Danakil Depression

The Danakil desert in north-east Ethiopia is about as close as you can come to hell without leaving this planet. The landscape is pretty inhospitable. Since it is below sea level it is the hottest place on earth; it is full of active volcanoes, any water you find is likely to be boiling and sulphurous and the landscape consists of solidified lava flows. It smells pretty bad too.

The Afar people also have a history of unfriendliness. When Wilfred Thesiger came here in the 1920s on a vacation trip (the Oxford Exploration Society was still in the 1980s trying to get him to submit his overdue report) his main concern was that a local Afar tribesman was going to remove his testicles to use as a snuff pouch. These days they are slightly more friendly but tourists do still occasionally get kidnapped.
So all in all this is the kind of place that we feel is perfectly suited for Natural High clients. If you are not concerned about who has nabbed your deck chair, and would rather lie on the ground, then the Danakil is probably the place for you. 
Major highlights of the Danakil include the enormous number of active volcanoes – a quarter of the total in Africa – including Erta Ale, which has been in a state of continuous eruption since 1967 and apparently has the world’s only permanent lava lake. There are extraordinary landscapes of lava flows, salt lakes, hot springs and fumaroles, with colours straight out of a bad hippy dream - encrustations of day-glo orange, fluorescent yellow scum and noxious green pools all set in a field of black.

When the Afar are not using their jolly curved knives for their favourite hobby (which they deny ever took place) their main source of revenue is the collection of salt from the edge of brine lakes. The chipping away of the salt blocks by hundreds of men to be loaded on the vast camel trains headed for the Ethiopian highlands is a sight from another age.

Ethiopia-children.jpg View slideshow



Start your journey...

Speak to one of our experts with extensive experience in travel, accommodation and culture.

Rod Tether Rod Tether
Take the first step
Why not talk to one of our experts?

Our team

Our experienced travellers include:

Rod Tether
Rod Tether
Vanessa Janion
Vanessa Janion
Catherine Ronan
Catherine Ronan

It takes genuine local knowledge to craft trips that go beyond the ordinary. All of us at Natural High have over 20 years’ experience in the countries we offer. We’ve lived there, worked there and arranged countless one-off journeys for clients. We live to travel – and love to share our tips on what’s really worth doing. For expert advice (and a traveller’s tale or two), speak to one of our team. They’ll be happy to let you in on their travel secrets, and help you plan a tailor-made trip that’s truly unforgettable.

Natural High Brochure

Drop us an email if you'd like us to send you a copy our brochure. Or you can download a digital copy here

Natural High Brochure

Let us help you get started:

Ready to take the first step? Fill in the form below and we’ll get back to you.

Please sign me up for your newsletter
Please post me your brochure


Let the adventure begin.