Advice for a short Turkmenistan itinerary

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djerdap
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Advice for a short Turkmenistan itinerary

Post by djerdap »

Hello all!

Maybe some of you with some great traveling experiences could help me with my possible trip to Turkmenistan!

I'll be going to Iran in mid-November for approx. 3 weeks. However, I'd love to go to Turkmenistan for a short "detour" (3-5 days), especially to Ashgabat and to the Derweze gas crater. However, I'm still not quite sure how I'll pull this off without it being a bit costly.

I'd love to do it with a transit visa, but I obviously cannot go back to Iran, and I'd go to Uzbekistan, but there is no Embassy or Consulate in my country and there's not enough time to get a visa for Iran and for Uzbekistan in what is now a relatively short period of time. Plus extra costs and time for securing a visa in Uzbekistan in another country is not now the optimal solution.

A transit visa to Kazakhstan is another solution, but I'd like to do Kazakhstan another time and there is a long way from the Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan border to some of the more interesting places (or places that could bring me back home).

A tourist visa is also possible. A custom tour for Ashgabat and Derweze might be interesting (if certain freedoms are allowed in Ashgabat without a guide). That being said, I'm not sure if it's affordable for me.

If anybody had a similar experience with traveling from Iran to Turkmenistan or if anyone has some immediate suggestions, I'd be most grateful! Thanks in advance for your advice!

Cheers,
dj
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bwv812
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Re: Advice for a short Turkmenistan itinerary

Post by bwv812 »

Some people have reported successfully obtaining transit visas while either flying into or out of Ashgabat, so it might be possible to do this on the cheap if you make Turkmenistan your starting or ending point.
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djerdap
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Re: Advice for a short Turkmenistan itinerary

Post by djerdap »

Thanks for the reply!

Another possible option would be to pick up a visa for Uzbekistan at the Uzbek Embassy in Tehran after getting a Letter of Invitation and afterwards request a transit visa for Turkmenistan... Maybe this is doable.
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steven
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Re: Advice for a short Turkmenistan itinerary

Post by steven »

I would try a custom tour or join a scheduled group tour, these are more affordable and agencies like owadan have been starting to offer them. It's one of my goals to make this option more available to people who want to really visit turkmenistan but don't have the money for a private tour.

The visa problems you listed sound insurmountable if you don't want to waste some time in tehran.
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djerdap
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Re: Advice for a short Turkmenistan itinerary

Post by djerdap »

Thanks a lot for all your help and replies.

It turns out my particular experience with the Turkmenistan embassy in both Tehran and Mashhad has been absolutely abysmal. After having a truly obstacle-free experience with Stantours and the Uzbek visa, my experience with Turkmenistan has been a disaster from day one, culminating today in not getting a transit visa from Iran to Uzbekistan.

After getting the Uzbek visa in Tehran, I went to the Turkmen embassy in mid-November in the morning with all the documents, just to find out that the embassy closed for a week. No reason or notice was given. I know that other travelers had experience with this so I wasn't 100% surprised. I met a guy there who was unhelpful and didn't want to accept the documents, but told me that the waiting for the transit visa is 14 days.

This was, to say the least, an inconvenience for my Iranian itinerary, but I did go back to the embassy in Tehran when it opened, submitted the documents and was told the visa will be ready for pickup in Mashhad in 8 days.

8 days later, I came to the consulate in Mashhad. A young man who was working there said that there is no information about my application (although I was in the system) and that I should call the embassy in Tehran. After dozens of calls and a weird system where there is silence after a couple of ringing tones (which means my phone credit is going), there was no answer all day.

Coming back today, I was again notified by the same young man that there is no answer - although he didn't bother to check the system again. After calling again many times, I finally managed to somehow reach the Tehran embassy. They told me to call back again in half an hour. After another 5-10 calls where there was no answer, I was finally notified per phone that my transit visa application was rejected and that no transit visas will be approved until the 15th of December. Two Japanese girls were at the consulate in Mashhad and they were told by the same young man that the border is closed from the 1st to the 15th of December (he didn't bother to tell me this) due to the Day of Neutrality holiday on the 12th of December. I also found out they did something similar - closing the border for 2 weeks - for the Independence Day in late October. This may be important information for everybody trying to get into Turkmenistan by transit. It is best to avoid their holidays. Of course, they didn't get to mention this at all when I was submitting the documents in Tehran in the first place.

Now I have no idea what to do. Flights from Iran to Uzbekistan are irregular and/or expensive. I am thinking about getting a short 2 or 3-day tourist visa to Turkmenistan but I have no idea if I want to be bothered. Maybe there is a group looking for this kind of arrangement which is looking for somebody to lower the costs? My Uzbek visa starts on Saturday and it is for two weeks, and I still haven't bought a return ticket.

If you have any advice for me, I'd be most grateful.

Thanks a lot,
dj
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steven
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Re: Advice for a short Turkmenistan itinerary

Post by steven »

Here is my advice for anyone stuck in the same situation: http://caravanistan.com/visa/turkmenistan/refusal/
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