The Gates to Hell: Darvaza Gas Craters in

The Gates to Hell: Darvaza Gas Craters in

The Darvaza gas craters in #Turkmenistan, aren't the result of millions of years of changing earth or erosion, or anything natural at all. They are Soviet-era relics, a result of gas exploration and are located far out in the #desert. Don't let that deter you though, the trip to see the #active fires at the "Gates of Hell" is more than worth it.

In the middle of the Karakum Desert, a roaring fire burns from deep beneath us, its flames dancing in the darkness taunting and teasing us. The walls of the oval crater drop vertically down into the abyss of fire — one careless step and you may well be on your way to hell. They named this “darvaza” (meaning “gate” in Turkmen) for good reason. In the darkness of the night, the ferocious gas crater sure looks like the gates of hell. It’s one of the most unusual sights I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world, one of those rare sights that will stay with me for years to come.

It’s one of the most unusual sights I’ve ever seen anywhere in the world.

Strangely enough, the Darvaza gas craters aren’t the work of Mother Nature. Rather, they are a result of Soviet-era gas exploration that went terribly wrong in the 1950s. The three craters were all artificially created by gas exploration — today, one contains bubbling mud, another shallow one contains underground water, while the most impressive one is ablaze with fire visible from miles away. It’s said that scientists were concerned with the effects of the gas on nearby villages and so had lit up the crater with fire, hoping it would burn out after a few days. But now more than sixty years later, it’s still burning bright. Rumor has it that the burning gas crater may be put out for the government to continue gas exploration — so be sure to get there soon, before it disappears forever.

from  $170

One day Tour to Darvaza gas Crater

 Derweze, Dashoguz Province, Turkmenistan
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Sunset at the crater is a powerful sight, but by night, the fire crater is even more spectacular. Here are some shots from the gas craters both in the evening light and by night — regardless of the time of the day, the fire crater never fails to impress.

Before sunset, the light from the fire was already blinding
The fire crater has a diameter of approximately 70m and depth of around 50m
Standing by the edge of the gas crater is quite an exhilarating sensation
As night falls, the flames look even brighter
The gates of hell indeed
I took a photo of my mate standing next to the crater to show the size contrast
Another gas crater that’s filled with water springing up from beneath the ground
The smallest crater of all is filled with bubbling mud
Mud bubbling up from underground, producing a powerful sulphur smell

How To Get To Darvaza

The Darvaza gas craters are located in the heart of the vast and remote Karakum Desert. Getting to the crater require off-road driving and it’s easy to get lost or stuck in the dunes. Most people visit on a tour. There are no hotels in the area, most visitors camp in sheltered areas around the crater.

I traveled to Darvaza as part of an overlanding trip with Oasis Overland. Over a period of two months, our group of travelers are traveling through Central Asia on an overland truck that will see us camping in deserts and mountains, and digging up the mystery behind the Silk Road.

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