Authentic Ethiopia Tours
Ethiopia Adventure Holidays

Ethiopia Adventure Holidays

For a long time only the historical part and the Southern Omo Valley regions have been the main destinations for incoming tourists.  And only Trekking to Semien Mountain and Bale Mountain National park have been considered as an adventure trips in Ethiopia.  However since few years, the most isolated and remote region, Afar region (Denakil Depression) is becoming one of the main attractions for adventure travelers.  The area is not only the lowland.  It is not even an ordinary desert, but it is  . . .

Let’s explore our adventure travel destinations:

Dallol/Denakil Depression- One of the lowest point in the world.

Dallol Volcano is located in the Danakil Depression in NE Ethiopia, in a remote area subject to the highest average temperatures on the planet. The volcano encompasses Dallol mountain (which rises 50-60m above the surrounding salt plains and has approximate dimensions of 1.5 x 3 km) and several other features in the vicinity, such as the 1926 crater near the "Black Mountain" about 1.5 km to the SW.

Dallol is one of the few places where potash deposits are found at the surface. These are brought to the surface by geothermal heated groundwater and can form large secondary deposits as the water that transported them evaporates. This geothermal activity / volcanic activity is indeed common in continental extension basins such as the Danakil Depression and is further evidenced by the volcanic chains in the area which include the active Erta Ale volcano.

The characteristic white, yellow and red colors are the result of Sulphur and potassium salts coloured by various ions.

The Fumaroles around Dallol

Numerous fields of fumaroles exist in  Dallol Mountain. The fumaroles have low temperatures and only appear to emit little gas. The proportion of sulphuro gases appears to be quite low and the deposits formed are not crystalline sulphurs as in many fumaroles fields. The formation of egg-like fumarolic deposit structures of white to yellowish coloration can be observed. It seems that these are made of thin layers of salts.

The Black Mountain

Consisting Manganese-rich halite, and was once estimated that a spring in the Black Mountain area, was bringing around 1000 Tones of potash to the surface in a single year. Whilst pure sylvite, karnalite and kainite and of course halite are relatively colorless, inclusion of various ions in the salt crystals is responsible for the variety of colors encountered in the Dallol area which are in stark contrast to the predominantly white halite crust found in most of the depression.

The Yellow Lake

Some  kilometers south of Dallol Mountain is further springs with beautiful colorations. These include a lake with a diameter of 40-50m which contained yellow waters. The surface looked blueish, yet at points of upwelling the yellow color was visible, giving an unusual color contrast. Several medium or small geysers were visible on islands in the lake or along its shoreline. The landscape in the area of these springs was colored red, presumably by iron compounds.

The Salt Pillars/Salt Canyon

The salt canyons in the southwest flank of Dallol mountain are some of the most impressive geological features in the area. Salt pillars up to 20m – 30m high are found in these canyons and result from erosion of the uplifted areas. The pillars consist of hundreds of layers of slightly pinkish (due to low levels of KCl) halite (NaCl) salt deposits separated by thin layers of gypsum-like material. The pillars are capped by gypsum anhydrite and clay beds which protect them from rainfall-induced erosion.

The Salt Workers and The Camel Caravans

Hundreds of caravans have come together at Ahmedela, and during the night have been assigned a slot by "Shumbahri" (the Chief). At dawn, literally thousands of camels leave Ahmedela, all in their assigned order, and head towards the center of Lake Asale. In the middle of the morning the caravans reach the centre of Lake Asale. “What a nice experience!”. On the bottom of the local social scale are the "Focolo", the "salt lifters": they are poor immigrants from Tigray and have left Ahmedela as early as 3am. After having cut into the salt crust using axes, large salt blocks are taken from the ground and prepared for shaping by "Hadali Mera" workers. Only the "Hadali Meras", who are always Afar people, can prepare salt blocks weighing precisely 7 kilograms.

One block of salt(30cm by 20cm) is the unit of currency in the salt business: each camel will carry 20 blocks to Mekalle, trading centre of the highland. The camels are exhausted and, remarkably, recover some energy by chewing on salt. "Arho" workers, the cameliers, start to load each camels with the exact same amount of salt.

At noon, in temperatures well above 40 degrees Celsius, the caravans start the long trip back to Ahmedela, disappearing into a distant mirage.

But even in such a hellish environment, "Arho" workers seem happy.  From the origin, the price for one slab of salt is 2 birr that will be sold at 12 birr in Makalle. 10 days will take to transport the salt to the nearby city – Makelle. Don’t miss to spot Lake Asale located very close to the salt workers place.  Except Friday, the salt workers works every day.

Ert-Ale

Ranks as one of the most alluring and physical challenging natural attraction in Ethiopia.  Ert-Ale rises from below sea level to an altitude of 613m located in the similarly named range in the hostile Danakil depression in northeast Ethiopia.  Ert-Ale is a basaltic shield volcano known for persistent lava lake activity since early in the 20th century.  It is a shield volcano which becomes more regular, with film teams and adventure travelers visiting the area in recent years.

The best time of the year for organizing Adventure Tours to Dallol and Ert-Ale runs from November to March.

Last Updated on Saturday, 18 May 2019 21:21