Meet some of the friendliest people on the Silk Road with all their diversity, humour and superstitions. We have put together this programme for the traveler who wants to get acquainted with the secrets of Turkmen cultural traditions, handicrafts and customs, as well as its history. We will be visiting major cultural monuments throughout Turkmenistan such as the ancient cities of Nissa, Merv, Margiana, Kunya Urgench as well as also meeting with the gracious people of a country hardly known in the West.
TRAVEL TO THE MONUMENTS OF ANCIENT CULTURE (12 DAYS/11 NIGHTS)
Tour duration: 11 DAYS/10 NIGHTS
Day 1 - Ashgabat arrival, Old Nissa, National Museum, City tour of Ashgabat Arrival to Ashgabat
Overnight at a hotel. We start off our first day with a late morning drive through the city center to Old Nisa. Nisa fortress once upon a time was one of the residences of the Parthian Empire (247 BC-253 AD), stretching from the Kopetdag all the way across to the Persian Gulf and Anatolia. We visit the National Museum of Ashgabat, which holds some of the country's most important historical and ethnographic treasures More than 500,000 exhibits are displayed here. Afterwards we stroll through the city center and a visit of the row of newly built monuments and fountains at the outskirts of this unusual city. The most fascinating monument is the Arch of Neutrality, the statue of the Turkmenistan President, Saparmurat Turkmenbashy, rotating according the sun. We also visit Ashgabat's Carpet Museum. The museum has a large, impressive collection of antique carpets and one of the giant carpets is on display. Every carpet tells a story, every design in the carpet has a meaning. There is a saying, "Roll out your carpet and I shall read your soul." The woman who wove the carpet, wove into it her own heart's desires, especially if it was her wedding carpet. Then we shall visit a Carpet Workshop within the museum where newly carpets are under process. Hotel overnight.
Day 2 - Drive to Mary-Anau, Abiverd, Mausoleum of Abu Said Makneyi (370 km)
In the morning we continue our trip eastwards to the ruins to the most important site of Turkmen history the ruins of Merv, some 370 km east of Ashgabat. En route we visit the ruins of Anau Mosque, another important place of worship for pilgrims. We also visit Abiverd and Meane Baba Mausoleum. According to Al Makdisi Abiverd was richer and more fertile than Parthian Nisa. Its shakhristan was surrounded by perimeter by the walls with rounded towers and the moat. A straight street connected the only town gates with the gates of the citadel. The Mausoleum of Abu Said Makneyi was built in 11th century and has the double dome that characterises mausoleums of that time. The inner part of the mausoleum is decorated with inscriptions while the portal is laced with mosaics. The mosaics offer various colours and pictures to the viewer. The entire mausoleum is decorated with Arabic inscriptions upon the outer area and designs ornate in inner areas. Overnight in Mary.
Day 3 - Margush-Museum (130 km oneway)
After early breakfast we drive northeast from Mary to Margush / Gonur Depe (40 km by 4WD). Here first agricultural settlements appeared in the delta of Murgab river as back as 3 millennium BC. Fertile silt coming from mountains, abundance of water and moderate climate had created favourable conditions for good crops and the progress of the ancient economy was continuing for several centuries. The American newspaper "Boston Glob" wrote that before we knew the four oldest centers of the world's civilizations: Mesopotamia, Egypt, India and China, and due to the fantastic results of the Margiana expedition it is quite possible to think that there was another, the fifth center. Picnic lunch. We come back to Mary to visit the museum. Here have been arranged an impressive displays of archeological finds from sites excavated in the oasis and also mounted an informative and attractive display of the world famous Turkmen carpets, Turkmen dress and domestic equipment. Overnight in Mary.
Day 4 - Mary Merv-Turkmenabat (260 km)
Before driving to Turkmenabat we'll visit the old city of Merv. Visit the unique series of cities, not built on top of each other, as is so often the case, for instance at Damascus or Jerusalem, but constructed on adjacent virgin sites. The sites of the ancient town Erk-Kala (the fortress- citadel), Gyaur-Kala, Sultan-Kala, Abdulla-khan-Kala correspond to the different periods of Mervs' existence .The monuments we will tour and walk through are the Great and Little Kiz Kalas, the Kiz Bibi mausoleum, the magnificent Mausoleum of Sultan Sanjar, the Palace and keshk in the Shahriar Ark or Royal Citadel, the mosque of Yusuf Hamdani, the Timuridiwans or Askhab, and the Mausoleum of Muhammad ibn Zaud.
Day 5 - Turkmenabat-Dashoguz (500 km)
A long day as we travel along the left bank of the Oxus River downstream to Dashoguz (formerly Tashauz) in the region of ancient Khwarazm or Chorasmia. Shortly outside Turkmenabat there are the ruins of the impressive 12th century caravanserais of Daya Khatyn. There are good views of the Oxus and it is hoped that lunch will be a picnic by its banks. Because the Uzbek border now cuts the main road we must transfer to off-road transportation at Gazachak for the remaining 150 km to Dashoguz, where we stay in the comfortable Turkish built hotel Diarbekir.
Day 6 - Kunya Urgench, flight to Ashgabat
Another day's excursion to visit Old Urgench, or Kunya Urgench, ancient Gurganj. Gurganj was the capital of the region before the Mongol conquests, in its day one of the great intellectual centres of the entire Islamic world. Although devastated by the Mongols, there are still some outstanding monuments to be seen there: the 14th century Tomb of Turabeg Khatun ; the Minaret of Kutlug Timur, the highest in Central Asia; the pre-Mongol tombs of Sultan Tekesh and Sultan Arslan. Return to Dashoguz to take a PM flight to Ashgabat. Today we dine and sleep at the comfortable hotel.
Day 7 - Tolkuchka bazaar, Hippodrome
The Tolkuchka Bazaar in Ashgabat is by far Turkmenistan's No. 1 sight and a visit should not be missed. Most colourfully dressed this is where practically the entire country comes together to trade on Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays. Basically anything and everything importance is traded within the 50 ha of open-air bazaar from camels and sheep to amulets, antiques, carpets and jewelry. In its authenticity the buzzing Tolkuchka Bazaar easily rivals with the famed Kashgar Bazzar.After this unique visit drive to watch Sunday horse races at Ashgabat's hippodrome. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 8 - Ashgabat- Bakharden Underground lake - Geok-Depe horse stud (125km)
We will proceed for the Bakharden Underground lake Kow Ata and the ruins of Murche . The lake is an unusual natural site in the biggest cave of the Kopetdag mountains, located about 107 km south-west of Ashgabat. The lake is located at a depth of 52 m from the entrance on a vertical line. The lake is 72m long and 30 m wide. The water has a constant temperature 33-37 C. Chemical analysis has shown that water contains a complex combination of chemical elements. In Murche, one can see the ancient tribal traditions still performed with their mysterious offerings to the pagan deities; see the unexplained natural phenomenon of light radiating from an archaic burial site, or walk over pre-Islamic ruins dedicated to the patroness of women and fertility. Also there is the Mausoleum of Zengi-Baba who is in Indo-Iranian mythology a reflection of Mithra, the ancient god of sun. Eventually this cult spread beyond Iran and Asia Minor and gradually became a mystery cult. It's all for the curious traveler. We arrive in Hemra’s horse stud with the best collection of Ahal Teke horses and mini carpet-making factory situated, where you also can take an opportunity to have horse-riding in the beautiful Geok-Depe desert area. The farm has all facilities to enjoy our staying here. Overnight in yurts.
Day 9 - Geok-Depe farm
Full day area exploration. Overnight in yurts.
Day 10 - Geok-Depe - Ashgabat
Return trip to Ashgabat. Overnight and relax at the hotel.
Day 11 - Departure home
Price per person
|Number of tourists||Rate per person|
S/Supplement 155 USD p/p
Airfare TAZ-ASB USD 25 p/p SUBJECT TO CHANGE
P.S. Prices subject to change without prior notice. Please get in touch with us to customize the tour and obtain the final quote.
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