Possibly the most reclusive of the Central Asian states, Turkmenistan has been largely overlooked by the world since gaining independence in 1991. Travelling on this Regent Holidays exclusive small group tour will provide a fascinating insight into the republic’s history and eccentric leaders; admire the lavish marble palaces and communist memorials of Ashgabat, journey into the Karakum desert to witness the flaming Darvaza crater at night and gain an insight into why Merv was one of the most important oasis cities on the Silk Road.
Depart London Heathrow on your flight to Ashgabat via Istanbul.
Arrive Ashgabat in the early morning and transfer to your hotel. This afternoon head out in to the city and visit the famous Tolkuchka Bazaar considered to be one of Central Asia’s most impressive markets. Spend time exploring this sprawling site which sells all manner of goods, from camels to cars. This afternoon see some of the main sights of the city including World War II Memorial, Earthquake Monument, Turkmenbashy Square and the Gulustan Bazaar (the pleasant central city market). (B,L,D)
This morning we visit the Turkmen Carpet Museum home to an extensive collection charting the history of carpet making in the region, we will also visit the National Museum showcasing historical artefacts from the country.This afternoon we head in to the Kara Kum desert passing through villages until we reach the Darvaza Crater burning in the ground and where we camp for the night. (BLD)
Waking in the desert we head north to the ruins of Konye Urgench, once an important Silk Road city and still home to mausoleums and a 59m tall minaret. We spend the afternoon in Dashoguz where we visit the local museum and the bustling bazaar - getting an idea of rural life outside the capital. (B,L,D)
A short flight brings us to Turkmenbashy, located on the Caspian Coast. Visiting the city this afternoon we will tak ein the Japanese Memorial as well as the Turkish park and fountains, later we head to the seside town of Awaza to spend the night. (B,L,D)
A long drive takes us to the Yangikala Canyon where we can walk amidst the coloured rock and marvel at the length and depth of the canyon with its unique rock formations. After we drive on to Balkanabat. (B,L,D)
This morning visit the town of Balkanabat seeing the orthodox church and local museum before driving to Kow Ata Underground Lake. Enjoy lunch and if time, a quick dip. Visit the Geok Deppe Stud Farm and the Mosque of Turkmenbashy on the journey back to Ashgabat. (B,L,D)
Head out of Ashgabat today to Old Nisa, a Parthian site where excavations have uncovered the fortress of mud brick walls. After the visit return to Ashgabat for lunch before taking an afternoon train to Mary. (B,L,D)
A journey in to the desert in 4WDs takes us to Gonor Depe, a Bronze Age site where the archaeological dig is still underway. Mounds of pottery have been found along with the city sketched out in mud brick walls showing the different areas. Return to Mary to visit the museum. (B,L,D)
Transfer to the airport for the return flight. (B)
This was a fantastic trip - one of the best I have been on. Well done Carl for organising it. Hopefully you can come up with another good next year!
The local tour guide and tour manager from Regent Holidays were excellent. Transport was good - this cannot be said of the road! Barbecue food excellent, often better than some of the hotel meals. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable holiday - a very good travel group of ten persons.
Thanks for rattling this up at such short notice from me! Office efficiency, transfers and pension-style hotel all tip-top - thanks
An excellent tour in the time allotted. The tour guide was excellent, friendly, informative and polite. A credit to his company and himself.