Photo Credit: Tormod Sandtorv

The landscape of Turkmenistan is dominated by a huge desert which covers around 70 percent of the country. To make the most of it, you can get out there on an organized horse or camel trekking trip. This way, you can discover the ancient way of life and see how the local nomadic tribes have adapted their lifestyles. Magnitude does not stop in Turkmenistan with the natural feature of the Karakum Desert since in the country, you can travel along the old Silk Road, a route which ran 4,000 miles east to west, right through the heart of the country. To take a piece of this culturally significant trading highway home with you, and to get right into the spirit of the antiquities, you can barter for an ancient styled rug at one of the many bazaars in Turkmenistan.

Most tours depart from the capital city, Ashgabat, and all transportation is provided. On multi-day tours, all accommodation is pre-arranged and provided. In fact, everything is included, which is useful because private travel around the country is difficult. It is possible, by train or long-distance bus to reach all cities in Turkmenistan, but to reach out-of-the-way places, you will need to take advantage of a tour company’s transportation services.

Experience an ancient way of life by going horse trekking on Akhal-Teke horses. This golden-haired breed which originated in central Asia is believed to be one of the oldest surviving breeds in the world, having been adapted to survive severe climatic conditions for long treks. Orexca tours offers various treks, including a 12-day ride departing from Ashgabar for the desert to meet nomadic villagers.

Travel the Old Silk Road in Turkmenistan with Intrepid Travel and take in the sights along this ancient east-west route. The tour is extremely varied, and along the way you will encounter natural features such as the canyons of Djety Oguz, as well as more recent phenomenon like Soviet memorabilia.

Go trekking in the Kopat Dag Mountains and meet the nomadic tribes that can claim to be descendants of Alexander the Great. Owadan tours offers various packages with experienced guides and all transport provided.

Take a camel trek across the Karakum Desert. Encounter nomadic tribes along the way and experience the vastness of this seemingly never-ending landmass, one of the driest deserts in the world. Stantours offers a multi-day tour which stops at oases along the way.

Go birding and spot wildlife at the Kaplakyr Nature Reserve. Here, you have opportunity to spot 26 species of mammals, 147 species of birds, and 918 plant species. Ayan travel arranges tours to the area, providing transport in off-road vehicles and an experienced guide.

Go to the theater to catch a traditional performance, Turkmen style. You can see folktales performed at the Mollanepes theater in Ashgabat, or for a typical musical performance, head to the Magtymguly theater, also in Ashgabat.

Buy a traditional Turkmen rug. These stylistic carpets date back centuries and were once highly fashionable in pre-war western culture. The allure of these carefully handcrafted furnishings has not changed through the ages. You can purchase these rugs at one of the many bazaars around the country or you can go into a government-run shop owned by the state enterprise Turkemhaly.

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