Sulphurous hot springs, salt-encrusted wastelands, temperatures that soar as high as 50C – Ethiopia’s Danakil Depression is home to a kaleidoscopic world unlike any other
A harsher spot to call home than Africa’s Danakil Depression is hard to imagine. Not only is it one of the planet’s hottest places, it is also one of the lowest, driest and most tectonically active. But for the adventurous few who journey to Ethiopia’s remote north-western corner, the rewards are two-fold: a glimpse of many-splendoured terrain, unlike anywhere else and a peek into the life of the self-reliant Afar people, who continue to survive there. Dallol, the Danakil’s lowest point at 116m below sea level, is known for its mix of sulphur, iron oxide and other mineral deposits, which form a shocking rainbow of hues. It’s a raw, shifting, bubbling terrain. Just as rest of the otherworldly landscapes of the Danakil region, this strange earth is the result of three deep rifts that geologists call the Afar Triple Junction. This warring trio, tearing the earth apart with incredible force, gave birth to the Danakil’s volcanoes, hot springs, sinkholes and bizarre land formations. Scientists estimate that, when the rifting is complete in about 10 million years, the Red Sea will engulf the Danakil completely and create a new ocean. Walking over this restless region is best done gingerly. Honeycombs of bubbles that have long since burst through the ground, crack like delicate eggshells at the slightest pressure. The frothy greenish water, just inches from your sneakers, could cause an acid burn if it touches your skin. And then there’s the smell! Sulphur fumes, constantly hiccupping from unseen fissures, are noxious if you venture there without a scarf tied over your face as a filter. In fact, in order to film the area for the BBC’s Planet Earth series in 2009, the crew wore gas masks for protection. Click Here to Read More.