The Door to Hell, Derweze, Ahal Province, Turkmenistan
Measuring 69 metres from side to side and 30 metres deep, The Door to Hell captivates visitors with its fearsome flames and boiling mud in the Karakum Desert, an otherwise-remote area in northern Turkmenistan that makes for the unlikeliest of destinations for tourists. Burning without interruption since 1971, The Door to Hell rages and roils, a pit of blazing methane that lights the night skies and makes for a terrifying spectacle.
There is much legend, myth and mystery, but the crater’s origins are rather more prosaic, the result of an ill-fated Soviet mission to find oil in Turkmenistan’s rich fields, efforts to drill striking a natural gas pocket, with the ground collapsing into an underground cavern and the subsequent flames claiming all. Unique and strangely fascinating, The Door to Hell is a sight to behold, with the most courageous visitors choosing to camp in the surrounding desert before making their approach.