Divine horses, equine aristocrats, fabled steeds, effulgent diamonds - such flowery epithets have been lavished upon that unique equine breed - the Akhal-Teke. Prized by Alexander the Great, Darius the Great, Genghis Khan, Roman emperors, Marco Polo, and many others, the Akhal-Tekes have served people for over 3,000 years. Absolutely everything about this horse is unique, outlandish and stunning. It is the most ancient breed on earth. It is one of the most beautiful, elegant and proud horses in the world. Its endurance and resistance to heat are second to none. The Akhal-Tekes come from the Kara-Kum Desert in Turkmenistan. It is a place for the toughest people and equines. The Turkmens would never have survived without the Akhal-Teke, and vice versa. Turkmens were the first desert people to produce a horse ideal for the environment. Today's Akhal-Teke is a race, sports and endurance horse, and a riveting circus performer. Smaller Akhal -Tekes make great Western horses because of their quickness. The Akhal-Teke takes its name from a Turmenian tribe Teke that lives at the Akhal oasis. It is one of the most distinctive horses in the world. Nearly everything about it is exotic and outlandish. Experience of Russians, themselves a race with an Asiatic mentality, shows that some Westerners have a difficulty perceiving the unusual nature of everything about that fiery steed born to challenge the wind of the desert and catch the fancy of Alexander the Great and a long line of historic figures of Greece, Rome, and the Levant. But the horse is not exactly meant to grace with his presence fancy air-conditioned stables, and to be fed in a way that suits German or Swedish warmbloods. Russians will never understand the European possessors of ex-kings of the desert who proudly parade in front of them overfed underexercised creatures hot-ready for Hanover or Holstiner show rings.
Among 250 equine breeds known today in the world the Akhal-Teke horse is universally considered one of the most ancient ones. Many researchers regard it as the most ancient one. Of ancient noblesse, older than that of the Arabian or the English Thoroughbred, the Akhal-Teke is a full-blooded horse that is second to none. The Akhal-Teke's origins are lost in the dark of centuries, or even millennia. Cuneiform texts found in Assyria tell us about horses or, as they were then called "donkeys from the mountains" from Midis and Urartu. Tiglatpalasar (1115-1077 B.C.) wrote: "I seized huge herds of horses, mules, and other cattle from their meadows. I made them pay a tribute of 1200 horses." Herodotus provides a description of ten sacred horses in magnificent harness that were paving the way for the sacred chariot of Akhuramazda in the army of Xerxes. Those horses were bred in the Nisei plain "between Balkh and Midis." They were graceful, had long, thin and flexible necks, large eyes, clearly shaped heads, thin and strong legs. Images of the Akhal-Teke horse dated to 9th centuries B.C., or even from the 4th to the 2nd millennia B.C., are found in the territory between the Caucasus and Luristan. Probe, an emperor of Rome, is known to have been presented with an Akhal-Teke horse that could cover the distance of 150 kilometers a day for up to ten days in a row. The Akhal-Tekes have been valued in Baghdad Caliphate (9-10th centuries A.D.). The Caliphate’s elite army consisted of mounted Turkmen who rode Turkmenian thoroughbreds.Alexander the Great, Darius the Great — the Persian ruler and king of kings; Genghis Khan, and his rival Dzhelaletdin, a Seljuk Turkmenian national who forced Genghis Khan to give up an idea of a crusade to India, the lords of Parpha, Mongolia and Turkey, are all known to have used the “Godly, heavenly horses” in their military campaigns.Most emotional records are extant of medieval European visitors of Turkmenistan. Marco Polo paid tribute to the Turkmenian horse. He wrote that Turkmenistan was producing excellent large horses that were selling at 200 libras each. Marco Polo traced the ancestry of Akhal-Tekes to Bucephalos, the legendary stallion of Alexander the Great. Alexander’s affection for that horse has a material evidence. At the death of his stallion, Alexander interrupted his campaign to erect a memorial tomb in his honor, which is still in existence in Pakistan. The discovery of a Sea Passage from Europe to India considerably reduced the importance of the continental “Silk Road.” The Silk Road crossed Turkmenistan and contributed a lot to interaction of Asiatic peoples. The peoples settled down along this way, Turkmen included, became “forgotten.” Since the 17th century the role of the Akhal-Teke horse was mistakenly assigned to the Arabian breed.
A quiet paradise in Turkmenistan offers an extraordinary opportunity to join a great adventure. Beautiful landscapes, drifts of forget-me-nots, exotic culture, exceptional hospitality-they are all here in the hidden valleys of the Kopet Dag mountains and the Karakum desert with its unique vastness. Only short drive from Ashgabat, we start our trip, which takes us through the villages in the desert and up into remote mountain areas where shepherds tend their flocks on high summer pastures. Most of the horses we use are purebred Akhal Teke and Yomud Horses - valued for their endurance and adaptation to the harsh climate in the region. The horses are striking in their beauty, and are easy to handle even for an unprofessional rider.
Riding : 4-6 hrs a day
Horses : Akhal Teke and Yomud Horses
Pace : Moderate, mountains and desert
Riding ability : A reasonable level of fitness and previous riding experience are required
Weight limit : max 90 kg
Accommodation : 4* hotel in Ashgabat, 2* camping (very basic facilities, but quite reasonable).
Group size : max 8
Day 1 - Ashgabat arrival, city tour
Early morning arrival. Overnight at a hotel. Morning free for you, whereas we take care of your documents. In the afternoon we explore the city, visiting its most interesting monuments and museums. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2 - Ashgabat-Geok Tepe stud farm
In the morning we set off to a hors farm in Geok Tepe, which is 45 km away from Ashgabat. We stay in the base camp exploring local area and getting ourselves familiar with horses, area and first desert safety precautions, which we MUST follow.
Day 3 - Riding day (13km)
Considering the hot climate both in your own as well as in the interest of the horses we leave the camp in the early morning to reach our next destination before noon. This will give us a good 4/5 hours riding time and time to rest. We ride north to the Karakum desert and overnight close to a shepherd’s well. We set up a fly camp for dinner and overnight.
Day 4 - Riding (11km)
Today we take a ride further east through the desert terrain having opportunities for both trotting and galloping. We reach our next camp in the afternoon. Dinner at the camp.
Ride back and transfer to the next camp in the mountains. We ride back to our base camp and after relaxing and having a lunch we set off for our next base in the Kopet Dag mountains. After arriving at the camp we again familiarize with new horses, area and first mountains safety precautions. We have a dinner in the camp with very basic facilities.
Day 6 - Riding (15km)
Today we take off on a ride onto the Aksu Plateau stretching along the northern foothills of the Dushak mountain, the highest peak in the area. Along the 20 km trek we have opportunities for both trot and gallop reaching our next camp through one of the picturesque canyons typical for the area.
Day 7 - Riding (20km)
We continue to ride along the foothills of Kopet Dag mountains and heading towards our base camp. We set up a fly camp not far from it.
Day 8 - Riding (15km)
We ride back to our base camp. Rest and overnight in the camp.
Drive to Ashgabat visiting en route the Goek Tepe mosque and underground lake Kov Ata in Bakharden. Overnight at the hotel.
Departure or cultural extension.
Price per person
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P.S. Prices subject to change without prior notice. Please get in touch with us to customize the tour and obtain the final quote.