PLACE: “Door to Hell”
NOTORIOUS: Desert Hole
NEAREST AIRPORT: Ashgabat Airport (2.5 hrs drive)
COORDINATES: 40.25264, 58.43941
CURRENCY: Turkmenistan Manat
Yes – the appropriate response is WTF? This giant hole in the desert has been on fire for over 40 years and is nicknamed by locals the ‘door to hell’. And yes – it is as depressing as it sounds. Soviet geologists were drilling at this site in 1971 and hit a cavern of natural gas. The ground beneath the drill collapsed and created this crazy hole in the middle of the desert.
In order to prevent poisonous gases from entering the atmosphere, they decided to set it on fire. Even though they hoped it would burn off in a few days, it still continues to burn to this day. FYI,the capital of Turkmenistan is called Ashgabat and this area is about 260 km north of that city. What a trip and it’s eerily sad.