Exploring Dallol in Ethiopia
The hottest place in the world is nestled in one of the remote places in the country and it is known as Dallol city and it is located in Northern Ethiopia. It is 328 feet below sea level and it is also the only place in the world that has a volcanic lake which is open and not covered. The Danakil Depression is where Dallol is located and both these places are a top tourist attraction sites for those who do not have a problem with heat from both the boiling volcano and the sun.
Many people ask a lot of questions about Dallol and most of these rotate around the security of the place and many more others that can be answered and therefore before you travel to the Dallol city, we have a few answers to some of those questions.
Is Dallol safe to visit?
Yes, it is safe to visit although if you do not feel safe, you will need to go with a tour guide who is licensed to carry a gun because to go with you so that you can enjoy your trip with less worries.
Will I be able to sleep in Dallol?
Dallol as a city is mostly known as a ghost town meaning you will hardly find any accommodation facility here and this can partly be caused by the heat in the area but there are two camps in the Danakil where you can rest after trekking through the Dallol.
The Dallol city was majorly known for salt mining which was majorly done by the locals using their medieval tools. This was a bit easy since the salt mines were a bit more visible than they are at the moment. And it is also in this exact same place that the first railway line was constructed in Ethiopia to help in the transportation of the salt form Ethiopia to Eritrea. There are some interesting things that you can do while on a visit in this old ghost town and these include:
Take a trip down to the salt mines
Dallol is known for her salt mines that were first operated by the Americans before they shut down and now the locals who have braved to live in the area are carrying out salt mining but on a small scale. All you need is to just get the right gear and you are ready to visit the mines. Once here you will be able to see how the locals who come all the way from the Erta carry out their mining and what tools that they use and do not forget to put on that ace mask as it will help you stop inhalation of bad fumes.
Having a trek to the Erta Ale volcano
When we talk about a trek to the Erta Ale does not mean that you need to hike up the Mountain because this is nearly impossible but it means moving around the Mountain and enjoying whatever it has to offer. You will walk through the solidified lava and due to the heat that is given off by the Lava Lake that is located at the top of the Mountain it is advisable for one to take the trek during day and that is why it is advisable that the trek takes place at night when the heat is a bit down. The trek at night has a dramatic effect as the burning lava gives off a good effect in the sky which you can watch as you try to sleep in the only two available camps in the area and this trek normally takes the whole night and the only time that you get to rest is in the morning.
Exploring the Dallol Sulphur springs
Dallol has a very good landscape that you really need to visit and see for yourself and the Sulphur springs are what makes the Dallol city worth visiting. The hot springs can be visited throughout the day for as long as you have a tour guide with you. This is where the salt mining was done before it was shut down but just the Sulphur rocks that are located in the area will make your visit worthwhile to Dallol. The Sulphur springs give off a yellow to orange look which is caused by the presence of Sulphur in the water and it is a very good scenery for photo safaris which makes your exploration feel like you are taking photos on the moon.
Visit the Lake Asal
Lake Asal is also located in the Danakil Depression where the Dallol is also found and it is one of the few Lakes that you will find there. It is 116 meters above sea level and the beauty about this Lake are the numerous rock that surround it giving it a perfect view for the tourists. The lake Asal can only be visited in the mornings and evenings because it can get extremely hot during the day and this can only be done with the help of an experienced and licensed tour guide.
Visit the locals in Danakil
Much as you will hardly find any people around Dallol, you will find many locals in the Danakil and these can be seen moving around the town and going to the salt mines to carry out their day to day work. A visit to the locals will give you an insight on how they have lived in this hot place for a long time and what they do as a hobby. Unfortunately there might not be any souvenirs in this place but you can learn how to ride a donkey and cook in a mini desert area.
The accommodation around Dallol
Dallol barely has any accommodation facilities in the area but you will find that there are two camps that were put up near the Erta Mountain and these are the ones that one can use when they visit the Dallol and these might not be the best but they are the only ones and they include:
The Ahmed Erta Campsite
The Erta Ale campsite is also a basic accommodation facility where one can rest when they visit the Dallol city in the Danakil depression. And just like any other facility here it will be extremely hard for you to access water but at least you will be able to rest in the huts that were constructed to act as rooms for tourists. It also gives you a good view of the bubbling lava and the sight that it makes up on the sky is remarkable although you still need to carry your own drinking water and there are no toilet facilities here too.
The Erta Ale campsite
The Ahmed Ela camp like the other camp is a modest campsite that provides only the basic things that one needs. There is barely water for drinking and bathing but the good thing about spending the night here is that you get a very good and clear view of the bubbling volcanic Lava at the top of the Mountain. Note that it will be extremely hard for you to actually get sleep while here because of the camels and people who keep on moving around the camp throughout the night but you need to carry your own sleeping bags.
Before you visit the Dallol you need to take a few things with you so that you enjoy your trip to a place that is filled with burning volcanoes, a salt mine and many other things that get this place burning and these include:
A face mask, this is used to protect you from all those fumes that are produced from the burning lava lake at the top of the mountain and the salt mine.
Get some wet wipes and take plenty of them because you will not be able to get a bath while you are there because of less water in the area.
It is also better if you travel in a group because some few locals are not as polite and the law enforcement might not help that is why an armed tour guide always accompanies the group of people who travel to Dallol.
Carry some non-perishable food because you might not be able to eat the food that is prepared in the Dallol city and also it is hard to find restaurants in Dallol.
Make sure that you carry enough bottled drinking water this will help quench your thirst while exploring the Dallol.
Dress appropriately and you will need a four wheel drive to get you to the Dallol and once you get there the mode of transportation will be camels that are used to transport both people and their goods.
The place is filled with a lot of things that you will want to see and despite some glitches especially about water and accommodation, it is one of the best adventures that you can go to once you decide to visit Ethiopia.