Indeed, of all parts of the ancient world where early civilisations developed, Central Asia remains the least known. Ancient Turkmenistan is where the most evidence for these early civilisations have been discovered-itself one of the least known parts of the world. Our short desert crossing will take us to the country's most fascinating active archaeological site, Gonur Depe. This 4,000 year-old Zoroastrian capital is mysteriously located in the heart of the Karakum desert and is Central Asia's sole entirely excavated city site, allowing the visitor to stroll through the countless alleyways, fire temples and shrines. If you are seeking for the secrets of Turkmen cultural traditions, handicrafts and customs, then Nokhur is a right place for you. Nokhur is a unique culture within Central Asia itself - this almost Turkmen tribe inhabits the valleys on both sides of the Sumbar valley. With its peculiar tribal heritage, outstanding carpentry and its typical stone house villages this culture is one of the least researched phenomena of the region. You will get to know the everyday life of one of the most hospitable people in the world. We also we be visiting major cultural monuments throughout Turkmenistan.
Day 1 - Ashgabat arrival
Arrival to Ashgabat. Transfer to hotel Nissa 4*. Police registration. Late morning excursion of Ashgabat, including a visit of the Arch of Neutrality. Visit the of the city mosque, Ashgabat's largest Mosque, and the memorial dedicated to the victims of the 1948 earthquake, which completely destroyed the city. Excursion to Old Nissa (II c. BC). This site includes the remains of the Parthian fortress of Nissa. In ancient times this fortress included the treasury of the Kings of the Arshakid dynasty. Visit the historical site of Annau mosque , which includes two historical monuments northern and southern Anau Depe (4-3 millennium BC) and the Annau mosque (15th c AD). Visit National Musuem of Turkmenistan. This museum has 9 halls, each dedicated to a particular period and theme. One of the highlights in the museum is a unique collection of ivory rythons/ horn like vessels. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2 - Ashgabat
Mary Morning visit to the famous Sunday Bazaar-Tolkuchka. The 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 Mary, some 370 km form Ashgabat. Overnight in newly built B&B Caravan.
Day 3 - Merv - Margush
After early breakfast we drive northeast from Mary to Margush / Gonur Depe (40 km Off Road). 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. On our way back to Mary 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. Return to Mary.
Day 4 - Mary - Ashgabat
We drive back to Ashgabat visiting en route the Kahka region. The village Kahka is situated 220 km from Mary. This rich historical site includes different historical monuments dating back as far as the 3rd millennium BC up until the 19 century. Abiverd is an ancient town through which once passed The Great Silk Road. The whole area of Abiverd is 70 ha. In 1221 Abiverd fell into the hands of Mongols and the town was destroyed. 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. We reach Ashgabat in the late afternoon. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 5 - Ashgabat - Nokhur
We leave for Nokhur area in the mountains via the Bakharden Underground lake Kow Ata and the ruins ofMurche . 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, only two hours away from the capital. We arrive in Candybyl camp, located in the beautiful mountain area. The camp has all facilities to enjoy our staying here. Alternatively, we can stay at a local family.
Day 6 - Nokhur
Visually, Nokhur is unlike any other site found in Turkmenistan. Rich in history, nature and tribal custom, Nokhur is set 1,100 m above the Karakum Desert in the cool mountain valleys of southwestern Turkmenistan. The Nokhur people have maintained a highly homogeneous society based upon ancestral rights, and tribal custom. Varied images in the stunning silk embroideries sewn by local Nokhur women, indicating their particular tribe, make Nokhur silk renowned throughout the country. The Nokhur felts are also thought to be exclusive to this region. They differ from customary Turkmen felts with their original designs and Zoroastrian ornaments symbolising the worship of fire, and the cult of fertility. Constructing their homes from the stones found around the area, the Nokhur people have decorated these simple homes with handcrafted wooden columns and capitals unique only to this clan of people. Accented by two small flowing streams, the flora and fauna of this region is exceptional. There are mountain goats (umga and marhur), Urial mountain sheep, wolves, foxes, jackals, porcupines, and even snow leopards in these mountain-ridges. See this ancient way of life uniquely preserved and rarely seen. We also have some time to explore on foot the nearby gorges of Owadere and Aydere with its fascinating waterfalls.
Day 7 - Nokhur - Ashgabat
In the morning we return to Ashgabat. Free time at the hotel. PM visit the silk makers family. Today we also can visit some sights in Ashgabat which we may have missed before. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 8 - Departure
Price per person
|Number of tourists||Rate per person|
Single Supplement - USD 105 p/p
Full Board Supplement- USD 65 p/p
P.S. Prices subject to change without prior notice. Please get in touch with us to customize the tour and obtain the final quote.