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Mountains, Kingdoms & Deserts of Asia
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This 35 day overland tour journeys from Ashgabat to Istanbul through Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Turkey, Turkmenistan

  • Duration: 35 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure: Yes
  • Physical rating: Light
  • Supplier Tour ID: TCTN1/240959
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Starts: Istanbul, Turkey
  • Finishes: Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
  • Age requirement: 18 +
You will Visit
  • Istanbul
  • Gallipoli Peninsula
  • Troy
  • Selcuk
  • Pamukkale
  • Olympos
  • Egirdir
  • Göreme
  • Zara
  • Sumela
  • Batumi
  • Kutaisi
  • Tbilisi
  • Lake Sevan
  • Yerevan
  • Armenian Highlands
  • Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park
  • Vardzia
  • Mtskheta
  • Stepantsminda
  • Telavi
  • Lagodekhi
  • Sheki
  • Lahij Village
  • Baku
  • Gobustan
  • Caspian Sea
  • Turkmenbashi
  • Ashgabat



Day 1: Istanbul

Border Information: If joining in Istanbul, you will most likely enter Turkey at Istanbul Ataturk Airport (IATA code: IST).

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. If you are travelling beyond Tbilisi, your tour leader will need to carefully check your visa situation for your entire trip.

The afternoon will be free to explore the many sights of the incredible exotic city of Istanbul, including the Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorus River, Hagia Sophia and the phenomenal Blue Mosque!

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.

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Istanbul 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 Istanbul.

* 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. *


Day 2: Gallipoli Peninsula

This morning following breakfast we will depart Istanbul and begin our journey to the shores of Gallipoli.

After lunch we will get an insight into what happened between the ANZAC, Allied and Turkish foreces during the first World War and have a guided tour of the Battlefields and Anzac Cove.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours

Tonight we will stay in a local hostel in Ecebat


Day 3-4: Troy

Today we will cross the Dardenelles by ferry and head to Helsik where we will do a short tour of the Troy Ruins.

We will then continue onto Selcuk where we will be staying for two nights. In the evening we will have free time to explore the area or simply relax in one of the many cafes or tea bars which are great for people watching.

The second day we will spend the day exploring the Ephesus Ruins and Terraced Houses.

Estimated Drive Time 7 - 8 hours

For the next two nights we will stay in a local hostel


Day 5: Pamukkale

Following breakfast we will drive inland towards the small village of Pamukkale.

After lunch we will have free time to visit the thermal hot springs and traverse through the travertine pools and terraces.

Estimate driving time 3 - 4 hours

Tonight we will either camp near the village or stay in a local hotel


Day 6-7: Olympos

Today we continue our drive south and aim to reach the popular beach town of Olympos by lunchtime.

We will have free time in the afternoon to relax or explore the local area.

Estimate Drive Time 5 - 6 hours

On the second day there will be plenty of time to explore and participate in optional activities, in the evening we will walk up to the Chimera Fire Mountain and toast some marshmallows

Tonight we will stay in a basic guesthouse


Day 8: Egirdir

After breakfast we will leave the beachside town of Olympos and make our way north.

We will have an included visit of Termessos on the way before continuing our journey towards Egirdir where we will find a good spot to bush camp for the night.

Estimated Drive time 6 - 7 hours

Tonight we will wild camp near Egirdir


Day 9-10: Göreme

We have an early start this morning to reach the small enchanting town of Goreme in the heart of the Cappadocia mountians.

In Goreme we will stay in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are generally used here.

Estimated Drive Time 6-7 hours

We now have a full day to explore Goreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will also be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during your time here.


Day 11: Zara

Today we continue our journey east with a full day's drive towards the Sumela monastery.

We will break the journey with a wild camp near Zara or the village of Alucra.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.


Day 12: Sumela

Today we will reach the awe-inpsiring Sumela Monastery near the town of Macka, which we will visit in the afternoon.

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 - 5-6 hours.


Day 13: Batumi

Border Information: Exit Turkey at Sarp, enter Georgia at Sarpi.

This morning we will continue to the border and cross into Georgia, reaching the port town of Batumi.

In Batumi we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.


Day 14: Kutaisi

After a relaxing morning, we leave the port town of Batumi behind us and make our way to the ancient town of Kutaisi. This afternoon we will visit the medieval Bagrati Cathedral and the Gelati monastery.

In Kutaisi we will stay in a local hotel or a family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.


Day 15: Tbilisi

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.*


Day 16: Tbilisi

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.


Day 17: Lake Sevan

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.

Tonight we will either stay in the National Park or continue on to Lake Sevan where we will camp.


Day 18-19: Yerevan

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


Day 20: Armenian Highlands

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


Day 21: Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park

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


Day 22: Mtskheta

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 -


Day 23: Stepantsminda

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


Day 24: Telavi

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


Day 25: Telavi

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.


Day 26: Lagodekhi

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


Day 27: Sheki

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


Day 28: Lahij Village

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


Day 29: Baku

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 30: Baku

Border Information:

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.


Day 31: 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 be basic cabins on the ferry overnight.


Day 32: Turkmenbashi

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.


Day 33: Ashgabat

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


Day 34: Ashgabat

Today we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local mini buses.


Day 35: Ashgabat

Border Information: if finishing in Ashgabat, you wil most likely exit Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB).

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Ashgabat. 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.

    • Pay your respects to the fallen at Gallipoli on a guided tour through the battlefields
    • Guided tour around the ancient ruins of Troy
    • Walk the marbled streets of Ephesus, one of the best preserved ancient cities
    • Guided Tour of Ephesus Ruins and the Terraced Houses
    • Explore the Early Christian underground cities of Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı, 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
    • Explore the colossal and awe-inspiring Prometheus Caves near Kutaisi
    • Camp on the shores of Lake Sevan 
    • 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
    • Hike to beautiful 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, set in the stunning mountains above Stepantsminda
    • 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
    • Overnight in an atmospheric converted Caravanserai at Sheki
    • Explore the exquisite Palace of the Sheki Khans, built in 1797
    • Day trip to Gobustan to see the mud volcanoes and the petroglyphs
    Tour Staff
    • 2 Dragoman crew, Local guides where necessary, 1 local crew
    • 20% Camping - 80% Hotels
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