Experience man’s ability to actually create hell on earth!
Location: Derweze, Ahal Provience, Turkmenistan
Tell Me More!!!
When Soviet scientists discovered gas resources in the Karakum Desert, they quickly got their equipment together to begin drilling. However, the ground beneath the site collapsed! This accident led to the formation of a huge crater which had major consequences. The release of methane gas was a major concern for the villagers of Darweze who lived not so far away from the crater,
Two strategies were suggested to get rid of excessive methane. Extraction; which was a dangerous lengthy process, or burning methane by setting fire to the crater which would be easier but environmentally damaging (Methane=Greenhouse gas=Global Warming). Scientists opted for the latter suggestion because it was easier. As per their calculations, the fire was to last for not more than a few days.
Forty-Three years later this crater – approximately 230 feet in diameter and growing – continues to burn and has thus been named ‘Door To Hell’. The 1971 man-made disaster has now become a rather bizarre tourist attraction. The government of Turkmenistan plans on closing this crater in order to continue with drilling, however these plans are yet to be finalized.
Best Time To Visit?!?!?
Considering that you will be traveling through a desert to see this ignited gas crater; avoid visiting during summers! Winters can get really cold at times so plan your trip accordingly. March to May and September to November are better months to visit Darweze. Visiting the crater at night will make your experience more dramatic and memorable.
How To Get There?
The adventurous may like to set out on their own with a rented vehicle, however it is safest to have a local accompany you. Alternatively, you could take a tour from Ashgabat. The journey to the crater is bumpy, about 3 hours long and requires a four-wheel-drive. If you don’t have the right vehicle, you may end up walking through sand dunes for 45 to 50 minutes to get to the crater.
Companies like DN Tours organize weekend overnight trips to the crater where you can have dinner under the stars and even spend the night in a yurt.
Is That Is???
Ashgabat is a new city with a tragic history. The earthquake of 1948 flattened the city, killing almost two-thirds of its population. The city may not have much to attract the tourist, but for a traveler, the experience will definitely be worth the visit. Apart from its numerous marble structures and a bazaar, the city enjoys its horse-racing. You can also visit the archaeological site of Nisa which was once the ancient capital of the Parthian Empire. While in the Karakum Desert, stop by the mud crater and water crater located not too far away from the Door to Hell.
Door to Hell is interesting to hear about, but trying to withstand the hot desert temperatures which escalates even higher when you stand right next to the crater, coupled with the smell of burning sulfur is something you may not want to experience. It does after all seem like….. PURE HELL!!!!