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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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  #1  
Old 8 Apr 2013
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Turkmenistan to Uzbekistan: any advice?

Hi

Anyone got any advice for which route might be better on the Transit Visa (5 day) option through Turkmenistan?

We'll be taking the ferry from Baku to Turkmenbasy, which might cut into a day of the 5 days if we are unlucky.

We could either go straight across the north via the Kaplankyr Reserve to Konurgench
or down to Ashgabat and up to the reserve (if it's worth seeing?)
or down to Ashgabat and across to Mery and Turkmenabat.

In the long run we would like to be up in the NW of Uzbekistan anyway to Khiva so the first option above might be best
but I also heard that Ashgabat shouldn't be left out: truly worth seeing ?!

And while I'm here: the consulate here is telling me we need to define the route we will take when we apply for the visa already, so we can't change our mind once it's done.

Any thoughts appreciated!
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Old 13 Apr 2013
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Mary and Turkememabat are not particularly interesting, so your choice is between:

Mary route - see Ancient Merv

Koneurgench route - see old city of Koneurgench and gas craters..

Having done both, I'd choose the latter.

Regards going straight across the desert to Koneurgench from Turkmenbashi, that would be some pretty off-the-beaten track adventure. I would definitely do it if I had th chance, but I imagine the guys at the border would not endorse your route permit with that route (I dont think the route is even shown on the route permit), and you might well get turned back by police there.

But, Turkmenistan is fascinating no matter where you go, and I would try to do and see as much as is absolutely possible - I literally filled every waking hour that I was there on transit visas seeing places / people.

Unescorted with your own car through Turkmenistan is quite a privelege. Up until a couple of years ago, even locals needed a permit to go to another province!

Daniel
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Old 13 Apr 2013
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Brilliant, info Daniel, thanks a lot. Appreciated!
Thumbs up or down for Ashgabat?
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Old 13 Apr 2013
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Definitely worth a day in the capital, and see if you can spend an hour or two at the Tolkuchka Bazaar (sundays and thursdays in 2007), which is north of town.

I recommend Paul Brummel's guide to the country, published by Bradt. There are lots of interesting little stops on the route which he mentions.

Final tips: Don't tell the embassy you are taking your own car / bike, unless they specifically ask, and don't go with a guide!
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Old 16 Apr 2013
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hi Daniel

hmmm... i thought you HAD TO tell them you are going by car/bike in order to get the transit visa? and if you don't get a transit visa but apply for a tourist visa, then they definitely want the name and contact details of your guide.

At least that's what they are telling us on the embassy websites here in Germany.

The only thing i want to avoid is being sent back to a country i don't have a visa for anymore!

Thanks for the other tips here as well, duly noted and book ordered!
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Old 18 Apr 2013
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I dont recall being asked for a means of transport.

I see a lot of overlanders wasting their money and restricting themselves by taking a guide, under thebelief that they have to.

But the number one rule when appplying for any visa is to not give any more info than is necessary...
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Old 19 Apr 2013
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Beautiful blog! I tried not to view too many photos to ensure i still have some surprises lined up for myself.
Thanks Daniel!
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  #8  
Old 19 Apr 2013
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and have you seen the cost of the travel guide these days... seems to be worth its weight in gold at over a hundred quid for a used copy!
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Old 19 Apr 2013
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Thanks!

I hope before long to continue writing it, and complete it before the next trip!

And WOW, I think I bought my copy for about £5 new, I am sitting on a fortune here!!
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  #10  
Old 19 Apr 2013
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When asking about Ashgabat...I basically describe it as what would be created if Las Vegas and North Korea had a child.

You have the hot dry desert and massive video screens, lights, gilded roofs, gorgeous facades like in Vegas, with the omnipresent stench of government repression, like North Korea.

THe individuals we met all over Turkmenistan were EXTREMELY friendly and nice, just don't bring up the government at all. We stayed at the Hotel Ashgabat (old SOviet hotel in the center of the city) for two nights and found bugs in our room (recording devices...hotel was actual roach free from what I can see!).

The whole thing was a great experience and totally worth it. Go up to Darwaza to the gas crater and continue on to Konye-Urgench and then into Uzbekistan. You can still hit Khiva and then skirt southeast towards Bukhara.

We had planned an afternoon in Bukhara, but it was so amazing we ended up spending a couple of days there.

You'll love both countries and will definitely have stories to tell after the ferry ride
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kaplankyr reserve, konurgench, merv, transit visa, turkmenistan


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