Danakil & Erta Ale
Introduction to the Danakil Depression & Erta Ale Volcano
The Danakil Depression is is officially listed as the hottest place on earth, with an average temperature of 34 to 35 degrees Celcius. Some days see the thermometer climbing to a blistering 50 degrees Celcius.
Much of this vast and practically unpopulated region lies below sea level, dipping to a sweltering base of -116 meters at Dallol, one of the lowest points on the African continent. With an annual rainfall of only 100-200mm, this is undeniably one of the driest spots on the entire planet.
The Danakil Depression is located at the top point of the African Rift Valley, in the Afar Triangle, which is an area where three divergent tectonic plates meet. The Arabian and two African plates, simply put, are pulling away from each other, revealing new and dramatic landscapes. The northern part of the Afar Depression is known as the Danakil Depression. This area is one of the most tectonically active on earth.
When visiting the Danakil, it is easy to imagine that one is on an alien planet. The scenery is so dramatic that it is unlike anywhere else on earth. Vast white salt pans give way to steaming sulphur springs, seeming to erupt with dazzling lemon and lime colours. The build-up of salts cause interesting patterned rims and chimneys to form along the pungent pools. Copper salts give the cooler pools a brilliant turquoise colour. Geysers spew steam and boiling water, adding a dimension of sound to an otherwise silent, almost lifeless place.
A single river, the Awash River, flows into the Dallol Depression. The water quickly evaporates, though, and beyond the river lies a string of salt lakes, covering a surface area of around 1,200 square kilometres.
The area is home to the nomadic Afar people, who make a living from mining the salt from these pans. The salt is carved into bars and then transported by camel caravan to other parts of Ethiopia and Eritrea.
Recommended length of stay: 2-3 Nights (Camping)
Helicopter day excursions are available
Major Religion: Muslim
Area nicknamed “The Cradle of Humanity” after Donald Johnson’s 1974 discovery of the bones of Lucy, a hominid believed to have lived 3.2 million years ago
Elevation: 125 meters (410 feet) below sea level (Danakil Depression), 613 meters (2,011 feet) above sea level (Erta Ale Volcano)
When in Axum
The Danakil Depression stretches across the Eritrean border to the east of the Tigrayan highlands.
This is officially listed as the hottest place on earth, with an average temperature of 34 to 35 degrees Celsius.
This is one of the most tectonically active places on earth.