By Danny Baggott @Dan_Baggie

THESE fiery images offer a glimpse inside the 'Gateway To Hell' - one of the world’s oldest continuously active lava lakes

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Videographer / director: Joel Santos
Producer: Danny Baggott, Ellie Winstanley
Editor: Matthew Hoare

The Erta Ale is Ethiopia's most active volcano

Travel photographer Joel Santos, 38, piloted a drone low over the bubbling lake, which reaches temperatures exceeding 1,100 degrees celsius.

Travel photographer Joel Santos captured the stunning footage

The lake, which has had a continuous flow since 1906, is situated inside the 2,011-foot-high Erta Ale volcano, otherwise known as Smoking Mountain, in the Afar region of northeastern Ethiopia.

Erta Ale means Smoking Mountain in the local Afar language

Joel, from Lisbon, Portugal, said: “Every two or three minutes you can hear a small hiss of pressure beneath the volcano and all of a sudden a crack just opens wide.

“Then it’s like fireworks - the whole volcano starts bursting with lava into the air.”

Temperatures can reach a staggering 1100'C degrees

The volcano’s last major eruption occurred in 2005, killing 250 livestock and forcing thousands of nearby residents to flee.

And the Portuguese photographer remained acute aware of the hazards posed by filming such a potentially devastating natural phenomenon at such close quarters.

Joel Santos pushed himself to the limits in order to gain his footage

He added: “You have to be very careful because although it’s a really beautiful show that nature presents you, it’s a very dangerous show.

“You have to be aware that if there’s an eruption you could be covered in lava.

Joel could only film his footage when the temperatures were at their lowest point

"I put myself in harms way to try to get unique footage and unique shots, but some friends think that I’m a little bit crazy.”

Joel used a drone to film his footage from above the lake, alongside four 4K resolution cameras that could handle the scorching conditions around the lake’s rim.

Some of Joel's friends think he is crazy for tackling the active volcano

The Danakil Desert, where the volcano lies, is officially the hottest inhabited place on earth, meaning Joel could only film in the early morning or late at night.

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

The volcano's last major eruption was in 2005 and it forced thousands of locals to flee

He said: “It’s a basaltic shield volcano and there’s only six in the world.

“This is one of those that you can actually approach. It’s an unbelievable experience.

Joel is still amazed by nature and is now planning his next project in Ghana

“It still amazes me how nature works and I think it will continue to amaze me.”