The Darvaza Gas Crater is a natural gas field and tourist attraction located in Turkmenistan, Asia. Darvaza is arguably better known as the ‘Door to Hell’ or ‘Gates to Hell’, and is a stunning sight. The gas field collapsed into an underground cavern, which has paved the way for the site to become a gas crater. To combat the possible spread of methane gas, geologists set the crater on fire in 1971, and it has remained alight ever since. All of the information on the site is to follow, but we kick off with a picture of the site in all its glory!
While the exact history of the Gas Crater isn’t definitively known, it is believed theorists know the likely biography of the site. It is believed Soviet engineers discovered the site in 1971, and realised its potential. Drilling would soon commence, but soon after the ground collapsed into a wide crater. It was apparent that dangerous gases could emit from the crater and affect nearby towns, so the site was set on fire. The result of this has shocked geologists – who had originally believed the fire would burn out within weeks. However half a century later, the crater remains burning.
The future of the crater however is uncertain. In 2010, President of Turkmenistan Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow visited the site, and suggested measures should be enacted to try and limit the influence of the crater on other natural gas fields in the area. There have been some suggestions that the hole could be closed. As a nation, Turkmenistan have identified natural gas production as a key export for the future – which clearly could have ramifications for the future of the crater.
So getting into specifics – the crater is located outside the village of Derweze, Ahai Province, Turkmenistan, Asia. Derweze is commonly known as Darvaza – hence the name. The crater is located in the desert, 160 miles north of the capital city Ashgabat. The crater’s diameter is 69m (226ft), with a depth of 30m (98ft). The total area of the crater site is 5,350 metres squared. The surrounding desert area of the crater is a popular spot for camping – unsurprising given the incredible views the crater provides.
The crater is visible for around 25 miles in the nearby area. If you are planning on visiting, it can be recommended to arrange transport with a travel agent in Ashgabat. This is because the crater is located over 5 miles off roads and surrounded by desert. Correct provisions should be planned – including bringing your own food and drink. The intense heat of the crater means you can only stand at the edge (if you want to!) for around a minute maximum. The best time to view the crater is at night – with the crater positively effecting the sky. Here is a great video…
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The crater is located around a four hour drive from the capital, and provides one of the most incredible sights in Turkmenistan. There is no surprise that the crater is such a popular tourist attraction – as described in this guide – it really is stunning! The fact too that there isn’t any kind of entrance fee is great, but take care when planning your visit, given its location. Overall, the Darvaza Gas Crater is a location well worth visiting. Happy travelling!