Journey Through Central Asia - The "Stans" | Sisterhood Womens Travel

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Journey Through Central Asia - The “Stans”

26 Days  |  Departing Thursday 3rd October 2024 and returning Monday 28th October 2024

Prices & Options

Choose your Room:

$4050 deposit payable $4650 deposit payable $ deposit payable $ deposit payable
Prices are subject to change due to airfare increases and surcharges may apply. Please enquire at the time of booking.

Progress Payment: $ 5700 6500 by 5 Jun 2024
Final Payment: $ 6449 7449 by 6 Jul 2024
Pay by direct deposit or credit card.

Highlights

• Eagle Hunting show in Bokonbayevo

• Felt carpets-making process demonstration in Bokonbaevo

• Yurt installation

• Folklore musical group performance (instrumental music and songs/no dance) in Bishkek

• Cable car to Medeo-Shymbulak, Kok-tobe

• Ceramics workshop of Alisher Rakhimov with a tea ceremony in Tashkent

• Morning and evening classes of Yoga in Tashkent

• Visit of historical costume El-Merosi in Samarkand

• Nodira Devon Begi show in Bukhara

• Cooking master class in Khiva

• Visit of Women artists in Ashgabat

• Meditation class in Ashgabat

Inclusions

  • Fully Escorted by a Sisterhood Womens Travel Tour Hostess who is on hand to ensure your holiday is a memorable one
  • Return Economy airfares ex Melbourne including taxes flying Emirates ** (other departure cities available on request / Business Class Upgrade available on request)
  • All accommodation and meals as specified in the itinerary (please note hotels listed are subject to change)
  • All transportation, daily tours, and entrance fees to scenic attractions (not camera fees) as per the itinerary
  • ​Meals as per Itinerary
  • Mineral water 1litre/day/pax
  • Early check-in Bishkek on Day 1
  • English-speaking guide in Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan & Turkmenistan (different guides in each country)
  • Invitation letters if necessary
  • Willing to Share Option (subject to availability)
  • Meet and greet prior to departure via Zoom

Notice

Moderate Fitness Rating - A moderate level of fitness will be required for these tours due to the length and/or overall physicality of our tour itinerary. You can expect to walk more than 10,000 steps daily on more challenging terrain and longer periods. You must be capable of boarding and disembarking coaches, trains and boats unaided and at times handle your luggage. For more information on our physical ratings please click here

Australian passport holders require a visa for Turkmenistan.

We will assist in obtaining the invitation letter before we depart and the visa will be obtained when crossing the border from Uzbekistan to Turkmenistan. Our local guide will also assist us in the process. 

Our group tour entering Turkmenistan will obtain a visa on arrival and we will assist in the preparation so that you have the correct documents.

Closer to departure time, we will email the details of the costs and exact requirements.

View Itinerary map :  https://hayleymorris.travelmap.net/

Please be aware that the roads in Central Asia are very bad and sometimes travelling between places by mini bus can be bumpy and uncomfortable. Ample time to travel between different places has been taken into account, and travellers are reminded that they need to be understanding and patient.

Itinerary

Day 1 - Thursday 3 October 2024

Melbourne Airport

Welcome to Sisterhood Womens Travel.

Your tour hostess and fellow travellers will meet you at the Park Royal Melbourne Airport for our overnight stay prior to our very early morning departure tomorrow.

Overnight: Park Royal Hotel, Melbourne Airport.

Day 2 - Friday 4 October 2024

Melbourne - Dubai (In-flight meals)

We're up very early this morning for our flight to Dubai.

Sit back, relax and enjoy your flight.

Upon our early afternoon arrival into Dubai, we'll be transferred to our hotel.

The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Overnight - Al Seef Heritage by Hilton Dubai (or similar)

Day 3 - Saturday 5 October 2024

Dubai - Overnight flight (B)

After breakfast, we'll enjoy a half-day Dubai City Tour, followed by some free time.

Although vast swathes of Dubai have now been transformed with contemporary architecture into a modern and luxurious city, traces of the historic town that existed 40 years ago can still be found in some parts. The ‘Traditional Dubai City Tour’ will take you on a cultural journey through time into mini mazes of wind-towered buildings, narrow lanes, and meandering pathways of the lively souks and a scenic ride on the traditional Abra boat

We'll have a late check-out, before heading to the airport for our overnight flight to Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

Sit back and enjoy the flight.

Overnight: in flight

Day 4 - Sunday 6 October 2024

Bishkek (In-flight meals, D)

Upon our very early arrival in Bishkek, we'll meet our guide and driver and transfer to the hotel.

We'll have an early check-in, followed by a rest at the hotel.

In the afternoon, we'll enjoy a sightseeing tour in Bishkek. Visit Manas Monument in Philharmonic Square, the main national hero of the Kyrgyz people. Then we'll go on an excursion to the State History Museum and have a walking tour around the main Ala Too Square to watch the ceremony of changing of the Guard of Honor, Manas Monument, the main governmental buildings, and finish at the Old Square with Parliament House and Lenin’s Monument.

Also, we'll visit Oak Park with its open-air sculpture gallery and transfer to Victory Square to finish the city tour with a short excursion there.

Overnight: Plaza Hotel Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan (or similar)

Day 5 - Monday 7 October 2024

Bishkek – Burana – Chon Kemin (B, L, D)

After breakfast in the hotel, we'll start driving to Chon Kemin Valley.

On the way, we visit the “Burana” Architectural complex. The complex is the ruins of the medieval city Balasagyn with the famous Burana Tower (IX-XII AC). Once it was one of the 3 capitals of the Karakhanid Empire and one of the most developed cities during the golden ages of the Great Silk Road. Also, we'll see a collection of Balbals, Turkic ancient tombs.

Then we'll continue to Chon Kemin Valley. Upon arrival, we'll enjoy lunch in the Guest house and accommodation. Chon Kemin is a quiet valley with several small villages and farmers’ lands surrounded by magnificent mountains and fir forest. It is just a wonderful place to be, to sit on the doorstep and watch time pass by with a pot of tea

For the rest of the day, we'll be walking in the village, learning more about rural life, or walking to the foothills of nearby mountains. We'll also do a Boorsok-making culinary master class (Kyrgyz friend bread).

Overnight: Guest House Chon Kemin, Kemin (or similar)

Day 6 - Tuesday 8 October 2024

Chon Kemin – Tamga (B, L, D)

After breakfast in the Guest House, we depart for our destination - the South shore of Issyk Kul Lake – which is the second-largest mountain lake in the world behind Lake Titicaca in South America.

On our drive towards the South shore of Issyk Kul Lake, we'll stop in Kyzyl Tuu village – the place of yurt production. Over 70% of villagers are engaged in the yurt-making process. Here, we will visit a local family and their open-air workshop of wooden yurt details. Also, we participate in the process of yurt installation, learning more about the culture of nomads.

Next, we visit the “Skazka” Canyon. The word “Skazka” directly translates to “Fairy tale” from Russian, and yes, it is. Formed as a result of thousands of years of ice, water and wind erosion, this magnificent desert-like landscape has transformed into an array of sculptures and formations, where red spires of rock rise out of the earth and into the sky.

Closer to the canyon we meet with “Berkutchi", a golden Eagle hunter and watch the process of hunting. This ancient form of hunting is now slowly disappearing in the world. In Kyrgyzstan, still some expert hunters keep this nomadic tradition alive. We will get the unique experience of meeting one of them and learning more about nomadic hunting traditions.

We continue driving to Tamga village, followed by arrival and accommodation in yurts (shared Toilet/Shower facilities).

Free time for the rest of the day.

Overnight: Yurt Camp, Tamga (or similar)

Day 7 - Wednesday 9 October 2024

Tamga – Djety Oguz – Karakol (B, L, D)

Today after breakfast, we'll start driving towards Karakol town along the South shore of Issyk Kul.

Visit Djety Oguz Canyon, located 35 km west of Karakol. Djety-Oguz Gorge (2200m) known for its rocky outcrops as Broken Heart and The Seven Bulls is the most beautiful place in the Issyk Kul region. Many legends connect with the strange red rocks. The vicinity of the Gorge is very picturesque. Have a pleasant walk in the gorge, following its river up to the Flower Glade and down back to the bus.

Once we've visited the gorge, we drive 40 minutes to reach Karakol. Arrival and continue with a city tour: First, we visit an old wooden Orthodox Church (XIX AC). The history of Holy Trinity Cathedral began with the foundation of the city of Karakol in 1869 when the first Russian settlers built a small church in this place. The new church construction was started in 1895 by architects from the city of Verniy (Alma-Ata). The roof of the church is crowned with 5 domes and the walls are made of wooden logs, which are decorated with carvings and various paintings. One of the main Orthodox sights of the church is the icon of the Theotokos of Tikhvin, which was written in 1897.

Another unique architectural monument and landmark of Karakol is the Dungan Mosque. We continue the city tour there. The Dungan Mosque - what looks for all the world like a Mongolian Buddhist is a mosque, built without nails, completed in 1910 after three years of work by a Chinese architect and 20 Chinese artisans, for local Dungans.

We will also visit the museum of N.M Prjevalskiy Museum, who was a famous explorer of Tyan Shan Mountain.

Later, visit the Dungan family and enjoy a home-cooked dinner with a local. Learn the fascinating story of why this Muslim Chinese group immigrated to the region 140 years ago, how they made the area their home, and how families today keep their traditional culture and cuisine alive.

Overnight: Hotel Green Yard, Karakol (or similar)

Day 8 - Thursday 10 October 2024

Karakol – Kegen – Charyn Canyon – Almaty (B, L, D)

We have a big travelling day today.

We'll set off and drive around 110 km (approximately 2- 3 hours’ drive) to the Kyrgyzstan/Kazakhstan border. After border formalities are completed, we drive further to see the magnificent Charyn Canyon and its Valley of the Castles, named due to the pillars and rock formations forming imposing, almost lookalike manmade structures.

You can choose to hike down towards the valley floor and climb back up again or observe the canyon rim from above. Our visit here will be 2 hours.

After the visit, we continue to Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan. Upon arrival, we transfer to our hotel.

Overnight: Hotel Kazzhol, Almaty (or similar)

Day 9 - Friday 11 October 2024

Almaty (B, L, D)

This morning we'll have breakfast at the hotel, followed by a full sightseeing tour in Almaty. 

Today we will visit the city’s old center and cover one of the main sites that best highlights Almaty’s history. The first stop is the Park of 28 Panfilov soldiers – named after the division during WWII, formed of men from the Almaty region under the command of General Ivan Panfilov. The Park itself is popular among locals and guests of the city. Inside the park, visitors will find the eternal flame, memorials of different heroic characters, and the Ascension Cathedral – a Russian Orthodox wooden church that magically withstood a strong earthquake in the XX century.

Next, we visit the Central State Museum – where the history of Kazakhstan is presented through 120000 exhibits arranged in four exhibition halls and Republic Square.

In the afternoon, we are going to explore the city’s main attractions – the Ili Alatau mountains. Medeo is an essential part of the Ili Alatau Park and it is a historical object of Almaty’s development as a city. Located at a height of 1,690 meters, the Medeo skating rink is the highest rink location in the world. However, our main purpose of visit is Shymbulak – a mountain resort located at the elevation of 2,260 meters above sea level. In the 1950s, ski lovers used to climb the mountain for 3 hours for a 15-minute descent. Nowadays, it is a developed resort with high-level equipment and infrastructure.

Today’s last stop is Kok Tobe, a park located at an altitude of 1,100 meters on the green hill, this place is very popular among locals and tourists. Take a ride on a comfortable cable car and within 10 minutes, you are admiring the magnificent panoramic view of the city. Once we come down from the hill, we are going back to the hotel.

Overnight: Hotel Kazzhol, Almaty (or similar)

Day 10 - Saturday 12 October 2024

Almaty – Dushanbe (B, L, D)

After breakfast today, we'll drive to the airport to take our flight to Dushanbe – Tajikistan’s capital.

Upon arrival at the Dushanbe airport, we'll be greeted by our local guide and transferred to the hotel.

The remainder of the day is free.

Overnight: Hilton Hotel, Dushanbe (or similar)

Day 11 - Sunday 13 October 2024

Dushanbe (B, L, D)

Today we will visit the famous Museum of National Antiquities, which opened in 2001.

Featuring artifacts from Tajikistan's Islamic and pre-Islamic history (Greek/Bactrian, Zoroastrian, Buddhist and Hindu), the museum shows that Tajikistan was an important crossroad in Central Asia. The centrepiece is the 14m reclining Buddha in Nirvana, a 1,400-year-old statue created by the same Kushan civilisation that made the Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan.

A city tour of the Tajik capital will include walking through the city’s Botanical gardens, and Rudaki Park and stopping at the Ismoili Somoni monument.

Later in the day, we have an excursion to Hissor town (23 km from Dushanbe) to see the ancient fortress of Hissor - one of the most precious historical sites of Tajikistan. Comfortably located near Dushanbe Hissor Fortress it combines the traditional elements of power, trade and culture of the ancient Tajik nation. Visit Medrassah Kuhna (16th c) and the Museum of Tajik Way of Life there, 19c Medrassah nearby and the mausoleum of Sufi saint Mahdumi Azam. 

Overnight: Hilton Hotel, Dushanbe (or similar)

Day 12 - Monday 14 October 2024

Dushanbe – Khujand (B, L, D)

This morning we check out and then travel to Khujand.

Khujand was continuously occupied for 2500 years and found – possibly on the site of an earlier settlement – by Alexander the Great. It is the furthest point he reached in Central Asia thus the city was named Alexandria Eschate (Alexandria the Furthest).

On the way to Khujand, we stop at the breathtaking Lake Iskander Kul, surrounded by mountains and spend time here taking in the memorable views.

Arrive in Khujand and check in to our hotel.

Overnight: Hotel Parliament Palace, Khujand (or similar)

Day 13 - Tuesday 15 October 2024

Khujand – Oibek Border – Tashkent (B, L, D)

In the morning we will have a city tour of Khujand to visit Pushkin Square with Kamoli Khudjandi Square, Timur Malik’s fortress and Sugd Museum, Musli Hidden Memorial Complex and Panjshanbe Bazaar.

After lunch in Khujand, we will drive to the Tajik/Uzbek border at Oibekand. After all border formalities, we change transport/guide and continue to Tashkent.

We'll arrive in Tashkent and then check in to the hotel.

Overnight: Eco Wellness Hotel and Spa, Tashkent (or similar)

Day 14 - Wednesday 16 October 2024

Tashkent (B, L, D)

Tashkent is one of the oldest and largest cities in Central Asia, the Uzbek capital since 1930, and very much a showpiece of Soviet and post-Soviet architecture.

In the morning we start exploring the capital by going back in time - to visit the old town: Barak Khana Seminary, Tila Shaikh mosque and their archives, known for a rare copy of the Koran written by the third Caliph Osman.

Later we will continue to Chorsu Bazaar, the oldest market in Tashkent and Kukeldash Madrassah. In the afternoon we will be invited to the workshop of a famous family of ceramists in Uzbekistan - Akbar and Alisher Rakhimov. Here we will have an opportunity to have a lecture about the history of ceramics and see the unique collection of their exclusive works. We will also enjoy a tea ceremony with sweeties and pastries baked specially for us.

Our last stop will be the Tashkent Metro, with its opulently decorated marble, granite and chandeliers.

Overnight: Eco Wellness Hotel and Spa, Tashkent (or similar)

Day 15 - Thursday 17 October 2024

Tashkent – Samarkand (B, L, D)

This morning we drive to Samarkand.

Upon arrival check into our hotel. No name is so evocative of the Silk Road as Samarkand. It is one of the oldest existing cities in the world and the oldest in Central Asia. Built on the site of Afrosiab, which dates from the 3rd or 4th millennium B.C., Samarkand was known to the ancient Greeks as Marakanda; ruins of the old settlement remain north of the present city.

We will have an afternoon tour of Samarkand to see the famous Registan Square which was for many centuries the heart of Samarkand. See the three beautiful madrassahs: the Ulug-Bek Madrasah built in the 15th century; the Tillya-Kori Madrasah built in the 17th century; the Sher-Dor Madrasah, also built in the 17th century.

The remainder of the day is at leisure. Perhaps visit the Theater of Historical Costume El-Merosi - Here you can see clothes worn by the Saka and Massageatae, Zoroastrians, Persian and Sogdian rulers and noblemen, and others. The theatre’s collection includes a wide range of colourful garments from the Timurid period, as well as traditional clothes from all of the present-day regions of Uzbekistan.

Overnight: Hotel Grand Samarkand Superior, Samarkand (or similar)

Day 16 - Friday 18 October 2024

Samarkand (B, L, D)

This morning we continue exploring Samarkand to see Gur Emir, the mausoleum of Tamerlane, the grandest structure of Amir Temur’s times - the chief Friday Mosque called Bibi-Khanum, the Siab Bazaar and ShahiZinda necropolis.

Later in the afternoon, we visit Ulugbek’s observatory, constructed by Ulugbek (Grandson of the Great Amir Temur) in 1428-1429, followed by the ancient settlement of Afrosiab, which is situated on the spurs of Chupan-Ata hills to the north-east of present-day Samarkand. According to the legend, it was here, on the banks of the river Siab, that the Turanian king and hero Afrosiab, a character of the folk epic ‘Shahnama’, founded the town that became the capital of Sogdiana.

Visit a carpet factory “Khujum” where we can acquaint ourselves with all the processes of unique carpet production.

Overnight: Hotel Grand Samarkand Superior, Samarkand (or similar)

Day 17 - Saturday 19 October 2024

Samarkand – Shakhrisabz – Bukhara (B, L, D)

This morning we will travel 2 hours to Shakhrisabz, the birthplace of the Great Amir Timur (Tamerlane), located approximately 90km south of Samarkand.

We'll explore the city, visiting sites such as the remnants of Ak-Sarai Palace, DorusTilavat cemetery and Kok-Gumbas Mosque.

Continue driving to Bukhara and check in to our hotel.

Overnight: Hotel Omar Khayyam, Bukhara (or similar)

Day 18 - Sunday 20 October 2024

Bukhara (B, L, D)

Today we have a full day exploring fabulous Bukhara. This incredible city, one of the most famous names of medieval Islam, is home to hundreds of registered monuments. Look around - they're literally everywhere. On today's tour, we visit some of the main highlights (listed below), as well as some lesser-known sights along the way. Bring a fully charged camera battery.

In no particular order we will visit: Lab-i khauz ensemble - the modern centre of traditional Uzbekistan, madrassah Nadirkhon Devanbegi, Khanaga, Mogaki Attari mosque, Poi Kalon minaret and mosque, see Madrassahs Aziz Khan and Ulugbek. Today we will be invited for lunch at the local Uzbek home of Rakhmon Toshev – one of the best suzani makers in Uzbekistan. We will be able to visit his workshop and see his great collection of antique suzani (tapestries, all handmade) with a lot of colorful patterns. Here we will also taste a traditional Uzbek dish – Plov. The best food in Central Asia is cooked at home - without question. There are many good restaurants, but for the culinary nomad the must-do is to eat in a home, preferably one with character and welcoming hosts - luckily this comes naturally to Uzbeks!

After lunch, we visit Ark Fortress, Balakhauz mosque, the mausoleum of Ismail Samanid, Chashma Ayub. We will also visit Hunarmand UNDP Assisted workshops near Lyabi-Hauz. We see block printing, metal chasing, suzani embroidery, carving and miniature painting, and gold embroidery. Apart from being an outstanding architectural monument, the old Nadir Divan-Begi Madrasah is famous for a folklore show with folk dance accompanied by traditional live music and fashion shows held regularly in the evenings within its premises. 

Overnight: Hotel Omar Khayyam, Bukhara (or similar)

Day 19 - Monday 21 October 2024

Bukhara – Khiva (B, L, D)

This morning we drive to Khiva via the famous Kizil Kum desert (Red Sands).

See desert flora and fauna: unique saksaul trees and other desert vegetation, different kinds of mammals.

Stop at the Amudarya river bank.

Later continue to Khiva and check in at our hotel.

Overnight: Hotel Malika Kheivak, Khiva (or similar)

Day 20 - Tuesday 22 October 2024

Khiva (B, L, D)

Khiva is made for walking. It is compact, well looked after, lived in and basks in a beautiful desert light.

This walking tour takes in all the major sights of the Ichan Kala - the citadel - where we will see the truncated Kalta Minor minaret, the Kunya Ark, the Madrassah Rakhimkhon, the Mausoleum of Pakhlavan Makhmud and Islam Khodja minaret - from the latter, we will see the entire town beneath us and the desert beyond. As we walk around we can imagine the layers of history around us - the town is thought to date back more than 2,000 years. What can be seen now would not be dissimilar to the city that the Russian Army stormed in 1873 in their conquest of Central Asia. The ravages of modern development have been largely kept away from the citadel itself, much to our advantage.

In the afternoon we will continue, visiting the Friday mosque and Tashauli Palace, including the harem. Visit the textile center, “Operation Mercy”, in the Ichan Kala. At Operation Mercy, local ladies weave Timurid design silk rugs and embroider traditional suzani textiles with silk dyed in natural colors. We will also see carpet weaving and participate in a master class of cooking the national dish “manty” (steamed meat in dough)

Overnight: Hotel Malika Kheivak, Khiva (or similar)

Day 21 - Wednesday 23 October 2024

Khiva – Shavat border – Kunya – Urgench – Dashoguz – Ashgabat (B, L, D)

This morning we head to the Uzbek/Turkmenistan border (at Shavat), cross the border and meet the guide at the Dashoguz border (Shavat) of Turkmenistan/Uzbekistan.

We'll complete border formalities and then drive to Kunya-Urgench to visit the monuments of medieval Kunya Urgench (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the former capital of the medieval Khorezmshah Empire. We will visit the 14-century mausoleum of Turabek Hanum, one of the best living examples of the architecture of its period and the minaret of Kutlug Timur, the former highest minaret of Central Asia that used to form a part of the main cathedral mosque of the city. We'll also see the mausoleum of Sultan Tekesh, a beautiful 12-century mausoleum with one of the earliest portals of the east and a unique cone of a dome; Kyrk-Mollah mound, the fabled al Mamun’s Academy of Sciences; and the mausoleum of Il-Arslan, a tiny precursor of unique Khorezmian mausoleums with a pyramidal cone of a dome.

Having finished sightseeing, we return to Dashoguz for an evening flight to Ashgabat.

On arrival in Ashgabat, we'll transfer to the hotel. 

Overnight: Hotel Sport, Ashgabat (or similar)

Day 22 - Thursday 24 October 2024

Ashgabat (B, L D)

We start our touring today with a visit to the ruins of Old Nisa (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the earliest of the Parthian Empire capitals. Erected on the top of an irregular pentagon hill at the foot of the Kopet-Dag Mountains, in the atmospheric outskirts of the city, Old Nisa is a beautiful landmark. 14 ha in size, the fort accommodates two semi-excavated complexes of the Parthian period (III c. BC - III c. AD), designated as royal residence and temple complex. Abandoned at the end of the Parthian period, Old Nisa conveyed its functions to New Nisa, another archaeological site located a couple of kilometers to the west, an important medieval Silk Road city.

After sightseeing at Old Nisa we proceed to Kipchak village to visit a complex of the biggest mosque in Turkmenistan and the family mausoleum of the first President, Turkmenbashi. Then we return to Ashgabat for Lunch with the cooking class in a traditional family-oriented restaurant (no alcohol place) and we take part in several stages of cooking gutaps – a sort of pie made from meat or vegetables.

In the afternoon we visit the National Museum of History (more than 327.000 objects on display) and observe an exclusive collection of ancient artifacts from different historical & archeological sites of Turkmenistan, such as Old Nisa, Ancient Merv and others. We will also explore most striking structures of the city stopping at such impressive buildings as the Monument of Independence (resembling a white-marble “Eiffel Tower” located in a beautiful park), a rocket-like Arch of Neutrality, “Palace of Happiness” (the official name for the wedding registration office) shaped like a 3D octagon star, the National Memory complex consisting of an eternal fire rising to the skies and the Earthquake Memorial (topped by a sculpture of a large bull holding the Earth on its horns).

As the sun sets in the evening, we will drive past numerous impressive monuments to enjoy unrealistic views of the “white city” and its extraordinary buildings, shining brightly in the dark.

Overnight: Hotel Sport, Ashgabat (or similar)

Day 23 - Friday 25 October 2024

Ashgabat – Darvaza Flaming Crater – Ashgabat (B, L D)

We start the day with a visit to the colorful Russian bazaar.

Here you will plunge into the atmosphere that resembles exactly the rhythm of Ashgabat life, the peculiarities of the mentality of the Turkmen capital's residents. Visit a women artist, running a gallery, exhibiting and selling numerous handicrafts, paintings, embroideries, and artistic textile articles in a Turkmen neoclassical style – traditional Turkmen are in a modern and often applied form. She explains the story behind each article, participates in various workshops and meetings, and holds painting and handicraft master classes.

In the afternoon we drive north to Darvaza flaming crater. Arriving at the border between the northern and southern regions of Turkmenistan we turn off the main road for an exciting eight-kilometre desert drive. During the drive over, we find ourselves a couple of hundred metres away from the flaming crater, which, in daylight, seems more of an ordinary hole in the ground slightly smoked by fire. Having unpacked our vehicles, we go for a walk around the crater, while our drivers occupy themselves with gathering wood, arranging cosy accommodations of tents and sleeping bags, and spreading a “table” on the ground. By the time we notice the smell of a fire-cooked dinner, the simple hole of the crater turns into what may seem a front door of hell, a fire temple or any other mysteriously spectacular place that a romantic’s imagination may associate with fire.

We finish the day tasting delicious nomadic food, pondering over the meaning of life in the serene atmosphere of the beautiful evening sky and flickering lights of the “eternal” fire.

Return to Ashgabat late in the evening. 

Overnight: Hotel Sport, Ashgabat (or similar)

Day 24 - Saturday 26 October 2024

Ashgabat (B, L, D)

The morning is at leisure at the hotel followed by lunch in the city.

After lunch, we drive to Arkadash stud farm near Geok Depe, which was the site of the biggest battle for Russian domination in Central Asia in the late 19th century. The fortress is also a site of a beautiful Geok-Depe mosque, built in 1996 in honour of the fortress defenders. On the farm, we have a chance to take a close look at the “winged” Akhal-Tekkes, and even take a ride on them.

Having finished our photo session with the horses, we have a couple of options - Have a meditation practice at the stud farm in a natural environment and dinner at the farm. OR Return to Ashgabat after visit to the farm and have a more professional meditation in a Yoga Center (2 hours), consisting of several components –Tibetan bowl meditation, floor yoga, fly yoga (in hammocks), completing with an herbal tea ceremony – held by an expert arranging regular sessions for the Indian embassy diplomats and their families regularly.

Then return to Ashgabat to the hotel.

Overnight: Hotel Sport, Ashgabat (or similar)

Day 25 - Sunday 27 October 2024

Ashgabat - Australia (In-flight meals)

This morning, we have an early morning transfer today to the airport for our departure flights home. 

Day 26 - Monday 28 October 2024

Welcome home

We have an early morning arrival back into Melbourne.  What a fantastic adventure we've enjoyed. 

Thank you for travelling with Sisterhood Womens Travel and we look forward to welcoming you back.

Welcome Home!

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