Dr. Friedel Schneider
Ausbau 1
15518 Steinhöfel OT Beerfelde

friedel@home4friends.de

 

Expedition to Danakil Plain

In 2006, Friedel and Hannelore Schneider explored the manifoldly shaped highlands of northern Ethiopia, the remarkable traditions of the resident tribes, and the numerous historic centres of the early Christian, very vivid Ethiopian Orthodox church. They have been to the world-famous sanctuaries of Axum, Lalibela, Gondar with the abbeys at Lake Tana, Debre Damo (which was only accessible via mountaineering a 15 metres high steep face with the help of a rope), Debre Libanos, Adigrat, and Abraha Abza, amongs others. They even reached the holy fountain of the Blue Nile which is strictly guarded by the monks of the local abbey.

Utterly adventurous is the Schneiders' repeated expedition into the world of these high mountains (which are partially higher than 4000 metres above sea level) in 2008, and from there down to the Danakil Desert (which is 153 metres below sea level at its deepest spot) with its gigantic salt lakes, hot springs containing highly-concentrated brine, bizarre and colorful salt formations and massive salt layers. Only the small and to some extend even today still bellicose peoples of Afar, consisting of Muslims, aligned themselves to the arid conditions and live autonomously with strict laws and regulations. Being the solely, proud masters of this region, the Afar are still stuck to vendetta. Just three days before the Schneiders arrived, there was an armed conflict. In its course, two Afar of the region had been abducted and carted off to the hostile Eritrea. Hence, Friedel and Hannelore were always accompanied by three armed Afar. Thus, if not accomodated friendly by the Afar, one should preferably avoid this area. In Dallol, one of the few desert colonies, the authors got to know the incredibly hard and simple but free life. They were present at the Afars' primitive production of salt plates amidst the salt lake. Those plates can only be carried off with the help of camel caravans along the 300 kilometres long path into the mountains up to the salt market in Mekele.

Despite pathlessness, they narrowly made it to the find spot of the 3.2 million years old skeleton "Lucy" in an inhospitable area. The world famous carcass of this old lady is crucial to the understanding of the human history of development.

Danakil-Plain, part of the great graben, opens to the Red Sea in the north-east. Interesting and unsettling things were to be seen in the here located state of Djibouti. Schneiders were shaken to the core by the humongous flows of refugees from the neighbouring ungoverned and militant Somalia. Encountering German soldiers of the European Union Navy, they gained insight into the complicated effords of safeguarding the 6000 metres long coast of the Red Sea and curtailing the conflits, especially those of seaborne piracy.

Back Next