Turkmenistan Trip – Group Travel | Atlas Obscura Trips
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history • 10 days, 9 nights

Turkmenistan and the Gates of Hell

history • 10 days, 9 nights

Turkmenistan and the Gates of Hell

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  • Group Size 12 People Maximum
  • Activity Level
  • Travel Style
    Overland Adventure
from $3,970 USD per person
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Trip Overview

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 Turkmenistan to experience Soviet relics, salty underground lakes, and Sufi shrines, and relax in the seaside city of Turkmenbashi, named for the controversial 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.

  • 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.

Trip Leaders

Sona was born in Ashgabat just three months before the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the subsequent independence of Turkmenistan. The transition from the Soviet to the post-Soviet system wasn't an easy one everywhere across the former USSR, and Turkmenistan was no exception. Sona, the fifth of seven children, spent her childhood through the hardships of the dramatic 1990s, but her family managed nonetheless to provide her with the best education available in the country. In 2013 Sona graduated from the prestigious Turkish University of Ashgabat; since then she has been leading international tour groups around the many wonders of the country, and assiduously working to promote the image of Turkmenistan. Sona is fluent in English, Russian, and Turkish, and gets by in Kazakh and Uzbek. But she prefers to dream in Turkmen, her harmonious mother tongue. She is an avid chess player (having won several national and international tournaments) and loves cycling around Ashgabat and swimming in the shallow waters of the Caspian Sea.
Gianluca [dʒanˈluka] was born and raised in a sunny seaside town in Tuscany. After eternal years gone by in the sweet languor of seemingly endless summers he moved north to study Slavic Languages in Berlin and Photojournalism in London. He spent the best time of his university years traveling and photographing around four continents and more than 70 countries. During his journeys, Gianluca fell hopelessly in love with the complex geopolitical and cultural heritage of a vanished land that used to be called Soviet Union. After many a trip to the region, he is now loosely based between Berlin and the Caucasus, where he spends most of his time engaging in photographic, linguistic, and gastronomic discoveries.

Additional Info


The listed price of the trip is per person based on double occupancy.

Traveling Solo?

You’re in good company. Solo travelers typically make up about half of our small groups. With curiosity at the center of our experiences, there’s a natural camaraderie that develops over the course of a trip. We have two options for you: 

Shared Room (subject to the latest Covid-19 guidelines): You'll be matched with another solo traveler of the same gender.

Private Room: Have your own room, subject to availability, for a supplemental cost of $415 USD. After booking your trip, please request a private room when you fill out your traveler information form and we’ll add the option to your booking and final balance. 

Arrival & Departure

You should plan to arrive by 3 p.m. on Day 1, and depart anytime on Day 10. 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.

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.

  • Accommodation throughout the trip at comfortable local hotels, and one overnight at a campsite
  • All meals as described in the itinerary
  • Transportation throughout the trip, including arrival and departure airport transfers
  • An experienced Atlas Obscura Leader to accompany you for the duration of the trip as well as special guests throughout
  • Admission to all proposed activities, locations, and events
  • A curious group of fellow Atlas Obscura travelers!
  • 24/7 emergency assistance during your trip, provided by Global Rescue (terms apply)
  • Special access to unique places and extraordinary experiences
  • Transportation and flights to and from Ashgabat
  • Pre- and post-trip accommodations
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including most alcoholic beverages
  • Passport and visa fees, if applicable
  • COVID-19 testing requirements
  • Customary gratuities for Trip Leader
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Trip FAQ

Turkmenistan is currently issuing visa's on arrival (as of April 2023). Atlas Obscura will arrange for the required Letter of Invitation that you will need to bring with you to secure the visa*.

The cost of the Letter of Invitation is $185 USD and non-refundable if you are denied.

It is important to understand that a visa on arrival is at the discretion of the local government authorities and cannot be guaranteed. We recommend purchasing a travel insurance policy that specifically covers this scenario (look for a package with a 'Cancel for Any Reason' policy). We're happy to connect you with our friends at Yonder Travel Insurance should you like to speak to someone directly about travel insurance options.

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.

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Upcoming Departures

  • Sep 7–Sep 16, 2023
    from $3,970
  • Sep 25–Oct 4, 2023
    from $3,970
  • Oct 26–Nov 4, 2023
    from $3,970
  • Nov 9–Nov 18, 2023
    from $3,970
Dates don't work for you?
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