An active volcano in the Dankil Depression in the northern Afar region (which is quite literally afar too, and certainly supremely remote!) of Ethiopia
The crater contains one of the very few permanent lava lakes
on Earth (others include Nyiragongo
in the DRC
, Mt Erebus in Antarctica
, and Ambrym, Vanuatu).
It must be a truly spectacular sight to behold – and I'm keen to do so. Yet, this is one of the hardest parts of Ethiopia to get to, for several reasons. For one thing is seriously remote, far from any infrastructure whatsoever, so it's a tough expedition like trip by 4x4 and involves camping at the crater rim (no facilities) and a long drive back or onwards through the Danakil Depression. Tours often combine other sights in the area into 2,3 or 4 day packages, usually starting from Mekele
And you have to go on an organized group tour, and drive in convoy, accompanied by armed guards. Armed police also provide security at the crater itself. The reason being that this are has long been plagued by political instability and rebel incursions even targeting tourist. A number were killed in 2012, and a more recent incident also left one German tourist dead (though it's not clear whether that may have been a tragically unfortunate accident). However, the recent political developments with regards to relations with neighbouring Eritrea (see under Ethiopia
) may mean that it is now much safer to go than in previous decades.
I've also just heard that new fly-over tours have been started, which would cover the ground into the Danakil much faster and safer and in much, much more comfort. However that would not allow you to get up close and certainly not seeing the lava lake at night – and it's really only in the dark that the lake becomes truly spectacular …
I very much hope to be able to include this on my trip when I finally make it to Ethiopia
(possibly in late 2019 – watch this space).
The photo above was kindly supplied by Howard E. Sawyer.