Turkmenistan and the Gates of Hell - March 30, 2020 - Atlas Obscura Trips
Photo Credit: Ybrayym Esenov
Photo Credit: Michal Knitl
Photo Credit: Milonk
Photo Credit: velirina

Turkmenistan and the Gates of Hell

from $3,275 USD per person for 10 days, 9 nights
See Dates and Prices
  • Max Group Size: 12
  • Moderate
  • Overland Adventure

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.”

  • Architectural marvels, past and present
  • Post-Soviet architectural and monumental pomp
  • Ancient mosques and remote hamlets
  • Spectacular deserts and canyons
  • Dinner on the edge of the Gates of Hell


Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.

Additional Info

Arrival & Departure

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. 

Activity Level

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.

Dates and Prices

Mar 30–Apr 08, 2020
Shared Room
$3,275 USD per person
Single Room
$3,565 USD per person
The total cost of this trip is  $3,275. A $500 deposit is required to hold your space. The deposit is non-refundable after three days. The final payment of $2,775 will be due by December 31, 2019. All reservations will be final after this date and subject to our cancellation policy. By submitting your deposit, you agree to the trip’s Terms & Conditions. For travelers wishing to have single accommodations during the trip, an additional $290 will be due at the time of the final payment.
  • Nine nights of lodging in comfortable local hotels, and one campsite, throughout the trip.
  • Daily breakfast and lunch, as well as the first and final dinner.
  • A pair of experienced guides throughout the trip, in addition to special guests all along the way.
  • Admission to all proposed activities, sites, and events.
  • Private vehicle transportation.
  • Airport transfers.
  • Flights or other transportation to Ashgabat.
  • Visa application and payment (our team will guide you through the process).
  • Travel insurance (required).
  • Food and drink outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including dinners most evenings.
  • Personal expenses.

Trip FAQ

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.