AUD 4624 / pp

DATES & RATES

Navrus Bayram Festival

Turkmenistan

Cultural immersion

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.

Itinerary

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.

Day 13: Ashgabat

Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

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What's included

Accommodation

9 nights at the hotels

2 nights at the camp

1 night at a local pilgrim house (multi-share accommodation)

Meals

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

Guided tours as per itinerary (only local guides)

Transportation

Transfers as per itinerary

Support

24/7 phone/WhatsApp support line

English-speaking guide

ABTA and ATOL bonded

Not Included

International flights

Meals not mentioned

Optional tours and activities

Personal expenses

Highlights

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

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Our reviews

Rick, Emily and John Stewart

Australia

Impeccable service, incredible Trans Siberian! In fact, the great services provided by your team started from my first correspondence with Julie. She has been very professional with providing details of the itinerary and assuring and re-assuring that the trip will be well-planned, It was because of her assurance that gave us the confidence to take the next step and book our Trans Sibetian holiday. And everything ran like clockwork from Moscow to Vladivostok. The Russian people were extremely friendly throughout. The Trans Siberian was a great experience and fulfilled our dreams. The scenery and ever changing vistas were spectacular. The train facilities were adequate but perhaps a shower facility in 1st Class would have been nice. I will recommend your services in the future!

Michael Morcos

Australia

The team at World of Discoveries were awesome. Didn’t put a foot wrong at all, the tours great, the people even better. Alex who followed us around everywhere was fantastic and the organisation by Varya was exceptional. Everything was made easy and extremely helpful 24/7, I don’t think they slept the whole time. Thank you, my dad and myself loved it

Alison Danesh

Iran / USA

We just returned from the World Cup in Russia where we followed Team Iran. This involved travel to three different stadiums many miles apart. Thank goodness we booked through World of Discoveries (Discovery Russia branch)! They arranged our lodging and transport. They even set us up with local English speaking guides to take us to see the interesting and historical sights of this beautiful land. We had a blast. We met new friends, ate great food, drank great vodka and cheered our team on. It was a trip of a lifetime.

Peter Gay & Andrew Carroll-Keays

Australia

Travelled on the TransMongolian Railway in Feb/Mar. Not too cold. Just take usual ski gear. Great scenery. Organisation was absolutely excellent. Every transfer and every guide were on time. The hotels were all very good. The Russian Sim (provided by the company) was great for keeping in contact with each other and the support line.

Douglas Schroeder

Australia

Everything worked like clockwork, when someone was suppose to be there they were. Yuri and Cathrine were excellent guides in Moscow and St. Petersburg and we learned a lot from both. We chose the 4 star hotels, and were very satisfied. Would highly recommend this trip to anyone interested.

Stacy

Australia

Trans- Scandinavian train tour on a private, September 2019 I’s looking for a train trip around Scandinavia and found it was not widely available option with many operators. Mostly, they do coach tours or cruises. World of Discoveries was the first company which offered a solution, a privately arranged non-escorted train trip tour for our small party of just 6 people. We are experienced travelers in our early 40th and always want to be immersed in the culture of a new country, eat local food, meet the people. We wanted an authentic experience and it was a great trip all round. We did not have to worry about our accommodation, or train tickets, or activities in various locations. We had our transfers to and from hotels pre-arranged. Guides provided great insight into Scandinavian culture and were undeniably helpful as we all had different ideas about spare time and extra activities. We went out at every visited city and they gave us lots of great recommendations. Could have stayed for more! Would love the same experience when we visit other, less traveled and remote parts of the world with World of Discoveries! Would love the same experience when we visit other, less traveled and remote parts of the world with World of Discoveries!

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