Joel Santos photographed the ‘Gateway to Hell,’ one of the world’s oldest continuously active lava lakes.
It is located inside Ethiopia’s Erta Ale volcano and reaches temperatures of over 1,100 degrees Celsius.
Mr. Santos flew a drone from a nearby location and used heat-resistant cameras to capture the spectacular light show.
These stunning images provide a rare look inside the ‘Gateway To Hell,’ one of the world’s oldest continuously active lava lakes.
Joel Santos, 38, a Portuguese travel photographer, flew a drone over the bubbling lake, which reaches temperatures of over 1,100 degrees Celsius while standing just a meter from the edge.
The lake, located in Afar, Ethiopia, has been continuously flowing since 1906 and is housed within the 2,011-foot-high Erta Ale volcano, also known as the Smoking Mountain.
He tells MailOnline Travel: ‘This was one of the most dangerous projects I’ve done, since I was just 20 metres away from the lava, one metre from the edge.
‘I needed to be so close to monitor the drone because the heat waves were so strong that they could cause it to melt or crash,’ he explained. I had to be extremely patient.’
‘Every two or three minutes, you can hear a small hiss of pressure beneath the volcano, and all of a sudden – you can’t predict when – a crack just opens wide,’ Mr Santos added.
‘Then it’s like fireworks – the entire volcano bursts into the air with lava.’
‘It’s a basaltic shield volcano, and there are only six in the world,’ he explained.
‘This is one of those that you can approach. It’s an incredible experience.
‘It still astounds me how nature works, and I believe it will continue to astound me.’
Little is known about Erta Ale because the surrounding terrain is some of the most inhospitable on the planet, and the locals are said to be hostile to visitors.
A number of tourists were kidnapped, injured, and killed in the area in 2012.
The BBC TV show The Hottest Place On Earth went there in 2009 to capture the world’s first 3D laser image of the volcano. Dr. Dougal Jerram of Durham University and a BBC team explored the surrounding desert.
Later, he wrote for BBC News, ‘Volcanoes, like a true journey to the center of the Earth, provide a unique window into our planet’s interior.’
Standing at the lava lake’s edge, you can see why the locals call it “The Gateway to Hell,” as the incandescent bubbling lava lake hisses like a badly burned porridge cauldron, overturning and occasionally belching molten lava.