The Danakil depression is in many aspects the most unique of all of tourists’ attractions in Eritrea. Also called Dankalia, it is the hottest region in the world. Its weather, water scarcity, and soil composition make it one of the most inhospitable places on the planet.
But, wait a minute; this description although very true is, at the same time, very misleading about the Danakil Depression. It is not just a desert, or rugged mountains, but also host of many geographical wonders and mysteries. Still stranger is the fact that this region is considered the cradle of humanity i.e. where anatomically modern human beings evolved. Most probably, the depression was not as hostile in those early periods of humans’ evolution. The depression is the result of divergence of three tectonic plates which is a very rare geological phenomenon.
Apart from the geological weirdness, the Danakil depression Eritrea is also home to many fauna and flora. The wild life you might come across includes spotted hyena, black-backed jackal, Abyssinian hare, common warthog, squirrel, rock hyrax, gazelle, ostrich, Arabian and Kori bustards, Abyssinian Roller, and many more.
Let’s know a little more about the unique and mysterious places of Danakil Depression for which it is very famous worldwide.
Africa’s Great Rift Valley
The Danakil Depression of Eritrea is part of the Great East African Rift Valley. The rift valley is about 6,400 kilometers long and about 30-40 kilometers wide. It is only one of the two active rift valleys in the world, the other one being Baikal Rift Zone in Siberia, Russia which is 2000 kilometers long. The entire rift valley is full of too many geological wonders. So much so that at most places it doesn’t even look a part of our earth. On some places it has large volcanic craters, some of which are continuously active. Somewhere the land is yellowish with Sulphur and Sulphuric acid. You would also come to see white sand with black mountains and blue sky as background.
The Legendry Nomads – Afar People
It seems improbable that human beings can sustain their life over a long period of time in such an inhospitable environment of the Danakil Depression. But it is home to legendary nomads – the Afar people. They are considered the most resilient people on the earth. Most of the Afar people mine salt from dry salt lakes of the Danakil Depression and sell it to markets in nearby towns. Some also tend goats and sheep and always keep traveling in search of lands with some water, grass and bushes. They are very hospitable and consider it their pride to serve visitors to their areas.
Village of Badda
The small village of Badda serves as a gateway to the Danakil Depression Eritrea. The village is about 50 meters below sea level. Badda in the language of the Afar people means “the dead sea”. Badda, the village, is also famous for the beautiful lake Badda. The lake, formed within the crater of an extinct volcanic crater, is full of turquoise jewels deep in the bottom (50-100 meters).
Traveling to the Danakil Depression
Considering the charm, beauty, mystery, and wonders of the Danakil Depression, it is every tourist’s dream to travel and explore the depression. However, the prize for visiting it is not an easy task. Either you would need a lot of water and food in your air-conditioned vehicles, or you have to be tough when it comes to traveling such a place. In Eritrea, the best entry point to the Danakil Depression is the village of Badda. The journey deep into the depression might be very adventurous and unique inexperience, but you can still easily visit some places on the outskirts of the region.