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.
By the Lava Lake on Ert Ale at midnight
The lava lake on top of this erupting volcano: wathing a volcano erupt “live”.
When We started climbing there was still a storm. Lightings were so frequent that one could easily get a picture
On the way down the Ert Ale after slepping on top of the mountain we had this sunrise
The salt lake in the Danakil Desert is incredible; on a wide stretch everything is completely white.
Sunset at Saltlake with my friend Birhan
The surface was entirely hard
The sulphur lake looks like something from a different planet. Everything is yellow, green, blue, red.
It was 34 degrees celsius at this time but it gets above 50 during the day in the hot season. At this time the whole area is active.
A closer view of the suphur crystals.
One could break off pieces of the salt mountain and eat it
Salt mountains – looks gothic.
The Oil Lake was about 60 degrees warm so you could put your hands in it and be surprise: it really is oil and not colored water. The consistency is litterally like oliveoil. I can’t recommend tasting it, it burns quite badly.
These salt miners work in 40-50 degrees to chop of 5 kg blocks of salt and sell them for 22 birr (1 dollar) a piece.
See more photos on the page for the Danakil Depression.