This overland tour combines the green valleys, mountain peaks and old churches and watchtowers of Georgia with the great natural beauty and inhospital terrain of the Karakum Desert in Turkmenistan. We set off from the picturesque and cosmopolitan Georgian capital Tbilisi through the vineyards and wineries of Telavi, before crossing into Azerbaijan to visit the mud volcanoes of Gobustan and the city of Baku. We then take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to enter Turkmenistan, continuing our journey on for a few days in the peculiar and over-the-top modern capital of Ashgabat.
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 you leader on arrival, as this is often a travelling day for the crew and they will not arrive until about 4:00pm. Your leader will need to carefully check your visas at this initial meeting.
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 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 - 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.*
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.
This morning we will drive to the Alazani valley and on to Telavi, where we will base ourselves for 2 days to explore this fascinating region. We will have a free afternoon to explore the area on arrival.
In Telavi we will stay in a local family-run guesthouse.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-4 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!).
The area of Telavi is well known for its vineyards and wineries - 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.
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 Lagodehki National Park close to the Azeri border.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.
Border information: Exit Georgia at Ladodekhi, 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 will stay in a comfortable hotel built inside an old caravanserai.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
Today we will continue our journey to Gobustan, near the coast of the Caspian Sea. Whilst here we will visit the ancient petroglyphs and the mud volcanoes that this area is famous for.
In Gobustan we will wild camp near the mud volcanoes.
Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.
This morning we have a short drive to the Azeri capital, Baku. During our time in Baku we will have free time to explore all the sights of the city and the surroundings.
Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.
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.
Today we may spend the day in Baku or board our ferry, depending on timings.
Today we may be in Baku or on the ferry.
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.
Location: Caspian Sea
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.
Today, if we are off the ferry in good time by this stage, we will continue our drive to the spectacular Kow Ata Underground Lake. We will have some time either this afternoon or tomorrow morning to explore this superb lake of naturally-heated clear water.
Tonight we will wild camp in the area of Kow Ata or Geok Tepe.
Estimated Drive Time - 6-7 hours.
Location: Geok Tepe
This morning we have a short drive to Turkmenistan's bizarre modern capital, Ashgabat. This afternoon we will have some free time to explore.
In Ashgabat we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.
Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.
Today we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses.
Border Information: If finishing in Ashgabat, you will 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 your sales agent 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.
Zaza was very knowledgeable, but not too talkative.
Nick was an outstanding & gifted communicator in terms of relating to a wide range of individual travellers who exhibited a huge spectrum of needs. He related well to everyone and clearly enjoyed doing so. Euan was a really professional, dependable, steadfast guy who inspired great confidence among fellow travellers. He is knowledgeable, hard-working and conscientious.
Nick and Euan were both good people and I enjoyed being on the trip with them.
Both leaders are excellent and assets to your organisation.
Impressive work in all aspects, no matter if it was maintaining the truck or making sure that everybody was having a good time!
The trip was well organised and went smoothly. The tour leader (Rob) and assistant (Amanda) did a good job.
Zaza in Georgia was great.
Wonderful crew who really made the trip for us and did a heroic job.
Zaza was an absolutely wonderful guide in Georgia, full of information, friendly and helpful, both one and one and for the whole group.
Fantastic travel experience!
Both of the crew did an excellent job!
Both Tim and Lynsey were outstanding tour leaders! They established an excellent rapport with all tour participants and consistently displayed a friendly, helpful, and patient demeanor to all. Both Tim and Lynsey contributed significantly to the enjoyment of the trip!
I cannot say enough positive things about both Tim and Lynsey. They were absolutely excellent. They were extremely kind and helpful, were able to deal with difficult situations when they arose, and were all around great people to travel with. I hope to be able to travel with them again.
Our guide in Georgia was especially great.
Both worked very hard to make the expedition a success and to try to make the experience enjoyable for everyone.
Slava was a good guide in Turkmenistan.
Our guide in Georgia (Sophia) was exceptional.
On long trips or when spirits were down, Domingo did a wonderful job at cheering people up. Euan the driver was great, he drove very well, and had a very good attitude.
Slava in Turkmenistan and Sophia in Georgia were both exactly what I would expect from a dedicated knowledgeable professional guide.
I really enjoyed this trip, even with all of the uncertainty surrounding the Caspian Sea ferry!
Rustam (Turkmenistan) is a very good guide and extremely professional trying to help us with all the problems (Turkmenistan is not an easy country). Zaza is a very professional guide, giving very good information about everything and willing to help and give good advices for the free time
This is my 4th trip with Dragoman. I have enjoyed all of them.
I liked to travel on the bus. I liked Telavi - both the program and the accommodation. Lagodheki (National park) was nice. Gobustan with the mud volcanoes and petroglyphs was amazing and not to forget sleeping in a Caravanserai in Sheki. I was very satisfied with the accommodations in the bigger cities.
Dragoman has a proud history, of nearly 40 years of pioneering overland adventures in their fleet of iconic, orange trucks. They aim to get you completely off the beaten track and really under the skin of the places that they visit, taking the road less travelled, mixing with the locals, learning about their culture, and ensuring that every part of the journey counts towards an amazing adventure.
Dragoman’s life changing overland adventures, visit over 55 countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America. Many trips are a convenient 14-21 days, offering a great snapshot of a region getting you off the tourist trail on a perspective-changing journey.
These short trips can also be combined to create epic journeys lasting several months be it along the fabled Silk Route, a trans-Africa expedition from Cape Town to Cairo, or travel the entire length of the Americas from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. Or journey from Mongolia down through China, and South East Asia – or in India you can circle the continent. These are incredible journeys that will change your life!
Group sizes are limited to 22, creating a personal experience with the most popular tours having frequent departures so you can easily find a date to suit you. They guarantee more trip departures than comparable operators and strive to offer value with more inclusions, so you don't have to pay extra on the road.
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