After 48 hours on the cargo ship we arrived in Turkmenbashi port where we were held in arrivals until our guide arrived, the guide we were unable to contact!! Thinking we had been duped by the tour company and wondering if we’d get deported, our trepidation was soon over as our panic’d guide showed up with all our papers.
Stamp, stamp, stamp and several more stamps later we were left to our own devices in a run down 4* hotel in a town where ATM’s take a lunch break and only operate during office hours! Oh no wait that’s true for the whole country.
The next morning our guide returned to take us to the train station, it was overnight, 24hour+ trip, no buffet car, no access to food, just sand, desert, camels, goats and then finally the marble city Ashgabat. In our morning tour before the sun rose we were whisked around the city before being dumped in a flea pit, old Soveit hotel with a deceiving facade. The heat in Ashgabat was intense, and so was Olof’s tooth ache, so off we went to the hospital, with it’s golden interior one could easily have mistaken it for the Sheraton hotel.
We only had 24 hours in this bizarre city so off we dashed to the bizarre monuments and the Turkmenbashi museum ending the night in some dodgy hotel with a fellow traveller. The following morning we were picked up again by a new guide who resembled a New Zealand Rugby player, driving us through the Karakum Desert we finally reached the Darvaza Gas crater where we camped for the night by the “Door to Hell”. Before we knew it, it was time to move on to the Uzbekistan border via Konye-Urgench to marvel at the ancient ruins at this now UNESCO site, our trip along the old silk road was just about to begin.
Click the interactive map to see the places we visited during our 4 days in Turkmenistan.
1) Camping next to the Darvaza gas crater.
2) Seeing the strange marble city of Ashgabat at sunrise.
3) Tasting the “best” water melons in the world.
1) Having to pay a ridiculous amount of money for a tour and tourist visa just to get in to the country.
“Welcome to Hell!”
Captain - Shahdag Ship
Ecoquest Learnings and Overview
Managing the Budget
Click the interactive map to see a detailed cost breakdown for our road travel.
NB when detailing the budget, this is the cost for two people.
Could Turkmenistan be for us?
Er, No. The main reason for visiting Turkmenistan was simply because we had to cross through it in order to reach other parts of central Asia. Initially we had hoped to be able to obtain a transit visa. In addition to the logistics, we were very curious to see this “closed” country and seeing the Davaza Gas Crater was a “Bucket List” item.
Top Tips for Turkmenistan
Coming soon top tips and advice for travelling around France the Eco way!