Explorer

Geographical Geekery on the River Nile

Geographical Geekery on the River Nile

Just downstream from the bridge was a slightly tired looking amusement park, normally this wouldn’t have been somewhere we would have visited, however after spying the ancient Ferris wheel slowly turning towards the sky an idea started to form in our heads, so we paid our entrance fees to the sleepy man behind the gate and made a beeline for the rusty attraction…

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 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’.

A Volcanic Love Affair

A Volcanic Love Affair

There was however one exception; It started like any other video lesson, the ancient television was wheeled to the front of the class and the on screen static was replaced by a poorly edited opening sequence, but instead of a ‘fun’ take on soil substrates or a cheesy animation explaining food mountains, the reassuringly familiar bearded old man, now stood at the top of a dusty hill; as the camera panned out, the hill revealed itself to be the edge of a crater, and there, far below the natty jumper, was a lake of bubbling lava, a real life version of a child’s drawing, it was the first time I had realised volcanoes like this actually existed – I was hooked.