Where is the fire pit known as the "Door to Hell"?
One would think that the burning gates to the house of the Devil were a story narrated to scare children. But lo and behold, there actually is a "Door to Hell" in the same realm where we mortals live. The Door to Hell is right in the middle of the Karakum Desert, near the Derweze or Darvaza (Persian for The Gate) Village. The village is about 260 kilometres north of Ashgabat which is the capital of Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan used to be part of the Soviet Union until 1991. The Door was mistakenly opened by a group of Soviet Union Engineers in 1971 that set up base with the notion it was an oil field.
While conducting their initial studies, the ground of the base crumbled into a gigantic crater 69 meters wide and 30 meters deep exposing a natural gas pocket. Fearing the gas would have dangerous effects on the people of the nearby Derweze village, the engineers decided to set fire to the crater. They hoped that the fuel would burn away in a few days. It has been burning for over 40 years now, thus presenting the world with a visual testimony of Turkmenistan's large reserves of natural gas (currently the 6th largest).
Well organised tours can be arranged from Ashgabat to see the blazing crater. Camping overnight is highly recommended and the best view is from dusk on through the night.
Travellers can also go on camel rides, quad bikes, and jeep safaris on the Karakom Desert.