Enjoying a somewhat unique reputation as, not only the least explored country along the old Silk Road, but also probably the most eccentric of the Central Asian republics, modern Turkmenistan is very much the product of its ex president, Saparmurat Niyazov, otherwise known as Turkmenbashi. Sporting a gold statue of its former ruler on practically every corner, the country is awash with towns and portraits dedicated to one of the world’s most flamboyant and repressive dictators.
Much of the country is covered by the large, empty and very hot Kara Kum or Black Sands Desert, which for centuries was Turkmenistan's best defence against a long list of outsiders, adventurers and encroaching armies. It is its people though who are its great draw. Descended from the nomadic tribes that once occupied the Altai Mountains to the north of Mongolia, the Turkomen of today are amongst some of the most engaging people in Central Asia. Dressed in traditional clothes of huge sheepskin hats, long coats and boots, these people have remained in large part true to their nomadic roots. Excellent horsemen, they are well matched by their wonderful Akhal Teke horses, distant ancestors of the famed Arabians.
A visit to Turkmenistan holds the promise of a journey into a rich and colourful land still totally untouched by tourism, where strangers are merely friends that haven’t been introduced yet.
UK Passport holders require a visa to visit Turkmenistan.
Your passport must be valid for at least six months after the end of your trip, and it must have at least one blank page for each visa required.
Please ensure the passport details we hold for you are correct.
Please note it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct visa documentation when starting your trip. Country entry regulations can alter daily and it is always best to check with the relevant embassies for any changes.
You can use a visa company such as Travcour
Whether you are using a company or applying for the visa yourself you will require the following:
• An authorisation letter from Wild Frontiers, which we will apply for and forward on to you at least a month prior to departure.
• To inform us in the office which embassy you intend to apply for your visa from, as pertinent information needs to be forwarded there from us prior to your application.
NB: Turkmen embassies have a tendency to grant visas for 7 days only valid from the first date given on your application form, so please be careful not to request an earlier arrival date. If you are travelling on a non-UK passport, please contact your nearest consulate/embassy for up to date visa information.
Like much of Central Asia the best time to be there is from late September to May when the skies are generally clear and the temperature in the high twenties to thirties. Be aware that the deserts can get extremely hot.
There are no mandatory immunisations for travellers to Turkmenistan, although you should be up-to-date with Typhoid, Tetanus, Polio and Hepatitis A. We recommend you seek advice from your local GP or travel centre as to the correct immunisations and preventative treatments.
We also recommend:
• A dental check-up prior to travelling.
• You inform us of any pre-existing medical conditions or medication.
To be on the safe side you can also check here.
• Buy your caviar at the Russian Market in Ashgabat - cheapest you'll find, unless of course you're heading to the Caspian Sea
• If crossing the Caspian Sea by ferry take a sleeping bag and roll mat; you might have to wait quite a long time!
• When visiting Gonur Tepe take plenty of water & a hat; it gets very hot and there's no shade (or water sellers!)
• Take some photos of your family to show to your hosts when staying at a homestay in the Kopet Dag mountains