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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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 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. 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
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.
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
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.
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
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)
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.Read More
Local payment - $1880pp, paid in USD
Please note that this is payable locally on day 1 of your trip in the currency specified.