Turkmenistan Tour Plan

Turkmenistan is among countries that start with T listed on Countryaah.com. The bizarre lunar landscape of the Karakum sand and scree desert takes up the majority of the area of ​​Turkmenistan. Gazelles and wild donkeys live in the oases and vast steppe areas, and even leopards in the mountainous region on the border with Afghanistan. Natural wonders such as the “Gate to Hell”, a burning gas crater in the middle of the desert, the largest salt waterfall in the world or the underground thermal lake Kow-Ata are among the most important sights in the country. In terms of culture, numerous ancient sites can be admired along the old Silk Road, such as Merw and Nisa. Visit Itypeusa.com for other countries that start with T.

Turkmenistan 1

  • Day 1: arrival
  • Day 2: Ashgabat – the Las Vegas of Central Asia
  • Day 3: Ashgabat – Hike in the Kopetdag Mountains
  • Day 4: Hike along and through the spectacular Leopard Gorge
  • Day 5: Through the Kopedag Mountains to the Moon Mountains
  • Day 6: From the Moon Mountains to Dekhistan
  • Day 7: From the minarets of Dekhistan to the Great Balkans
  • Day 8: See the desert from above from the Sekidag Mountains
  • Day 9: At the Caspian Sea!
  • Day 10: Canyon landscapes of Yangisuw and Yangikala
  • Day 11: From the colored Yangikala cliffs to the white cliffs at Koymat
  • Day 12: Koymat – Ygdykala
  • Day 13: Through the Karakum to the “fiery hot center” of Turkmenistan
  • Day 14: From the fire crater back to the marble city of Ashgabat
  • 15th day: journey home

To the detailed daily routine

In the middle of the golden dunes of the Karakum (“black sand”), large and small flames have been blazing for more than 40 years. At night, the burning gas in the Derweze crater glows orange. A diabolical spectacle, but few have seen it. Turkmenistan is still one of the most isolated countries. The lucky ones, however, follow narrow shepherds’ paths down into the Leopard Gorge and look from the lunar landscape up to the stars.

Meals: B = breakfast / L = lunch / packed lunch / D = dinner

1st day:

getting there

Flight to Ashgabat.

2nd day:

Ashgabat – the Las Vegas of Central Asia

Arrive early in the morning. After the entry procedure we are warmly welcomed by the tour guide. A short transfer brings us to our hotel and we immediately move into our rooms. After breakfast tour through the capital of the country with its ultra-modern architecture, grandiose parks with elaborate water features and magnificent buildings. A metropolis of superlatives on the edge of the Karakum desert. During a tour of the Carpet Museum, we see the largest examples in Turkmenistan. Every important day in the country’s history is architecturally recorded in monuments and statues. After lunch with traditional Turkmen dishes, we drive past the futuristic ferris wheel to the old city of Nisa (approx. 12 km), which lies at the gates of the capital and visit the remains of the Parthian fortresses (UNESCO World Heritage Site). The largest mosque in the country in honor of Turkmenbashi is within sight, as is his mausoleum right next door. After dinner, a small city tour at night through the so-called “Las Vegas of Central Asia”. Overnight at hotel.

Driving time: approx. 2 hours (60 km)
Overnight in the hotel
(B / L / D)

3rd day:

Ashgabat – Hike in the Kopetdag Mountains

In the morning we first drive to the north of the city and pay a visit to the huge, newly designed bazaar. It is considered one of the largest in all of Central Asia. Here we have the opportunity to buy little things for the tour before we leave Ashgabat. Then we drive 1 hour west to Chuli, into the Kopetdag mountain range. A first hike leads through a rocky valley to the Chuli Canyon. Our camp is idyllically located between rocks.

Driving time: approx. 2 hours (100 km)
Hike: approx. 2-3 hours (9 km, + 380 m / – 220 m)
Overnight in tent
(B / L / D)

4th day:

Hike along and through the spectacular Leopard Gorge

An extended hike takes us through the Kopetdag Mountains. The whole area is like a huge canyon maze. The partly narrow shepherds’ paths meander up and along the gorges and in some places allow terrifyingly beautiful views into the depths. We descend to the bottom of the gorge and hike between the walls, which rise up to 200 meters, to a spring. Back out of the gorge, we hike back to the starting point on a different path. Then drive to Köw Ata, which is known for its underground thermal bath. The camp is set up near Nohur.

Driving time: approx. 3 hours (150 km)
Hike: 4-5 hours (17 km, + 650 m / – 650 m)
Overnight in tent
(B / L (LB) / D)

5th day:

Through the Kopedag Mountains to the Moon Mountains

In Nohur, a place where unique customs and traditions have been preserved, the oldest plane tree in all of Central Asia grows. Particularly worth seeing is the local cemetery, which is adorned with hundreds of overgrown burial mounds with the horns of mountain goats. In the Kopedag highlands we go on a short hike near Saiwan before we have a picnic lunch. We reach the moon mountains in the afternoon via gravel roads and adventurous routes. We then explore the spectacular lunar landscapes on foot and finally reach the camp in the middle of this bizarre region. When wandering around, fossilized sea urchins and ammonites can be discovered, as the area was covered by the sea until 14 million years ago.

Driving time: 4 hours (130 km)
Hike: approx. 2-3 hours (7 km)
Overnight in a tent
(B / L (LB) / D)

6th day:

From the moon mountains to Dekhistan

From the camp we briefly climb steeply to the table mountain plateau on Torkay and walk past some viewpoints along the cliffs. You feel like you are on the moon, if it weren’t for the steppe vegetation, we look in amazement over the strange looking stretch of land. From Torkay we drive back to the road on our “planet” on an adventurous off-road track. Along the Sumbar Valley, partly close to the Iranian border, it goes south. During the lunch break in Kara-Agach, the trip is relaxed with a short hike on the river. With the off-road vehicles we finally reach Dekhistan, where we set up our camp for the night.

Driving time: approx. 6 hours (250 km)
Hike: approx. 4 hours (12 km)
Overnight in a tent
(B / L (LB) / D)

7th day:

From the minarets of Dekhistan to the Great Balkans

Two minarets have been preserved from the formerly extensive city, which was first settled 3000 years ago; an entrance portal (Iwan) is under restoration. After a sightseeing tour, the piste-like road leads north again. Our hike to the old Boyadag mud volcano begins with a height of no less than 110 m. And not only that – we will feel like we are on another planet. This is similar to exploring Mars! Madness! After the impressive tour, we continue along the “Great Balkans” mountains to the desert village of Ajykui, where we set up our overnight camp in the village.

Driving time: 6 hours (270 km)
Hike: 2 hours (6 km)
Overnight in a tent
(B / L (LB) / D)

8th day:

See the desert from above from the Sekidag Mountains

We go on a hike in the Sekidag Mountains and will reach a height of approx. 1,000 m. The views extend far into the Chilmametkum desert. Our night camp is at the foot of the mountains.

Driving time: approx. 1 hour (15 km)
Hike: approx. 4-5 hours (12 km, + 1,050 m / – 1,150 m)
Overnight in a tent
(B / L (LB) / D)

Day 9:

At the Caspian Sea!

On a sandy track and over dunes we drive along the Great Balkans to the next paved road. Then it’s fast towards the Caspian Sea and via Turkmenbashi, the administrative center of the Welayate Balkans, we reach Awaza. The “tourism zone” consists of around 20 hotels of all categories. We check into a good middle class hotel and enjoy the amenities of the hotel (sea water pool, beach, sauna). Free time in the afternoon. It is a good idea to stroll along the Caspian Sea (28 m below sea level) or even take a dip in the clean water on the shallow beach. Dinner and overnight in the hotel.

Driving time: approx. 4 hours (190 km)
Overnight in the hotel
(B / L / D)

10th day:

Canyon landscapes of Yangisuw and Yangikala

Following the call of the desert, it goes from the Caspian Sea to Yangisuw, a pitteresque canyon landscape at Garabogaz Lake, shimmering in the distance. The camp is set up directly at the foot of the cliffs. In the late afternoon we hike along the prehistoric lake bed and the cliffs and marvel at the fantastic limestone massifs. The hike leads through flat terrain without height differences, is relaxed and not strenuous.

Driving time: approx. 5 hours (220 km)
Hike: approx. 3-4 hours (10 km)
Overnight in a tent
(B / L (LB) / D)

11th day:

From the colored Yangikala cliffs to the white cliffs at Koymat

The colored canyon landscapes are the highlights of the entire trip. We leave Yangisuw on foot and in Yangikala a short hiking excursion along the precipice brings us to the most beautiful viewpoint of the entire tour. Turkmenistan is at our feet – a hell of a moment. With a little luck, camels will pass by on the plain. From the pilgrimage site of Kemal Ata, we explore a valley with huge round boulders, also known as the Valley of Balls. While lunch is being prepared, a trip to the “Mushroom Rocks” is worthwhile. The day’s destination is the white cliffs near the Koymat oasis.

Driving time: approx. 5-6 hours (190 km)
Hike: approx. 2 hours (6 km)
Overnight stay in a tent
(B / L (LB) / D)

12th day:

Koymat – Ygdykala

We walk towards the sun through the desert to Koymat. An off-road trip leads to the old river bed of the Uzboy. We follow this dried up stream down to the remains of the ruins of the fortress of Ygdykala. For the Parthians, this system was a strategically important defense system on the edge of their empire. We learn more about the rule and expansion of power of this dynasty. For a hike we descend to the river bed, which is filled with some clear pools of salty water. The edges are formed by a crust of salt crystals.

Driving time: approx. 4 hours (150 km)
Hike: approx. 2 hours (8 km)
Overnight stay in a tent
(B / L (LB) / D)

13th day:

Through the Karakum to the “fiery hot center” of Turkmenistan

A long day of driving lies ahead of us, but we are rewarded with a spectacular destination. We continue into the huge Karakum past some artificial lakes to a waterfall with crystal clear, fresh water (you read that right! Don’t forget your swimwear!). The settlement of Balaishem will be passed. The landscape of this inhospitable desert with shrub vegetation changes again and again. Sometimes wide sand dunes, sometimes dry plains. Finding the best ways to cross the sand dunes with the 4×4 vehicles is a challenge. Occasionally we will meet herds of camels with their shepherds and Turkmen herding dogs, the Alabey. Wild camels are also not uncommon in the Karakum desert. Our destination today is the Darwaza oasis. In particular the fire crater, which is a few kilometers from the former settlement, is the destination of every traveler through Turkmenistan. Natural gas has been flowing out of the collapsed, former drilling site since the early 1970s. At some point the gas was ignited in the collapse site and has been blazing in hundreds of large and small flames since then. Especially in the evening it is a devilishly infernal spectacle. Then at the latest you will know where the fire gate to the underworld is.

Driving time: approx. 6-7 hours (220 km)
Overnight in a tent
(B / L (LB) / D)

14th day:

From the fire crater back to the marble city of Ashgabat

From Darwaza it’s almost dead straight on asphalt back to Ashgabat. This road is the most important land connection between north and south and leads directly through the Karakum desert. If the odometer wasn’t running, we’d think we haven’t made a meter. Only one or two small street villages are crossed until we can see the now well-known Kopetdag border mountains to Iran and the skyline of Ashgabat on the horizon again. In the famous hotel we can look forward to a shower after many days in the desert. In the late afternoon we will visit the Independence Park and then enjoy the farewell dinner.

Driving time: approx. 4 hours (280 km)
Overnight in hotel
(B / L / D)

15th day:

Home trip

Transfer to the airport 20 km away and flight back.

Turkmenistan 2

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