DAYS 92 – 101: TURKMENISTAN & THE CASPIAN SEA
From Khiva your overland journey crosses the border into Turkmenistan where you will visit the markets in the border town of Dashoguz and explore the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day before camping in the desert for the night.
Heading south, drive through the Karakum Desert. You will have an included side trip to the amazing flaming Darvaza Gas Crater (also known as the ‘Door to Hell’!), and wild camp in the desert near the crater.
From the gas crater your journey continues south to Turkmenistan’s unique capital, Ashgabat. You will have four nights here to fully immerse yourself in this fascinating city. You will have an included guided tour of the city using local minibuses, and the option of taking a trip to the famous Ashgabat Sunday Market, as well as plenty of free time to explore the city and its museums.
From Ashgabat you will drive to the spectacular Kow Ata Underground Lake and have the opportunity to swim in this superb lake of naturally-heated clear water.
The next part of the itinerary is one of the big adventures on this route, the crossing of the Caspian Sea by ferry! 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. You must be prepared for very basic conditions and limited provisions on board.
The itinerary in Turkmenbashi Port 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-existent) up until the point of departure. Maximum flexibility, open-mindedness and co-operation with your tour leaders is absolutely essential here!
In Turkmenbashi you will stay in a local hotel for as many nights as is needed until you finally depart on the ferry over the Caspian Sea. Most trips tend to be able to set off on the ferry anywhere from Day 1 to Day 5 or 6.