From Ashgabat to the Gates of Hell Tour

Kunya-Urgench, Darvaza, Karakum Desert

Turkmenistan is a land of contrasts, and anyone wishing to feel the pulse of this cryptic land will want to embrace it in all its extremes. Compare glitzy Ashgabat to the forlorn sand-and-stone ruins of Kunya-Urgench, which in its heyday was also a capital city that filled travelers with awe and admiration. Between these two extremes is the near-deserted Karakum Desert, where the firery depths of Darvaza Gas Crater blaze like an eerie torch, an irresistible vacation destination for adventurous wanderers!
From Ashgabat to the Gates of Hell Tour is a once-in-a-lifetime overnight voyage that begins in Turkmenistan’s modern capital and ends at the fiery cusp of Darvaza Gas Crater in the formidable Karakum Desert, with a stopover in historic Kunya-Urgench along the way. Between traversing sand dunes in a 4WD, visiting a desert nomadic village and staring into the flames of the ‘Gates of Hell’, this trip is bound to be a camping experience like no other!

Your tour begins in Ashgabat with an early morning flight to Dashoguz (580km, 50min).
Upon arrival to Dashoguz you driver and guide will meet you at the airport and drive to Kunya-Urgench, ancient capital of the Khorezm Empire (120km, 1.5hrs).
  • Visit the Tyurabek-Khanym Mausoleum (14th century), burial site of a Mongolian princess, and the Sayid Ahmed Mausoleum (14th century), tomb of a leader of the Golden Horde.
  • Discover the Kutlug Timur Minaret (11th-13th centuries), which at 62 meters is the tallest minaret in Central Asia.
  • Travel to the 12th-century Sultan Tekesh Mausoleum of Khorezmshakh.
  • Explore Kyrk Molla Hill (Forty Mullahs Hill), a fortress covering three hectares that includes the famous Mamun Library (8th-9th centuries) and an ancient cemetery believed to hold present-day healing powers.
  • Walk through the Fakhreddin Razi Mausoleum (a.k.a. mausoleum of Arslan II, 13th century), one of the oldest, most unique structures in all of Central Asia.
  • Drive to the Mausoleum of Najmaddin Kubra (12th century), the founder of the Sufi order Kubrawiya, and a favorite pilgrimage site for visiting Muslims.
  • Walk through the Sultan Ali Mausoleum (16th century), a half-completed structure intended for a powerful Turkmen ruler but left unfinished due to ongoing war.
Drive in the afternoon to Darvaza Gas Crater in the Karakum Desert (270km, 4hrs), crossing sand dunes in the 4WD for the final 8 kilometers.
Arrive to the crater in the evening and set up camp. Enjoy a spectacular sunset view before admiring the crater’s flames accentuated by a pitch-black sky. The fire crater is about 80 meters in diameter and 30 meters deep, and staring into these ‘Gates of Hell’ with your own eyes is an experience like no other. Set up camp and enjoy a delicious dinner cooked over the fire as you lounge near the burning crater.
Overnight in tents or a yurt.
Tour Duration: approximately 3 hours
Meals Provided: Lunch, Dinner
Wake up early to see the sunrise and enjoy a camp- style breakfast before continuing your journey. Before leaving the desert, you’ll stop to visit the nearby mud and water craters.
Depart for Ashgabat (280km, 4hrs), stopping to take photos of sand dunes and camels along the way. Visit Erbent Nomadic Village, one of the few nomadic villages still existing in the desert, to learn about the traditional Turkmen lifestyle.
Arrive in Ashgabat. End of From Ashgabat to the Gates of Hell Tour.
Meals Provided: Breakfast

Price includes:

  • All transfers (sedan/minivan in Ashgabat, 4WD in Kunya Urgench and Darvaza);
  • Lunch in Kunya-Urgench;
  • One-way domestic airline ticket from Ashgabat to Dashoguz, economy class;
  • Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
  • Utensils and necessary equipment for camping (tents, sleeping bags, sleeping mats, pillows, dining table, chairs);
  • Camp-style dinner and breakfast at Darvaza Gas Crater;
  • English-speaking tour guide to accompany travelers for the full duration of tour.

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