Followers of this blog will know of my plans to go and explore Ethiopia at the end of this year. Being the exciteable sort I am and having ready access to internet and the Lonely Planet guide to the country, I have started doing research into the people, landscapes and history of the country. It was, however, an unrelated book that I have been reading which mentioned the Danakil Depression. Oh my god.

Described by the author as ‘possibly the most inhospitable place on earth inhabited by man’, a place whose climate – according to Wikipedia – can get as hot as 48 degrees Celsius in the hot season. It also happens to look like this, and contains a place known as Erta Ale described as:

A special place called “Erta Ale” is found in the Afar depression at 13.6°N, 40.67°E, 613m . It is a shield volcano, which has a base diameter of 30km and is only 500m high. In its vast summit caldera (1600x700m) there are two pit craters. The larger one (300-400m diameter) in the northern part contained a lava lake in 1968 and 1973 but is now inactive. A central, but smaller pit (140m diameter, 60 to 90m deep) now has an active lava lake 60m wide and 100m long .

Now I don’t want to commit to having to see this place before I have properly consulted with my likely travelling companion, but damn if I am not going to try to get there.

Categories: Africa, Ethiopia, Travel
  • Just be sure to take and post a lot of pictures so we armchair travelers can get there with you.

  • Hawk

    It sounds like something from one of Le Guin’s inhospitable planets. When you say people live there…? How close do they actually live?

  • They apparently mine salt there. Camels will carry out 100 bricks of it at a time, worth around 20c (US) each. That tradition makes it apparently also the oldest still-in-action camel trade route on earth.

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