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Turkmenistan is a crossroads nation. It has traditionally found itself between two different worlds, making it an important stop for every explorer.
Most of the country is covered by the Karakum Desert, though dark soil lies underneath the sand. There is a government requirement to hire a guided tour for all visitors, but with careful planning and consideration, it can be a truly unique experience.
The Darvaza Flaming Center is one of the first stops during a stay in Turkmenistan. An oil rig struck a large pocket of natural gas in 1971 and it collapsed into a cavern which filled with fire. The decision was made to let the fire burn itself out, but it still continues to burn today. There are no facilities by the crater, but camping is often permitted. Viewing is best at night.
A trip to the Kow Ata underground sulfur lake is another wonderful experience during a holiday in Turkmenistan. It is warm all year long and rich in minerals. Accessing the lake can be somewhat difficult since the stairs are quite slippery to the cave, but the effort is definitely worthwhile.
The National Museum of Turkmenistan is another option for those who visit Asgabat. It features three sections to explore, with the presidential wing being one of the most popular areas to see. If you visit, be sure to take a close look at the official presidential photos on display.
There may be some expected rules to follow during a stay in Turkmenistan, but there are also many adventures to be found. With Medieval monuments to find and unique landscapes to see, this is definitely an investment worth making.
Travel resources for Turkmenistan.