Uzbek Culture & Turkmen Mysteries
Highlights of this 14-day tour for travelling in Uzbekistan and in Turkmenistan:
– excursions in the classical historical Uzbek cities of Khiva, Bukhara & Samarkand
– camping at the famous Darwaza gas crater in the Turkmen desert
– visit to the still tribal village of Nohur in Turkmenistan
– stay in attractive guesthouses in the old centers of the Uzbek cities
– visit to the archaeological site at Merv in Turkmenistan
In 14 days you travel across Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. A varied and intensive program with arrival and departure in Tashkent. To emphasize the variation: you visit the Uzbek Silk Road cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand, the capital cities of Tashkent and Ashgabat, the gas crater Darwaza (where you are camping!), the archaeological sites of Konye Urgench and Merv in Turkmenistan and an unusual village in Turkmenistan Kopet Tag mountains in Turkmenistan.
We take care of the invitation letter for the Turkmen visa, which you then can receive on arrival at the border with Uzbekistan. An Uzbek visa is no longer necessary from 2019.
You can read more about travelling in Central Asia here. Including much practical advise.
Flight to Tashkent
Upon arrival in Tashkent you will be met by a driver with your name card and then taken to your hotel in the city. Most international flights arrive in the night or early morning.
That is why you will have time to rest after breakfast. Then your journey in Uzbekistan starts with an excursion in Tashkent, the fourth largest city in the former Soviet Union.
Scheduled to visit are: Khastimam Complex: Barak khan Madrassah, Kaffal ash-Shashi Mausoleum, Library with the world-known Uthman Qur”an, Friday Mosque; Kukeldash Madrasah, Chorsu bazaar.
New part of the city – Independence square, Navoi theater square, etc
Your guide will advise you about restaurants, just ask him or her! Exchanging money is no problem anymore from 2018, including Euro & USD cash, Visa Cards.
Day distance: 700 kms by plane, 30 kms by car
You get up early, have breakfast and will be taken to Tashkent airport for the early flight to Urgench in north-western Uzbekistan. Upon arrival you will be met by a driver and taken to nearby Khiva, a half-hour drive away.
After you have checked in at yourr hotel you will have all day to enjoy the old city of Khiva, a kind of open-air museum. Because the distances between the sights are small, it is easy to walk.
These days Khiva is like an open air museum. Today you have a guided excursion, on foot and visit the oldest part of the city – Kunya-Ark fortress, including Kurinish Khana (17c); Mohammed-Amin-Khan(19c) Madrassah, Kalta Minor Minaret; Mohammed Rakim Khan (19 c) Madrassah, Pakhlavan Mahmoud Mausoleum, Mazary Sharif Madrassah, Islam Khodja Madrassah and Minaret, Jami Mosque(18c), Kutluq-Murad Inaq (19c) Madrassah, Allakuli khan Madrassah (19c), Ak Mosque, Tash Havli Fortress.Afterwards, leisure time. Accommodation in the same hotel or guesthouse.
Day distance: 80 kms
In the morning you have time to wander through Khiva yourself and experience the atmosphere of former times. Then you will be brought to the Turkmenistan border in the afternoon, an hour away.
Along the way you will see the consequences of the Aral Sea drying up. Everywhere the bottom is covered with a layer of salt, blown away from the dry bottom of the former lake. A catastrophe for the environment in the wider area.
Arriving at the border, the formalities on both sides can take half an hour or more depending on the daily bustle. You walk through the piece of no man’s land between the two countries.
On the Turkmen side your invitation letter will be requested with which you will receive the visa. A driver will be waiting for you for further transport to the city of Dashoguz. Here you stay in a hotel and are free for the rest of the day.
Day distance: 350 kms
And a varied day in the Turkmen desert lies ahead. The fantastic buildings and ruins of Konye Urgench, your first goal today, are an hour’s drive from Dashoguz. Of course you will get time to view it.
After lunch follows a long drive towards Ashgabat through the Karakum desert to the gas crater of Darwaza. About halfway through the ride there is a turn on unpaved paths to the right into the desert. After a short drive you reach the Darwaza gas crater, which has been burning continuously since 1974 due to human error! In the evening a special place to stay and take photos. Dinner (included) in the desert, camping in luxury tents.
Day distance: 250 kms
After breakfast you will drive to the capital Ashgabat in about two hours, check-in at the hotel. A day of excursions in the remarkable Ashgabat, which has a new district entirely made of Italian white marble! On the program are further (can be adapted to your wishes) visits to the huge Tolkuchka bazaar (open on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays), and the National Museum of Turkmenistan.
Continue to Nisa, once the capital of the Parthen (300 BC – 300) and located just outside of Ashgabat. Finally, you can still visit the Ertogrul Gazi Mosque and the ‘Arch of Neutrality’ today. On top (75 meters) you can enjoy the panorama.
Accommodation in Ashgabat.
Day distance: 150 kms
Excursion to the special town of Nohur in the Kopetdag Mountains, after having first visited the Turkmenbashi Mosque (with room for 20,000 believers!) & Mausoleum, the Geok Depe Mosque, and the underground lake (springs) of Kowata (swimming is possible) !).
Arrival in Nohur, populated by a wayward people who once settled here from Mesopotamia. It is said that polygamy is customary here and is blindly permitted in times of the Soviet Union! In the afternoon the village is explored, including a visit to tribal cemetery and a silk weaving workshop. Return to your hotel in Ashgabat in the evening.
Day distance: 300 kms by plane, 50 kms by car
Today you wake up early to catch the 7:00 AM flight to Mary (40 minutes). From Mary you will be transferred to the old Merv (27 km). This was once one of the largest cities in Central Asia, now there are scattered over more than 100 km2 only remnants, among the grazing camels and sheep.
You will visit here with a knowledgeable guide who will bring history to life; Erk Kala (6th century BC), Gyaur Kala (3rd century BC), the Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar (12th century), the Great and Small Kiz Kala (6th-8th centuries) and the Mausoleum of Mohammed ibn Zeid (12th century).
You will also visit the Historical Museum in Mary. Accommodation in Mary.
Day distance: 350 kms
A day of long transfers through the desert today. First to the city of Turkmenabat, near the border with Uzbekistan, where you will have lunch. You cross the border again to Uzbekistan, for which you already have a visa. Bukhara is about a 1.5-hour drive from the border.
Upon arrival you check in and you are free to explore the old city of Bukhara for the rest of the day. Imagine yourself in the times of the Silk Route!
Accommodation in a Bukhara Guesthouse.
Day distance: 10 kms
A full day of excursions in Bukhara! (You can also choose a half-day excursion or even a completely free day, let us know. The old part of Bukhara is nice to wander around and get into the atmosphere of the past).
On a full excursion you will visit: the Ismael Samani mauseleum, a tomb of the dynasty of rulers of Bukhara, Chor Minor, the Chashma-Ayub Mausuleums, the local bazar and a Jewish Synagogue. And, in the old part of the city: the Poli-Kalon ensemble including the Minaret, Mosque, the still working Miri-Arab Madrassa, the Amri-Alim-Khan Madrassa, Taqi (trading houses) and Kukeldash Madrassa.
After lunch (not included but the guide is happy to advise you on a good place to eat) in a local restaurant we continue the excursions and you will see: the Lyab-i-Hauz, Nadir Divanbegi, Magoki Attari, Ulug Beg and the Abdul Aziz Madrassa. Plus the Registan Ensemble, the Ark Fort and the Bolo-Hauz complex.
You can dine (optional) in the Nodir Devonbegi madrassa, where you will be presented with a show of national folklore and clothing.
Day distance: 270 kms
In the morning you start with the drive to Samarkand; here you will find less desert than the previous route and more agricultural land along the way. Uzbekistan produces an enormous amount of cotton and if you travel in the right season you can experience the work on the crops along the way, as well as a cotton factory. Along the way you also visit the Summer Palace of the last Emir and an old Karavansarai, that of Rabat Malik. A visit to a ceramic factory is also possible if you are interested.
Arrival in Samarkand around 14:00, accommodation and time for lunch. You are free in the afternoon.
Day distance: 20 kms
After breakfast, a full day of sightseeing starts in the legendary Samarkand. In 2018 we were able to see to what extent the buildings have been beautifully renovated over the past decade, how the facilities for tourists have improved and what a beautiful city Samarkand is. Yes, there are already quite a lot of tourists in the meantime, initially domestic visitors, but for now Samarkand is not yet a destination for mass tourism.
Until lunch you will see: Guri-Emir Mausoleum, where Amir Temur and his entire family are buried. The Registan Square, the world famous square with three Madrassas and the golden dome mosque. Bibi Khanum mosque, the largest mosque ever built in Central Asia and a gift from Temerlane’s wife to Temerlane.
Then, the Siyab bazaar, where you get a good impression of the life of the residents of Samarkand. Then the Shahi-Zinda death cities, a holy place, and the graveyard with the graves of Temured’s dynasty and a grave of a cousin of the prophet Mohammed. The Ulugbek Observatory, an incredible 15th century astronomy construction.
After lunch you have time for yourself.
Day distance: 320 kms
You have two options to travel from Samarkand to Tashkent today. First of all, this can be done by car or minibus (depending on your group size). It takes longer (about 4 hours) and you can make a picnic stop en route at an attractive location.
On the other hand, there is the alternative of the modern express train, which travels in two hours and departs at 5 pm. In this case you still have a good part of the day in Samarkand at your disposal. Let us know what you prefer. Upon arrival in Tashkent you will be met at the train station and taken to your hotel. The extra costs for the express train, incl. transfer on arrival to your hotel, are €20 per person.
Tashkent was once the fourth city of the Soviet Union and exudes the Soviet atmosphere much more than the previously visited cities on this trip. Tip: take a look or travel a little in the Tashkent metro, with beautiful underground stations.
Day distance: 20 kms.
In the night or early morning, when most international flights depart, transfer to Tashkent Airport for your flight back home.
The costs of this 14-day program travelling in Uzbekistan and in Turkmenistan are €1,595 per person at six people, €1,940 p.p. at four people and €2,120 p.p. at two people. Prices are indications.
Included in the full offer are:
– all overnight stays in 3 * hotels and guest houses, i.e. stay in double rooms incl. breakfast (upgrading to 4-5 * for an additional charge is possible)
– all transfers by car / minibus, incl. airport-hotel and hotel-airport
– tickets for domestic flights
– train tickets
– services from a driver & English-speaking guide during the excursions
– entrance tickets for museums and monuments according to the program
– unlimited mineral water on the way
Single supplement is €210.
Not included are international flight tickets, lunches and dinners, the Turkmen visa and all other services not mentioned. Finally, we withhold €15 per booking for the Dutch GGTO Guarantee Fund.