Lake Afrera tour (or lake Giulietti) located 100 meters below sea level in the Danakil desert

December 27-28, 2010

After having crossed much of central Ethiopia, we finally reached the first "real" place belonging to the Danakil depression: the mythical Lake Giulietti (or lake Afrera), a salt water lake located more than100 meters below sea level, in one of the deepest depressions of the planet. Because of the pictureqsue landscape, it is interesting to visit the salt flats where the Afar people obtain the salt by evaporating the water of the lake.

After having visited the interesting market of Bati, we start driving towards Logia, where the Danakil region begins.

 

Afar village Afar huts
Afar home Afar
Along the road from Logia to Afdera we begin to see the homes inhabited by the Afar people, a Danakil ethnic group living in the region.

 

Ethiopia desert
New road to Danakil The modern road built by the Chinese, connects the Danakil region with Addis Ababa, crossing the desert. Currently, at January 2011, this road ends in Afrera (Lake Giulietti), but there are plans to continue until Makele, going through the Danakil depression (perhaps skirting the Erta Ale base camp, Dallol and Hamed Ela, which could mean the end of the camel caravan, currently used for transporting salt mined in the northern Danakil depression).

 

Afar town Afar buildings
Crossing other Afar villages along the way to Afrera.

 

Volcanic landscape
Afar people
Approaching Lake Giulietti (Afdera lake), the landscape begins to be dominated by huge ancient lava flows. It's amazing how in this desolation, where not a single blade of grass grows, there are Afar camps with people living in their traditional huts.

 

Lake Giulietti Giulietti lake
Lake Giulietti pictures. We finally reach Lake Giulietti, placed in a depression more than 100 meters below sea level. From the top of an hill we can see the many salt fields scattered around the lake.

 

Afdera Afrera
The depressing Afrera (or Afdera) town is located along the shores of Lake Giulietti and bases its economy on the extraction of salt from the waters of the lake. Afrera was recently reached by a modern paved road that connects this town to Addis Ababa. The houses looks like miserable and horrible shacks, enveloped in dust and dirt. These images are essentially "stolen" from the car's window. Walking down the street, shooting with cameras is virtually impossible, as this triggers the wrath of the people, who may even get to throw stones at the photographers.

 

Afrera lake
The beach along lake Afdera (Giulietti lake) is surrounded by a foam of salt, transported and accumulated by the wind. An Afar is fishing some of the few species of fish living here, although the salinity and the acid pH of the waters.

 

Camp in Danakil depression
I pitch my tent near the shores of Lake Giulietti, taking care to tie it to the palms, because of the strong wind that blows constantly. My GPS shows an altitude of 113.7 meters below sea level.

 

Saline Salt tank
Salt The salt water of Lake Giulietti (Afdera lake) is pumped into these large sealed tanks excavated in the ground where, after being evaporated, a thick crust of salt remains.

 

Salt bags
Transporting salt The salt is then collected into big colored bags, before taking it away by trucks.

 

Salt in Danakil depression

 

Danakil Saline
Saline in Danakil region Salt in Danakil depression
More Photos of the saline.

 

Salt foam
Salty foam transported and accumulated by the wind along the shores of Lake Afrera (Lake Giulietti)

 

Sunset

 

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