Relive the dynasty of Tamerlane on this Silk Road adventure

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 Overland 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 Turkmenistan’s desert, explore the imposing Oxus Valley, tour the wonders of Samarkand and head into the markets of Ashgabat to practice our bargaining skills.


Start
Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Finish
Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Countries
Kyrgyzstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan
Style
Basix
Theme
Overland
Code
KDOIC
Physical rating
Ages
Min 18
Group size
Min 4, Max 21

Why we love this trip

  • Pick up souvenirs in the bazaars of Tashkent

  • Experience the romance of the Silk Road in Samarkand

  • Spend a memorable night sleeping in a yurt

  • Walk through Bukhara's historic Old Town

  • Gaze up at the ancient walls surrounding Khiva

  • Discover the futuristic architecture of Ashgabat

  • Learn about Tamerlane’s dynasty

Itinerary

This itinerary is valid for departures from 01 January 2018 to 31 December 2018. View the itinerary for departures between 01 January 2017 - 31 December 2017

Border Information: if joining in Bishkek, you will most likely enter Kyrgyzstan at Bishkek Manas International Airport (IATA code: FRU). 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. The rest of the day is free for you to explore this relaxed and atmospheric city. Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Bishkek before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Bishkek. In Bishkek 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.* *Another important note - please be aware that all itineraries in Kyrgyzstan are highly weather-dependent. The itinerary described in these notes are a statement of best intention, but we must approach each trip in Kyrgyzstan with a large degree of flexibility, as our leaders and local guides will have to 'play things by ear' according to the local conditions and weather. In low season certain routes become impossible and it may become far too cold to camp - in all cases there are fantastic and well-tried alternatives in place which means we can always run an excellent and comprehensive trip here, but please do not treat the exact details of the itinerary listed here as gospel - thanks for your understanding!*
Hotel for the night: Hotel Asia Mountains
Hotel Asia Mountains (Отель Горы Азии)
1a Lineinaja St (Улица Линейная 1А, (на пересечении с улицой Гоголя))
Bishkek 720021
Kyrgyzstan
Tel - +996 312 690 235 or +996 312 690 234

Activity Approximate Cost
Begin our journey in picturesque Bishkek Free
Freely explore the vast Osh Bazaar, Bishkek's largest market Free
Explore Bishkek's past at the State Historical Museum on Ala-Too Square KGS 150
Civilisation again, in the picturesque city of Bishkek KGS 60

About Bishkek:
Bishkek is the relaxed capital of Kyrgyzstan, and it has a pleasant laid-back atmosphere. The city centres around Ala-too Square, previously known as Lenin's Square under the previous Soviet regime. Lenin used to stand in his concrete overcoat in the middle of the square, proudly gesturing towards the mountains.
A pleasant place to watch the world go by is Dubovy (Oak) Park, where you'lll find a few open air cafes, a perfect spot to sit and have a drink and soak up the atmosphere. The century-old oaks here and all along Freedom Avenue make Bishkek one of the greenest cities in Central Asia.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
The next 2 days will need to be fairly flexible. Many of the group will apply for Uzbekistan visas in Bishkek. However, the Uzbek Embassy opening times will often vary and therefore our itinerary will need to remain flexible over the next 2 days to accommodate this. As a general guide, we will most likely spend our first night camping in stunning mountainous Ala Archa National Park near to Bishkek. We will then return to
Bishkek on the following day in order to submit our visa applications. Once this is process is complete we will continue to Chong Kemin National Park, where we will have free time to explore and hike in this beautiful area, or to get involved in an optional white water rafting excursion if time allows. In Chong Kemin and Ala Archa we will wild camp. If it is too cold or simply preferred by the group, we may choose to camp in the grounds of a guesthouse in Ashu, a village in the Chong Kemin valley, where there could be the possibility to upgrade to rooms. Estimated Drive Times - 3-5 hours each day (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

Activity Approximate Cost
Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey Included in Kitty
through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan Explore the beautiful Chong Kemin valley on horseback KGS 300
Head out on a white-water rafting adventure through the stunning Chong Kemin valley KGS 1800
Walk around the incredible scenery of the Chong Kemin valley Free
Wild camping and hiking in the beauty of Ala Archa Gorge Free

About Ala Archa:
Ala Archa means "bright juniper", and indeed there are juniper bushes growing all through this beautiful gorge. The alpine area is stunning, and is abundant with wild flowers, bubbling mountain streams, glaciers and vast mountain panoramas. The gorge itself is 35kms long, and the surrounding mountains are massive and home to some of the largest glaciers in all of Kyrgyzstan. The park is also an important habitat for all kinds of wildlife, including marmots, badgers, hares, foxes, wolves, lynx, and wild goats.
About Chong Kemin Valley: The Chong Kemin Valley lies within the Tian Shan mountain range separating
Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan. The towering peaks of the Tian Shan range reach above 7,000m along their rugged run towards China. This spectacular valley is famed for its natural beauty, abundant wildlife and rich, varied flora. The valley offers several trekking possibilities along the Chong Kemin River, and recently white water rafting has become a popular activity for visitors in the area - exploring this stunning valley on horseback is also a great option. 
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we will drive to the northern shore of Lake Issyk Köl and visit the ancient petroglyphs at Cholpon Ata. We will then continue to the Russian-style town of Karakol, where we will have a free evening to explore and relax! In Karakol we will stay in a decent local hotel. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
Tourist time: pedalos, sand, sun. On Lake IssykKul, it?s a time warp Included in Kitty

About Karakol:
Originally a Russian military outpost built in 1869, Karakol quickly grew in the 19th Century as explorers arrived to map the mountains and valleys of the area, and Chinese Muslims fled warfare in China. For many years the town was names Przhevalsk, in honour of a Russian explorer who died there in the 1880s, but has been known as Karakol since independence. Karakol is a picturesque town surrounded by orchards and mountains, with a delightful Russian church and gracious colonial houses on tree-lined streets sloping up towards glaciers and pine forests.

About Cholpon Ata:
Issyk Köl Lake is one of the biggest natural water reservoirs in the world, at 170kms long and 70kms wide. Issyk Köl means "warm lake" in the local language, and a combination of extreme depth, thermal activity and mild salinity means the lake never freezes. On the shores of the lake is the small town of Cholpon Ata, a favourite holiday spot with the locals. The area has a number of health resorts and spas and there are also some interesting rock inscriptions and petroglyphs dating back to 500 BCE close nearby.

Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we drive up into the mountains to the alpine trekking region of Jeti Oguz. The next day we will have a free day to hike in the incredible scenery here, or take an optional horse ride with some of the local nomads! In Jeti Oguz we will camp close to a local family yurt. Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Please note that on trips in the low season we may not be able to camp in Jeti Oguz due to low temperatures. If this is the case, we will take a stunning and incredible drive up a mountain in a Russian 4x4 truck to Altyn Arashan, a hot spring development in a stunning alpine setting, staying in dormitory accommodation. We will then stay for 1 night in a local hotel at the base of Jeti Oguz Valley (allowing time for some day walks).

Activity Approximate Cost
Trek into the wilds of the Jeti-Oghuz Gorge on the edge of the Tian Shan mountains Included in Kitty
Explore the incredible mountain landscapes of the Jeti Oguz Valley by horseback KGS 800

About Jeti Oguz Valley:
Seven spectacular red sandstone cliffs stand guard over the entrance to the Jeti Oguz Valley. Local tradition says that the cliffs were once wild bulls, immobilised by the gods to stop them terrorising local yurt dwellers. The base of this stunning canyon lies on the northern slopes of the Terskei Ala-Too range, surrounded by a broad valley and majestic snow-capped mountains. The valley is a fantastic place for camping and hiking - by exploring the valleys and canyon by foot you'll be able to admire the unusual rock formations and alpine peaks.

Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we drive to the small village of Kochkor, where we stay in local familyrun guesthouses and enjoy traditional Kyrgyz hospitality! En route we will have an included demonstation from a local 'eagle hunter'.
Whilst here we will visit a small museum and women's felt making cooperative that produces 'shyrdaks', the felt carpets for which Kyrgyzstan is renowned. We may also have the opportunity here to see some excellent local musicians playing traditional Kyrgyz folk music and to see how a yurt is put up! In Kochkor we will stay in family-run guesthouses, accommodating up to 8 guests in each home. Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
Overnight homestay at a traditional rural Kyrgyz village Included in Kitty
See the traditional felt workshops or Kochkor and learn about how Kyrgyz carpets and hats are typically made here Included in Kitty
Visit a folklore demonstration near Kockhor where you can learn all about the handicrafts of the area, see a fantastic outdoor concert of traditional music and help to erect a yurt! KGS 1000
See an incredible demonstration from a traditional eagle hunter near Kochkor Included in Kitty

About Kochkor:
Kochkor is a sleepy little Kyrgyz village and looks very much like the paintings of traditional Kyrgyz life seen in various museums and art galleries throughout the country. Here we will stay with a traditional Kyrgyz family, living with them and finding out about their daily life, food and family patterns. The Kyrgyz have embraced Responsible Tourism and actively encourage travellers to stay in the homes of local people. There is an excellent local animal market and a traditional felt making enterprise which we usually visit. Here they make a variety of the different felts used for making yurts, rugs, carpets and souvenirs.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we will drive to the incredible Song Köl Lake, where we will spend the next two nights. We will have free time here to explore the area, and to enjoy some optional activities including hiking or horse-riding! At Song Köl we will stay in traditional felt yurts. Estimated Drive Time - 4-7 hours.

Please note that trips during the low season will not be able to visit Song Köl Lake, as temperatures will be below freezing, the road will be snowed over, and there will be no yurts to stay in! Instead we will likely stay in yurts on the southern shore of Lake Issyk Köl.

Activity Approximate Cost
Experience the daily life of the Kyrgyz mountain shepherds. Included in Kitty

About Song Köl Lake:
Song Köl lake is one of the most spectacular spots in central Kyrgyzstan. All around the lake are lush pastures favoured by local nomadic herders, who come here in the summer with their animals. On our overland trips we spend a couple of days staying in traditional felt yurts, learning about the local culture and traditions. We might get to see the local men play a game of "Ulak-Tartys" (goat polo) or have a chance to ride out with the shepherds on their small hardy ponies, or you might prefer to explore the surrounding area on foot and trek in the nearby hills. Song Köl really is a sublime and unique spot, it is a truly magical place where you are guaranteed to have travel experiences that you will never forget.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
We will spend the next 3 days overlanding through the stunning and remote Kyrgyz Fergana Valley, stopping often to admire the views and perhaps take some impromptu hikes in the hills and countryside. During these days we plan to wild camp en route. Please note that trips running in low season (May to mid-June and October to November), we may not be able to camp if temperatures are too low, in which case we will stay in local guesthouses along the route instead. Estimated Drive Times - 4-8 hours each day.

Activity Approximate Cost
Get off the beaten track with 3 nights wild camping and a leisurely overland journey through the stunning mountains and National Parks of Kyrgyzstan Included in Kitty
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today we will complete our drive to Arslanbob in Kyrgyzstan's Fergana Valley - if we have had a slow journey in the previous days with lots of stops, we may choose to stay in the closer town of Jalalabad instead. In Arslanbob we will stay overnight in a local family-run guesthouse. Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Border information: Exit Kyrgyzstan at Dustlik, enter Uzbekistan at Andijon. Today we will have a full day's drive across the Uzbek border to the eastern city of Fergana. In Fergana we will stay in a basic local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
Overland through Uzbekistan's Fergana Valley including historic Kokand and Fergana City UZS 3000
Explore the impressive 19th-century Juma Mosque in Kokand in the stunning Fergana Valley UZS 1000
See the silk-weavers of the Fergana Valley at the Yodgorlik Silk Factory Free

About Fergana Valley:
A stunning corner of Uzbekistan dominated by the rolling mountains near the Kamchik Pass, the Fergana Valley is one of the most scenic drives on our route though Central Asia. The Palace of Khudayar Khan is an ornate palace from the 1870s built bu the last leader of the Kokand Khanate.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
This morning we travel in local transport to Kokand, where we will have the oppurtunity to visit the Khudayar Khan's Palace and the nearby Margilan Silk Factory before completing the journey over the Kamchik Pass to Tashkent, the Uzbek capital. The truck must pass over the Kamchik Pass without passengers and will rejoin
us this evening in Tashkent. In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities. Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

About Tashkent:
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.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Border Information: if joining in Tashkent, you will most likely enter Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport (IATA code: TAS).

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 Uzbek capital of Tashkent.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Tashkent before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Tashkent.

In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

*Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please 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
Tashkent
Uzbekistan
Tel - +998 71 120 88 77 

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Visit the delightful traditional farmer's market at the Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent's Old Town : Free

See the grand 16th-century Kukeldash Madrassa and the city's principal Juma Mosque in the Old Town : Free

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:
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.
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Today our journey begins with 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.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

About Samarkand:
A city brimming with history, Samarkand became famous in the 14th Century CE as the birthplace of the warlord Timur and the capital of his Sultanate. Thanks to its cemtral location along the Silk Road, 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 today. Samarkand is perhaps the most romantic and evocative of the Silk Road cities, and is crowned by the decorative domes and minarets of the many beautiful buildings here. The must-sees include the iconic Registan Square (the central focus of the city and home to a group of impressively decorated madrassas), Guri Amir and the Shah-i-Zinda mausoleum. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
" Day 3 to 4"

Today we will have a guided tour of the incredible historic city of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including the Registan, Ulug Beg Observatory, BibiKhanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda.

On our second day, we will have a free day to further explore the beautiful city and its surroundings. 

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Explore the stunning green city of Shahrisabz, the centre of folk art in Uzbekistan and the birthplace of the medieval warlord Timur : USD 20 

Wander through the markets and carpet vendors of Samarkand, and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the local carpet weavers : Free 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Learn about the area's scientific heritage with a visit to 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 world-famous and iconic symbol of Central Asia : Included in Kitty

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



Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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!

In the Kyzylkhum Desert we will stay in a desert yurt camp.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Spend the night in nomadic yurts out in the the Kyzylkum Desert : Included in Kitty

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Take a short camel ride around the sand dunes of the Kyzylkhum Desert : UZS 5000 

Accommodation
  • Yurt (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.

About Bukhara:
Bukhara is an atmospheric city with an incredible history and a wonderful heritage - exploring the streets, you really 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. Many of the buildings here are spectacular and very well-preserved, particularly the Ark Fortress, Ismail Samanid Mausoleum and the famous Kalyan Minaret (also known as the Death Tower). The government has invested a considerable amount of money into the city in order to preserve the architecture here. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
" Day 7 to 8 "

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. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Explore the city's oldest Islamic monument, the 10th-century 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-century architectural ensemble surrounding the Lyab-i Hauz ponds, once the city's principal source of water : Included in Kitty

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

See the Indian-style Char Minar Minarets, four towers nestled in a maze of alleyways in downtown Bukhara : Free

Visit the gruesome museum at the old prison of Zindon : UZS 4500 

Watch an entertaining evening puppet show, featuring many local Uzbek and Tajik poems and songs : USD 5 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
" Day 9 to 10 "

Today we have a full day drive to the incredible historic town of Khiva.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 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. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

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 the Khwarezmid Empire, one of Central Asia's most powerful states in the 12th Century CE until they were invaded by Genghis Khan in 1220 CE. Khiva once again rose to prominence as the centre of the Khanate of Khia between 1500 CE and 1924, when the area 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 Road 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 and Juma Mosque, Pakhlovan Mahmus Mausoleum and Islam Hodja Madrassa. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (2 nights)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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 to wards the end of the day.

We will wild camp in the deserts near Kunye Urgench tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours. 

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

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 one of Turkmenistan's most important historic sites, and was once a major city along the Silk Road. Situated on the shores of the Amu Daria River, the area has been settled since the 5th-Century BCE and came to prominence under the rule of the Persian Khwarezem Empire in the 11th Century CE. The city managed to flourish even after Genghis Khan's invasion of 1221, only being finally destroyed and abandoned after an attack by the warlord Timur in 1373. Timur did a very thorough job in demolishing the city, there are still plenty of old ruined buildings from the 11th-14th centuries dotted around, including a mosque, mausoleum and the towering 60-metre-high Kutlug-Timur minaret, the highest in Central Asia.  
Accommodation
  • Bush camp (no facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
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.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

See the bizarre and incredible burning gas crater at Darvasa, popularly known as the 'Door to Hell' : Included in Kitty 

About Darvaza:
Darvaza is a tiny settlement in the Karakum Desert of Turkmenistan, which is the location of one of the world's more unusual highlights - the flaming Darvasa Gas Crater, sometimes dramatically called 'The Door to Hell'. The crater formed as a result of an industrial accident - Soviet oil prospectors started drilling in 1971 expecting to find oil, and when only gas was found underneath the ground collapsed to form the crater. Worried about the gas released into the air, they deliberately set the crater on fire to burn off the excess, expecting this to only last a few weeks - however the natural gas supply turned out to be much more plentiful, and it's been burning away ever since!

The crater is truly a breathtaking sight, especially at night - it's about the size of a football pitch and ablaze with fire, truly looking like the entrance to the underworld! 
Accommodation
  • Bush camp (no facilities) (1 night)
Meals Included
  • Breakfast
  • Lunch
  • Dinner
Today we will complete our drive to the interesting capital of Ashgabat, usually arriving mid-afternoon.

In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours

About Ashgabat:
Ashgabat is a unique modern city that has been extensively rebuilt since the country gained independence in 1991. Little is left of the original Russian Imperial city as most of it was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1948, and today the city centre is a bizarre mix of futuristic and outrageous public buildings that are an extraordinary sight - these include many ornate marble buildings and extravagant golden statues of the president. Ashgabat's Sunday Market is famous along the whole Silk Road - 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. 
Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
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. 

OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES 

Learn about the history and culture of Turkmenistan at the huge National Museum in Ashgabat : USD 10

INCLUDED ACTIVITIES 

Explore, shop, and haggle at the vast Altyn Asyr Sunday Bazaar : Included in Kitty

Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city : Included in Kitty

Accommodation
  • Hotel (1 night)
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.
Border Information: if finishing in Ashgabat, you Will most likely exit Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Ashgabat. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
Meals Included
There are no meals included on this day.

Meals

3 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners

Transport

Overland expedition vehicle, Jeep, Russian bus

Accommodation

Hotels, Wild Camps, Yurts, Homestays

Dates & availability

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There are currently no scheduled departures on our Bishkek to Ashgabat Overland trip. If you are interested in other trips in the region visit one of the links below.

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Important notes

1. Some destinations visited on this trip do not have consulates in Australia and New Zealand. We recommend that travellers from these countries book the WESTBOUND itinerary of this trip where some visas can be obtained en route.
2. Please note that this trip requires minimum numbers to depart, and may be cancelled up until 56 days prior to departure. The places showing on the dates and availability page are an indication only so please contact Intrepid to check if your preferred date will depart before making any final arrangements, such as booking non-changeable flights.
3. Please note this trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.

Essential trip information

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Essential Trip Information provides a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what's included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.