Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB).
There will be an important group meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a welcome note from your tour leader when you arrive at the joining hotel in Ashgabat.
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 comfortable hotel with good facilities.
*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.*
Explore, shop and haggle at the vast Tolkuchka Sunday Market
Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city
Today we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses. The afternoon will be free to freely explore Ashgabat and its museums.
Learn about the history and culture of Turkmenistan at the huge National Museum in Ashgabat - Cost: USD 10
This morning we have some time to further explore Ashgabat. This afternoon we will drive to the spectacular Kow Ata Underground Lake. We will have some time this afternoon to explore this superb lake of naturally-heated clear water.
Tonight we will wild camp in this area of Kow Ata or Geok Tepe.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 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!).
Explore Turkmenistan's unique underground lake at Kow Ata and swim in waters naturally heated to around 36°C
Visit the huge Turkmenbashi Ruhy mosque on the outskirts of Ashgabat, built in 2004 as the mausoleum of Saparmurat Niyazov, the first president of Turkmenistan after the fall of the Soviet Union - Cost: TMM
Today we will complete our drive to the city of Turkmenbashi, on the shore of the Caspian Sea.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.
Our itinerary in Turkmenbashi 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 Turkmenbashi 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. Most trips tend to be able to set off on the ferry 1 or 2 days after arriving in Turkmenbashi.
From Turkmenbashi, we will take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to Baku in Azerbaijan.
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 highly unpredictable, as it is often forced to wait outside of the port in Baku while they arrange the unloading of the cargo on the boat.
There will be basic cabins on the ferry overnight.
Cross the Caspian Sea on a local transporter ferry between Turkmenbashi and Baku
Border information: Exit Turkmenistan at Turkmenbashi, enter Azerbaijan at Baku.
Today we plan to disembark the Caspian ferry and enter Azerbaijan.
We will have free time on these days to explore all the sights of Baku and the surroundings.
In Baku we will stay in a local hotel.
Please note that we have built in significant time in the above itinerary to allow for delays with the Caspian ferry. If the ferry comes in earlier than this, we may choose to move on from Baku earlier than listed to allow more time exploring the rest of Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Audio Guided trip around old town Baku including the Maiden Tower & Shirvan Shakh Palace
Explore the mysterious and iconic Maiden's Tower in Baku's Old Town
Learn all about the Shirvan Muslim history of Baku at the Palace of the Shirvanshahs
Today we will continue our journey to Gobustan, near the coast of the Caspian Sea. Whilst here we will visit the ancient petroglyphs and the mud volcanoes that this area is famous for.
In Gobustan we will wild camp near the mud volcanoes, or continue further and wild camp en route.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.
Day trip to Gobustan to see the mud volcanoes and the petroglyphs
Today we will continue to the old town of Sheki, where we can visit the exquisite Khan's Palace.
In Sheki we will stay in a comfortable hotel built inside an old caravanserai.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.
Overnight in an atmospheric converted Caravanserai at Sheiki
Explore the exquisite Palace of the Sheki Khans, built in 1797
Border information: Exit Azerbaijan at Balakan, enter Georgia at Ladodekhi.
Today we will continue our journey east and cross the border into Georgia.
We will wild camp tonight, most likely in the Lagodehki National Park shortly after crossing the border.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
Discover the ancient capital of the 16th-century Kingdom of Kakheti at the Gremi Architectural Complex
- Cost: GEL 10
Take some short exploratory walks around our wild camp in the beautiful forested Lagodekhi National Park - Cost: GEL 5
Today we will drive to the Alazani valley and on to Telavi, where we will base ourselves for 2 days to explore this fascinating region. We will visit the Gremi citadel en route, and have a free afternoon on arrival in Telavi to explore the area.
In Telavi we will stay in a local family-run guesthouse.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.
The area of Telavi is well known for its vineyards and wineries - 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.
Head out on Telavi's 'Big Day Out' - a tour of the town's monasteries, bee-keepers and textile-weavers, followed by lunch and wine tasting at a local family-run winery
Today we will complete our journey to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, where we will have an afternoon to freely explore the city.
In Tbilisi we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-4 hours.
Border information: if you are joining in Tbilisi, you will most likely enter Georgia at Tbilisi International Airport (IATA code: TBS).
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.
This afternoon we will visit the old town of Tbilisi and visit sites including the National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the Metekhi Temple.
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 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 - 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.*
Learn all about the history of Georgia during Soviet times, and the struggle for independence, at the Museum of Soviet Occupation - Cost: GEL 3
Enjoy an evening of local dancing and music at a Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi - Cost: GEL 25
Explore the ancient Narikala Fortress and take in the fantastic views of Tbilisi below - Cost: GEL
Visit the beautiful Orthodox Sioni Cathedral in Tbilisi's Old Town
- Cost: GEL
Discover the folk architecture, craftwork and culture of the various regions of Georgia at the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography - Cost: GEL 1.5
See the incredible collection of historical artefacts at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia - Cost: GEL 3
See the grandiose modern Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Church - Cost: GEL
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 Church (the Church of the Holy Trinity), a beautiful small church nestled in the mountains.
In Stepantsminda we will stay in a local hotel or family-run guesthouse.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 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!).
Hike to beautiful 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, set in the stunning mountains above Stepantsminda
We spend this morning in and around Stepantsminda, where we can trek to the Tsminda Sameba Church if we haven't done so already.
This afternoon we have a beautiful drive to the UNESCO world heritage site of Mtskheta, 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 Drive Time - 3-5 hours.
This morning we drive to Gori, the birthplace of Stalin - here we will have a guided tour of the city and the Stalin Museum.
We then make our way to the ancient town of Kutaisi. This afternoon we will visit the medieval Bragrati cathedral and the Gelati monastery.
In Kutaisi we will stay in a local hotel or a family-run guesthouse.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Explore the colossal and awe-inspiring Prometheus Caves near Kutaisi
Visit the beautiful 11th-century Bagrati Cathedral, a symbol of the city of Kutaisi - Cost: GEL
This morning we will continue to the port town of Batumi, where we will have a free afternoon to explore.
In Batumi we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.
Visit the Batumi Archaeological Museum, home to many historical exhibits found in excavations in the area - Cost: GEL 2
Border Information: Exit Georgia at Sarpi, enter Turkey at Sarp.
This morning we will continue to the border and cross into Turkey. We will reach the awe-inpsiring Sumela Monastery near the town of Macka, which we will either visit in the afternoon or the next morning.
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 - 5-7 hours.
Exploration of the Black Sea mountain monastery at Sumela
This morning we will visit the beautiful Sumela Monastery if we didn't have time yesterday, and then start our drive through central Turkey towards Göreme.
We will break the journey with a wild camp near Zara or the village of Alucra.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.
Today we will complete our drive 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 - 6-8 hours.
We now 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.
Explore the Early Christian underground cities of Derinkuyu or Kaymakli, 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
2-3 nights to discover Cappadocia's Goreme Valley and underground troglodyte cities and caves - Cost: TRY 15
Take a hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia
- Cost: EUR 150
Explore the ancient pre-iconoclastic Byzantine rock monastery of Zelve
- Cost: TRY 15
Guided tour of Cappadocia and underground troglodyte cities and caves - Cost: TRY 5
Discover the ancient techniques of Cappadocian pottery at the village of Avanos
- Cost: USD
Head out for a fun evening of dinner and various Turkish dancing displays
- Cost: TRY 90
Witness the hypnotic Sufi Whirling Dervishes ceremony at an ancient caravanserai near Göreme - Cost: EUR 35
Today we will have a full day's drive west to arrive in Istanbul, the only city in the world that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia.
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.
Estimated Drive Time - 10-11 hours.
Border information: if leaving the trip in Istanbul, you will most likely exit Turkey from Istanbul Atatürk International Airport (IATA code: IST).
Today will be free to explore the many sights of the incredible exotic city of Istanbul, including the Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorus River and the phenomenal Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia!
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Istanbul. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the Dragoman 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.
Explore the colossal markets of the Grand Bazaar - once the centre of all trading between Europe and Asia, and the most visited tourist attraction in the world - Cost: USD
See the splendour of Istanbul from a boat trip on Bosphorus Strait, which marks the boundary of Europe and Asia - Cost: USD 17
Explore the phenomenal Blue Mosque, built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I - a stunning icon of Istanbul
- Cost: USD
Visit the Çemberlitas Baths, a traditional Turkish Hammam, for a bath and massage!
- Cost: USD 20
Visit the incredible Byzantine cathedral of Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th century
- Cost: TRY 25
Explore the atmospheric underground Basilica Cisterns, built by the Byzantines in the 6th century
- Cost: TRY 20
Explore the majestic Topkapi Palace, the huge palace of the Ottoman Sultans for over 400 years
- Cost: TRY 35