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Ethiopia – The Danakil Depression: A Selection of 41 Pictures

Sunrise over the Salt Lake (Lake Asal), near Dallol

Sunrise over the Salt Lake (Lake Asal), near Dallol

The 2 expeditions I made in the Danakil Depression (6 days in January 2011 & 5 days in November 2015) both rank amongst the most challenging and most expensive ones I have ever undertaken. But nothing, nothing will ever take away these memories: each day brought a new highlight, each minute something unseen, unique and spectacular!

Nonetheless, the Danakil Depression is no longer at the “End of the World”. It is now much easier and much cheaper to reach, and the number of tourists is increasing exponentially. Changes were already noticeable in less than 5 years… Continue Reading →

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Expeditions To The The Danakil Depression

A Travel Guide To The Hottest Place On Earth… But No Longer At The End Of The World!

Crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale

Still “Terra Incognita” in 2010 when I decided to go there (I had actually never heard about it and could actually only find very little information about the area, both in Travel Guides like the Bradt Guide or the Lonely Planet & Online), the Danakil Depression has turned increasingly popular in the last years, and is now easier to reach than ever… and hence changing at high speed! So let me start with a very practical advice: if you ever want to go there, go NOW! Continue Reading →

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Ethiopia: Danakil Depression – A Selection Of 26 Pictures

Crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

An expedition of 6 days through the hottest spot on this planet – The lava lake of Erta Ale, one of the most active volcanoes on this planet; Dallol, a landscape of multi-colored hot springs and bizarre formations reminding of a coral reef; Endless caravans soundlessly leaving the village of Hamed Ale at the crack of dawn and trotting back late afternoon loaded with salt; The salt mine near Lake Asal and the very harsh working conditions of the Afars and Tigrians; Lake Asal’s vast salt plain with its surrounding rock formation – Here you find a selection of 26 pictures from Ethiopia (Danakil Depression) Continue Reading →

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Two Excellent But Very Different Tour Operators In Ethiopia

Our Group...

Our Group…

A few places and highlights in Ethiopia are difficult or time consuming to be travelled independently. This is definitely true for the Omo Valley and the Danakil Depression, both areas we visited over Christmas 2010. To get around the Omo Valley would have taken us several weeks travelling on the infrequent public busses. The Danakil simply cannot be visited without a tour operator, unless you have the survival skills of a local Afar and know how to extract the permits from local policemen. Continue Reading →

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6 Days In The Danakil Depression

Crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

We had actually never heard of the Danakil Depression before we started reading the Lonely Planet, the Bradt Guide and the Thorn Tree Forum on Ethiopia. Either there was very little information (one single page in the Lonely Planet) or a focus on how expensive and difficult it was to travel there. The latter category was simply tempting us and off we went to the hottest place on earth. And believe us, it term is not some kind of marketing slogan! Continue Reading →

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Lake Afdera On Ethiopia’s Best Road

Public bus, near the Awash National Park, Ethiopia

Public bus, near the Awash National Park, Ethiopia

Our senses sharpened after a while and we identified Afdera as what it is. A shantytown that exists for one reason only: to host the many businesses and migrant workers that flocked here recently to earn money in the salt industry. Lake Afdera is the second largest lake with salt water in the Afar region. Continue Reading →

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Sleeping On Top Of The Volcano

At dusk, crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

At dusk, crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

The camp on the edge of the crater consists of a few simple huts made from piled up stones. We crawled into the most remote hut to be away from the Afar guides talking the night away while chain-smoking. At sunrise the view of the crater itself was much less impressive than during the night: a bit of smoke coming from a hole in the crater floor. Continue Reading →

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Looking At The Gate To Hell

Crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

In November 2010, the lava lake rose so high that it flooded large parts of the outer crater floor. It was actually still unusually high when we peeked into the noisily bubbling lava lake in January 2011. It might sound hard to believe, but we were quite exhausted from climbing the 650 meters to the rim of the caldron. And we had now to do so more climbing! An Afar guide took us down to the floor of the large outer crater. Continue Reading →

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Like A Cyclop’s Eye High In The Sky…

At night, crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

At night, crater of the most active volcano in Africa with a permanent lava lake, Erta Ale, Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

Getting out of the sun was all we wanted when we arrived at the little base camp at the foot of Erta Ale. So we hid in small shelters made from piled up stones. Only around 06:00 pm did the temperature allow the start of our slow ascent. This time, we were accompanied by four additional armed Afar scouts, their Kalashnikov casually slung around their shoulders. But their mood was foul, we figured it must have had something to do with the argument we watched in the village. All we carried was a bottle of water, the camel hauled the little we needed, lots of water and our camping beds. Continue Reading →

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