Exploring the Mud and Water Craters near Darvaza, Turkmenistan

Mud and Water Craters near Darvaza, Turkmenistan

The famed Darvaza gas crater, an iconic landmark in the Karakum Desert, is not the only natural spectacle this area has to offer. Just a stone's throw away are two more craters of similar origins, also spewing out natural gas – meet the Darvaza mud crater and the Darvaza water crater.

A brief 11 km journey to the south of its renowned gas counterpart, you'll find the Darvaza mud crater perched almost conveniently close to the main highway - a mere 200-metre stroll away. The sheer cliffs of this crater proudly display layers of limestone deposits, with a diameter stretching 70 meters and a depth of around 20 metres. At its base, you'll find a small lake of light grey mud, its surface gently bubbling due to escaping gas.

A further 24 km southward lies the Darvaza water crater. Much like its mud sibling, this crater is conveniently accessible from the main road – just 150 meters off the beaten track. It stretches 50 meters wide with steep walls leading to a water-filled basin 15 meters below ground level. The lake is home to strikingly rich turquoise waters, though its depth remains a mystery. Swimming is strictly off-limits here, not only due to the precarious climb out, but also the ever-present threat of escaping natural gas. This crater's beauty is slightly marred by the litter of plastic bottles scattered around its edges.

While the mud and water craters might not match the spectacle of the main gas crater, their natural charm adds a remarkable dimension to a Darvaza tour. Encountering these geological wonders before sunset serves as a captivating appetizer before the main spectacle at Darvaza unfolds.