17 - 29 March 2023
Edged by the Silk Road and with a rich history stretching back millennia, Turkmenistan is a little-explored region where tribal desert lands contrast with grand futuristic cities. And this pioneering 13-day trip provides a comprehensive experience of this secret Asian jewel. Just considering towns alone, range from the grandiose capital Ashgabat to the remote village of Nohur, whose inhabitants believe they descend from the armies of Alexander the Great. Your visit is also timed to experience the region's celebrated Navrus Bayram Festival, bringing together different clans from around the region – with feasting to match the entertainments.
Ashgabat → Mary → Merv → Ashgabat → Konye → Urgench → Dashoguz → Darwaza → Ashgabat → Nohur → Karakala → Dekhistan → Balkanabat → Yangikala → Gozli Ata → Turkmenbashi → Ashgabat
Day 1: Ashgabat
Arrive in Ashgabat and transfer to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival, you may have the opportunity to explore the city. Overnight at Ak Altyn Hotel or similar.
Day 2: Ashgabat
After a briefing with your tour guide spend the day exploring Ashgabat including Independence Park and Neutrality Arch with time to enjoy a traditional Turkmen lunch. Ashgabat is a city of grandiose monuments, giving an insight into the nation building efforts that took place after the breakup of the Soviet Union, and a good place to start getting to grips with Turkmenistan. Overnight at Ak Altyn Hotel or similar.
Day 3: Mary (360 kms)
After breakfast we travel east stopping first at the Seyitdzhemaliddin Mosque at Anau; dating from the 15th century the mosque was badly damaged by an earthquake in 1948, but has since been restored. We will also visit the remains of the once important city of Abiverd, before arriving in Mary in time to visit the Regional Historical Museum. Overnight at Hotel Mary or similar.
Day 4: Merv - Ashgabat
Visit the ancient site of Merv, the most important in Turkmenistan dating back 2500 years, with an array of surviving mosques and citadels. Return to Mary for a visit to the bazaar before taking a late evening flight to Ashgabat. Overnight at Ak Altyn Hotel or similar.
Day 5: Navrus Bayram Festival - Kow Ata Underground Lake
This morning we travel out of Ashgabat to join in the celebrations of the Navrus Festival; this is held to mark the most important holiday in the entire region. In the afternoon we visit the Kow Ata underground lake before returning to Ashgabat for a night time tour of the city. Overnight at Ak Altyn Hotel or similar.
Day 6: Konye - Urgench - Dashoguz
This morning we take a flight to Dashoguz and on arrival transfer by road to Konye - Urgench, an ancient capital of the land of Khorezm, with beautiful mausoleums. After visiting its key sites we return to Dashoguz to visit the lively bazaar. The rest of the day is at leisure with no organised activities. Overnight at Hotel Dashoguz or similar.
Day 7: Darwaza (280 kms, approx. 4 hrs)
After the morning at leisure we depart by jeep to travel along the highway through the Karakum Desert to Darwaza, a burning gas crater where flames literally leap from the ground. We set up camp here, and over a barbeque dinner watch the sun go down, the crater lighting up the night sky with its fires. Overnight camping.
Day 8: Ashgabat (310 kms)
After breakfast we set off for our return to Ashgabat, paying a visit to a desert village on the way. On arrival in the city, we will visit the Sunday Bazaar before heading to the National Museum and onto the ruins of the ancient Parthian fortress at Nisa. Overnight at Ak Altyn Hotel or similar.
Day 9: Nohur - Karakala (250 kms)
Today we leave Ashgabat and head to the west of the country. Our first stop will be at a stables housing some of the famous Akhal –Teke horses greatly prized by the people of Turkmenistan. We continue to the village of Nohur whose inhabitants believe that they descend from the armies of Alexander the Great. Leave Nohur behind and drive through walnut and pomegranate groves to the “Moon Mountains”, a series of rather striking barren hills. Overnight camping.
Day 10: Dekhistan - Balkanabat (200 kms)
An early start takes us alongside the Iranian border so we can expect to encounter several checkpoints along the way. We will stop to view the ruins of Dekhistan, once an important state in its own right, before continuing on to Balkanabat. Arrive early evening and check in to your hotel. Overnight at Nebitchi Hotel or similar.
Day 11: Yangikala - Gozli Ata (200 kms- approx. 7 hrs)
After a visit to the local bazaar to stock up on supplies, we drive to the Balkan Mountains and the canyons of Yangikala, home to some of the best scenery in Turkmenistan. We explore on foot and take a picnic lunch among the cliffs. When the sun sets we drive to the pilgrimage site of Gozli Ata. Overnight at a local pilgrim house (multi-share accommodation).
Day 12: Turkmenbashi - Ashgabat (150 kms)
We drive today to Turkmenbashi with time to visit the port and the fish market before taking a flight back to Ashgabat. Overnight at Ak Altyn Hotel or similar.
9 nights at the hotels
2 nights at the camp
1 night at a local pilgrim house (multi-share accommodation)
Day 2, 10: Breakfast and Lunch
Day 3, 4, 5, 6, 8, 12, 13: Breakfast
Day 7: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 9, 11: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Guided tours as per itinerary (only local guides)
Transfers as per itinerary
24/7 phone/WhatsApp support line
ABTA and ATOL bonded
Meals not mentioned
Optional tours and activities
Visit the UNESCO-listed Konye-Urgench
Experience colourful Navrus Bayram Festival
Travel through a miscellany of incredible landscapes
Witness timeless local traditions
See awe-inspiring flaming gas crater in the sparse grandeur
Explore the mosques and citadels in the 2500-year-old Merv
WOD is a company you can trust and feel comfortable asking for anything to make your experience better. I just traveled to the 2022 World Cup with them and it was a blast. Everything nicely coordinated and great constant service and communication.
Jeff & Cathy Sisler
We came across WOFDI last spring when we were trying to figure out how to attend the World Cup. The staff at WOFDI organized game tickets and accommodation for us. Communication was excellent throughout. They provided airport transfer and cultural tours as well. Wonderful experience!
Our experience with World of Discoveries has been impeccable. From Qatar’s World Cup onwards, they will be our #1 choice. Varya, Iren, Nathan, Damon, Iren, Lina; Anna and all the rest of the Wofdi team: Thank you!
Juan Torres & Family
worldcup experience (A+) It is great when companies do exactly what you paid for. Host Anna, was amazing at answering all questions and posting in the WhatsApp groups the timings and what to expect in each of the stages of the trip. Seats could have been a little better but we were told that it was a Fifa decision.
Best Staff, Great Communication The communication and assistance from the Michael from the beginning, Alex during the pre-tour and post tour and Anna during the tour was better than exceptional; we were well taken care of. The staff truly cared about us having a memorable experience and their efforts greatly contributed to that happening. I’ll definitely be looking into their other tours.
Great experience and organisation by the team at works of discoveries - communication was great all the way through the trip