One of the most incredible world wonders lies in the desolate plains of Ethiopia. The Danakil Depression is not only the lowest place on earth, but also has the hottest average temperature, rarely dropping from 34 degrees celsius all year round. Created by three tectonic plates, the Danakil depression looks like a prehistoric land, with bright yellow and green sulphuric lakes, magnum filled crates, dried up salt lakes, and The Erta Ale, an active volcano. There really is no other place on earth like it.
This is the one of the ten National Parks protecting the vast and diverse landscapes of Ethiopia. Here lies the infamous Rift Valleys, about 80 km wide and stretching from the Ethiopian North plateau to the South Somalian Plateau. The south section is thought to have developed 18 million years ago, with the north being created 11 million years ago, and the centre being 6 – 8 million years old. Basically, it’s pretty old. Travellers can awe at the incredible number of flamingos gathered at Lake Abijatta, and gawk at the crocodiles, pelicans and hippos of Lake Chamo, the main lake of the Ethiopian rift.
Mago National park is Ethiopia’s most recent national park, being established in 1979. Here there are lakes which have become the watering hold for various species of birds stop and wild animals. Trekkers can hope to see elephants, cheetahs, buffalo, hartebeests (antelope), lions, zebras, giraffes and more, stopping here for a drink. Mago isn’t just known for its wildlife though; it has access to one of the declining, traditional African tribes. The Mursi tribe holds the territory of the Mago National park, situated near the Omo River Valley. With their body paints, astounding lip plates, and fascinating symbols and clothing to represent their status within their tribes, they really allow the Western, technology-obsessed tourist to understand how these tribes live basic, but fulfilled lifestyles. Of course it is important to respect the tribes land, so don’t overstay your welcome and always ask for permission to take photos.
The Simean Mountain National Park has, you guessed it, mountains! In fact, the highest point of Ethiopia, known as Ras Dashen, belongs here. Not only does this national park offer amazing scenery and trails for the energetic hikers, but there’s also some company along the way. High on top of the mountains are hikers of a different sort; the Gelada Monkey, which are only found in the Highlands of Ethiopia. Identified by the red marks on their chest, this monkey is a close relative to the Baboon and spends its days nibbling on grasslands at a height of 1,800 – 4,000 meters above sea level. Dinner with a view, we like their thinking.