Lake Abbe Part 1

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999 Days Around Africa: The Road Chose Me

I make my way into Djibouti City, and thankfully fill up with gas at a perfectly normal station. There are no shortages here, though the price is outrageous.

Djibouti is a very strange little country. Because it sits so close to the middle east, Somalia and Yemen (and all the ongoing wars there), the military of many countries keep a base in Djibouti – so they can be strategically close and train in the correct environment. I’ve only been the in city an hour and I’ve already seen US tanks driving down the street and uniformed military from Japan, China, France and the US. Because there are so many foreigners here all earning good foreign money, everything is extremely expensive. Even a less-than-ideal hotel is $40USD for the night, the supermarket is double or triple the price of countries I have recently been to, and gas is the most expensive I have ever paid in Africa.

I explore the city for the remainder of the day and crash a night before the adventures to come…

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Stopping in a small town along the way

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A local village house

Lake Abbe is a volcanic region in the North of Djibouti near the border of Ethiopia. It’s a little similar to the famous Danikil Depression in that country, though I’m excited because basically nobody visits Djibouti, so I will avoid the hundreds of tourists I’m told make the trek to the Danikil every single day.

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A small village in the desert

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I followed these mountains for almost an hour

I back track out of the city the same way I came in, then turn off onto extremely dusty and rocky desert tracks. For hour after hour I make my way through the ever-changing landscape, until finally I see strange rock formations on the horizon.

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The road finally climbed through the mountains, with the lake in the distance

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One of the many cold springs close to Lake Abbe

Steam and hot water are forced to the surface near the lakeshore, and as they deposit minerals and calcium the rock slowly builds, forming odd-looking chimneys that must be thousands (millions?) of years old. The entire scene is barren, extremely hot and dusty beyond belief. Never before have a seen such a strange landscape, and it’s easy to imagine I’m on the moon – or better yet mars.
The scene is simply otherworldly.

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Camels wandering through the moonscape

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The rock formations at sunset

I explore the entire area until sunset, when I bump into some local ladies herding their goats home for the night. They are dressed in beautiful colours and wear gold jewelry proudly. At first they are shy, though they do warm up and are happy to have their pictures taken after I ask permission. How they scratch a living out here in this surreal landscape is hard to imagine.

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Young girl

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At first this lady did not want to uncover her face

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Eventually she was happy to uncover her face

I make my way to the campsite high above the lake, where there are small local-style huts for rent, a restaurant and of course Jeep camping on offer.

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Herding goats at sunset

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Sunset

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Surreal landscapes at every turn

Mercifully the wind and temperature drop at about 9pm, and I drift off to sleep imaging myself on mars.

-Dan

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4 Responses

  1. Chris says:

    Hi Dan, been following your adventure for quite a while and these are some of the most spectacular pictures you have posted (and you have posted so many great pics over your travels). Stunning! A joy to follow and vicariously live the adventure via your blog. Cheers!

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hey Chris,

      Thanks for the support and kind words! I’m also extremely proud of these photos – the landscape really is like another planet, and sunset and sunrise really set it off!

      Cheers,
      -Dan

  2. A A Ron says:

    Hey Dan, your always taking about the dust etc being so bad… How fast do you go through car filters? Could we get a tour of the inside on the Jeep to see what all this time and miles and living inside it has done to it? One of my main questions I’ve had reading you site is if you run with the a/c on? Your always taking about how hot it is but you do have air conditioning, right?! Hope all is well.

    • Dan Grec says:

      Hi Ron,

      I check the air filter every 3k miles or so, though the AEV pre-filter on the snorkel seems to do a great job of keeping a lot of the dust out of it.
      I wash it and re oil it every 6k miles, it’s usually not too bad even by then. I think having the air intake raised so much helps it get clear air too.
      For sure a video of the inside and outside is on my to do list, it will come !
      I do have AC, and I do use it most days. I prefer to drive with the window down, but in honesty the heat and dust are getting to me now, and I’m getting lazy about it and taking the easy option with the AC on and dust-free inside!

      Cheers,
      -Dan

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