Turkmenistan's deserts, steppes and mountains have some of the most remarkable features found on the planet. Their colors, vastness and fascinating animal and plant life are exclusive to Turkmenistan.
Kugitang Mountains Trekking
Kugitang Nature Reserve was created to protect the largest remaining Markhor populations in Central Asia. These endangered long-horned mountain goats as well as a large number of Urials (a rare mountain sheep species), inhabit the steep canyons and flower-covered valleys of the soft ridge of the Kugitang Mountains topped by Ayrybaba - with 3,137 m Turkmenistan's tallest peak. Kugitang is also well known for its dinosaur plateau with 438 well preserved fossil dinosaur footprints, in addition to its caves that are considered to be the most beautiful and interesting caves of the former Soviet Union. The mountains can be explored on various trekking and climbing trips along the range. The National Natural Park includes healing sulfur springs and thicket of trees called Unabi with a disinfectant air-cleaning feature. Fruits of these unique trees have been famous for being used by local population as medicine for heart, kidneys, liver and stomach diseases since ancient times. Scientists call Unabi, near the village Koyten, "a drugstore in the open air". Specialists have no doubt that if done the right way the future park may become a place of real pilgrimage for true lovers of exotic nature from all over the world. Located in the far southeast of Turkmenistan, Kugitang and its dinosaur footprints can best be reached by air from Ashgabat or by train from Bukhara and a minimum of three days should be allowed to go wildlife watching and to visit the plateau and its caves.
The unique valleys and climate in the region of Karakala Nature Reserve are of major importance for some of the last remaining Persian leopards inhabiting it's ridges. The World Wildlife Fund is currently involved in a protection project executed by Turkmenistan's ecological societies. Karakala is renowned for its exceptional botanical collection at the grounds of the research station. There is excellent trekking, climbing and wildlife watching in the captivating canyons and river valleys of the reserve and the nearby Moon Mountains. A 5 hours drive from Ashgabat the Karakala Reserve requires min2-3 days to be visited. With an experienced guide it is also possible to hike across to the meadows of the Nokhur tribe region through the Aidere and Sumbar gorges on 3-day trek. Special documentation should be arranged atleast 14 days before arrival.
Sekizyap - Bakcha Horse Trek
Sekizyap valley to the west of Ashgabat, accented by its beautiful gorges and its wonderful waterfall, has tremendous riding, trekking and fishing opportunities. On the beautiful and elegant Akhal Teke horses, the national symbol of Turkmenistan, you can ride through the valleys of the Sekizyap River up to the vast plateaus which invites the rider for a gallop along the beautiful hillsides and small villages. The waterfall can be reached after a longer trek some of which has to be made by foot. Sekizyap is 3 hours west of Ashgabat and you need at least 2-3 days to explore the area on horseback. Turkmenistan's horses are some of the most elegant creatures on the planet and have claimed their fame throughout Asian history. The experience of riding these beautiful hot-blooded animals in their native setting of endless plains and valleys is something no visitor of Central Asia should miss.