One of the few positive legacies of the Soviet Union is the Darvaza Gas Crater. During Soviet gas explorations in the 1950s, a team was digging around in the Turkmen desert and accidentally created a series of sinkholes filled with natural gas. Someone had the bright idea to set one of the sinkholes on fire to burn off the gas and burn it did. For nearly half a century, the Darvaza gas crater has been burning day and night. It can only be described as the gate to hell. It exists at an unmarked location in the middle of the desert and its location was described to us only as ‘drive about 200km north from Ashgabat and if you cross the railroad tracks you’ve gone a little too far.’ Near the railroad tracks, we met a man who piled us into his jeep and drove us 8km into the desert where we came across the crater. We camped for the night before headed to Uzbekistan the following day. Enjoy the gallery below – it was truly one of the most incredible sites I have ever witnessed.
P.S. The Turkmen government declared in 2010 that they will be filling in the hole soon so see it while you can!