Turkmenistan · October 25 - November 1 2024

8 Day Turkmenistan Expedition

Flaming Gas Craters, Desert Fortifications, and the Strangest Capital City in the World

BOOK NOW
IndependenceParkAshgabatTurkmenistan1080

Overview

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.

Highlights

Standing at the Gates of 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

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

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

The Ancient City of Merv

Once one of the world's largest cities, Merv is scattered with beautifully preserved fortresses, minarets, and mausoleums.

Itinerary

Previous

Next

ArchofNeutralityAshgabatTurkmenistan1080

Ashgabat

Day 1

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.

IndependenceMonumentAshgabatTurkmenistan1080

Ashgabat

Day 2

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. 

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

SultanSanjurMausoleumMervTurkmenistan1080

Mery | Merv | Ashgabat

Day 3

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


Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

YangikalaCanyonTurkmenistan10802

Turkmenbashi | Yangikala | Kyzylarbat

Day 4

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. 


Included

Breakfast

Lunch

NokhurTurkmenistan1080

Kyzylarbat | Nokhur | Ashgabat

Day 5

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.

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

DarvazaDoortoHellTurkmenistan10802

Ashgabat | Nissa | Darvaza

Day 6

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.


Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

DoortoHellDarvazaTurkmenistan2

Darvaza | Ashgabat

Day 7

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.

Included

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

WeddingPalaceAshgabatTurkmenistan1080

Ashgabat

Day 8

Departures throughout the day today, transfer to Ashgabat Airport.

What's included

What's Included

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

Transportation

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

Hosts

Nicole Smoot

Nicole Smoot

Expedition Lead


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.

the.adventures.of.nicole

Next Departures

8 Day Turkmenistan Expedition

8 Day Turkmenistan Expedition

Flaming Gas Craters, Desert Fortifications, and the Strangest Capital City in the World

FROM$4,200.00/pp

BOOK NOW

Extras & Options

Single Supplement

Single Supplement

Opt for a private room. Subject to availability.

FROM$420.00/pp

ADD THIS

FAQs

Despite its strange policies, Turkmenistan is safe to visit.

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.

This departure is rated as easy. Most days will involve walking around various sites and on some days, light hiking.

To join any Safar Expeditions departure you will need to carry an active travel insurance plan. 


We recommend using IATI travel insurance for medical coverage and an evacuation plan from Global Rescue

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. 

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.

Yes, we do provide a suggested packing list and preparation guide for our Turkmenistan expedition that can be viewed here

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. 

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. 

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.

8 Day Turkmenistan Expedition

Turkmenistan · October 25 - November 1 2024 · 7 nights

FROM$4,200.00/pp

BOOK NOW