Turkmenistan: An unwelcome guest tries to join me on my first night bush camping

map-showing-route-of-odyssey-overland-istanbul-singapore-journey

The route: Istanbul to Singapore

The overland trip would take six months.  It starts in Turkey and finishes in Singapore.  One third of our time would be spent camping.

However, it’s hard to camp much after Kyrgyzstan, so little camping would be done after this country, just a few nights in Tibet. So really, we camp 50% of the time until we enter China.

Now, I joined the trip six weeks late, missing Turkey, Georgia and Armenia.   I’d rather have not done, but one ‘benefit’ (or so I thought) is that I would miss a reasonable chunk of the camping.

At the beginning of the trip, and certainly prior to leaving the UK,  I thought this was one of the few silver linings that came from missing the beginning.  But writing this post having experienced our last bush camp, I realise that I missed a significant part of what makes overlanding such a different and wonderful travel experience.

My first bush camp on this trip was in the desert of Turkmenistan. For a country that doesn’t seem to allow much free movement of tourists, (or even seem to want tourists) I found it odd that we were able to wild camp. Although, of course our guide/minder was still with us.

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Home Sweet Home

We pitched our site in the Karakum Desert, home to the eternally burning Darvaza Crater. Turkmenistan is the hottest country in Central Asia and it must have reached nearly 40 degrees most of the days we were there.  Certainly 35, a few of us suffered heat stroke.

Whilst you did get some respite when the sun went down, the heat just came from other locations. When you went to bed, the heat radiating out of the ground made it feel like you were lying on an electric blanket.  As if you weren’t hot enough!

The following morning, my inexperience at bush camping meant I was all a dither trying to work out something simple like how I could clean my teeth.  Not being as organised as those who’d been doing this for six weeks meant my tent mate was kindly dismantling our tent whilst I was flustering elsewhere.

I noticed a bit of commotion over at our tent,  and THIS was found under the window flap on the outside of our tent.  Of course, on my side.   It is a camel spider. A shiver has just gone through me having seen it again.

camel-spider-on-a-hand-karakum-dessert-turkmenistan

This still freaks me out.

So, I soon learnt that bush camping had lots of positives – you can get off the beaten track, most of the time it’s peaceful and you’re the only people around –  but there will be a few things you’ll come across that could freak you out. But I wouldn’t change it for anything.  Now…where is my toothbrush.

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