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.*
Enjoy an evening of local dancing and music at a Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi - Cost: GEL 25
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.
Learn all about the history of Georgia during Soviet times, and the struggle for independence, at the Museum of Soviet Occupation - Cost: GEL 3
Explore the ancient Narikala Fortress and take in the fantastic views of Tbilisi below - Cost: GEL
Discover the folk architecture, craftwork and culture of the various regions of Georgia at the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography - Cost: GEL 1.5
Visit the beautiful Orthodox Sioni Cathdral in Tbilisi's Old Town - Cost: GEL
See the incredible collection of historical artefacts at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia - Cost: GEL 3
See the grandiose modern Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Church - Cost: GEL
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.
Head out on Telavi's 'Big Day Out' - a tour of the town's monasteries, bee-keepers and textile-weavers, followed by lunch and wine tasting at a local family-run winery
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.
Discover the ancient capital of the 16th-century Kingdom of Kakheti at the Gremi Architectural Complex
- Cost: GEL 10
Take some short exploratory walks around our wild camp in the beautiful forested Lagodekhi National Park - Cost: GEL 5
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.
Overnight in an atmospheric converted Caravanserai at Sheiki
Explore the exquisite Palace of the Sheki Khans, built in 1797
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.
Day trip to Gobustan to see the mud volcanoes and the petroglyphs
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.
Explore the mysterious and iconic Maiden's Tower in Baku's Old Town
Guided trip around old town Baku including the Maiden Tower & Shirvan Shakh Palace
Learn all about the Shirvan Muslim history of Baku at the Palace of the Shirvanshahs
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.
Cross the Caspian Sea on a local transporter ferry between Baku and Turkmenbashi
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.
Explore Turkmenistan's unique underground lake at Kow Ata and swim in waters naturally heated to around 36°C
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.
Visit the huge Turkmenbashi Ruhy mosque on the outskirts of Ashgabat, built in 2004 as the mausoleum of Saparmurat Niyazov, the first president of Turkmenistan after the fall of the Soviet Union - Cost: TMM
Today we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses.
Explore, shop and haggle at the vast Tolkuchka Sunday Market
Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city
Learn about the history and culture of Turkmenistan at the huge National Museum in Ashgabat - Cost: USD 10
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 the Dragoman 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.