Thanks to new plans from the Turkmenistan government, a burning crater in the middle of Karakum desert could become a new tourism hot spot for the country. Situated about 150 miles north of the capital Ashgabat near Derweze village, lies the ‘Door to Hell’, which is the result of a drilling “blunder” by Soviet scientists.
The cavity, which is situated within a natural gas field, was created after a drilling rig collapsed in 1971. Scientists feared that an immense amount of methane gas could be emitted from the crater and harm the nearby village, so they decided to set it on fire, expecting it to burn off in days.
Now, over four decades later, the crater is still ablaze – and thousands of tourists flock to it every year. It has since acquired attention from the government and the powers are looking to turn it into a key destination for adventure tourists.
‘The burning crater… is attracting more and more interest every year, especially among foreign tourists,’ an official on Turkmenistan’s state committee on tourism told AFP.
‘The “lifeless” desert could soon become a hugely interesting destination for different types of tourism — from eco-tourism to extreme sports,’ he said.
Thrill seekers and adrenaline junkies can stand right on the edge of the crate, which despite the apparent risk and danger, is not fenced off and can reach temperatures of more than 120 degrees Fahrenheit. However, visitors are advised to exercise extreme caution as the sandy soil has the high potential to crumble away.
It may be a tad bit difficult to reach as there are no road signs pointing to the Derveze crater in the Karakum Desert, or Black Sands, which has one of the largest gas reserves in the world and is also part of a natural reserve created last year that covers an area of more than 200,000 acres.