Darvaza Gas Crater,
Turkmenistan | Turkmenistan
Travel Guide

Known as the gateway to hell, the Darvaza gas crater is Turkmenistan's most popular and intriguing tourist attraction. Although not an official site to visit, most visitors to Turkmenistan do so to call at the giant flaming pit in the desert.

Darvaza Gas Crater, Turkmenistan
(Gates to Hell)

The Darvaza Gas Crater, colloquially known as the ‘Gateway to Hell’ is a large burning crater in the middle of the Turkmen desert which has been burning since 1971.

Today, the crater is a must-see site when visiting Turkmenistan.

The smouldering rock and sand mixed with the roaring flames at the bottom of the pit seem entirely out of place in this otherwise barren desert.

We recommend visiting Darvaza for every intrepid adventurer to Turkmenistan, and for this reason, it features on all of our group tour itineraries to the country.

Here, we provide our complete guide to visiting the Darvaza Gas Crater. Everything you need to know about the Turkmenistan Gates of Hell, and how to visit them yourself!

Feel free to skip below to the relevant chapter. 

Darvaza Gas Crater Contents

Darvaza Gas Crater History
Visiting the Darvaza Gas Crater
Where is the Darvaza Gas Crater?
Where to Stay at Darvaza Gas Crater?
Darvaza Gas Crater Rumours & Stores 
Darvaza Gas Crater FAQS

darvaza gas crater

Darvaza Gas Crater History

So, where did the Darvaza Gas Crater come from?

The crater is the result of a mining accident in 1971.

Soviet engineers were mining for natural gas, an abundant resource in the then-Turkmen SSR.

The mining operation ended when the rig collapsed in on itself forming a large crater in the middle of the desert.

Engineers at the mine site decided the risk of leaving poisonous natural gas leaking from the ground was too high. So, they decided to set alight the gas pocket. They expected it to burn out within a few days.

50 years later, it’s still burning!

Despite what people think, there are other collapsed gas craters in the area.

During our visits to Darvaza, we pass by two notable examples.

Mud Crater

The mud crater is filled with soft mud, through which gas bubbles up and is released into the atmosphere.

Water Crater

The water crater is similar, except filled with water. This allows a clear view of the bubbles of gas seeping out of the ground below.

Visiting the Darvaza Gas Crater


Since 1971, the Darvaza Gas Crater has become a national symbol of Turkmenistan.

It is often regarded as their number 1 tourist attraction.


Where is the Darvaza Gas Crater?

The crater lies deep in the Kara Kum Desert, approx 300km from Ashgabat.

The drive to the Gates of Hell will take around 3.5 hours in one go. Although it’s best to make stops at sites and villages along the way.

The Gas Crater sits close to the border between Ahal Province and Dashoguz Province.

We travel along the P1 Highway, crossing the border into Dashoguz Province just before we arrive at the Darvaza Gas Crater.

The final 8km of the journey from the highway is off-road. over sand dunes and along rudimentary paths, meaning this is best done in a 4x4.


Where to Stay at Darvaza Gas Crater?

There are a few options.

Camping at the Darvaza Gas Crater

On all of our tours, we camp next to the gas crater overnight. Camping provides the best view of the Gates of Hell overnight. Plus, it allows us the freedom to be closer to the crater for longer periods.

This is something you’ll definitely want to do once you see it!

It's pretty cool! (Or hot..!)

We feel it provides the best opportunity to experience the Darvaza Gas Crater at its most incredible.

Yurt Camps

There are a few small yurt camps, although the quality of the accommodation varies and isn’t very reliable since they aren’t regularly maintained.

Local Tea Houses

Some people opt to stay at local tea houses near the main road. However, these do not provide bedding and are a significant distance away from the crater. So we do not recommend choosing this option.

darvaza gas crater

Darvaza Gas Crater Rumours & Stories

There is only one documented account of somebody intentionally entering the crater: George Kouronis.

This was done as part of a documentary series when a man in a custom-kevlar suit climbed into the gas crater. Despite being quite overdramatic, it was an exciting feat.

However, local people will always have stories about somebody they’ve heard of falling in.

Whether that be tourists, drivers, or guides.

Our most reliable source informs us that a few years ago, a taxi driver may (or may not) have had too much to drink and fell into the crater.

However, since the crater is not burning hot all over, all of the time, he wasn’t killed.

Despite breaking a few bones, he was rescued by local drivers. Some suggest his potential drunkenness is what helped him survive the fall!

Darvaza Gas Crater FAQs

Can you stay at Darvaza Gas Crater?

Yes! There are several options to stay at the Gates of Hell. 

Has anyone ever fallen into the Darvaza Gas Crater?

Yes? Maybe? There has only ever been one documented case of someone going in. Other rumours suggest there have been more... 

What is the Darvaza Gas Crater?

A massive burning crater that was the result of a mining accident in 1971.

Is there only one crater?

Despite what people think, there are other collapsed gas craters in the area.

Koryo Tours
Turkmenistan Tours

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Rich Beal

Rich Beal is our International Tours Manager.

Rich is one of our most experienced tour leaders. He has led tours worldwide since 2004, specialising in Mongolia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and the surrounding area. Currently living in Mongolia, he leads multiple specialised trips annually and has over 20 years of experience running and designing tours of the region. 

[email protected] | + 86 10 6416 7544
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