Tag Archives: ashgabat

Planning Central Asia Overland Travel

Turkmenistan, the Land of Odd

“After Iran and Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan is going to seem normal.”
– me, after a day in Ashgabat

Let’s take a show of hands. Who can identify Turkmenistan on a map, describe any significant event in its history, or name its capital city? I’ll admit that before we started to plan this trip, I would have failed all of the above. Turkmenistan is unlikely to feature on many travelers’ bucket lists. It has no world-famous sights and its visa regime makes travel bureaucratic and expensive.

From what we could tell, visitors to Turkmenistan fall into one of two categories: overland travelers en route between countries, and aficionados of the weird and wacky. For Turkmenistan’s single most defining feature is its quirkiness. This is a country where the previous leader named the days of the week after his family members, it’s illegal to drive a dirty car in the capital, and the most famous sight is a flame-emitting gas crater.

We organized a four-day, three-night trip across Turkmenistan from the Iranian border at Bajgiran to the Uzbekistan border with Stantours. We spent two nights in the capital, Ashgabat, and camped in the desert near Darvaza Gas Crater on the third night. We … Read more