Inspired Travel: Afar Triangle, Ethiopia

by  Nicole Fisher | Sep 5, 2013
Afar Triangle, Ethiopia
Afar Triangle, Ethiopia / hugy/iStock

Venture into the northeastern region of Ethiopia for 40 miles of steaming geysers, boiling cauldrons, and fiery lakes of lava. The Afar Triangle, sometimes referred to as the Afar Depression, is said to be the driest and hottest desert on Earth. Holding the record high average temperature for an inhabited location (94 degrees Fahrenheit), this region, where some areas are situated 500 feet below sea level, has 12 active volcanoes.

Around 30 million years ago, seismic quakes broke the continental crust and continuous earthquakes have whittled it to less than half of its original thickness. Today, the land still shifts daily, with the last major quake occurring in 2005. Along with the active plates and scorching heat, this region is known for its salt production. About 460 square miles of the Afar Depression is covered in salt and many Afar tribes harvest "white gold" or salt residue from the land as a source of income – Lake Afrera alone creates 290 million tons of salt in a year.

When to go: For more tolerable temperatures, visit during the rainy season September–March, when the area averages a temperate of 77 degrees Fahrenheit. During the dry season from March to September, the it can reach up to 118 degrees Fahrenheit, and the highest temperature recorded was at Dallol at 148 degrees the shade.

What to do: Head over to Danakil Desert for see the lowest point on the continent, which is 509 feet below sea level. Then, head over to the Awash River to observe the salty chain of lakes. If you want to get an idea of local culture, watch cameleers cut the salt blocks away from the Earth’s crust to sell at the local market.

Book it: If you can get past the extreme temperatures, we suggest taking a guided trip or a flight over the region. With the unstable temperatures, land, and sometimes unstable political situations, it is best to have someone show you around to provide intimate history and cultural details.

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