Discover the highlights of Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan on this 15 day overland adventure. See the flaming Darvaza Gas Crater, marvel at the ruined city of Kunye Urgench and enjoy a tour of the bizarre capital of Turkmenistan - Ashgabat. Visit the Silk Road cities of Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand in Uzbekistan, stay in a traditional yurt in the Kyzylkhum Desert and end your journey in the Soviet-style metropolis of Tashkent.
Welcome to Turkmenistan! On arrival in Ashgabat there's an included transfer from the airport to our hotel. Join a Welcome Meeting before we set off 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.
Darvaza Gas Crater - The Door to Hell
Ashgabat - Darvaza Gas Crater. Leaving Ashgabat, we board our overland truck and drive to 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 - (camping without facilities) | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Darvaza Gas Crater - Kunye Urgench. Today we drive into the remote Karakum Desert, visiting the ruins of Kunye Urgench towards the end of the day. Once an important Silk Road city, 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 (camping without facilities) | Breakfast, Lunch
Kunye Urgench - Khiva (Uzbekistan). Today we visit the vibrant market in the border town of Dashoguz before crossing into Uzbekistan. We continue to the beautiful Silk Road city of Khiva. On day 5 there’s a guided tour of the city to see 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 Kukhna Ark and Juma Mosque.
Overnight: Khiva | Breakfast x 2
Khiva - Bukhara. We have a long drive on day 6 to reach the beautiful city of Bukhara, our home for the next three nights. Enjoy a guided tour the next day, 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.
Nurata & the Kyzylkhum Desert
Bukhara - Nurata. Leaving Bukhara, we drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert and stop near the town of Nurata. There’s an optional camel ride over the rolling dunes of the desert and we spend the night in traditional yurts.
Overnight: Nurata (yurt camp) | Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Nurata - Samarkand. On day 10 we explore the striking scenery of the Nurata Hills, and you can opt for a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul. We then drive to the beautiful city of Samarkand, our home for the next three nights. Enjoy a guided tour on day 11 to see 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.
Day 12 is free to explore or join optional activities including an excursion to the ancient city of Shakhrisabz.
Overnight: Samarkand | Breakfast x 3
Samarkand - Tashkent. On day 13 we have a free morning in Samarkand before we drive to the final destination of our adventure, the Uzbek capital of Tashkent. Clean and modern, this Soviet style city is a fascinating place to explore and we have two free days in the city.
Overnight: Tashkent | Breakfast x 2
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 Tashkent.
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 - $660pp, paid in USD
Please note that this is payable locally on day 1 of your trip in the currency specified.