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Sunday, July 19, 2015

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Welcome To Dallol, Ethiopia The Hottest Place On Earth (35 Pics)

With average temperatures consistently hovering at 94 ˚F, Dallol, Ethiopia might just be the hottest inhabited place on the planet. The sultry Danakil Desert surrounds the desiccated settlement, which contributes to Dallol’s unforgivingly hot climate. The annual average high temperature is 105 ˚F, but in June the temperatures can skyrocket to a fiery 116 ˚F. 

The pillars of salt and pools of acid at Dallol form some of the most alien landscape to be found on earth. With all the sulphur, iron oxide, and noxious fumes, it is amazing that anyone would choose to live out here.

Due to the abundance of salt and mineral deposits, the Danakil is full of colorful and surreal landscapes such as hot springs and bubbling pools like the ones seen here at Dallol

A small geyser spits water from the middle of a lake. 

Salt formed into Dallol mountain pinnacles, rising 130 feet high. 
Egg-shaped fumaroles litter the landscape at Dallol. 

An Afar guard watches over Dallol’s valuable mineral deposits. Some of the surrounding desert sits more than 328 feet below sea level. 
Chemical compounds give the deposits their rainbow colors. 
Salt merchants travel over rough terrain to gain access to the rich mineral 

Without roads, visitors and workers must use camel caravans to enter the Afar Depression.

The camel caravans stretch out for miles, and are managed by the Afar people, who eke out a living in this harsh wasteland where almost nothing grows and travel is extremely perilous.
Camels and occasionally mules are the only animals hearty enough to make the grueling journey through the extreme desert climate to transport the salt, and even so, it's not uncommon for caravans to lose a camel or two in the brutal heat.
Minerals build up over time, creating fascinating shapes and crusts. 

The strange erosion patterns result from acids boiling to the surface of the Earth.

The Danakil Depression, in the northeastern corner of Ethiopia, has the distinction of being the hottest place on earth, with recorded temperatures of 125 degrees. It's sometimes called "the gateway to Hell." The lava lake in the Erta Ale volcano is one of only 4 living lava lakes in the world.

From its base, it is a 6 mile walk in the dark to get to the summit of Erta Ale, where one can spend the night in relative cool watching the amazing lava lake in the active shield volcano spewing and belching up flame and molten lava.
The Dallol area was formed by eruption craters, and sits at 150 feet below sea level, one of the lowest and hottest spots on the planet, full of geysers, acid ponds, and other weird land formations.
Water is a scarce and precious commodity in the Danakil, both the Afar people and tourist groups passing through on their way to Erta Ale and Dallol have come to depend on the few springs with wells that are to be periodically found.
Travel through the Danakil requires a four wheel drive jeep, plenty of water, and repair equipment, not to mention a guide who knows the area. There are not many roads in the Danakil, just sand and lava tracks leading through the wilderness.
One of the most amazing features in the Danakil is Lake Assal, a salt lake, where the Afar come to mine salt, and where some beautiful photo ops are created when the salt is covered with water.
The Afar are extremely hearty, working long hours in the hot sun, and entire families get involved in the salt trade, stacking blocks onto camels for the long journey out of the desert.
After mining, the salt is cut into 6.5 pound blocks, and packed into balanced loads which are carried by the camels, in groups of 10-15, led by 2 Afar herders, for the three day walk out of the desert.
Afar women are quite striking, and are known for filing and sharpening their teeth, considered a form of beauty by both men and women, and a rite of passage into womanhood for adolescent girls.
Erta Ale was discovered in 1906, making it the world's longest lava lake. It last erupted in 2005, and in 2007, had large lava flows. Access here via land has only been since 2000, prior to that, only helicopter access had been possible for visitors.
The sense of space and solitude in the Danakil Depression is immense, with the hydrothermal field full of recrystallised deposits, pools of brine, and plenty of photogenic and unique physical land forms for tourists to wander amidst and enjoy.
The Afar were once known for being extremely inhospitable and fierce, and while they are still considered extremely proud and independent, they now welcome visitors to see their unparalleled habitat and efforts to exist within it.
In spite of the harsh and extreme climate, the Danakil Depression is truly one of the most unique and amazing landscapes to be found anywhere on the planet, well worth the trials and tribulations of a journey here.


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