On this sweeping, eclectic adventure through Turkmenistan, marvel at the towering white-marble structures of Ashgabat, roam through barren deserts and a world-class canyon, and spend the night camped out beside the flaming Gates of Hell. For 10 action-packed days we’ll zig-zag around Central Asia’s most eccentric country. We’ll wander around Soviet relics, salty underground lakes, and Sufi shrines, and relax in the seaside city of Turkmenbashi, named in honor of the inscrutably erratic former president. The top highlight: a night in the desert spent sleeping alongside a crater that has been continuously burning for nearly 50 years—the most beautiful accident ever created by well-meaning Soviet geologists.
Our first-ever Founders’ Trip: We’re excited to share that you’ll be joined on this Turkmenistan adventure by Dylan Thuras and Josh Foer, the co-founders of Atlas Obscura. As Josh says, “When Dylan and I founded the company in 2009, we said to each other: One day, when this thing is successful we should go to Turkmenistan together and share a beer on the edge of the Gates of Hell. That day has come.”
You should plan to arrive by 3 p.m. on Monday, March 30, and depart anytime on Tuesday, April 8. Ashgabat International Airport (ASB) connects to a range of flight hubs in Asia and Europe. The best flight connections to Ashgabat are offered by Turkmenistan Airlines and Turkish Airlines. If you’d like help arranging flights, let us know and we'll connect you with our flight specialists.
Travelers should be reasonably fit and feel comfortable walking three to five miles over the course of each day, and remaining on their feet for long periods of time. We’ll be spending a good amount of time outside and in rural areas, walking up and down stairs, and on dirt paths. We’ll also spend a night camping out in the desert.
Turkmenistan has a very strict visa process, but we’ll be arranging your visa through our local partner and a specialized visa agency. Note that journalists are screened out during the visa application process; your application will likely be rejected if you have a notable journalistic internet profile.