The Danakil Depression
The Danakil Depression is the hottest place in the world and it is located in Ethiopia in the region of Afar near the border of Eritrea. It is the lowest region below the sea level and receives a minimum of 100 millimeters per year. Scientists have also proven that it is one of the most active place where the plates are super active and this leads to the formation of different volcanic features like lakes, fissures and many more others in the ground.
The Danakil also referred to as the gate way to hell is one of the places in the world that has been least studied by researchers due to the scorching sun and heat felt in the depression. It is located in an extremely remote area and this has made it hard for most researchers to access it and due to the high temperatures that are experienced in the area, you will find that it is not hospitable to the human race although there are some people who have braved the heat and settled in the Danakil depression. The best time to visit the Danakil Depression is between the months of November and June and this is because during these months the heat reduces and it is not as hot as other months.
There are a few things that you need to know before you visit the Danakil desert which is considered to be the hottest place on earth and some of these include the following:
- Water and food
There is enough food and water that is provided in the Danakil and the water is always bottled due to the fact that tap water in Ethiopia is not safe. And just in case you might not like the food that is being served, you can pack your own dry food so that you do not get hungry and make sure you have plenty of water on you so as to remain hydrated.
- The temperature
The temperature in the Danakil can go as high as the 40 degrees high and you should prepare to face the heat as this can go on for more than a week. The only time you will get relief from the heat is when you are in the van because they have A/Cs that help cool you off.
- The safety in Danakil
Danakil is extremely safe whether you are travelling in a group, a couple or alone but it is advisable not take children to the Danakil as they might not be able to brave the heat in the area. But even though it is considered safe, you are advised to go with an armed tour guide to rule out any attacks.
There is no proper accommodation near the Danakil Depression and when it comes to sleeping, some mattresses are laid down on a bed which is supported by the ropes tied to the different edges. It is extremely hard for you to sleep because of the numerous animal noise and locals moving around but you at least get to rest your body and the only thing to look forward to after a restless night is the sunrise.
- Toilet facilities
It is extremely hard to get good toilet facilities in the area and that is why you need to go to the Danakil after proper preparation. In most cases, you will be forced to use the surrounding bushes as toilets and if you want to bathe you will have to improvise with just a bucket filled with some water or go for some days without a proper bath.
- The locals
It is extremely okay to mix with the locals but be very careful not to give any handouts to them because some find this behavior demeaning especially if the handouts are given out to their children.
The main transportation in the Danakil depression is camel. You will find hordes of camels resting in the different parts of the depression and you need to part with a small fee in order to use the camels which are owned by the locals. Tour vans can be used on your way to the Danakil depression but once there, you either walk or use a camel but camels is better due to the heat from underground.
There are several places within the Danakil Depression that you can visit and different activities that one can do while there and some of these include:
Trek on the Erta Ale Volcano
The Erta Ale Volcano is located in the Danakil Depression and it is believed that it erupted many years ago although at the moment it is dormant. The trek up this dormant volcano is really exciting as you get to see the whole of the Depression area from an elevated point of view and other attractions that are found in the area.
And as you are trekking up the mountain, do not forget to carry a facial mask to avoid inhaling of the volcanic fumes, trekking shoes, appropriate wear and a trained licensed tour guide with a gun who will show you the right trek routes to use while trekking and do not forget to carry a lot of water or else you will be dehydrated and you will also get a clear view of the crater lake that is located at the top of the Erta mountain.
Visit the multi colored hot springs
The multi colored hot springs are found in the Dallol area in the depression. The multi colors are a result of the salt minerals in the Crater Lake mixing with the Magma which is got from the lava. This creates a chemical reaction which later brings about different colors to appear in the Lake. Some of the colors that can be seen in the Lake include green, yellow and turquoise which makes the Lake look like it is covered with a rainbow.
Visit the salt mine
The salt mine is located near the Asal Lake and you will find many locals mining the salt in order to earn a living. Visit the salt mine and get too know the different methods that are used by the locals when it comes to mining and as you head to the salt mine, make sure that you have a tour guide with you and carry a facial mask so that you do not inhale a lot of fumes from the mine.
Explore the Asal Lake
The Asal Lake is one of the few attraction sites that you will see when you visit the Danakil Depression. The lake is 116 meters below sea level and it is surrounded with numerous rocks that hand around it making it look like it is enclosed. The best time to visit the Lake is either in the morning or in the evening as you get to enjoy the sunrise and sunset which create a unique shadow over the lake making it the perfect place for one to rest.
Join the camel caravan
The camel caravan can be seen heading into the Hamed Ela region led by locals who go while singing and dancing and if you want to kill the day’s stress and mingle with the locals you can join in the camel caravan festival and have fun.
Visit the locals
Most of the locals in the Danakil live in the Hamed Ela region and you can spare sometime and go visit and socialize with the different locals in the area. Find out how they survive, the activities that they carry out so that they survive and their cultural practices.
The things that you need to carry on your trip to the Danakil desert and these include:
- Carry plenty of bottled water in order to stay hydrated.
- You should also carry enough toilet paper and wipes. The wipes will help you reduce the stickiness from your body since it is hard to get water to take a bath.
- Diarrhea tablets are a must and not forgetting paracetamol tablets too.
- You need to carry a scarf and a face mask to avoid inhalation of the volcanic fumes.
- You will need a headlamp as electricity is hard to come by in the Danakil.
- You need to carry a bag that will have your essentials, a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses for your trek.
- You will need to carry a sleeping bag because there are hardly any accommodation facilities near the Depression.
- Carry a power bank and do not forget to also carry a camera so as to capture the still life of the depression in its glory.
- Carry clothes that will be favorable for the heat and you will also need a jacket.
There will be a lot of huddles as you visit the Danakil Depression from the heat to the lack of some facilities but all you need to know is that you will have fun on your visit to the place and you will get to carry out the different activities in the area especially trekking up the dormant volcano.