At first glance, Danakil Depression in Ethiopia – Eritrea border seems like an arid desert. So hot and inhospitable that nothing should, or could, live here. But driving through we found patches of oasis inhabited by Afar people – known for their independence and ability to live in areas where nobody wants to – and geological formations so varied, so strange, and so beautiful. Danakil Depression, Ethiopia turned out to be one of the most colorful and beautiful landscapes I’d ever seen.
First and foremost, Danakil Depression is where Erta Ale volcano and its sloshing lava pool is located.
Then there’s Dallol. Our group can’t make up their mind which between Dallol and Erta Ale was the highlight of the trip. Erta Ale gave me a glimpse of a nightmarish vision of hell. Of glowing red against pitch black.
Dallol in Danakil Depression, is where colors seem to burst forth from the ground, where you get to walk on earth the color of rust among chimneys spouting out acrid fumes of sulfur. Without the scorching heat and the rotten egg smell of sulfur, I can easily believe I was walking in a fairy-tale land where the munchkins live.
The walk from the jeep to Dallol was a very sweaty 15 min uphill walk. The sun was beating down our back and we were sweating as soon as got out of our jeep. It was 37 degree (99 F) out and it was only 8 in the morning! In winter! Can’t imagine what the place must be like in the middle of summer. I think your brain would fry.
At the top of the climb, when I looked down and saw what I saw and all the sticky sweat and the heat was quickly forgotten.
The smell of sulfur was everywhere. There were no rails, no walkways, and we had to be careful when walking as not to step on pools of boiling water.
This fragile looking ‘flower’ is actually made up of little crystals – condensation from the fume escaping from the crack on the ground.
Some of you might already know, but I had an array of misadventures during my trip to Ethiopia that led me to Indonesia where I’m currently at. (Even at this place, I didn’t seem to escape bad luck: I ran out of battery halfway through. Aaaargggh!!!)
But now that I have the advantage of hindsight, I can say that the trip to Danakil is worth every single flea bite and that one cursed dog bite.
I really hope you’ll make an effort to visit Danakil when you’re in Ethiopia. Here’s a post with some info on visiting Danakil Depression including the tour agency we went with and more.
And I hope you enjoy these pictures.