Ethiopia to Cape Town 2013

8 months - with Gitane - Toyota Hiace 4x4 van

The Danakil Depression

November 24, 2013  —  Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
The Afar people.

The Danakil depression in northeastern Ethiopia is a fantastic region. This zone results from the convergence of three tectonic plates that created astonishing geological phenomena. This area is part of the big Afar Depression.

The entire area is located below sea level and is considered as the hottest region of the world in terms of year-round average temperatures. There is almost no rain during the year; from 100 to 200 millimetres annually (we can't get as much in 1 or 2 weeks in Canada or Europe).

For those interested in archaeology, it is in this area that the famous skeleton of Lucy was discovered in 1974. The skeleton of this hominid is 3.2 million years old.

Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
The Afar People, living in this region, are extremely tough and few people could survive in this desert like they do.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Afar people are in general very poor and live in precarious conditions.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
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A tour in a hostile environment

Danakil Desert - Ethiopia

For our excursion in this desert, we have decided to use the service of a travel agency. The area is dangerous and it is advisable to travel in the company of policemen and also with armed soldiers. Moreover, vehicles going there must be in top condition and have very good off-road capability.

As you can see on the photo, our van would never have survived an expedition in this desert.

Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
It was very hot.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
We did outdoor camping.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Water comes from a river that dries out in the desert.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
We had a very fun group.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
When it's raining in the mountains, the river overflows.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
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Salt mining

Danakil Desert - Ethiopia

Afar people extract salt from the ground to sell it to the towns. Everything is done by hand, and transport is done with dromedaries.

Before the road, caravans were going to Mekele to sell the salt slabs. That expedition was around 7 days. Some Afars are still making that journey where a slab of salt is sold for about $2.50. Those that only go as far as the paved road only get about 90 cents. Maybe this way of earning a living is going to disappear.

Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Each block is carved by hand.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Dromedaries waiting for their cargo.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Salt slabs.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
These people work under temperature of around 40 degrees Celsius.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
The salt, in its raw form, is covered with dust (sand).
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
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The salt caravans

Danakil Desert - Ethiopia

The salt slabs are carried with dromedaries.

Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
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Fabulous scenery

The Danakil desert is a region rich in all kinds of geological phenomena.

Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Salt hills.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Potash.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Potash.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Boiling potash.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Ancient lava flows.
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia
Danakil Desert - Ethiopia

The most spectacular photos are coming soon.

The following two blogs on the Danakil will allow you to discover some landscapes that are even more extraordinary.