Get off the beaten track on this 15 day overland group tour which takes in the highlights of Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Step back in time as you explore the Silk Road cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand and spend a night camping in a yurt in the remote Kyzylkhum Desert. Admire the Darvaza Gas Crater in Turkmenistan, take in the ruins of Kunye Urgench and end your adventure in the bonkers capital city of Ashgabat.
Welcome to Tashkent
Welcome to Uzbekistan! On arrival in the clean and modern city of Tashkent, you can make your own way to our joining hotel. There's a Welcome Meeting at 10:00am and the rest of the day is free to explore Tashkent as you please. Head out onto the Soviet-style streets and perhaps visit Hast Imam Square to see the worlds oldest surviving copy of the Koran.
Tashkent - Samarkand. Today we climb aboard our overland truck for the first time and head towards the jewel in Uzbekistan's crown - the incredible Silk Road city of Samarkand. On arrival, the evening is free to head out and explore.
Overnight: Samarkand | Breakfast
We enjoy a guided tour of Samarkand on day 3, taking in the central Registan Square, the Ulug Beg Observatory and the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque. The mosque was once the jewel in the empire of the warlord Timur, who was born here. The Registan is dominated by three towering madrasahs which rise up against the skyline - madrasah is Arabic for 'school'.
Day 4 is free to explore Samarkand further or join optional activities including an excursion to the ancient city of Shakhrisabz.
Overnight: Samarkand | Breakfast x 2
Nurata & the Kyzylkhum Desert
Samarkand - Nurata. Today we say goodbye to Samarkand and head into the striking Nurata Hills. Opt for a refreshing dip in Lake Ajdar Kul before we drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert. There’s an optional camel ride over the rolling dunes of the desert and we spend the night in traditional yurts near the town of Nurata. Yurts are felt tents that are the favoured form of accommodation for native Central Asian nomads.
Overnight: Nurata (yurt camp) | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Nurata - Bukhara. Today we head out of the desert to the beautiful Silk Road city of Bukhara, where we'll be staying for the next three nights. We'll make a quick stop in Nurata en route.
On day 7 we enjoy a guided tour of Bukhara, taking in highlights including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque and Ark Fortress. You’ll also get to see the Kalyan Minaret. This beautiful tower hides a sinister past - it’s nickname of “Death Tower” has been earned due to its former use as a place of execution.
Day 8 is free to explore or join some of the optional excursions available. Perhaps visit the gruesome Zindon Prison, home to the infamous Bug Pit. Prisoners would be thrown into the pit and rats, lice, scorpions and other creatures would be dropped on their heads.
Bukhara - Khiva. On day 9 we say goodbye to Bukhara and embark on a long drive to the welcoming city of Khiva. The next day there’s a guided tour of the city, taking in highlights including the incredible city walls, the turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret and the blue palace of Tash Khovli. There are also included visits to the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassa museum, the 12th century Kukhna Ark fortress and Juma Mosque.
Overnight: Khiva | Breakfast x 2
Khiva - Kunye Urgench (Turkmenistan). Today we leave Uzbekistan behind and cross the border into the closed off country of Turkmenistan. Browse the markets in the border town of Dashoguz before we explore the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day.
Once an important Silk Road city due to its location in the remote Karakum Desert, Kunye Urgench was spared by Genghis Khan during his invasion and the ruins remain well-preserved today. Admire highlights including the Kutlug-Timur Minaret, which is the highest minaret in Central Asia. Tonight, we camp in the desert close to the city.
Overnight: Kunye Urgench | Breakfast, Lunch
The flaming Darvaza Gas Crater
Kunye Urgench - Darvaza Gas Crater. We continue our journey through the desert today, reaching the incredible Darvaza Gas Crater, known locally as the 'Door to Hell'.
The crater was created by accident in 1971 when Soviet oil drillers released gas into the atmosphere, causing the ground to collapse. The Soviets then set fire to the gas to try and burn it all off. However, there was much more gas present than they realised and the crater has been burning away ever since. After we’ve admired the site, we find a suitable spot to camp for the night.
Overnight: Darvaza | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Darvaza Gas Crater - Ashgabat. Today we board our overland truck for the final time as we make our way to the mind-boggling, bonkers capital of Turkmenistan - Ashgabat. The city holds the world record for the highest concentration of marble clad buildings anywhere in the world.
Overnight: Ashgabat | Breakfast
Today we embark on a minibus tour of this off the beaten track capital city. Look out for the bizarre marble architecture and some of the golden statues of President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow. The president has a fascination with collecting world records and some of the more unusual architecture you may spot includes the worlds largest indoor Ferris wheel.
Overnight: Ashgabat | Breakfast
Our tour comes to an end today and you are free to depart for your onward journey. If you wish, speak to our sales team about booking a few additional days accommodation in Ashgabat.
Is This Trip Right For Me?
Overlanding is not a style of travel that will suit everyone so please carefully read the Trip Notes before selecting this tour and be realistic about your ability and desire to join such a trip. If you’re the adventurous type who’d rather spend a night roughing it in the wilderness enjoying spectacular scenery, than luxuriating in a boutique hotel, then overlanding is for you. You just need the right attitude, an open mind, and a desire to participate fully in the trip.
Overland travelling can be demanding and challenging. The pace of the trip can be tiring at times and facilities can be basic. On your trip you’ll travel in a purpose-built expedition vehicle on an off-the-beaten-track adventure along rugged roads, sometimes across vast distances and at altitude. You will find the drive times noted on the Trip Notes.
On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger, these are full participation trips and everyone gets involved and pitches in! You will also be expected to erect your own tent and help with camp chores including cooking meals for the group on a rota basis. Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!
The type, variety and standard of accommodation can vary greatly from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to comfortable hotels with good facilities. Generally in hotels most rooms will be twin-share, but some may be triple/quad-share. Hostels and yurts are nearly always multi-share and may be mixed sex. On the Trip Notes you will find more information about the accommodation each night.
The campsites we use range from basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and a bar. On occasions we wild camp with no facilities, which means there are no toilets - just the vast expanse of the great outdoors and a shovel!
Our overland journeys are designed to offer freedom, and many of our routes have a large degree of flexibility rather than a strict hour-by-hour or even day-by-day itinerary. We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed and it sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our planned itinerary.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 4 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling.Read More
Local payment - $670pp, paid in USD
Please note that this is payable locally on day 1 of your trip in the currency specified.