Travel article: Danakil Depression- Dallol

Travel blogger: Christelle & Cedric

Trip story: 100 days in Africa!

Image for blog article: Danakil Depression- Dallol

Dallol, Éthiopie

Ethiopia 2 days - July 2019







Ethiopia is full of diverse landscapes and our 13 hours’ ride on bus will confirm it.


From the steep mountain, rice paddies, winding turns, chaotic cities (in which we would have preferred to avoid being stuck because of a crooked driver!), our eyes (and ears) will take it all in! Then a big first for us, this time we share the road with camels.




Lalibela-Mekele, 290 kms, 3 buses, 50 negotiations, an argument with a rogue driver who fired us from his minivan, a dozen stops from the army, 13 endless hours ... Fortunately, landscapes change so quickly!


After the holy city of Lalibela, we reach hell! Aboard our brand new 4 * 4, accompanied by a guide and a soldier responsible for protecting the convoy (we are in Afar Land, regularly at war against neighboring Eritrea and other Ethiopians ethnies), we travel kilometers of mountain, arid land how desertic. However, with the many ressources here (salt, acid, etc.) very beautiful roads have been built recently by our Chinese friends.



Temperature rises slowly. We are in the depression of Danakil formed after the separation of multiple plates, a wide and deep fault was formed following the volcanic activity, volcano which today is covered by a thick layer of salt.


With its annual average temperature of 35 degrees, which earned it the nickname "Hottest place on Earth", the depression is one of the most inhospitable region in the world.


We understand this quickly: 40 degrees at 9am. However we are far from imagining what lies ahead ...

The earth begins to crack, mirages appear far away and we approach Dallol, a volcano buried under layers of salt. We are 126 meters below sea level.


The earth is bubbling under our feet and bubbles of acidic discharges of sulphate, iron oxide, potassium, magnesium and other substances burst. The vapors and acid bubbles make each breath complicated. And let's talk about heat, 51 degrees! Hell on earth! The colors: yellow, green, brown, surreal colors! We are on Mars!


In Afar, Dallol means "disintegrated" or "decomposed", that said it all! Also we follow the steps of our guide to avoid getting bogged down and finish one leg less swallowed by acid ...

Two hours of torture, I manage very badly the heat, swallow liters and liters of water! As for Cedric, he's still super fit and happy and take full advantage of these unusual landscapes.


Short break in the car, the air conditioning at maximum power then we discover a hole, filled with water from the Red Sea. One day, the tectonic plates will deviate again and the Red Sea will flood these surreal landscapes forever.


A few kilometers away is like Uyuni salt desert in Bolivia, but with 50 degrees more!


Today it is too hot, but normally the Afar people are working on the salt and sending it to town by camels.


Inhuman conditions of work for this very poor people.


We are supposed to spend the night in the middle of the desert but in view of the climatic conditions (45 degrees at night ...) and really poor camp, we decide to return to Mekele.


An amazing Mars expedition!




Some recommendations:


# There are 1-2-3 day formulas to join the depression.


1 day: Dallol, salt caravans, salt desert. USD 150


2 days: same sites as the formula 1 day and a night in the desert. USD 200


3 days: same formula as 2 days and Erta Ale volcano. USD 300


It is recommended to negotiate on the spot, the prices posted on the internet are 2 to 3 times higher. We went through World Sun. ETT is also recommended by many travelers.


# Mekele: night at Lulieya Pension. 550 birr. Large room and clean.


# Lalibela to Mekele: jeep for 200 USD or public transport in 3 parts. Lalibela, Weldiya, Alamata, Mekele. About 12 hours.







Leave a comment

Aug 10, 2019 - 05:20 AM

sUPERBES PHOTOS DE CE COIN DU MONDE où je n'irai sans doute jamais, Je suis un peu comme Cédric la chaleur ne me dérange pas mais je compatis avec Christelle. Bonne continuation. Moi je prépare un voyage en janvier prochain pour l'inde du sud et Andaman et Nicobar.


Christelle & Cedric
Aug 13, 2019 - 02:39 PM

Genial l'Inde du Sud, Nous avions adoré les alentours de Munnar. Bons preparatifs et goutez les Aloo Fry et Masala Dosa!


Sep 21, 2019 - 08:19 AM

coucou, merci pour le partage Angie