Danakil Depression

The Danakil Depression, also called Dallol Depression, is a desert with some areas that are more than -150 meters below sea level. It is the lowest and most spectacular part of the Ethiopian Rift valley. An area of 2000 sq km is below sea level a within it rise hundreds of volcanoes, several of which are still active. The most famous of these is Erta 'Ale, the lava lake in its crater has been continually active for hundreds of years

At Dallol, close to the Eritrean border  in the northern sector of the depression a volcano is present beneath the salt. Boiling sulphur rich water and minerals have reacted with the salt to create a colorful geological wonderland of amazing sulphur and salt formations on top of the salt dome. In the past potash was mined at this site.

Dallol is one of the hottest places in the world with temperatures ranging from 30-55 C° all year round. Heat isn't the only thing people feel in the Dallol Depression. Alarming earth tremors are frequently felt.

The semi nomadic  Afar people whoive  here endure some of the toughest conditions on earth, they are pastoralists and some of them engaged in salt mining as the depression is covered with salt. One of the most interesting places in Ethiopia is where the Afar or Arho people extract the salt from the salt lakebed and load it on to camels for the 2 week journey up into the highlands. This is a way of life which will soon to disappear as the road is coming ever closer.

The most spectacular natural feature of the Danakil desert is the Erta 'Ale volcano. The trip to the volcano requires camping in the desert and it is possible to spend the night in the crater watching the fire fountains erupting from the lava in its impressive crater.

A trip into the Danakil is a real adventure, but there is nowhere else on earth with such an impressive combination of volcanic geology and traditional tribal lifestyles. This  is an other wordly Ethiopia which could not be more different from the highland world.

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