** As published on Africa Geographic's blog **
“Be sure to choose your 4x4 carefully; you have no idea of what you’re getting yourself into.” That was the welcome we received from our guide as we arrived in Mekele, Ethiopia for our short 4-day – yet physically and mentally demanding – trip into what we will forever call “The Most Inhospitable Place on Earth.”
The Afar Depression is located in the Afar Region of northern Ethiopia. It is a geological depression that resulted from the presence of 3 tectonic plates, which – against the odds – appear around a lake, making it 1 of only 2 places on Earth that a mid-ocean ridge can be studied on land. The region is home to both one of the hottest (+50°C) and lowest (-130 m) places on the planet, some 1,000+ square km of salt deserts, extraterrestrial sulfur fields, active volcanoes, and Lucy, the famous 3.2 million year-old hominin. The northern portion of the Afar Depression is commonly referred to as the Danakil Depression and was our intended destination.