This is a short overnight tour from Khiva giving you a brief introduction with Turkmenistan’s two major landmarks: an ancient city of Konye Urgench – one of the 3 UNESCO listed historical sites in Turkmenistan and Darwaza gas crater dubbed as Door to Hell.
This city has been around since at least the 4th Century BC, and was destroyed on at least 2 occasions, by Genghis Khan (in 1221 he burned the city and flooded it), and Tamerlane (in 1373 he razed the city and massacred the population). These days, most of it remains hidden underground, with just a few structures scattered over a wide, open area.
Overnight you will stay at the camp by the crater and will watch the spectacular and fascinating game of flames erupting from the earth.
Please keep in mind, that Turkmen visa is given only strictly for the number of days you booked your tour and you are not allowed to extend visa unless tour is booked. As a result, Turkmenistan is quite expensive for the tourists with daily budgets starting from 200$ (stays are authorized only in state owned hotels and you can’t stay overnight in cheaper private accommodations and you are obliged to have a tour guide). For budget wise travelers a transit visa restricted by 5 days is the only option to save on accommodation and guide.
- Konye Urgench - the UNESCO world heritage site in Turkmenistan was once the capital of the Khorezm Empire and the centre of the Islamic world until its sacking by Genghis Khan and Tamerlane in the 13th and 14th centuries. The town’s water supplies came from the Amu Darya (or Oxus in Ancient Greek); the legendary Central Asian river crossed by Alexander the Great and which Genghis Khan used to flood Urgench to end the siege of the city.
- Darwaza - burning gas crater also known as 'The Door to Hell'. In the evening watch the spectacular and fascinating view of the gas crater.
- BBQ dinner & overnight in tents/yurt nearby Darwaza, witnessing breathtaking views of burning crater in the night in the midst of Karakum (Black Sand) desert.
Pick up from your hotel in Khiva and drive to Uzbek-Turkmen border. After crossing formalities (1-3 hours), meet your tour guide and start 3.5-hour drive to Darwaza – burning Gas Crater, known as "Door to Hell". While drilling in 1971, Soviet geologists tapped into a cavern filled with natural gas. The ground beneath the drilling rig collapsed, leaving a large hole with a diameter of 60 m and 20 m deep. To avoid poisonous gas discharge, it was decided to burn it off. Geologists had hoped the fire would use all the fuel in a matter of days, but the gas is still burning today. In the evening, watch the spectacular and fascinating view of the gas crater.
BBQ dinner & overnight in tents/yurt.
Picnic style breakfast. Drive to Koneurgench (3.5h), sightseeing: Portal of Caravansaray, Mamun Minaret, II Arslan Mausoleum, Sultan Tekesh Mausoleum, Academy of Horezm, Kutlug Timur Minaret, Turabek Hanum Mausoleum. Transfer back to the border, and meet your Uzbek driver after crossing formalities. Return to Khiva.
Turabek Khanum Mausoleum (from the 1300s)
This structure has an amazing dome of 365 interlocking tiles that make up a “night sky”, as well as 24 pointed arches, 12 bigger arches below that, and four big windows. Note the numbers here: 365 = days in a year, 12 = months in a year, 4 = weeks in a month, 24 = hours in a day.
Although nobody is certain who is buried here, it is dedicated to Turabek-Khanym, a Mongolian princess and a patron of women. For this reason, women in particular, come to leave offerings.
Minaret of Kutlug Timur
This 60m, now very crooked, tower is from the 11th and 12th centuries, and the highest in Central Asia. It is ringed by eighteen ornamental strips and three belts of inscriptions in Kufi, and used to be crowned with a wooden lantern.
Mausoleum of Sultan Tekesh
This is one of the few surviving monuments from the pre-Mongol era and was originally co-located with a Madrassah and Library. The conical (rather than dome-shaped) roof was typical of the 12th Century.
Price per person
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