Today morning we will travel 12 kilometres east of Ashgabat towards modern Anau, to visit a former medieval city of Bagabad, featuring the citadel of an important Timurid-period centre and the ruins of the Seyit Jemaleddin mosque, which is referred to in many historical sources as “house of beauty”. Many centuries ago (around the 5th mill. BC) this area accommodated the population of early Central Asian farmers who developed the world-famous Anau culture, evidences of which were discovered and extracted during archaeological researches throughout the XX century. Near Anau we will visit a private stud farm, home of the famous Akhal-Tekke horses. Welcome tea. The Akhal-Tekke breed is one of the oldest in existence and is well known for elegance, swiftness, and stamina. Having finished our photo session with the horses, we return to Ashgabat.
In the afternoon, we will travel inland through the Kara Kum desert (280 km/4-5 hrs) with its moving sands and sparse vegetation of saksaul, acacia and kandym bushes. Arriving at the border between the northern and southern regions of Turkmenistan we turn off the main road for an exciting eight-kilometre desert drive. The drive over, we find ourselves a couple of hundred metres away from the Darvaza flaming crater. At daylight, it seems more of an ordinary whole in the ground slightly smoked by fire. We go for a walk around the crater, while our barbecue dinner is being prepared. By the time we notice the smell of a fire-cooked dinner, the simple whole of the crater turns into what may seem a front door of hell, a fire temple or any other mysteriously spectacular place that a romantic’s imagination may associate with fire. We finish the day tasting delicious nomadic food, pondering over the meaning of life in the serene atmosphere of beautiful evening sky and flickering lights of the “eternal” fire. Dinner and overnight in the yurt camp.
Yurt Camp with shared bathroom facilities