Day Trips & Excursions

 

 

Nisa Day Trip

Nisa&Anau Day Trip

Day Trip in Margiana country, Gonur-Depe

Day Trip in Merv (Sightseeing quotes only Merv, Sightseeing quotes Gonur-Depe and Merv)

Day Trip in Kunya Urgench (Gurganj)

Yangykala Canyon Day Trip

Darvaza Gas Crater Day Trip

 

 

 

 

 

1.       Nisa Day Trip

(How Nisa is connected to Scythian Parni tribe and to Ancient Parthian region, Parthian Empire)

 

               Around 280 BCE, Scythian Parni tribe have been forced to move in the Karakum desert. They set up their camps in the desert, to the west from Tejen oasis and entered into Dahae union with other Saka tribes of the desert (Parni, Xanthii, Pissuri). Being very active, they took the leadership and attacked the wealthy Margiana/Merv. The Seleucids quickly sent an army to neutralize the Parni threat. Seleucid commander Demodamas counterattacked and tampered the expansion capabilities of the Parni for few decades. They waited for a chance and by 248- 247 BCE a new king –Arsaces I, came to lead a resurgent Parni tribe, introducing new empire. First years, he tried again a new invasion of Margiana but understood the unsuccessful campaign against Seleucid satrap of Bactria, Diodotus; he changed the tactics. Andragoras, the governor of Parthia region rebelled in 245 BCE and seceded from Seleucid Empire, and therefore lost their military support to protect its borders. Arsaces I took this opportunity and invaded the Parthia, starting Parthian era in the region. The Parni took control of Astabene (present day Kuchan area) where they founded their first capital – Asaak or Arshak, supposedly Arsaces was crowned there as first Parthian state king. They continued their expansion in Parthia and eliminated Andragoras. Their second capital became – Dara (Dargaz area). Finally, to secure the northern border of their new state, they established third capital in Nisa. That was the start of Parthian era, which continued until 224 CE.

 

                Since 2007, Nisa fortress is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. UNESCO criteria are that the location of the site is on the crossroads of important commercial and strategic axes of the ancient world. Its archeological remains are the illustration of cultural interaction between Central Asia and Mediterranean world. Nisa belonged to Parthian Empire and symbolized the significance of this imperial power.

                Nisa was one of the first strongholds of the young Parthian state in the region. Remained important point at the different stages of Parthian period. Due to the geopolitical development around its borders, it was also a communication center between Parthians and the different nomadic tribes living in the desert and northward zone, for security of its northern borders and the trade routes passing Parthian controlled lands.

 

                Nisa is composed of two tells: known as New Nisa – the town itself and Old Nisa – the monumental complex of palaces and temples of Parthian Rulers. Visitors usually see only Old Nisa where all the main archeological expeditions worked since 1960 until present. Today, they unearthed in Old Nisa: Square House known also as Treasury, Northeastern Building ‘Palace’, Square Hall, Round Building – Temple, Tower Building – Temple, Red Building, Southwestern complex and Basins.

New Nisa is also open for visits and you are welcome to see it. The site offers a view of the remains of the curtains of the walls and town’s citadel, the traces of the urban planning inside of the town.

 

Start from Ashgabat

 

 

Distance from Ashgabat:                                            14 km, to the west, 15 min drive

Required time:                                                              2-3 hours

Special requirements:                                                  None

Entrance tickets:                                                          6 USD / 21 Manats (*Site Ticket Office may charge also the site’s local guide fee as 21 manats)

Photo tickets:                                                               2 USD/ 7 Manats

Price for A/C car service 1-3 hours:                           25 USD

Price for English/ French speaking guide:                 25 USD

 

*Possible to add a Turkmenbashy mosque visit along the route.

 

 

 

 2. Margiana (Gonur Depe & Merv cities sightseeing)

 

                Margiana is the part of the Oxus civilization flourishing between 2400- 1600 BCE. Located in the endorheic alluvial fan of the Murghab river of the ancient Margiana oasis, Karakum desert. By 2000 BCE, Margiana had culture using irrigation agriculture and constructing large fortified building complexes. One of the main Margiana’s center was Gonur Depe. Greek-Russian archeologist V. Sarianidi discovered Gonur Depe in 1950. In 1970, he started the excavation works there. It became the largest known of all settlements in the former delta of Murghab river delta, around 60 km from present day Mary town, in Karakum desert. It is known as the capital of Margush country (Persian name). The center of local civilization of oases in the Pre-Zoroastrian period. The excavations revealed the area of Gonur around 55 hectares, dated 2400-1600 BCE

The site consists of three main distinct areas:

Gonur North – a main fortified complex, around 330 X 460 meter, with Monumental Palace, Temple of Fire, Temple of Water, Temple of Sacrificing and ritual areas. Next is an area known as Royal Necropolis and two major and several smaller water reservoirs, dated between 2400-1900 BCE.

Gonur South – a smaller, almost square complex 130 X 120 m, fortified with two series of massive concentric walls with round towers along its perimeter, 1900-1600 BCE.

A large necropolis, with more than three thousand graves of different type and dating, encompasses an area of around 10 hectares, some 200 m west of Gonur North.

After the excavations revealed the facts of an evident connection of Margiana with Indus Valley and Mesopotamia Civilizations. The artifacts prove the interconnection of people, cultures, ancient technologies and craftsmanship. The art objects and its iconography witness the migration of goods, materials, ideas and beliefs. In the same time, it testifies the creation of the local culture, style and technics.

 

 

Distance from Mary:                                     around 60 km

Road:                                                           half – old and bumpy tarmac road, half a sandy track

Required time:                                             5-7 hours

Special requirements:                                  recommended, high clearance car, or 4X4

Entrance tickets:                                             6 USD / 21 Manats

Photo tickets:                                                  2 USD/ 7 Manats

 

 

 

 

Merv sightseeing:

                The most abundant ruins of cities in Central Asia, dated from VI century BCE until XVIII century CE. More than 2000 years of Merv’s distinguished history in Khorasan region, is accounted by its strategic position on the Great Trade Routes. Since the end of the 5th century BCE Merv’s area had become the urban center of the oasis. It has the unusual pattern of urban development as a consecutive series of cities gradually developed on adjacent virgin land zones. These extensive remains offered a unique opportunity to record the varying plans of the cities, as their walls define its size and general layout, gateways, principal roads, some buildings and the courses of main canals. All these near the surface having the time cultural levels as per city.

 

Cities of Merv: 

 

The citadel of Erk – kalais the first city of Merv, was founded in the 6th century BCE. The foundation have coincided with arrival of Achaemenian Persians or possibly their predecessors, the Medes. It is very massive oval hill; with large mud -brick walls stand some 30 m high and an area of 20 hectares. From the end of the 4th century BCE, Merv is part of Alexander the Great Empire and citadel of Erk-kala become known as Alexandria in Margiana.

Gyaur-kala is the second city of Mervand Metropolis of Margiana oasis. It was founded by Antiochus (281-261 BCE) and was known as Antiochia in Margiana. Erk-kala became the citadel of the Hellenistic city. Gyaur-kala was occupied around a thousand years, through the Seleucid, Parthian, Sasanian periods and into Islamic period. There lived together Zoroastrian, Buddhist and Christian communities of the Nestorian Church. Merv also hosted a Jewish community, as has been shown by Jewish headstones. Found also the traces of Manichaeism at the necropolis outside of Gyaur-kala.

In the 8th century the suburbs of Gyaur-kala started to play important role in trade. During the Seljuk period, the suburbs finally transformed into new metropolis of Merv, known as Marv-ash-Shahijan (Royal Merv- Sultan-kala). The city was walled only in 11th century. Sultan Malik Shah is credited with building of the great wall round the city 12,300 paces in circuit. Sultan Sanjar enlarged the city, with the north and the south extensions. It became some 630 hectares. This was the capital of Seljuk state and one of the most important cultural centers of the eastern Muslim world. The greatest Merv’s glory, only finished in 1221 by the arrival of the Mongols. The Seljuk sultans Toghril, Alp-Arslan, Malik Shah and Sultan Sanjar were buried there. It was home for a number of outstanding medieval scholars, including Omar Khayyam 11th century, Yakut al-Khamavi 13th century, who were attracted by Merv’s famous libraries and observatory.

In 1409, Timurid ruler Shah Rukh built a new city Abdullah Khan-kala, some 3 km to the south from the remains Sultan –kala. It was much smaller city than the earlier cities of Merv, occupying 1 square km. The reduced size of Timurid Merv show the decline of the oasis at this time, reflecting both its loss of status to centers such as Samarkand and Herat and the effects on overland trade of the increased maritime routes.

Finally, in 18th century starts the history of Bayram Ali, with the small city of Bayram Ali Khan- kala. The traces of its walls can be seen near the modern Bayram Ali town.

 

 

 

Distance from Mary:                                     around 30 km

Road:                                                            highway and tarmac road inside of the site

Required time:                                              starting from 2 hours

Special requirements:                                  None

Entrance tickets:                                             6 USD / 21 Manats

Photo tickets:                                                  2 USD/ 7 Manats

 

 

 

Quotes for day trip, including only Merv sightseeing:

 

 

Start from Mary/ Return in Mary:

 

 

1 person in group                                   60 USD

2 persons in a group                              40 USDper person

3 persons in a group                              30 USDper person

4 persons in a group                              20 USDper person

 

 

Including services:

 

  • A/C private car (Toyota, Nissan, KIA or equal)
  • Local English speaking guide for excursions (* if you don’t require guide, pls advise to remove from cost)
  • Complimentary, drinking water in car

 

Excluded services:

Entrance tickets to site, photo/video tickets

 

(*LOI for visa, hotel stay and other services can be arranged as part of a trip in the country)

 

Start from Ashgabat / Return to Ashgabat:

 

1 person in group                                   216 USD

2 persons in a group                              181 USD               per person

3 persons in a group                              165 USD               per person

4 persons in a group                              155 USD               per person

 

 

Including services:

  • Flight tickets Ashgabat- Mary- Ashgabat (arrive early morning and return with evening flight)
  • Transfers hotel- airport- hotel in Ashgabat
  • A/C private car (Toyota, Nissan, KIA or equal) for excursions
  • Local English speaking guide for excursions (* if you don’t require guide, pls advise to remove from cost)
  • Complimentary, drinking water in car

 

Excluded services:

Entrance tickets to sites, photo/video tickets

 

(*LOI for visa, hotel stay and other services can be arranged as part of a trip in the country)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Quotes for day trip, including Gonur Depe and Merv sightseeing:

 

 

Start from Mary/ Return in Mary:

 

1 person in group                                   99 USD

2 persons in a group                              80 USDper person

3 persons in a group                              60 USDper person

4 persons in a group                              50 USDper person

 

 

Including services:

 

  • A/C private car (Toyota, Nissan, KIA or equal)
  • Local English speaking guide for excursions (* if you don’t require guide, pls advise to remove from cost)
  • Refreshments on the route
  • Complimentary, drinking water in car

 

Excluded services:

Entrance tickets to sites, photo/video tickets

 

(*LOI for visa, hotel stay and other services can be arranged as part of a trip in the country)

 

Start from Ashgabat / Return to Ashgabat:

 

1 person in group                                   245 USD

2 persons in a group                              221 USD               per person

3 persons in a group                              196 USD               per person

4 persons in a group                              186 USD               per person

 

 

Including services:

  • Flight tickets Ashgabat- Mary- Ashgabat (arrive early morning and return with evening flight)
  • Transfers hotel- airport- hotel in Ashgabat
  • A/C private car (Toyota, Nissan, KIA or equal)
  • Local English speaking guide for excursions (* if you don’t require guide, pls advise to remove from cost)
  • Refreshments on the route
  • Complimentary, drinking water in car

 

Excluded services:

Entrance tickets to sites, photo/video tickets

 

(*LOI for visa, hotel stay and other services can be arranged as part of a trip in the country)

 

 

 

 

3. Ancient Khorezm, Kunya Urgench City

 

                Ancient Khorezm was one of the largest oasis of Central Asia, encircled by Kara-kum desert to the west and Kizil-kum desert to the east. The oasis was formed by the Amu Darya River (known also as Oxus and Jeihun). Being between the Caspian and Aral Seas, it was the border between the lands of the northern steppe nomads and the settled farmers of the oasis.

                Kunya Urgench was a major regional center between 10th – 13th centuries CE and in the 12th century became the capital of the Khanate of Khorezm, during the Khorezmshakh dynasty. During this period Khorezmian state extended to control Bukhara, Samarkand, Merv, Balkh, Herat, Nishapur, Zarani, Shiraz, Isfahan, Tehran, Maragha, Tabriz. Kunya Urgench was also known as Gurganj or Urganj.

 

                List of monuments of Kunya Urgench:

Minaret of Kutluk Timur (first date of foundation in 1011 CE, Second date of restoration 1330 year)

Mausoleum of Turabek Khanum ( 14th century CE)

Mausoleum of Sultan Ala al-din Tekesh (1172-1200)

Mausoleum of Il Arslan (1156-1172)

Kyrkmolla fortress 5th century BCE

Ak-Kala fortress remais

Korezm Bag fortress traces 19th century

Mausoleum of Ahmed Ibn Omar Najm Ad-Din al-Kubra (construction date 14th century)

Mausoleum of Piryar Valiis (construction date 13th-14th century)

Mausoleum of Sultan Ali 16th century

Ibn Khajib Complex of monuments, between 14th-19th centuries

Dash Mosque, History museum, 20th century

 

 

Distance from Dashoguz:                            95 km

Road:                                                           tarmac road, 1.5 hrs drive

Required time:                                             starting from 5 hours

Special requirements:                                  Border zone, it should be written on a visa

Entrance tickets:                                             6 USD / 21 Manats

 

 

Prices for day trip, Kunya Urgench sightseeing:

 

Start from Dashoguz or Dashoguz border/ Return in Dashoguz or to Dashoguz border. *Start point can be planned in Kunya Urgench border or with any combinations Dashoguz- Kunya Urgench borders.

 

1 person in group                                   75 USD

2 persons in a group                              40 USDper person

3 persons in a group                              30 USDper person

4 persons in a group                              23 USDper person

 

 

Including services:

 

  • A/C private car (Toyota, Nissan, KIA or equal)
  • Local English speaking guide for excursions (* if you don’t require guide, pls advise to remove from cost)
  • Complimentary, drinking water in car

 

Excluded services:

Entrance tickets to site, photo/video tickets

(*LOI for visa, hotel stay and other services can be added as part of a trip in the country)

 

 

Start from Ashgabat / Return to Ashgabat:

 

1 person in group                                   233 USD

2 persons in a group                              188 USD               per person

3 persons in a group                              183 USD               per person

4 persons in a group                              181 USD               per person

 

 

Including services:

  • Flight tickets Ashgabat- Dashoguz- Ashgabat (arrive early morning and return with evening flight)
  • Transfers hotel- airport- hotel in Ashgabat
  • A/C private car (Toyota, Nissan, KIA or equal) for excursions
  • Local English speaking guide for excursions (* if you don’t require guide, pls advise to remove from cost)
  • Complimentary, drinking water in car

 

Excluded services:

Entrance tickets to sites, photo/video tickets

 

(*LOI for visa, hotel stay and other services can be added as part of a trip in the country)

 

 

 

4. Yangy Kala canyon

 

               Yangykala canyon is a natural wonder in the western Turkmenistan, behind the Gara Bogaz Bay of the Caspian Sea. The abrupt and wavy rock landscape walled at 60-100 meters tall. Colors play with deep red, pink, yellow and white are impressive remains of the massive coral reefs from the pre-historical Sea, what covered all the spaces around in the region.

               The drive starts from Turkmenbashy, crossing the spaces of western part of the Karakum pre-desert area. Caspian Sea breath is in the air, the largest salt lake in the world. The vast open and flat desert relief is open to the atmospheric corridor from the north, making the sudden temperature changes as normal. Today, this area is far from the oceans, but once in the pre-history it was itself the floor of the ocean. All the large basin of the Karakum desert remained in the Tethys Ocean and in its part Paratethys Sea, what existed some 40 million years ago. Since, the world platform changes geological process and grow of the mountain ranges in the Caucasus and in the Central Asia, some 30-20 million years ago; the present day relief was constructed. The Sea retreated, the former limestone walls transformed into red-pinky-white cliffs of Yangykala, it happened more than 5.5 million years ago.

               It is not a reserve or a nature park. It is almost empty area with only a few small settlements scattered around the Gara Bogaz Bay. It is the area of Scythian - Sakas tribes in the antique times. The origin area of famous Ghuzz Turkic tribes in the early medieval times, where the Seljuk (from Kinik tribe) and Ertogrul - Osman ( from Kayi tribe) come from. The mystic and enigmatic wind of the steppes and desert is around, with an impressive color scenery of the rock.

 

 

Distance from Turkmebashy:                    Around 175 km, 3 hrs drive one way  (the same return route)

Road:                                                        Old and bumpy tarmac road and a sandy track on the plateau

Required time:                                          Start from 7 hours

Special requirements:                               High clearance car or 4X4

Entrance tickets:                                             None

Photo tickets:                                                  None

 

 

Prices for day trip:

 

Start from Turkmenbashy/ Return in Turkmenbashy

Start from Balkanabat/ Return in Balkanabat (or any combination of Turkmenbashy- Balkanabat towns):

 

1 person in group                                   149 USD

2 persons in a group                              89 USDper person

3 persons in a group                              60 USDper person

 

 

Including services:

 

  • A/C private car (Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi or equal)
  • Refreshments on the route
  • Complimentary, drinking water in car

 

Excluded services:

Extension to Yangisuw, Gaytaramysh Ata mausoleum, plus 1 day

LOI for visa, hotel stay, camp, guide and other services can be arranged as part of a trip in the country.

 

 

 

Start from Ashgabat / Return to Ashgabat:

 

1 person in group                                   329 USD

2 persons in a group                              275 USD               per person

3 persons in a group                              249 USD               per person

 

Including services:

  • Flight tickets Ashgabat- Turkmenbashy- Ashgabat (arrive early morning and return with evening flight)
  • Transfers hotel- airport- hotel in Ashgabat
  • A/C private car (Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi or equal) for excursions
  • Refreshments on the route
  • Complimentary, drinking water in car

 

 

Excluded services:

 

Extension to Yangisuw, Gaytaramysh Ata mausoleum, plus 1 day

LOI for visa, hotel stay, camp, guide and other services can be arranged as part of a trip in the country.

 

 

5. Nisa & Anau Day Trip

 

            Since 2007, Nisa fortress is on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. UNESCO criteria are that the location of the site is on the crossroads of important commercial and strategic axes of the ancient world. Its archeological remains are the illustration of cultural interaction between Central Asia and Mediterranean world. Nisa belonged to Parthian Empire and symbolized the significance of this imperial power.

            Nisa was one of the first strongholds of the young Parthian state in the region. Remained important point at the different stages of Parthian period. Due to the geopolitical development around its borders, it was also a communication center between Parthians and the different nomadic tribes living in the desert and northward zone, for security of its northern borders and the trade routes passing Parthian Empire controlled lands.

 

            Nisa is composed of two tells: known as New Nisa – the town itself and Old Nisa – the monumental complex of palaces and temples of Parthian Rulers. Visitors usually see only Old Nisa where all the main archeological expeditions worked since 1960 until present. Today, they unearthed in Old Nisa: Square House known also as Treasury, Northeastern Building ‘Palace’, Square Hall, Round Building – Temple, Tower Building – Temple, Red Building, Southwestern complex and Basins.

New Nisa is also open for visits and you are welcome to see it. The site offers a view of the remains of the curtains of the walls and town’s citadel, the traces of the urban planning inside of the town.

 

 

 

Distance from Ashgabat:                              14 km, to the west, 15 min drive

Required time:                                               2-3 hours

Special requirements:                                    None

Entrance tickets:                                            6 USD / 21 Manats (*Site Ticket Office may charge also the site’s local guide fee as 21 manats)

Photo tickets:                                                 2 USD/ 7 Manats

 

           Anau name is derived from Abi-Nau, meaning ‘new water’. The place was inhabited since the period of 4600- 4000 BCE and was the part of Oxus Civilization, Anau IA site. In 2000 here, it was found ‘Anau Seal’, the only discovery witnessing the possibility of writing in the Bactria-Margiana Archeological Complex, 2400-1900 BCE. Two tells Anau I and Anau II dated as Neolithic – Chalcolithic settlements. The excavations at the site were started by American archeologist Raphael Pumpelli in 1904. The fortress was inhabited during the Parthian period. There was a great wall and a ditch.

           Seyit Jemaletdin Mosque is located to the east from these settlements. Built during the reign of Abu Kasim Baber Bahadurhan in Khorezm (1446-1447). The construction was paid by his vizier Muhammed Khudaiot. Who chose a site near the grave of his father Jemaletdin.  It was the outstanding monument  of the Timurid era in Turkmenistan. The mosaic above the entrance iwan depicting two dragons facing each other is impressive decoration style of this mosque. These images were around 8 meters high and are connected to the legend. When one dragon ask a help to free another dragon from the horns of goat stuck in his mouth. The local queen helped the dragons and they were grateful in return, giving her the priceless jewels. Later, these jewels were used to build the mosque and honor the moment.  Another version is that dragons were the totem pf the Turkmen tribe who inhabited the region in the 15th century and that Seyit Jemaletdin belonged to that tribe. During the earthquake of 1948, the mosque was completely destroyed. Today, it is the local pilgrimage place

 

 

Distance from Nisa:                                       30 km, to the west, 25 min drive

Required time:                                               1,5 hours

Special requirements:                                    None

Entrance tickets:                                            None

Photo tickets:                                                 None

 

 

 

 

Price for A/C car service 3-4 hours (Nisa & Anau):              40 USD

Price for English/ French speaking guide (Nisa & Anau):    35 USD

 

6. Darvaza Gas Crater

 

Gas Crater is located in the Central Karakum sands, almost on the Unguz line, near the small settlement of Darvaza. The manmade formation of the crater based on the natural conditions of gas rich Karakum sands. The common version is that in 1971, the drilling process mistake resulted in the landslide and opening of the door into a high-pressure natural gas pool. The noxious gases erupted outside. In order to minimize the bad effect on the environment, the scientists set fire inside of the pit to burn out the methane. Underestimated amount of fuel under the sands started the half-century illumination in the desert. The night flaming can be seen some kilometers around. It has surreal view of a coliseum of fire, of ever roaring huge hole leading downward. Another version that it happened earlier in the 1960s, the gas have been expanding freely outside before it was kindled in the 1980s. In general, the development of high quality sulfur deposits and gas pools started in the area since 1930s. There was even Darvaza local airport for small planes.

The crater is around 65-70 meters wide and 25-30 meters deep. The large crater allows accumulation of the natural gas, escaping from a large gas pool underneath, and then burn without being extinguished or rapidly diluted by wind. At the bottom, there are a great number of small flames, located around the circle and in the center. The intense heat of the flame hardly supported even on the surface near the edge. Sometimes, wind gusts speed it away into the night of the desert. In winter, the birds dare to warm them up soaring above the crater.

In November 2013, an expedition is organized by National geographic and supported by Kensington Tours Travel Company. George Kourounis ventured to the depth of the crater to explore it. He was lucky to take some soil samples where bacteria found in, living comfortably in those harsh temperatures and thus proving that life exists at the bottom of the crater.

 

14h00 start drive to Darvaza. Stop for photos in the Karakum desert (Bakhordok barchans, Erbent village). Start visit gas craters before Darvaza: One is full of water, another with mud at the bottom. In both, gas can be seen bubbling outside. Leave the highway and follow a sandy track to arrive at Flaming Gas Crater. See it at sunset and at nighttime. Take pictures, walk around. Return on the main road and drive back to Ashgabat

 

Distance Ashgabat- Darvaza:                          257 km, 3 hours’ drive one way

Return distance:                                              257 km, 3 hour’ drive

Road:                                                               Highway, tarmac road, a sandy track for the last 7 km

Required time:                                                 Starting from 7 hours

Special requirements:                                      High Clearance Vehicle or 4X4

Entrance tickets:                                              NONE

Photo tickets:                                                   NONE

 

Prices for day trip:

 

Start from Ashgabat/ Return to Ashgabat

Start from Dashoguz/ Return to Dashoguz

 

1 person in group                                   130 USD

2 persons in a group                              75 USDper person

3 persons in a group                              60 USDper person

 

 

Including services:

 

  • A/C private car (Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi or equal)
  • Refreshments on the route
  • Complimentary, drinking water in car

 

Excluded services:

LOI for visa, hotel stay, camp, guide and other services can be arranged as part of a trip in the country

Extension to overnight stay, wild camping, plus 1 day: Tent, sleeping bag, mat, dinner, breakfast, extra for car service. Arranged on request.