Ert Ale David Kovacs davidkvcs Volcano Ert Ale Lava Lake

The Hottest, Most Hostile and Surreal Place on Earth

People around here believe it is the gateway to hell…

Sure enough it’s an intimidating experience: Its in the middle of the night and just few meters away waves of lava are splashing into the mountain side spraying lava up into the horizon in front of us.

Located at 160m below see level the Danakil Depression is the lowest, hottest and most hostile place on earth. The vulcanically active areas found in this desert are surreal: they look like something from a different planet. Some friends I have shown these pictures thought they were manipulated. They are not.

The Danakil region is inhabited the Afar people and their salt miners go here to chop salt blocks from the flat grounds. Caravans go from Afar Salt Mines to Mekele, the nearest large town, where 5 kg blocks of salt are sold for 22 Ehtiopian Birr, the equivalent of just one American dollar.

In September (2014) I went to the Lava Lake at Ert Ale (smokey mountain). The following days we saw a salt lake, a sulphur lake, salt mountains, an oil lake and the salt miners of the Danakil.

See more photos on the page for the Danakil Depression.

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