After a couple of days we left Ashgabat and went straight in to the Karakum desert. It was 48 degrees outside and 49 degrees inside the car. We drove for several hours, looking at sand, more sand and some camels. Suddenly, out of nowhere, there were two men standing along the way waving us in. We pulled over and realized this was the way to the famous gas crater in Darvaza (aka Derweze). Since our car, along with the majority of the other Mongol Rally cars, were not able to make it all the way to the ”Door to hell” we took ride with the turkmen and their 4WD cars.
We packed our camping gear and camera equipment and off we went. It was like going on a roller coaster, and the driver played Gangnam style on repeat as loud as the speakers could take. This trip just took 15-20 minutes but it is a memory stuck forever. The excitement grew for every kilometer and finally we arrived to the burning hole called ”Door to hell”. It is a gas crater which has been burning continuously since it was lit by Soviet petrochemical engineers in 1971! We stayed there all night, snapped beautiful photos and videos, flew with the drone, chatted with fellow ralliers and woke up to see the sun rise over the desert. Amazing.
We went on towards the border to Uzbekistan. And drove on the shittiest roads so far. We convoyed with three other teams. A danish team had some car problem on the way but other than that we made it without any major trouble to the border control. The border crossing were quite a struggle with border guards looking for erotics on our computers, problems with the registration on the computer, trouble with the copy machine and so on. Finally we all made it thru and went to the nearest town Nukus.