ERTA ALE VOLCANO
The Danakil is an area of singular geological fascination, a strange lunar landscape studded with active volcanoes, malodorous sulfur-caked hot springs, solidified black lava flows, and vast salt-encrusted basins.
It is some measure of the Danakil’s geological activity that more than 30 active or dormant volcanoes-roughly one-quarter of the African total are listed by the Smithsonian Institute Global Volcanism Program. These volcanoes are all geological infants, having formed over the past million years, and a great many took their present shape within the last 10,000. The most regularly visited volcanic range in the Danakil is Erta Ale, which consists of seven active peaks extending over an area of 2,350 km square between Ertale Ale (287m, on the West Shore of Lake Asale ) to Haile Gubbi (521 m, about 20km North of Lake Afrera ). Erta Ale is listed as the most active volcano in Africa for over 120 years and the most active until now is over 38 years. . Extracted from a number of salt pans scattered around the Afar Depression, the salt-bars still form a major item of trade for the Afar people, who transport them on camelback to Tigray along the ancient caravan routes with more than three thousand camels lined up.
It is one of active volcanic areas in the world where a lake of malted rock can be seen in a dramatic colorful appearance. It is hard to give a good explanation of the natural phenomenon of the Erta’ale volcano.
Some Muslims consider Harar as the fourth holiest city of their faith after Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. There are several stories about the foundation of Harar which date from the 10th century to the 15th century.
But it is certain that the walls which still surround the old city, have been constructed by Sultan Nur around 1560. This old walled city with its steep cobbled streets and white houses breathes a special, relaxed and lively atmosphere and you should stay several days to taste it.
Through the ages, Harar has been ruled by several sultans so it nearly always has been under Muslim influence. That’s why the old city inhabits 108 mosques from which the oldest is of the 12th century. There are many other interesting monuments and places to visit such as the 16th century tomb of Emir Nur, the Rimbaud House (where the great French poet is said to have lived during his stay in Harar) which is used as a museum now, the house of Ras Makonnen where the last emperor Haile Selasse spent his childhood, the Church of Medhane Alem or the Harar Museum.
It is also interesting to visit one of the old Harar houses with their beautiful interior and don’t forget the lively market to buy the famous colourful Harar basket ware. The most famous attraction of Harar is thehyena man who -according to a 50 years old tradition- is feeding every evening meat to a troupe of hyena’s. He knows all the hyena’s by name and when he calls them they appear from the darkness one by one to take the meat from his hand or mouth. When you observe this spectacle you can’t help shivering a little bit.