Inside Ethiopia’s Erta Ale volcano, known as the “Gateway to Hell.”

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.

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
These stunning images provide a rare look inside the ‘Gateway to Hell,’ one of the world’s oldest continuously active lava lakes.

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
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.

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
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 metre from the edge.

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.

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
Mr Santos is well-aware of the hazards posed by filming such a potentially devastating natural phenomenon at such close quarters

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
The lake, situated in Afar, Ethiopia, has had a continuous flow since 1906 and lies inside the 2,011ft high Erta Ale volcano, otherwise known as the Smoking Mountain
gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
The last major eruption of the volcano occurred in 2005, killing 250 livestock and forcing thousands of nearby residents to flee.

‘The real issue in Erta Ale is that the crater rim is constantly changing as the lava lake moves up and down, especially when it overflows, altering any previous knowledge you may have had about the terrain.

‘You may believe that the ground on which you stand is solid, but it could also be soft and cause you to fall into the lava. You must exercise extreme caution.’

Mr. Santos shot his footage from above the lake with a drone and four 4K resolution cameras that could handle the scorching conditions around the lake’s rim.

‘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.’

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
Mr Santos could only film in the early morning or late at night because the Danakil Desert, where the volcano is located, is officially the hottest inhabited place on the planet.

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
Mr. Santos used a drone to film his footage from above the lake, as well as four 4K resolution cameras capable of handling the scorching conditions near the lake’s rim.

Mr Santos could only film in the early morning or late at night because the Danakil Desert, where the volcano is located, is officially the hottest inhabited place on the planet.

Mr Santos is proud to have visited such an epic location on two separate occasions, despite the challenges of filming in such intense heat.

‘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.

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
Mr Santos warns: ‘You have to be very careful, because, while it’s a really beautiful show that nature puts on for you, it’s also very dangerous.’

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
The Erta Ale is a basaltic shield volcano, one of only six in the world, and one of the few that can be approached.

‘The volcano is quite close to the border with Eritrea, with whom Ethiopia has a very difficult relationship,’ Mr Santos explains.

‘Since then, an Ethiopian military campsite has been established nearby, and you must now always be accompanied by a military escort while climbing up to the volcano.

‘However, they were extremely friendly and helpful in finding the most secure places to set up the tripods, at least to me.’ They are extremely knowledgeable about the terrain.’

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.

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
The most recent eruption of the volcano occurred in November 2008, with additional excavations ordered due to lava flow in August 2007.

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
‘It’s an incredible experience,’ Mr Santos said of the project. Nature continues to astound me, and I believe it will continue to do so.’

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
Little is known about Erta Ale because the surrounding terrain is some of the most hostile on the planet and the natives are said to be hostile.
gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
Mr Santos is proud to have visited such an epic location on two separate occasions, despite the challenges of filming in such intense heat.

gateway of hell joel santos photographer captures rare photos of 100 year old lava lake ethiopia (1)
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