Q&A: Door to Hell

All about Turkmenistan
eccles1
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Postby eccles1 » Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:52 pm

Bethany wrote:Our experience going Southbound as most reported here seem to be Northbound. Definitely possible independently and could have been done pretty cheaply if necessary.

Day 1
9am arrived at Khojeli Konye Urgench border.
11.45am clear border and get a driver to take us around Konye Urgench sites and drive us to Dashoguz. Price $10 for 2 ppl (could probably have negotiated down more but we had no manat yet and there was nowhere at this border to get manat)
2pm set off for Dashoguz
3.30pm driver takes us to change money in Dashoguz.
3.45pm Dashoguz train station. Aim was to buy ticket for that night from Icoguz to Ashgabat so we didnt need to stay overnight at crater. Unfortunately chaos at station and no tickets to Ashgabat were being sold to anyone. We decided to still head to Darvaza and will just figure it out there.
4.15pm new driver takes us to Darvaza directly for 150 manat per person. Normal car managed just fine to get whole way to crater. No need for 4x4.
7.30pm arrive at crater. Went to yurt camp at back right as only one with multiple yurts. 1 yurt available luckily. Price $15 pp inc 2 course dinner, water and breakfast. Could have paid $10pp for just yurt and no food or shower use! But we hadnt eaten since breakfast.
Guys at camp said they will drive us to teahouse on main road next day. Initially asking $10 but agreed $5. There were also 2 younger local guys on motorbikes seeing if anyone wanted to go to Icoguz train station at 1am or main road next day.
Day 2
7.25am head to main road. Back up plan was to get a bus to Ashgabat. We were told it would be there about 10am. We saw buses heading north while driving to both Dashoguz (would have been at Darvaza c. 10am) and Konye Urgench (probably 11am).
Instead we decided to hitchhike so we wouldnt have to hang around.
7.40am after c. 15 mins the 5th vehicle to pass us Southbound stopped. It was an old lorry with space in cab. No expectation of payment and he stopped at water crater to show us. Really nixe guy :) It was slow but all the cars we saw were full or private tourist jeeps.
12.30 get dropped off at shared taxi station North of Ashgabat. Paid driver 100 manat (so 50 each) as thank you. He seemed very happy.
12.45 got bus from stop outside station. Both that go from there terminal at Teke Bazaar. Route 47 and 53.
Walked to some hotels.
Not Plan A but a pretty good Plan B :)


Hi Bethany,

Great trip report. How did you get on with the language barrier? Do you speak any or did anyone speak any English?
0 x

braj
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Postby braj » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:04 am

Khiva to Darvaza, August 6. Indian passport.

Got a taxi from hostel in Khiva to the border. 100,000 som (or $11.5) - was quoted $15, could only bargain down to this price. Crossing the border was seamless. Stamped out of Uzbekistan in no time (though was asked to show registration slips). Paid 10,000 som for the shuttle bus through the no man's land - wanted to walk but the guards wouldn't let me.

Entry into Turkmenistan - again, no hassle. Took a bit of time because there were quite a few locals. 3 Americans and 3 Brazilians crossed as well on tourist visas. I had a transit visa in advance - though apparently you can just show your LoI at the border and they will stamp a visa in your passport. Exchanged 10 dollars for 160 manat at the Turkmenistan side. Took a taxi from the border to Dashoguz bazar for 1 dollar.

From the bazar, took a shared taxi to the start of the hiking trail - $15 - though it could probably be bargained down. At the Chaikhana, the owner wanted $15 paid immediately for transport to and from crater. I was prepared to walk, so I refused. In a bit a guy on a bike offered to and from transport at $10, to be paid the next morning. Agreed - it wasn't a difficult ride even with a backpack. Got a yurt + dinner + breakfast + unlimited cold water for $15. Came back to the road the next morning by the same bike intending to hitchhike. Got the first car to Ashgabat - the driver turned out to be same age and a Bollywood fan, so had quite a few laughs on the way. He was nice enough to take a detour and show me the other two craters, and buy me water and pepsi. Paid him 75 manat upon arrival in the city.
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Travelling the Silk Road by public transport. Current location - Uzbekistan.

joaopdx
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Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:21 pm
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Postby joaopdx » Fri Aug 09, 2019 10:21 pm

Hi Braj, Thank you for sharing...
When you mention about the Americans and Brazilians crossing as tourists, do you know if they also had a guide waiting for them on the other side? or were they able to get a tourist visa without paying for those tour companies (mine is asking me 1,560.00 for 5 days only... ridiculous!!).
Thank you again,
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Bethany
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Postby Bethany » Sat Aug 10, 2019 12:13 pm

eccles1 wrote:
Hi Bethany,

Great trip report. How did you get on with the language barrier? Do you speak any or did anyone speak any English?


Hi - we don't speak Turkmen or Russian (apart from a few basics: Hello, Thank you, goodbye....). Did not present too much of a problem. At train stations and gas crater always seemed like there was an English speaker around if required to translate. Remember everyone on a tourist visa will have a English speaking guide anyway. Otherwise with drivers etc got by with charades (!!!), and using phone calculator to agree prices. At one point there was a bit of confusion so driver called a friend who spoke some English to clarify, but otherwise no problems.
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braj
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Postby braj » Sun Aug 11, 2019 10:02 am

joaopdx wrote:Hi Braj, Thank you for sharing...
When you mention about the Americans and Brazilians crossing as tourists, do you know if they also had a guide waiting for them on the other side? or were they able to get a tourist visa without paying for those tour companies (mine is asking me 1,560.00 for 5 days only... ridiculous!!).
Thank you again,



The Americans certainly had a guide waiting on the other side. I met them later in the day at Darwaza as well - they had gone from Dashoguz to Konye Urgench before coming to Derwaza in the night.

Don’t know about the Brazilians - we didn’t speak much.
1 x
Travelling the Silk Road by public transport. Current location - Uzbekistan.

joaopdx
Posts: 5
Joined: Thu Aug 08, 2019 10:21 pm
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Postby joaopdx » Mon Aug 12, 2019 8:21 pm

Thank you very much! Can't wait for my trip.
Please, share any blog in case you have :)
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