Erta Ale: Africa’s Gateway to Hell

18 09 2021

Erta Ale Volcano, in Afar language, means “smoking mountain” and is known as the “gateway to hell”. Erta Ale Volcano is located in the north-east of Ethiopia, is a continuously active basaltic shield volcano, and is one of the remaining six lava lakes in the world. In the last 125 years, Erta Ale has been reported to have erupted seven times. The latest continuous eruption started in 1967. Flames and lava shoot up in the sky, lighting the surrounding areas in the night. With its particularity, this volcano has become a tourist destination attracting adventurous travellers and geologists alike, who are interested in the evolution of the tectonic plates in Africa. 

Travelling to Erta Ale remains dangerous due to political conflicts in the areas. In 2012, a group of tourists was attacked by gunmen, reportedly Eritrean rebels, leading to five casualties and two injured. There are also reports of tourists and tour guides kidnappings. It is therefore best to travel to Erta Ale with a tour group with military escort with precise and concise travel plans.


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Smithsonian Institution. (2017). Report on Erta Ale (Ethiopia) — July 2017. Retrieved from