Billionaires want to go to Space, “ordinary people” go to Danakil.

Hot spring, Dallol, Ethiopia

My time in Addis went over really fast but I had a great time with Alex. Was surreal to meet him in Addis, on a continent where I had never stepped a foot before. Knowing that he got assigned for this workshop in Sudan not even a week before and that he had to make a stop-over in Addis too, how not to be grateful? We had a lot of fun again, in a surreal set-up! But let’s not get carried away.

In the early morning on the 18th of Nov, I took a domestic flight to Mekele in the Tigray region, where I met my tour-guide and the other participants. The Danakil Depression  is located close to the Eritrean borders. And the neighborly relations being not the best in the world (let’s put it like this), you are obliged to have a guide and armed guards at all time whilst traveling around in the region. But since there is literally nothing around (i.e. no food and no accommodation), it doesn’t leave much space for spontaneous getaway anyway. So I joined a group of great people (from the US, Israel, Germany, UK, Spain) and we had a lot of fun together. We hopped from one spot to the next one, each time being blown-away with what we got to see.

The red color is because of the iron, the brownish because of the potassium

Here I don’t want to comment too much. I think the pictures literally speak more than 1000 words. But I can tell you that it was one of the greatest experience done so far. And to be honest, I am not even sure that you can see those out-of-this-world scenery on Mars.

And the highlight was definitely the trek to the Erta’Ale Volcano, where we spent the night bivouacking at its top, being overlooked by thousands of stars. Once in a lifetime my friends…

We started our ascent at night around 8:00 pm because of the relatively high temperature (was cold season but still, you could expect a solide 45 Celsius deg during the day). So we reached the top after a 3h+ trek and spent another 45min to an hour near the lava lake. Remember that this is the only place on earth where you can come that close to the lava lake (100m or so). We were lucky because the volcano was really active that night, according to the guide, it happens 3-4x/month max. But it was really windy. So the air was barely breathable. And it was hard to get a clear shot with the continuous smoke and the vapors emanating from the crater. But sometimes, the wind would turn and I had a clear window for a few secs, which allowed me to take a proper snap like this one. It depicts really well the whole crater and gives the viewer a sense of the heat.

I hope you’ll enjoy them.

Should you be interested in doing the tour, feel free to contact my friend Girum who organized everything for me. He is a trustworthy and reliable man and you’ll be in best hands with him.

And here below, a few pictures of the tour. Click on the thumbnails to enlarge them and start the slideshow.