The Caspian Sea and the Awaza Holiday Resorts come together for a truly unprecedented sea experience. This is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Turkmenistan and people from all over the country visit the Awaza Resort Zone over the summer holidays.
The Caspian coast has a big recreational potential. A development plan of the Caspian coastal line has been launched by Turkmenistan government in recent years. Highlights of the plan included the construction of luxurious accommodation complexes and the construction of a 7-kilometer long artificial canal, which will go through the Awaza sea resort and will pass by new park zones and restaurants. The man made river divides the Holiday Zone into separate recreation areas and offers transportation facilities for guests to reach the Caspian beaches.
Today, a dozen 5-star hotels have been completed and offer extremely comfortable accommodation, as well as dining options.
All the hotels are equipped with services such as Internet access, indoor and outdoor swimming pools, children’s aquaparks, hair dressers, massage and other body and face treatments, bars and dancings. The canal has been completed and is now inviting guests for an evening stroll along its banks, where restaurants and pavillions have been opened.
Although Awaza may sound too good to be true for medium or low budget travellers, the pricing of the hotels is very reasonable, and a day’s rest in such a comfortable seaside location forms a surprisingly welcome time-out for those that have spend considerable time travelling through deserts and mountains, in search of the hidden historical and natural treasures of Turkmenistan.
Next to offering a pleasant place for recuperation, Awaza is also the perfect starting point for several (day) trips to sites of natural beauty or historical importance located in the surrounding regions.
TURKMENBASHI (12 km east of Awaza)
Turkmenbashi, former Krasnovodsk, is the oldest city in Balkan province. It has a remarkable geographical location with a range of low grounds and cliffs, which encircle the city. Krasnovodsk began its existence as a gateway to Central Asia and also as dockers’ town.
Turkmenbashi is growing and today it is one of the biggest industrial and tourist centers of Turkmenistan. There is an interesting museum in Turkmenbashi where you can get acuainted with mineral resources of Turkmenistan, fauna of the Caspian sea and Turkmenistan marine history. A half day visit to Turkmenbashi’s port, museum and bazaar is a worthwhile undertaking.
YANGIKALA (250 km northeast of Turkmenbashi)
A trip to this region of canyons is an authentic adventure. This region was the location of the ancient Paratethys Sea until about 5,5 million years ago.
It offers unique sceneries of white, green, pink and reddish limestone rocks, breathtaking views and a wide diversity of terrain - hilly, mountainous and smooth. It is well worth the long ride. For those keen on adventure, camping at the old seabed can be arranged.
GOZLI ATA (230 km northeast of Turkmenbashi)
The mausoleum of Gozli Ata is the most remote place of pilgrimage in Turkmenistan. Hasan Ata Asyky Gozli Ata (1110-1221) was a legendary Sufi teacher. The mausoleum has a remarkable location with a range of white, pink, greenish and reddish rocks encircling the place.
The graveyard at the southern edge of the place is interesting for its nicely carved stone tombs. You can combine a trip to the limestone cliffs of Yangikala with a visit and overnight stay at the pilgrim’s house at Gozli Ata.
DEHISTAN (220 km southeast of Turkmenbashi)
Dehistan (Misrian) was a town that thrived in the Silk Road period (connecting Khorezm with Iran and Arab countries), and rivaling Kunya Urgench and Merw in importance. Two 20 m high remains of minarets and the remains of a mosque portal of 18 m height, with the name of Khorezmshah Mohamed (1200-1220) inscribed in it, survived.
On the territory of the nearby cemetery five mausoleums (XI-XII cc.) survived, as well as the mosque-mausoleum of Shir-Kabir. This is the earliest (IX-X cc.) mosque among those that survived in Turkmenistan. Original fragments were preserved in the uniquely carved mihrab.
A trip through the desert terrain to this mystical place is an impressive experience, particularly in combination with an overnight stay in tents next to the age-old ruins.