Join My Turkmenistan Tour, including the GATES OF HELL!
Turkmenistan Tour time! Ever since I first visited Turkmenistan, and made a very shaky youtube video about the Gates of Hell, I’ve had people email me asking if I could finally organise a onestep4ward trip there, so here it is. Turkmenistan is actually the 10th least visited country in the world, with a tricky visa situation and a government who couldn’t care less about tourist dollars. So historically it hasn’t been the easiest place to visit. That’s where I come in though folks, so jump on board and let’s go together.
Table of contents
- Join My Turkmenistan Tour, including the GATES OF HELL!
- Why visit Turkmenistan?
- What are the Gates of Hell?
- TURKMENISTAN TOUR DATES
- TURKMENISTAN TOUR PRICE
- What’s included?
- What’s not included?
- HOW ABOUT THE TURKMENISTAN VISA?
- HOW TO GET TO TURKMENISTAN TO JOIN THE TOUR?!
- MY TURKMENISTAN ITINERARY
- IS TURKMENISTAN SAFE?
- HOW TO BOOK YOUR SPOT!
- FINAL THOUGHTS
Why visit Turkmenistan?
For hardcore travelers, there are 2 main reasons. It’s one of the least visited countries in the world, which is already pretty cool. And then of course, Turkmenistan is famous for their Gates of Hell. And my Turkmenistan tour, of course, focuses on that. But that’s not the only reason to visit Turkmenistan. For me there are 3 epic places to visit in this secretive central Asian nation.
- The Gates of Hell. Come and see them soon! The rumours are that they’re due to close it any time!
- Ashgabat, the futuristic capital city. One of the strangest cities in the world. Just wait and see.
- Yangy Kala Canyon. Central Asia’s answer to the grand canyon, and including a cool overnight train to traverse the country, to the coast of the Caspian Sea, to reach it!
There are some other spots around the country that are historic, and hold cultural significance too. But my trips are more focused on crazy adventures so I’ve tailored this tour to include the 3 coolest places and try to keep the cost, and time, down. I know a lot of the people who travel with me have the same outlook, so I hope this works for all you guys too!
What are the Gates of Hell?
The Derweze gas crater, also known as the Door to Hell, is a natural gas field in Turkmenistan that collapsed into an underground cavern in 1971, creating a large crater approximately 70 meters in diameter and 20 meters deep. In an effort to prevent the release of toxic gases, Soviet scientists set the crater on fire, hoping that the gas would burn off within a few weeks. However, the fire has been burning continuously for over 50 years, creating a spectacular and eerie sight that draws visitors from around the world. The area around the crater is now a popular tourist attraction and has been dubbed the “Gates of Hell” due to the infernal flames that never go out.
TURKMENISTAN TOUR DATES
October 18th* to October 23rd, 2023.
5 days, 4 nights.
October 18th* means that you’ll have an airport transfer and hotel room waiting for you if you arrive at 2am or 3am on the 19th (which you will, as there are only 2 flights at the moment, one from Dubai and one from Istanbul and both land at those times!). The actual trip briefing and tour will begin at breakfast on the 19th morning.
TURKMENISTAN TOUR PRICE
- The non-refundable deposit to secure spot is $170.
- Full payment due 60 days before the trip (so August 19th).
- Price based on per person sharing (don’t worry, you can come solo and I’ll match you up with a buddy)
- Single supplement available at $549, for those who want their own room.
- Letter of invitation for the visa, and registration.
- All transport. A/C transportation service as per program & group (car, minivan, bus)
- 4WD cars for off road parts. *4 WD cars based 4 passengers in a car
- Local English speaking guide
- Western guide (me!)
- Sites tickets at Akhal Teke horse farm
- Overnight train tickets Ashgabat – Turkmenbashy
- Domestic flight ticket: Turkmenbashy- Ashgabat
- All accomodation
- All breakfasts
- All activities
- Camping at the Gates of Hell crater
What’s not included?
- Visa consular fee (cost depends on nationality, paid at the airport on arrival, normally around $50 to $75)
- PCR test cost, other COVID regulations as per government regulations.
- Photo/video fees
- Additional Meals (expect $10 or so per meal)
- Gratuities, personal items, any other services missing above
- Additional hotel nights (if you arrive in the middle of the night, you may want to book an extra night before).
HOW ABOUT THE TURKMENISTAN VISA?
We’ve got you! Visiting Turkmenistan is amazing but getting a Turkmen visa is not. But, you avoid all those headaches by going on a Turkmenistan tour with my. My guys will register us, organise the LOI (letter of invitations), process all our documents and all-being-well, we simply turn up at the airport and pay the fee.
I was previously rejected twice when I tried to apply solo. Eventually I cracked and booked a tour, and got in the country with no problems. We, as a group, will aim to do the same.
HOW TO GET TO TURKMENISTAN TO JOIN THE TOUR?!
You’re welcome to land any time on October 18th (or morning of the 19th, with me) and my team will meet you at the airport.
Flights to Turkmenistan are super limited. And the few that do exist arrive at awful times. Most of us will probably fly via Istanbul, and land at a god-awful hour, similar to my Mauritania trips.
Don’t worry, airport pick-ups are still organised even if it’s the middle of the night!
MY TURKMENISTAN ITINERARY
Day 1 (October 18th):
Strictly speaking the tour starts on Day 1, on October 19th. However, due to the nature of flights, I think everyone will probably arrive late on the evening of the 18th/early AM on on the 19th. I am flying on the Turkish air flight from Istanbul on the 18th, landing on the 19th at 02.10.
Day 2 (October 19th)
We’ll have a morning briefing, then a quick morning Ashgabat city tour, before we transfer to the main event the Darwaza Crater AKA the Gates of Hell!
250KM through the Turkmeni desert, the Central Karakum Sands, in our private 4WD vehicles. We will arrive at the ancient Unguz line of the desert where we’ll explore the various craters. One full of water, one full of mud, then we’ll make our way before sunset to the fiery crater.
We’ll pitch up, maybe have smuggled a bottle or 2 to share, and enjoy sunset at one of the world’s most unique destinations, the Gates to Hell. We’ll camp here all night, so bring warm clothes!
Brekkie in the desert. Then we drive back to Ashgabat, but before we reach the city we’ll get a chance to experience one of Turkmenistan’s oldest professions, horse farming. We’ll take a shower here after a night by the crater, have a spot of lunch then hop back in the cars to check out the countries most epic mosque, Turkmenbashy mosque.
We’ll then head to the train station for one of my favourite things to do in unique countries, an overnight train across the whole country towards Turkmenbashi.
We’ll wake up in Turkmenbashy and have a short sightseeing tour where you’ll get a chance to have your first sight of the Caspian Sea.
We’ll then hop back in 4WD vehicles and make our way to Central Asia’s proud answer to the Grand Canyon, Yangy Kala. This canyon was the former floor of the Tethys sea, and over time, millions of years created the current ‘design’ of unusual forms and multicolor pictures. We’ll chill here for a bit, soak up just where in the world we are, before we head back to Turkmenbashi to overnight in our Caspian Sea resort.
Back to the airport folks (god it feels like we live in these places!). We fly back to Ashgabat, check out the UNESCO world heritage site of Nisa Fortress, then we check into our hotels once more. We have a free afternoon to explore the city, or recover from a fast paced few days! Then this evening we’ll have an evening tour, Ashgabat by night. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 6 (October 23rd).
We’re out of here. Or more probably, we all left at 2am the day before! We’ll be in touch about plans for that.
IS TURKMENISTAN SAFE?
Safe doesn’t even come close. I’ll avoid getting political as the permits are hard enough to get, but let’s just say everyone obeys the law in Turkmenistan, and leave it at that. As we say in Ireland, “safe as houses“
HOW TO BOOK YOUR SPOT!
You can either DM me directly on instagram.com/onestep4ward, email me on johnny ‘at’ onestep4ward.com or simply use this platform to instantly reserve your spot HERE.
Please note, to confirm your spot, there is a 10% non-refundable deposit.
I haven’t been back to Turkmenistan since 2016. And in fact, it’s been closed for more than 3 years thanks to their pretty heavy-handed COVID restrictions. It’s literally just announced this month that it’s opening again end of March 2023. So here we are, let’s be amongst the first people to get back in this secret nation. See you in Ashgabat!
Please not, should any of us have your visas rejected, or the country close again due to Covid, I’ll give back all the money that our fixers give back to me. So most of it, minus visa costs, letters of invitation etc. But, on the off chance they fill in the Gates of Hell in the meantime, there’s nothing we can do, so hurry hurry!
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