The eastern route through the Karakum desert, from gleaming Ashgabat to ancient Merv, is one for the history buffs.
Ashgabat is a unique place in this world, and comparisons to Pyongyang or Dubai simply don’t cut it: this marble fata morgana cut out from the desert, ruthless, has to be seen to be believed.
Onwards then, to the ruins of once-glorious Merv that point to a distant past (and a near future?). From Merv, you can continue north to Bukhara in Uzbekistan (possibly with a side-trip to the dinosaur plateau of Kugitang), or return to Ashgabat and head onto the central route with Konye-Urgench and Darwaza.
Highlights: Ashgabat and the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Nisa and Merv.
Possible add-ons: dinosaur plateau of Kugitang, central route with Konye-Urgench and Darwaza gas crater.
Below, we detail a possible route including Konye-Urgench via airplane. This itinerary is also possible overland or by train.
Day 1. Ashgabat
City tour, including a visit of Nisa (UNESCO) and the National Museum. Other things that can be added during this day include for example visits to the Neutrality Arch, the Independence Park, the Ferris Wheel, the Ahalteke Monument, Ertogrul Ghazi Mosque, the Central Bazaar and surrounding parks, statues and theatres, the Fountain Complex and Statue of Oguzkhan.
Day 2. Ashgabat – Mary – Merv
Day trip to Mary, with a visit of Merv (UNESCO) and the Mary History and Ethnography Museum. You can take a quick flight to Mary, or take a train.
Day 4. Ashgabat – Dashoguz – Ashgabat (by plane)
Day trip to Dashoguz, with a visit of Konye-Urgench (UNESCO). Flight time: 50 minutes per flight.
Price per person (twin-share basis): 972 USD (5), 955 USD (4), 863 USD (3*)
Group discounts available
- Visa support (Letter of Invitation, State Registration, Travel Pass)
- All transfers and all other overland transport as per program per AC vehicles
- Domestic airline tickets (economy seats, Boeing 717 aircraft)
- Meals: Breakfasts
- Accommodation based on twin-shared hotel room, including breakfasts
- Accommodation in private trekking tents, including breakfast
- English-speaking local guide-interpreter services
- Entrance fees to sites
- Bottled drinking water en route 1,5 l per day
- Turkmenistan tourist visa, from 105+2 USD per person, when obtained at Ashgabat Airport (subject to change)
- Turkmenistan migration tax 10+2 USD per person, to be paid at Ashgabat Airport (subject to change)
- Meals not indicated in above table
- Camera usage fees to historical parks and museums
- Tips for local guides and drivers
- Souvenirs and other personal items
- All other charges and services