door-to-hell
Door to Hell courtesy of Google Maps

Someone once asked if I knew anything about Turkmenistan. I told him I could point it out on a map and that it was home to The Door to Hell. I only know this as it is on my bucket list.

The Door to Hell intrigues me. It was created in the seventies when the Soviets were exploring the area for oil and one of their drilling sites collapsed to create a huge pit, bigger than a football field. They realised the pit was leaking natural gas and after some head scratching and discussion, they decided that the best course of action was to set it on fire and burn the methane rather than let it leak out into the atmosphere. They didn’t think it would burn for long. That was in 1971 and is still burning today.

I’m guessing that one day it will eventually stop burning and I would like to see it before it does. There’s an episode of Thunderbirds where the Sidewinder plummets into a burning pit and I imagine it would be something like that.

There’s a few challenges getting to The Door to Hell however. One is getting to Turkmenistan – I can’t imagine many high-street travel agents having any last minute deals for the place. The Door to Hell is also in the middle of a desert and the last time I ventured through a desert, it was hard work! It might be one of those journeys to do by night.

If anyone has been, I would love to hear how you got there. I’ll visit one day but if anyone wants to fund an expedition for me, drop me a note in the comments!