By Katy Gill
It looks like the end of the world – but the bubbling red fire is actually a lava lake.
The molten lava churns in on itself as fresh magma from below the Earth’s crust arrives at the surface, before cooling and forming black crusts, which explode in flames.
The incredible lava lake, at Mount Nyirangogo, an active volcano in Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, was caught on camera by photographer Scott Ramsay during a hiking trip with pals.
Scott, 41, from Cape Town, South Africa, said: “The lava is at a temperature of about 1200 degrees Celsius. It’s worth remembering that water boils at just 100 degrees Celsius.
“Mount Nyiragongo is one of the most active volcanoes in the world, and has the largest active lava lake in the world – and it is located in the southern part of Virunga National Park, the oldest national park in Africa, and a World Heritage Site that contains more terrestrial biodiversity than any other park in Africa.
“Nyiragongo is probably one of the unique sights of Africa, and certainly less touristy than other mountains like Kilimanjaro.
“It’s one of the most impressive wilderness experiences in Africa.
“As a photographer and writer that covers wilderness and protected areas in Africa, I found Mount Nyiragongo to be unique, and probably the most mesmerising, awesome scene I have yet photographed and filmed.
“I wasn’t scared in the traditional sense, but I was very aware of how small, vulnerable and insignificant mankind is on planet Earth.
“When you look at Nyiragongo’s lava lake, you are really witnessing the creation of the Earth, and there is no force more powerful on the planet.
“Nyiragongo has eruped at least 30 times since the early 1900s, and in 2002, it destroyed part of Goma – it’s the most active volcano in Africa, and one of the most dangerous.
“The crater cliffs are also very high and very unstable – if you fall in, then you’re going to die.
“People are amazed that something like this can exist – they almost can’t believe that such a primal force can occur on Earth.
“Yet the lava lake of Nyiragongo is an example of the huge forces at work in the universe – in many ways, it symbolises the very start of life on our planet. It represents actual evidence that the Earth is alive and constantly evolving.
“I’m not sure if I’d visit again – it’s a visceral experience for sure, but it’s a raw, primal place that certainly isn’t friendly to humans.
“I think I prefer the company of the park’s mountain gorillas!”