Tashkent to Ashgabat Trip Notes

Tashkent to Ashgabat

Last Modified: 10 Nov 2015
Tashkent to Ashgabat
Trip code: KDOO
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2016
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
StyleDeparture taxEmergency funds
ThemesImportant notesVisas
MapGroup sizeIssues on your trip
ItineraryYour fellow travellersWhat to take
Itinerary disclaimerSingle travellersHealth
Culture shock rating AccommodationSafety
Physical ratingMeals introductionTravel insurance
Physical preparationMealsResponsible Travel
Included activitiesTransportA couple of rules
KittyGroup leaderThe Intrepid Foundation
Optional activitiesJoining point Carbon offset
Money ExchangeArrival complicationsFeedback
Spending moneyFinish point
TippingEmergency contact
  • Our Basix style trips are designed for travellers who want exceptional value, plenty of free time and having the flexibility to choose where and how their time and money is spent. By working plenty of free time into the itineraries and keeping many of the activities optional, we aim to make travel possible for those on even the most slender of budgets. After all, why pay for an activity or excursion you wouldn’t otherwise be interested in? Or a level of comfort you don’t require? As a wise person probably once said, a bed's just a bed when there's exploring to be done.
Tashkent to Ashgabat
Day 1 Tashkent
Border Information: if joining in Tashkent, you will most likely enter Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport. There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note
from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.
We will then have a free afternoon to explore the Soviet city of Tashkent. In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. *Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all
circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*
Hotel for the night: Grand Orzu Hotel
Grand Orzu Hotel
27 Makhmud Tarobi Street
Tel: +998 71 120 88 77
Take in an opera performance at the neoclassical Alisher Navoi Opera and Ballet Theatre UZS 1500
Explore the delightful traditional farmer's market at the Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent's Old Town
See the grand 16th-century Kukeldash Madrassa and the city's principal Juma Mosque in the Old Town
Visit the religious centre of Tashkent at Hast Imam Square and see the Uthman Koran, believed to be the world's oldest extant copy of the Koran USD 5
About Tashkent
Tashkent was once the fourth largest city in the Soviet Union. Whilst the historic cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva still retain much of the atmosphere of the ancient Khanates, Tashkent is very definitely a Soviet city, because old Tashkent was largely destroyed by a series of earthquakes and
Soviet planners. Having said that, it is still a great place to visit. The city has a clean, modern feel and there is some unusal contemporary architecture here, which makes it an interesting contrast to many other places along the Silk Road. The city markets (especially the Chorsu Bazaar) are well worth strolling around, you can get some excellent souvenirs here as there is a huge amount of Soviet ephemera on sale, ranging from entire Soviet stamp collections, old paintings of Lenin, through to Military uniforms. You should also try to plan a journey that involves a trip on the metro, so you can take in the impressive architecture and decoration of the Tashkent underground. Then after a busy
day sightseeing, you might like to head out for a meal at one of the old Imperial Russian style nightclub/restaurants which often put on some unbelievably risqué cabaret.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 2 Samarkand
Today our journey begins will a drive to the fascinating ancient city of Samarkand where we will stay for the next 3 nights. In Samarkand we will stay in a good hotel on the outskirts of town. Drive time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, borders and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).
About Samarkand:
In the 14th century the city of Samarkand was the capital of the great sultanate of Timur. Thanks to it's cemtral location along the Silk Route, the town originally grew propserous as a crossroads between East and West, creating a melting pot of different cultures and traditions whose influences are still very
much apparent event today. Samarkand is perhaps the most romantic and evocative of the Silk Road cities, and crowned by the decorative domes and minarets of the many beautiful buildings here it certainly looks the part. The must-see's include Registan Square, which feels like the centre-point of the
city, home to a group of impressively decorated Madressas, Guri Amir and the Shah-i-Zinda mausoleum
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 3-4 Samarkand
Today we will have a guided tour of the incredible historic city of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including the Registan, Ulug Beg Observatory, Bibi- Khanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda. On our second day, we will have a free day to further explore the beautiful city and its surroundings.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 5 Nurata
the 15th-century Ulug Beg Observatory, once the finest observatory in the Islamic world
Included in Kitty
Visit the Guri-Amir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur Included in Kitty
Explore the stunning plaza of The Registan, a worldfamous and iconic symbol of Central Asia Included in Kitty
Explore the stunning green city of Shahrisabz, the centre of folk art in Uzbekistan and the birthplace of the medieval warlord Timur USD 20
Discover the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once one of the largest mosques in the world and the jewel in Timur's empire Included in Kitty
See the beautiful and moving ancient mausoleum of Shah-I-Zinda Included in Kitty
Wander through the markets and carpet vendors of Samarkand, and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the local carpet weavers
Today we will drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert near the town of Nurata. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to take a swim in Lake Ajdar Kul and head out on an optional camel ride into the desert! Tonight we will stay in a desert yurt camp. Drive time - 4-5 hours.
Spend the night in nomadic yurts out in the the Kyzylkhum Desert Included in Kitty
See the ruins of Nur, the ancient fortress of Alexander the Great, on the drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert (if time allows) UZS 2000
Take a short camel ride around the sand dunes of the Kyzylkhum Desert UZS 5000
About Nurata:
Nurata is home to the Nurata mountains and is famous for it's old circle patterned Suzani which sell for thousands at auctions. Dating back to The Bronze Age, you can see how amazingly historical this place is with so much knowledge to be gained here. The history doesn't stop there, as there are tenth
century mosques and the place where the Chashma Springs formed.
Yurt (1 nt)
Day 6 Bukhara
Today we will drive to the beautiful city of Bukhara, where will spend the next 3 nights. Our drive will take us via the desert town of Nurata, which we will have a brief stop. In Bukhara we will stay in a comfortable local hotel. Drive time - 7-8 hours.
About Bukhara:
Bukhara is an atmospheric city alive with it's history. Exploring the streets, you get the feeling that this is how Central Asia was before Soviet domination. Bukhara was once a very powerful Khanate, controlling most of Turkmenistan and the surrounding area in years gone by. This has left the city
with a rich and interesting history and many of the buildings here are spectacular, particularly the Ark Fortress, Ismail Samanid Mausoleum and the famous Kalyan Minaret (also known as the Death Tower). Today the Government has invested a considerable amount of money into the city, in order to preserve the architecture here, as some of the buildings are considered to be the finest in all of Uzbekistan.
Hotel (1 nt)
Days 7-8 Bukhara
Today we will have a guided tour of Bukhara and the surrounding area, including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison and the Ark Fortress. On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore this incredible historic city and its surroundings.
See the Indian-style Char Minar Minarets, four towers nestled in a maze of alleyways in downtown Bukhara
Visit the gruesome museum at the old prison of Zindon UZS 4500
Explore the city's oldest Islamic monument, the 10thcentury mausoleum of Ismail Samanid, the founder of the Samanid Dynasty Included in Kitty
Discover the ruins of the ancient 5th-century fortress of the Bukhara Ark Included in Kitty
Explore the colossal Kalon Mosque and Minaret, which has survived without restoration for 850 years and impressed Genghis Khan so much that he ordered the building to be spared Included in Kitty
Visit the magnificent 16th-centrury architectural ensemble surrounding the Lyab-i Hauz ponds, once the
city's principal source of water Included in Kitty
Watch an entertaining evening puppet show, featuring many local Uzbek and Tajik poems and songs
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 9-10 Khiva
Today we have a full day drive to the incredible historic town of Khiva. Drive time - 10-11 hours. On the next day, we have a guided tour of the ancient city of Khiva during the morning. In the afternoon we will have plenty of free time to further explore this wonderfully preserved Khanate town. In Khiva we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
See the beautiful turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret, one of the iconic symbols of Khiva Included in Kitty
Visit the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassa, a museum dedicated to the Khan that surrendered to the Russians in 1873 Included in Kitty
Explore the incredibly photogenic blue palace of Tash Khovli in Khiva Included in Kitty
Learn all about the Khoezm culture and handicrafts at the Islam Hodja Madrassa, Khiva's newest monument Included in Kitty
Explore the incredible Juma Mosque and the 12th century fortress of the Kukhna Ark Included in Kitty
Visit the mausoleum of Pahlavon Mohammed, the legendary 14th-century poet, philosopher, wrestler, and patron saint of Khiva Included in Kitty
About Khiva:
The small historic town of Khiva in Uzbekistan was once the capital of Khwarezmia and the Khanate of Khiva, a central asian state that existed from the 1500's right through until 1924, when it was fully incorporated into the Soviet Union. The city's long history is fascinating and fortunately much of the
magnificent architecture has been incredibly well preserved. The ancient walls that used to provide sanctuary for the travellers on the Silk Route are intact, as is the old town that the walls were built to protect. Many of the buildings are beautifully decorated in classic turquoise tiles. As well as exploring the streets of the old city, you should make sure you visit the Kukhna Ark & Juma Mosque, Pakhlovan Mahmus Mausoleum and Islam Hodja Madrassa.
Hotel (2 nts)
Day 11 Konye-Urgench
Border Information: Exit Uzbekistan at Nijazov, enter Turkmenistan at Shovot. This morning we will drive across the border into Turkmenistan, visit the markets in the border town of Dashoguz, and explore the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day. We will wild camp in the deserts near Kunye Urgench tonight. Drive time - 5-6 hours (heavily dependent on the time taken to cross the
Explore the ancient ruined city of Kunye Urgench, once one of the most splendid cities in Central Asia until it was ransacked by Timur and abandoned Included in Kitty
About Kunye Urgench:
Kunye Urgench is situated on the shores of the Amu Daria River and was once the capital of the Khorezm region, which was part of the Achaemenid Empire. The old town is brimming with historic buildings dating back as far as the 11th century, including a mosque, mausoleum and towering 60-m high minaret.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 12 Darvaza
Today we continue south through the Karakum Desert. We will have an included side trip to the amazing flaming Darvaza Gas Crater (also known as the 'Door to Hell'!). We will wild camp in the deserts near Darvaza Crater tonight. Drive time - 7-8 hours.
See the bizarre and incredible burning gas crater at Darvasa, popularly known as the 'Door to Hell'
Included in Kitty
About Darvaza
From Darvaza, it's possible to hire local vehicles to visit the incredible open gas crater that's located nearby. It's a truly breathtaking sight; imagine a huge crater approximately the size of a football pitch, ablaze with a fire fed by natural gas vents, or failing that try to envisage what the entrance to the Underworld would look like, and chances are you'll be pretty close!
Optional Activities
  • Gas Crater - USD10
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 13 Ashgabat
Today we will complete our drive to the interesting capital of Ashgabat, usually arriving mid-afternoon. There will hopefully be time to explore one of the city's museums upon arrival. In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel. Drive time - 6 hours.
About Ashgabat:
Ashgabat is a unique modern city that has been extensively rebuilt over the last ten years since the country gained independence. Little is left of the original Russian Imperial city as most of it was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1948, today the centre is a unique mix of futuristic and outrageous public buildings that are an extraordinary sight. The earthquake affected every family
in Ashgabat and is ingrained in the psyche of the local people. The Earthquake monument and museum are well worth a visit, as are the Carpet and the National Museums. If you are into carpets, Turkmenistan is the country to visit, and if you are in Turkmenistan, Ashgabat's Sunday Market is the place to buy them. This wonderful market stretches for hundreds of acres into the desert. Carpets, camels, clothes, pigs, jewellery, goats, cars, chickens, hats and ex soviet military paraphernalia are readily available.
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 14 Ashgabat
Today we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses. In the afternoon we have the option of visiting the famous Ashgabat Sunday Market.
Explore, shop, and haggle at the vast Altyn Asyr Sunday Bazaar Included in Kitty
Learn about the history and culture of Turkmenistan at the huge National Museum in Ashgabat USD 10
Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city Included in Kitty
See a myriad of incredible and impressive hand-woven carpets in the Ashgabat Carpet Museum (if open) USD 10
Hotel (1 nt)
Day 15 Ashgabat
Border Information: if finishing in Ashgabat, you wil most likely exit Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport. Today will be a free day to further explore the city if Ashgabat. Please note that if you are finishing your trip here, there is no accommodation included tonight.
      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. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
      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. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary from time to time.
      We must emphasise that the routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only. We intend following the route detailed but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. Or it may be because we find a better, more interesting route. While actually en route, unexpected hospitality, a local festival or a great place to chill out can determine our exact route and itinerary on any given trip.
      Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group.
      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
      The step up into the overland truck, while not overly high, can become tiring, as can the constant setting and packing up of camp. You need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down at least 8-10 times a day.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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
      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.
      The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      Hotel (11 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (2 nts), Yurt (1 nt)
      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
      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.
      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 500.00
      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. 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.
      Joining point
      Grand Orzu Hotel
      27 Makhmud Tarobi Street
      Arrival complications
      We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your 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 operator's emergency phone numbers from our Emergency Contact section of these trip notes.
      Finish point
      Ak Altyn Hotel
      Magtymguly şayoli 141/1
      Phone: +993 12363700
      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:
      Emergency funds
      Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$500, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest, strike action or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
      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.
      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: http://dragoman-visa-support.thevisamachine.com/
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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: www.caravanistan.com
      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.
      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-visa-support.thevisamachine.com/. 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.
      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.
      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
      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
      You will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa.
      Address in Uzbekistan:
      Grand Orzu Hotel
      27 Makhmud Tarobi Street
      +998 71 120 8877
      Inviting Party:
      Golden Travel
      Grand Orzu Hotel
      27 Makhmud Tarobi Street
      +998 71 120 8883
      * 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
      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, 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.
      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).
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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.
      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:
      One of the advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There's 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.
      Any personal effects that are left on the truck, even if they are stored in the safe, are left at your own risk and Dragoman cannot be held responsible for any damage or theft that may occur.
      The safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a major priority. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:
      - The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice
      - Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers
      - Leaders reports from off the road
      - Local contacts we have built up over 30 years of experience.
      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:
      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.
      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:
      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.
      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 or local representative 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$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:
      Carbon offset
      Carbon Offset C02-e 615.00 kgs per pax.
      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.