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Old 2 Oct 2007
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Turkmenistan - Darvaza craters

We'll be going trough Turkmenistan soon and are planning to visit these famous gas craters.

Does anybody have a GPS waypoint of the craters? Or maybe some sort of description.

We'd rather do this without guide.

PS. What is the current black market rate in turkmenistan
PPS. any good places to stay in Ashgabat?
PPPS. Is merve worth a detour?

Sorry about all the ps's :-)
2006-2007-2008 : Brussels - Cape town - Tokio - Lubumbashi - Brussels

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Old 2 Oct 2007
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I don't think you can travel on this route without a guide, its a sensitive part of the country. If you are on a transit visa, I believe the highway through Darvaza is off-limits. David at stantours will know for sure.

The gas craters are spectaular though!
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Old 3 Oct 2007
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We're planning to go to Darvaza next year and are going to use Stantours on a tourist visa. The craters are difficult to find and as quoted from the Central Asia LP guide - "Getting to the craters is a serious off-road ride and drivers often get lost or get stuck in the dunes."
It's worth getting the book if you're going - it's stuffed full of useful information.
Have a great trip.
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Old 3 Oct 2007
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Talking no problem

Originally Posted by davidmc View Post
I don't think you can travel on this route without a guide, its a sensitive part of the country.
definitely you can get there on your own; its very close to the main road;
when you will cross the railway in Darvaza .... you have just missed the turn right to the crater;

Ask the guys on the railway crossing.
We went there alone and we got a bit lost. But I must say in Darvaza we went to buy some excelent mutton meat (after the railway on the right) and I drunk with the guy few glasses of vodka...

But when we were lost we had to cross few dunes which was fun. Since it was getting dark we could see the burning hole from quite far. Just get on the highest dune and you will see it. I think it was about 20km north-east from the main road, but better ask the guys on the railway crossing.

The next day we found the right way back ...and it was easy and no so funny.

Photos from the hole:


You can see the hole from quite far:


And visit this guy - he is very nice, has some good 80 oct fuel, excelent mutton meat, vodka and not to good hot bear;


good luck!
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Last edited by lordmaciek2; 3 Oct 2007 at 16:27.
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Old 3 Oct 2007
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Google earth...


I took GPS coordinates from google earth. Search for an orange spot in the dessert near Darvaza. They where quite accurate. I don't have them with me here, but I can send them if I happen to carry my GPS in an internet cafee, or in a month or so when I'm back home.

Before the railway is when comming from the south (Aschabat). Otherwise (our route... ) its shortlyt after the railway ... ;-)

We asked and got a 7 day transit visa, told the guy's at the border all places we wanted to visit, and everything was nicely entered on our transit card (and never checked). At the transportation office, better tell them you take the short way trough, cause you pay fuel taxes based on your iternary.

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Old 5 Oct 2007
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Here they are

Turn off
N 40 11' 31"
E 58 24' 43"

N 40 15' 10"
E 58 26' 28"

I hope you like kebabs and chaslick


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Old 9 Oct 2007
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Excellent information, thanks a lot!

LodMaciek: nice outfit! ;-)

Robbert, don't they check the destinations on your card to calculate the road tax?
I was planning on visiting Merv too, which adds a lot of kilometers co;pared to the shortest route.
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Old 9 Oct 2007
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filling the gaps

Well, you've got the GPS points, and true they are not too far from the main road. I didn't even notice any train tracks so they might get buried every now and then.

Black market rate last year was 24,000 Manat to one Dollar. You can get a very colourful 50 Manat note, must cost more to print than they are worth, but they are only used for bus tickets.

Places to stay in Ashgabat.... you are required to register and can only really stay at Hotels. The hotels are all pretty standard, but one has a chinese restaurant which is OK, and is near some of the embassies (Tajik and Kyrgyz)

They are pretty tight about restricting your mileage, especially in the North where I had KGB all over me, following me around while I looked for spark plugs!!
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Old 17 Oct 2007
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Already in Iran now. Turkmenistan was great! A bit short though...

The GPS points for the crater are excellent, about 200meter off, but that's ok :-) One of the most amazing things we have seen thus far!

Ashgabat is one of the other amazing things.... crazy country!

The most amazing was the fuel though, the cheapest in the world I presume? We payed 1eurocent (0.01euro) for 1 liter of diesel, the happiest moment in my life! (sortoff)

We were on transit btw, no registration needed, no hassles at all by police. We could always go wherever we wanted to. I'll post some more practical tidbits later on.
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