Ashgabat to Tashkent Trip Notes

Travel Central Asia’s famous silk route and visit Turkmenistan’s desert landscapes, Uzbekistan’s futuristic Ashgabat, charming Bukhara and the magical city of Samarkand.

    • 15
    • KDOH
    • Trip Price tool tip
      USD $1,540
      CAD $1,575
      AUD $1,445
      EUR €1,175
      GBP £960
      NZD $1,905
      ZAR R14,600
      CHF FR1,375
    • Kitty tool tip
      USD $520
    • Total price tool tip
      USD $2,060*
      CAD $2,128*
      AUD $2,019*
      EUR €1,574*
      GBP £1,304*
      NZD $2,586*
      ZAR R19,832*
      CHF FR1,867*
      *
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    • Overland
    • Basix
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‡ As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only - please click here to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
Print Version
Last Modified: 26 Jun 2014
Ashgabat to Tashkent
Trip code: KDOH
Validity: 01 Jan 2012 to 31 Dec 2015
Strategically positioned along the Silk Route, the cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva were famed trading centres for the caravans that passed this way in ancient times. On this trip we follow in their footsteps, discovering magnificent architecture and bustling bazaars that have changed little since the rule of Tamerlane. We'll stay with nomads in the Kyzylkum Desert, explore the imposing Oxus Valley, tour the wonders of Samarkand and head into the markets of Ashgabat to practice our bargaining skills. This is a spectacular journey to the heart of Central Asia.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
StyleTippingFinish point
ThemesDeparture taxEmergency contact
MapImportant notesEmergency funds
ItineraryGroup sizeVisas
We also recommendYour fellow travellersIssues on your trip
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersWhat to take
Culture shock rating AccommodationHealth
Physical ratingMeals introductionSafety
Physical preparationMealsTravel insurance
Included activitiesTransportResponsible Travel
KittyGroup leaderA couple of rules
Optional activitiesJoining point The Intrepid Foundation
Money ExchangeJoining point instructionsCarbon offset
Spending moneyArrival complicationsFeedback
Style
Basix
  • The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Themes
Overland
Map
Ashgabat to Tashkent
Itinerary
Day 1 Ashgabat
Border Information: Welcome to the amazing city of Ashgabat: If joining in Ashgabat, enter Turkmensitan at Ashgabat Airport.
Today there will be a group meeting at 10:00 Hrs.
In the afternoon we make a visit to Ashgabat's famous Sunday market. Tonight we stay in a good quality hotel in Ashgabat.
Hotel for the night: Ak Altyn
Accommodation
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Darvaza
After breakfast we drive out into the Karakum Desert. If time allows we will make a side trip to see the amazing Darwasa Gas Crater. Overnight near Darwasa where we will wildcamp.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 3 Konye-Urgench
We continue our overland journey across the Karakum. We will visit the Kunye Urgench ruins en route to our wildcamp for the night.
Accommodation
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 4-5 Khiva
Border Information: Exit Turkmeistan at Shovot, enter Uzbekistan at Nijazov.
This morning we drive to the border with Uzbekistan. Crossing the border around lunchtime we then continue on to Khiva. We stay in Khiva for 2 nights in a comfortable hotel.
This morning we have a guided tour of this ancient city. The afternoon is free to explore this wonderfully preserved Khanate town. Second night in a comfortable hotel.
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 6-8 Bukhara
Leaving Khiva, most of today will be spent travelling. Our destination is the fascinating city of Bukhara where will spend the next 3 nights. Overnight in comfortable local hotel.
Today we will have a tour of Bukhara and the surrounding area, including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison and Ark Fortress. Second night in a comfortable local hotel.
Today is free for you to explore more of Bukhara and the surrounding area, or to just kick-back and take it easy for the day. Third night in comfortable local hotel.
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Day 9 Nurata
Morning drive to Nurata in the Kyzylkum Desert. Afternoon optional camel rides. Overnight in a desert yurt camp amongst the dunes.
Accommodation
Yurt (1 nt)
Days 10-12 Samarkand
Morning exploring the Nurata Hills with the option of taking a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul. Afternoon drive to Samarkand where we will stay for the next 3 nights. Staying in a small friendly hotel.
Today we will have a guided tour of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including The Registan, Ulugbek Medressa, Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda.
Second night in a comfortable local hotel.
Free day to explore the great sultanate of Timur, Samarkand.
Accommodation
Hotel (3 nts)
Days 13-15 Tashkent
This morning is free for you to explore more of Samarkand, or take it easy and have a lazy start to the day. In the afternoon we will drive on to the old soviet city of Tashkent. Whilst in Tashkent we stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Free day to explore the old Soviet city of Tashkent. Second night in comfortable hotel.
Border Information: If finishing in Tashkent, exit Uzbekistan at Tashkent Airport.
Free time in Tashkent.
Accommodation
Hotel (2 nts)
    We also recommend
    If this trip is not quite right for you, cast your eye over these alternatives:
    • Classic Uzbekistan (CPKU)
    • Silk Road - Uzbekistan & Kazakhstan (CBSR)
    Itinerary disclaimer
    Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
    Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
    Culture shock rating

    Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
    Physical rating

    This trip will raise your heartbeat. Moderate physical activities are included and a good level of fitness is required.
    Physical preparation
    In Asia you will need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climates from the hot deserts through to the colds of the high mountains. Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will 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 and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large our Asia trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.
    Included activities
    Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
    Kitty
    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 www.cashpassport.com 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.
    Kitty does not cover food while staying in hotels and hostels.
    KITTY CHANGES:
    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.
    As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
    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.
    Money Exchange
    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 in Uzbekistan is the Uzbekistan Som (UZS).
    This can only be obtained in Uzbekistan. Conversion of UZS back into other foreign currencies may prove difficult.
    Banks are rarely able to exchange foreign currency so you should ask the advice of your hotel or leader for where to change money. There are also many private money changers in Uzbekistan but if you choose to use them you must be sure to check the rate and your change carefully.
    Major credit cards are rarely accepted in shops and restaurants even in bigger cities. Some banks in Tashkent will allow cash advances against a credit card but cash withdrawals are subject to a 5% or more service charge.
    In Tashkent you may be able to find ATMs that accept international cards and use them to withdraw local currency; however these should not be relied on as your sole financial source. Some souvenir sellers and tourist restaurants may accept USD or EUR as payment but all other purchases in Uzbekistan must be made in local currency.
    Please note that you must declare ALL currency (including travellers cheques) on entry to and exit Uzbekistan. Failure to do so accurately, or exiting the country with more currency than when you entered may result in delays, fines or the additional sums being confiscated.
    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.
    Spending money
    Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
    Tipping
    If you are happy with the services provided 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. We recommend that any tips are given to the intended recipient by a member of your group, rather than collected and passed on by the group leader.
    Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it. On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD10 to USD15 per person.
    Departure tax
    All departure taxes should be included in your international flight ticket.
    Important notes
    LOCAL PARTNER:
    Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.
    MINIMUM AGE:
    The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
    IDENTITY DOCUMENTS:
    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.
    RECOMMENDATION:
    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.
    EXPORTS / IMPORTS:
    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.
    BANNED MEDICINES:
    Any medications containing tramadol, morphine, opiates or any other similar constituent component that may be considered as narcotic drug (widely used as painkillers in a number of countries), have been prohibited from export to Turkmenistan or transfer across the territory of the country. Discovery of any of such medications could be considered equal to the discovery of narcotic drugs and may result in corresponding sanctions, unpleasant formal procedures, or, at least, considerable delays during border formalities.
    Group size
    Maximum of 19 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. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit: www.intrepidtravel.com/meetup
    Single travellers
    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.
    Accommodation
    Hotel (11 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nts), Yurt (1 nt)
    Dragoman overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels, ranging from twin to multishare. 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 hotels.
    Where it's not practical to camp (ie: in towns and cities), we use hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of 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. We will also arrange as many village or local homestays as possible, allowing us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
    Meals introduction
    While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
    Meals
    All meals when camping
    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.
    USD 800.00
    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.
    Transport
    Overland vehicle
    Roads can be very rough which makes for long, slow travel days. It's all worth it however for the spectacular scenery and novelty of truck travel.
    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. In East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we 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.
    Joining point
    Ak Altyn Hotel
    Magtymguly şayoli 141/1
    Ashgabat
    TURKMENISTAN
    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.
    PRE TRIP ACCOMMODATION
    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.
    Arrival complications
    We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
    Please also make sure have a copy of the local operators Emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
    Finish point
    Grand Orzu Hotel
    27 Makhmud Tarobi Street
    Tashkent
    UZBEKISTAN
    Emergency contact
    We 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
    Emergency funds
    Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
    Visas
    Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
    We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
    CENTRAL ASIA VISAS (DRAGOMAN):
    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.
    LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI)
    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: http://dragoman.thevisamachine.com/visa-support
    2. Email the following documents tomailto:visasupport@thevisamachine.com 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.
    VISA REJECTIONS
    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.
    TURKMENISTAN (DRAGOMAN OVERLAND) 2014/15
    LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI)
    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 http://dragoman.thevisamachine.com/visa-support. Once you have completed this form we will need you to email the supporting documents to visasupport@thevisamachine.com 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.
    VISAS
    How and where apply for your Turkmenistan visa will depend on how you enter the country.
    VISA ON ARRIVAL - LAND:
    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 $14 USD pp. You will need to fill out an immigration card upon entering. Please make sure you keep this card for the entire journey.
    VISA ON ARRIVAL - AIR
    If you are flying into Ashgabat you can obtain your visa on arrival at Saparmurat Turkmenbashy International Airport.
    This will cost approximately US$ 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.
    OTHER:
    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: www.caravanistan.com
    INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
    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
    Ashgabat
    +993 12 352914
    Address in Turkmenistan:
    Ak Altyn Hotel
    141/1 Magtymguly ave
    Ashgabat 744000
    +993 12 363700
    DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
    * Letter of Invitation (LOI)
    * Photocopy of your passport
    * Passport size photo (up to 4)
    * Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
    WARNING - TRAVELLING IN OCTOBER:
    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.
    UZBEKISTAN (DRAGOMAN OVERLAND) 2014/15:
    LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI):
    All visitors to Uzbekistan require a visa. Most nationalities will need a Letter of Invitation (LOI) in order to apply for your visa. Citizens of Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, UK & USA do not currently need a LOI to apply for a tourist visa if applying within their home country, however this information is subject to change at short notice so we recommend checking with the embassy before you apply. If applying outside of your country of residency, a LOI will be required.
    How and where you apply for your Uzbekistan visa will depend on how you enter the country.
    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 http://dragoman.thevisamachine.com/visa-support. Once you have completed this form we will need you to email the supporting documents to visasupport@thevisamachine.com 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.
    VISA EN-ROUTE:
    For those travelling to Uzbekistan overland on a WESTBOUND itinerary (ie. coming from China or Kyrgyzstan) it may be possible to apply for your visa in Beijing or Bishkek. Please ensure you have enough time to apply for the visa in these destinations and check the embassy opening days and hours. The following website may have useful information and traveller reports about applying for visas at these and other embassies: www.caravanistan.com.
    VISA ON ARRIVAL – AIR:
    Travellers arriving into Tashkent International Airport can obtain their visa on arrival at the airport ONLY if there is no Uzbekistan embassy in the country where your flight is arriving from (not your country of residence). You will require a printed copy of your LOI that includes your exact flight details in order to board your flight so please ensure you supply this information to The Visa Machine. Costs will depend on your nationality (currently approx US$100) and payment must be in cash. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival at any land border.
    * Supporting flight documents are required at time of booking for Visa on Arrival for Uzbekistan
    OTHER:
    In all other circumstances you must obtain your visa from an embassy before you travel and must indicate specifically where you will apply on the The Visa Machine LOI form. Uzbekistan visas are date specific, so please check carefully which dates you will enter and exit the country. Normally you are unable to apply for your visa more than 3 months before entry. Uzbekistan embassies where you may be able to apply for your visa include: Beijing, London, Istanbul, Bangkok, Brussels, Washington, Berlin, Jakarta, Amsterdam, Singapore, Paris. Some embassies may have an online visa application form. The following website may have useful information and traveller reports about applying for visas at these and other embassies: www.caravanistan.com
    INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
    You will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa.
    Address in Uzbekistan:
    Grand Orzu Hotel
    27 Makhmud Tarobi Street
    Tashkent
    +998 71 120 8877
    Inviting Party:
    Golden Travel
    Grand Orzu Hotel
    27 Makhmud Tarobi Street
    Tashkent
    +998 71 120 8883
    DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
    * Letter of Invitation (LOI) – depending on nationality and place of application
    * Photocopy of ALL pages of your passport
    * Passport size photo (up to 4)
    * Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements
    WARNING – REGISTRATION IN UZBEKISTAN:
    All visitors to Uzbekistan must register with the local department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs within 3 working days after arrival. When staying at a hotel, you will be registered automatically. Please ensure you keep any registration documents issued by the hotel until you exit the country.
    Issues on your trip
    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.
    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 and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
    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.
    You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
    Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).
    PERSONAL MEDICAL KIT:
    All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit on-board for use in emergency situations only. Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit.
    ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT
    Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware 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 and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points, so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.
    SLEEPING BAG:
    Please bring a sleeping bag (4-season is recommended - check what the weather will be like over the dates you are travelling), sleeping mat and a pillow as these items are not provided.
    WATER BOTTLE:
    Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. 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 ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
    Health
    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.
    Safety
    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. 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 group 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 group 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:
    FIRE PRECAUTIONS:
    Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
    TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
    Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
    TRAVEL ADVISORY:
    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:
    DRAGOMAN TRANSPORT SAFETY
    • Our own vehicles have fully fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.
    • If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.
    • Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.
    • Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion
    • Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells
    • Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window or a roof hatch.
    • Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.
    • Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver
    • Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.
    DRAGOMAN SAFETY
    HOTELS:
    • Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.
    • Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.
    • Study the fire instructions in your room if available.
    • Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.
    • If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.
    • Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.
    • Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavor to sort the situation out.
    • Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under Western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care.
    • We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.
    • If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or home stays
    CAMPSITE FIRE SAFETY:
    • Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is.
    • Know how to raise the alarm.
    • Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.
    • Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.
    • Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.
    OTHER CAMPSITE SAFETY
    • Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.
    • Group tents around our vehicle wherever possible.
    • No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.
    • Ensure cooking area is well away from the tents.
    • Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.
    • Ensure any soil toilets are min 50m away from tents & cooking area.
    • All food waste should be burnt or buried – min 100m away from the site.
    • Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife.
    • Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.
    • Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.
    • Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.
    • Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.
    • If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.
    • When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group.
    FOOD SAFETY
    • We prepare many meals during the tour and our crew are hygiene trained; however, some general tips can help in order to avoid the possibility of stomach upsets;
    • Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.
    • Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.
    • Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables, (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).
    • In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.
    • On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.
    • Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.
    • Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.
    • Restaurant Food: This is grassroots travel and many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as
    individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the Western World. Unfortunately this is
    part of travel in these regions. Therefore think carefully about what food you order and be aware of the risks.
    DRAGOMAN PERSONAL SAFETY:
    One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling.
    There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise you to leave any valuable jewellery, watches, etc, at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:
    • Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.
    • Be aware, stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.
    • Avoid carrying too much money.
    • Use of a money belt / neck wallet or is encouraged at all times while travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport,
    air tickets, cash and other valuable items.
    • Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.
    • Ensure your valuables are left secure when you go out.
    • In any hostels/hotels, place all valuables in a safety deposit box, where available or with reception or locked away
    by the crew.
    • Do not take any valuable jewellery/watches etc. away with you.
    • If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.
    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 group 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.
    Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
    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:
    We recommend that you dress respectfully at all stages of the trip especially when in and around religious sites. In Central Asia both men and women generally dress very conservatively by covering their legs and shoulders. Women are advised to cover their heads when entering functioning Orthodox churches and mosques, while men should remove their hats.
    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.
    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$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
    Carbon offset
    Carbon Offset C02-e 615.00 kgs per pax.
    Feedback
    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.
    Remember that once you’ve left your feedback you’ll automatically be entered into our monthly draw for a US$500 (or equivalent in your local currency) travel voucher.