This is our latest trip to explore the western end and the central part of the amazing Silk Road and we have really ‘upped the ante’ in Anatolia and the Caucasus. The trip has always spent time in Cappadocia and the Black Sea, but we have now added a journey around the Mediterranean and south coast of Turkey, visiting some of the amazing sites such as Ephesus, Pamukkale,Troy, Galipolli and the beautiful beaches at Olympos.
In the Caucasus, we are now able to balance the cultures, history and beauty of Georgia with those of Armenia before heading into Azerbaijan and then leaving it all behind by crossing the Caspian into the deserts of Turkmenistan.
Crossing the Caspian, we head into the deserts of Turkmenistan and then the historic lands of the central Silk Road down the Oxus Valley, visiting Khiva, Bukhara and Samarkand.
Border Information: If joining in Istanbul, you will most likely enter Turkey at Istanbul Ataturk 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 Tbilisi, your tour leader will need to carefully check your visa situation for your entire trip.
The afternoon will be free to explore the many sights of the incredible exotic city of Istanbul, including the Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorus River, Hagia Sophia and the phenomenal Blue Mosque!
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 or your Sales agent 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. *
This morning following breakfast we will depart Istanbul and begin our journey to the shores of Gallipoli.
After lunch we will get an insight into what happened between the ANZAC, Allied and Turkish foreces during the first World War and have a guided tour of the Battlefields and Anzac Cove.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours
Tonight we will stay in a local hostel in Ecebat
Today we will cross the Dardenelles by ferry and head to Helsik where we will do a short tour of the Troy Ruins.
We will then continue onto Selcuk where we will be staying for two nights. In the evening we will have free time to explore the area or simply relax in one of the many cafes or tea bars which are great for people watching.
The second day we will spend the day exploring the Ephesus Ruins and Terraced Houses.
Estimated Drive Time 7 - 8 hours
For the next two nights we will stay in a local hostel
Following breakfast we will drive inland towards the small village of Pamukkale.
After lunch we will have free time to visit the thermal hot springs and traverse through the travertine pools and terraces.
Estimate driving time 3 - 4 hours
Tonight we will either camp near the village or stay in a local hotel
Today we continue our drive south and aim to reach the popular beach town of Olympos by lunchtime.
We will have free time in the afternoon to relax or explore the local area.
Estimate Drive Time 5 - 6 hours
On the second day there will be plenty of time to explore and participate in optional activities, in the evening we will walk up to the Chimera Fire Mountain and toast some marshmallows
Tonight we will stay in a basic guesthouse
After breakfast we will leave the beachside town of Olympos and make our way north.
We will have an included visit of Termessos on the way before continuing our journey towards Egirdir where we will find a good spot to bush camp for the night.
Estimated Drive time 6 - 7 hours
Tonight we will wild camp near Egirdir
We have an early start this morning to reach the small enchanting town of Goreme in the heart of the Cappadocia mountians.
In Goreme we will stay in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are generally used here.
Estimated Drive Time 6-7 hours
We now have a full day to explore Goreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will also be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during your time here.
Today we continue our journey east with a full day's drive towards the Sumela monastery.
We will break the journey with a wild camp near Zara or the village of Alucra.
Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.
Today we will reach the awe-inpsiring Sumela Monastery near the town of Macka, which we will visit in the afternoon.
We will camp overnight in a campsite near Sumela if conditions allow. In cold weather we may opt to stay in a local hotel in Macka or Trabzon.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
Border Information: Exit Turkey at Sarp, enter Georgia at Sarpi.
This morning we will continue to the border and cross into Georgia, reaching the port town of Batumi.
In Batumi we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
After a relaxing morning, we leave the port town of Batumi behind us and make our way to the ancient town of Kutaisi. This afternoon we will visit the medieval Bagrati Cathedral and the Gelati monastery.
In Kutaisi we will stay in a local hotel or a family-run guesthouse.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.
Border Information: if joining in Tbilisi, you will most likely enter Georgia at Tbilisi International Airport (IATA code: TBS).
There will be a pre-departure meeting at 6.00pm - please meet at the joining hotel reception at this time. Please do not be alarmed if there is no note from your leader on arrival, as this is often a travelling day for the crew and they will not arrive until about 4.00pm.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Tbilisi before the start of your trip with us - please contact the Sales Team or your Sales Agent if you would like to book pre-tour accommodation with us to have extra time exploring Tbilisi.
In Tbilisi we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
*Important note - 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.*
Today we will visit the old town of Tbilisi and visit sites including the National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the Metekhi Temple.
We will have a second night in our comfortable local hotel in Tbilisi.
Today we will have a short drive to the border and cross into the country of Armenia. Once the formalities are over we will continue on through the beautiful Dilijan National Park stopping for a truck lunch along the way.
Estimated Drive Time - 5 - 7 hours
Tonight we will either stay in the National Park or continue on to Lake Sevan where we will camp.
After breakfast we will leave the sparkling waters of Lake Sevan behind and make our way towards the city of Yerevan. On the way we will visit the World Heritage - listed Geghard Monastery which has been carved out of the rock face of the Azat River Gorge. We will also spend some time exploring the Garni Temple before finally arriving at our destination.
We will have 2 nights in Yerevan on the 2nd day we will have free time for optional activities or simply relaxing and soaking up the city atmosphere.
For the next 2 nights we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Estimated Driving Time 4 - 5 hours
Today we leave the city of Yerevan. We will start off with a visit to the Khor Virap Monastery before we begin to make our way north through the beautiful Armenian Highland.
Tonight we will wild camp in the Northern Armenian Highlands.
Estimated Driving Time 2 - 3 hours
Today we continue north and head towards the Georgian border. We aim to arrive after lunch and if time permits have an included visit to the Vardzia Caves. If we arrive too late we will be able to explore the caves tomorrow morning also.
Tonight we will find a wild camp in the valley close to the caves.
Estimated Drive Time 5 - 6 hours
After breakfast we will make our way to Borjome National Park where we will have time to do a small hike through the ancient forest and an optional cable ride up the mountain.
We will then continue on to Mtsehketa, the ancient capital of Georgia. Whilst here we will explore the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.
In Mtskheta we will stay overnight in a local guesthouse.
Estimated Driving Time - 3 - 5 hours
Today our journey begins with a beautiful drive to the spectacularly located town of Stepantsminda (formerly known as Kazbegi).
Either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, we will take a trek up to the Tsminda Sameba Chruch (the church of the Holy Trinity), a beautiful small church nestled in the mountains.
In Stepantsminda we will stay in a local family run guesthouse.
Estimated Drive Time - 4 - 5 hours
This morning we will drive to the Alazani valley and on to Telavi, where we will base ourselves for 2 days to explore the area on arrival.
In Telavi we will stay in a local family-run guesthouse.
Estimated Drive time 2 - 4 hours
The area of Telavi is well known for its vineyars and winereies - there are hundreds of different grapes grown here, and every village has its own particular variety. We will visit some of the local vineyards today, where we can hopefully see some of the local traditions including grape harvesting and wine making, and enjoy some famous Georgian hospitality.
We will spend a second night here in a local family-run guesthouse.
Today we leave the wine region behind us as we make our way towards the Azerbaijan border. We will visit the Gremi citadel en route.
We will wild camp tonight, most likely in the Lagodekhi National Park close to the Azeri border.
Estimated Drive Time 2 - 3 hours
Border information: Exit Georgia at Lagodekhi, enter Azerbaijan at Balakan.
Today we cross the border to Azerbaijan and continue to the old town of Sheki, where we can visit the exquisite Khan's Palace.
In Sheki we wills tay in a comfortable hotel built inside an old caravanserai.
Estimated Drive Time 3 -4 hours
This morning we will continue on to Lahic Village. An old coppersmiths village, nestled in the mountains.
Tonight we will camp with facilities.
Estimated Drive Time 4 - 5 hours
We will continue our journey this morning to Gobustan, near the coast of the Caspian Sea where we will have a visit to the ancient petroglyphs and the mud volanoes that this area is famous for.
This afternoon we will continue on to the Old City of Baku where we will have free time on arrival to explore.
Estimated Drive Time 3 - 4 hours
For everyone that is continuing with us onto Turkmenistan there will be short group meeting at 10.00am to explain the next few days until Ashgabat. Your leader will also collect the kitty for this linking section.
Our itinerary in Baku and over the Caspian Sea must remain very flexible and is very much determined by sailing times of the local ferries. Please note that there is no regular schedule for the ferries, they are notoriously unpredictable, and information from the ferry operators regarding the sailing times constantly changes (or is non-existant) up until the point of departure. Maximum flexibility, open-mindedness and co-operation with your tour leaders are absolutely essential here!
In Baku we will stay in a local hotel for as many nights as is needed until we finally depart on the ferry over the Caspian Sea.
From Baku, we will take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan. The boat docks at the city of Turkmenbashi.
The ferry is a fantastic local experience, but please do not expect any luxury whatsoever! These ferries are budget vessels for the locals and cargo hauliers, and are not designed with tourists in mind. We must be prepared for very basic conditions and limited provisions on board.
Please also note that the time that the ferry takes to cross is also very unpredictable, as it is often forced to wait outside of the port in Turkmenbashi while they arrange the unloading of the cargo on the boat.
There will generally only be seats on the ferry overnight
Border information: Exit Azerbaijan at Baku, enter Turkmenistan at Turkmenbashi.
Today we plan to disembark the Caspian ferry and enter Turkmenistan.
We will be either staying at a local hotel in Turkmenbashi or we will start our journey towards Ashgabat and wild camp en route.
Turkemenistan Visa Note - as the timing of the Caspian ferry crossing can be very unpredictable, please get your Turkmenistan visa issued with at least 2 'flexible' days before the entry date listed on these notes. If you arrange the visa through The Visa Machine they will be aware of all the correct dates for your visa according to the date of your trip. Please see the detailed visa notes below.
This morning we will have a full day drive to Turkmenistans bizarre modern capital, Ashgabat. The evening will be free to relax and explore.
In Ashgabat we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Estimated Drive Time 7 - 9 hours
Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB).
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.
Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ashgabat 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 Ashgabat. If arriving at Ashgabat airport you will also need to have a confirmed arrival transfer and representative from our local supplier to meet you at the airport. Please contact your sales agent for prices and to book.
In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel.
*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.*
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 - 5-6 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!).
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 - 6-7 hours.
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 - 4-5 hours.
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.
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 - 8-10 hours.
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.
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!
In the Kyzylkhum Desert we will stay in a desert yurt camp.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.
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.
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.
This morning we will have a little more free time to explore more of Samarkand. After lunch we will drive to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.
In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
Today we will have a free day to explore Tashkent.
Border Information: if finishing in Tashkent, you will most likely exit Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport (IATA code: TAS).
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Tashkent. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Sales team if you are interested in booking extra nights of accommodation in order to fully explore and take part in some of the optional activities listed below.
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Trip Name: Turkey, Turkmen & Tamerlane's Testament
Duration: 48 Days
From Price: $6,600
Supplier Tour ID: TRTN1/240945
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