Life in the hottest land on the planet

Despite the heat, drought and active volcanoes, the Afar tribe still lives and mines salt from the low-lying Danakil, Ethiopia.

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Danakil, Ethiopia
Located in the heart of the Horn of Africa, Danakil is the most remote and harsh place on the planet. Under the scorching sun and at a depth of 125 m above sea level, it has an average annual temperature of 34.4 degrees C. Photo: The Atlantic.
Danakil, Ethiopia
In the hottest time, Danakil has temperatures up to 50 degrees C. With little annual rainfall of 100-200 mm, this place is called "The gate to hell". Photo: BBC.
Danakil, Ethiopia
Formed by the impact of tectonic plates on the border of Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, the Danakil lowland has beautiful geological wonders. There are colorful hydrothermal fields, huge salt pans and chemical hot pools which below is boiling underground lava. Photo: The Atlantic.
Danakil, Ethiopia
In hot and most acidic lakes, the reaction of sulfur and salt forms bright yellow cubes. In cooler lakes, copper salt creates a turquoise blue color. In the picture above is a spray of water gushing out from the hot spring of Danakil. Photo: The Atlantic.
Danakil, Ethiopia
With hot, dry climates and extreme conditions, very few plants and animals can live in Danakil. However, Afar people have settled here for hundreds of years in Hamadela village. Photo: The Atlantic.
Danakil, Ethiopia
The main task of the Afar is to extract salt from Danakil's mineral lakes and transport them across the desert by camels. Photo: BBC.
Danakil, Ethiopia
Every day, each person can cut about 120 blocks of salt weighing 4 kg and more than 150 tablets. Photo: Andy Explores.
Danakil, Ethiopia
After cutting, the salt is transferred to the village of Berahile, 80 km away. The journey lasts from 2 to 3 days each way to and from. Each trip, the whole team earned 3,320 birr (about VND 2.6 million). However, most of this money belongs to the owners of camels, while the laborers receive very little.

In the past, they used to transfer salt to the Mekele market, about a week's walk away. However, with the appearance of roads, trucks can directly get salt from the village of Berahile. Photo: Ian Swithinbank / Flickr.
Danakil, Ethiopia
Afar people also live in a nomadic way. They stay in huts that can dismantle and take care of cattle, including goats, donkeys, and camels. The Awash River is the main stream of water that flows into the region, giving life for the Afar and their livestock.

Awash is one of the most unique rivers in the world. Originating from the Ethiopian plateau, the river flows into the lakes in the Danakil basin. Under the impact of the scorching sun, the lake water evaporates and leaves huge salt pans. Photo: BBC.
Danakil, Ethiopia
Adapted to the harsh living conditions of Danakil, Afar's body needs less water and food than ordinary people. On their journey, they just need a loaf of bread and water. Photo: Lens Magazine.
Danakil, Ethiopia
Today, a road connecting Hamid Ela village (where the salt mine is 50 km away) to Berahile was built. Despite the change in Danakil, Afar people and their camels still maintain a long tradition. Photo: BBC.
Danakil, Ethiopia
Due to the low income, Afar also do other jobs such as carrying goods for tourists who want to spend the night on Mount Erta Ale to take pictures. Most visitors come here to visit this 600 m high volcano with rare lava lakes in the world. Photo: The Atlantic.

Life in the hottest land on the planet Life in the hottest land on the planet Reviewed by Duy Khiêm on September 05, 2019 Rating: 5

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