Darvaza (Door To Hell)

The gates of the fiery depths are in the middle of the Turkmenistani desert. Approximately 160 miles north of the capital Ashgabat, an enormous crater burns with sulphuric flames, illuminating the clouds above and blasting heat for miles around. In the late 1960s, Soviet engineers suspected the site to contain massive oil reserves. The drilling rig they built collapsed to create a crater 230 feet wide and 20 feet deep. In a bid to burn off the excess gases, the Soviets lit the crater and it has been burning constantly ever since.

Located in the province of Ahal, the village of Darvaza - meaning "gate" - is the base from which to visit the mighty crater and see its hypnotic flames, and the best way to view it is at night. Many visitors take the opportunity to camp nearby and explore the vast, arid plains of the Karakum desert. To the northwest, the beautiful and lush Kaplankyr nature reserve provides a green oasis and numerous activities for the outward-bound adventurer. Home to nomadic Turkmen horsemen, a popular way to enjoy the landscape surrounding Darvaza is on a steed of your own.


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One of the best ways to acclimatize to local life is to spend at least one night in a traditional yurt. Camping in the desert with an unobstructed view of the fiery pit of Darvaza, under a canopy of stars is a truly unforgettable experience.

Door to Hell

A trip to the center of Turkmenistan would not be complete without a visit to the stunning burning crater at Darvaza. With no safety rails or precautions, drive up and peer into the fiery depths at your own risk.

Horse riding

Get a taste of the life of a Turkmenistani nomad and explore the Karakum desert on horseback. Adventures on native Akhal Teke horses can be organized and provide a unique and authentic way to see the local landscape.

Kaplankyr nature reserve

For a little respite from the desert, make the journey to mountainous and green Kaplankyr. Home to countless species of rare and endangered flora and fauna, not to mention mountains to climb and lakes to swim, a visit to the reserve is a nature lover and explorer’s dream.

Karakum desert

Stretching from Ashgabat in the south to Dashoguz in the north, explore the stunning expanse of desert that covers much of Turkmenistan and characterizes its wild, unique beauty.

Turkmenistan Regions

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