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Best Hiking Trails in Turkmenistan

Overview

The largest Central Asian country is known as ‘North Korea with oil’ and thus sees very few visitors. Turkmenistan has a few, small mountainous regions and is known more for the Karakum desert which encompasses a large portion of the country.  The main areas for hiking are the Kopet Dag Mountains, the Koytendag Mountains (home of the highest peak) and Balkan Dagry mountains. The best months to hike in Turkmenistan are March to May and October to November. Read on for more information on where and when to hike in Turkmenistan. 

Capital: Ashgabat

When To Hike in Turkmenistan?

March – May; October – November
June – September; December – February: Too hot during summer months, too cold during winter months

Climate: Arid continental (cold winters and very hot, sunny summers); due to the aridity, the Kopet Dag mountains don’t get a lot of snow. 

 

Turkmenistan Monthly Weather

Accessibility of Hiking

Hard: It is difficult to visit the country, and more difficult to hike here independently.  You must go with permits and tour company and it is quite expensive.

Transportation required: Car

Where to stay in Turkmenistan for hiking:

  • Ashgabat
  • Nokhur
  • Balkanabat

Most popular hikes in Turkmenistan

The mountainous areas include: Köýtendag Range (southeastern part of country, near Uzbekistan); the Balkan Daglary Range (western part of country, near Caspian Sea); and the Kopet Dag Range (southwestern part of country, bordering (Iran). The main areas where it could be possible to hike are near the capital of Ashgabat; a small corner in the eastern part of the country bordering on Uzbekistan; and in the western part of the country near the Caspian sea. Highest Mountain: Aýrybaba (3138 m), in the Köýtendag Range.

Filter out hiking places of Turkmenistan by month

Click on the red map pointers to see more info.

Balkan Daglary

  • Mountain range
  • Uly Balkan Gershi peak

Kopet Dag Mountains

  • Best area for hiking in the country; close to Ashgabat
  • Kopet Dag Nature Reserve 
  • The Saglyk Yoly (The path of health) – a 37 km concrete path in the Kopet Dag mountains
  • Karakala Nature Reserve

Köýtendag Range

  • Köýtendag Nature Reserve, home of Aýrybaba – highest peak, but no info on climbing it; nature reserve is known for the many cave complexes within it
  • Possibly other trails in this range

Long Distance Trails of Turkmenistan

Turkmenistan's Walking & Hiking Resources

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Turkmenistan Hiking Books: No hiking specific books

  • Lonely Planet Central Asia, 7th Edition, by Stephen Lioy, Anna Kaminski, Bradley Mayhew, Jenny Walker, 2018, Lonely Planet Publications – https://amzn.to/4aHreTL
  • Sovietstan: Travels in Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan, by Erika Fatland, 2021, Pegasus Books – https://amzn.to/4an2tg3
  • The Silk Roads: A Route and Planning Guide, by Paul Wilson, 2010, Trailblazer Publications – https://amzn.to/3vIvt2D
  • The Silk Roads: A New History of the World, by Peter Frankopan, 2021, Random House – https://amzn.to/3xsdFcM – not related to hiking but a very popular book related to the history of this region

 

Best Hiking Trails in Turkmenistan:

You can find more details on hiking these trails from trail maps/apps, websites, and tourist offices:

  • Saglyk Yoly
  • Yagykala Canyon
  • Ayrybaba
  • Kopet Dag trails
  • Uly Balkan Gershi

 

Turkmenistan Hiking Websites:

 

Turkmenistan Hiking Companies:

 

Turkmenistan Official Tourism Site:  

 

Turkmenistan Hiking Apps: 

 

Turkmenistan Hiking Maps: 

What Else To Do

  • Visit Darvaza gas crater, aka “Doorway to Hell”
  • Karakum desert
  • Dinosaur Plateau (in the Koyentag Nature Reserve)
  • Merv

Other Important Points

  • Autocratic government
  • Obtaining a visa requires a letter of invitation which can only be obtained through a tour agency when you’ve booked a full tour
  • Smoking is prohibited
  • Many medications are prohibited but difficult to know which ones