Saturday 25 to Thursday 30 October 2014

Turkmenistan was another transition – from the beautiful sites in Uzbekistan to the absurdities of this country with no water and streets of fountains.

Caught in the cross fire of Macedonia and Mongolia and the aftermath of a Russian state made a fascinating journey, made even better by our amateur archaeologist guide Oleg.

We crossed from Nukus in Uzbekistan and toured Konye-Urgench and the Darvaza Gateway to Hell, then onto the capital Ashgabat and the legacy of its first post-soviet leader Turkmenbashi.

From there we travelled to Mary and the ancient city of Merv, where Oleg let us sift through the artefacts.

And last was Oleg’s favourite ancient site of Gonur Tepe.

We crossed the border into Iran for a rather more sombre experience.