Erta Ale Volcano

Erta Ale (or Ertale or Irta'ale) is a continuously active basaltic shield volcano in the Afar Region of northeastern Ethiopia, the most active volcano in Ethiopia. It is in the Afar Danakil Depression, a badland desert area spanning the border with Eritrea, and the volcano itself is surrounded completely by an area below sea level, making it a relatively low-elevation volcano.

Visit Erta Ale with our full Danakil Depression Tour

Erta Ale is 613 metres (2,011 ft) high, with one or sometimes two active lava lakes at the summit which occasionally overflow on the south side of the volcano. It is notable for being the longest-existing lava lake, present since the early years of the twentieth century (1906). Volcanoes with lava lakes are very rare: there are only four in the world.

Erta Ale means "smoking mountain" in the local Afar language and its southernmost pit is known locally as "the gateway to Hell". The lakes have searingly hot temperatures.

There was a major eruption on 25 September 2005 which killed 250 head of livestock and forced thousands of nearby residents to flee. There was further lava flow in August 2007, forcing the evacuation of hundreds and leaving two missing. An eruption on 4 November 2008 was reported by scientists at Addis Ababa University.