Dallol is at the northern most extension of the Great Rift Valley. It is below sea level and acts like a cauldron, trapping all the heat.
Dallol is a field of phreatic craters in the barren salt plain NNE of the Erta Ale Range in one of the lowest (and hottest) areas of the desolate Danakil depression.
The Dallol craters are the Earth's lowest known subaerial volcanic vents. The most recent of these craters, Dallol, was formed during an eruption in 1926. Colorful hot brine springs and fumarolic deposits are found in the Dallol area.
This is a desert with some areas that are more than 116 meters (328 feet) below sea level. This is special because it is one of the lowest points on earth not covered by water. There are hot yellow sulfur fields among the sparkling white salt beds. Heat isn't the only thing people feel in the Dallol Depression. Alarming earth tremors are frequently felt. There are also several active volcanoes.
The active volcano Mount Erta Ale, (in whose crater lies the world's only below sea level land volcano, and world's only permanent lava lake), techno-coloured landscapes, incredible mineral deposits, sulphur lakes and bubbling sulphur springs, are fascinating sights not to be missed.
So just how hot is it at the Dallol Depression?
Weather wise, the hottest places on earth are the Dallol Depression in Ethiopia and Death Valley in California.
Temperatures can reach as high as 145 degrees Fahrenheit (63 degrees Celsius) in the sun, and top 93° Fahrenheit (34° Celsius) every day of the year. In the summer, not a single day dips below 104° Fahrenheit (40° Celsius). Dalol holds the record for the highest average annual temperature.
Danakil and the Afar people
This inhospitable land has been home to the Afar (Danakil) people for at least two thousand years. Afar men were renowned for their ferocity and xenophobia as recently as the 1930s until which time loping off the testicles of male intruders was customary! Traditionally the Afar are nomadic pastoralists and, together with the Tigrians, are still involved in mining salt bars from the lake in the Dallol depression and carrying them by camel caravan up to Tigray, along age old routes.
This is an adventerious trip, not for the fainthearted and those needing lu
xury of any kind. The unrelenting climate can have an enervating effect unless you are well prepared for the temperatures. This is a demanding trip in an area with little infrastructure. In fact Dallol, is one of the least accessible destinations on the planet. In many areas there are rough and sealed roads, and camel caravans are the only way to travel.
Despite the harsh conditions, the Dalol Depression is a truly extraordinary place to visit with superb scenery, a fantastic experience for the adventurous traveler.
Moreover, they are unique to Ethiopia, as they are not found anywhere else.