Danakil day 1: getting there
Over the four-day Easter weekend, Andreas and I traveled with eight other ICS teachers to an area called the Danakil Depression in the Afar region of northwestern Ethiopia. It’s taken me a few days to sort out the more than a thousand pictures I took. There’s a lot to show you, so I’m going to break my Danakil story into four or five sections backdated to last week. Don’t worry, I won’t include ALL of the pictures.
We began our adventure Friday morning with a one-hour flight to the city of Mekele. Mekele has a clean, organized, uncrowded feel – quite different from Addis. The tour company picked us up at the airport and transported us to their offices, where they loaded our luggage and all the supplies for our expedition onto a convoy of 4WD vehicles.
Heading out of town, the natural and cultural landscape are already very different from Addis. Instead of the round thatched tukuls common in highlands of Oromia and Amhara, up here in Tigray the homes are rectangular and made of stone.
After a couple of hours traveling east, we crossed into the Afar region, where we stopped for lunch.
The Afar people are nomadic herders, so the homes here are of a quite different type.
In the afternoon we stopped in a village with an army base where our guide got permission for us to enter Danakil. We also picked up two military guards, who rode on the roofs of the front and rear vehicles.
Continuing on, the terrain got flatter and drier, with hills in the distance
In the late afternoon we arrived at our destination, an Afar village in the Danakil desert. The travel company has an arrangement with the villagers to accommodate tourists. Local men helped unload the vehicles and brought out raised woven straw beds, which they arranged near a building we’d be using as a kitchen and shady shelter. Over a small rock wall was a bathing booth made of plastic sheeting, and off in the distance, a corrugated metal latrine (hole-in-the-ground style, as they all are here). On one of the buildings someone had painted a sign : Afar Hotel. I think this was meant to be ironic, but I cannot say for sure.
When the sun went down, our cooks made us a simple but tasty dinner of soup, rice, greens, salad, and oranges. After dark it cools off (into the 80s, maybe) and there is a pleasant breeze. We slept outside on our woven beds, under the stars.