Turkmenistan adventure holiday

“An adventurous 12 day holiday across the wilds of Turkmenistan, travelling in a small group, staying in a mix of wild camps for six nights, hotels and a sleeper train. Meals and domestic flights included.”


Ashgabat | Karakum Desert | UNESCO ruins of Gonur Depe and Merv | Darvaza Crater | Wild desert camping | 4X4 travel

Description of Turkmenistan adventure holiday

This Turkmenistan adventure holiday is a twelve day, small group tour, following a carefully crafted itinerary created by local experts who know where to find the really spectacular landscapes and cultural gems of this extraordinary country.

Turkmenistan is the least visited of the ‘Stans and so you will have many of its sites, and there is a wealth of them, to yourself. These range from the ancient ruins and UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Gonur Depe and Merv, the Silk Road metropolis that dates back 2,500 years to the great Darvaza Crater, a 30m-deep pit of flaming methane in the desert.

Camping in the wilds of Turkmenistan really helps you gain a sense of its largesse, sweeping Karakum Desert and great canyons, such as the extraordinary Yangisuw Canyon. By wild camping here, we ensure that we leave absolutely no trace of our having been there and, therefore, respect and protect this precious, wild landscape that is still a very unknown part of the world.

On this trip you will discover a country that has not only been propaganda rich but also Silk Road heritage rich, and we aim to get under its skin to understand more about it and enjoy its magnificence.

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Responsible tourism

As the pioneers of responsible tourism, we screen every trip so you can travel knowing your holiday will help support conservation and local people.

We have a strict environmental policy to make sure that the environments we visit are not damaged or spoilt in any way. Our “Leave No Trace” ethic is applied to this trip and as tour operators, it is something we are careful to promote. Your guide on this trip will have been trained to uphold this policy and all clients are fully briefed on appropriate/responsible behaviour whilst in wilderness areas.

We are very aware of the economic, ecological and ethical impact tourism can have on ancient cultures and fragile environments. We realise that taking clients through this region can have a negative impact on the environment if not handled responsibly and as such, on all of our trips we go to great lengths to minimise the negative and accentuate the positive - after all, there are also many good things that the traveller can bring. On this trip we will be camping for a number of nights in the canyons and in the desert. The fact that we are wild camping rather than using fixed camps demonstrates our commitment to leaving as little an impact on our surroundings as possible. This is due to the fact that we would never camp in the same exact spot allowing any minimal impacts on our surroundings to be easily recoverable.

By keeping the group size to a maximum of 12, we can also minimise the human impact on the fragile sites we visit – particularly important as this trip visits some delicate ecosystems. This will be particularly important on nights 3 and 4 of this trip when we will be wild camping in the remote and remarkable Yangisuw Canyon. This will also be important to bear in mind on nights 6, 7, 8 and 9 of this trip when we will be camping in the desert. Our guides will follow responsible practices respecting the environment, leaving no litter and as little impact on the surroundings as possible.

In an effort to do our small part in helping to cut down on plastic water bottle waste while travelling, we have launched a new initiative to road test portable water filters among our tour leaders and travellers. Putting our money where our mouth is we have purchased 10 LifeStraw portable water filters to road test – packing them off in the luggage of our tour leaders and clients to such diverse parts of the world as India, Iran, Madagascar, Montenegro and Venezuela.

On this trip we will use a combination an overnight train, a domestic flight and 4WDs. This not only gives an interesting mix of transport types to keep the trip varied but also the use of public transport in using the overnight train is another example of a more environmentally friendly method of transport.

The Impacts of this Trip

Responsible travel and sustainable tourism are fundamental ideas that we have been committed to since our birth. It is our strong belief that these words should not be simply ‘tagged on’ to dossiers and websites but should be at the very core of each trip, and our adventures are therefore designed with the local people, culture and eco-system in mind. We believe that a successful trip not only delivers a unique and unsurpassable journey for our clients, but that it also benefits the peoples whose lands we are privileged to visit.

In Turkmenistan we use local ground handlers - this means that all the operational costs go directly into the local economy and helps to improve employment opportunities in remote regions. By incorporating homestays, locally owned hotels, family run restaurants and the services of guides and drivers into our itineraries, we ensure that money you spend on your trip goes directly into the local economy and local communities benefit from tourism. Having a local guide (as well as our own international leader) facilitates engagement with local communities in a respectful and mutually beneficial way. This will ensure that guests get the warmest welcome locally as they will be approaching these situations with a better cultural understanding of those that they are visiting through careful guiding.

We believe it is important to show respect for local traditions, cultures and history. For this reason we are sure to visit some educational and informative sites and museums on our Turkmenistan desert adventure trip which are fundamental in aiding our understanding of the culture in this fascinating and rarely explored country. An example of this can be seen on day 10 of this trip when we will visit the local History Museum in Mary which is a rich repository for an array of archaeological finds that date back to the third millennium BC. Another example can be seen on day 9 of this trip when we will visit the UNESCO site at Gonur Depe, where we can explore the ancient settlements to gain some insight into the Silk Road history of this region.

In order to facilitate an enduring support structure for the communities we visit, and to show a commitment to these values, in January 2009 we set up a charitable foundation through which we can directly channel funds to both existing NGOs and our own development projects. In addition to organising ethically sensitive tours, having our own charitable foundation allows us to raise money – through the cost of our tours, charity trips and fund raising events – which can then be used to fund various projects in education, sanitation, reforestations and a number of other important issues facing developing communities.

We also support several other Aid agencies and NGOs around the world which are all carefully selected to improve the standard of living for the communities we visit.


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