The Danakil Depression, defined by the British explorer Wilfred Thesiger as the “Land of Death”, is a geological depression located in the northeast of Ethiopia, south of Eritrea and northwest of Djibouti. The Danakil Depression, which is located in the middle of the tectonic plates and occurs as a result of these plates moving away from each other by 1-2 cm every year, is known as one of the regions where life is most difficult in the world. The reason for this is that the annual average temperature is 35 degrees, it is 100 meters below sea level, and it receives only 100 – 200 mm of precipitation every year.
Now, let’s examine all the curious things about the Danakil Depression, which seems out of this world.
Where and how did the Danakil Depression occur?
The Danakil Depression is in Ethiopia’s Afar region, close to the Eritrea and Djibouti borders. The depression, which is formed by the divergence of 3 tectonic plates by 1-2 cm each year, hosts unique geological structures in the world with its vast salty plains, active volcanoes, mineral deposits and scorching temperatures.
At the same time, being 100 meters below sea level, breaking the record for the highest average temperature in the world with 35 degrees Celsius, and receiving only 100 – 200 mm of precipitation per year, makes the Danakil Depression one of the most difficult places to live on earth. Despite all this, the fascinating geology of the region has made the Danakil Depression a touristic location for adventure lovers.
The Danakil Depression attracts not only tourists but also scientists. Because a 3.2-million-year-old hominid fossil was found in the “Lucy” Danakil Debris, which is now on display at the Ethiopian National Museum in Addis Ababa. For this reason, the Danakil Depression has become a very valuable area for archaeologists and paleontologists in recent years.
Where can you visit in the Danakil Depression?
The Danakil Desert, or as it is known, the Danakil Depression is part of the Afar triangle in Ethiopia. The region, which has salt lakes, volcanoes and unique hydrothermal pools, offers a magnificent visual feast to the visitors. Here are the main places to visit with your tour guide when you visit the Danakil Depression:
Erta Ale Volcano
Erta Ale is a volcano rising 613 meters outside the Danakil Depression. Erta Ale, discovered in 1928, is also Ethiopia’s most active volcano. It is recommended that tourists visit with masks to prevent excessive smoke inhalation. Although it does not look very high from the outside, when we consider the slope of the volcano together with the difficult climatic conditions, guests will be waiting for a very long walk here. We should also state that Erta Ale is not a very suitable area for people with diseases such as asthma or COPD.
Dallol Hydrothermal Pools
We can say that Dallol, which is located in the northeast of the Erta Ale mountain range and has unique hydrothermal pools, is the main reason for travels to the Danakil Desert. The hydrothermal pools, which sometimes turn green and sometimes orange, are actually parts of the Dallol volcano crater. Since the acidity of the water in the pool is extremely high, it is absolutely necessary not to touch it.
Karum and Afrera lakes are two hypersaline lakes located in Danakil. These vast lakes are among the places visited by tourists visiting Danakil. Visually, they are among the most striking lakes in the world.
Is Danakil Depression safe for travel?
Despite having a rather harsh climate, the Afar tribe considers the Danakil Desert as their territory. The Afar tribe was known in the past for their lack of hospitality, but nowadays it has become safer to visit the area. For all trips to the Danakil Depression, guests are accompanied by armed military squads. An outpost was also opened in the desert to provide additional protection for tourists. With all these precautions, we can say that it is safer to visit the Danakil Depression today.
When can the Danakil Depression be visited?
The best time of year to visit the Danakil Depression is from September to May. Because the temperature is relatively lower in these months. In addition, since tour trips are common during this period, travel may be more convenient. Since the temperature rises above 40 degrees between June and August, it is not recommended to visit this region.