Erta Ale and Dallol, Ethiopia

Tour 2008, 3rd to 17th of February  

Part I  


Cinema & Gifs

Way to Erta Ale via Awash National Park

The Ethiopian adventure begins straight after leaving the capital Addis Ababa, whereby you'll get the impression that the half national happening takes place beside the main highways. Small truck stations developed itself to larger settlements, which attract now the far remote desert inhabitants for trading.


Here these supplying ways are the navel of the world, since the important imports can be in-supplied over the sea way only over Somalia and/or Djibouti. Ethiopia, which completed in former times the largest part of its imports and exports over the Eritrean port Assab, evaded in the last years increasingly to the port in Djibouti. Due to the continuous border conflict with Eritrea, the northeast of Ethiopia still does not permit any access to the Red Sea.



The first impressions

The first overnight place was the Awash national park about 100 km west of the capital. Here, the sumptuous nature at the river banks of the Awash Wenz convinced with a rich fauna, whereas crocodiles and cheeky vervet monkeys made themselves noticeable at the campground.


It was not possible to disturb even the shy crocodiles. They didn't noticed anything and anyone, and so we put up our tents five meters away from them. At the end they became the photo stars of the evening.

mr      tb


Near the Awash falls a big baboon gang with maybe 50 members was really curious in every move we made. The possibility of making close-ups on the eye level turned out as very exciting. 


The dusty travel continued passing the Afrera salt lake, which is situated in the catchments area of the Danakil depression wich reaches the deep level of -120 meters. We rested for one night at a thermal source, which was the only place where the Afar- people are bearing tourists. By the way, during our stay time we could engaged ourselves for hours with a mass of mineral salt foam which drifted over the salt lake, and everyone had a true joy if the wind blew this sticky foam around the ears.


Surprised by the cheerfulness and positive mind again and again. Ethiopia and its people.

Erta Ale, the dessert volcano

Now we moved directly to the Erta Ale whereby Henok our guide had to archive still a  few bureaucratic as well as organizational feats, what means, who has whom with which price to pay. As well known, the passage of tourists does not reach a real enthusiasm among the Afar people, and some autocades had to turn back, if they handled themselves too awkwardly with the military posts in Urucur. Really high experienced route supervisors who are versed with the handling of armed police or the military should be contacted advisable. Due to the continuous border conflict with the Eritrean country, armed attendance is prescribed for the possibility of robbery or kidnapping in the Afar-region.


Thus we hunted through the dusty plain and admired the scattered Afar settlements. The question arose: How do these people create its existence in this unreal area? Beside the enormous heat still sand, dust and stones were existing, but absolutely nothing for your survival-promoting at all. We ourselves were constantly sucking at our water bottles. The dryness was so enormous that it was not possible for me to breath a precipitation at the photo lenses.


An intensive sandstorm was the first special of the next day. One day before I joked to Patrick, that it would be a great sight, if such a sandstorm would strike us. But it didn't looked great at all :-( , and you are brooding when slowly the sun disappears, and the light becomes dark like during a sun eclipse, and it is not possible to have a sight more then ten meters. Disorientated we stood now at end of this world, however only for one hour, then the whole trip could be continued.

tb   mr

Already during the ascent we couldn't await, whether the volcano was active or not. On the heat  satellite camera (Internet?) Marc could observe also a general decrease of the crater temperatur in the past weeks. Thus, a free hand 60 second exposure was necessary, whereby a clearly red shine behind the mighty ridge could be recognized. Arriving at the edge of the old caldera at approx. 630m the bundled light from the bowl could be seen.

tb   mr  mr

Lets get closer. The 20 meters descent through the old caldera wall was problem-free. Wow,- arrived at the only desert volcano of the world. Did the entire strains had been worthwhile ? The first  view into the crater was overwhelming.

   tb   tb   mr  tb

 Lava performance in all variations

mr  mr  tb

mr  mr  tb 

After the volcano presented itself in a real grumpy behavior on the next days morning, (a compact black plate without any activity) the first details could be already caught photographically during the whole day. The about 40 meters wide active crater offered its impressive repertoire of volcanic details to us.

tb   tb   tb    

It could be observed, that 15 meter sized lava clods were sucked almost vertically like a over dimensional vacuum cleaner, easily. The gases inside the clods expanded in the hot lava pool which seethed immediately and very  intensive. This procedure tored further parts from the cover plate which submerged into the red depth, and the whole procedure tooks its run under a wild bubbling. In the second days afternoon the lake "cooked up' nearly to the half, whereby fontains raised up to 15 meter.

rr    rr   tb

tb   tb   tb

Overflow of the inner crater. Right up, Henok Tekle

During the three days of our stay the sudden changing level of the lava lake could be observed several times. As to be seen in the upper pictures, the entire plate was lifted up by the underground lava stream. On the second day the lift up was so strong that a violent overflow into the outer part of the active craters took place. When the surrounding crater ran full, the inside crater disappeared in its outlines completely, but suddenly and without a large announcement the entire mirror lowered itself nearly three meters.

tb   tb   tb

tb   tb   tb

Sudden increasing of the lava niveau. Right: Marc Szeglat full armed with film- und photo camera.

Then the internal crater boiled up combined with a remarkable din, and magic, the old condition was presented again. Now a thin skin was regenerated again and increased rapidly in its thickness.At this place you are sure, standing at the volcano with the hottest lava of the world, and it was not possible at least to stand any longer directly at the 80 meter exposed crater rim. For a short time we had even to retire.

tb   tb   rr

If the lava plate broke again, the game replays. In any case, you'll get the impression of the global tectonic movement in comparison during this miniature presentation. This drift is constantly caused by the mighty moving sub terrain lava stream, which appears to the earth surface here at the Erta Ale only in a trickle.

Part II



Etna    Stromboli    Volcano world    Cinema

From Etna to Stromboli     Planets & Space

©2008 Photos und Text by T. Boeckel (tb), photos by M.Rietze (mr), photos by R..Roscoe (rr) last modification 02.3.2008

This private, non-commercial web site do not use cookies !