Dallol & Erta Ale: The hottest wonders of Ethiopia

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I am sorry if you came here expecting to find the stunning winners of the last Miss Ethiopia contest. Instead, we have two burning volcanoes from a territory that holds the record high average temperature for an inhabited location, 94°F (34°C).

The Afar Triangle is a land of extremes that is slowly tearing itself away from Africa: under the soil of these volcanoes runs a mid-ocean ridge, where tectonic plates are pulling away from one another. Hence in the distant future, the Horn of Africa is poised to become the Horny Isle.

But let's meet our champions of torridness: the volcanic crater of Dallol blazes with colours in one of the weirdest places on Earth. On the other hand, Erta Ale looks much more like a classic volcano, but it features one (or sometimes two) of the few active lava lakes in the world.

Did you say volcano? Or museum of modern art?
Image by Jörg Schulz

In Dallol, the magma flows in underground channels pushing up the minerals that create these formidable travertine terraces.
Image by Pierre-Yves Burgi

Afar Triangle
The area is 47 meters under the sea level, so low that the ocean already invaded the Afar Depression some thousand years ago. This is regarded as part of the long process of creation and expansion of a new sea, as it can happen again.

That sea left huge deposits of salt in its wake. This salt, along with sulphur, are two of the main ingredients of these bizarre compositions.
Image by Pierre-Yves Burgi

Afar Triangle
What happened to lemon-lime flavor, so in vogue in the 80's?
Image by Jean Michel Mestdagh

Magical moments
The crater of the volcano is a broad saline wasteland where many mini-hoodoos of salt and sulphur arise.
Image by Pierre-Yves Burgi

Geothermal activity
If the underground channels that irrigate the soil are blocked due to seismic movements or other natural causes, the earth dries out and turns gray after one year.
Image by Pierre-Yves Burgi

Surreal landscape
Dallol is an odd land that has all the features that you can expect from a highly active geothermal zone, like geysers, boiling pools and fumaroles.
Image by Pierre-Yves Burgi

Erta Ale
A few miles southeast from Dallol, Erta Ale lies ahead.

Erta Ale is home to one of the few lakes of permanent molten lava on Earth.
Image by Pierre-Yves Burgi

Africa volcano
Temperatures of over a thousand degrees centigrade are not enough to keep this soup of liquid rock melted in the surface of the lava lake. That's why the top black crust is formed.
Image by Filippo Jean

Ethiopia volcano
This volcano has not one but two pits. The most active is known as the gateway to hell.
Image by Filippo Jean

Evil spirits
The local population stays away from the volcano, regarded as the abode of evil spirits.

Guides with Kalashnikovs remind you that it is not just the landscape that makes this land an inhospitable place.
Image by VirginieVV

  1. Ertale is a weird place on Earth that can not imagine even in a dream but I wish to visit the place to be proved that it is not a techniques of camera or computer. Ethiopia does not play Ertale as tourist attraction so far which has high potential for tourism.


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