Best time to travel to Turkmenistan

The Gates of Hell (Darvaza Gas Crater) in Turkmenistan 2024

The surreal ever-burning gas crater in the middle of a desert is the hottest tourist attraction in Turkmenistan

Best time: April–November

The Gates of Hell (Darvaza Gas Crater)
The Gates of Hell (Darvaza Gas Crater)
The Gates of Hell (Darvaza Gas Crater)
The Gates of Hell (Darvaza Gas Crater)
The Gates of Hell (Darvaza Gas Crater)

The Gates of Hell or the Door to Hell is a gas crater in Darvaza, 170 mi (275 km) north of the capital city of Ashgabat. This place used to be a gas pocket neatly concealed under the sands in the middle of the Karakum Desert. It remained treacherously silent until an accident in 1971 when a Soviet drilling rig punctured the gas cavern. The ground underneath collapsed, and the machine has forever drowned somewhere at the bottom. To prevent a natural disaster that could be easily caused by gas fumes, the Soviets decided to set the crater on fire. It hasn't stopped burning ever since.

Over the years the glowing cavern has become literally the hottest tourist attraction of Turkmenistan. When you stand on the edge, which is allowed but not recommended due to the crumbling soils, the air temperature is normally beyond 122 °F (50 °C.) Owing to the sinister appearance, Darvaza Gas Crater is called the Door to Hell or the Gates of Hell.

The Door to Hell is open year-round, but hiking season in the desert is April–November, naturally because of the weather. So Darvaza Gas Crater Tours run in spring, summer, and fall. If you're looking for the comfiest temperatures, the best time to enjoy the Karakum Desert adventure tour would be spring and autumn, as summer may get scorchingly hot. The spot is unique not only in Asia, but generally on Earth, and is a worthy addition to your travel wishlist.

There are several options for the Gate to Hell tours. Day tours include a drive to the crater and an early dinner nearby. Two-day tours offer more attractions on the way with an overnight camp by the Darvaza Gas Crater.

Practical info

What is the best time of the year to visit the Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan?

To experience comfortable temperatures, tourists are advised to visit the Gates of Hell between April-November. Spring and autumn are the best times to catch sight of the flaming crater, while summers are sweltering hot. It's imperative to carry adequate supplies, given the site's harsh desert environment. The place remains open throughout the year, but it's advised to book during the preferred hiking season in Turkmenistan. Show more

How did the Gates of Hell, Darvaza Gas Crater, become a tourist attraction?

The Gates of Hell in Turkmenistan has attained legendary tourist attraction status due to its extraordinary natural gas fires, visible from far distances. Located in Karakum Desert, this fiery crater resulted from a gas field explosion over 50 years ago. Its popularity and uniqueness attract visitors from far and wide, making it one of the most extraordinary travel destinations globally. Show more

Can tourists hike to the gas crater, or do they need to take a vehicle?

Tourists can securely hike to the Gates of Hell. However, taking a 4x4 vehicle remains the preferred mode of travel as the ground can be unstable during hiking and lead to injuries. The tour companies provide single and two-day tour packages inclusive of a visit to the crater and possibly an overnight stay, all ensuring adequate safety measures while providing an unforgettable experience for visitors. Show more

What is the temperature range like at the Gates of Hell, and is it safe to visit?

The temperature at the Gates of Hell can reach a sweltering 122°F (50°C), rendering it quite uncomfortable. Despite the high temperatures, travelers can safely visit the site if they observe the safety guidelines. Avoiding proximity to the edge is critical as the ground can be unstable, and tourists should ensure they have sufficient supplies since there are no shops or eateries nearby. Show more

What are some other attractions that can be included in a two-day tour of Darvaza Gas Crater?

A two-day tour of the Darvaza Gas Crater allows visitors other attractions which include Kone Urgench, a ruined city, Damla village, and its culture, the Darvaza waterfalls, and the moon mountains. Gizilgaya plateau is also an excellent destination, among others, depending on visitor's choice and the time available for the tour. The two-day tour is an eventful one that covers a wide range of tourist activities for an exciting experience. Show more

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Authors: Olha Savych