HIGHLIGHTS: Nisa, Darwaza Crater in Karakum Desert, BBQ Dinner near Burning Crater, Ashgabat (road transfer, 300 km in each direction)

After breakfast we will go for a city tour with see of Neutrality Arch, Independence Park etc. We will then drive to Nisa. Nisa (also Parthaunisa) was an ancient settlement of the Iranic peoples, located near (modern-day) Bagir village, 18 km southwest of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan.

Nisa is described by some as the first seat of central government of the Parthians. It is traditionally assumed to be founded by Arsaces I (reigned c. 250 BC–211 BC) and was reputedly the royal necropolis of the Parthian kings, although it has not been established that the fortress at Nisa was either a royal residence or a mausoleum. The fortress at Nisa was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2007.

In the afternoon, drive to Darvaza Gas Crater – one of its kinds in the World…

Deep within the expansive plains of Turkmenistan’s Karakum dessert is a jaw-dropping phenomenon that keeps defying expectations. Locals call it the “door to hell” and it’s not hard to see why. The giant sinkhole, known more formally as the Darvaza gas crater, is an incredible 69 metres wide, 30 metres deep, and is constantly in flames.

Records of how it came to be are imprecise, but it is understood that Soviet geologists initially came across the site in 1971 and believed it was rich in oil. But shortly after they began drilling, the crater collapsed and began emitting noxious gases.In an attempt to minimise the dangers of the gas, they set it alight with the expectation it would burn itself out in a matter of days. But the calculations appear to be way off, and the crater has been burning continuously for 45 years.

Arrival in Darwaza before sun set. Take dinner near the burning gas crater (BBQ dinner); discover the crater by day and evening time. Return to Ashgabat airport (slow driving after dark).