The History Round in Turkmenistan. All Three World Heritage Sites of the country, the main sites short visit. Darwaza gas craters sightseeing. Turkmenistan between Khiva and Bukhara

Day 1, Dashoguz border Kunya Urgench Darvaza gas crater, 410 km 4WD (3-4 passengers in a car)

Tip! Border Khojeili/KunyaUrgench is also OK to plan for the crossing. Direction from Nukus

09h30 A.M Meet at Dashoguz border. Passport & Customs formalities. Start tour in Turkmenistan. Drive to Kunya Urgench. Sightseeing in Kunya Urgench UNESCO park. 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, 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 (Foundation 1011 CE, Restoration in 1330)
  • 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 remains
  • Mausoleum of Ahmed Ibn Omar Najm Ad-Din al-Kubra (Dated to 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, 20th century (Now, the history museum, tickets 4USD or 14DTM p/t separately)

P.M start drive into Karakum desert. Follow the main road to arrive at Darvaza. Leave the road and arrive at Fiery Gas Crater. Wild camping in the area. See the gas crater before sunset and at night. Barbecue dinner. Overnight in tent

Darvaza Gas Crater is located in the Central Karakum sands, almost on the Unguz line, near the small settlement of Darvaza. The 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. The underestimated amount of gas pools 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 presence of other gas craters in the area prove that works had been on large-scale basis

Fiery 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

Day 2, Darvaza Ashgabat 250 km, Nisa & Ashgabat sightseeing

08h30 return on the main road. Visit the gas craters in the area: One is full of water, another with the mud at the bottom. Both are huge, where the gas can be seen bubbling outside. Continue drive in the Southern Karakum. Stop for photos and walk

Drive to Nisa. Sightseeing in the Old Nisa Fortress

UNESCO fortress of 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. The Old Nisa where all the main archeological expeditions worked since 1960 until present. Today, they unearthed the remains of Square House known also as Treasury, Northeastern Building Palace, Square Hall, Round Building – Temple, Tower Building – Temple, Red Building, Southwestern complex and Basins. Visit the Spiritual Mosque of Turkmenbashy

Arrive at hotel. Check in. Have a rest

18h00 Start night tour in Ashgabat. Go to the Neutrality Tower, Ferris Wheel Entertainment /Alem Center. Drive to Wedding Palace Area to have night photos of Ashgabat. Visit the Independence Park. Return to hotel. Overnight

Day 3, Ashgabat Mary FLY, Gonur Depe & Merv sightseeing 200 km total drive

Mary Margiana, 60 km + 60 km, 4X4 WD or High Clearance Minivans

Margiana is the part of the Oxus civilization flourishing between 2400- 1600 BCE. Located in the 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 culture of the oases in the Pre-Zoroastrian period. The excavations revealed the area of Gonur around 55 hectares, dated 2400-1600 BCE

The site consists of the 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, the round towers along its perimeter, 1900-1600 BCE

The 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

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

Return in Mary. Check in hotel. Have a rest

Drive to Merv History Park, 30 km. Sightseeing.

Cities of Merv are the most abundant ruins of cities in Central Asia, dated from VI century BCE until XVIII century CE

The citadel of Erk – Kala is the first city of Merv, since 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 Merv and 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 times. 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 of 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

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

Return to hotel. Overnight

Day 4, Mary Farap border crossing, 270 km. Direction to Bukhara, 100 km

09h00 Start drive to Farap border. Cross the Eastern Karakum Sands, Amou Darya River, a small part of Sundukli barchans. Stop for photos along the route. 14h00 Arrive at border. Passport & Customs Formalities. End of tour in Turkmenistan

This tour have the base prices as per the program but you can tune it as per requirements of a group. Hotel options in Ashgabat, and in Mary, guide services two options (only for the certain excursions or an escort guide with excursions) or no guide (if not selected), meals options. You can define the entrance tickets as per the individual interest. At the bottom. Easy online check of the different options with an immediate detailed result (quotes and list of services). To confirm the result that you like: Copy the price and services in the result section at the bottom and send us as usual email message


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