"Travel is the healthiest addiction..."
Day 03: 13 August 2017 (Sunday)
Route: Khiva - BP Shavat – Dashoguz - Darvaza – Ashgabat
Distance: 440 km
Hotel: Grand Turkmen Hotel, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
|(Overland border crossings with heavy luggage)|
Passport checks and luggage scan were done simultaneously but still it was a long tiring process. We had to wait under the shades in no-man's land in between borders for the rest to clear border formalities Some had a go at the makeshift toilet in the bushes while waiting.
|(A park in Dashaguz)|
|(The upcoming Indoor Asian Games)|
We made three trips from Uzbekistan border to Turkmenistan border on the one and only shuttle bus operating between these two borders for a fee of USD3/trip. Border clearance at Turkmenistan was again long and tedious. There was only one counter and one scanner. We had to rush as there was another big Italian group behind us eager to push through. There was no queuing system and the locals were merrily jumping the queue. We cleared border formalities at 12.30 pm. Beyond the border, our chubby, cheerful Turkmen guide Miss Ilyana and the bus was already waiting for us.
|(A 5-star hotel in Dashaguz)|
|(Beautiful interior decor)|
From Border Point Shavat to Dashaguz town is only 36 km. We had lunch at a posh Myhmanhanasy Hotel and performed our prayers there.
|(Lots of salads and fruits)|
|(The main dish, flattened whole chicken)|
Our initial plan was to visit Kunya Urgench but the only road to Kunya Urgench was in a very bad state. The tour guide advised us to skip this trip and she would change the itinerary to replace the attractions missed.
|(Riding the undulating and bumpy road to Darvaza)|
|(Driving across the Karakum Dessert)|
From Dashaguz we were transported by 10 4x4 vehicles 180 km away to the gas crater in Darvaza also known as ‘The Gate of Hell’. The Gate of Hell is situated in the hot, expansive Karakum desert in Turkmenistan, near the village of Darvaza. It is a crater of 230 feet wide that has been on fire for over 40 years. Its glow can be seen for miles around.
|(The sun was setting at the horizon)|
|(The tents and Yurt at the campsite)|
|(It was burning hot near the crater)|
|(Our Yurt on top of a hill)|
|(A BBQ dinner in the middle of the dessert)|
We had chicken BBQ and lots of fruits for dinner while watching the sunset over the burning crater. After photo taking of the crater and the surrounding desert, we drove out of the Karakum Desert around 9.30 pm towards Ashgabat 267 km south. The road was not in the best of condition and it took us nearly 4 hours to reach the city.
|(Reflection of the sunset on a hill)|
|(Standing close to the The Gate of Hell)|
We checked in the Grand Turkmen Hotel around 1.30 am and stayed overnight there.