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See Olga Tebé's photos
13 photos

Like being on another planet

The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is an unforgettable place full of landscapes that seem like they're from another planet. It's the home of the Afar nomads who roam the arid lands in their camel caravans, hauling blocks of salt from the salt likes to sell in the city. Dallol is one of the world's deepest depressions and the lowest point on the African continent (125 meters below sea level).

The Dallol salt lakes with their surreal colors and shapes really make you feel like you're in another world. There are incredible lakes of sulfur that shine in bizarre shades of green, brown, and yellow, fragile calcium formations and smoking geysers. The area, in fact, is home to 40% of Africa's active volcanoes, the most famous of which is Erta Ale. In the evenings or early mornings, you can scale the volcano to see the pool of lava in the crater while the sunrise/sunset lights up the horizon.

You start at Mekele towards Ahmed Ela via Berehale, where you need to pick up your permits to enter the Afar region. On the way, you see long carmel caravans heading the Mekele to sell their salt. There's now a new highway which makes the trip (5hrs.) to Ahmen Ela, home of the Afar nomads, a lot easier. It's an amazing experience to share the traditions and way of life of these people. The majority of the Afar as nomads who raise sheep, goats, cows, and camels. Here, a man's wealth is measured by the size of his flock.

But not all the Afar raise livestock. Many work in the Danakil Depression extracting huge quantities of salt during the dry season and later forming them into blocks. While some areas in Africa permit polygamy, the Afar are monogamous. Meat and milk are the main components of the Afar diet and milk is traditionally an important offering here.

The Afar live in camps surrounded by walls of thorns which helps protect them against wild animals and aggressive tribes. Their huts, called "ari," are oval-shaped and made of palm branches and can be easily transported. It's an overwhelming experience. It is literally like being on another planet...everything from the colors of the endless geysers to the salt and camel caravans...the active volcanoes and the unreal colors of the lakes...everything is in constant flux and full of life.

There are very, very few places as incredible as Dallol.
Olga Tebé

Information about Dallol

Dallol Address
Dallol Website,_Ethiopia
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