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Turkey, Iran & the Silk Route

This 44 day overland tour journeys from Istanbul to Tashkent through Iran, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan

  • Duration: 44 Days
  • Guaranteed Departure:
  • For lovers of: Active/Adrenaline, Local Culture & Cuisine, Historical Sites
  • Physical rating: Light
  • Supplier Tour ID: IITN1/258390
  • Your Guide: English speaking
  • Starts: Istanbul, Turkey
  • Finishes: Tashkent, Uzbekistan
  • Age requirement: 18 +
You will Visit
  • Istanbul
  • Gallipoli Peninsula
  • Troy
  • Selcuk
  • Pamukkale
  • Olympos
  • Egirdir
  • Göreme
  • Zara
  • Doğubayazıt
  • Tabriz
  • Zanjan
  • Tehran
  • Esfahan
  • Shiraz
  • Persepolis
  • Zein-o-din
  • Yazd
  • Khoor
  • Damghan
  • Shirvan
  • Ashgabat
  • Darvaza
  • Kunye Urgench
  • Khiva
  • Bukhara
  • Nurata
  • Samarkand
  • Tashkent

Itinerary

01

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 Dragoman 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. *

02

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

03

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

04

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

05

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

06

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

07

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.

08

Day 11-12: Zara

Over the next two days we will travel through the stunning landscapes in eastern Turkey towards the Kurdish town of Do ubayaz t.

We will aim to wild camp or stay at a basic local campsite near Mount Nemrut on the first night, and near Lake Nemrut on the second.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours each day.

09

Day 13: Doğubayazıt

Today we will complete our drive to the Kurdish town of Do ubayaz t. On arrival we will have an included visit to the Ishak Pasha Palace and enjoy the spectacular views of the surrounding landscapes and the nearby Mount Ararat.

In Do ubayaz t we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

10

Day 14: Tabriz

Border Information: Exit Turkey at Gurbulak, enter Iran at Bazargan.

Today we will drive across the Iranian border to the city of Tabriz, where we will have free time to explore some of the sights of the old town.

In Tabriz we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

11

Day 15: Zanjan

Today we will continue our journey east to the small town of Zanjan, where we have free time to explore and possibly visit the fascinating historical laundry hall of Rakhatshor-Khaneh.

In Zanjan we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

12

Day 16: Tehran

Border Information: If joining in Tehran, you will most likely enter Iran at Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport (IATA code: IKA).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 6:00pm - please do not be alarmed if there is no welcome note at the hotel on your arrival, as today is usually a travel day for the leaders and they are due to arrive in Tehran by mid-afternoon.

Please note that due to restrictions on citizens of the UK, USA and Canada being permitted to remain unaccompanied in Iran, you will need to fly into Tehran on the same day as the trip starts. These transfers from the airport to your joining hotel are automatically included in your trip. If arriving outside of these times please contact your sales agent. Please ensure the correct dates for your plans are clearly stated on all your visa applications.

13

Day 17: Tehran

Today we will have an included tour of the stunning Golestan Palace and the fascinating National Museum of Iran.

14

Day 18-20: Esfahan

Today we wil have a full day's drive to the stunning old Safavid-era capital of Esfahan.

Estimated Drive Time - 9-10 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!).

On the following day we will have an included walking tour of the central highlights of Esfahan, including the showpiece central square of Naqsh-e Jahan and its surrounding mosques and royal palaces, the old bazaar, and the beautiful Jameh Mosque, one of the oldest in Iran.

On our second full day here, we will have free time to explore more of Esfahan's incredible sites, such as its ancient bridges, the curious 'Shaking Minarets', the Armenian Vank Cathedral, or the evocative Martyrs' Cemetery.

In Esfahan we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

15

Day 21: Shiraz

Today we will have a full day drive to the southern city of Shiraz.

In Shiraz we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 7-8 hours.

16

Day 22: Shiraz

Today we will have an included walking tour of some of the highlights of the old city of Shiraz, including the beautifully-coloured Nasir ol Molk Mosque, the incredible mirrored interior of the Shah Cheragh Mosque, and the historical house of Narenjestan.

17

Day 23: Persepolis

Today we will drive to the phenomenal ancient ruins of Persepolis, once the capital of the mighty Achaemenid Persian Empire until it was conquered by Alexander the Great in 330BCE.

After this we will continue north to the famous Caravanserai of Zein-o-Din, an atmospheric 16th-century guesthouse originally built to accommodate merchants travelling on the Silk Road.

In Zein-o-Din we will stay overnight at the old caravanserai.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.

18

Day 24-25: Yazd

Today we will take a short drive to the ancient desert town of Yazd, one of the oldest extant towns in Iran. On arrival we will have an included visit to two important Zoroastrian sites in Iran - the Fire Temple and the Towers of Silence.

Estimated Drive Time - 1-2 hours.

On the following day we will have an included walking tour of some of the main highlights of Yazd, including the incredible Jameh Mosque, the Old Town and the Amir Chakhmaq complex.

In Yazd we will stay in a local hotel.

19

Day 26: Khoor

Today we will continue our journey to the desert city of Khoor, where we have the option to take an evening jeep trip into the nearby salt flats to have dinner.

In Khoor we will stay in a beautiful hotel in the style of a desert caravanserai.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

*Please note that with small groups and at certain times of the year we may be able to stay in a local homestay in the nearby village of Mesr*.

20

Day 27: Damghan

Today we will have a morning drive to the ancient town of Damghan. On arrival we will take a walking tour, including the Tarikhuneh Mosque which features columns dating from the year 760CE.

In Damghan we will stay in a local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

21

Day 28: Shirvan

Today we will drive to the historical town of Bastam and visit the Sufi complex in the centre. After this we will continue to the town of Shirvan.

In Shirvan we will stay in a basic local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-6 hours.

22

Day 29: Ashgabat

Border Information: Exit Iran at Bajgiran, enter Turkmenistan at Gaudan.

Today we will head over the border to Turkmenistan and to the bizarre capital of Ashgabat

In Ashgabat we will stay in a decent quality local hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

*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.*

23

Day 30: Ashgabat

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.*

24

Day 31: Darvaza

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!).

25

Day 32: Kunye Urgench

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.

26

Day 33-34: Khiva

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.

27

Day 35: Bukhara

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.

28

Day 36-37: Bukhara

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.

29

Day 38: Nurata

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.

30

Day 39: Samarkand

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.

31

Day 40-41: Samarkand

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.

32

Day 42: Tashkent

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.

33

Day 43: Tashkent

Today we will have a free day to explore Tashkent.

34

Day 44: Tashkent

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.

Inclusions:
    Activities
    • Pay your respects to the fallen at Gallipoli on a guided tour through the battlefields
    • Walk the marbled streets of Ephesus, one of the best preserved ancient cities
    • Guided Tour of Ephesus Ruins and the Terraced Houses
    • Guided tour around the ancient ruins of Troy
    • Admire the brilliant white travertine terraces and submerge yourself in the warm mineral rich pools and hot springs
    • 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
    • See the spectacular Dome of Soltaniyeh, the huge mausolem of the Ilkhanate (Mongolian) emperor Öljeitü built in the 14th Century and the 3rd largest dome in the world behind the Cathedral of Florence and the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul
    • Explore the former royal complex of Golestan Palace, a huge site built in the 16th century and Tehran's oldest monument
    • Learn all about Iran's rich and fascinating history at Tehran's National Museum of Iran
    • Visit the magnificent and colossal city square of Naqsh-e Jahan, the centrepiece of the Safavid-era city of Esfahan
    • Explore the Shah Mosque, the public mosque of Esfahan built by Shah Abbas I and a masterpiece of Persian architecture
    • See the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, once a private mosque for the emperor and his harem and home to some of the world's most beautiful and masterful internal tilework
    • Explore the grand palace of Ali Qapu and discover the stunning wall paintings of the former residence of the Safavid emperors
    • Visit the stunning Jameh Mosque in Esfahan, one of the oldest mosques in Iran and an amalgamation of several different styles of Persian architecture
    • Visit the stunning Shah Cheragh Mosque, a major pilgrimage site for Shia Muslims
    • Explore the 19th century Nasir ol Molk Mosque, famous for its extensive coloured glass art
    • Visit the Narenjestan Palace in Shiraz, the former home of the wealthy Qavam family of merchants
    • Stay overnight in the incredible restored Safavid-era circular caravanserai in the remote deserts south of Yazd
    • Head out on a guided tour of the incredible historic ruins of the ancient Persian capital of Persepolis, founded by Cyrus the Great in 550BCE and invaded by Alexander the Great in 330BCE
    • See the Zoroastrian Towers of Silence outside Yazd, used until the 1960s to place bodies of the deceased so that they did not touch and pollute the sacred elements of fire or earth
    • Visit the Zoroastrian Fire Temple of Yazd, where they keep a sacred fire that has supposedly been continuously burning since 470CE, the only Zoroastrian eternal flame of its type outside of India
    • See the stunning ancient Jameh Mosque of Yazd, built in the 12th century and a fantastic example of Azari architecture
    • Learn all about the intriguing and ingenious historical methods of getting water to the desert town of Yazd at the Yazd Water Museum
    • Freely explore the huge city square and mosque at the Amir Chakmaq complex, built in the 15th century
    • Discover the atmospheric winding streets and beautiful adobe architecure of Yazd's Old Town, one of the oldest towns in the world
    • Explore the ancient desert town of Khoor and see its beautiful palm trees and ruined castle
    • Explore the ancient town of Bastam, containing monuments dating from the Ilkhanate Period when Iran was controlled by the Mongol Empire
    • Visit the partially-ruined Tarikhuneh Mosque which features 18 rear columns dating from around 760CE, making this one of the oldest mosques in Iran
    • Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city
    • See the bizarre and incredible burning gas crater at Darvaza, popularly known as the 'Door to Hell'
    • Overland into the green Oxus Valley to the ancient ruined city of Kunye Urgench
    • 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
    • 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
    • Overnight in the Kyzylkum Desert staying in yurts
    • 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
    Accomodation
    • Camping - Hotels
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Tour Highlights:
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