History of the lake
Formed after a period of constant flooding by the red sea, large amounts of mineral salts and deposits settled in the area, and formed a thick hard crust, leaving the arid landscape seen today.
Salt is still mined in the area, as it has been for centuries, being cultivated and cut by hand, using traditional techniques. 116m below sea level, it is one of the lowest salt flats in the world, and produced some the most sought after salt.
Sitting just north of the lake is the former mining settlement, Dallol. Abandoned as the resources that made up much of the local economy dried up, tours of the area often stop in the ghost town.
The sulphur flats found in the area around Dallol are one of the key attractions in the area, with multi-coloured rocks protruding from the long dry geezers that once spewed steam. Once at the lake, an array of mesmerising intermingling colours found within the semi dried pools glisten in the mid-day sun, creating an almost psychedelic landscape.
With scenes seemingly straight from a sci-fi movie, the salt flats and the dazzling range of colours they produce is awe inspiring. Surrounding the lake, rock formations created by millennia of erosion have created some of the most impressive structures in the valley. Almost appearing freestanding, these rocks are all that remains from a broad mountain range that once circled around the lake.
Visiting the lake
Tours of the region also include overnight stops along the way, usually at one of the many smaller settlements dotted along the banks of the lake.
Consisting of a few traditional tents, called Afar tents, these tiny hamlets are all that break up unending salt flats that cover the horizon.
Usually taking up to 5 days, these excursions across the flats are relatively easy to organise and should be at the top of any bucket list for those wanting to visit the region.
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