Turkmenistan’s Gates of Hell

This giant burning gas crater in the middle of the Karakum desert in Turkmenistan is known as ‘the gates of hell’!

It was created in 1971 when a Soviet drilling rig accidentally punched into a massive underground natural gas cavern.

To control the gas release, the Soviets set the hole alight, hoping it would stop burning within a few weeks.

Nearly 50 years later, it’s still going.

Today it is a popular tourist destination. When I visited in 2019, quite a few teams taking part in the Mongol Rally were camping and partying there. It was bizarre to meet several British people in their early 20s in the middle of the Karakum desert in Central Asia thousands of miles from home.

The crater during daylight hours
And at night
People hanging our on the rim of the crater
Watching the flames
The crater at night
Feeling the heat
The burning crater