Darvaza Gas Crater

When the Sovjets where digging for natural gas in the desert of what is now Turkmenistan they noticed that one of the holes they had dug was filled with gas. To get rid of this gas they made the decision to light it. Instead of burning away however it turned out that the gas was leaking through the rocks; keeping the flames burning ever since…

I managed to find someone to split the costs of getting to this incredible place only on the 3rd day of my 5 day transit-visa for Turkmenistan. This meant going there in the afternoon of my 4th day and returning to Ashgabat in the same night. This gave me one day only (the last day of my visa) to get across the desert and out of the country before the border would close at 6pm. It was a very long and tiring day of racing with taxis and I made it with an hour to spare, but it was definitely worth it!

Watch out! Camels!
Entering the desert.

Camels blocking the way.
There are three craters; this one is filled with water, there's one that has some bubbling mud in it and then there is the gas crater.
The jeep we rented to get to the gas crater. It looks brand new and for a reason: if your car is dirty you can get a fine in Ashgabat!
We arrived to the crater just before dusk, when the crater just looked like a big hole in the ground. It was only when the sun began to set that the orange glow of the flames became visible. Standing next to the crater was very hot, and it was no fun being downwind from this massive furnace.
We were there until it became very dark with the crater as the only source of light.
A last glance back at this weird place before leaving. The sight might not be around much longer; the president of Turkmenistan has announced plans to extinguish the flames..

The burning Darvaza Gas Crater.