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Djibouti: Ardoukoba Volcano

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Ardoukoba Volcano | Djibouti | Africa

[Visited: October 2006]

Right on the fault line running through Eastern Africa, Ardoukoba Volcano sits above Lac Assal in an extremely active area of Djibouti. After a visit to and a dip in mysterious Bay of Ghoubbet, we followed the road around the bay on our way to Ardoukoba Volcano. A local boy we had picked up earlier at Lac Assal indicated when we had to leave the asphalted road. Right away, we were on rugged terrain, and it was a great moment for our friends to show their skills at driving a four wheel drive. Uneven rocks and deep grooves forced us to stop several times to see for ourselves what the best way up was.

Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Volcano with Lac Assal in the background

Their skills were great, making our friends think of a new career in Paris-Dakar, and we safely reached the top of the hill. From here, we had great views over the Bay of Ghoubbet with its turquoise water contrasting sharply with the black volcanic rock of the shoreline. After driving on a slightly easier road, we had to leave the cars and walk. We saw a small herd of gazelles running through the dusty environment and walked down towards Ardoukoba Volcano. We fully realized we were walking in an area where three tectonic plates, the African, Arabian and Somali plates, meet: we could see evidence of the Earth's activity everywhere. The view was spectacular: the eerie, black, pointy lava plains leading up to the volcano, Lac Assal as a backdrop, behind which rose high mountains as a horizon. On our right, a valley with steep walls.

Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): The earth around Ardoukoba volcano is very restless

The climb to the top of the volcano required some attention for the sharp lava. The volcano erupted in 1978, but judging from the landscape, there is more, older lava lying around. Some twenty to thirty light earth quakes are registered daily, and it is here that geologists can study first hand the formation of a new ocean and a new, large island. In the distant future, the Horn of Africa will be ripped off the rest of the African continent, forming an enormous island, and ultimately creating a new ocean starting from the Red Sea. The process is slow: the rift in the earth widens a couple of centimetres a year.

Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Ardoukoba Volcano: view from the top with black lava fields, Lac Assal and mountains
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Sign of active earth near Ardoukoba Volcano
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Lava formation near Ardoukoba Volcano
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Ardoukoba Volcano: crater with Lac Assal in the background
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Valley near Ardoukoba Volcano
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Ardoukoba Volcano: view from the top
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Crater of Ardoukoba Volcano
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Ardoukoba Volcano: view from the top
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Landscape near Ardoukoba Volcano
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Lavafields and hills near Ardoukoba Volcano
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Road leading to Ardoukoba Volcano
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Bay of Ghoubbet and lava fields seen on the way to Ardoukoba Volcano
Picture of Ardoukoba Volcano (Djibouti): Driving up to Ardoukoba Volcano with Bay of Ghoubbet in the background

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