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Safe to Visit Danakil Depression

Apr 11 2018

Some people call it a “gateway to hell”. Others describe it as the most alien place on earth that resemble scenes from a science fiction movie. With its multi-colored springs, an active volcano, and lava lakes, the Danakil Depression in Ethiopia’s Afar region has been enticing scientists and travelers for generations.

How would it feel to explore this fascinating place and trek the edges of bubbling lava? What is it like to set foot in a dazzling site where the remains of our early ancestor Lucy, dating back 3.2 million years, was discovered decades ago? Come, visit the Danakil depression and answer these questions yourself.

Located in the remote northeastern part of Ethiopia, Danakil is a geological depression and one of the country’s most fascinating attractions. It sits more than 100m below sea level, making it the hottest place on earth as measured by average annual temperatures. If you are someone who wants to explore one of the world’s most extraterrestrial landscapes and enjoy the challenges of a surreal place, the Danakil is an ideal destination for you.

Though the Danakil Depression is a hot place, it is home to nearly two million Afar people across Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Eritrea. Salt blocks sold out to neighboring regions and other parts of Ethiopia remain the main source of income for the Afar people who are largely pastoralists.

The Danakil is not just a place of natural wonders, but also one where our early ancestors lived. Back in 1974, researchers found the remains of one of the earliest human ancestors called ‘Lucy’ in the Danakil.

As a tourist visiting this stunning place, you will get a chance to see firsthand a lava lake bubbling hundreds of meters below your feet. You will also be amazed by the bright, multi-colored springs of Dallol, one of the most visually compelling and geologically fascinating destinations on earth. The two salt lakes in the Danakil depression, known as Karum and Afdera, are also among the sites you will enjoy as a visitor. The famous camel caravan that winds through the desert carrying salt blocks is scene you don’t want to miss.

Thanks to the construction of new road networks, access to the Danakil is much easier than ever before. The place has enjoyed much media coverage abroad, enticing an influx of tourists to the destination.

The Danakil depression is safe for tourists to visit at any time of year. It is in the safe hands of the Afar regional administration, and all excursions to the area come accompanied by armed scouts. To visit Danakil, most tourists used to fly to Mekelle, the capital of the Tigray region, and then take a road trip. However, due to the conflict in the north that had spilled over into neighboring territories of the Afar region last year, the road from Mekelle to Danakil is now closed. Currently, the safest way to access the Danakil Depression is from Semera, the capital of the Afar region.

Commentaries of tourists who visited the Danakil depression in popular travel websites such as Tripadvisor confirm that the place is safe as ever before and a must-see destination for travelers.

Are you ready to explore the breathtaking scenery of the Danakil depression and have an unforgettable travel experience?

All you need to have is a proper outfit, footwear, and an experienced guide who knows the area very well.

How to get there

Explore the Danakil from the Afar capital Semera (590km from Addis Ababa) with the Ethiopian Airlines Daily flight.

The Danakil is a genuine expedition destination. Although a good 350km road now runs from Semera to Mekele via Afdera, the tracks to Dallol and Do Dom (for Erta Ale) require 4×4 and navigational skills. The region is best visited with an experienced operator using a minimum of two 4x4s, and experienced staff who know the local Afar. Helicopter access is from Mekele.

Currently, we offer tours directly out of Semera. The minimum time required for a full tour is two nights, spending one at Hamed Ela and one on the rim of Erta Ale. An extra night at Erta Ale is recommended if you want to see the crater by day, and another for Lake Afdera.

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