The Danakil Depression is a desert area in the Afar region of northeastern Ethiopia, north of the Great Rift Valley that is widely known locally as the Dallol depression.This is both the hottest region on earth averaged year round and one of the most geologically active.
If you are looking for a holiday somewhere where few people have ever set foot on, or if you are seeking the most demanding yet enjoyable adventurous trekking or camel hiking holiday Somewhere in one of the deepest points on earth, or if you are seriously in need of solitude to the point of desolation in the geologically marvelous sites of wide open spaces and a breath-taking scenery, you perfect choice is nothing but the famous Danakil Depression of the Afar Triangle in the north eastern frontier of Ethiopia. As you enter this unique world of unparalleled natural beauty in the upper Ethiopian Great Rift Valley, you will find yourself crossing and viewing salt covered wide plains, hills, lava lakes, salt mining areas, active volcanoes, desert flora and fauna as well as the scattered temporary villages of the gorgeous nomadic Afar people.
The Afar Triangle Expedition offers a lifetime experience that allows you to conquer an inhospitable volcanic marvelous landscape together with the World Heritage Site of the Awash Valley for many precious fossil hominid discoveries such as Ardi, (Ardipithecus ramidus); the Gona (Gawis cranium), site of the world’s oldest stone tools; and Hadar, site of Lucy, the fossilized specimen of Australopithecus afarensis.
Not many adventurous souls have gone to this beautiful place before; the first great British explorer Wilfred Thesiger who visited the Danakil Depression and described his trip as the most dangerous exploration he had ever undertaken, as written in the ‘Danakil Diary’ that he published.
The following are the dominant features that we encounter in the Afar Triangle Expedition:
- The Danakil Depression – the lowest point in Africa, a wide deepest plain covered by salt and Lake Asal (155m/509feet bsl).
- Erta Ale – one of the Earth’s five lava lakes and Dabbahu Volcano with the mantle and the basalt.
- Dallol – part of the depression and one of the hottest places year-round anywhere on Earth.
- The Middle Awash – site of many fossil hominid discoveries such as Ardi, Lucy and Gona as well as site of the world’s oldest stone tools.
- Desert Flora and Fauna – for study tour to the narrow green belt where Awash River flows and in the depression desert scrubland for some drought-resistant plants such as dragon trees, Shrubs and grasses. Wildlife includes many herbivores such as Grevy’s Zebra, Soemmering’s Gazelle, Oryx Beisa and the African Wild Ass – with a visit to the Mille-Sardo Wildlife Reserve.
- Lake Abbe – the central meeting place for three pieces of Earth’s crust (the spreading ridges from the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden emerging and meeting the East African Rift.
- Active Volcanoes – with the remote and recent incidents of volcano eruptions (the stories such as the 163 earthquakes that occurred between September and October 2005 can interest visitors).
- Salt Mining Areas – the Afar Depression is covered by salt, and salt mining is still a major source of income for many Afar people.
- The Afar People – their cultures, being traditionally pastoralists, raising camels, goats, sheep and cattle in the desert; their traditional houses are all fascinating for visitors. Besides, the Afar are reputed for their physical fitness and good looking appearance, centuries old nomadic traditions as well as for their martial prowess, and curved knife-jile and for their extensive repertoire of battle songs.
We will be amazed at their ability to survive for centuries in this remote arid region. Although the Afar are a nomadic people, in the green plain south of Assayita there are little villages, or groups of families living in the same spot. In order to pay homage to their authentic culture, when possible we try to stay one night at a village to buy a goat and invite the village chief and his family to dinner.