Gateway to Hell: The Harshest, Most Volatile Corner of Earth


To most of us, going on vacation means finding an idyllic location where one can indulge in favorite activities. Whether you like swimming, sunbathing, skiing, hiking or even spotting man-eating animals, there is a vacation out there for you. But there is one holiday destination that is unlike any other: Danakil Desert in northeast Ethiopia has been called “Hell on Earth,” but that doesn’t dissuade thrill-seeking travelers from flocking there to see some of the strangest conditions on the entire planet.


(image via: Telegraph)

Walking in the incredible landscape of the Danakil desert is probably as close as you can get to stepping foot on an alien planet. The desolate landscape is marked by volatile volcanoes and the scorching hot air is filled with hazardous gases. Bizarre sights, foul smells, harsh terrain and punishing temperatures are certainly not what most people would consider ideal vacation elements. It seems more like Armageddon than Paradise.


(images via: Telegraph)

Traveling through this strange place can be hazardous to your health. At any given moment, the African tectonic plate is splitting into two, shifting and causing lava to bubble up from the depths to the surface. Tremors constantly rock the land while the Erta Ale volcano erupts continuously. Sulfur fills the air and it is not at all unusual to see fiery fountains spouting up from the ground. The temperature regularly climbs as high as 115 degrees Fahrenheit.


(image via: Telegraph)

But regardless of the highly unconventional nature of this place as a tourist destination, tourists are willingly visiting the Danakil Desert for the experience of a lifetime. There is no other place on Earth to experience this precise set of conditions all at once…and thank goodness for that. Danakil is certainly one of the least hospitable places anywhere on our planet. To be sure, most people simply could not handle these conditions.


(image via: Telegraph)

But it is not only the natural features of the region that make the Afar region of Ethiopia a rather terrifying place to be. The scarcity of resources means that indigenous tribes often clash over water and land – and they go to extreme measures to protect their interests. Even very young boys can be seen toting rifles to defend their tribes’ territory.


(image via: Addis Live)

Despite the unpleasant aspects of the area and the physical discomfort that marks visits to Danakil, there are plenty of reasons to aspire to vacation there. The world’s only below-sea-level volcano can be found in Danakil Desert along with stunning salt flats, mineral springs, bubbling sulfur pits, lava lakes and acid salt ponds.


(image via: Oddity Central)

The alien sights are truly like nothing else and have even given rise to a strange sort of tourism trade. Travelers from all over the world come to see the most punishing climate and bizarre landscape ever seen first-hand by human eyes. And while it may not be the ideal Spring Break party location, Danakil is absolutely one of the most fascinating places on Earth.