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Exploring Turkmenistan

Ancient Sites of Turkmenistan from Ashgabat

A short tour which is the perfect introduction to the world-class ancient sites located in this little-visited country.  Take in both ancient and modern Ashgabat with its vast areas of white marble, fly out to Kunya-Urgench,  full of stunning tombs and ruins as well as Merv – one of the region’s top archaeological sites – before returning to the capital to further explore the area.  Throw in a trip to a private stud farm to learn about the famous Akhal-Tekke horse and an optional swim in an underground sulphur lake and you have all the makings of a great trip!

Your Itinerary

DAY 1 - DISCOVER KUNYA URGENCH

Take an early morning flight from Ashgabat to Dashoguz, a town located in the northern part of Turkmenistan and close to the border with Uzbekistan. 100 kilometers from here is the ancient city of Kunya-Urgench (Old Urgench) which in the 11th century was capital of Khorezm and one of the most important cities in the Islamic world. With your guide, visit the 15th century mausoleum of Turabeg Khanum, Central Asia’s tallest minaret of Kutlug Temur –  measuring 62 metres in height, the 12th century mausoleum of Sultan Tekesh with its turquoise cone of a dome and the 12th century mausoleum of Il-Arslan, the founder of the pre-Mongol Khorezmshah empire. In the afternoon return to Dashougz there may be time to visit the large bazaar before returning to Ashgabat on an evening flight.

DAY 2 - EXPLORE ANCIENT FORTRESS & MUSEUMS

This morning visit Tolkuchka Bazaar, located on the outskirts of the city and the largest in the country, which sells everything from camels to intricately-handcrafted swords. Next, take a trip to Old Nisa fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site situated in the foothills of nearby mountains. After lunch return to the city and with your guide go on a sightseeing excursion including visits to the Park of Independence, Neutrality Square and the National Museum of History and Ethnography, which is home to more than 300,000 objects from ancient archaeological sites of Turkmenistan.

DAY 3 - GUIDED TOUR OF MAGNIFICENT MERV

Today fly to Mary and then drive to Merv. Spend the day with your local guide discovering this magnificent archaeological site, once one of Central Asia’s most civilised cities and referred to as the Pearl of the East. In the 11th century the Seljuk Turks appropriated Merv and made it the centre of a dominion that stretched from Afghanistan to Egypt.  This is a vast site of 125 square kilometres and due to its ideal location along the Great Silk Road Route, several cities have existed here. In the afternoon visit the local History Museum and fly back to Ashgabat.

DAY 4 - EXCURSIONS AROUND ASHGABAT

Spend today visiting interesting sights around Ashgabat. First it is off  to Geok Depe mosque, built within a former Tekke stronghold, and the site of the largest battle for Russian domination in Central Asia in the late 19th century. Next drive out to a private stud farm where the legendary Akhal-Tekke horses are kept. Continue to the underground cave of Kov-Ata for an optional dip in the underground hot sulphur lake before returning to the city, stopping en route at Kipchak, to explore the biggest mosque in Turkmenistan and the family mausoleum of the first President. This evening head out again, this time south to the Kopet Dag Mountains and join locals walking in the area or take the cable car for a magnificent view of the capital.

DAY 5 - DEPART ASHGABAT

Transfer to the airport for your onward flight

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DETAILS:

This itinerary costs from £1490 per person B&B based on 2 sharing and including all private transfers but not international flights.

You can get flights from as little as £570 per person return and do ask us for advice. Alternatively we can book the flights for you but a booking fee may apply.

What's included?

INCLUDED:
  • Prices start from £1490 per person
  • 4 nights accommodation on B&B basis
  • Accompanied by an English speaking guide
  • Private vehicle and transfers
  • Internal flights (four)
  • All entrance fees for excursions
  • Local taxes
  • Meals for guides and drivers
  • All trips are ATOL protected or ABTA bonded to ensure you are financially protected
Make a booking

A short tour which is the perfect introduction to the world-class ancient sites located in this little-visited country.  Take in both ancient and modern Ashgabat with its vast areas of white marble, fly out to Kunya-Urgench,  full of stunning tombs and ruins as well as Merv – one of the region’s top archaeological sites – before returning to the capital to further explore the area.  Throw in a trip to a private stud farm to learn about the famous Akhal-Tekke horse and an optional swim in an underground sulphur lake and you have all the makings of a great trip!

Ashgabat
Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan was founded in 1881 and is the starting point for most of our Turkmenistan tours. The main sights to see in this extravagant city are the statue of Lenin, the Presidential Palace, the National Museum, the mosque of Khezert Omar and Talkucha Bazaar, the largest market in the country.
Mary
Mary is the third largest city of Turkmenistan and is located in a big oasis in the middle of the KaraKum Desert. Accessible by road or air, Mary is the gateway to the ancient city of Merv and the Bronze Age site of Gonur Depe. The local History Museum in Merv is well worth visiting during your stay.
Merv
The magnificent archaeological site of Merv was once one of Central Asia’s most civilised cities and is referred to as the Pearl of the East. This is a vast site of 125 square kilometres and due to its location along the Great Silk Road Route, several cities have existed on the site of current Merv.
Darvaza
Darvaza gas crater (known locally as the Door to Hell) should be on anyone's ‘bucket list’ and is just over half-a-days drive from Ashgabat or Dashoguz. Your journey to Darvaza gas crater takes you deep into the desolate Karakum desert, where you can camp next to the crater and enjoy views of fire and flames erupting in the middle of the desert.
Gonur Depe
Located about 3 hours drive from Mary, Gonur Depe was the largest of dozens of scattered Bronze Age sites established here in the early second millennium. In the 1990s, archaeologists discovered a huge necropolis dating back to the 3-2 millennia B.C.
Turkmenbashi
This morning fly to Turkmenbashi, a major port on the Caspian Sea. On arrival explore the city, visiting the local Fish market and the seaside at Awaza - a popular resort on the eastern coast of this huge inland sea.
Yangy Kala Canyons
The Yangy Kala Canyons are one of the most spectacular attractions in the country. The stunning flame coloured canyons are a mix of vibrant colours from of white, yellow and red with sheer cliffs rising from this ancient land. In your 4WD jeep drive through the so-called ‘Grand Canyon’ before heading north to the sparkling canyons of Yangysuw.
Konye Urgench
Close to the Uzbekistan border, the World Heritage Site of Kunya-Urgench is well worth visiting and was once a glorious capital of the medieval Khorezmshah Empire, the largest Muslim empire of the late 12th and early 13th century. Places of interest include the 15th century mausoleum of Turabeg Khanum and the 12th century mausoleum of Sultan Tekesh.

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