How Did it All Begin?
A fiery crater that has been burning for decades. Some call it the ‘Door to Hell’ and some the ‘Darwaza gas crater.’ It is claimed that the fiery crater was accidentally created in Turkmenistan in 1971 when a group of Soviet engineers was searching for oil fields in the area. When they began drilling, the ground beneath their equipment collapsed, taking with it the entire drilling rig.
After the crater’s creation, geologists set it on fire to prevent the spread of methane gas. They thought the crater would burn for a few weeks, but they were wrong. It has been burning for more than four decades. No one knows when it will die down.
The crater is around 274 kilometers away from the capital Ashgabat. According to Wikipedia, it has a 226 ft diameter and is 98 ft deep. The Door to Hell, as locals call it, certainly reminds us of the myths of the underworld.
In recent years, the Door to Hell gained more popularity and has become one of the main tourist attractions in Turkmenistan. The Turkmen government, however, only promoted the UNESCO World Heritage sites such as Kunya-Urgench, Ancient Merv, and Nisa for a long time, thinking the crater would cause a bad reputation for the country. They have very recently accepted the fame of the crater and took some actions to promote it as a tourist attraction.
Where to Stay
As the crater is in the middle of a remote desert, it is difficult to find hotels nearby. But there is an exciting option, especially for all the thrill-seekers out there. You can stay in a Turkmen yurt that is set up around the burning crater and enjoy the mesmerizing view of the flaming fires. We especially recommend travelers to go and see it just before the sunset.
We as TripLegend will offer a trip to Turkmenistan soon, visiting the Door to Hell together with you. You can find our current trips here. Subscribe to our newsletter if you want to travel with us to the Door to Hell!