In a Nutshell: At the heart of Turkmenistan’s Karakum Desert sits a crater of fire the size of a football field that’s been perpetually burning now for almost fifty years. Locals have suitably dubbed it the ‘Door To Hell’, officially it’s known as the Darvaza Gas Crater. It’s not volcanic, that’s not magma, in fact, this sinister flame pit was man-made and thought to be the result of a Soviet-era gas drilling accident, yet Turkmenistan has no official record. To those travellers who’ve defied all odds in having their visas granted to this closed nation, reaching the ‘Door To Hell’ is at the top of their list. I was no different, and on an overnight camping trip, I finally got to visit what camel spiders everywhere have been talking about for years. Departing Ashgabat, this is a photo essay covering my visit to the ‘Door To Hell’.
Without beating around the bush, watch the short video snippet (0.29s) below to see the ‘Door To Hell’ in all its glory. We camped beside it overnight, and I filmed this at 4am in the morning. It was a freezing desert night, but my friend and I had all the gas crater’s warmth to ourselves. A tough campfire to put out when we left, though!