South Africa: arrival in Johannesburg

After the weeks spent in some of the world’s most desolate regions, our arrival in Johannesburg might as well be a landing on a different planet. The eight lane highways, leafy suburbs, cool cafes and glitzy shopping malls (full of Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Burberry but no Coach…) are about as far from the Danakil country(…)

Ethiopia: Harar

  Harar is Ethiopia’s great muslim city, in the east of the country. Founded in the 8th century and having played host to a relative of the Prophet Muhammad, it is considered by some as the fourth holiest city in Islam. With its winding alleys, traditional houses built around a courtyard and hidden behind white(…)

Ethiopia: out of the desert !

  It is another two days’ drive to emerge out of the Danakil desert. At first, we see a few green shoots, then houses which look a bit more “permanent”, finally trees and even a hotel ! Our first shower in four days (cold, not hot, unfortunately…) is at the Erta Ale motel, in the(…)

Ethiopia: Pyrotechnics in the Danakil

  Erta Ale, in the heart of the Danakil desert, is the only volcano in the world with a permanent lava lake. After a five hour hike in the dark, we reach the volcano’s caldera around 11pm, and spend the night there in a small ramshackle hut. Erta Ale is in a state of permanent(…)

Ethiopia: the hottest place on Earth

  The Danakil Depression is one of Nature’s great Shows. Full of rocks with fantastical shapes, bubbling pools of green and orange water, smoking ponds and bright yellow sulfurous deposits. 3pm, 42 degrees…ploughing ahead… 116m below sea-level I got myself a block of salt !