Salt caravans of the Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

This post is also available in: French

The descend into the Danakil Depression was a step into another world and another time.

Our car with the army security servicemen

From the city of Mekele located in the highland of the Tigray region down to Berahile in the Afar region, we had to have a special permit and a police escort, for protection. And then from Berahile into the Danakil depression, the Dallol volcano and the area where the salt is being cut from the ground and charged onto the camels, we also had an additional military escort. Yes, there were four of us plus three soldiers and a local Afar policeman, all in one Landcruiser. Some were traveling on the roof! The proximity of the Eritrean border may certainly explain part of this obligation.


The Dallol volcano
The Dallol volcano


Green acid lakes, red, orange and yellow sulphur deposits, thin dangerous crust, the Dallol is as colorful as it is dangerous.
After the Dallol volcano, we arrived to the area where the main industry of the Danakil Desert still takes place – salt mining. The salt is still cut by hand and loaded onto camels for transport. This is where we saw the caravan of camels making the slow journey through the desert. Very little has changed here for hundreds of years.


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We’re in a desolated region, with nothing but an endless white salt desert.  This is one of the hottest places year-round anywhere on Earth.  It is also one of the most remote places on Earth — there are no roads; the only regular transport service is provided by camel caravans which only travel to the area to collect salt.

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