Baku Old City with Flame Towers in the background | Baku | Azerbaijan
FROM: AUD $8,635

Journey along the famous Silk Road on this 48-day overland adventure which travels from Tashkent to Istanbul. Take in the historic Silk Road cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva in Uzbekistan, explore Ashgabat and the Darvaza Crater in Turkmenistan and discover the Azerbaijani capital of Baku. Explore the Vardzia Caves in Georgia, relax on the shore of Lake Sevan in Armenia and discover the highlights of Turkey including Ephesus and the Sumela Monastery.

Inclusions
Itinerary
Prices & Dates

Trip Highlights

Tashkent - begin your amazing journey in the clean and modern Soviet-style capital city of Uzbekistan
Kyzylkhum Desert - stay in a traditional felt yurt in the desert, take a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul and visit the nearby town of Nurata
Khiva - discover highlights of the ancient city including it's imposing city walls, the turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret and Juma Mosque
Ashgabat - marvel at the bonkers architecture and marble-clad buildings of Turkmenistan's strange and off the beaten track capital city
Sheki - visit the exquisite Khan's Palace and spend the night in a converted Silk Road caravanserai which is now a comfortable hotel
Lake Sevan - camp on the shore of this breathtaking lake which is home to the only beaches in Armenia
Cappadocia - enjoy guided sightseeing of the enchanting region including the underground city of Kaymakli and the valley of Ihlara
Samarkand - join a guided tour of the jewel in Uzbekistan's crown to see the incredible Registan Square and the Shah-I-Zinda necropolis
Bukhara - learn about the fascinating past of the city and see the Kalyan Minaret which was once used as a place of execution
Darvaza - gaze at the flaming Darvaza Gas Crater in the desert, which has been burning away since 1971
Baku - explore the resource-rich Azerbaijani capital independently to see glistening skyscrapers and the iconic Maiden Tower
Vardzia - take in the incredible underground cave city including the monastery which is still maintained by a handful of dedicated monks
Tbilisi - see the highlights of Georgia's charming capital city including the Sioni Cathedral and the hilltop Narikala Fortress
Istanbul - end your adventure in the cosmopolitan Turkish city, which is the only city in the world that lies in two continents - Asia and Europe

Included

27 breakfasts, 12 lunches and 16 dinners
11 nights camping (including 3 nights on campsites, 7 nights wild camping & 1 night camping without facilities)
1 overnight ferry from Turkmenbashi - Baku
Transportation in an overland expedition vehicle
Sightseeing as per itinerary
Guided visit to the Darvaza Gas Crater and guided minibus tour of Ashgabat in Turkmenistan
A stay in the ancient Sheki caravanserai in Azerbaijan
Visits to the Garni Temple, Geghard Monastery & Khor Virap Monastery in Armenia
34 nights in hotels / hostels / guesthouses
1 night camping in traditional yurt
All necessary camping equipment (excluding sleeping bags)
Services of two crew (drivers/tour leaders) and local guides along the way
Guided tour of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva
Visit to Gobustan to see the petroglyphs and mud volcanoes
Visit to the Vardzia Caves in Georgia
Guided sightseeing of Cappadocia, Ephesus, Troy & Gallipoli in Turkey

Not Included

International flights and visas
Tipping - an entirely personal gesture
Local Payment: $1880pp, paid in USD
Items of a personal nature, additional meals and drinks
Sleeping bag and roll mat - please bring your own for camping

Itinerary

Day 1

Welcome to Tashkent

Welcome to Uzbekistan! On arrival in Tashkent you can make your way to our start hotel and there’s a pre-departure Welcome Meeting at 10:00. The rest of your first day is then free to explore Uzbekistan’s clean and modern Soviet-style capital at leisure.
Overnight: Tashkent

Days 2-4

Exploring Samarkand

Tashkent - Samarkand. On day 2 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.

We enjoy a guided tour of Samarkand on day 3, taking in highlights including the central Registan Square. The Registan is dominated by three towering madrasahs which rise up against the skyline - madrasah is Arabic for 'school'. We also take in the Ulug Beg Observatory, Shah-I-Zinda necropolis 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 following day is free to explore Samarkand further or join optional activities including an excursion to the ancient city of Shakhrisabz.
Overnight: Samarkand   |  Breakfast x 3

Day 5

Kyzylkhum Desert & Nurata

Samarkand - Nurata. This morning we leave Samarkand and venture into the wild Kyzylkhum Desert. Later on we can hike in the Nurata Hills and you may wish to take a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul. There’s an optional camel ride over the rolling sand dunes of the desert and we spend the night in a traditional yurt near the town of Nurata. Yurts are felt tents which also happen to be the traditional form of accommodation for Central Asian nomads.
Overnight: Kyzylkhum Desert  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 6-8

Beautiful Bukhara

Nurata - Bukhara. We head out of the desert on day 6, reaching the beautiful and historic Silk Road city of Bukhara, where we'll be staying for the next three nights. We 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.
Overnight: Bukhara

Days 9-10

Khiva

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. The ceiling of the mosque is held up by 213 columns of ancient elm, some dating back to the 10th century.
Overnight: Khiva   |  Breakfast x 2

Day 11

Kunye Urgench

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

Day 12

The 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

Days 13-14

Amazing Ashgabat

Darvaza Gas Crater - Ashgabat. On day 13 we complete our drive to Turkmenistan's bizarre capital city of Ashgabat. The city holds the world record for the highest concentration of marble clad buildings anywhere in the world.

On day 14 we embark on a minibus tour of this off the beaten track and bonkers 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 x 2

Day 15

Turkmenbashi

Ashgabat - Turkmenbashi. Today we have a long drive across Turkmenistan to Turkmenbashi, on the Caspian Sea Coast. If we have time, we'll visit the spectacular Kow Ata Underground Lake on the way.

Please note: Our itinerary in Turkmenbashi and over the Caspian Sea must remain very flexible and is very much determined by sailing times of the local ferries. Please note that there is no regular schedule for the ferries, they are notoriously unpredictable, and information from the ferry operators regarding the sailing times constantly changes. Please see the Trip Notes for more details.
Overnight: Turkmenbashi

Day 16

Crossing the Caspian Sea

Turkmenbashi - Baku (Azerbaijan). Today we will hopefully be able to board the ferry across the Caspian Sea to Baku, Azerbaijan. The ferry is a fantastic local experience but please do not expect any luxury whatsoever. These ferries are budget vessels for the locals and cargo hauliers, and are not designed with travellers in mind. There will generally only be seats available for the crossing.
Overnight: Caspian Sea ferry

Days 17-20

Baku

After we've disembarked in Baku, we'll arrive at our hotel. The next few days are free to explore Baku as you please. The oil-rich city is an amazing contrast of the old and new, with glistening skyscrapers contrasting against the old architecture such as the famous Maiden Tower. The city is emerging as a global player on the world scene and recently hosted the 2019 Europa League football final. It also hosts a Formula One Grand Prix race every year.

Please note: If we catch the Caspian Sea ferry in good time and arrive in Baku early then we may move on earlier, in order to spend more time exploring the rest of the Caucasus. Please see the Trip Notes for details.
Overnight: Baku

Day 21

Gobustan & Lahij village

Baku - Lahij. This morning we drive to Gobustan, the region known for its bubbling mud volcanoes and ancient petroglyphs. After exploring this site, we continue to Lahij, an ancient mountain settlement which is famous for its copper and arms production. Explore the site at leisure and camp with facilities tonight.
Overnight: Lahij  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 22

Sheki & caravanserai stay

Lahij - Sheki. Today we journey across Azerbaijan to Sheki and visit the beautiful Khan’s Palace. After our visit here, we arrive at our accommodation for the night. There’s a real treat in store as we stay in a hotel built inside an old Silk Road caravanserai, where weary merchants used to stop for a rest and to resupply their caravans.
Overnight: Sheki (caravanserai)

Day 23

Lagodekhi National Park

Sheki - Lagodekhi National Park (Georgia). Today we say goodbye to Azerbaijan and cross into Georgia. We'll spend the night camping in the lush scenery of Lagodekhi National Park, which is located fairly close to the border.
Overnight: Lagodekhi NP   |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 24-25

Telavi & wine tasting

Lagodekhi National Park - Telavi. We head into the Alazani Valley on day 24 and visit the impressive Gremi Citadel en route to the famous wine producing town of Telavi. We'll be basing ourselves in this wine region for the next couple of days.

Day 25 sees us exploring Telavi and visiting some of its local vineyards. Watch traditions such as grape harvesting in action and enjoy some famous Georgian hospitality with an included lunch and wine tasting at a local family-run winery.
Overnight: Telavi   |  Breakfast x 2, Dinner x 2

Day 26

Stepantsminda

Telavi - Stepantsminda. Leaving Telavi behind, we drive to the town of Stepantsminda, which is nestled in beautiful scenery. During our stay here we’ll enjoy a trek up to the tiny Tsminda Sameba Church, which is hidden away in the rolling hills and mountains of the Georgian Caucasus. There’s also an optional cooking class where you can learn how to make delicious Georgian kinkhalis (meatballs).
Overnight: Stepantsminda   |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 27

Magical Mtskheta

Stepantsminda - Mtskheta. This morning is free to relax in Stepantsminda, or we'll hike up to the Tsminda Sameba Church if there wasn't time yesterday. Later in the day we'll head to the town of Mtskheta, where we visit the beautiful 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.
Overnight: Mtskheta   |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 28

Borjomi National Park & Vardzia

Mtskheta - Vardzia. We head out of Mtskheta and make our way to Borjomi National Park. Enjoy a short hike in the ancient forest and opt to ride a cable car up the mountain before we continue to the incredible Vardzia cave city.

First inhabited during the Bronze Age, the network of caves is one of the highlights of the Caucasus. Though the site was mostly abandoned in the 16th century, a handful of monks still reside in the Vardzia Cave Monastery and they ring the bells at 07:00 every morning. We’ll either explore the site today or tomorrow, depending on how long it takes to reach Vardzia. Tonight, we wild camp nearby.
Overnight: Vardzia   |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 29

Armenian Highlands

Vardzia - Armenian Highlands (Armenia). This morning we explore Vardzia if there wasn't time yesterday. We then set off for the Armenian border, finding a suitable spot to wild camp once we have crossed.
Overnight: Armenian Highlands   |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 30-31

Khor Virap Monastery & Yerevan

Armenian Highlands - Yerevan. On day 30 we visit the Khor Virap Monastery, near the Turkish border. This important pilgrimage site is set in the shadow of Mt Ararat and on a clear day there will be incredible views of the snow-capped peak. After our visit we continue to ancient Yerevan, capital of Armenia and one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world.

There’s free time to relax or explore Yerevan at leisure during our two night stay here. Perhaps join an optional excursion to the Ararat Brandy Museum.
Overnight: Yerevan

Day 32

Geghard Monastery, Garni Temple & Lake Sevan

Yerevan - Lake Sevan. Say goodbye to Yerevan as we make our way towards Lake Sevan. There are included stops en route at the UNESCO-listed Geghard Monastery and Garni Temple. The Geghard Monastery was carved into the rock face of the Azat River Gorge, whilst Garni Temple is an impressive Graeco-Roman structure that wouldn't look out of place in the Athens Acropolis.

We arrive at Lake Sevan, home to the only beaches in landlocked Armenia. The evening is spent camping on the shore of the lake.
Overnight: Lake Sevan  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 33

Terrific Tbilisi

Lake Sevan - Tbilisi (Georgia). Today we cross back into Georgia and pass through the amazing scenery of Dilijan National Park to reach Tbilisi, Georgia's endearing capital city. The rest of today is free to explore the quaint Old City as you please. Consider heading up to Narikala Fortress for amazing views over Tbilisi.
Overnight: Tbilisi   |  Breakfast

Day 34

Gori - birthplace of Stalin & Kutaisi

Tbilisi - Gori - Kutaisi. This morning we set off from Tbilisi and head across Georgia to Gori, the city that is famous as the birthplace of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin. There's a guided tour of the city and an included visit to the Stalin Museum, where you'll learn more about the complicated and ruthless dictator.

After exploring Gori, we continue to ancient Kutaisi. Here we can visit the beautiful Bagrati Cathedral, which has recently been restored to its full glory, with its turquoise roof intact. There's also a stop at the Gelati Monastery and the evening is at leisure.
Overnight: Kutaisi   |  Breakfast, Dinner

Day 35

Batumi

Kutaisi - Batumi. Today we drive to the hospitable port city of Batumi. Sitting on the Black Sea coast, Batumi is a popular summer getaway destination for Georgians and travellers alike. There’s free time to explore the city and an optional visit to the Batumi Archaeological Museum. Batumi has earned the nickname of the "Las Vegas of the Black Sea" and there's plenty to be done in the evening, with numerous bars and casinos to be found in the city.
Overnight: Batumi   |  Breakfast

Day 36

The Sumela Monastery

Batumi - Sumela (Turkey). Today we say goodbye to Georgia and the Caucasus, as we cross into Turkey, the last of the six amazing countries on our adventure. We make our way to the incredible Sumela Monastery, which clings to rugged cliffs 1,200m up.

The Sumela Monastery was founded in the year 368CE, during the reign of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. We get to explore this amazing site and gaze out at the green forests and mystical swirling mists in the valley below. We spend the night at a campsite near the monastery (weather permitting).
Overnight: Sumela   |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 37

Overland to Zara

Sumela - Zara. Today we have a full day's drive through central Turkey towards the magical landscape of Cappadocia. We break the journey at the village of Zara, where we camp.
Overnight: Zara  |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 38-39

Enchanting Cappadocia

Zara - Goreme. On day 38 we arrive at the small town of Goreme, nestled in the heart of the magical Cappadocia Mountains. During our two days here we’ll enjoy guided sightseeing in this enchanting subterranean landscape. Explore the underground city of Kaymakli and the ancient valley of Ihlara, strewn with rock-hewn churches. There’s also the opportunity to take an optional hot air balloon ride over the valley if you wish.
Overnight: Goreme

Day 40

Egirdir

Goreme - Egirdir. Today we leave Cappadocia behind and continue south towards Egirdir, finding a suitable wild camping spot en route.
Overnight: Egirdir   |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 41-42

Termessos, Olympos & the Chimera Fire Mountain

Egirdir - Termessos - Olympos. On day 41 we drive to the impressive Pisidian ruins of Termessos, which sit at an altitude of more than 1,000m. After exploring the site, we continue towards Olympos, where we'll be spending the next two nights.

Olympos is a popular Turkish beach town and we have free time over the next two days to relax on the beach or explore the local area. On day 42 you may wish to join an optional sea kayaking adventure and at nightfall we take a short hike up to the mystical Chimera Fire Mountain. Here natural gas rises from underground and bursts into flame when reaching the outside air. We can toast some marshmallows on the never-ending fires.
Overnight: Olympos

Day 43

Pamukkale

Olympos - Pamukkale. Driving inland, we reach the small village of Pamukkale, which is famous for its mineral rich hot springs and white terraced travertines. Take a walk along these beautiful terraces and opt for a dip in the thermal springs. Tonight, we will either camp near Pamukkale or stay in a local hotel.
Overnight: Pamukkale   |  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Days 44-45

Selcuk & Ephesus

Pamukkale - Selcuk. On day 44 we drive to our next destination, Selcuk. We'll be spending the next two nights here. The evening is free to relax in one of the many tea bars in the area.

The next day sees us exploring the legendary marble ruins of Ephesus, including the Terraced Houses. Ephesus is considered one of the world’s best-preserved classical cities and highlights include the Library of Celsus and the Temple of Serapis.
Overnight: Selcuk

Day 46

Troy & Eceabat

Selcuk - Troy - Eceabat. Today we drive along the coast to the ruins of the fabled city of Troy. See the replica Trojan Horse here before we board the ferry to cross the Dardenelles, arriving in Eceabat this afternoon.
Overnight: Eceabat

Day 47

Gallipoli and Istanbul

Eceabat - Gallipoli - Istanbul. This morning we drive to the Gallipoli peninsula. Here we’ll take a guided tour of the region and can pay our respects at some of the WW1 battlefields and memorials. We’ll also visit ANZAC Cove, the site of some of the fiercest fighting during the war.

After paying our respects at Gallipoli, we board our overland truck for the final time and complete our journey to Istanbul, the only city in the world which sits in two continents - Europe and Asia. Your final evening in Turkey is free to explore Istanbul.
Overnight: Istanbul   |  Breakfast

Day 48

Istanbul

Today your adventure comes to an end. Please speak to our Sales team if you'd like to book any extra accommodation in Istanbul in order to further explore the city.

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 nights 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.

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Local payment - $1880pp, paid in USD

Please note that this is payable locally on day 1 of your trip in the currency specified.

Guaranteed Departure
Available
Contact us to book
Sold out
2020
Price /
Person
Single
Supp.
AUD $8,635
-
AUD $8,635
-
AUD $8,635
-
2021
Price /
Person
Single
Supp.
AUD $8,865
-
AUD $8,865
-
AUD $8,865
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In Brief

Range
Trip Type
Starts
Tashkent
Ends
Istanbul
Departs
July to September
Group Size
Min 4 / Max 22
Hotel Rating
Simple hotels, guesthouses & camping
Local Payment
$1880pp, paid in USD
Tour Guide
Escorted by a tour leader
Meals
Breakfast: 27, Lunch: 12, Dinner: 16
Countries
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