Camels

The Danakil Part Three: Venus is a place on Earth

The Danakil Part Three: Venus is a place on Earth

In the truest sense of the word this was an alien landscape: well below sea level, a landscape of green and yellow hues and weird shapes, with day time temperatures reaching 50°C, and geothermal activity rife throughout the area, my rudimentary understanding of geology was struggling to interpret what was going on.  If NASA ever send a mission to Venus, this is where I suggest they test their equipment, as there was very little left to suggest we were actually still on the little ball of green and blue we call earth...

The Danakil Part Two: Salt of the Earth

The Danakil Part Two: Salt of the Earth

The first thing we saw to break to beautiful monotony were the camels; there were hundreds of them all relaxing out in the sun, so well adapted for this oppressive environment that they barely batted a long-lashed eyelid at the baking sun, which, despite the early hour, was already pushing the mercury well into the 40s.  If camels are the ships of the desert, then donkeys are the sort of raft you’d expect from a particularly awkward team-building day, and the lack of shade was clearly getting to these poor beasts of burden, desperately trying to utilise the bulks of the camels for their own personal parasol...

The Danakil Part One: Bridge Over Salty Waters

The Danakil Part One: Bridge Over Salty Waters

The Danakil depression in Northern Ethiopia is one of the most geographically unique places in the world.  Remote and truly hostile, the Danakil can lay claim to being one of the hottest and driest places on the planet, with daytime temperatures surpassing 50°C and less than an inch of rain falling in the region each year; it is also one of the lowest parts of Africa, and one of the most tectonically active, with steaming acid lakes, rivers of lava, and clouds of volcanic gases creating an almost extra-terrestrial environment.  It is little wonder then, that the Danakil and its features have inspired such enigmatic nicknames as ‘The cruellest place on earth’ or ‘Gateway to Hell’.

Would you like some lime with your vomit?

Would you like some lime with your vomit?

After asking around, we discovered that there were no direct buses from Lalibela to Mek’ele.  In addition, the route was over 400km, on roads of varying quality.  We knew it was going to be a bit of an ask to make it to Mek’ele in a day; still, it would be an experience if nothing else, and when some people laughed at our enquiries, and told us that it would be almost impossible to make it in a day, we had no other option but to accept this as a challenge, and commit ourselves to spending several hours crammed into the back of various buses, with no other plan than relying on chronic optimism to get us where we wanted to go.