Silk Route between Istanbul and Ashgabat, (TCT)

Ashgabat to Istanbul 26 days, departing 18 Nov 2012
"Heroes of the Turkmen people" statue, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan "Heroes of the Turkmen people" statue, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan Golden statue of the president in Ashgabat The Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th century, Istanbul, Turkey

Trip Overview

Trip Style: Overlanding
Route: Ashgabat to Istanbul
Duration: 26 days
Transport: Overland expedition vehicle, Private bus, Overnight boat
Physical Rating:


Your itinerary may include easy-paced day walks, bike rides, and other activities that are not too strenuous.


Hotels, Hostels, Guesthouses, Campsites, Wild Camps, Homestays

Route Map

Countries Visited


Baku, the old and the new, Azerbaijan

Azerbaijan is a fascinating and rarely-visited country on the western shore of the Caspian Sea. The country has an incredibly rich history, including a tumultous series of Turkish, Arabic and Persian invasions, which makes it a melting pot of different peoples and religions today.

We travel through this wonderful country, visiting the ancient petroglyphs of Gobustan and the old town of Sheki as well as the buzzing capital of Baku on the coast of the Caspian.

Journey along the Silk Road

Our overland adventure tours to this region also include journeys through Turkmenistan, Georgia & Turkey, calling at historic Silk Road destinations including Ashgabat and Tashkent. You can even travel as far as China from Istanbul for an epic overland trip of a lifetime!


Georgia is a mountainous country in the southern Caucasus range - it is a wonderfully-scenic region with famously warm and welcoming people. As a strongly Orthodox Christian country, Georgia has some of the most historic Christian monuments on the planet. The age and condition of the churches and monasteries, many dating back to the 5th Century CE, is staggering.

Great things come in small packages

Being such a small country it is possible to see and do a great deal in a short time and yet, because of its geographical and cultural isolation from the West, it is seldom visited by Western travellers.

Our trips take in some of the country's best highlights, such as the stunning Prometheus Caves, the birthplace of the infamous Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, the spectacular mountain town of Stepantsminda, and the wineries and hospitality of Telavi.


Travel the Silk Road from Istanbul

Turkey is a rapidly-modernising secular state - it has its religious roots firmly entrenched in Islam, however the religion does not dominate the culture as it does in some of Turkey's neighbours. The Turks are friendly to visitors, the cuisine is a savoury surprise, and the cities are dotted with majestic old buildings. Turkey's topography ranges from Mediterranean coast to the high rugged mountains of Eastern Turkey. The country combines stunning scenery, immense history and wonderful beaches.

Turkey's largest city is the exotic land of Istanbul - once the Byzantine capital of Constantinople, and then the centre of the Ottoman Empire, Istanbul is a bewildering city packed full of archaeological sites and culture. It is home to the fabulous Blue Mosque, Hagia Sophia, and the Topkapı Palace. There are restaurants, galleries, bars and clubs that scatter across the city, and of course home to the bewildering Grand Bazaar and several traditional Turkish bath houses.

Cappadocia's 'fairy chimneys'

In the heart of Cappadocia is the town of Göreme. Known as the Enchanted Valley, this is a fantastic region of cones, needles and columns fashioned by nature from erosion of the rock. It is honeycombed with caves scooped out to make churches and dwellings that are known as fairy chimneys and castles.

The most interesting are the rock chapels and frescoes of Göreme, the monastic complex of Zelve and the fairy chimneys of Avcilar. Nearby are the remains of underground cities used by the Early Christians to avoid persecution, the most extensive of which housed up to 50,000 people at any one time.


Overlanding Turkmenistan - what to expect

Turkmenistan has some of the remotest scenery on Earth. Most of the country is covered by the inhospitable Karakum Desert. The indigenous people are the Turkmen who mainly live outside the urban centres, many of whom still live a nomadic or semi-nomadic way of life. The rural Turkmen are a hospitable people whose culture and way of life has altered little in hundreds of years.

In the unique capital of Ashgabat there are many beautiful marble palaces and gleaming golden domes. It is a strange modern city that has been extensively rebuilt in the years since independence, and its futuristic and outrageous public buildings are an extraordinary sight! Little is now left of the original Russian Imperial city that was destroyed by a massive earthquake in the 1940s.

The Darvasa Gas Crater

One unusual attraction is the famous Darvasa Gas Crater, lying deep in the deserts of Turkmenistan. Initially the result of an industrial accident by Soviet gas prospectors, it is a huge burning crater that has been on fire for decades by being kept alight by the natural gas in the ground. It's a bewildering and mesmerising sight, especially after dark!

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Daily Itinerary

"Heroes of the Turkmen people" statue, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Golden statue of the president in Ashgabat
The Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th century, Istanbul, Turkey
The stunning rock formations of Cappadocia, Turkey
The underground city of Derinkuyu, Cappadocia, Turkey
The cave dwellings of Göreme, Cappadocia
Ballooning early in the morning, Cappadocia, Turkey
The awesome Sumela Monastery, Eastern Turkey
Artwork within the Sumela Monastery, Turkey
At the Black Sea port of Batumi, Georgia
Georgian monk at Gelati Monastery, Kutaisi, Georgia
Mtskheta, one of the oldest cities in Georgia
Stalin's statue at his birthplace of Gori, Georgia
The 14th-century Tsminda Sameba Church near Stepantsminda, Georgia
View over the capital Tbilisi, Georgia
The Bridge of Peace in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi
A stunning sunrise over Tbilisi, Georgia
The Gremi Monastery near Telavi
The stunning Khan's Palace in Sheki
Our 17th-century Caravanserai stay in Sheki, Azerbaijan
Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan
The Bibi-Heybat Mosque in Baku
Crossing the Caspian between Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan
Turkmenbashi Port, Turkmenistan
The Turkmenbashi Ruhy Mosque, near Geok Tepe, Turkmenistan
Turkmen nomad and grandson, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
A cruise on the Bosphorus River in Istanbul
Make the local delicacy of kinkhalis, Stepantsminda, Georgia
A Dragoman group in the Kazbegi Mountains, Georgia
Tsminda Sameba Church lies 2200 metres up in the mountains of Georgia
The stunning interior of Istanbul's Blue Mosque
The incredible Blue Mosque at sunrise, Istanbul, Turkey
Golden statue of the president in Ashgabat
"Heroes of the Turkmen people" statue, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Prometheus Caves near Kutaisi
Shopping in the Batumi Market, Georgia
Gelati Monastery, Kutaisi, Georgia
The serene forest land of Lagodekhi, Georgia
Central Baku, Azerbaijan
Byzantine cave fresco in Cappadocia, Turkey
The Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th century, Istanbul, Turkey
Local transport in rural Georgia, Telavi
The rocket-shaped statue of the president in Ashgabat
Ottoman tiles in the Topkapı Palace, Istanbul
The stunning Blue Mosque of Istanbul
The incredible Blue Mosque at sunrise, Istanbul, Turkey
Baku, the old and the new, Azerbaijan
Wildcamping in Eastern Turkey
The beautiful meadows near Gobustan, Azerbaijan
Mud volcanoes, Gobustan, Azerbaijan

Day 1: Ashgabat

( Sun 18 Nov )

Border Information: if joining in Ashgabat, you will most likely enter Turkmenistan at Ashgabat International Airport (IATA code: ASB).

There will be an important group meeting at 10:00am - please look out for a welcome note from your tour leader when you arrive at the joining hotel in Ashgabat.  

Please note that many of the options listed below will only be possible for those with extra time in Ashgabat 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 Ashgabat. If arriving at Ashgabat airport you will also need to have a confirmed arrival transfer and representative from our local supplier to meet you at the airport. Please contact your sales agent for prices and to book. 

In Ashgabat 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.*

Hotel for the night: Ak-Altyn Hotel

Ak Altyn Hotel

141/1 Magtymguly Avenue




Tel - +9931236 3700

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore, shop and haggle at the vast Tolkuchka Sunday Market

Included in Kitty
Explore the unique and bizarre Turkmen capital of Ashgabat on a guided tour of the city Included in Kitty
About Ashgabat:

Ashgabat is a unique modern city that has been extensively rebuilt since the country gained independence in 1991. Little is left of the original Russian Imperial city as most of it was destroyed in a massive earthquake in 1948, and today the city centre is a bizarre mix of futuristic and outrageous public buildings that are an extraordinary sight - these include many ornate marble buildings and extravagant golden statues of the president. 

Ashgabat's Sunday Market is famous along the whole Silk Road - this wonderful market stretches for hundreds of acres into the desert. Carpets, camels, clothes, pigs, jewellery, goats, cars, chickens, hats and ex-Soviet military paraphernalia are readily available.

Day 2: Ashgabat

( Mon 19 Nov )

Today we will have an included tour of the city of Ashgabat using local minibuses. The afternoon will be free to freely explore Ashgabat and its museums.

Activity Approximate Cost
Learn about the history and culture of Turkmenistan at the huge National Museum in Ashgabat USD 10

Day 3: Ashgabat, Geok Tepe

( Tue 20 Nov )

This morning we have some time to further explore Ashgabat. This afternoon we will drive to the spectacular Kow Ata Underground Lake. We will have some time this afternoon to explore this superb lake of naturally-heated clear water.

Tonight we will wild camp in this area of Kow Ata or Geok Tepe.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 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!).

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore Turkmenistan's unique underground lake at Kow Ata and swim in waters naturally heated to around 36°C

Included in Kitty
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 Free

Day 4 to 5: Turkmenbashi

( Wed 21 Nov to Thu 22 Nov )

Today we will complete our drive to the city of Turkmenbashi, on the shore of the Caspian Sea.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.

Our itinerary in Turkmenbashi 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 Turkmenbashi 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. Most trips tend to be able to set off on the ferry 1 or 2 days after arriving in Turkmenbashi.

Day 6: Caspian Sea

( Fri 23 Nov )

From Turkmenbashi, we will take the ferry across the Caspian Sea to Baku in Azerbaijan.

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 highly unpredictable, as it is often forced to wait outside of the port in Baku while they arrange the unloading of the cargo on the boat.

There will be basic cabins on the ferry overnight.

Activity Approximate Cost
Cross the Caspian Sea on a local transporter ferry between Turkmenbashi and Baku Included in Kitty

Day 7 to 8: Baku

( Sat 24 Nov to Sun 25 Nov )

Border information: Exit Turkmenistan at Turkmenbashi, enter Azerbaijan at Baku.

Today we plan to disembark the Caspian ferry and enter Azerbaijan.

We will have free time on these days to explore all the sights of Baku and the surroundings.

In Baku we will stay in a local hotel.

Please note that we have built in significant time in the above itinerary to allow for delays with the Caspian ferry. If the ferry comes in earlier than this, we may choose to move on from Baku earlier than listed to allow more time exploring the rest of Azerbaijan and Georgia.

Activity Approximate Cost

Audio Guided trip around old town Baku including the Maiden Tower & Shirvan Shakh Palace

Included in Kitty

Explore the mysterious and iconic Maiden's Tower in Baku's Old Town

Included in Kitty
Learn all about the Shirvan Muslim history of Baku at the Palace of the Shirvanshahs Included in Kitty
About Baku:

Azerbaijan's capital of Baku is a bustling city on the coast of the Caspian Sea, an area that has been inhabited for centuries by many different civilisations, from the Romans to the Shirvanshahs to the Russians. Undergoing huge growth in the 20th Century due to the discovery of oil, Baku today is a large metropolis which has a wide variety of architecture ranging from the ancient to the very modern.

Day 9: Gobustan

( Mon 26 Nov )

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, or continue further and wild camp en route.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Day trip to Gobustan to see the mud volcanoes and the petroglyphs

Included in Kitty
About Gobustan:

Gobustan is a small area on the Azeri coast of the Caspian Sea, which is famous for its petroglyphs and mud volcanoes. The region's ancient petroglyphs date back to the 12th-Century BCE and depict people, animals and constellations. There are over 300 volcanic mud pools in the area, nearly half the total number in the world!

Day 10: Sheki

( Tue 27 Nov )

Today we will 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 - 5-7 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Overnight in an atmospheric converted Caravanserai at Sheiki

Included in Kitty

Explore the exquisite Palace of the Sheki Khans, built in 1797

Included in Kitty
About Sheki:

Sheki is a beautiful old town in northern Azerbaijan that has been settled since around 700 BCE. Having been occupied by many different civilisations throughout its history, it has a fascinating array of architecture and culture, and contains one of the best preserved caravanserais on the Silk Road.

Day 11: Lagodekhi

( Wed 28 Nov )

Border information: Exit Azerbaijan at Balakan, enter Georgia at Ladodekhi. 

Today we will continue our journey east and cross the border into Georgia. 

We will wild camp tonight, most likely in the Lagodehki National Park shortly after crossing the border.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-4 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Discover the ancient capital of the 16th-century Kingdom of Kakheti at the Gremi Architectural Complex

GEL 10
Take some short exploratory walks around our wild camp in the beautiful forested Lagodekhi National Park GEL 5

Day 12: Telavi

( Thu 29 Nov )

Today 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 visit the Gremi citadel en route, and have a free afternoon on arrival in Telavi to explore the area.

In Telavi we will stay in a local family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-3 hours.

About Telavi:

Telavi is the capital of the wine-growing region of Kakheti and is situated in the valley of Alazani, near the Gombori Mountains. Telavi is a charming place and has fine views of the Caucasus Mountains. Nearby we visit the 6th Century Shaumta Monastery, which is beautifully located on an isolated forested hilltop.

There are hundreds of different grapes grown here, and every village has its own particular variety - we will hopefully see some of the local traditions, including grape harvesting, wine making, the keipi (banquet), and also visit some of the local vineyards.

Day 13: Telavi

( Fri 30 Nov )

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.

Activity Approximate Cost

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

Included in Kitty

Day 14: Tbilisi

( Sat 01 Dec )

Today we will complete our journey to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, where we will have an afternoon to freely explore the city.

In Tbilisi we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 2-4 hours.

About Tbilisi:

The Georgian capital of Tbilisi is very historic - it was founded in the 5th-Century CE, and by the 12th-Century it had become a very important cultural and economic centre. Its geographical position gave it a lot of control over the Silk Road, and hence it became a regional superpower. The Old City is full of churches and ancient wooden houses, and it's easy to spend a day wandering around this charming city. It is also worth visiting the oriental markets and making a visit to the Narikala Fortress, which dominates the city's skyline.

Day 15: Tbilisi

( Sun 02 Dec )

Border information: if you are joining in Tbilisi, you will most likely enter Georgia at Tbilisi International Airport (IATA code: TBS).

There will be a pre-departure meeting at 10:00am - on arrival please look out for a note from your leader with more information about this important meeting.

This afternoon we will visit the old town of Tbilisi and visit sites including the National Museum, Sioni Cathedral and the Metekhi Temple.

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 - 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.*

Hotel for the night: GTM Kapan Hotel

GTM Kapan Hotel

4 Metekhi Ascent




Tel - +995 322 273 349 or +995 322 273 348

Activity Approximate Cost
Learn all about the history of Georgia during Soviet times, and the struggle for independence, at the Museum of Soviet Occupation GEL 3
Enjoy an evening of local dancing and music at a Georgian restaurant in Tbilisi GEL 25
Explore the ancient Narikala Fortress and take in the fantastic views of Tbilisi below Free

Visit the beautiful Orthodox Sioni Cathedral in Tbilisi's Old Town

Discover the folk architecture, craftwork and culture of the various regions of Georgia at the Giorgi Chitaia Open Air Museum of Ethnography GEL 1.5
See the incredible collection of historical artefacts at the Simon Janashia Museum of Georgia GEL 3
See the grandiose modern Holy Trinity Cathedral of Tbilisi, the seat of the Georgian Orthodox Church Free

Day 16: Stepantsminda

( Mon 03 Dec )

Today our journey begins with a beautiful drive to the spectacularly located town of Stepantsminda (formerly known as Kazbegi).

Either this afternoon or tomorrow morning, we will take a trek up to the Tsminda Sameba Church (the Church of the Holy Trinity), a beautiful small church nestled in the mountains.

In Stepantsminda we will stay in a local hotel or family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 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!).

Activity Approximate Cost

Hike to beautiful 14th-century Gergeti Trinity Church, set in the stunning mountains above Stepantsminda

Included in Kitty
About Stepantsminda:

Stepantsminda, formerly known as Kazbegi, is a small town in the Mtskheta-Mtianeti region of north-eastern Georgia, an area famed for it's natural beauty. Looming over the town is the 14th-Century Georgian Orthodox church of Tsminda Sameba, which can be trekked to from the town - it's one of the most stunningly-located churches in the world, with the spectacular towering Caucasus Mountains in the background.

Day 17: Stepantsminda, Mtskheta

( Tue 04 Dec )

We spend this morning in and around Stepantsminda, where we can trek to the Tsminda Sameba Church if we haven't done so already.

This afternoon we have a beautiful drive to the UNESCO world heritage site of Mtskheta, the ancient capital of Georgia. Whilst here we will explore the 11th century Svetitskhoveli Cathedral.

In Mtskheta we will stay overnight in a local guesthouse. 

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

Day 18: Kutaisi, Gori

( Wed 05 Dec )

This morning we drive to Gori, the birthplace of Stalin - here we will have a guided tour of the city and the Stalin Museum.

We then make our way to the ancient town of Kutaisi. This afternoon we will visit the medieval Bragrati cathedral and the Gelati monastery.

In Kutaisi we will stay in a local hotel or a family-run guesthouse.

Estimated Drive Time - 4-5 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
Visit the beautiful 11th-century Bagrati Cathedral, a symbol of the city of Kutaisi Free
Explore the colossal and awe-inspiring Prometheus Caves near Kutaisi Included in Kitty
About Kutaisi:

Kutaisi is one of the cradles of Georgian civilisation and the people here are renowned for their hospitality. Kutaisi is home to the Bagrati Cathedral which sits high on a hill overlooking the town. This immense building was started by Bagrat III in 1003 CE - it is in a state of ruin, but is still an impressive Christian monument.

About Gori:

The small town of Gori is famous as being the birthplace of the brutal 20th Century dictator Josef Stalin - there is a small museum on the site of his childhood home, which houses many photographs, some documents, some furniture and gifts presented to the dictator. It also houses Stalin's death mask, and outside the museum is the railway carriage which Stalin used for 12 years.

About 10kms outside the town is the cave town of Uplistsikhe, one of the oldest places of settlement in the Caucasus. Here we will find another ancient monastery and city with a 2nd Century Roman theatre and a more recent 9th Century church. The site was started as a trading centre on the famed Silk Route in the 5th Century.

Day 19: Batumi

( Thu 06 Dec )

This morning we will continue to the port town of Batumi, where we will have a free afternoon to explore.

In Batumi we will stay in a comfortable hotel.

Estimated Drive Time - 3-5 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost
Visit the Batumi Archaeological Museum, home to many historical exhibits found in excavations in the area GEL 2
About Batumi:

Situated on the Black Sea coast, Batumi has the feel of a resort town, nicely situated between the sea and the green hills. It is a great place to relax, and there are plenty of cafes where you can enjoy a Turkish coffee and watch the world go by.

Day 20: Sumela

( Fri 07 Dec )

Border Information: Exit Georgia at Sarpi, enter Turkey at Sarp.

This morning we will continue to the border and cross into Turkey. We will reach the awe-inpsiring Sumela Monastery near the town of Macka, which we will either visit in the afternoon or the next morning.

We will camp overnight in a campsite near Sumela if conditions allow. In cold weather we may opt to stay in a local hotel in Macka or Trabzon.

Estimated Drive Time - 5-7 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Exploration of the Black Sea mountain monastery at Sumela

Included in Kitty
About Sumela:

Set in the cliffs is the beautiful monastery of Sumela, which was founded in 386 CE during the reign of the Roman Emperor Theodosius I. The monastery clings to a sheer rock wall high above evergreen forests and a rushing mountain stream.

Day 21: Zara

( Sat 08 Dec )

This morning we will visit the beautiful Sumela Monastery if we didn't have time yesterday, and then start our drive through central Turkey towards Göreme.

We will break the journey with a wild camp near Zara or the village of Alucra.

Estimated Drive Time - 8-10 hours.


Day 22: Göreme

( Sun 09 Dec )

Today we will complete our drive to Göreme, a small enchanting town in the heart of the Cappadocia mountains.

In Göreme we will stay in a well-equipped hostel - please note that dorm beds are sometimes used here.

Estimated Drive Time - 6-8 hours.

About Göreme:

Göreme is a small town in the heart of Cappadocia in Turkey. Known as the Enchanted Valley, the cones, needles and columns fashioned by nature here form a unique and surreal landscape. The area is riddled with caves, scooped out of the rock to house churches and dwellings that are known as fairy chimneys and castles. Perhaps the most interesting are the rock chapels and frescoes of Göreme, the monastic complex of Zelve and the fairy chimneys of Avcilar.

Nearby you can also see the remains of a number of underground cities, the most extensive of which housed up to 50,000 people at any one time. These cities were used by the early Christians, and could be closed in the event of an invasion and the population kept safe below ground until the invaders departed.

More modern attractions include a local winery and the workshops of local craftsmen who produce skilled onyx carving and pottery. In Ürgüp, near Göreme, you can also enjoy a traditional Turkish bath, sip tea while playing backgammon with the local men, or enjoy a walk through the unique scenery.

We can also arrange a group evening out perhaps to one of the underground nightclubs hollowed out of the soft rock. Entertained by local Cappadocian folk dancers, you can sample traditional foods washed down with some of Turkey's excellent wines, beers and of course raki.

Day 23 to 24: Göreme

( Mon 10 Dec to Tue 11 Dec )

We now have a 2 full days to explore Göreme, including a guided tour of the enchanted valley of Cappadocia. There will be an opportunity for a magical optional balloon ride over the valley during our time here.

Activity Approximate Cost

2-3 nights to discover Cappadocia's Goreme Valley and underground troglodyte cities and caves

TRY 15

Take a hot air balloon flight over Cappadocia

EUR 150

Explore the ancient pre-iconoclastic Byzantine rock monastery of Zelve

TRY 15

Guided tour of Cappadocia and underground troglodyte cities and caves


Explore the Early Christian underground cities of Derinkuyu or Kaymaklı, used as a hiding place from persecutions for centuries

Included in Kitty
Walk through the beautiful ancient valley of Ihlara, containing the beautiful rock-hewn churches built by the Cappadocian Greeks during the Byzantine era Included in Kitty

Discover the ancient techniques of Cappadocian pottery at the village of Avanos


Head out for a fun evening of dinner and various Turkish dancing displays

TRY 90
Witness the hypnotic Sufi Whirling Dervishes ceremony at an ancient caravanserai near Göreme EUR 35

Day 25: Istanbul

( Wed 12 Dec )

Today we will have a full day's drive west to arrive in Istanbul, the only city in the world that straddles two continents, Europe and Asia.

In Istanbul we will stay in dorm accommodation in a fantastic hostel with good facilities, which is a 5 minute walk from the Blue Mosque.

Estimated Drive Time - 10-11 hours.

About Istanbul:

Istanbul is the only city in the world to straddle two continents, so it will come as no surpise that this vast metropolis is home to a beguiling mix of different cultures and traditions, blending the influences of both east and west.

The city has a rich and intriguing history; originally founded by Greek settlers over 2000 years ago, Istanbul originally went by the name of Byzantium, later renamed Constantinople by the Romans who made it the captial of their eastern empire. The Ottomans took control in 1453CE and renamed the city Istanbul, making it their capital. 

Today the city is the largest in Turkey, a bustling mega-city with a population of over 12 million people in total. The old town is a good place to start your explorations. The Grand Bazaar is a paradise for souvenir hunters and you may well find yourself drinking tea with the shopkeepers whilst haggling over prices - it is often thought to be the most-visited tourist attraction in the world! Then there's the Topkapı Palace and Harem, Istanbul's iconic Blue Mosque and the incredible ancient church of Hagia Sophia. The Archaeological Museum which contains the tomb of Alexander the Great is also worth a look.

After all that sightseeing, take a stroll down to the waterfront and maybe take a boat ride up the Bosphorus - this is a great relaxing way to experience the city from a different angle, with excellent views of the minarets and towers that give the city its distinctive skyline. You might also like to visit an authentic Turkish bath, where attendants will pummel your body as though it was a lump of meat and walk over your back as a form of massage!

Day 26: Istanbul

( Thu 13 Dec )

Border information: if leaving the trip in Istanbul, you will most likely exit Turkey from Istanbul Atatürk International Airport (IATA code: IST).

Today will be free to explore the many sights of the incredible exotic city of Istanbul, including the Grand Bazaar, the Bosphorus River and the phenomenal Blue Mosque and Hagia Sophia!

Today is the end day for passengers finishing their trip in Istanbul. 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.

Activity Approximate Cost
Explore the colossal markets of the Grand Bazaar - once the centre of all trading between Europe and Asia, and the most visited tourist attraction in the world Free

See the splendour of Istanbul from a boat trip on Bosphorus Strait, which marks the boundary of Europe and Asia

USD 17

Explore the phenomenal Blue Mosque, built by the Ottoman Sultan Ahmed I - a stunning icon of Istanbul


Visit the Çemberlitas Baths, a traditional Turkish Hammam, for a bath and massage!

USD 20

Visit the incredible Byzantine cathedral of Hagia Sophia, built in the 6th century

TRY 25

Explore the atmospheric underground Basilica Cisterns, built by the Byzantines in the 6th century

TRY 20

Explore the majestic Topkapı Palace, the huge palace of the Ottoman Sultans for over 400 years

TRY 35
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Important Notes

The routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only.

These trip notes have been compiled to help you prepare for your journey once you have booked. They include the full itinerary and dates, and information about kit lists, meeting hotels, insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other information that will help you get ready for your trip.

We update these notes regularly, so please ensure you have an up-to-date version of these trip notes.

We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature, overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, which often have poor infrastructure. You should expect that some of these areas do not adhere to 'Western' safety standards.

Very important notice about medications in Central Asia

Please note that as of 2014 all medications containing tramadol, codeine, temazepam, morphine, opiates or any containing similar constituent components have been made illegal in Georgia, Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. This includes many over-the-counter medicines that are commonly available elsewhere, such as Nurofen! Please see here for more information -

It is very important that you do not bring any medications such as this - they will treat this as though you were bringing illegal narcotics into the country. They are very strict about this, and it does not matter if you are only transiting through, and it makes no difference if you have a prescription or a doctor's note - please do not bring these medications to Central Asia under any circumstance, as the customs agents know exactly what they are looking for and the consequences could be huge, not only for yourself but for the tour leaders, for Dragoman's future operation in the region and especially for our local agents and guides.

Please note that we cannot take anyone on these trips who refuses to dispose of such medicines or refuses to co-operate with the tour leaders if they need to inspect any personal medicines - thank you for your understanding in this matter.

If you have any prescription medications that do not come under the above list, please bring the prescription along and declare the medicines on any customs declaration forms throughout your trip.

Physical Preparation

Physical preparation for Asia Itineraries

In Asia you will need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climates from the hot deserts through to the colds of the high mountains. There are some high altitudes in places and many places where walking around for several hours is the only way to explore (e.g. The Great Wall of China, walking tours in Uzbekistan, exploring the historical sites of India, etc.).

Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts.

The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high, can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large, our Asia trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.

We will be travelling to areas in remote locations where medical assistance will not be available. If you have a medical condition such as a heart condition that would put you at risk, we would suggest that this is not the trip for you. Also, please be aware that should an emergency occur, there is likely to be a considerable delay in accessing medical care, and by joining our trip you accept this risk.

Visa Information

Many countries that we visit on our travels will require visas to enter. Some are best obtained before you leave home, and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.

The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible. Please read the information very carefully to make sure everything is clear and you aware of what you need to do. Please also be aware that rules surrounding visas do change, often suddenly, and without prior warning. This is why it is important that you also double-check the information we provide for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you may wish to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate. If you require any supporting documentation for your visa applications, Dragoman will obtain this on your behalf as part of your trip price - we will contact you to request additional information in order to make this application for you.

However, for trips that involve multiple visas, you may find it beneficial to use a specialist visa agency to assist you with your applications. While this does sometimes increase the cost, it usually makes the process much easier for you.

As you will often need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure.

Most countries require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your entry into the country.

For trips that are not yet guaranteed, you may find yourself in the position whereby you will need to start the visa application process prior to your trip being guaranteed - in this situation we still advise you not to purchase flights until your trip is guaranteed. However, you can start your visa application process, ensuring that when applying for your visas or letters of invitation that you allow several days before and after your entry into the country to allow for delays, availability of flights, etc. 


Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Netherlands, Norway, Czech Republic, Poland, Austria, Croatia, Cyprus and South Africa will need an e-visa to enter Turkey as a tourist for up to 90 days. Citizens of all other EU countries will not require a visa to enter Turkey.

If you require an e-visa, this must be applied for online and in advance - please go to to apply; it should take 1-2 days to be approved, then they will send a visa approval confirmation to your email address which you must print out to present at the border – the costs vary depending on nationality. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival or at an embassy. 

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether an e-visa is required.


Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most EU countries will need a visa to enter Azerbaijan as a tourist for up to 30 days.

If you require an e-visa, they must be applied for online and in advance - please go to to apply; it should take 1-3 days to be approved, then they will send a visa approval confirmation to your email address which you must print out to present at the border – the costs vary depending on nationality. It is not possible to get a visa on arrival.

If asked to provide an address in Azerbaijan on your visa form, please use the address below: - 

Hotel Boyuk Gala
Mirza Mansur 68
Tel +994 ( 12 ) 4372582

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether an e-visa is required.



Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will not need a visa to enter Georgia as a tourist for up to 90 days.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required. If a visa is required, you will need to obtain it in advance.


Citizens of all countries will need a visa to enter Turkmenistan for up to 10 days. You will need a Letter of Invitation from a Turkmen agent in order to make the visa application.

Firstly you will need to apply for the Letter of Invitation through Dragoman – we will contact you to request additional information in order for us to make this application on your behalf. These support documents can take 4 - 5 weeks to issue, and will be emailed to you once they are ready. Please note that there is a risk of your Letter of Invitation being rejected by the Turkmen Ministry of Foreign Affairs which we have noticed has increased since last season. Unfortunately the decision that the ministry makes is completely out of our control and often they will not provide a reason as to why they have rejected the application, which we understand can be frustrating. If your Letter of Application is rejected and you are part of a longer trip, we will do our best to help with making alternative travel arrangements until you can rejoin the group, however this will be at your own cost. We would also strongly recommend if flying into or out of Turkmenistan that you purchase flexible flight tickets in the event that your application is rejected.

Turkmenistan Letters of Invitation are typically issued once a day to the complete group of people that happen to have applied on the same day through the same agent; as such your name, nationality and passport number will appear on a list on the Letter of Invitation alongside other tourists who may be on your Dragoman trip or travelling with other companies, and this list will be shared with everyone on it. As this is a standard practice of the Turkmen Ministry of Foreign Affairs, we do not have any control over this and cannot get around it; if you view this as an unacceptable breach of privacy, then you will be unable to apply for the Letter of Invitation and will not be able to travel to Turkmenistan.

After your Letter of Invitation has been issued, you can use this to apply for the visa in advance at any Turkmen Embassy. You can either apply yourself directly to the embassy, or hire a specialist visa agency to make the application on your behalf (which is recommended, especially if you are applying for several visas).

If you are joining the trip in Ashgabat, it is possible to obtain the visa on arrival at Ashgabat International Airport. It is also possible to obtain the visa on arrival at the land border with Uzbekistan at Dashoguz if you are on a Westbound trip. Both of these options can be very time-consuming on arrival, so it is recommended that you obtain the visas in advance if possible – you will need the Letter of Invitation in all cases. You must get your visa in advance if you will arrive into Turkmenistan at the port of Turkmenbashi after the Caspian Sea ferry on an Eastbound trip, as there are no visas available at the port – you will be denied entry onto the ferry in Baku if you do not have your visa in place. If obtaining your visa on arrival at one of the above locations please note all visa related fees are generally only to be paid in USD cash. Costs will vary for different nationalities as well as entry ports. Besides the visa fee, you will also be charged an immigration fee between 14 USD and 18 USD regardless if you already hold your visa or obtain it on arrival.

If you are asked to provide an address in Turkmenistan on your visa form, please use the address below:

Ak Altyn Hotel,
141/1 Magtymguly Avenue,



Tel: +99 312 363 700


If you are asked to provide a host in Turkmenistan on your visa form, please use the details of the Turkmen agent that issued your Letter of Invitation (this will be printed on the letter). 

We will need to register your visa within 3 days of entering the country. Your Dragoman leader can do this on your behalf, but please bring 2 passport photos for the registration process.

Personal Spending

Personal Spending - Asia

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on this trip, we recommend you allow between USD15-30 per day for Central Asia, China and Burma and between USD10-USD20 per day for India, Nepal and South East Asia.

This will cover individual expenses such as drinks, meals whilst out and also when staying in hotels, souvenirs, tips, and personal permits.

For trips in Southern India that occur over Christmas and New Year please allow approximately USD160 extra on the kitty for seasonal increases in accommodation costs.

Asia Currencies and Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

Bringing a sensible mix of cash and ATM cards is the best way to bring money out, but it's always a good idea to bring plenty of cash that you can change (USD and EUR are commonly changed throughout Asia) rather than relying on cards. Apart from the convenience of being able to change money in many more places, you will sometimes get a much better exchange rate for cash. ATMs are available in most areas but are not always reliable. You may also find your card doesn't work in all ATM's. Credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted in some major cities, but be prepared for very high commission charges.

Banks and moneychangers in most countries in Asia will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are no more than 8 years old. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Please also bring a mixture of small and large denominations - you may get a better rate for changing larger denomination bills, but in more remote areas it can be difficult to change amounts over USD50.

Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in many Asian countries, it may not be possible to change leftover local currency back into USD after your trip, so please plan your budget well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

What else you need to know

Overland Lifestyle and Trip Suitability

Dragoman was founded in 1981, and has had many years of experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose-built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up-close. Your journey will be overland, sometimes across vast distances, so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey, you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip, you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores, etc.

Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys, but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention.

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Who Travels with Dragoman?

Our groups are made up of people from around the world, and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split between males to females, and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible, and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18 (or 7 on our Family Trips), as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the wonderful aspects of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way, and the variety of people that you will meet.

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Group Size

The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location; however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16.

Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Cuzco and during the Inca Treks. This means a group starting a trip in Cuzco will embark on the Inca Trail at the same time as a group finishing in or travelling through Cuzco. In practical terms this means there could be more than 22 group members in Cuzco and on the Inca Trail at the same time.

Please note that there is also an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi, for example, will visit Zanzibar at the same time as a group starting their trip there. In practical terms this means there could be more than 22 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.

Our Crew and Guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the overland companies, spending 8 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK, and then up to 6 months on the road as a trainee. Our crew are trained to manage and operate the trip safely and efficiently and their duties include: planning the trip according to the itinerary, driving and maintaining the truck, securing services of local guides, general logistics, health and safety, liaising with bureaucracy, dealing with issues where needed and offering advice and support to our customers. In addition they have a basic knowledge of the places visited and will be able to offer suggestions of things to do and see. Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew, however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your tour leader is new to a particular region or training other crew, new to the area.

On all Dragoman overlanding trips, we usually have 2 western crew but please be aware that there may be times when one crew member has to leave the trip due to unforeseen circumstances such as visa issues, illness of a group member, etc. On some of our trips we have 1 western crew and 1 local driver instead of 2 western crew. On trips south of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes.

On the majority of our trips in Ethiopia, Sudan, Central Asia, China and South East Asia, in addition to our crew we will have a local guide on board who will travel with us for the entire duration of our time within one country. In these cases, the local guide becomes a third crew member and is able to offer their local knowledge as well as an insight into their country and the lives of the local people.

In most other areas of Africa, the Americas, India and Turkey, in addition to our crew we will employ local guides in specific locations of interest (for just a few hours up to a few days).

Your crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.

Accommodation on Tour

Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying in hotels or hostels, and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation when staying in hostels, gers or yurts.

The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary greatly depending on what options are available at the time; hotels can vary from very basic rooms without electricity or running water to high standard hotels with good facilities! Generally in hotels most rooms will be single sex, twin-share, but in South America many rooms are triple/quad-share. Hostels, gers and yurts are nearly always multi-share and may be mixed sex.

The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we wild camp away from the tourist crowds. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays allowing us to get close to the indigenous population and ensuring that our money stays within the local community.

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The Kitty

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips, you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip (please note that there is no kitty on our Family Trips). The kitty is payable in installments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

The kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:

The kitty system is unique to overlanding and allows us to have flexibility and transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive and save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties, as they are the group's fund. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip, then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund.

Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount. We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice, and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs.

The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in instalments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips). Alternatively you can pay in advance via a bank transfer 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip - please see for more details - this information sheet will also be sent in your booking confirmation upon booking a trip and can be found on Please also note that prepayment is not available for our trips to West Africa, Iran, Tajikistand and any trip in Africa north of Nairobi.

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please ensure your USD notes (EUR notes if your trip goes through West Africa) are clean and undamaged and no more than 8 years old. If needed, your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally. In most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. However, please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.

We cannot accept traveller's cheques on our trips.

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Meals and Group Participation

On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. While camping on overland journeys, the meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your group's turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people using a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help them to prepare meals).

An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.

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Dietary Requirements

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and tell your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others. If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, that you would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring this with you. Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.

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Our itineraries are developed and published with the best of intentions, however travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip, but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for us. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. We make operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources, including the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice, reports from other travel companies and local suppliers, leaders' reports from off the road and local contacts we have built up over many years of experience.

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British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advice when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advice rather than the advice of other governments. We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas. 

However, we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. If there are any travel warnings present for the region you will travel to, as well as considering whether you are happy to travel despite the warning you must also check to ensure that it is not invalidating your travel insurance. Here are a few useful addresses:

UK -

Australia -

New Zealand -

United States -

Canada -

We also recommend that you check out the UK Travel Aware website before you travel at This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up-to-date country information to help you plan a safe trip. 

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You need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you from all or part of the trip without a refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase.

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Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self-assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.

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Yellow Fever

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

Malaria & other mosquito-borne diseases

There is a risk of contracting malaria in some areas which we travel through. If your trip goes to a areas with malaria it is always best to get expert advice before travelling about the types of malaria pills available, whether they are recommended, and take any that are prescribed as instructed. Consult your GP or travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

Other mosquito-borne diseases such as yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika are continuing to spread and are becoming a bigger problem around the world. Mosquito bite prevention is vital to avoid contracting any of these diseases, as there are no vaccines or specific treatments available. Health professionals have issued warnings for pregnant women travelling to areas affected by the Zika virus. For more information about Zika please visit:

The Anopheles mosquitoes that transmit malaria usually bite between the hours of dusk and dawn, whereas the Aedes mosquitoes that transmit yellow fever, dengue fever, chikungunya and Zika bite both during the day and the night. To prevent being bitten, it is recommended to cover up by wearing long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light-coloured and buttoned at the wrists. Do not sleep without closing your windows, tent door, etc. and use a mosquito net in hotels or if sleeping outside where there are mosquitoes present. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your clothing. Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution also provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights and in hotel rooms, but cannot be used inside the tents. For more advice on how to avoid bites please see:

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Recommended vaccinations and other health protections vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest specific health advice on the regions and countries you are planning to travel in, so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel. The following websites are also a helpful resource: and

In the UK, we have been working with Nomad Travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up-to-date vaccination and health information. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

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Safety & Security

At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free, but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.

Of course we want you to have an enjoyable time, but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.

Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third-party suppliers we use during your trip.

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Transport Safety
Road Safety

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Fire & Other Safety – Hostels/Hotels/Homestays
Fire Safety – Campsites
Other Campsite Safety & Security
Food Safety

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Personal Safety

One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly-equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on-hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:

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Activity Safety & Optional Activities

You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included (e.g. hiking the Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas, visiting the Taj Mahal, etc.), whilst others are optional (e.g. white water rafting in Uganda, zip-lining in Costa Rica, etc.). Some of these activities require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip and its activities to their fullest.

Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish, or have the physical ability, to take part.

Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty, and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the client ‘on the road’, subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.

Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.

Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.

Always ensure that your travel medical insurance covers you for all included and optional activities that you wish to participate in.

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Included Activities

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.

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Optional Activities

A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This list is designed to be a helpful guide as to what is commonly available in each location, and is neither an exhaustive list, a guarantee that the activity is available, or an endorsement or recommendation. Please note that certain activities may not be available on your particular visit if they are overbooked, underbooked, out of season, or for any other reason - the list of activities is made according to our latest information and in the best faith, but please be aware that things may change between our last visit and your arrival. Please also note that it may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, and it is recommended to give yourself extra time in your joining or ending city if you would like to participate in some optional activities there. 

Prices listed are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated - again, these prices are displayed according to our latest information and in the best faith, but prices do fluctuate due to exchange rates, season, numbers of participants, and simple increases from the operator - any prices listed are a guide only and certainly cannot be guaranteed. 

Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.

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It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.

We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £2,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000 (or the full cost of your trip). Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, tablets, phones, ipods, etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss. Please note that you should be insured for trip postponment or cancellation purposes immediately upon paying a deposit.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity that you intend to undertake (whether included or optional). As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding, etc., and that the 24-hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries - for example, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us, please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.

Please note that in the case of credit card travel insurance we will require details of the participating insurer, the insurance policy number and emergency contact number prior to travel rather than just the bank's name and credit card details.  It is up to you to ensure that these policies have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas and many are not valid for travelling outside your country of residence or outside the EU. 

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Our Liability Insurance

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

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Out of Office Hours Contact

We have an out of office hours number you can call which should only be used once you have left your home country to start the trip and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours. If you can not get through please leave a message with you name, reference number, contact details and a message with the help that you need and we will get back to you.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Out of hours Number: +44 (0) 7985 106564

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Luggage & Kit List

Although you will not have to carry your main bag for long distances, you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the truck's back locker which will be inaccessible during a drive day, so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. We recommend that your bag be no larger than a large rucksack with a capacity of about 80 litres (approximately 70cm high, 40cm wide, and 40cm deep). The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is a maximum of 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips, Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats, so you'll need to bring those with you if your trip includes camping nights.

Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to - there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember that even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.

For a general idea of what you need, this list provides a guide:


Cold weather

For trips going through mountainous areas, deserts, high altitude regions and Patagonia, you should be prepared for cold weather, especially at night. Ensure you bring:

Hot weather

For trips going through tropical areas you should be prepared for hot and humid weather. Ensure you bring:

Trips with trekking

For trips including treks, ensure you bring:

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Sleeping Bags

A sleeping bag's rating typically indicates the lowest temperature at which it will keep the average sleeper warm enough to sustain them but not necessarily make them warm enough to feel comfortable. For example, with a 0°C bag, you should be able to stay in 0°C temperature but you will not necessarily be able to sleep comfortably.

For European sleeping bags there are the following standards:

The transition zone, in between the comfort and lower temperature, is usually considered as the best purchase guideline.

Personal Medical Kit

All of our trucks have a standard motorist's first aid kit on board for use in emergency situations only. The first aid kit is in compliance with UK standards for first aid provision within motor vehicles, and contain supplies to treat road side injuries. We do not carry prescription medications, therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit.

In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce travel medical kits. They have been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contain everything you would need for any minor incidents and health issues. For more details please visit their website:

Global Survival Kit -

Ultimate Medical Kit (POM) -

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Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of your trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or 'visitor's' passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for your trip. If you change your passport, please remember to inform us as soon as possible - however, please be aware that changing your passport can cause big problems if you need to apply for visas or permits (such as the Inca Trail or Gorilla Trekking) in advance.

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Pre and Post Trip Accommodation and Airport Transfers

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of the joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay? Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on.

While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand that you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet. Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk-in rates or internet specials.

We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details. These are normally payable in cash upon arrival; however we do have pre-paid transfers in a few destinations.

Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer, as not all hotels offer this service.

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Continuing Your Trip

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet? If you're on one of our trips and decide that you would like to continue with us, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.

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Contingency Emergency Fund

Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you will be required to contribute the additional costs involved and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.

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Responsible Tourism

Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s Responsible Tourism policy from the link below:

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The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in the bottle, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilised water stored in the purpose-built storage tank on your overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your pocket!

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Electrical Equipment

Your vehicle will be usually equipped with a 12-Volt socket, so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12V adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points, so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adapter for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850 MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.

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A Few Rules

It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect, including the local people who make our destinations so special. We have therefore set down a number of rules to which our customers must adhere.

Engaging in commercial or exploitative sexual activities, committing acts of violence or threatening violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff is not allowed.  Any customer engaging in such activities will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.  

You must at all times comply with the laws, customs, foreign exchange and drug regulations of all countries visited and conduct yourself in accordance with our responsible travel policy.  Any customer found contravening such laws or regulations will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.

Although we are aware that in some parts of the world taking, carrying or selling drugs, carrying weapons, or engaging in commercial or exploitative sexual activities may be legal, it is not acceptable for Dragoman customers and our tour leaders have the right to ask you to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price if you are found to be engaging in such activities.

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Issues on the Trip

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on

You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip, but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

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Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it.

On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD 1 to USD 4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.

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After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

Country Specific Notes

Turkmenistan Note

Please note that any additional accommodation in Turkmenistan must be booked through Dragoman due to the strict controls on foreigners in the country - it is essential that everyone is registered immediately upon their entry to Turkmenistan at accommodation booked by the agent on your visa Letter of Invitation, as such it is not possible to independently arrange your own accommodation here. It is also now compulsory for all passengers arriving into Turkmenistan through Ashgabat airport to be met on arrival by an official representative from our local supplier and have a confirmed transfer to their hotel. These transfers can be booked directly through your sales agent. If you do not have a confirmed transfer upon arrival you may be refused entry into Turkmenistan. 

Please also note that there are strict laws against tobacco products in Turkmenistan. Whilst it is not yet completely illegal to possess tobacco, it is strictly prohibited to smoke in any public place, is illegal to sell tobacco, and is illegal to import more than 2 small packs of cigarettes. Breaking these laws even slightly can lead to large fines and even detention in jail. To be safe, it is highly recommended to simply not bring any tobacco products into Turkmenistan and avoiding their use entirely until you have left the country. All the above also applies to vaping, e-cigarettes, etc. Your crew may insist on such material being disposed of before entering through the country on the overland truck, and your co-operation with this is both appreciated and expected.

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