Snapshot in Time: The Alien Landscape of Dallol

There is none more heated than Ethiopia’s sense-defying desert expanse.

Dallol, Ethiopia’s most enigmatic locale, represents a superlative experience. Neither the best nor the worst place to visit, it nevertheless lays claim to being the hottest inhabited place on the planet. With temperatures exceeding 50 degrees this is no small achievement.

It’s a truly surreal place. Indeed, it’s so hot one barely comprehends the heat, such are the unreal temperatures. The feeling is one of an alien ghost town. Sandy mirages add a shimmer to the craggy, craggy horizon and to see any evidence of human settlement unnerves the senses. What kind of spirits would live in such an unforgiving environment?

Dallol, Ethiopia: an area of absolutes

Even more impressively, the hot springs overwhelm its outlier nature. Here is one of the planet’s lowest (100 metres below sea level), driest places. The former record, in particular, is a strange one: logically, visitors would expect peaks and karsts of desert stone, but there’s nothing of the sort. Merely flat, salty earth. 

What visitors will remember, however, are the natural wonders. The idea of acid pools, bubbling sulphur pits and multi-coloured volcanic hydrothermal fields bring to mind a fever dream. Here they are made flesh. A spectacular scene – comprising geysers and volcanic salt- awaits as Ethiopia’s most extreme landscape reveals itself. (Grumpy Editor: One day you should write a fuller story about this kind of stuff.)


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