Our solitary visit to the craters of Darvaza
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Nov 13, 2012 6:46 AM Last Post By: futtrup
Nov 10, 2012 8:01 AM
Our solitary visit to the craters of DarvazaTurkmenistan - Given the difficulty of finding information I wanted to tell our autonomy visit to the crater of Darvaza, walking and sleeping in the desert without tools for orientation and without a tent. The view of the crater was exciting, but even better was the solitary walk in the desert at dusk, night and dawn.
Paola and I we left at 14:00 from Asghabat with 6-seater taxi direct to Urgench (strong bargaining, in the end we payed 100 manat in two = $ 35), after 4 hours of desert overcome a concrete bridge and cross the railway, one km after they, at left, there is a little chaikhana (simple guesthouse) where you can eat and sleep (with about $ 10 per head per night). Can not go wrong, the concrete bridge and chaikhana are the only structures after hundreds of miles of pure desert, however the taxi driver knows where to stop. We had some food with us, we bought only water in the guesthouse and we asked the way to go by walk to the craters. They showed us the north-east, but the direction is pretty east, perpendicular to the road.
At 18.30 we walked into the desert for about an hour, reaching the highest dune just behind the rail, where you could still see the road and the chaikhana. The dune ideal place to stop is the one where the curve of the rail ends and begins the straight, a label indicating the mileage 246 km. At the same place you can arrive from paved road at the point where it crosses the railroad tracks and walk along the railway line up to 246 km after the bend, but it's much more fascinating walking in the pure desert.
We could not continue without the reference to the light of the crater, we waited for the sunset there eating our supplies: beautiful We could not continue without the reference to the light of the crater, we waited for the sunset there eating our supplies: beautiful moment. If you want, you can approach the crater during the day, simply looking the east, always from the dune close to the railway, search a metal antenna and follow it. But this we realized later.
At about 20:30 it was dark and light emitted from the crater began to see, just to the east, we followed it with the torch for an hour and a half. Around the crater we found other tourists arrived by jeep. After the photos we went to the area 400 meters from the crater to avoid fumes and we fell asleep on the sand with no tent and no sleeping bag, despite the light jacket we had cold, especially towards morning. Beautiful starry sky.
At 5.00, just beginning to dawn, we walked to the west, leaving the rising sun always exactly behind us. At about 6:30 we find the highest sand dunes close to the railway. In the distance you could see the road, the Chaikhana and concrete bridge. We did it! There waiting for the sun to rise, happy for our wonderful hike. We leave after half an hour and at eight are on the road. Let's hitch and with 50 manats (about $ 15), 25 manat per head, arrive at Asghabat 12.30.
In Iran, Masshad, we were advised not to go to see the craters because we only had a transit visa with output forced to Farab and we have deviated from the route, but we did not find police and no one has problems. In fact, we met a Japanese in Uzbekistan, not knowing the problem, is quietly released from the border of Urgench although the output required to Farab, without taking any fine.
The excursion was August 15, 2012
To see the maps:
To see photos :
Nov 10, 2012 3:40 PM
Nov 12, 2012 11:25 AM
2I've also done this without support. I hired a motor bike to the crater during the afternoon for 15usd and walked back to the road, directly west, the next morning. All in all it was very simple. Water is a must and warm clothes and a tent will make life a lot more comfortable. As long as you have the time and your exit border is Konye Urgench, I don't see any problem stopping at the crater while on a transit visa. You'll have to hitch out of Darwaza.
Nov 13, 2012 6:14 AM
3We found some guy in the parking lot where the LP says taxi's to Urgench are. However, we could not find these taxis. But we just asked people, until some guy said he would take us.
We left at about 6pm from Ashgabat. We then pulled over at the gas drilling station and the guy there took us in the state gas company truck.
Spent maybe an hour at the crater. Then on the way back the truck got stuck in the sand. An hour late the truck was free and we get badk to the road and drove back to ashgabat, returning at about 3am.
We paid less than $30 return each + maybe $10 each for the truck.
Nov 13, 2012 6:46 AM
4We where at Darvaza last month - with a jeep - arriving at 17:00 - we enjoyed the evening at the crater and suddenly around 22:00 a Japanese guy turns up on a motor bike. Also on a transit visa (entering from Iran - leaving to Uzbekistan), he jumped on a noon-train from Ashgabat (14 Manat, I think), and got of at the nearest train-stop to the crater where he found a basic place to sleep.
Our guide was quite curious how he got the men on motor bikes to take him, but he said he just said the Russian word for fire, and negotioated a price. After 15 minutes and one picture, he rode back with transport...
We stayed the night, it is a wonderful place - go before they shut it down in a year or two. The president visited last year, and demanded it extinguished, so they are drilling for the gas pipe around the crater, so they can cut it off from it's source.
A small video I put together, to get a feeling about the desert, the road and the crater...
Link to video
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