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See the lake of boiling lavain Addis Abeba, Ethiopia

#1of 1 things to doin Addis Abeba

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Over the volcano Erta Ale, there is a fiery glow all year round - the lava in the volcano's mouth continues to boil for 50 years in a row.
How to see the lake of boiling lava in Addis Abeba
The Erta Ale in the north-east of Ethiopia is considered the most impregnable volcano - the road to volcano is covered with the desert sands, acid soil and frozen lava.

A way to Erta Ale, Addis Ababa
Photo: © Raul Soler

Erta Ale is located in the important seismic zone "Afar Triangle" - any shifts of tectonic plates caused by the activity of the volcano can affect the geography of the entire African continent.

Lava splashing in Erta Ale, Addis Ababa

The last meters on the way to volcano's mouth, along the edge of the caldera, are the most dangerous: the darkness around, the crunch of frozen lava underfoot, the fear of falling into a hot glowing avalanche. And suddenly a fiery glow breaks out over the crater! Under the strong pressure of gases, lava can shoot up to 40 meters in height, cracking the frozen layer - it left the fear and fatigue behind your back, only a fascinating delight remained.

How to do?

1. The way to Erta Ale lies through the desert of Danakil and the Afars tribes. Rent the 4WD in Addis Ababa ($70-180 per day, the price depends on the number of days, the distance you are going to travel, the availability of a guide and equipment, the age of vehicle) and hire a local interpreter to make your navigation easier - in a rental agency, you will definetely be offered such services. Go for a trip in winter - the sand in the desert is heated up to + 60°C at the summer time.

2. From Addis Ababa, drive east on the Road No.1 towards the border with Djibouti. Near the village of Serdo, turn north towards Afrera lake. Behind the lake, there is about 80 kilometers of the off-road on the way to volcano - follow the navigator or the guide's instructions to drive through the most suitable sites.

3. The last point accessible by car is located in 13 kilometers away from the volcano - in Afars' village. From now you have to leave the car and climb the mountain for about 3 hours. Better to do this after sunset, when the heat of the day is over.

4. At the edge of caldera (the surface above the volcano's active zone), there is a stone roofless wind shelter - put your napsack down or pitch a tent. Observe the seething lava lake as long as you can - the hot air heated to 50°C near the crater burns the face. Go back before the crack of dawn in order to avoid the sun.

The glow over the Erta Ale crater, Addis Ababa
Photo: © Andrea Moroni

Where to do?

#1Erta Ale VolcanoErta Ale Volcano

An active volcano in Ethiopia is called "smoking" because of constantly boiling lava which emits a haze over the crater. Erta Ale is the most hard-to-reach volcano in the world.

Location: on the northeast of Ethiopia, in the Danakil Desert

When to do?

Better to go for a trip in winter - the sand in the desert is heated up to + 60°C at the summer time.

How much?

Car rental - $70-180 per day. The price depends on the number of days, kilometers you are going to drive, the availability of a guide service and equipment for camping, the age of vehicle. Plan your expenses with the expectation of three days traveling.

Tips and hints

• Notify your friends or at your hotel about the itinerary of your trip.

• Rent 4x4 SUV only! Better go for a trip by a group of 2-3 cars. It is recommende to have a satellite phone, navigator and fuel with a margin (based on the planned route).

• In the trunk, in addition to the spare wheel and jack, check the presence of a cable, shovel and wooden bars in order to get the car out if it got stuck.

• Take enough water and foodstuffs with you (based on the route with the calculation of 5 liters per person for 1 day: 3 liters for drinking, 2 liters for shower). There is almost no infrastructures outside of large cities.

• Take comfortable clothes, shoes, a hat, sunglasses, a personal first-aid kit (necessarily an antipyrotic).

• Be careful near the crater - layers of dried lava can collapse. There are no fences and skydecks here.

• Do not confront with the inhabitants of local tribes, do not draw too much attention to yourself. On your way, the Afar block posts may occur, where a fee is required to pay - please check it in advance at the rental office or ask a guide.

Afars take a fare on their territory, Addis Ababa
Photo: Afars take a fare on their territory, © Raul Soler

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Guest12 November 2019