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News - tours and travel

Erta Ale (Ethiopia): Danakil expeditions continue, summit lava lake slowly rises

Saturday Dec 16, 2017 09:13 AM |

Observers at the edge of Erta Ale´s summit lava lake around dawn, November 2015 (photo: Ingrid Smet - VolcanoAdventures)
Observers at the edge of Erta Ale´s summit lava lake around dawn, November 2015 (photo: Ingrid Smet - VolcanoAdventures)
Our Danakil expedition organiser and tour guide Enku has returned from a short visit to Erta Ale and informed us about both the security situation on the volcano as its activity at the summit.

Regarding the tragic incident that occurred on Sunday 3 December, he learned from his conversations with colleagues and local authorities that the German tourist was identified as Walter Roepert, age 63, and died on the scene while his translator got badly injured and is currently still being treated in Mekele hospital. The incident happened near the Eritrean Boarder where the two men were walking in a misdirected path that took them away from the rest of their large group. The Ethiopian authorities arrested some of the suspected police men and the armed Afar guides who might have opened fire when they mistook the two men as a potential threat. This tragic accident shows that despite the fact that there was no organised attack in the region since January 2012, the armed guards and local policemen are taking their duty seriously and tensions remain high, which is why it is so important to visit this area with an experienced expedition leader and trusted local guides.

The area remains open for tourism and continues to be secured by a combination of the Ethiopian Federal Force and special Afar force keeping. Tourism at Erta Ale seems not to have been influenced at all by this incident as all tours previously planned are being carried out as usual. At the time of ourcolleague´s small expedition last weekend there were 4 other groups each with an average number of 15 travelers. We therefore believe that the security situation at Erta Ale has not changed since the incident on 3 December and we continue to offer and organise our 14 days Danakil expeditions.

With regards to Erta Ale volcano´s activity, Enku informed us that the lava lake in the southern summit crater is very active and constantly changing. It is now an ellipse of about 100 m by 200 m and the lake has risen somewhat again, being about 35 m below the rim of the vent. As it rises, volcanic gasses can escape more easily and observation of the lava lake is once again getting better, not only during the nighttime but also for daytime observation.



-video of the summit lava lake taken early December by Naizgi Gebremedhin -
Previous news
Wednesday, Dec 06, 2017
Very sad news arrives from the Danakil desert where last Sunday 3 December a German tourist died and his Ethiopian guide got injured while they were climbing Erta Ale. The two were part of a larger tourist group which had traveled from Mekele and was making their way up to the summit of the volcano. ... [more]

Sunday, Oct 08, 2017
Ivana who took part in our recent tour to Krakatau to Bali presents us a selection of her great pictures. [more]

Friday, Sep 22, 2017
A first selection of images and impressions from our pilot tour to Kamchatka this year: we cannot wait to be back next year!! [more]

Friday, Sep 22, 2017
This photo diary is a compilation of images from different participants on our 12 - 18 April 2017 Kilauea Volcano Special guided by geologist Ingrid Smet. It also includes photographic documentation of the unofficial ´pilot´ extension that the small group undertook afterwards to explore the other sites, nature, wildlife, scenery and gastronomy of the Big Island. [more]

Friday, Jul 21, 2017
We now offer a second date for the volcano special tour to Ibu+Dukono on Halmahera, Indonesia (with a possible short side trip to Lokon). [more]
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