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Ethiopia is a landlocked country, however it's mostly high elevation (2000-2500m) and given that Eritrea seems to be narrow, I'm wondering if it's possible to see the Red Sea from Ethiopia. I'm assuming the dry air would aid in visibility.

If it's possible, where would be a good spot to do that ?

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    There is some military tension between Ethiopia and Eritrea. AFAIK the border is highly guarded since it's not possible to go from one country to the other. Even if such thing is possible I would advise you to be careful. – nsn Mar 29 '16 at 14:32
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    It's not just the Eritrean border, it's also the whole of the Danakil region which is considered unstable and extremely dangerous, which is the region closer to the Red Sea. For example see this FCO map: gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/ethiopia .owever, everywhere up to Djibouti, and Djibouti itself, are considered reasonably safe, and Djibouti is on the red sea. – user568458 Mar 29 '16 at 15:05
  • @user568458: Properly speaking, Djibouti is on the Gulf of Aden; its seacoast mostly lies south of the Bab-el-Mandeb, and the part that's past the strait isn't particularly close to the safer parts of Ethiopia. – Michael Seifert Mar 29 '16 at 19:51
  • You can't, not from the ground. – Nean Der Thal Mar 29 '16 at 20:52
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    Eritrea is narrow but not very flat... and the part of Ethiopia closest to the Red Sea is actually under the sea level. Maybe from the Eastern edge of the highlands? Of course, in practice the area is not recommended for tourists and the air is very moist around the Red Sea but you haven't asked about that. – Relaxed May 2 '16 at 11:12
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Assumptions

Let's make some assumptions:

  1. The question "how far can I see?" can be answered by asking "how far is it to the apparent horizon?"
  2. It is possible to calculate the distance from a point to the apparent horizon
  3. By this definition, a taller vantage point allows to see farther than a lower one
  4. The minimum height above sea level in Ethiopia is 2000m
  5. The maximum height above sea level in Ethiopia is the Ethiopian Highlands summit at 4550m
  6. The Red Sea is a large puddle of water which is likely to be visible if located between the observer and the apparent horizon

Some Data

  1. The apparent horizon distance from a point at a height of 2000m is 159.7km
  2. The apparent horizon distance from a point at a height of 4550m is 241km
  3. The average distance between the Ethiopia-Eritrea border and the Red Sea is 60km (calculated using my thumb as scale and google maps)

From where Can I See the Red Sea in Ethiopia?

Given the assumptions and the data above, one should be able to see the Red Sea from Ethiopia, given an observation point at a height of 2000m placed between the Ethiopia-Eritrea border and 90km from such border. The map below (generated with Free Map Tools) shows four circles with a a radius of 159.7km, placed roughly at the border between Eritrea and the Red Sea. These highlight an area of land in Ethiopia from which the Red Sea should be visible.

Moreover, an observer standing at the summit of the Ethiopian highlands should be able to see the Red Sea, since this is at a distance which is less than the distance of the apparent horizon calculated from that point. The yellow circle in the map below shows an area with a radius of 241km centred on the Ethiopian Highlands. This circle highlights the visible area from this point, a significant part of which encompasses the Red Sea.

Apparent horizon and Red Sea observation points in Ethiopia

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    The maths is good, but IS there actually a point 2km above sea level as described? I know Ethiopia has some mountains, but where are they? – Mark Mayo May 4 '16 at 22:29
  • @MarkMayo The Ethiopian highlands are roughly where the centre of the yellow circle is. And their summit is at 4550m. The rest of Ethiopia is roughly 2000m all around aside from the parts which are below sea level. – JoErNanO May 5 '16 at 6:22
  • @JoErNanO The centre of the yellow circle is part of the Danakil depression, which is mainly at sea level altitude. The Ethiopian highlands are located to the west of the Mekele - Dessie line, with the peak Ras Dashen in the Simien Mountains between Gondar and Mekele. – HenricF Aug 21 '17 at 6:09
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+50

Whether it is possible to see the Red Sea from Ethiopia depends on

  1. Air conditions
  2. Altitude
  3. Whether the view is blocked by other high-altitude land or not

For the last two points we have the website HeyWhatsThat, which uses information on topography to generate "views" from mountains all over the world. Browsing the map close to the Ethiopia-Eritrea border shows at least one area of high altitude in an area that Wikipedia spells Dallol and Google Maps spells Dalol. From at least one peak here one would be able to see the Red Sea if atmospheric conditions were right. Sadly, Google Maps does not have a name for this peak nor any nearby place names.

Link to panorama

Screenshot with areas visible from this peak marked in red:

Image from HeyWhatsThat

One could play around with the HeyWhatsThat tool to look for other peaks in more accessible parts of Ethiopia with a view of the Red Sea.

Edit: There also appears to be views further south, from where you can also see peaks in Yemen:

Image from HeyWhatsThat

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    The nearby peak of Asdaga (elev. 1580 m) has an even better view of the Red Sea, including most of the Hanish Islands. – Michael Seifert Jul 21 '16 at 16:01

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