Erta Ale, which is one of the most active volcano in Ethiopia, means smoking mountain in Afar language. And its pit is known “the gateway to Hell”.
In the very early morning, we took the first flight from Addis Ababa to Mekelle. We met our tour guide at the airport. Usually it takes 5 or 6 hours from Mekelle to the volcano camp. So we drove immediately after we finished eating breakfast.
In Afar region we took a rest and added some supplies.
It was extremely hot all the way, and sometimes we stopped to enjoy the scenery and to take photos along the way. In the afternoon, the car entered a desert, and from time to time we saw some black volcanic rocks. But it was still very far from the destination. The hot and dry air consumed everyone’s patience. The scenery outside the window was monotonous and lifeless; all were deserts and volcanic rocks and no any green grew up. This road is a strict test of the driver’s skills.
In the evening we reached the camp at the foot of the volcano. The chef immediately prepared dinner for us. The road from the camp to the crater is less than 15 kilometers, but we couldn’t drive only walk. The rock under the foot is too fragile as to get the feet stuck. The air was filled with the smell of sulfur.
The guide told us that the volcano was very active in the previous months. So we couldn’t see too much magma and it was too dangerous to approach. It is a pity that my smart phone couldn’t take it very clearly.
We camped on the rocks around the crater. The fatigue along the way made us fall asleep quickly. When we wake up, it was already very bright. We must return to the camp at the foot of volcano immediately, otherwise after sunrise it would be too hot to walk back.
When we walked back to the camp, we found out how magnificent the road last night was. There were also some grass growing in the lava, which added a vitality to the barren land. Walking back to the camp, we had breakfast, shared the experience of last night and everybody agreed to come back in the future.