Why we like Turkmenistan
Central Asia is steeped in history and the vestiges of ancient civilizations are scattered across wide desert plains. Persians, Parthians, Sasanians and Seljuks have all left their mark and more recently it formed the playing fields of the Great Game. The area we know as Turkmenistan played a pivotal role in all these, making any visit a journey through time. It combines particularly well with Uzbekistan, or why not consider crossing the Caspian Sea?
What to expect on your Turkmenistan holiday
With the discovery of vast reserves of natural gas, Turkmenistan has transformed itself from a forgotten Russian satellite state to a major player on the world stage. The wealth is obvious and the contrast between life in the cities and life in the remote villages is striking. Much of Turkmenistan is desert, but you will find lush green mountains, natural gorges and a diverse range of fauna and flora ranging from the bustard to the Central Asian gazelle. Ashgabat is a relatively new city, but Kunya Urgench was one of the greatest cities on the Silk Road, and along with Merv and Nisa, provides some insight into the vast wealth that once defined the region. Hotels in the main cities afford every luxury although once out into the desert accommodation can vary.
Some ideas for a Turkmenistan holiday
- Wander around the Sunday Market in Ashgabat, which some claim rivals that of Kashgar.
- Stop at Kunya Urgench to see the 11th century minaret of Gutluk-Temir spared by Genghis Khan when he sacked the city in 1221.
- Visit the remains of Nisa, the ancient capital of the Parthian empire.
- Don’t miss the strange natural gas holes which periodically burst into flame.
- Merv, another Silk Road oasis was, in the 12th century, believed to be the largest city in the world.
OUR TURKMENISTAN EXPERTISE
Paul has been with Steppes Travel for 19 years now and he is never happier than when trekking through remote landscapes, exploring hidden backstreets and generally travelling off the beaten track and setting foot where few foreigners have gone before. His knowledge of border crossings would be hard to beat and many of the wonderful trips he prepares can combine 4 or 5 countries over several months.