danakil depression

The Danakil Depression of Eritrea

Why is the Danakil depression unique?

The Danakil depression is, in many aspects, the most unique of all tourist 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.

But, wait a minute; this description, although very accurate, is, at the same time, very misleading about the Danakil Depression. It is not just a desert or rugged mountains but also a host of many geographical wonders and mysteries. Still stranger is 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 the divergence of three tectonic plates, which is an infrequent geological phenomenon.

Apart from the geological weirdness, the Danakil depression in Eritrea is also home to many fauna and flora. The wildlife 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 the Danakil Depression, for which it is very famous worldwide.

danakil depression
Africa's Great Rift Valley

The Danakil 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 it doesn’t even look a part of our earth in most places. It has large volcanic craters in some areas, which are continuously active. Somewhere the land is yellowish with Sulphur and Sulphuric acid. You would also see white sand with black mountains and blue sky as background.

The Legendary Nomads - Afar People

It seems improbable that human beings can sustain their lives for a long time in such an inhospitable environment as the Danakil Depression. But it is home to legendary nomads – the Afar people. They are considered the most resilient people on the earth. Most 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.


The small village of Badda serves as a gateway to the Danakil in Eritrea. The town is about 50 meters below sea level. In the language of the Afar people, Badda 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 at the bottom (50-100 meters).

Traveling to the Danakil Depression

Considering the charm, beauty, mystery, and wonders of the Danakil Depression, every tourist dreams of traveling and exploring 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 to 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 region’s outskirts.


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