Bishkek to Ashgabat

Bishkek to Ashgabat

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26 Days From

$6944

$6078

Bishkek to Ashgabat

26 Days Starting in Bishkek and ending in Ashgabat

Visiting: Bishkek, Issyk-Kul Lake, Song-Kol Lake (3016 metres), Kyzyl-Oi, Suusamyr Valley/Chychkan River/Karakul, Osh, Border Crossing/Andijan/Tashkent, Tashkent, Bukhara, Samarkand, Tashkent/Overnight Train, Khiva, Darvaza, Yerbent – Ashgabat, Ashgabat, Mary, Merv – Mary

Tour operator:

Intrepid Travel

Tour code:

KFSRC

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

1 - 12

Physical rating:

Medium, Medium

Age range:

1-12

Special diets catered:

Vegetarians

Tour operated in:

English

Trip Styles:

Active

From: $6944 $6078 Operator discount: -$694 Mid-Year Mayhem Discount: -$172 -12%

NB: Prices correct on 15-Jul-2024 but subject to change.

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Tour Overview

Be entranced by the beauty and the wonder of Central Asia on this overland journey from the capital of Kyrgyzstan through the heartland of Uzbekistan to the forgotten yet futuristic Ashgabat. Take in the tranquil landscape of Son-Kol Lake, watch for wild boar and deer around Chychkan Gorge, hike up the sacred Sulumain-too Mountain in historic Osh, and get your fill of mosques and museums in Samarkand. Venture into the mysterious Turkmenistan, camp out by the 'gate of hell', and explore Ashgabat with architectures from a scifi movie. Abounding with ancient culture, divine natural beauty, intriguing relics, and welcoming people, this is a journey that will leave you eager to discover more of Central Asia.

Highlights

  • Central Asia is a fascinating and unique mix of ancient Silk Road culture, post-soviet culture and striving to redefine nations post independence. Geographically and for a time historically, it is the real centre of Asia

  • The much-photographed Registan in Samarkand is one of the true pinnacles of Islamic architecture. You'll be wowed by the scale, grandeur and beauty of the monuments to iconic figures such as Tamerlane and the Persian influenced madressas, mosques and mausoleums

  • Experience for yourself the legend that is Central Asian hospitality - there's really nothing like being welcomed into a local home or yurt for a meal, chatting with stall holders at bazaars or simply marvelling at the sights alongside locals

  • Kyrgyzstans mountains are its monuments and its majesty. The landscapes here will stay with you long after the journey is over

  • Marvel at the beautiful Son-Kol Lake, where in mid-summer you may see flocks of sheep, goats and herds of horses watched over by nomadic herdsmen and their families

  • Stay overnight in a yurt lakeside and live like the locals have for centuries in these portable, felt lined traditional tents

  • Reflect on the important role horses have played in the traditional Kyrgyz nomadic life style while witnessing horseback sports like odarysh (wrestling on horseback), tiyin-enish (where riders try to pick up coins at full gallop) or kok-baru (goat polo)

  • Explore sprawling ruins of Mary, Merv and others with a local guide and contemplate these remnants of empires that once ruled this vast land

  • Witness the eternal flames of the Darvaza Crater, aka the 'Door to Hell' as you camp nearby – one of the strangest, most mesmerising geological oddities on earth

  • Ashgabat rose from the devastation of an earthquake in 1948 and has enjoyed a surreal and futuristic makeover

Itinerary

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Day 1: Bishkek

Location: Bishkek

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: dinner

Welcome to Bishkek! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm tonight. Tomorrow you’ll take a tour of the city, so don’t stress too much if you don’t have time to see much today. Bishkek is tree-lined town of parks and gardens, handsome houses and wide streets perfect for strolling. If you arrive with time to spare, maybe head out in search of some samsa (pastry pockets filled with meat and vegetables).

Day 2: Bishkek

Location: Bishkek

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Embark on city tour that showcases the various stages of Bishkek’s history. Visit the severe Ala-Too Square, once known as Lenin Square, and learn about the towering statue depicting folkloric hero Manas. Continue to Dubovy Park, and wander among the open-air cafes before strolling between the century-old oaks along Freedom Avenue. In the afternoon, you'll have some free time to further explore Bishkek. Quite the contrast to the relaxed quiet streets, square and parks in the city centre, Osh Market is noisy, crowded, and a perfect peek into local life. You'll find all kinds of things on sale here, from spices and fruits to clothes and carpets.

Included Activities:
-Bishkek - City Tour With Local Guide

Optional Activities:
-Bishkek - State Historical Museum

Day 3: Issyk-Kul Lake

Location: Issyk-Kul Lake

Accommodation: Tourist yurt camp

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch, dinner

This morning, up and on the road through the beautiful landscaps of Kyrgyzstan. You'll be travelling with our vehicle for the next few days so get ready for a road trip through some pretty stunning mountains and lakes. Firstly stop at Burana Tower, a minaret that is the most visible
remnant of the ancient city Balasagun. Then continue to Tokmak and meet a local Kyrgyz family and enjoy a home-cooked lunch. Then onto the destination of today - Issyk-Kul Lake, the second-largest alpine lake in the world. At 170 - kilometres-long and 70-kilometres-wide, her beauty is a real sight to behold. Your yurt camp for tonight is set up along the south shore of the lake where you'll get a fantastic view of the snow-capped mountains setting behind the lake. Made of felt and tarpaulins on a round frame, yurts are the traditional dwellings of the Kyrgyz people and this will be your 'settlement' for today and tomorrow.

Included Activities:
-Shamsy Valley - Burana tower
-Tokmak - Kyrgyz family visit and home-cooked lunch

Day 4: Issyk-Kul Lake

Location: Issyk-Kul Lake

Accommodation: Tourist yurt camp

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch, dinner

With relaxed plans for today, we’ll wander the beautiful alpine area and head out to meet a local eagle trainer (or Berkutchi) and discover the ancient principles of training these beautiful creatures to follow commands, catch prey and return back to their masters and then visit a few local families who’ll teach you more about their traditional yurts. With a special workshop, you’ll learn the basics of how these nomadic dwellings have been manufactured and how they play an important role in the community here. Enjoy a free afternoon and evening, relax in your authentic yurt camp, jump into the lake, ride a bike or sit back with a cold homemade vodka – created by your yurt camp owners, just for you.

Included Activities:
-Issyk-Kul Lake - Yurt workshop
-Issyk-Kul Lake - Eagle Hunter Visit

Day 5: Song-Kol Lake (3016 Metres)

Location: Song-Kol Lake (3016 metres)

Accommodation: Tourist yurt camp

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch, dinner

Back on the road and travel to Song-Kol Lake, another alpine stunner that is considered a sacred place to many Kyrgyz people, as well as one of the best summer pastures for nomadic herders. The landscape will change depending on the season but is sure to be beautiful no matter when you travel. In the summer you might see nomadic herdsmen and their families watching over goats, sheep, and horses. Enjoy exploring your surroundings for the rest of the day, maybe hiking one of the many trails. Tonight, fall asleep in yurts set up along the shore. Tomorrow, those daring enough for an invigorating morning splash can use the lake to wash off the sleep.

Day 6: Kyzyl-Oi

Location: Kyzyl-Oi

Accommodation: Guesthouse/Homestay

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch, dinner

Travel along gravel roads to the tiny village of Kyzyl-Oi, which is squeezed between mountains. On the way, pass large coal deposits and travel along the Kokomeren River, which feeds into the Syr Darya. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the banks of the river in the shade of the trees and use your free time to explore the village on arrival.

Day 7: Suusamyr Valley/Chychkan River/Karakul

Location: Suusamyr Valley/Chychkan River/Karakul

Accommodation: Guesthouse/Homestay

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch, dinner

Get ready for a full-day of driving though big, beautiful landscapes. As the roads in Kyrgyzstan see little regular maintenance, even short distances on a map can take hours. The road crosses the Suusamyr Valley – a high steppe plateau situated at around 2200 metres above sea level. The mountainous surroundings are often dotted with yurts. Continue along the Chychkan River that cuts through the Tien Shan mountain range. Stop here for a while and soak up the amazing scenery. Arrive at tonight's accommodation in Karakul sometime in the early evening.

Day 8: Osh

Location: Osh

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

After breakfast, get ready for another all-day journey to Osh, the second-largest city in Kyrgystan. Stop en route at Uzgen, an ancient trading town and handicrafts centre along the Silk Road. Although much of the ancient city has been destroyed, a minaret and three mosques that have survived remain important examples of medieval Central Asian architecture. Continue to Osh. Located in the Fergana Valley in the south of the country, Osh is often referred to as the 'Capital of the South' and is the oldest city in the country.

Included Activities:
-Uzgen - Uzgen Minaret & Complex

Day 9: Osh

Location: Osh

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Rise and shine for a visit to the only World Heritage site in Kyrgystan, the Sulaiman-Too Sacred Mountain, also known as Solomon's Throne. For centuries Silk Road travellers have sought out the mountain's caves and their petroglyphs in the belief that they would be blessed with longevity or healthy children. Visit the National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex. In the afternoon, enjoy some free time in Osh. Perhaps visit the Jayma Bazaar, where you might pick up an interesting souvenir or two. Or maybe take a self-guided tour of the remnants of Osh's soviet past with a walk to the giant Lenin statue in the city square.

Included Activities:
-Osh - Sulaiman-Too Mountain
-Osh - National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex

Optional Activities:
-Osh - Bazaar - Free

Day 10: Border Crossing/Andijan/Tashkent

Location: Border Crossing/Andijan/Tashkent

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

This morning, drive to Kyrgyz-Uzbek border, which is just outside of the city. Transfer to Andijan and board a local train to Tashkent (approximately 5.5 hours). The train is a great place to meet locals, so don’t be surprised if people want to chat to the chet ellik (foreigner). Arrive in the evening and check into the hotel.

Day 11: Tashkent

Location: Tashkent

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Begin your introduction to Uzbekistan by exploring the capital today. Follow your leader on a city walking tour - explore Amir Timur square at the city center, then hop on the metro and lose yourself in the exciting Chorsu Bazaar, browsing traditional wooden cradles, handmade musical instruments, and the extensive vegetable and spice markets. Enjoy a free afternoon and maybe go and visit the Khast Imom complex, a restored series of religious buildings (including a mosque) and a library containing an ancient Qur’an, parts of which have been dated to the ninth century, or simply relax and enjoy some well deserved downtime after a busy journey in Kyrgyzstan.

Included Activities:
-Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar
-Tashkent - Amir Timur Square

Day 12: Bukhara

Location: Bukhara

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Travel to Bukhara by train this morning. Located on the ancient Silk Road, Bukhara was an important regional and world hub for many, many years and has a long, fascinating history featuring invasions by both Genghis Khan and the Soviet Red Army. Explore this fascinating city with your tour leader on an orientation walk after arrival and head to the Lyabi-Haus area, a busy 17th-century plaza with hundreds-years-old trees and there is time to wander the small craft studios tucked into the nearby madrasas and trading domes.

Day 13: Bukhara

Location: Bukhara

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Enjoy a day of sightseeing in beautiful Bukhara. First visit the Sitorai Mohi Khosa, once the summer residence of the last Emir. Designed by Russian architects, it has interiors decorated with traditional filigree plaster, mirrored surfaces and delicate floral wall paintings by local artisans. In the afternoon, visit the Ark Fortress and Kalon Mosque, the symbol of Bukhara. Continue to one of Central Asia's oldest and most exquisite structures, the tenth-century Ismail Samani Mausoleum, the superb decorative brickwork of which has survived 1000 years of rugged history.

Included Activities:
-Bukhara - Sitorai Mohi Hosa Palace
-Bukhara - Ismail Samani Mausoleum
-Bukhara - Kalon Mosque
-Bukhara - Ark Fortress

Day 14: Samarkand

Location: Samarkand

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast, dinner

Have a free morning to yourself for some further exploration of Bukhara. In the late afternoon,transfer to the station for the high-speed train to fabled Samarkand (approximately 2 hours). This city is located at the very centre of the ancient Silk Road. Arrival early evening and follow your leader on a short city orientation walk and maybe an optional dinner together.

Included Activities:
-Samarkand - Leader-led orientation walk

Day 15: Samarkand

Location: Samarkand

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Enjoy a tour of Samarkand. First up is the central square called the Registan, which features mosques and mausoleums that are true pinnacles of Islamic architecture. Continue to Guri-Amir, where Tamerlane is buried, and then the enormous Bibi-Khanum Mosque. Visit Shak-i-Zinda, a necropolis that features a series of gleaming blue-tiled mausoleums. This sacred site has monuments from the 14th–19th century, reflecting the development of the monumental art and architecture of the Timurid dynasty onwards. It is photo worthy at every turn, just remember to be respectful as pilgrims visit the complex. In the evening, you’ll visit a local family to learn the secrets of plov cuisine during a cooking demonstration in the evening.

Included Activities:
-Samarkand - Bibi-Khanym Mosque
-Samarkand - Registan
-Samarkand - Shakh-I-Zinda
-Samarkand - Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum
-Samarkand - Plov cooking demonstration & family visit

Optional Activities:
-Samarkand - Afrosiab Museum
-Samarkand - Ulugbek's Observatory

Day 16: Tashkent

Location: Tashkent

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

This morning, take the train back to Tashkent. Enjoy a free afternoon and why not celebrate this great adventure with an optional farewell dinner tonight?

Day 17: Tashkent

Location: Tashkent

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Today is a free day for you to explore Tashkent until 6pm group meeting to meet your new travel buddies.

Optional Activities:
-Tashkent - State Museum of History of Uzbekistan
-Tashkent - Art Gallery of Uzbekistan
-Tashkent - Museum of Applied Arts

Day 18: Tashkent/Overnight Train

Location: Tashkent/Overnight Train

Accommodation: Overnight Train

Meals Included: breaksfast

This morning, embark on a city tour to explore the city of Tashkent. Visit the Amir Timur Square in the center of the city, spend time wandering Chorsu Bazaar. The main building is topped by an impressive dome, and the market sells pretty much everything you could imagine, and plenty of things you couldn't. Explore the fantastically decorated metro stations which were only allowed to be photographed from 2018 and visit Khast Imom Complex which houses one of the oldest copy of Qur'an, a UNESCO heritage itself. Have some free time in the afternoon and maybe stock some snacks for your overnight train, departing around 6 pm. Pick up a good book, put on some music, and watch the world goes by and the scenery changes.

Included Activities:
-Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar
-Tashkent - Khast Imom Complex & Moyie Mubarek Library Museum
-Tashkent - Amir Timur Square
-Tashkent - City tour
-Tashkent - Metro tour

Day 19: Khiva

Location: Khiva

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: lunch

Arrive at Urgench around 10:30am and transfer to colourful Khiva (45 minutes). Many global powers have laid claim to this city over the centuries, from khans to Silk Road traders and the Soviet Union. Enjoy an early lunch and then get acquainted with Khiva on a tour of this walled-city after breakfast. See the incredible blue-tiled Kalta Minor Minaret and the Mohammed Amin Khan Madressa. Explore the Kuhna Ark, the 'citadel within a citadel' which once housed the Khan and his family in the 17th century, then get a good look at this attractive city from the Ak-sheikh Baba Observatory. Finally, visit the Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum, a complex constructed in honour of the famous 13th-century poet, craftsman and fighter. A popular pilgrimage site, the mint-coloured dome that tops the main mausoleum is stunning. Visit the towering Islom Hoja Minaret, the tallest building in Khiva. Explore Juma Mosque, the roof of which is propped up by 212 wooden columns and designed to let in sunlight. If you want a peek at Uzbek luxury, look no further than the Tosh-Hovli Palace, which was built in the first half of the 19th century. Wander through elaborately decorated courtyards connected by labyrinthian corridors. Don't miss out on the magic hour when the sun's setting and find a good spot for the sunset over this ancient city. The evening is yours to spend.

Included Activities:
-Khiva - Islom Hoja Minaret & Medressa
-Khiva - Juma Mosque
-Khiva - Tosh-Hovli Palace
-Khiva - Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum
-Khiva - Kuhna Ark

Day 20: Darvaza

Location: Darvaza

Accommodation: Camping

Meals Included: breaksfast, dinner

Say goodbye to Uzbekistan and cross the border into Turkmenistan at Khodjeyli (Xo‘jayli). Meet the new leader who will be your key to local secrets, food and highlights for the rest of your journey. Continue your journey to Darvaza Crater with a change to 4WD for the rough road conditions. This astounding 70-metre-wide hole in the Karakum Desert is permanently aflame. Soviet oil prospectors started drilling in 1971 expecting to find oil, and the ground collapsed to form the crater. Worried about the gas released into the air, they deliberately set the crater on fire to burn off the excess, expecting it to last a few weeks. As you’ll see today, they were wrong, and the crater has been burning ever since. Watch the sunset over the 'Door to Hell' from your nearby camp, and enjoy a Turkmenistan-style barbecue for dinner. 

Included Activities:
-Darvaza - "Door to Hell" Crater

Day 21: Yerbent – Ashgabat

Location: Yerbent – Ashgabat

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Hit the sand again in the 4WD, making the 4-hour drive to Ashgabat with a stop along the way at the tiny settlement of Yerbent. The community here live primarily in yurts that are tucked between the sand dunes. Check out the local monument that pays tribute to the group of socialists that died in the Basmachi Revolt in 1931, then continue to Ashgabat. Little is left of the original Russian Imperial city as most of it was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1948, and today the city centre is a bizarre mix of futuristic and outrageous public buildings. Get a sense of Ashgabat old and new with a tour that takes in both the ancient settlement of Nisa and the National Museum of Turkmenistan. Enjoy a free afternoon in this mind-bending city. Look out for the ornate, golden telephone booths, screens broadcasting official ceremonies on a loop and imposing statues of the president.

Included Activities:
-Yerbent - Village visit
-Ashgabat - National Museum of Turkmenistan
-Ashgabat - Nisa ruins

Day 22: Ashgabat

Location: Ashgabat

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Take a full day to wrap your head around this desert city on an immersive guided tour taking in the four pointed minarets atop the Ertugrul Gazi Mosque and the the extravagant Independence Monument. This sculpted park is filled with statues of Turkmen heroes (and controversial politicians) that line paths that lead to a golden dome and a (surprise!) massive minaret. From this lavish ode to Turkmen identity, continue to the Neutrality Arch, which despite its name has a provocative history. Then travel outside of the city to the Turkmenbashy Ruhi Mosque, the mausoleum of former Turkmen leader Saparmurat Niyazov. Next stops is to the the Horse Breeding Complex and Hippodrome of Ashgabat for the world famous Akhal-Teke horses. You'll visit the horse concur here where you'll see this precious species of horse and learn fro a local staff member of the work they do to breed and train the horses here. Then heading further out of town to the ruins of Anau. The crumbling remains of the medieval mosque still attract the devout, who come to pray and make offerings. After a day full of sightseeing, maybe spend the evening relaxing at your hotel.

Included Activities:
-Ashgabat - Anau ruins
-Ashgabat - Independence Monument
-Ashgabat - Neutrality Arch
-Ashgabat - Turkmenbashy Ruhi Mosque & Family Mausoleum of the First President of Turkmenistan
-Ashgabat - Ertugrul Gazi Mosque
-Ashgabat - Akhal-Teke horse Hippodrome

Day 23: Mary

Location: Mary

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast, lunch

Rise and shine for the 5-hour drive to Mary (pronounced ‘Mah-rih’). The somewhat ostentatious displays of wealth in the city can be traced to the long-running gas and cotton industries. Stop en route for lunch and to roam through the ruins of Abiverd. This fascinating archaeological site was an important trading town from 652 AD until the 12th century, and you can still see ancient shards of pottery scattered on the ground. Arrive in Mary in the afternoon and settle into your hotel.

Included Activities:
-Mary - Abiverd ruins

Day 24: Merv – Mary

Location: Merv – Mary

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Take a 40-minute drive to Merv, also known as Margiana or Margush, and enjoy some time to explore Turkmenistan's most recognised site. This sprawling World Heritage site is home to numerous walled structures from various periods spread across a 1200-hectare area. See impressive columns smoothed by wind and time at the Greater Kizkala and walk hills that were once the fortress walls of Erk Kala. While not the most impressive visually, Gyaur Kala dates to 400 BC and has a fascinating history. Spend some time exploring these relics of grand empires and then return to Mary for a free afternoon. Maybe visit the Mary Regional Museum. Housed in a palace of white marble, the museum features archaeological displays and exhibitions on traditional Turkmen life and culture.

Included Activities:
-Merv - Big & Small Kizkala
-Merv - Erk Kala & Gayur Kala
-Merv - Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum

Day 25: Ashgabat

Location: Ashgabat

Accommodation: Hotel

Meals Included: breaksfast

Glittering Ashgabat awaits your return today, so make the 5-hour return drive to the City of White Marble. Enjoy a free afternoon to spend as you wish before an optional dinner with your travel group.

Optional Activities:
-Carpet Museum

Day 26: Ashgabat

Location: Ashgabat

Meals Included: breaksfast

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the hotel at any time.

What's Included

  • Merv - Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum

  • Bishkek - City Tour

  • Shamsy Valley - Burana tower

  • Don Aryk - Local home visit & horsemanship demonstration

  • Uzgen - Uzgen Minaret & Complex

  • Kochkor - Women's Felt Co-op

  • Kochkor - Market

  • Osh - National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex

  • Osh - Sulaiman-Too Mountain

  • Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar

show more

What's Not Included

  • International Travel

  • Tipping and Gratuities

Included Activities

  • Bishkek - City Tour
  • Shamsy Valley - Burana tower
  • Don Aryk - Local home visit & horsemanship demonstration
  • Kochkor - Market
  • Kochkor - Women's Felt Co-op
  • Uzgen - Uzgen Minaret & Complex
  • Osh - Sulaiman-Too Mountain
  • Osh - National Historical and Archaeological Museum Complex
  • Tashkent - Chorsu Bazaar
  • Tashkent - Khast Imom Complex & Moyie Mubarek Library Museum
  • Tashkent - History Museum of the People of Uzbekistan
  • Samarkand - Bibi-Khanym Mosque
  • Samarkand - Gur-e-Amir Mausoleum
  • Samarkand - Shakh-I-Zinda
  • Samarkand - Registan
  • Samarkand - Paper making workshop & home cooked lunch
  • Shakhrisabz - Ak Saray Palace
  • Shakhrisabz - Kok-Gumbaz Mosque
  • Shakhrisabz - Dor-ut Tilovat Memorial Complex
  • Shakhrisabz - Dorus Saodat Complex
  • Bukhara - Ismail Samani Mausoleum
  • Bukhara - Sitorai Mohi Hosa Palace
  • Bukhara - Chor-Bakr Necropolis
  • Bukhara - Ark Fortress
  • Bukhara - Kalon Mosque
  • Vobkent - Minaret
  • Gijduvan - Ceramics workshop
  • Khiva - Pahlavon Mahmud Mausoleum
  • Khiva - Kuhna Ark
  • Khiva - Islom Hoja Minaret & Medressa
  • Khiva - Juma Mosque
  • Khiva - Tosh-Hovli Palace
  • Darvaza - "Door to Hell" Crater
  • Konye-Urgench - City tour
  • Yerbent - Village visit
  • Ashgabat - National Museum of Turkmenistan
  • Ashgabat - Nisa ruins
  • Ashgabat - Anau ruins
  • Ashgabat - Independence Monument
  • Ashgabat - Neutrality Arch
  • Ashgabat - Turkmenbashy Ruhi Mosque & Family Mausoleum of the First President of Turkmenistan
  • Ashgabat - Ertugrul Gazi Mosque
  • Merv - Big & Small Kizkala
  • Merv - Erk Kala & Gayur Kala
  • Merv - Sultan Sanjar Mausoleum

Accommodation

  • Accommodation is clean and simple. You'll mainly stay in small, locally-run, 2-3 star hotels and guesthouses, which reflect the character of the area,generally these will be a twin room with private facilities. Sometimes you'll stay in larger, more comfortable hotels or occasionally rustic accommodation with basic facilities. We use a variety of accommodation on most trips; chosen for their value for money, location and atmosphere. We also try and incorporate unique accommodation experiences, such as a night with a local tribe, or sleeping under the stars in the desert.
  • HOMESTAYS:
  • Please note that at our homestays you might be required to share a room with people of other genders, or with your leader. Because we stay at real people's homes, beds might be pull-out couches or mattresses on the floor, or even a yurt in their backyard. Some of the accommodation along the way is very basic, staying in local guesthouses, yurts and homestays with limited facilities. Some facilities are shared and some accommodation has cold water only or no bathroom facilities.

Transport

  • Private Bus , Metro , High Speed Train , Overnight Train

Important Information

  • 1. A single supplement is available if you’d prefer not to share a room on this trip. The single supplement excludes Days 3 to Day 7, Day 18 (overnight train) and Day 20 (camping) where you will be in shared accommodation and is subject to availability. Please speak to your booking agent for further information.
  • 2. This trip is a combination of KFSR and KFSM our most popular itineraries. Your tour leader and group composition may change on Day 17.
  • 3. This is a multi-country trip. Please read the visa section of the Essential Trip Information carefully for the visa requirement. Visa for Turkmenistan requires a Letter of Invitation in advance which needs to be requested with your booking agent no later than 60 days before the trip.
  • 4. Independent travel is not allowed in Turkmenistan. If you have pre trip accommodation booked with us, you won't be allowed to leave your hotel without a guide in Ashgabat. Please consult with your booking agent if you need to book post-trip accommodation in Ashgabat.

Check out our Q&As

  • Are internal flights included in this tour?

    Yes,

  • Is this trip right for you

    Central Asia is a remote destination, perfect for intrepid travellers in the true sense of the word! You will venture well away from cities, right off the beaten track and be able to immerse yourself in local food, life and culture.

    There is one night of camping on this trip. This is, of course, all part of your adventure in the Karakum Desert. Sleeping bags, mattresses and tents are provided, but there are no facilities at the campsite.

    Accommodation may on occassion be more basic than what you are used to in homestays, guesthouses and yurt stay. Shower and toilet facilities will be limited in some places and nonexistent in others. While the comfort level won't always be high, the rewards of living in true local style in this far-out part of the world are immeasurable.

    This is an overland journey, so there will be some very long days of travelling and driving, often over rough terrain. This can be tiring at times and will require a great deal of patience at others, especially at border crossings.

    What Kyrgyzstan lacks in 'sights' compared to the Silk Road monuments and old towns of Uzbekistan, it makes up for in alpine landscapes, opportunities for interaction with local families and plenty of time spent on the road or outdoors exploring natural surroundings.

    Tourism is strictly controlled in Turkmenistan, with Letters of Invitation needed in advance in order to apply for your visa (which you can then get on arrival) and guides tending to be protective of what tourists see and fiercely proud of their nation and its leaders. Those used to more freedom of exploration and tour guides with a more global perspective may find their experience here different from in other destinations. Please see the ‘Passport and visas’ section of the Essential Trip Information for more details.

  • What policies are in place for Covid-19?

    Please contact us for latest COVID-19 policies

  • How long has the tour company been trading?

    Intrepid Travel has been taking travellers around the world for over 30 years

  • Will the accommodation included meet local health and safety regulations?

    Yes

  • What Ethical Travel credentials does the tour company have?

    Since 2002, The Intrepid Foundation has supported over 130 organisations across the world. We’re creating positive impact through the joy of travel, community and connection.

  • Do you operate a “single share” option and how does it work?

    Over 50% of traveller travel solo with Intrepid. You can choose to share a room with another solo travelle of the same sex for no additional charge, or choose to pay a single supplement if you’d like your own room. Please request this when booking, and we will secure you a single supplement wherever possible. Please note, if you are booking a last-minute trip, it may be harder for us to secure a single room

Reviews of this operator

Maroochy Dazza (Google Reviewer)  

Just leaving a review to...

24-Aug-2023

Just leaving a review to share how much I enjoyed my Central America trip. I thought the guide, Aura was so knowledgeable and organised and clearly a great ambassador for Intrepid. She gave us lots of information on each region, helped us organise anything we needed and dealt with queries from passengers very well and diplomatically. She made the trip run smoothly. She was also keen to explain the Intrepid vision and how the company values making a difference to locals and is a credit to your company. I did Guatemala and beyond and thoroughly enjoyed it - very fast paced, lots to see and do and a great overview of the region. I would definitely recommend 👍

V Open (Google Reviewer)  

I have just come back...

26-Oct-2022

I have just come back home after doing Intrepid's 10-day Vietnam Express Northbound tour. What a SUPERB tour. We saw lots and did lots, it was jam-packed full of sights and activities. Our tour leader, Tam, was the best ever. Very knowledgeable, organised and lots of fun too. The other 10 people on the group were all lovely. The places we visited were very interesting. We even visited local homes and ate just like the local people do. I highly recommend Intrepid to anyone considering touring a new country. This was my 5th tour with them and they have consistently been fantastic.

Jack Edwards (Google Reviewer)  

I have travelled with Intrepid...

03-Jun-2024

I have travelled with Intrepid a number of times now and can't recommend them enough. The trips are always exciting, full of history and immersive in the culture and environment. The office staff are great too and always happy to help with any questions you might have. Everywhere I have gone with the company has been different but the guides and itinerary have always been excellent and full of knowledge and passion for their country. Add in the social responsibility angle the company has and it top quality ethical practice and you can't go wrong

Jo Clayton (Google Reviewer)  

I recently went on an...

15-Mar-2024

I recently went on an 11 day tour of India with Intrepid and was impressed with every aspect of the tour, the tour leader and the organisation behind the scenes. I always travel alone so it was a big deal to join a tour, I didn't want to feel less independent or ferried about. I loved being part of a group and the things we saw and did on the tour, I would never have known about or seen if I had been by myself. I loved it from start to finish. Yes the overnight trains were not easy to sleep on, but I managed. Meeting locals on board was a high light for me. English is widely spoken in India and its amazing who you strike up a chat with. I had two problems on the tour - one my own fault and one hotel related. The support from Intrepid was amazing. I cannot thank them enough for going the extra mile to support me. I recommend Intrepid 100% and have gone from thinking an organised tour is for people who don't know about Lonely Planet and can't do solo stuff, to realising its a faster, better, more fun way to get to know a country truly and deeply whilst on a bit of a budget. I will book again and again with Intrepid. I loved it that much! Big thanks to tour leader Daddy H. Devender for his help on day one, and Nick in the Oz office for his fab customer care skills. Also the person who staffed the emergency whatsapp in India - you saved my sanity helping me get there a day late! THANK YOU ALL X

Nicole  

North American Adventure

12-Oct-2021

This was my first international solo trip, but I never felt “alone” - there was always someone to go shopping, hike, or grab a quick bite with. The itinerary was a great balance between organized activities, while still allowing free time for exploring. Each location was unique and charming in its own way. Spending the night in the holy city of Moulay Idriss and wandering the winding streets of Chefchaouen were especially memorable. Thank you Mustapha and Intrepid for an incredible adventure!

Alice Norton (Google Reviewer)  

I have just completed a...

29-Feb-2024

I have just completed a 12 day food tour of Vietnam, and had an amazing time. Our tour leader was great, knowledgeable and kind, who helped throughout the trip with recommendations for places on our free days, and spas. All the food we tried was delicious. It is a very fast paced tour, and Bon tried to maximise our experiences for the best.

Henry Guy Robinson   United Kingdom

Cambodia Discovery

22-Jan-2024

The overall experience was fantastic. V good tour leader. All places visited had something special to do or see. I would book a tour with this company again. Only one negative tour hub is not I repeat not available to contact direct by phone.

Merouane Harkat   Uk

Explore Southern Africa

08-Mar-2024

Best trip ever was, 2 things I didn't like the black mamba stop was wasting day and village ,so 2 night I think was just wasting, I could do 2 days in Kruger, and one more night in delta

Ann  

Amazing Guatemala and beyond tour with Intrepid

13-Dec-2022

Did Guatemala and beyond trip in November 22. It was amazing, we were so well looked after by our guide Aura. She was very knowledgeable and during our bus trips she gave us the history of the 4 countries. The border crossings can be tricky but handled very well by our guide. We saw all the most interesting and beautiful places. The hotels were lovely comfortable colonial style. I will travel with intrepid again

Trustpilot
Hazel Rogers (Google Reviewer)  

I have just completed my...

06-Mar-2024

I have just completed my first trip with Intrepid to Southern Africa, and I loved every moment of it! We saw so much wildlife, stayed in some beautiful places, and learnt so much about the countries and people in a very short space of time. Our group leader, Admore, was exceptionally organised, coordinating every detail of our packed itinerary and keeping us informed along the way. The recruitment of a local group leader who can share their knowledge and fix the smallest of issues quickly really sets these trips apart, ensuring you feel safe and looked after at all times. I shall be booking my next trip soon!

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Book with Confidence

  • Free Date Changes

    Intrepid Travel allows you to make 10 free date changes, as long as the change is made at least 56 days before the start of the tour.

  • Transfer as credit to Future Tours

    Intrepid Travel allows you to transfer existing payments to a future tour to avoid cancellation fees if you can't travel and inform intrepid travel, 56 days before departure.

  • Low Deposit

    Intrepid Travel requires a minimum deposit of 400 USD per person or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 56 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of intrepid travel charges.

    Up to 56 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 55 days before tour starts: Forfeit 30% of booking price.

    At 30 days before tour starts: Forfeit 60% of booking price.

    At 14 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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