Top Facts of Darvaza Gas Crater: Turkmenistan’s Door to Hell


Imagine a fiery portal, deep in the heart of the Turkmenistan desert, that’s been burning brightly for decades. This surreal spectacle isn’t a figment of science fiction; it’s real and it’s known as the Darvaza Gas Crater (Krater Gazowy Darvaza).

Nicknamed the “Door to Hell” or “Gates of Hell” this massive, smoldering crater has captured the imaginations of tourists and scientists alike, transforming an otherwise secluded desert region into a hotspot of international curiosity. Let’s embark on an enthralling journey, unearthing the secrets held within the blazing depths of this astonishing natural anomaly.

Discovering Turkmenistan’s Door to Hell

Located in the Karakum Desert, about 260 kilometers north of Turkmenistan’s capital, Ashgabat, the Darvaza Gas Crater has a peculiar charm that commands both fear and fascination. It’s a doorway to a seemingly alien world, right here on earth.

The Darvaza Crater is not a naturally occurring phenomenon, despite its raw, primal aura. Its existence, shrouded in mystery, is a fascinating tale of exploration gone wrong.

The Origin Story: Geological Quirks and Soviet Drills

Back in 1971, Turkmenistan was part of the Soviet Union. Known for their extensive mineral and natural gas reserves, the Soviets conducted rigorous exploratory missions throughout the vast expanses of their terrain. The Karakum Desert was one such place of interest, thought to harbor massive reserves of natural gas.

Visiting Darvaza Gas Crater Gate Of Hell
Ekin Yalgin

As part of their drilling expedition, the Soviet geologists started their operations on what appeared to be a substantial oil field.

However, their expectations soon plummeted, quite literally, when their drilling rig punched into a cavernous pocket of natural gas, causing the ground beneath the rig to collapse and creating a wide crater, approximately 70 meters in diameter. Fearing a catastrophic release of gas, they made a decision that would seal the fate of this place, forever etching its name in the annals of history.

The geologists decided to ignite the crater, hoping the methane gas would burn out within a few weeks. But the earth had other plans.

The gas reserves were far more extensive than initially estimated, and the flames of the Darvaza Crater have been burning non-stop ever since. Thus was born the notorious “Door to Hell,” a testament to the unpredictable power of our planet and the unintended consequences of our explorations.

Darvaza Gas Crater: A Fiery Landscape

As you approach the Darvaza Gas Crater, its fiery glow greets you from afar, an ominous beacon amidst the cold desert night. The closer you get, the more surreal the sight becomes.

It’s as if you’ve stumbled upon the earth’s own furnace, a gaping hole seething with leaping flames and spewing an eerie luminescence across the desolate landscape. The crackling sound of the fire, the waves of intense heat radiating from the crater, and the smell of burning gas all contribute to a sensory experience that’s utterly otherworldly.

Within the gaping maw of the crater, countless natural gas vents spew flames of varying sizes. Some reach several meters high, casting bizarre, flickering shadows on the scorched earth around. It’s a fiery landscape, captivating and intense, a visual reminder of the earth’s hidden energy.

A Historic Descent: George Kourounis’ Brave Venture into the Darvaza Crater

While many have gazed in awe at the fiery abyss of the Darvaza Gas Crater, few have dared to venture within its perilous depths. However, one man, driven by unyielding curiosity and a spirit of adventure, dared to do what no one had done before. His name is George Kourounis, a renowned Canadian explorer and storm chaser.

In 2013, Kourounis made headlines worldwide as the first person to successfully descend to the bottom of the flaming pit and return unscathed. Armed with a heat-reflective suit, breathing apparatus, and a sturdy rope, he embarked on this daring mission to collect soil samples and observe the crater’s interior more closely.

Once inside the pit, he described the environment as an otherworldly scene straight out of science fiction, with fiery flames licking the air around him and the intense heat making every moment perilous. His courageous descent not only expanded our understanding of the Darvaza Crater but also reaffirmed the human spirit’s relentless pursuit of discovery.

The Darvaza Crater Experience: A Tourist’s Guide

Visiting the Darvaza Gas Crater is a uniquely exhilarating adventure, promising an experience quite unlike any other. Whether you’re an intrepid explorer or a curious tourist, there’s a captivating allure to the flaming heart of Turkmenistan that’s hard to resist.

Night At Darvaza Gas Crater Gate Of Hell
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Preparing for the Visit: What You Need to Know

When planning your visit to the Darvaza Crater, remember, it’s located in a remote desert. The closest settlement, the village of Darvaza, is almost 100 kilometers away. There aren’t any standard amenities nearby, so visitors need to bring necessary supplies, including plenty of water, food, and camping equipment if you plan to stay overnight.

Night vs Day: The Dual Personalities of the Crater

The crater is accessible and awe-inspiring both day and night, but each offers a different perspective. During the day, you’ll be struck by the crater’s vastness and the desolate beauty of the surrounding desert. But it’s at night that the crater truly comes alive.

The flickering flames dance against the dark, painting an astonishing picture of living fire that illuminates the night sky. It’s an enchanting sight, one that imprints itself upon your memory and promises to be a high point of any trip to Turkmenistan.

Local Legends and Folklore: Stories Born from the Flames

Every region has its folklore, and the Darvaza Gas Crater is no exception. Despite its scientific explanation, local lore offers an alternative, more mystical origin for the fiery spectacle. To the locals, the Gates of Hell is more than just a geological wonder; it’s the source of many intriguing tales and superstitions.

One such popular legend states that the crater was formed when a passing village blacksmith struck the ground, causing a portal to hell to open up and release the fiery spirits trapped beneath. The flames of the crater are, thus, considered the wrath of these freed spirits.

While these stories may not hold up to scientific scrutiny, they add a layer of cultural richness and intrigue to the Darvaza Gas Crater’s lore.

Camping near Darvaza Crater

Believe it or not, the area around the Darvaza Gas Crater has become one of the most bizarre campsites on Earth. Imagine setting up your tent with the backdrop of a massive, fiery pit illuminating the night sky! This extraordinary camping experience offers the opportunity to witness the crater’s haunting beauty up close, under the starlit desert sky.

Camping Near Darvaza Gas Crater Gate Of Hell
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Camping here, however, comes with a few caveats. There are no designated campsites or amenities nearby, so visitors need to be self-sufficient. Safety, too, is a prime concern given the crater’s high temperatures and gas emissions. Yet for those seeking a camping experience unlike any other, a night near Turkmenistan’s Gates of Hell is undoubtedly one to remember.

Surviving the Door to Hell: Travel Tips for the Darvaza Crater

While the Darvaza Gas Crater is a spectacle worth experiencing, it’s important to take necessary precautions to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit.

  • Stay Hydrated: The Karakum desert can be unforgiving, with temperatures often soaring during the day. Carry plenty of water to stay hydrated.
  • Respect the Crater: The heat and gas emissions from the crater can be dangerous. Maintain a safe distance from the edges and don’t attempt to descend into the crater.
  • Night Essentials: If you plan on witnessing the crater at night, bring a flashlight and camping gear for a comfortable stay.
  • Leave No Trace: Help preserve the natural beauty of the site by following a “leave no trace” approach. Carry out all your waste, leaving the site as you found it.

Known By Many Names

The Darvaza Gas Crater is a spectacle that carries many monikers. While its official name refers to its geographical location near the village of Darvaza, its most popular nickname, “The Door to Hell,” was bestowed by locals, inspired by its intense, unending flames.

The crater is also referred to as the “Gates of Hell,” a title evoking the same fiery imagery. Some even call it the “Crater of Fire,” another apt descriptor of this blazing spectacle. Each name adds another layer of mystique to this unique geologic phenomenon.


Exploring the Darvaza Gas Crater is like stepping into a chapter of a sci-fi novel, an experience so surreal that it’s hard to believe it exists right here on Earth.

As the flames dance into the dark desert night and the heat ripples in the air, one can’t help but be awestruck by the raw, untamed energy that this place radiates. It’s a potent reminder of our planet’s incredible might and the captivating tales etched in its landscapes.