With more than 30 active and dormant volcanoes, the Danakil Depression is a geological marvel. In stark contrast to the cool, temperate Ethiopian highlands, it is one of the lowest, driest, and hottest places on earth. It boasts records including the hottest average annual temperature (48º C/118º F in the dry season) and lowest point (155m/509 ft. below sea level) on the African continent. But don’t let this deter you from visiting Danakil as the trip is full of adventure and surely one you will never forget.
The Danakil truly is one of the most unique geological areas on earth. A strange and mysterious landscape – scattered with noxious hot springs, frozen black-lava flows, and massive salt basins left over from ancient lakes – it is one of the most tectonically active places on the planet. Erta Ale, the region’s most-visited and active volcano, has maintained a permanent lava lake (one of 5 on the earth) for the past 120 years! If you are looking for an almost extra-terrestrial experience, the Danakil Depression is the place to come.
The Afar inhabitants – a nomadic people – lead camel caravans for hundreds of kilometres across the unfriendly landscape. They cut salt blocks from the dried lake beds and sell them in towns far away. Although in the past they have demonstrated inhospitality and unwelcome to outsiders, in recent years they have recognised the benefits that tourism can bring and have accepted foreigners. For the intrepid traveler, the Afar region will surely be an unforgettable adventure.
A trip to the Afar region should only be undertaken with proper planning and a knowledgeable guide. With an average annual temperature of 34-35º C, abundant supplies of water should be taken along. With a knowledgeable guide, up-to-date information from embassies in Addis Ababa, and a well-planned trip, a safe tour can be taken to the region.