Dispatches from the Rift Valley: Through the land of the Afar

Posted by Kingsley Holgate on 5 December 2011

We are currently travelling through the Afar triangle, a land of jagged mountains and cliffs, treacherous earth faults, active volcanoes and below-sea-level deserts where temperatures rise to a scorching 57°C in the shade. …

The saltiest body on the planet

We’ve made it to Djibouti’s Lake Assal, deepest point on the continent at -155 meters below sea level, for the start of our odyssey to follow the Great African Rift Valley. With an 80 m thick salt crust in about one third of the lake and about 380 grams of salt per litre of water, Lake Assal is the saltiest body of water on the planet. Ethiopia’s Danakil, here we come.

On expedition and thinking of Durban

And so as the world’s ‘glitterati’ descend on Durban’s ‘COP’ 17 Summit on how to slow climate change and reach their agreed goal “to limit the average global temperature rise to 2°C…”, we find ourselves in Ethiopia’s Danakil, hottest place on earth!; close to drought stricken famine rid Somalia on the Horn of Africa. Let’s hope for peace and a green revolution!

Malaria is rife

Ethiopian greetings from remote Afar villages where the Awash River ends its journey. Malaria is bad here and we continue with our United Against Malaria, Rite To Sight and LifeStraw campaigns. Tough going, we travel with armed militia.

Sticky situations

Whilst going through a bit of research about our first expedition chapter, we uncover this interesting bit of information… The Danakil, also known as the Afars, used to be in the habit of castrating and murdering intruders into their territory. A young man could only marry when he had overcome an adversary and cut off his testicles as a trophy. The early British explorer Wilfred Thesiger found himself in a few sticky situations in which he managed to preserve both his composure and his testicles and win over the Afars. Hopefully we’ll be able to do the same – we’ll keep you posted.

 

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