Ashgabat To Istanbul (44 Days) The Caucasus Region & Beyond Uncovered

Ashgabat To Istanbul (44 Days) The Caucasus Region & Beyond Uncovered

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tourhub | Oasis Overland | Ashgabat To Istanbul (44 Days) The Caucasus Region & Beyond Uncovered | 490
tourhub | Oasis Overland | Ashgabat To Istanbul (44 Days) The Caucasus Region & Beyond Uncovered | 490
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44 Days
From

$3537

$3440

Ashgabat To Istanbul (44 Days) The Caucasus Region & Beyond Uncovered

44 Days Starting in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan and ending in Istanbul, Türkiye

Visiting: Ashgabat, Turkmenbashi, Baku, Sheki, Tatev, Yerevan, Dilijan, Telavi, Tbilisi, Batumi, Cappadocia, Ephesus Ancient City, Gallipoli, İstanbul

Tour operator:

Oasis Overland

Tour code:

490

Guide Type:

Fully Guided

Group size:

1 - 10

Physical rating:

All Ages / Not applicable

Age range:

18-80

Special diets catered:

Please advise requests

Tour operated in:
English
Trip Styles:

Active, Adventure Tours

Activities:

4WD

From:
$3537
$3440 (USD) The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$97
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Tour Overview

Join this overland adventure starting in the isolated desert country of Turkmenistan, travelling across the Caspian Sea to the Caucasus states of Georgia and Armenia before continuing to Turkey. From Ashgabat to Istanbul, this trip is full of fascinating and varied history, demonstrating the contested and often turbulent past of this relatively unknown region. Those who do travel here are rewarded with breathtaking scenery from stunning snowy mountains to seemingly endless desert, ancient and medieval sites that rival and often outdo any found in Europe, and a wide array of eclectic cultures, with consistently friendly and welcoming locals.

Highlights

  • A guided tour though the marble city of Ashgabat

  • Experience the desert proper on a 4X4 safari in Turkmenistan

  • Visit the bubbling and sometimes explosive mud volcanoes found in Azerbaijan

  • Head to Savanavank monastery on the shores of Lake Sevan

  • Appreciate the ancient wine-growing region of Telavi

  • Enjoy the bizarre architecture in Batumi on the Black Sea Coast

  • Explore dwellings carved from the eerily eroded landscape in Cappadoccia

  • Take a dip in the white travertine terraces of Pamukkale

  • Roam around Ephesus - built by the Greeks 1000 years BC

  • Visit the battlegrounds and war graves of the forces that fought in WWI at Gallipoli

Itinerary

Expand All
Day 1 : Ashgabat
Location: Ashgabat
Accommodation: Hotel
Accommodation Name: Ak Altyn Hotel - Ashgabat

Welcome to Ashgabat, Turkmenistan’s capital. Founded in the 1880's by the Russian Tsarist government, sits between the foothills of the Koptedag mountains to the south, and the vast Karakum Desert to the north. The city was almost entirely destroyed following an earthquake in 1948 and rebuilt in the Soviet style. Following independence in 1991 the city has been transformed into a futuristic, and in many ways bizarre collection of unique structures and wide streets lined with marble. For many travellers, Ashgabat is one of the most mystifying and unusual cities they will ever experience.

We have some free time and enjoy a city tour of Ashgabat. On the city tour we visit Independence Park, the Ertogrul Gazi Mozque, the Arch of Neutrality, the Turkmenbashi Mosque Mauasoleum and many other sites throughout the city. There are plenty of fantastic photo opportunities, and we will have the chance to explore some of the markets and meet the locals.

Day 2 - 4 : Ashgabat To Turkmenbashi
Location: Ashgabat, Turkmenbashi
Accommodation: Camp

As we leave Ashgabat, we will be collected by off road jeeps and head off for our desert adventure. This will be a truly unique experience as we get to visit the Yangikala Canyons via the Balkan Mountains, then on past the white cliffs of Koymat, and along the banks of the dried up Uzboy River before reaching the desert settlement of Melegoch. We will pass several traditional villages on the way before setting up camp near the dunes of Melegoch. Much of this trip will be off road, and totally remote and will truly be a new experience on our way to the port of Turkmenbashi.

Day 5 - 7 : Turkmenbashi To Baku
Location: Turkmenbashi, Baku

Whilst we are in Turkmenbashi we will need to complete all of our border formalities before we take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to our next country, Azerbaijan.

Day 8 - 12 : Baku To Sheki
Location: Baku, Sheki

Our ferry will arrive into the port of Baku. Baku has an amazing blend of the old city and the ultra-modern and I am sure it will be fascinating and enjoyable addition to the itinerary and a destination that is not yet on the tourist route.

Heading north we visit the mud volcanoes of Qobustan and then onto visit the picturesque ancient village of Lahich with its copper beaters and ancient crafts and the 18th Century UNESCO town of Sheki.

Day 13 - 14 : Sheki To Tatev
Location: Sheki, Tatev

We cross the border into Georgia and then Armenia as we head south to Tatev, and at 5.7km long, the longest cable tramway in the world the "Wings of Tatev" that whisks you up into the mountains where there are lots of additional activities to take part in.

Day 15 - 18 : Tatev To Dilijan
Location: Tatev, Yerevan, Dilijan

From Tatev we head north to Yerevan where we are able to spend a couple of days to enjoy its many things to do. On departure we visit the Geghard Monastery and Garni Temple before making our way to high altitude Lake Sevan with the possibility to visit the Hayravank Monastery that overlooks the lake and then on to the ancient town of Dilijan, famous for its hiking, food and arts.

Day 19 - 23 : Dilijan To Tbilisi
Location: Dilijan, Telavi, Tbilisi

We cross the border to ever popular Telavi, the principal town of the Kakheti region, famous for its vineyards and wineries. Wine has been produced in Georgia since 4000BC and the industry has played a small but significant role in the country’s history ever since, as winemaking (and its consumption) has enjoyed an important role in Georgian culture and society. Here we have the option of taking a wine tour to find out more about the history of the area, why wine production has been so important, and of course to try some ourselves!

Telavi itself is a fascinating and relaxing place to spend a couple of nights with many good restaurants and cafes, and not far from the town there are other sites well worth a visit, such as the monastery of Akhali Shuamta, and the small village of Ikalta and its Church of the Transfiguration which dates from the 8th Century BC.

After our time in Telavi we continue to Tbilisi with its cobblestoned old town, delicious food and welcoming atmosphere.

Day 24 - 25 : Tbilisi
Location: Tbilisi

The Old Town of Tbilisi has much to offer. Here you can take a stroll along narrow cobbled streets, past traditional old houses with carved wooden balconies, relax in the warm waters of the historic sulphur baths and visit some of the city’s key historical sites; Metekhi Church, Narikala Fortress, Sioni Cathedral and Anchiskhati Church.

Day 26 - 31 : Tbilisi To Batumi
Location: Tbilisi, Batumi
Accommodation: Camp

Leaving Tbilisi we visit Gori the birthplace of Georgia’s most infamous son, Josef Stalin and we have time to visit the museum dedicated to him which is built alongside the house in which he was born, which still stands today. Here you will find many items from Stalin’s reign, and also his bullet-proof train carriage, in which he travelled across the Soviet Union.

There may also be the chance to stop at Uplistsikhe, an ancient cave city built into the mountains not far from Tbilisi. Dating from the early Iron Age, this historic site says much about Georgia’s long and often turbulent past at the crossroads of a number of might empires throughout the centuries.

Our next stop is Kutaisi¸ the country’s second largest city and home to a buzzing fruit and vegetable market where you can barter for goods with the local traders. Kutaisi offers a glimpse of what modern day life in urban Georgia is like, and the real joy of the city is found in simply wandering the streets and observing the locals go about their routine. This is also an opportunity to top up on some food and drink supplies before we head into the foothills of Caucasus and some more remote areas in the next few days.

We spend the next two days exploring the Svaneti region. This mountainous area is beautiful and untamed, and offer fantastic hiking options with the mighty Caucasus mountain range as a stunning backdrop. Using our overland truck as our base we will bush camp and spend some time travelling around, including a visit to Mestia, a pretty small town that forms the centre of the region. Weather and climate can be unpredictable so this part of the trip is kept quite loose to allow for itinerary changes, depending on what is our best option at the time, but with the truck carrying all of our camping and cooking gear we are free to travel almost anywhere!

Returning to civilisation we reach the port city of Batumi. Here we spend a couple of nights to check out the city with its modern and often bizarre architecture and enjoy our first taste of Georgia’s famous warm hospitality. A walk along the waterfront promenade is always popular, especially at night when the buildings are lit up in bright neon colours.

Day 32 - 43 : Batumi To Istanbul
Location: Batumi, Cappadocia, Ephesus Ancient City, Gallipoli, İstanbul
Accommodation: Camp

Leaving Georgia, we have some long drives to reach our next destination as we crossing rural Turkey. We head towards the Black Sea before following the coast west. This captures the essence of an overland adventure expedition, as we stop for bush camps in the evening and are able to watch as the stunning and varied scenery of this rarely-vested part of the country rolls past, stopping off to meet locals and buy food and drinks as we go.

We arrive in Cappadoccia, where we stay for a few nights. Here, over the centuries, houses, churches, fortresses and even underground cities have been carved into this eerily eroded volcanic rock. The Goreme Valley provides us with an astonishing setting in which to spend a few days investigating the region. Why not take in the scenery from the skies in a Hot Air Balloon flight (optional). We will take you to one of the underground cities where you can explore alone or with a guide this ancient and mysterious area!

After a few days in Goreme we continue west towards Pamukkale where we will spend a night and there is the opportunity to swim in warm, mineral-rich waters. We then travel further west and finally reach the Aegean Sea in Selcuk where we will spend a couple of nights. Here we find Ephesus. Built by the Greeks a thousand years before Christ and then rebuilt by the Romans, this immense ancient city boasts an amphitheatre that can seat 24000 and a harbour with no water - still in good condition after all these years.

Turning north drive through olive groves and rural settlements to Gallipoli and the Straits of the Dardanelles. In World War I, on this blustery and exposed peninsula, ANZAC and British Forces struggled unsuccessfully for nine horrendous months to dislodge Turkish troops from the hills above the beaches. It is a moving experience to visit the war graves and battlegrounds where so much suffering and unnecessary loss of life took place. We camp overnight here before arriving in the city where East meets West, the huge metropolis of Istanbul.

We arrive in Istanbul, where we have a free day to explore, but with so much to see and do you will almost definitely want to stay a bit longer! An urban area of nearly 15 million, and one of the world’s liveliest cities, it is a place full of history and rich in culture. You can choose to spend visiting one of the many famous sights such as the iconic Hagia Sophia and stunning Blue Mosque, or strolling around the Grand Bazaar on the lookout for some bargains. During the evening be sure to try some of the wonderful local cuisine, such as authentic kebabs, baklava or any of the many other treats on offer.

Day 44 : Istanbul
Location: İstanbul
Meals Included: Breakfast

Your trip ends after breakfast.

What's Included

  • Accommodation - approx. 65% camping & 35% simple hostels & hotels

  • Arrival airport transfer into Ashgabat

  • Turkmenistan Letter of Invitation support and fees

  • Ashgabat city tour

  • 4X4 Desert Safari in Turkmenistan

  • Caspian Ferry

  • Meals - approx. 50%

  • Gallipoli Tour

  • All Transport on Oasis Expedition Truck

  • Camping and Cooking equipment

show more

What's Not Included

  • Visas

  • Optional Excursions as listed in the Pre-Departure Information

  • Flights

  • Airport Taxes & Transfers

  • Travel Insurance

  • Meals - approx. 50%

  • Drinks

  • Tips

  • Local payment from US$1,450

    Local Payment (LP) is in the addition to the Trip Price and is paid to your Tour Leader at the start of your Trip.

    It covers some of the trip's day to day expenses such as food and accommodation which your tour leader pays direct to local people.

More Info

Join this overland adventure starting in the isolated desert country of Turkmenistan, travelling across the Caspian Sea to the Caucasus states of Georgia and Armenia before continuing to Turkey. From Ashgabat to Istanbul, this trip is full of fascinating and varied history, demonstrating the contested and often turbulent past of this relatively unknown region. Those who do travel here are rewarded with breathtaking scenery from stunning snowy mountains to seemingly endless desert, ancient and medieval sites that rival and often outdo any found in Europe, and a wide array of eclectic cultures, with consistently friendly and welcoming locals.

Mode of Transport

The Oasis expedition truck will be your new home giving you a comfortable & secure base with which to experience your trip. We use a purpose built truck which has been converted especially for this expedition, which passes through all types of terrains from soft sand, mud, rock and potholed roads to tarseal. It is reassuring to know that these vehicles can handle the tough conditions that they are put through. The truck is equipped with all of the equipment we may need en-route, including a professionally compiled expedition Medical Kit, large water & fuel carrying capacities, an extensive range of spare parts as well as the kitchen sink, (well almost!) so all you need is your sleeping bag, a roll mat and your own personal gear!

Seatbelts

All Oasis Overland trucks are fitted with seatbelts. For your own safety and security we recommend that travellers wear these at all times whilst the vehicle is moving. Most of our overland trucks also have a ‘beach area’ which is a chill out zone to be used when the truck is not moving.

Accommodation

Accommodation is split throughout this trip between simple hotels and hostels and camping. The variety of accommodation provided is great and often a totally unique experience, including bush camps with no facilities, yurts and simple village pensions. Some are well managed and some very basic. Oasis uses roomy three-person tents but only for two people. They are specially made for us to meet the tougher conditions of an expedition trip and have mosquito netting sewn into the door and windows. It would also be a good idea to bring your own freestanding mosquito net so as to give you the freedom of sleeping under the stars at night. At bush camps you will be living off the truck, so there will be no showers or en-suite facilities, so digging your own toilet pit with the shovels supplied is essential!

Check out our Q&As

  • What is the maximum group size?

    Maximum 10 people.

  • What to expect at meal times?

    When 'on the road' with the expedition vehicle or camping, we usually cook using gas or over open fires in a rota system and you can expect to cook in a group of two or three people approximately once every ten days depending on the number of people on trip and whereabouts you are. Your cook group will have to decide on what to cook, utilise stocks from the truck stores and locally obtain ingredients from markets, shops etc and rustle up a meal. But don't worry if you're not a Gordon Ramsay as the rest of the group and the Tour Leader usually lend a helping hand. Here is an idea of what to expect at meal times: Breakfasts - Usually simple - we help ourselves to cereal, toast, hot drinks and on occasion we will splurge with a cooked breakfast. Lunch - Cold and usually quick. The cook group will put out bread, tinned supplies and maybe make a salad. Dinner - Cooks come into their own in the evening and will always attempt to cook up some delights. When the truck is parked up for a few days in a town or city most people usually like the option to eat out at local restaurants - so we often don't cook all meals when at these locations. Meals whilst staying in Hotels/Hostels/Pensions are not included in the local payment price.

  • Are flights included in this tour?

    Starting in Istanbul - If you plan to collect your Iranian visa in Istanbul, we recommend that you arrive at least five working days before your trip departure date and take in to account any days the embassy/consulate may be closed (holidays, weekends etc). Starting in Tbilisi, Bishkek or Dushanbe - Please note that our trip leaves the city on Day 1 - we recommend arriving a day or two earlier if you wish to make the most of the sights and attractions of the relevant city and surrounding areas. Starting in Ashgabat - Because of restrictions on tourism in Turkmenistan, we advise arriving no earlier than the day before the trip begins. Please note that pre-trip accommodation in Ashgabat must be booked and paid to Oasis Overland before travelling. Return flights must be booked for at least the day AFTER the trip is due to end, but flexible tickets are best in case of unforeseen delays. You may wish to allow some extra time to explore your departure cities. One way ticket - If you intend to travel on a one way ticket to meet up with one of our trips, without possessing an onward flight ticket - we recommend that you have a copy of your payment confirmation/receipt (that you will be sent at time of your balance payment) available at immigration to assist easy entry. Departure Taxes - Please check with your Travel Agent or Airline if your flight ticket already includes a departure tax payment out of the country. If it does not - please budget for approx US$30 to $70 USD - to be paid in US$ only.

  • Are the local guides on the tour English speaking?

    Yes

  • Are airport transfers included in this tour?

    Airport Transfers are included in the cost of your adventure. On arrival into Ashgabat airport you will be met by a local representative who will take you to the group joining hotel, where you will need to present your passport and be registered with the Turkmenistan Tourism Authorities. The driver will have your name on a sign with Oasis Overland. The return airport transfer can be arranged through your hotel / hostel and is not included, it is at your own expense. We regret these services cannot be arranged via the Oasis office before departure.

  • Do I need pre-trip accommodation?

    Due to strict regulations concerning tourism in Turkmenistan, it is a requirement that all travellers use the designated hotel in Ashgabat before their trip starts, where we are registered with a local authorised tour operator, and hotel costs must be paid in full to Oasis Overland before departure. Just log in to My Oasis Account and select the accommodation / transfer required, or contact us direct. We will require your flight number, arrival time, and arrival date so please ensure this information is forwarded to us as soon as you have booked your flight. Please book this service as soon as you have booked your flight and no later than 10 weeks prior to departure, after which a late booking fee will apply. If you have booked through a travel agent you will not have an account allocated, so please contact your agent to request pre-trip accommodation and airport transfers. Double, twin, and triple rooms will be provided subject to availability, where requested. However when not available we may need to book other rooming arrangements, and will fit these as closely as possible to your request. Those travelling solo will be put in shared rooms to reduce the costs to them, which may be a twin/triple share with other Oasis Overland travellers. Single rooms may be available in some cities for solo travellers, and we will arrange this for you on request, subject to availability. If you are arriving early in the morning and you would like to check in immediately, you may have to reserve your room for the previous night to ensure direct check in, otherwise you may have to wait until normal check in times (usually 1pm to 2pm).

  • Where does the trip start?

    The trip starts from the Ak Altyn Hotel at approximately 8am on the morning of Day 1 of your trip. A breakfast buffet is included in the room price. There is a lobby bar, an outdoor swimming pool, and a currency exchange booth in the hotel, and opposite the hotel is the Circus. Behind the circus is a popular outdoor cafe, called Iceberg. Trip Joining Point: Ak Altyn Hotel - Ashgabat Start Time Day 1: 08:00 Address: Magtymguly Avenue No.140/1, Ashgabat, 744000 Telephone: +993-12 36 37 00 Website: www.akaltyn.com Email: info@akaltyn.com

  • Is there any free time to explore places during the tour?

    As detailed in the itinerary.

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

    Yes, if you are travelling solo. On our Overland Adventures and Ultimate Expeditions, we will pair you up with a tent buddy of the same sex when we camp and the same goes for twin & shared rooms in hostels, so there is no need to go it alone! If you specifically would like to request your own single room whilst on the trip, this may be requested subject to availability and additional fee.

  • How many people do you take on your Trips?

    On most of our Overland Adventures and Ultimate Expeditions our vehicles can carry a maximum of 24 travellers, the average however is around 16-20 on any one trip. Our Small Group Adventures have a maximum of 18 people per Tour Leader, although again the average is around 10-14 people.

Reviews of this Operator

Giles  

LIMA to RIO (87 days) Kingdoms & Carnivals

31-Jan-2020

Life changing, exhilarating, wonderful, at times tough and challenging.

Lucy Jenner (Google Reviewer)  

I can't recommend Oasis enough....

07-Nov-2022

I can't recommend Oasis enough. I have done two trips with them to Africa (Victoria Falls to Cape Town in 2013 and Nairobi to Vic Falls in 2017). The first trip was my first real travelling experience so I picked a shorter one but it just meant I had to go back for more a few years later because I loved it so much. The trips were well organised and went to amazing places with a good mix of structure and freedom, and it never felt like we were rushed even though a lot was packed into the time. The tour leader and driver looked after us well. I was lucky that the groups I was with were great too, because that can have such an impact.

Ivano Forte (Google Reviewer)  

We have been on 2...

31-Oct-2022

We have been on 2 trips with Oasis through Africa. Both trips were fantastic!! The whole experience from initial booking and lead up communication, to the trip itself, with the wonderfully knowledgeable, hard working, friendly and fun crew, to all the amazing places we visited, things we saw and adventures we had, it was all a truly amazing experience!! Highly recommend Oasis Overland.

Brenda  

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At 78 years old it has been one of the highlights of my life! The crew were 1st class and the rest of the travellers really looked after me. Highlights were Bariloche and Patagonia

Roy Smith (Google Reviewer)  

I've been on 3 trips...

28-Oct-2022

I've been on 3 trips with Oasis, the Silk Road and 2 in Africa, about 33 weeks in total, and planning on another now that covid restrictions aren't preventing it. I find the trips are organized so that you get to see the highlights along those routes, and you're travelling with people a mix of nationality and age so a solo traveler like me isn't alone. These trips are great value, would not have had such a terrific range of experiences otherwise.

Laura  

NAIROBI to HARARE (41 days) Apes & Lakes

30-Jun-2020

Really loved this trip. The pre-trip information was great and Katie really went out of her way to help me. I though that camping for so long would start to get tiring but it really didn't plus there were plenty of opportunities to upgrade and some of the time this was very cheap. So many amazing things to see and do. Seeing the Gorillas in the wild was a highlight for me! Would highly recommend and hope to do another trip in the future.

Laurence Zerafa (Google Reviewer)  

If you like adventure travel,...

31-Oct-2022

If you like adventure travel, daily camping with the odd brick and mortar accommodation, moving daily from one place to another often off the beaten track, getting as close as possible to locals, in the company of like-minded fellow travelers, and at reasonable prices, then this is the travel company for you.

Michael Miranda (Google Reviewer)  

I highly recommend traveling with...

02-Feb-2023

I highly recommend traveling with Oasis Overland. I did a 75 day trip through Africa with them in 2017 and I had an amazing time. From Victoria Falls, the Serengeti, and Great Zimbabwe, I got to see so many once-in-a-lifetime places in a much shorter time period than I would have been able to navigate on my own. The guide and driver were great and I always felt like all situations were handled well as things came up (like there was coup in Zimbabwe while we were there). The bus was comfortable enough and it was very conducive to socializing with other travelers. The group I traveled with was a good mix of nationalities and ages so everyone could find people to hang out with. I think Oasis does a good job of providing a mix of planned activities and free time and offers a good selection of excursions in the places we stopped.

Linda Duncan  

NAIROBI to KIGALI (13 days) Gorillas & Gameparks

01-Dec-2019

Wonderful - well organised, great team, great co- travellers, amazing locations. Certainly challenging at times as weather very wet - apparently unusually so. Fast paced as well but expected that. I would go again at the drop of a hat. Thinking about the “Stans” trip in Central Asia..

Dino  

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Awesome adventure, White water rafting, sleeping amidst elephants, game drives, adrenaline hits, great company what more could you ask for!

Dates & Availability

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Monday - Tuesday

Sep 30, 2024 - Nov 12, 2024
$3537 $3440 (USD)

The Big ADVENTURE Sale: -$97 (USD)

Book with Confidence

  • Low Deposit

    Oasis Overland requires a minimum deposit of 25% or the full booking value, whichever is less, with the final balance not due until 70 days before departure.

  • Cancellation Policy

    We don't charge a cancellation fee, here is a summary of oasis overland charges.

    Up to 70 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of deposit.

    At 69 days before tour starts: Forfeit 33% of booking price.

    At 45 days before tour starts: Forfeit 70% of booking price.

    At 27 days before tour starts: Forfeit 100% of booking price.

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