This 10-day jeep safari adventure is a true joy for those who want to explore the multitude of landscapes and life in the Turkmen Karakum Desert. Not unlike other tours, it includes a comprehensive visit of Ashgabat and its post-independence architecture and offers a good insight into the traditional nomadic lifestyle of the Turkmens. The main feature of this tour is however, the visit of the various natural sceneries that Turkmenistan offers: mountains, underground lakes, volcanoes, salt lakes, sand dunes, coastlines, prehistorical canyons, ancient river banks and of course the massive 60-meter wide crater of Darwaza (this scenery is made-made though).
Accommodation in Ashgabat is in 3* hotel, the remaining 7 nights in a tent. Meals are included on the entire tour, in order to facilitate timely product supplies. Transport is by 4-wheel drive vehicles, while minibus transport is used only in Ashgabat.
If you are willing to sacrifice the comfort of a bed, and are keen to experience unique landscapes, this tour is our recommendation for you.
Arrival in Ashgabat by air (evening D1 or early morning D2, depending on airline used) or overland from Iran at Bajgiran-Gaudan land border. Transfer to hotel. Overnight.
0900h Departure from hotel lobby for city tour, including visits of Independence Park, Neutrality Arch, Ferris Wheel, Wedding Palace Viewpoint. Afternoon drive out of the city into the Kopetdag Mountains, with visits of Turkmenbashi Mosque-Mausoleum and Geok Depe Mosque on the way. Camp dinner and overnight in tents in the foothills of the Kopetdag, with a view on Peak Dushak Eretdag (2450m).
We drive the short distance to Kowata cave where those interested can take a swim in the mineral-rich waters of the underground lake. We carry on through the foothills and valleys of the mountains to the peculiar grey mounts that are widely known as Moon Mountains. Picnic lunch on the way. Camp dinner and overnight in tents in the Moon Mountains area.
A drive of several hours takes us to Gumdag. Not far from here we visit the extinct mud volcano of Boyadag. Those who wish, can make the 30-minute climb to the top and back. We then carry on to Balkanabad, where we visit the local bazaar before carrying on to the sand dunes of Cheleken peninsula. Picnic lunch on the way. Camp dinner and overnight in tents in Cheleken sand dunes.
We drive the short distance back to the main road, but make a stop at Mollagara where you can to a swim in the salt lake. The phenomenon is the same as the Dead Sea. From here we drive several hours across the highland plateau to the coastal cliffs of the Garabogaz. You can continue to Yangisuw Canyon on foot or by 4x4. Picnic lunch on the way. Camp dinner and overnight in tents in Yangisuw area.
We drive the short distance from Yangisuw to Yangikala Canyon. Time to explore the canyon area. From Yangikala we drive in several hours to the white cliffs of Koymat. Picnic lunch on the way. Camp dinner and overnight in tents in Koymat area.
Today we travel along the white cliffs and the banks of the dried-up Uzboy River to the desert settlement of Balishem. We pass several traditional villages on the way. Picnic lunch on the way. Camp dinner and overnight in tents in the dunes near Balishem.
We start with a long drive northwards, passing several villages, until we reach the cliffs of Akchagaya. Close to sunset we reach Darwaza. Picnic lunch on the way. Camp dinner and overnight in tents near Darwaza crater.
Today we travel over tarmac in 4 hours back to Ashgabat. Lunch is free. This afternoon is free to do some souvenir shopping or visit any further city sights. After our traditionally Turkmen farewell dinner we make a city-by-night tour through the post-independence district and the main avenues of downtown Ashgabat, with stops at the Neutrality Arch, Ferris Wheel and the Wedding Palace Viewpoint.
Transfer to airport or overland border with Iran at Gaudan-Bajgiran land border post.