Border Information: if joining in Tbilisi, you will most likely enter Georgia at Tbilisi International Airport (IATA code: TBS).
There will be a pre-departure meeting at 6.00pm - please meet at the joining hotel reception at this time. Please do not be alarmed if there is no note from your leader on arrival, as this is often a travelling day for the crew and they will not arrive until about 4.00pm.
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 or your Sales Agent 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 - 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.*
Enjoy an evening of local dancing and music at a Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi
- Cost: GEL 35
Today we will visit the old town of Tbilisi and visit sites including the National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the Metekhi Temple.
We will have a second night in our comfortable local hotel in Tbilisi.
Learn all about the history of Georgia during Soviet times, and the struggle for independence, at the Museum of Soviet Occupation - Cost: GEL 3
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
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 we will have a short drive to the border and cross into the country of Armenia. Once the formalities are over we will continue on through the beautiful Dilijan National Park stopping for a truck lunch along the way.
Estimated Drive Time - 5 - 7 hours
Tonight we will either stay in the National Park or continue on to Lake Sevan where we will camp.
Camp on the shores of Lake Sevan
After breakfast we will leave the sparkling waters of Lake Sevan behind and make our way towards the city of Yerevan. On the way we will visit the World Heritage - listed Geghard Monastery which has been carved out of the rock face of the Azat River Gorge. We will also spend some time exploring the Garni Temple before finally arriving at our destination.
We will have 2 nights in Yerevan on the 2nd day we will have free time for optional activities or simply relaxing and soaking up the city atmosphere.
For the next 2 nights we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
Estimated Driving Time 4 - 5 hours
Visit the Garni Temple and learn about its fascinating pre-Christian history
Visit the Medieval Geghard Monastery
Explore the beautiful Khor Virap Monastery near the Turkish border. On a clear day you will have stunning views of Mt Ararat in the background.
Take a tour of the Ararat Brandy Museum and discover the history of Armenian Brandy
- Cost: USD 25
Today we leave the city of Yerevan. We will start off with a visit to the Khor Virap Monastery before we begin to make our way north through the beautiful Armenian Highland.
Tonight we will wild camp in the Northern Armenian Highlands.
Estimated Driving Time 2 - 3 hours
Today we continue north and head towards the Georgian border. We aim to arrive after lunch and if time permits have an included visit to the Vardzia Caves. If we arrive too late we will be able to explore the caves tomorrow morning also.
Tonight we will find a wild camp in the valley close to the caves.
Estimated Drive Time 5 - 6 hours
After breakfast we will make our way to Borjome National Park where we will have time to do a small hike through the ancient forest and an optional cable ride up the mountain.
We will then continue on to Mtsehketa, 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 Driving Time - 3 - 5 hours
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 Chruch (the church of the Holy Trinity), a beautiful small church nestled in the mountains.
In Stepantsminda we will stay in a local family run guesthouse.
Estimated Drive Time - 4 - 5 hours
Hike to beautiful 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, set in the stunning mountains above Stepantsminda
Learn how to make the local delicacy of kinkhalis (Georgian meatballs) at a cookery class in Stepantsminda (if time allows)
- Cost: GEL 20
This morning we will drive to the Alazani valley and on to Telavi, where we will base ourselves for 2 days to explore the area on arrival.
In Telavi we will stay in a local family-run guesthouse.
Estimated Drive time 2 - 4 hours
The area of Telavi is well known for its vineyars and winereies - 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.
We will spend a second night here in a local family-run guesthouse.
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 leave the wine region behind us as we make our way towards the Azerbaijan border. We will visit the Gremi citadel en route.
We will wild camp tonight, most likely in the Lagodekhi National Park close to the Azeri border.
Estimated Drive Time 2 - 3 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
Border information: Exit Georgia at Lagodekhi, enter Azerbaijan at Balakan.
Today we cross the border to Azerbaijan and continue to the old town of Sheki, where we can visit the exquisite Khan's Palace.
In Sheki we wills tay in a comfortable hotel built inside an old caravanserai.
Estimated Drive Time 3 -4 hours
Overnight in an atmospheric converted Caravanserai at Sheki
Explore the exquisite Palace of the Sheki Khans, built in 1797
This morning we will continue on to Lahic Village. An old coppersmiths village, nestled in the mountains.
Tonight we will camp with facilities.
Estimated Drive Time 4 - 5 hours
We will continue our journey this morning to Gobustan, near the coast of the Caspian Sea where we will have a visit to the ancient petroglyphs and the mud volanoes that this area is famous for.
This afternoon we will continue on to the Old City of Baku where we will have free time on arrival to explore.
Estimated Drive Time 3 - 4 hours
Day trip to Gobustan to see the mud volcanoes and the petroglyphs
For everyone that is continuing with us onto Turkmenistan there will be short group meeting at 10.00am to explain the next few days until Ashgabat. Your leader will also collect the kitty for this linking section.
Our itinerary in Baku 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 Baku 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.
From Baku, we will take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to Turkmenistan. The boat docks at the city of Turkmenbashi.
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 very unpredictable, as it is often forced to wait outside of the port in Turkmenbashi while they arrange the unloading of the cargo on the boat.
There will generally only be seats on the ferry overnight
Border information: Exit Azerbaijan at Baku, enter Turkmenistan at Turkmenbashi.
Today we plan to disembark the Caspian ferry and enter Turkmenistan.
We will be either staying at a local hotel in Turkmenbashi or we will start our journey towards Ashgabat and wild camp en route.
Turkemenistan Visa Note - as the timing of the Caspian ferry crossing can be very unpredictable, please get your Turkmenistan visa issued with at least 2 'flexible' days before the entry date listed on these notes. If you arrange the visa through The Visa Machine they will be aware of all the correct dates for your visa according to the date of your trip. Please see the detailed visa notes below.
This morning we will have a full day drive to Turkmenistans bizarre modern capital, Ashgabat. The evening will be free to relax and explore.
In Ashgabat we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Estimated Drive Time 7 - 9 hours
Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB).
There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a note from your leader at the reception of the joining hotel upon arrival with more details about this important meeting. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.
After the meeting we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses.
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 decent quality local hotel.
*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 the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city
Today we set off north from Ashgabat and head into the Karakum Desert. We will have an included side trip to the amazing flaming Darvaza Gas Crater (also known as the 'Door to Hell'!).
We will wild camp in the deserts near Darvaza Crater tonight.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 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!).
See the bizarre and incredible burning gas crater at Darvaza, popularly known as the 'Door to Hell'
Today we will continue our overland journey north across the Karakum. We will visit the Kunye Urgench ruins towards the end of the day.
We will wild camp in the deserts near Kunye Urgench tonight.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.
Overland into the green Oxus Valley to the ancient ruined city of Kunye Urgench
Border Information: Exit Turkmenistan at Shovot, enter Uzbekistan at Nijazov.
This morning we will visit the markets in the border town of Dashoguz, before driving across the border into Uzbekistan and continue to the beautiful historic town of Khiva.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
The following day we have a guided tour of the ancient city of Khiva during the morning. In the afternoon we will have plenty of free time to further explore this wonderfully preserved Khanate town.
In Khiva we will stay in a comfortable hotel.
See the beautiful turquoise Kalta Minor Minaret, one of the iconic symbols of Khiva
Visit the Mohammed Rakhim Khan Madrassa, a museum dedicated to the Khan that surrendered to the Russians in 1873
Explore the incredibly photogenic blue palace of Tash Khovli in Khiva
Learn all about the Khoezm culture and handicrafts at the Islam Hodja Madrassa, Khiva's newest monument
Explore the incredible Juma Mosque and the 12th century fortress of the Kukhna Ark
Visit the mausoleum of Pahlavon Mohammed, the legendary 14th-century poet, philosopher, wrestler, and patron saint of Khiva
Today we will have a full day's drive to the fascinating city of Bukhara, where will spend the next 3 nights.
In Bukhara we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.
Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.
Today we will have a guided tour of Bukhara and the surrounding area, including the Ismail Samani Mausoleum, Kalon Mosque, Zindon Prison and the Ark Fortress.
On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore this incredible historic city and its surroundings.
Visit the magnificent 16th-centrury architectural ensemble surrounding the Lyab-i Hauz ponds, once the city's principal source of water
Explore the city's oldest Islamic monument, the 10th-century mausoleum of Ismail Samanid, the founder of the Samanid Dynasty
Explore the colossal Kalon Mosque and Minaret, which has survived without restoration for 850 years and impressed Genghis Khan so much that he ordered the building to be spared
Discover the ruins of the ancient 5th-century fortress of the Bukhara Ark
Watch an entertaining evening puppet show, featuring many local Uzbek and Tajik poems and songs - Cost: USD 5
See the Indian-style Char Minar Minarets, four towers nestled in a maze of alleyways in downtown Bukhara - Cost: USD
Visit the gruesome museum at the old prison of Zindon - Cost: UZS 4500
Today we will drive into the Kyzylkhum Desert near the town of Nurata. In the afternoon we will have the opportunity to head out on an optional camel ride into the desert!
In the Kyzylkhum Desert we will stay in a desert yurt camp.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-6 hours.
Overnight in the Kyzylkum Desert staying in yurts.
This morning we will spend some time exploring the Nurata Hills with the option of taking a dip in Lake Ajdar Kul. After lunch we will drive to Samarkand where we will stay for the next 3 nights.
In Samarkand we will stay in a good hotel on the outskirts of town.
Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.
Today we will have a guided tour of the incredible historic city of Samarkand and the surrounding area, including the Registan, Ulug Beg Observatory, Bibi-Khanym Mosque and Shah-I-Zinda.
On our second day here, we will have a free day to further explore the beautiful city and its surroundings.
Visit the Guri-Amir Mausoleum, the final resting place of the Turko-Mongol conqueror Timur
Explore the stunning plaza of The Registan, a world-famous and iconic symbol of Central Asia
Learn about the area's scientific heritage with a visit to the 15th-century Ulug Beg Observatory, once the finest observatory in the Islamic world
Discover the ruins of the Bibi-Khanym Mosque, once one of the largest mosques in the world and the jewel in Timur's empire
See the beautiful and moving ancient mausoleum of Shah-I-Zinda
Visit to Shakhrisabz city
- Cost: USD 20
Wander through the markets and carpet vendors of Samarkand, and marvel at the intricate craftsmanship of the local carpet weavers - Cost: USD
This morning we will have a little more free time to explore more of Samarkand. After lunch we will drive to the Uzbek capital of Tashkent.
In Tashkent we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
Today we will have a free day to explore Tashkent.
Explore urbane Tashkent and experience a surreal cabaret dinner
- Cost: USD
Visit the nightclubs and Imperial Russian-style cabaret restaurants of Tashkent
- Cost: USD
Visit the religious centre of Tashkent at Hast Imam Square and see the Uthman Koran, believed to be the world's oldest extant copy of the Koran - Cost: USD 5
Border Information: if finishing in Tashkent, you will most likely exit Uzbekistan at Tashkent International Airport (IATA code: TAS).
Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Tashkent. Please note there is no accommodation included on the trip tonight - please contact the 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.