Sunday 5 August 2012

Gates to Hell

4 August

One of the main reasons for going to Turkmenistan was to visit the Gates to Hell. This is a burning gas crater in the middle of the desert. Some years ago a soviet company were looking for oil when they found a gas pocket. To try and get rid of the gas the threw in a grenade to burn of the gas. 45 years later it is still burning. The first problem we had was trying to leave Ashgabat, there are no road signs and we drove round in circles for a couple of hours trying to leave the city.

The drive up to the crater was relatively smooth. We turned off the main road at dusk where we paid some locals with a 4wheeldrive to take us and our camping gear up to the crater. The gates to hell truly are an impressive sight, as you crest over the rise you see a the glow coming up out of a hole in the desert. Because we are in Turkmenistan not England there are no safety barriers and you can literally walk right up to the edge. Naturally we all did this, and then took a step back as the wave of heat hit us in the face. We spent a lot time mocking up photos in silhouette against the flames before camping nearby. In the morning we were told to use the crater as an incinerator to take care of our rubbish. I guess this at least keeps the camp ground clean! 

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