Turkmenistan · October 25 - November 1 2024
8 Day Turkmenistan Expedition
Flaming Gas Craters, Desert Fortifications, and the Strangest Capital City in the WorldBOOK NOW
Beyond bizarre, Turkmenistan is one of the most peculiar countries you'll ever visit. This expedition begins in the capital of Ashgabat, where the buildings are all uniform, adorned in white marble and gold, and it's against the law to drive a dirty car. This itinerary will take off from Ashgabat to explore the desert hinterlands of Yangikala, the historic cities of Mery and Merve, the port city of Turkmenbashi named after the nation's first 'forever president', and finally onto the pit that's been on fire since 1971- the Door to Hell.
Standing at the Gates of Hell
Turkmenistan is famed for being the pinnacle of weird, but one of the strangest things the country features is a gas crater that has been burning since 1971
The Spectacle that is Ashgabat
Known as the weirdest capital in the world, Ashgabat truly lives up to the moniker. Some of its more unusual features are grandiose buildings adorned in white marble and gold, and the fact that driving a dirt car in the city is technically illegal.
The Beguiling Yangikala Canyon
In a remote corner of Turkmenistan, sits one of the country's most stunning features, Yangikala Canyon. Once underwater, Yangikala sat at the floor of an ancient sea, which carved the fascinating area into the topographical gem it is today.
The Ancient City of Merv
Once one of the world's largest cities, Merv is scattered with beautifully preserved fortresses, minarets, and mausoleums.
Welcome to Turkmenistan!
Arrivals into Ashgabat throughout the day. Be transferred to our hotel once you've completed immigration formalities.
We will plan to have to have a welcome meeting in the evening, followed by an optional group dinner.
Today we'll have the chance to see why Ashgabat has earned its place as one of the weirdest capital cities in the world. With a scattering of unusual totalitarian monuments and buildings adorned in white marble and gold, Ashgabat is a spectacle.
Mery | Merv | Ashgabat
In the early morning, we'll make our way to the airport to catch our flight to the Karakum Desert city of Mery, famous for its nearby UNESCO World Heritage site of Merv.
Upon arrival, we will drive to the ancient site of Merv, once among the largest cities in the world. We'll spend most of the day wandering amongst ancient fortresses, mausoleums, and minarets.
In the afternoon, we will begin our drive back to Ashgabat
Turkmenbashi | Yangikala | Kyzylarbat
With another early morning flight, today we'll be bound for the coastal city of Turkmenbashi. On arrival, we'll jump in 4WD vehicles and begin the long journey to Yangikala Canyon, known as the 'The Grand Canyon of Central Asia'.
Yangikala is one of Turkmenistan's most striking natural features with colorful bands of pink, orange, and yellow, extending for miles out toward the Garabogazköl Basin.
Enjoy a picnic lunch on our way to Kyzylarbat where we will spend the night tonight.
Kyzylarbat | Nokhur | Ashgabat
On day 5 of our Turkmenistan expedition, we begin our road trip back to Ashgabat, stopping along the region of Nokhur to break up the journey.
Nokhur is famous for its beautiful rural villages, its unique dialect, and ancient traditions.
Following Nokhur, we'll pay a visit to the beguiling underground lake of Kow Ata.
In the evening, we'll arrive back in Ashgabat.
Ashgabat | Nissa | Darvaza
Saving the best for last, today we make way for Turkmenistan's most famous site- the flaming crater of Darvaza, otherwise known as the Door to Hell.
En route, we'll pay a visit to the ancient Parthian settlement of Nissa and to a mud crater before we arrive at the Gates of Hell in the early evening.
We'll spend the evening at the strange gas crater that was lit ablaze by the Soviets in 1971 after the crater collapsed during explorations for natural gas in the area.
Enjoy a BBQ dinner out in the desert before our night camping in a yurt.
Darvaza | Ashgabat
After a leisurely breakfast at the yurt camp, we'll begin our journey back to Ashgabat, stopping along the way to break up the long journey.
Departures throughout the day today, transfer to Ashgabat Airport.
Meals as indicated on the itinerary
Support documents including Letter of Invitation
English speaking guide
Accommodations in hotel based on double occupancy
One night in a yurt camp sharing with 3-4 passengers
Domestic airline tickets
What's Not Included
Turkmenistan visa fee ($89 USD)
Turkmenistan migration tax ($14 USD)
PCR test on arrival ($33 USD)
Alcoholic beverages & soft drinks
Camera usage fees in historical parks and museums
Tips for local staff
Despite being born and raised in the mountains of Alaska with plenty of backyard adventures that could have kept her busy for a lifetime, the unusual dragon blood trees of Socotra, the truly bizarre landscapes of Iran’s far-flung Sistan and Balochistan Province, the gingerbread-house-like architecture of Sana’a, and the dazzling turquoise lakes of Tajikistan’s Fann Mountains lured Nicole to the other side of the planet and on to get to know these locations extremely well.
Extras & Options
Is Turkmenistan Safe to Visit?
Despite its strange policies, Turkmenistan is safe to visit.
Where are the Start & End Points on this Expedition?
This 8 Day Turkmenistan Expedition will begin and end in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. The trip starts on the evening of October 25th and ends on the evening of November 1st.
What Is The Difficulty Level Of This Turkmenistan Expedition?
This departure is rated as easy. Most days will involve walking around various sites and on some days, light hiking.
Do I Need Travel Insurance to Join this Turkmenistan Expedition?
What are the Entry Requirements for Turkmenistan?
All citizens require a visa in order to visit Turkmenistan. We will provide a Letter of Invitation (LOI) to bring with you to obtain your visa on arrival at Ashgabat International Airport.
What Currency Is Used In Turkmenistan & How Can I Pay For Things in Turkmenistan?
The official currency of Turkmenistan is the Manat. Since 2015, the official exchange rate has been set at $1 USD to 3.5 TMT.
With that said, carry all cash for personal expenses, etc in Turkmenistan into the country in USD. For smaller purchases, you can exchange dollars for manat.
Credit cards are not accepted and ATMs generally don't work with foreign cards.
Is There A Turkmenistan Packing List & Prep Guide?
Yes, we do provide a suggested packing list and preparation guide for our Turkmenistan expedition that can be viewed here.
What Is The Food Like & Can You Accommodate Dietary Restrictions?
Turkmen cuisine features many similarities to pan-Central Asian cuisine, so expect a lot of meat dishes, fried rice, soups, and manti (dumplings). As we will largely be staying the night in cities, we will have access to international cuisine.
Please let us know of any dietary restrictions or allergies in advance so that we can accommodate your needs.
Will I Have Internet Access?
The short answer? Not really.
Turkmenistan's internet it tightly controlled by the government with most new sites and social media being blocked. This even includes platforms such as Google and Gmail.
It's best to plan to be largely offline throughout the duration of your stay in Turkmenistan because of this. Also, note that VPNs generally do not work as the government frequently disables them from working.
Is There a Minimum Number of Participants Necessary for the Expedition to Run?
Yes, a minimum of 4 passengers will need to be on this expedition in order to run. If the minimum isn't reached, we will contact you about the potential to still operate the trip but at an additional charge or you will be given the option to cancel and your deposit/payment can either be returned to you or applied toward a different expedition of your choosing.