Located in the Afar Region of northeastern Ethiopia, the terrible road to Erta Ale volcano may be one of the worst roads in the world, in one of the most inhospitable regions on Earth. The drive is extremely dangerous (landmines, terrorism, malaria, extreme weather, kidnapping, banditry and armed assaults).
This 613 metres (2,011 ft) high continuously active basaltic shield volcano, known as the "smoking mountain" and "the gateway to hell" is a remote and rarely visited volcano. It’s located in the hostile Danakil depression, one of the driest, lowest and hottest places on earth. Erta Ale is the most active volcano in Ethiopia.
The surface of the road is sand and rough lava in terrible conditions, often hidden in the dust. Starting from Afdera, the road is 80km long and may take about 6 hrs passing through changing landscape of solidified lava, rock, sand and occasional palm lined oasis. It’s now possible to drive within 4.3 miles of the volcano.
Do not travel this pass in severe weather conditions. This trail passes through remote areas, so you need to be prepared. This route is not suitable for normal cars. If you dare to take the risk and travel along this dusty and bumpy route, then make sure to be driven by someone who has experience of the road. It has a well-deserved reputation for being dangerous because of unpredictable sandstorms, which bring the visibility down to a few meters. In these conditions, it's often difficult to see the road.
This route is not recommended. Extreme care:
- The area is heavily mined with fatal incidents occurring each year
- High threat from terrorism
- Mosquitoes and malaria
- Extreme weather: temperatures during the year range from 77°F to 118°F
- Kidnapping and banditry occur often in the region
- Ongoing armed assaults with some attacks targeting tourists and convoys.