the LOI has been processed a copy will be sent to you. You can then begin the process of applying for your visa. LOIs are valid for a 3 months period so you must apply for your visa within 3 months of the LOI being issued.
LOIs are generally included in the trip price unless otherwise indicated, however remember that these are NOT the actual visa. Visas are the responsibility of the traveller and separate from the trip price. Costs will vary depending on your nationality and place of application.

On occasion visa applications or LOIs may be rejected. The reasons for the rejection may or may not be disclosed. While Intrepid, Dragoman and The Visa Machine have no control over such situations and cannot be held responsible, should this occur we will do what we can to help you continue your trip or arrange alternative travel plans.


Most nationalities require a visa to visit Azerbaijan. Most also require a LOI in order to apply although this can depend on where your application is made. Visa rules for Azerbaijan are constantly changing and embassy staff often find it hard to keep up with or know how to interpret them. We recommend checking the following websites for reports and up to date information: &

The following information was current at the time of writing. You will need to check with the embassy where you will apply for specific information and costs.

It is no longer possible to get a visa on arrival at Baku Airport or at any land border into Azerbaijan. All travellers must apply for their Single Entry Tourist Visa to Azerbaijan in advance.

From March 2013 Azerbaijan has introduced an e-visa system. This is an online process, with the visa emailed to you as a PDF attachment that you will need to print out. This visa enables entry to Azerbaijan at any border point, land or air and is issued strictly for the dates your documents show only. The e-visa costs US$100 and takes up to 15 days to be processed and requires submitting the following documents:

*Clear, colour copy of passport in JPEG format
*Clear, colour copy of applicant’s photo size 3x4 cm in JPEG format
*Flight reservation details if arriving or departing by air
*Confirmation of hotel booking – This can be requested from Dragoman by emailing
*Completed e-visa application form in WORD format

Please note that while this is a very new service, we advise all pax to apply for the e-visa rather than applying at an embassy.

There are 2 options for obtaining the e-visa:

1. The Visa Machine
The application process can be started by going to the following address:
The application cost is $80US plus £20 admin fee.

2. Direct to an Azeri travel agent
An alternative option is to use Azerbaijan24, an Azeri travel agent. Please follow the link to find instructions on completing the application form independently:
The application will cost $100US.

Organisation, juridical or physical person inviting you to Azerbaijan:
Mirvari Travel Ltd.
Istiqlaliyyet str. 23
+994 12 492 09 45

Address of the place of your stay in Azerbaijan:
Azeri Hotel
Icheri Sheher
Asif Zeynally street 39
AZ1000, Baku
(unless otherwise indicated on your LOI)

* Letter of Invitation (LOI), additional official documents depending on the embassy
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photos (up to 4)
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements

Georgia Visa

Most nationalities do not currently require a visa for Georgia, including Australia, New Zealand, Canada, UK, USA & all EU member states. Visa free nationalities can now only stay "visa free' in Georgia for 30 days. However, all nationalities should check with the nearest embassy for the latest visa information as this may be subject to change at short notice.
For any questions regarding visas or supporting visa documents please get in touch with The Visa Machine on the following contacts:

If you have any trouble with the online form or want to chase up the status of your application for Visa Support Documents please contact The Visa Machine on or during UK working hours on +44(0) 207 148 6402.
The Australian Visa Machine office can be contacted about actual Visa Applications (not Visa supporting documents) on or on +61 (2) 61 452 265

Please note the Australian office cannot assist with Visa Supporting Documents and or chasers. These must be directed to the UK office.

Citizens and stateless persons permanently residing in the countries listed below may enter Georgia without a visa for short-term visit (Not exceeding 90 calendar days in any 180-day period).

More countries are listed on the official Ministry of Foreign Affairs website -

New Zealand
South Africa
United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
United States of America


All visitors to Turkmenistan require a visa. You will need a Letter of Invitation (LOI) in order to apply for your visa.

Dragoman will apply for the letter of invitation on your behalf. In order to do this we need you to complete the Visa support form found here Once you have completed this form we will need you to email the supporting documents to with your name in the subject of the email followed by 'Dragoman LOI'.

Please complete the Visa Support form as soon as possible after booking. Any delays in returning this form, along with
the associated documents, will have a knock on effect to the amount of time you have in applying for the actual visa. Once a letter of support / Letter of Invitation has been authorised a copy will be sent to you. You can then begin the
process of applying for your visa.

*If you decide to obtain your visa in a different location, a new letter of invitation will be required
which will delay you obtaining your visa therefore it is vital that you are clear on where you will obtain your visa.

*From time to time some visa applications are rejected by the Ministry of Internal Affairs in Turkmenistan & Uzbekistan or incorrect dates given for travel. If this happens, Dragoman will contact you as soon as it is known and we will help you arrange alternative travel plans. Unfortunately Dragoman Overseas Travel cannot be held responsible if your visa application is refused.

How and where apply for your Turkmenistan visa will depend on how you enter the country.

Travellers arriving in Turkmenistan overland on a WESTBOUND itinerary can obtain their visas at the land border on arrival. Please indicate this as the place where you will apply for your visa on the The Visa Machine LOI form. Costs will depend on your nationality (currently US$55-$85) and payment must be in cash. A tax is also payable at the border of approx $14 USD pp. You will need to fill out an immigration card upon entering. Please make sure you keep this card for the entire journey.

If you are flying into Ashgabat you can obtain your visa on arrival at Saparmurat Turkmenbashy International Airport.
This will cost approximately US$ 85. A printed copy of your approved Invitation letter will be required at the check-in
desk for your flight to Ashgabat as proof of visa authorisation. Dragoman will once again apply for this on your behalf
but please note, Dragoman will require exact details of your intended arrival date and flight details before we can start
this process.

In all other circumstances you must obtain your visa from an embassy before your travel and must indicate specifically where you will apply on the The Visa Machine LOI form. On arrival in Turkmenistan you will be required to fill out an immigration card which must be kept for your entire journey. Turkmenistan embassies where you may be able to apply for your visa include: Beijing, London, Istanbul, Tashkent, Almaty, Washington, Berlin, Paris. The following website may have useful information and traveller reports about applying for visas at these and other embassies:

You will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa (G)

Name(s) of Host/Sponsor/Contact:
Ayan Travel
Magtymguly Avenue 108-13, 14
+993 12 352914

Address in Turkmenistan:
Ak Altyn Hotel
141/1 Magtymguly ave
Ashgabat 744000
+993 12 363700

* Letter of Invitation (LOI)
* Photocopy of your passport
* Passport size photo (up to 4)
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements

Independence Day in Turkmenistan is on October 27th. The government usually imposes restrictions on the issuance of the Letters of Invitation (and therefore visas) during the month of September for all those travelling to Turkmenistan
in October. Dragoman must therefore have all the requested information and a copy of a passport in August as applications made after this date may not be granted.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage, although you won't be required to walk long distances with it (max 30 minutes).

Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

Below we have listed the essentials for this trip:

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different sized lockers however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than: length 15 inches, height 9.5 inches and depth 26.5 inches. You will need to bring your own lock for your locker. We recommend a 20-30mm sized padlock with a long shackle.The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is maximum 20kg. Backpacks shouldn't have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

A sleeping bag (we recommend a 3–4 season). It can get very cold at night in winter months in desert and mountainous regions. If you're travelling during the hot season you may wish to also pack a sleep sheet so you will be comfortable no matter the weather. Pillows are NOT provided so please bring a travel pillow along.

We don't provide a mattress so please bring your own (a Thermarest / inflatable mattress is recommended).

A simple plastic bag / waterproof toiletry bag (that can hang on a nail on the back of a door) will be useful to keep your clothes dry inside basic camp shower structures.

You will need to bring a mixture of lightweight clothing, some warm items for the evenings, and long shirts and pants for protection against mosquitoes in the malaria areas. Clothes should be easy to wash and dry. Some people like to take jeans for evenings out but they can be tough to dry and should not be used for trekking. Avoid nylon and other synthetics, which can be very uncomfortable in hot weather. Ex-military or military style clothing and equipment is NOT recommended.

As this trip includes camping and/or bush walking we highly recommend that you take a pair of comfortable, closed-in walking shoes. Closed-in shoes will help to protect your feet from cuts and scratches when walking through bush/grass-lands, and will also act as a barrier protection in rare cases against bites or stings from dangerous animals in this environment.

Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. We recommend at least a 1.5litre capacity. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Most of our trips have access to power to recharge batteries for phones and cameras every couple of days. We always recommend that you carry an extra battery for your camera just in case. Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt “cigarette lighter” socket which may be used at the crew’s discretion, however, do bear in mind that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets. Hotels and many campsites have electricity and charging of batteries is advised before checking out the following day.

Please try to avoid bringing unnecessary valuables, and use your hotel safe and the safe on the overland truck to store the bulk of your money, passport, and airline tickets. It’s also a good idea to purchase a money belt or pouch that is easily hidden.

We strongly recommend that you photocopy all important documents e.g. air tickets, passport, vaccination certificate, etc. and keep the copies separate from the originals. While not valid, a photocopy makes it very much easier to obtain replacements if necessary.
Climate and seasonal information
An export certificate is required to take carpets and anything else considered antique out of Turkmenistan. Export certificates are available from the Carpet Museum or this can be arranged through the seller. It is also important to catalogue and declare to Customs any carpets or anything antique looking - even if clearly from a different part of the world - that you bring into Turkmenistan with you.

You should carry an identity document at all times while in Tashkent and in Ashgabat. Requests to produce proof of identity, for example by the police, are frequent.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Travel insurance
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

When travelling on a trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Everyone has the right to feel safe and secure on their trip. We don’t tolerate any form of sexual harassment at Intrepid, either between passengers or involving our leaders or local operators. Sexual relationships (consensual or otherwise) between a leader and a passenger are unacceptable. If you ever feel another person is behaving inappropriately please inform us immediately by contacting the emergency contact number detailed in these trip notes.
Responsible Travel
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller.

When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative and you should dress accordingly. To respect the local culture and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. As a guideline, shoulders and knees at the minimum (and everything in between including midriff and cleavage) should be covered at all times. Wearing shorts and singlet tops is not appropriate and may well restrict your entry into sites of a religious nature, family homes, and will limit your local interaction opportunities in general. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly warm climate.

The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.

The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$1,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year, excluding emergency appeals). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:

After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better. It allows us to make improvements for future travellers.