Turkmenistan Combi with Kazakhstan tour 2
Day 1: Almaty – Altyn-Emel
Arrival to Almaty. After short rest. Drive from Almaty to Altyn-Emel National Park. Arrival Bas’shi village, Park’s entry procedures. Lunch and drive to Singing Dune. Hiking by the Dune’s ridge, which is the best point to observe the Great Kazak Steppe and Ili River. Late afternoon back to Bas’shi village, accommodation at a guest house. Dinner and overnight.
Day 2: Aktau mountains
Breakfast at a guest house. Drive from Bas’shi to the next Altyn-Emel attraction – Aktau colorful mountains famous for its “Martian” landscapes. Lunch and hiking by the rainbow chalky hills and canyons, 3 hours. Set a tent camp at the foot of the hills, take dinner and stay overnight in tents (tent camping).
Day 3: Katutau mountains – Temirlik canyon
Breakfast with incredible scenery of Aktau hills in the sunrise. Drive to Katutau volcano, lunch in the red crater surrounded by the intriguing rock formations. Drive from Katutau to Temirlik canyon. Set a tent camp inside a Sogdian ash-tree grove. Dinner and overnight in tents (tent camping).
Day 4: Bestamak Canyon – Saty village
Breakfast in Temirlik and drive to the entrance of Bestamak canyon, next from a series of Charyn canyons. Bestamak, also known as Red Canyon, invites its rare visitors to appreciate the beauty of the tortuous cliffs looking like they were fashioned and brightly painted by some unknown artist. Hike by the canyon takes 3 hours. Take lunch and drive to Kolsay National Park. Arrive Saty village in the evening, take dinner and stay overnight at a guest house.
Day 5: Kaindy Lake – Kolsai Lakes
Breakfast at a guest house. Drive to Kaindy Lake. Hiking around the famous Underwater Forest. Lunch at a lakeshore, enjoying the view of an ancient pine grove “growing out” of green waters at a height of 1800m ASL. Drive from Kaindy the First Kolsay Lake also called “Saty”. Excursion around the lake, reflecting the sunset. Back to the guest house. Dinner and overnight.
Day 6: Valley of Castles – Bartogay lake
Breakfast at a guest house, drive to Charyn National Park. Hiking by the canyon’s most attractive part – Valley of Castles, known for its fantastic colourful rock formations. Lunch in Charyn and drive to Bartogay Lake. The Lake, bordering Assy plateau from the east, remains the best bird watching point of Almaty region. We set a camp at a lakeshore, take dinner and enjoy the wildlife all the rest of a day. Overnight in tents (tent camping) in Bartogay.
Day 7: Issyk lake – Almaty
Breakfast. Drive from Bartogay to Turgen gorge. Hiking to the Bear waterfall (1,5 hours). Drive to Issyk highland lake, lunch at a lakeshore. Late afternoon drive back to Almaty city.
Day 8: Almaty – Ashgabat
Breakfast in the hotel. Check-out not later than 12 p.m. Transfer to airport. Departure to Ashgabat by Turkmenistan Airlines flight. Arrival in Ashgabat in the afternoon. Transfer to the hotel, free time, Overnight.
Day 9: Ashgabat - Turkmenbash - Yangikala Canyons
Early morning fly to Turkmenbashi town. From the airport we drive to the Canyons, first through the Balkan Mountains and then for some 2,5 hours across flat highlands. Just when you think what can be so interesting on this monotonous route, the road drops and the first signs of the Yangikala Canyons appear. From the heart of the canyons we drive on the same poor and bumpy tracks to the pilgrim site and mausoleum of Kemal Ata, which is located at the source of a local spring, that has carved out a nice green patch, lined with hard rock concretions, a geological phenomenon seen only in a few places worldwide. After our visit to Kemal Ata, we carry on to the large pilgrim site of Gozli Ata, which we will reach in the evening hours. After a long day, we can rest in the pilgrim house and watch over the canyons surrounding it.
Day 10: Yangikala - Turkmenbashi - Ashgabat
Another early departure today, as we drive to Turkmenbashi to catch the afternoon flight to Ashgabat. The bustling town of Turkmenbashi is different from all other towns we have visited so far, and it is justified to spend some time to visit the harbor, the local bazaar, and if time allows, the light-blue Russian Orthodox church. The town is built across several rocky mounts and therefore cut into several sections that are entirely separated from one another. Evening flight to Ashgabat. Transfer to hotel upon arrival. Overnight.
Day 11: Ashgabat - Darwaza
After breakfast, visit Sunday Market, private Akhalteke horse farm. Return to Ashgabat.
In the afternoon, we drive northwards and enter the central Karakum Desert for a 4-hour drive to the famous gas crater at Darwaza. While the drive is mainly on a good tarmac road and most villages in this region are along the roadside and easily reachable without 4-wheel drive vehicles as well, we turn off the main road and follow the sand tracks across a large dune, to reach the gas crater. The sight of the flaming crater remains one of the most spectacular sights you have ever seen. We accommodate in yurt camp and while the sun goes down, the light and noise of the hundreds of flames becomes even more surreal.
Day 12: Darwaza - Kunya Urgench - Dashoguz - Ashgabat
In the morning we drive to the north for the visit to Kunya Urgench historical park. Kunya Urgench owes its UNESCO World Heritage status to the fact that it was an important Silk Road hub on the Oxus River, and capital of the Khorezm Empire (12th c AD), until its destruction by the armies of Dzhengis Khan. Several mausoleums, town wall remains, the tallest minaret in Central Asia, and the Kyrk Molla pilgrim mount reflect the various roles of this historical city, which was praised by historical figures such as Biruni and Avicenna, Al-Farabi, and Al-Khorezmi. In the afternoon we continue to Dashoguz and a short 40-minute flight brings us back to Ashgabat. Overnight at hotel.
Day 13: Departure
Transfer to airport for international flight to next destination.