Memos from Asia

Darvaza Gas Crater – A Mysterious Burning Cavity in the Desert of Turkmenistan

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Turkmenistan has unique and breathtaking tourist destinations, which you cannot see in other countries.

In Turkmenistan, about 270 km (167.8 miles) to the north of the capital city Ashgabat located a unique gas crater called Darvaza.

The gas crater took its name from the village Darvaza, which means “Gate” in English.

Nothing can survive whether alive or not in the great force of the erupting fire except some bacteria. Moreover, anything that goes into the crater is unlikely to ever get out from it. (Awesome World,

The gas has been burning for 49 years. The climate around is hot and temperature inside the crater can reach up to 1000° Celcius, about 1832° in Fahrenheit. (Iz,

Man-made mistake

Darvaza Gas Crater, The Gate of Hell, or Door to Hell. In the middle of the Karakum Desert, Central Turkmenistan, Central Asia. The crater was created by the collapse of drilling equipment onto an underground cave, and the gas was set on fire in 1971. It’s still burning. It is now the prime tourist destination in Turkmenistan.

Surprisingly, the gas crater was found due to the mistake of geologists. In 1971, Soviet professionals started drilling to explore new natural resources in the area. During the exploration, something special has happened. Accidentally, the geologists opened an underground large cavity, where all equipment, transport and tools fell into the flame-filled crater.

Fortunately, nobody injured, but natural gas has started to come out. In order not to cause damage to local people of Darvaza village, geologists set fire to the gas hoping that it will completely burn out in a few days. But it was a huge mistake.

Few days, weeks and decades passed and it is still burning today due to the huge gas resources of Turkmenistan. The gas is a valuable resource and many people cannot afford to use it, but here it has been burning for years like an unnecessary waste. (Advantour,

Interesting facts

The Darvasa Gas Crater is also commonly known as the “Gates of Hell” among European tourists.

The diameter of the Crater is 60 metres (196.85 feet) approximately equal to the size of the half of a football field.
The depth is 20 metres (65.6 feet) like the height of the 7-storey building.

The fires and flames from the Gas Crater may soar to the height of 10-15 metres (32.8-49.2 feet). (Awesome World,

Tourist attraction

Yurts and camping at the site of Darvaza gas crater, Turkmenistan.

The best time to visit the Darvaza is early evening. You can enjoy the fascinating scenery of burning crater in the middle of desert Kizilkum.

The gas crater is the only tourist attraction around, but a few kilometres to the south of Darvaza Crater, you can find a cafe to have a snack and drink tea. However, the nearest shops are located about 90 km south away. (Travel,

The next incidents

Specialists tried to put out the fire in the Gas crater Darvaza, but could not manage to achieve the expected results. In 2004, the village of Darvaza was demolished and residents relocated to other regions of Turkmenistan.

In 2010, the president decided to fill out the gas crater, but the plan was never accomplished.

Going down to the inside

Do you know anybody brave enough to go down to the Darvaza?

George Kourounis – the Canadian traveller and extremal found a rare type of special bacteria in the bottom place of the crater. (Orexca,

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