The Door To Hell

Struggling to come up with novel travel experiences for your group? Here are a few new ideas…

Spend a night at the Door to Hell

The 60 metre-wide crater of Darwaza, Turkmenistan, is one of the most unusual sites in Central Asia. It’s a vast opening in the earth where natural gas has been set alight and has been burning for more than forty years.

The gas was originally set alight by Soviet geologists whose rig collapsed while they were drilling for gas. Forty years on, it's still burning, with flames up to 15 metres high.

Its otherworldly appearance has led local people to name it the Door to Hell. Groups can camp overnight here.

Visit a mammoth graveyard in Siberia

In the Verkhoyankiy District on Arctic Yakutia there’s a mammoth graveyard. Every winter the land freezes over and, when summer comes, the melting perma frost causes new bones, tusks and teeth to be pushed out of the ground.

Every year, the newly exposed remains of sabre tooth tigers, bison, cave lions and woolly rhinoceros appear at the site and groups can take a tour with a local palaeontologist to identify the bones.

City of the Dead

Pictured: City of the Dead.

Visit Russia’s City of the Dead

From a distance the village of Dargavs in the Caucasus Mountains looks like a quaint settlement of hobbit-like houses. Close up, though, it’s much more eerie. Not only is the entire place deserted, but each building contains a crypt or tomb.

There are many myths and legends surrounding the site, and until recently, local people refused to go there in case they didn't come back alive. A burial site for Medieval plague victims is perhaps the most likely explanation, though.

See the Flaming Mountain

The mountain of Yanardag in Azerbaijan is also known as the Flaming Mountain. Like the Door to Hell (above) its flames are the result of natural gas having been set alight in the 1950s. Groups can take a day trip here from Baku and also visit the Temple of Fire Worshippers at Ateshgah.

Bwiti tribe

Pictured: the Bwiti tribe.

Watch a Bwiti tribal ritual in southern Cameroon

The Bwiti tribes of southern Cameroon are known for their bright and energetic spiritual ceremonies. They’re held in the High Temple and the whole community dresses up to join in. Drumming, dancing, chanting and fire displays all feature in the ceremonies and travellers are welcome to watch or join in.

All of the above experiences are available on Native Eye tours. Launched in August 2013, the company specialises in group tours. Private tours can be booked for large groups.