Cross two ‘stans off your travel map with a 13-day tour through Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. This well-rounded tour takes you through bustling bazaars and beautiful city mosques in Samarkand and Bukhara, as well as bucket-list natural landscapes like the Darvaza gas crater known affectionately as the Door to Hell. Destinations less-ventured can be challenging to visit on your own, but with a skilled Chief Experience Officer (CEO) leading the way, you’ll have incredible experiences without sacrificing safety or your sense of adventure.
- Bargain your way through traditional bazaars
- Stay overnight in a local yurt camp
- Visit the desert community of Erbent
- Marvel at the Darvaza crater (known as the “Door to Hell”)
- See the city treasures of Ashgabat
Travel Style: Classic
All of the highlights, culture, access, and I-can’t-believe-we-did-that moments, all at a great price.
Service Level: Standard
Comfortable tourist-class accommodations with character; mix of public and private transport.
Physical Rating: 3 – Average
Some tours may include light hiking, biking, rafting, or kayaking in addition to walking.
Trip Type: Small Group
Small group experience; Max 16, avg 12
Age requirement: 12+
All travellers under age 18 must be accompanied by an adult.
Day 1 Tashkent
Arrive at any time.
Welcome to the eclectic capital of Uzbekistan, where modern skyscrapers mix with Soviet-era architecture and mosaic mausoleums. There are no activities planned until the evening welcome meeting, so get out there and explore.
Day 2 Tashkent/Samarkand
Travel on to Samarkand, known for intricately beautiful mosques and mausoleums, situated on the Silk Road. Take an orientation walk and opt to visit the Amir Timur Mausoleum, dedicated to the famous conqueror who once hoped to rebuild the empire of Genghis Khan.
Day 3 Samarkand
Embark on a city tour, visiting Ulugbek Observatory, Shaki Zinda complex, the bazaar, Bibi Khanum, and Registan Square. With a free afternoon, continue exploring the Samarkand sights, have a cuppa in a local tea house, or wander around the bazaar. Opt to explore the Tomb of Prophet Daniel, famous for the Biblical story of Daniel and the lions.
Day 4 Samarkand/Aydar Kŭl Camp
Travel out into the desert to visit Chashma Complex, a pilgrimage site in the territory of Nurata, dominated by ruins of Alexander the Great’s fortress, Juma mosque, a bath-house, and the ancient Panjvakta mosque. All of this, hiding a holy spring believed to heal diseases. After exploring the complex, head to Aidarkul Lake and opt for a swim before continuing on for an overnight stay in a local yurt camp. Enjoy an authentic Uzbekistan dinner and an evening Kazakh singing show.
Day 5 Aydar Kŭl Camp/Bukhara
Travel to Bukhara, known as one of the most charming cities in the country, and get your bearings on an orientation walk. Opt to visit the old city bazaars, enjoy a traditional dinner cooked by a local family, visit a hammam (bathhouse), or just relax in the pleasant atmosphere of this Silk Road city.
Day 6 Bukhara
Explore Bukhara on a half-day guided walking tour around the beautifully restored mosques, madrassas, and covered markets, or trading domes, that make up the Old City. A centre for pottery, cloth, and carpets, Bukhara is centered around Lyabi-Hauz, a delightful pool of water surrounded by ancient mulberry trees. Wander the artisan shops and narrow twisting streets and alleyways, or sit at a café table and let the evening drift by. Opt to watch a local puppet show held in an old caravanserai, or indulge in a rejuvenating hammam bathhouse.
Day 7 Bukhara/Khiva
Enjoy a scenic drive through the desert on a full day’s journey to reach UNESCO-listed Khiva, well worth the arduous drive. Get to know this peaceful, picturesque city on a late afternoon orientation walk, and pick your favourite spots to explore more in-depth tomorrow.
Day 8 Khiva
Before exploring this historic town on your own, enjoy a guided tour to learn about local life here. Wander through the narrow labyrinth mudbrick alleyways of old town, bargain with locals at the bazaar, admire the madrassas, mosques, and blue mosaic domes, climb up towering minarets, and venture into the dark dungeons Khiva was infamous for back in the 10th century. Explore the inner walls of Ichon-Qala, and enjoy spectacular sunset views on the sand-coloured buildings.
Day 9 Khiva/Dashoguz
Spend the morning in Khiva, enjoying your last moments here to experience anything you couldn’t squeeze in yesterday, or do some last minute shopping. After lunch, drive to the Uzbek-Turkmen border and continue to Dashoguz. Take an orientation walk and opt for dinner in local café, or explore the city and it’s Bai Market.
Day 10 Dashoguz/Darvaza
Drive to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Kunya Urgench to visit the ancient capital of the Khorezmian Empire. After lunch, continue to the Kara-Kum desert and witness the fiery Darvaza gas crater, also known as the “Gates of Hell.” This evening, enjoy a delicious barbeque dinner and spend the night camping under the stars at a yurt camp.
Day 11 Darvaza/Ashgabat
After breakfast, begin the journey to the capital of Turkmenistan – Ashgabat. On the way, stop near the community of Erbent and admire its golden sand dunes that stretch out to the horizon. On arrival in Ashgabat, spend the evening at leisure. Opt to visit the Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque, also known as Gypjak Mosque, and capture the sun setting on the symmetrical minarets and golden domes.
Day 12 Ashgabat
Spend the day exploring bustling Ashgabat. Enjoy a tour of the city in the morning, visiting several city treasures such as the Monument of Independence and the National museum or Neutrality Arch. Afterward, opt to venture to the ancient ruins of Nisa, or continue exploring Ashgabat.
Day 13 Ashgabat
Depart at any time.
Your Welcome Moment: Welcome Meeting – Meet Your CEO and Group
Your Local Living Moment: Overnight in a Yurt, Aydar Kŭl Camp. Orientation walk (Samarkand). City tour including a Registan visit. Nurata Shrine visit. Alexander the Great fortress visit. Guided walking tour (half-day, Bukhara). Walking tours (Khiva). Kunya Urgench visit. Derweze crater visit. City tour (Ashgabat). Transport between destinations and to/from included activities.
Images courtesy of G Adventures
GADV – AUTA