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Istanbul to Tashkent
SAVE UP TO $927 on this tour

Asia is the continent where overlanding all started, and Dragoman has been the leading operator there since our first trucks went through in the 1980s - take advantage of our years of experience and come with us as we include all the must-see attractions as well as heading into the wilds, well away from the usual tourist trail. Starting in the Uzbek capital of Tashkent, we visit the astonishing ancient cities of Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, and enjoy a yurt stay in the incredible Kyzylkhum Desert. Then we cross the deserts of Turkmenistan via the Darvaza gas crater to the bizarre capital of Ashgabat, before heading into Iran, a country close to our hearts. You'll journey through the stunning highlands and deserts to the ancient city of Yazd, then down to the cultural and historical highlights fo Shiraz, Persepolis and Esfahan on the way to the capital of Tehran. Then you will overland west through Tabriz and the Kurdish region of Turkey en route to the magical land of Cappadocia. We then head to the magnificent historic city of Istanbul. Join us on this unforgettable epic overlanding experience on the Silk Road!

  • Duration: 39 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • For lovers of: Active/Adrenaline, Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites
  • Physical rating: Average
  • Accommodation standard:   Budget%
  • Traveller Tour Rating: 0%  
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Supplier Tour ID: IIT1/167534
  • Starts: Istanbul, Turkey
  • Finishes: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
You will Visit
  • Istanbul
  • Göreme
  • Sivas
  • Erzurum
  • DoÄŸubayazıt
  • Tabriz
  • Zanjan
  • Ashgabat
  • Darvaza
  • Kunye Urgench
  • Khiva
  • Bukhara
  • Nurata
  • Samarkand
  • Tashkent

Itinerary

01

Day 1: Istanbul

Border Information: if joining in Istanbul, you will most likely enter Turkey at Istanbul Atatürk Airport (IATA code: IST).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - on arrival please look out for a note from your leader with more information about this important meeting.

If you are travelling beyond Tehran, your tour leader will need to carefully check your visa situation for your entire trip - if anybody that has arranged to apply for an Iranian visa in Istanbul, we will visit the Iranian embassy immediately after our meeting. the rest of the day will be free to explore the incredible city of Istanbul.

In Istanbul we will stay in dorm accommodation in a fantastic hostel with good facilities, which is a 5 minute walk from the Blue Mosque.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Istanbul before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales team if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Istanbul.

*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

02

Day 2: Istanbul

Today we will have a free day to explore the myriad of highlights in the old Byzantine and Ottoman capital. There are many places to visit, such as the spectacular Blue Mosque, the colossal Hagia Sophia, the bewildering Grand Bazaar, the phenomenal Topkap  Palace, and a ferry cruise on the Bosphorus river.

03

Day 3: Göreme

Today we start our journey with a full day's drive east to Göreme, a small enchanting town in the heart of the Cappadocia mountains.

In Göreme we will stay in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are sometimes used here.

Estimated Drive Time - 10-11 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

04

Day 4-5: Göreme

We will have a 2 full days to explore Göreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during our time here.

05

Day 6-7: Sivas

Over the next two days we will travel through the stunning landscapes in eastern Turkey towards the Kurdish town of Do ubayaz t.

We will aim to wild camp or stay at a basic local campsite near Sivas on the first night, and near Erzurum on the second.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours each day.

06

Day 8: Doğubayazıt

Today we will complete our drive to the Kurdish town of Do ubayaz t. On arrival we will have an included visit to the Ishak Pasha Palace and enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes and the nearby Mount Ararat.

In Do ubayaz t we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

07

Day 9: Tabriz

Border Information: Exit Turkey at Gurbulak, enter Iran at Bazargan.

Today we will drive across the Iranian border to the city of Tabriz, where we will have free time to explore some of the sights of the old town.

In Tabriz we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

08

Day 10: Zanjan

Today we will continue our journey east to the small town of Zanjan, where we have free time to explore and possibly visit the fascinating historical laundry hall of Rakhatshor-Khaneh.

In Zanjan we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

09

Day 11: Tehran

Border Information: If joining in Tehran, you will most likely enter Iran at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IATA code: IKA).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 6:00pm - please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note at the hotel on your arrival, as today is usually a travel day for the Dragoman leaders and they are due to arrive in Tehran by mid-afternoon.

Please note that due to restrictions on citizens of the UK, USA and Canada being permitted to remain unaccompanied in Iran, you will need to fly into Tehran on the same day as the trip starts. These transfers from the airport to your joining hotel are automatically included in your trip. If arriving outside of these times please contact your sales agent. Please ensure the correct dates for your plans are clearly stated on all your visa applications.

10

Day 12: Tehran

Today we will have an included tour of the stunning Golestan Palace and the fascinating National Museum of Iran.

11

Day 13-15: Esfahan

Today we wil have a full day's drive to the stunning old Safavid-era capital of Esfahan.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

On the following day we will have an included walking tour of the central highlights of Esfahan, including the showpiece central square of Naqsh-e Jahan and its surrounding mosques and royal palaces, the old bazaar, and the beautiful Jameh Mosque, one of the oldest in Iran.

On our second full day here, we will have free time to explore more of Esfahan's incredible sites, such as its ancient bridges, the curious 'Shaking Minarets', the Armenian Vank Cathedral, or the evocative Martyrs' Cemetery.

In Esfahan we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

12

Day 16: Shiraz

Today we will have a full day drive to the southern city of Shiraz.

In Shiraz we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

13

Day 17: Shiraz

Today we will have an included walking tour of some of the highlights of the old city of Shiraz, including the beautifully-coloured Nasir ol Molk Mosque, the incredible mirrored interior of the Shah Cheragh Mosque, and the historical house of Narenjestan.

14

Day 18: Persepolis

Today we will drive to the phenomenal ancient ruins of Persepolis, once the capital of the mighty Achaemenid Persian Empire until it was conquered by Alexander the Great in 330BCE.

After this we will continue north to the famous Caravanserai of Zein-o-Din, an atmospheric 16th-century guesthouse originally built to accommodate merchants travelling on the Silk Road.

In Zein-o-Din we will stay overnight at the old caravanserai.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.

15

Day 19-20: Yazd

Today we will take a short drive to the ancient desert town of Yazd, one of the oldest extant towns in Iran. On arrival we will have an included visit to two important Zoroastrian sites in Iran - the Fire Temple and the Towers of Silence.

Estimated Drive Time - 1-2 hours.

On the following day we will have an included walking tour of some of the main highlights of Yazd, including the incredible Jameh Mosque, the Old Town and the Amir Chakhmaq complex.

In Yazd we will stay in a local hotel.

16

Day 21: Khoor

Today we will continue our journey to the desert city of Khoor, where we have the option to take an evening jeep trip into the nearby salt flats to have dinner.

In Khoor we will stay in a beautiful hotel in the style of a desert caravanserai.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

*Please note that with small groups and at certain times of the year we may be able to stay in a local homestay in the nearby village of Mesr*.

17

Day 22: Damghan

Today we will have a morning drive to the ancient town of Damghan. On arrival we will take a walking tour, including the Tarikhuneh Mosque which features columns dating from the year 760CE.

In Damghan we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

18

Day 23: Shirvan

Today we will drive to the historical town of Bastam and visit the Sufi complex in the centre. After this we will continue to the town of Shirvan.

In Shirvan we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

19

Day 24: Ashgabat

Border Information: Exit Iran at Bajgiran, enter Turkmenistan at Gaudan.

Today we will head over the border to Turkmenistan and to the bizarre capital of Ashgabat

In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

*Important note - any tobacco products are practically illegal in Turkmenistan, so please do not bring them or use them in Turkmenistan. Also please do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

20

Day 25: Ashgabat

Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport.

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.

After the meeting we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses. In the afternoon we have the option of visiting the famous Ashgabat Sunday Market.

In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel.

*Important note - do not bring any medicines containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine or opiates to Central Asia. These are illegal in all circumstances in most of Central Asia and you will risk arrest. If in doubt about a particular medicine, please do not bring it. See the notes at the bottom for more details.*

21

Day 26: Darvaza

Today we set off north from Ashgabat and head into the Karakum Desert. We will have an included side trip to the amazing flaming Darvaza Gas Crater (also known as the 'Door to Hell'!).

We will wild camp in the deserts near Darvaza Crater tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 6 hours (please note that all drive times given here are the approximate number of hours that the truck will be in motion only, and does not include any time taken for coffee or lunch stops, border crossings, photo stops, activities en route, comfort breaks, shopping stops, toilet stops, etc. The times given are approximate estimates only and whilst given with the best of intentions, the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

22

Day 27: Kunye Urgench

Today we will continue our overland journey north across the Karakum. We will visit the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day.

We will wild camp in the deserts near Kunye Urgench tonight.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

23

Day 28-29: Khiva

Border Information: Exit Turkmenistan at Shovot, enter Uzbekistan at Nijazov.

This morning we will visit the markets in the border town of Dashoguz, before driving across the border into Uzbekistan and continue to the beautiful historic town of Khiva.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours (heavily dependent on the time taken to cross the border).

The following day we have a guided tour of the ancient city of Khiva during the morning. In the afternoon we will have plenty of free time to further explore this wonderfully preserved Khanate town.

In Khiva we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

24

Day 30: Bukhara

Today we will have a full day's drive to the fascinating city of Bukhara, where will spend the next 3 nights.

In Bukhara we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 10-11 hours.

25

Day 31-32: Bukhara

Today we will have a guided tour of Bukhara and the surrounding area, including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison and the Ark Fortress.

On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore this incredible historic city and its surroundings.

26

Day 33: Nurata

Today we will drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert near the town of Nurata. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to head out on an optional camel ride into the desert!

Tonight we will stay in a desert yurt camp.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

27

Day 34: Samarkand

This morning we will spend some time exploring the Nurata Hills with the option of taking a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul. After lunch we will drive to Samarkand where we will stay for the next 3 nights.

In Samarkand we will stay in a good hotel on the outskirts of town.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

28

Day 35-36: Samarkand

Today we will have a guided tour of the incredible historic city of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including the Registan, Ulug Beg Observatory, Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda.

On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore the beautiful city and its surroundings.

29

Day 37: Tashkent

This morning we will have a little more free time to explore more of Samarkand. After lunch we will drive to the Soviet city of Tashkent.

In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

30

Day 38: Tashkent

Today we will have a free day to explore Tashkent.

31

Day 39: Tashkent

Border Information: if finishing in Tashkent, you will most likely exit Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport.

Today we will have more free time to explore Tashkent. Please note that if you are leaving in Tashkent, today is the last day of the trip and there is no accommodation included tonight.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Explore the Early Christian underground cities of Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı, used as a hiding place from persecutions for centuries
    • Walk through the beautiful ancient valley of Ihlara, containing the beautiful rock-hewn churches built by the Cappadocian Greeks during the Byzantine era
    • Visit to Ishak Pasha Palace near Dogubayazit on the Iranian Border
    • See the spectacular Dome of Soltaniyeh, the huge mausolem of the Ilkhanate (Mongolian) emperor Öljeitü built in the 14th Century and the 3rd largest dome in the world behind the Cathedral of Florence and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
    • Explore the former royal complex of Golestan Palace, a huge site built in the 16th century and Tehran's oldest monument
    • Learn all about Iran's rich and fascinating history at Tehran's National Museum of Iran
    • Visit the magnificent and colossal city square of Naqsh-e Jahan, the centrepiece of the Safavid-era city of Esfahan
    • Explore the Shah Mosque, the public mosque of Esfahan built by Shah Abbas I and a masterpiece of Persian architecture
    • See the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, once a private mosque for the emperor and his harem and home to some of the world's most beautiful and masterful internal tilework
    • Explore the grand palace of Ali Qapu and discover the stunning wall paintings of the former residence of the Safavid emperors
    • Visit the stunning Jameh Mosque in Esfahan, one of the oldest mosques in Iran and an amalgamation of several different styles of Persian architecture
    • Visit the stunning Shah Cheragh Mosque, a major pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims
    • Explore the 19th century Nasir ol Molk Mosque, famous for its extensive coloured glass art
    • Visit the Narenjestan Palace in Shiraz, the former home of the wealthy Qavam family of merchants
    • Stay overnight in the incredible restored Safavid-era circular caravanserai in the remote deserts south of Yazd
    • Head out on a guided tour of the incredible historic ruins of the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis, founded by Cyrus the Great in 550BCE and invaded by Alexander the Great in 330BCE
    • See the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence outside Yazd, used until the 1960s to place bodies of the deceased so that they did not touch and pollute the sacred elements of fire or earth
    • Visit the Zoroastrian Fire Temple of Yazd, where they keep a sacred fire that has supposedly been continuously burning since 470CE, the only Zoroastrian eternal flame of its type outside of India
    • See the stunning ancient Jameh Mosque of Yazd, built in the 12th century and a fantastic example of Azari architecture
    • Learn all about the intriguing and ingenious historical methods of getting water to the desert town of Yazd at the Yazd Water Museum
    • Freely explore the huge city square and mosque at the Amir Chakmaq complex, built in the 15th century
    • Discover the atmospheric winding streets and beautiful adobe architecure of Yazd's Old Town, one of the oldest towns in the world
    • Explore the ancient desert town of Khoor and see its beautiful palm trees and ruined castle
    • Explore the ancient town of Bastam, containing monuments dating from the Ilkhanate Period when Iran was controlled by the Mongol Empire
    • Visit the partially-ruined Tarikhuneh Mosque which features 18 rear columns dating from around 760CE, making this one of the oldest mosques in Iran
    Accomodation
    • 10% Camping - 90% Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
  • Adventure Activities
  • History & Culture