This 3-day tour in Turkmenistan combines the 2 must-sees in Turkmenistan: a sightseeing tour of Ashgabat, and a visit to the Darwaza gas crater. This tour is fully customisable: popular add-ons include the ruins of Konye-Urgench (for those exiting to Uzbekistan), a homestay in Nokhur and a visit to the Gipchak mosque and the Parthian site of Nissa. You can also shorten it to 2 days if you are facing budget constraints.
On this note, to avoid disappointment, we need to be dead honest up front: a tour in Turkmenistan is not for everyone. It is expensive. If you do not have the cash flow, you are restricted to the transit visa lottery.
Note: To increase your options and save you time shopping around, your tour request automatically gets sent to 3 operators in Turkmenistan. They will each come back to you with their offer.
1. If you want to get a LOI to stay more than 5 days in Turkmenistan, you need to book a tour! Check the Turkmen visa requirements if needed.
2. Can I book a tour for a few days and get a LOI for a longer time to continue travelling on my own? Sorry, no. The LOI is provided for the exact number of days the tour runs.
3. Can you book me a really cheap homestay, yurt or camping (besides Darwaza)? No, we are not allowed. Turkmenistan is a very expensive country for tourists! Your daily budget for a tour should not be under 200 USD. Transit tourists do have the option of staying in some cheaper places, but those on a tour have to stay in state-sanctioned hotels – minimum price 50$ for a double room.
Day 1. Half-day sightseeing tour in Ashgabat. Drive to Darwaza
After dropping your bags at the hotel, our guide takes you round Ashgabat. If you thought the highlight of your trip would be the gas crater, you might already have to readjust your opinion. The architecture of the White City is mind-blowing (and we do not intend to use that word lightly).
You get to see the remnants of the personality cult of Turkmenbashi: golden statues of the man himself and his book, Rukhnama. Monuments to Turkmen independence and mad attempts to get into the Guinness book of World Records. The footprint of Arkadag, the new leader of the nation, is getting bigger – you will get to see his follies too. And of course the endless blinding marble of palaces, ministries, hotels and done-up apartment buildings, all along perfectly manicured boulevards, fountains and parks in the middle of the desert.
Late afternoon, we start off by 4WD towards Darwaza. Expect 280 km of desert sands bridged in about 4 hours. We arrive just before dusk, the best time to see the unique gas crater flame away into the remoteness of the Karakum desert. Enjoy for as long as you want, then tear yourself away for a barbecue. Accommodation tonight is in a tent or yurt near the crater.
Note: If meals are not included then food for dinner & breakfast at Darwaza should be bought in Ashgabat.
Day 2. Back to Ashgabat, or onwards to Konye-Urgench
In the morning, after a hearty breakfast cooked in the light of the desert morning sun, it’s either back to Ashgabat, or onwards to Konye-Urgench. Either way, it will be a 4-hour drive through the Karakum desert to your destination.
Ashgabat: more sightseeing, this time just outside of Ashgabat’s city boundaries: the UNESCO-listed archaeological site of Old Nissa, and the Kipchak mosque, Central Asia’s biggest and another one of Turkmenbashi’s monumental follies. The Russian bazaar is the city’s main bazaar and it is a good place for some souvenir shopping just before heading out.
Konye-Urgench: Visit the ruins of once-thriving Konye-Urgench before it was ruined by Genghis Khan and Tamerlane. The monuments still standing remind us of the wealth, skill and knowledge of this oasis city. The large stretches of nothing in between them create a palpable sense of the size of this city before its irreversible destruction.
Day 3. Morning flight / border transfer
You could keep this visit limited to 2 days if your budget is constrained by leaving at the end of day 2. If you prefer to stay overnight, we will help you on your way to the airport or the border with Uzbekistan or Iran, onwards to your next destination.
From 500 USD per person for group of 2. Tour price might vary based on number of people in the group, type of accommodation, route. Feel free to contact us via booking form.
- Hotel stays
- Tent at Darwaza (inc. sleeping bags, self inflated mattress & pillow, folding table & chair, cooking tools & etc)
- Hotel standard breakfasts
- Visa support (Letter of Invitation) and registration in Turkmenistan on arrival
- English speaking guide
- Transport: 4WD SUV on Days 1, 2 with air-con
- BBQ Dinner on Day 1 (lamb/chicken grill, salads, bread, tea/coffee/water)
- Breakfast on Day 2 (Fried eggs with sausages, bread, honey, jam, butter, cheese, coffee/tea/water)
- Excursions according to program
- Entrance fee to Old Nissa
- Visa Fees
- Immigration fee paid upon arrival in the border
- Video and photo camera charges at historical reserves
- Tips for guides and drivers.
- Supplement for Japanese speaking guide: 50USD per guide per program
- Entry to National Museum of History in Ashgabat (closed on Tuesdays)
- Entry to Museum of Turkmen Carpets in Ashgabat (closed on Sundays)
- Pre-booked lunch at local restaurants on Days 1,3: (Local Standard Portions: 1 Soup, 1 Hot Meal, 1 Salad, Water, Bread, Desert, Tea/Coffee)
- Pre-booked dinner at local restaurants on Day 3: (Local Standard Portions: 1 Hot Meal, 1 Salad, Water, Bread, Desert, Tea/Coffee)
- Any additional expenses not mentioned in the program.