There are places on Earth that surprise because of the extraordinary way in which they are shown to the world: waterfalls that fall into the void from hundreds of meters, lakes with pinkish waters or corners that contrast enormously with the environment in which they are located. In this last category we must include the Darvaza well, a artificial crater in full Karakum desert in Turkmenistan whose tongue of fire burns within continuously for more than 50 years.
Located in the Karakum desert already about 260 kilometers north of Ashgabat, the capital of the country, the crater known as “Door to hell” burning continuously since 1971 and it is a spectacle for neighbors and the small number of tourists who come to Turkmenistan, a country that is difficult to go to as a tourist.
In fact, the few visitors who come to this place, included among the “The 101 Wonders of the World”, It is recommended that you go with an organized circuit, since going on your own means walking for hours from the highway and camping at night in this inhospitable place.
Origin of the crater in 1971
The crater, of about sixty meters in diameter and more than twenty deep, It has a temperature inside of 400 ° C and was created after an accident in 1971 during gas prospecting works by Soviet geologists, who were carrying out different drillings in the Karakum desert, a area of great wealth in oil and natural gas.
When drilling began, they found a bag of natural gas and with the weight of the machinery, a ground collapse, that sank, exposing a huge underground cave of methane gas, also modifying the nature of other nearby pits that, in the same way, collapsed, being exposed.
Fearing that the crater would cause the escape of various dangerous natural gases, the team decided to set it on fire. They estimated that it would be extinguished in a few days, however, it has been burning for five decades. Since then it burns non-stop and offers an impressive show.
End of the flames of the Darvaza crater?
Although it is considered a wonder of nature, Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, the president of Turkmenistan, has already warned several times about the closure of the Darvaza well, requesting that options begin to be studied to put an end to the flames at the “Gates of Hell” because is causing ecological damage and affecting people’s health who live in the area.
Likewise, the president, in power since 2006, has already proposed closing this tourist attraction in 2010, and lamented the large amount of natural gas that has been wasted for half a century, which he considers a loss for his country’s economy and an ecological problem for the Karakum desert.
However, the tongues of fire, which attract hundreds of tourists every year, are still burning.