24 May 2013

The gates of hell (Darwasa Crater)

I am here: 40 15.108 N 58 26.292 E at 110m as of 21/05/2013 17:41 BST http://maps.google.com/maps?q=loc:40.2518,58.43819

Day 27 - 21 May 2013

I said last year that I'd seen hell and in Turkmenistan I've found the entrance - the Darwasa Gas Crater.

The history of the place is well worth reading - it's an exercise to the reader to find out.

As with Ashgabat, it is the type of thing which none of us had seen before - a large crater, full of gas fires. It doesn't sound much, but to see it is amazing - the heat from it is tremendous, no need for the warm clothing which is otherwise associated with the desert at night, and like a camp fire (say, the one we lit an hour or so later) it is mesmerising to watch. 

We got there at nearly sunset and spent about 90 minutes there, watching the crater and the fires within. As we lost the sunlight it became a major light source - it was a shame that there was a bright moon as I'd like to see it in the pitch dark.

It was the first night bush camping, or any camping, for the new guys on the tour, some it was interesting to watch them learn the ropes of how we setup camp, prepare food, the strict system for keeping things clean & as bacteria free as we realistically can in an effort to help reduce the amount of Deli Belly we get, and generally do everything - for those of us who left Istanbul together it is now second nature; it is strange to see everyone going through the same learning process as the rest of us did only a few weeks ago.