Darvaza Gas Crater

Darvaza - Gates of Hell

Darvaza gas crater, known also as the Gates of Hell, is one of the most mysterious places in Turkmenistan. It is a fire breathing hole of incredible size among the Karakum desert dunes that cover roughly 70 % of Turkmenistan. This 69 m diameter and 30 m deep open hole is located on a flat desert area, halfway along the Ashgabat-Karakum-Dashoguz highway, not far from the village of Derveze.

The phenomena of freely burning methane continues to excite the imagination of tourists willing to see this famous sight with their own eyes. As most of the about 6000 tourists that visit Turkmenistan yearly visit Darvaza as well, there are yurts and toilet facilities built next to the crater for the ones not willing to camp in a tent. Turkmenistan tourism agency does not willingly promote the site even though it is the most popular sight of Turkmenistan.

Spewing flames and fireballs across its deep hole, like a small volcano, the gate of hell is best viewed at night and many choose to camp near it in tents.  During the night time, in an empty desert with only the stars above, you can see the reddish light or flames from the ground in the distance and hear a distant rumble from the crater already from far away.

History of Darvaza gas crater

The origin of the fire is from a gas leak that was tried to be blocked by exploding the gas. Instead of gas leak stopping, the crater began to breathe fire and has done now so allegedly for about 50 years since 1971 but there are also other contradicting stories on the birth of the hole, depending on from who you ask. 

There is no reliable information on how long the phenomena is expected to continue meaning it is better to go and see it while it lasts. Darvaza can be seen easily on the way traveling between Ashgabat and Konye Urgench or Khiva region in Uzbekistan through the famous Karakum desert.

Darvasa burning gas crater in Karakum desert in Turkmenistan

Destinations near Darvaza

Page updated 20.2.2021

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