You are currently viewing Danakil Depression

Danakil Depression

  • Feel cool “at the hottest place on planet earth
  • Bonanza of geological fascination camping near active volcano
  • Breathtaking sulfur caked flowers and hot springs
  • Thousands of Camels on caravan loaded with salt bars
  • Villages of Afar Tribe where the first humans lived

The Danakil is an area of singular geological fascination: a strange lunar landscape studded with active volcanoes, malodorous sulfur-caked hot springs, solidified black lava flows, and vast salt-encrusted, basins.
It is some measure of the Danakil’s geological activity that more than 30 active or dormant volcanoes-roughly one-quarter of the African total are listed by the Smithsonian Institute Global Volcanism Program. These volcanoes are all geological infants, having formed over the past million years, and a great many took their present shape within the last 10,000. The most regularly visited volcanic range in the Danakil is Erta Ale, which consists of seven active peaks extending over an area of 2,350 km square between Ertale Ale (287m, on the West Shore of Lake Asale ) to Haile Gubbi (521 m, about 20km North of Lake Afrera ). Erta Ale is listed as the most active volcano in Africa for over 120 years and the most active until now is over 38 years. . Extracted from a number of salt pans scattered around the Afar Depression, the salt-bars still form a major item of trade for the Afar people, who transport them on camelback to Tigray along the ancient caravan routes with more than three thousand camels lined up.

It is one of active volcanic areas in the world where a lake of malted rock can be seen in a dramatic colourful appearance.

The Danakill depression, claimed to be one of the lowest (115mBSL/509ft) and hottest (temperature varies from around 28oc to 48oc), is such an example of unforgiving and inhospitable feature of a travel world. However, its varied, strange and geographical formation of landscape in line with un -rested volcanoes, beautiful salt lakes and dancing hot springs left you forget the harshness and remains calm and wonder of such rare environments. It was once the heart of Ethiopia’s ancient salt trade.

This immense amazing feature is located in Afar region, North Ethiopia. It is a part of the Afar triangle. The geological depression is resulted from the presence of the three tectonic plates in the horn of Africa. It is also a part of the East Africa’s Great Rift Valley system, 3600km in length.

The area is often referred to the cradle of hominids, of notably, Dinknesh (Lucy, Australopithecus Afarensis, a 3.2 million years old fossil, that supposed to turn world’s view towards the evolutionary process) was discovered in this vast section (lower Awash valley, and the Awash is the main water flow in this area ).  It also contains many fossil hominids such as Ardi (Ardipithecus ramidus), Gona (Garicus cramium) and fossils of animals such as elephantoide, crocodiles and hippotamus. Even if no massive excavation carries out, including it as a site of world oldest stone tools, the area is one of the planets significant places in the study of palaeontology and archaeology.

Erta ale (means Smoking Mountain in the local afar language) is one of the very rare volcanoes with Lava Lake. This rest- less flame ignites (sparks) day and night give a glimpse of artistic phenomena of bolt from the blue.

Additionally the area contains Dallol, where colours seem to come apart from the ground where one walk on earth of colour rust, is seems a fairy – tale land with all the sulphur stacks and acid ponds.

The area is inhabited by the nomadic afar people who have often kept long traditions. They will greet one with a strong handshakes and hand kisses, praise the almighty for helping them survive in this challenging atmosphere and wish to spread their races like an ocean saying “Inshallah” – God willing.

Whatever it is a sun blasted earth with a baking temperature; however the journey is long and rough, the wind chokes; wherever it is remote and inaccessible, for those waiting amazing and unique experience, Danakil and the surrounding landscape is definitely a once in life time favourite moment.