Travel and Tour Afar Denakill and Erta Ale in Ethiopia
One of Africa’s most striking geographical features is a giant tear across the earth’s surface visible even from space: the Great Rift Valley. Extending from the Middle East to Mozambique, the Rift Valley passes in a north-easterly to South-westerly direction right through Ethiopia, endowing the country with some spectacular sights range from hot, dry, and barren places to a string of beautiful lakes.
This tremendous collapse of the earth’s surface occurred at the same time that the Arabia Peninsula, geologically a part of Africa, was sundered from the rest of the continent.
The Danakil, or Afar, depression, which encompasses a good portion of the eastern part of the Tigray region, is one of the earth’s hottest and most inhospitable places, with many points more than 100 meters (328 feet) below sea level and noon-time temperatures soaring above 50 degree Celsius (122 degree Fahrenheit). It is the site of a dry salt lake from which Ethiopians since time immemorial have obtained their amoles, or bars of salt, used both for consumption and, long ago, as a primitive sort of ‘money’. Minded by the Afar people for at least a millennium and a half, the salt is loaded on camels and taken to the highlands, where it is still in considerable demand and fetches a good price.
Volcanic activity, which greatly contributed to the formation of the Rift Valley, continues up to present times. In Ethiopia you will be surprised in the presence of hot springs in many parts of the country, as well as volcanic cones in the Danakil Depression in the north-east. Hartale, also known as the living fire, is also found in this area and is the main attraction for tourists.
The landscape of the Danakil seems carved from the infernos of hell and is reminder of the furies that once ravaged this region, with volcanic cones rising above the scabs of black lava. Earth tremors are frequent, and there are several still-active volcanoes in the area. Surprisingly there is also wildlife to be seen here, particularly Zebra and wild ass.
And uninhabitable as this place may seem, it is nevertheless inhabited by thousands of Afar nomads. Tempestuous, proud, and individualistic, they live in small isolated groups and somehow manage to wrest a living-thanks to the salt from this challenging and inhospitable wilderness. Using the camel as their beast of burden, they also keep sheep, goats and cattle on the edge of the Danakil desert or in the vicinity of the Awash River, where coarse grass grows.
Tours to the Danakil depression and Afar can be arranged by Blue sky ethiopia travel either exclusively or in combination with Historic route via surface as it is accessible in two ways. For more information and reservation please click here.