The Door to Hell

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    • Day 230

      Five short days in Turkmenistan

      December 11, 2019 in Turkmenistan ⋅ ☁️ 6 °C

      For me the last of the Stan countries to travel through is Turkmenistan. As an overlander you can only apply for a transit visa, which will only be issued for a period max five days. If you are lucky that is, as not everybody is issued one at all.
      The border crossing was quite painful this time, long waiting periods between different stations of the process, manually writing all the data, such as car details, passport details in I don't know how many books, getting visa, dog certificates, getting the GPS tracker so they know you are sticking to the prescribed route ... and waiting and waiting. Then you think you are nearly there, only car inspection left... well think again.... they looked into every nook and cranny, looking for I dont know what and finding some Tramedol on my pharmacy box. Didnt know, you are not allowed to have this. And once they were done, I had to put everything back. All in all this border crossing took 3.5 hrs. Ah well, I have heard of worse ones.
      To travel south towards Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan and the Iranian border you have to traverse the Karakum Desert. FINALLY I saw my first wild camel herds. They were drinking the rain water that was collecting in the pot holed road.
      Christoph and I definitely had to stop and visit the Darvaza gas crater as well aptly named "Door to Hell". This crater is the result of Soviet-era gas exploration and has, for whatever reason been set alight and is burning since the 70s.
      To get there we had to drive through at one point quite deep sand, knowing well getting out of there the next day might be quite tricky particularly for Christoph's 2WD. Sometimes you have to take risks, we' ll worry about this tomorrow. And it was worth it, the crater was really spectacular, particularly at night.
      Yeah, and the next day. .. I got through the sand on my second try, could back out after getting stuck, but Christoph was not that lucky. Cars too far apart to pull him out. A Shepard came to our aid, some digging, no luck. How about my maxxtraxx??? Did only get 3 of the 4 locks off, dirt blocked the 4th. That's not good enough, is it? Didn't we get past a drill station on the way out with some trucks parked up, so I drive through the sand again, back to the drill station, asking for help. They cannot take the truck as it supplies the drill with power but two men can come with me to dig and push.
      Whilst they are digging and pushing I get to work on my last lock and after a lot of water jetting in with a syringe from my medical kit and poking with a needle from my sewing kit (sometimes the male tools just don't cut it!) I free the lock and with it the maxxtraxx. I am sure this was the last push anyway but my traxx at least came into action and the car was free.
      Our further journey was quite uneventful but very beautiful as the land changed more and more into a dune desert landscape with more herds of camels. These animals really fascinate me!
      Next morning getting up and out for Rex's morning walk it was freezing cold and the desert wore a stunning coat out of ice cristals. I could have walked for hours but we had to get going and get to Ashgabat, as the next day is the last day on our visa.
      Ashgabat, the white, artificial marble city, built for the president but not the people. Bombastic, very white, one of the cleanest cities I think I have ever seen, nearly only white cars driving on huge, wide, quite empty roads, ( the president apparently loves the color white). The traffic and the life on the streets quite in contrast to the busy central Asian car and pedestrian traffic. Here there are neither a lot off cars nor a lot of people in this new part of town. The ones of you who had read Momo by Michael Ende will know what I mean when I say this is what the city reminds me of. The only colorful accents at this bleakest time of the year are the women with their colorful head dresses and the schoolgirls, wearing either green or red long dresses and their little round caps. In addition they all wear their thick long hair in thick, long braids. Must be pretty in summer, when the dresses are not hidden by the winter coats.
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    • Day 42

      Tag 39

      August 24, 2023 in Turkmenistan ⋅ 🌙 29 °C

      Tag 39
      285 Kilometer
      Durch die Materialmordende Karakum Wüste direkt zum besten Nachtplatz „ ever ever ever „ - erster Wüstenfestbuddler von einem Teammitglied souverän gelöst und dann solch ein Schlafplatz 😬 …. Einfach mal "Door to hell Turkmenistan" Googlen ……😎

      Nachtplatz direkt am „Door to hell“ in Turkmenistan 🇹🇲
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    • Day 27

      Hölle Hölle Hölle

      August 23, 2023 in Turkmenistan ⋅ ☀️ 38 °C

      Den ganzen Nachmittag liefern wir uns einen Wettlauf (Schlagloch-Tango) um den besten Weg rund um die badewannen-grossen und teilweise auch -tiefen Schlaglöcher auf der Verbindungsstraße nach Norden. Das ist der einzige Weg, an den berühmten Krater zu gelangen. Das dort austretende Methan brennt seit den 70er Jahren und widersteht anscheinend allen Löschversuchen.Read more

    • Gate of Hell Turkmenistan

      October 15, 2022 in Turkmenistan ⋅ ⛅ 24 °C

      Bei Bohrarbeiten nach Erdgas mitten in der Wüste ist die Bohrstelle eingebrochen und hat einen Krater von 70 Meter Durchmesser und 30 Meter Tiefe gebildet.
      Da das ausströmende Gas ziemlich gestunken hat, beschloss man es in Brand zu setzen. Man ging davon aus, dass es dann nach 2 Wochen erledigt sei.
      Nun brennt es aber schon seit 50!! Jahren.
      Bei Nacht ein wunderbares Schauspiel und verdammt heiss 😂
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    • Day 138

      Der Höllenritt zum Tor zur Hölle

      September 21, 2018 in Turkmenistan ⋅ 🌙 22 °C

      Dann sind wir 270 km durch die Karakum gefahren. Die ersten 100 km konnte man die Wüste gar nicht erkennen, sie ist Landwirtschaftlich erschlossen.

      Das Wasser für den Aralsee wird zur Bewässerung benutzt und ist somit für eine der größten Umweltkatastrophen zuständig.

      Die Straßen sind die schlechtesten, die wir bisher erlebt haben. Wir brauchen fast 6 Stunden für die Strecke.

      Es geht dann noch 5 km Schotterpiste bis zum Krater.

      Hier stehen wir direkt neben dem Feuerkrater. 20 m tief und 60m Durchmesser.
      Seit 50 Jahren brennt dieses Loch und bisher weiss man nicht wie man es löschen soll.

      Zum Abend wird es immer beeindruckender.
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    • Day 143

      Turkmenistan, Tag 3, Darwasa

      September 21, 2018 in Turkmenistan ⋅ ☀️ 15 °C

      Es geht weiter Richtung Süden in die Karakum Wüste. Wir fahren nach Darwasa - dem " Tor zur Hölle". Dort haben die Sowjets bei Probebohrungen grosse Gasvorkommen gefunden. Jedoch spaltete sich das Gestein und das Methan entwich unkontrolliert. Da es fürchterlich stank, und ganze Schafherden starben, zündete irgendjemand vor über 30 Jahre die Gasdämpfe an - und es brennt heute noch.Read more

    • Day 32

      Darvaza Gas Crater

      September 22, 2018 in Turkmenistan

      The gas crater is located near the village of Derweze, also known as Darvaza. It is in the middle of the Karakum Desert, about 260 kilometres (160 mi) north of Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. The gas reserve found here is one of the largest in the world. The name "Door to Hell" was given to the field by the locals, referring to the fire, boiling mud, and orange flames in the large crater, which has a diameter of 70 metres (230 ft). The hot spots range over an area with a width of 60 metres (200 ft) and to a depth of about 20 metres (66 ft).

      The Darvaza gas crater and the surrounding area, including where the tents usually are pitched, a couple of hundred meters away to the south of the crater.

      According to Turkmen geologist Anatoly Bushmakin, the site was identified by Soviet engineers in 1971.[6] It was originally thought to be a substantial oil field site. The engineers set up a drilling rig and operations to assess the quantity of oil available at the site. Soon after the preliminary survey found a natural gas pocket, the ground beneath the drilling rig and camp collapsed into a wide crater and was buried.

      Expecting dangerous releases of poisonous gases from the cavern into nearby towns, the engineers thought it best to burn the gas off. It was estimated that the gas would burn out within a few weeks, but it has instead continued to burn for more than four decades.

      The early years of the crater's history are uncertain: local geologists say the collapse into a crater happened in the 1960s, and the gases were not set on fire until the 1980s. There are, however, no records available of the Soviet or Turkmen version of events.

      In April 2010, the President of Turkmenistan, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, visited the site and ordered that the hole should be closed. In 2013, he declared the part of the Karakum Desert with the crater a nature reserve.[6]

      The crater was featured in an episode of the short-lived (2014) National Geographic Channel series Die Trying. In the July 16, 2014 episode "Crater of Fire", explorer George Kourounis became the first person to ever set foot at the bottom, gathering samples of extremophile microorganisms.[11] An edited photograph of the crater was also released as publicity for the then-upcoming 2014 Godzilla film, with the image depicting MONARCH agents and vehicles investigating the site.
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    • Day 2

      Gate to Hell

      July 27, 2019 in Turkmenistan ⋅ ⛅ 38 °C

      The Darvasa gas crater, aka the gate of hell, was formed from a failed natural gas well that resulted from groundwater mixed with the gas creating something like a mud geyser that gradually subsided. The plan was to burn off the gas, figuring a few weeks. 40 some years later, it is still burning, albeit less vigorously now.
      The pics are of the crater at night and during the day. The last is of the Karakorum Desert where this is located.
      Maybe it's just me, but it seems interesting that a preacher would be at the gate of hell on his birthday
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