Lake Assal

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The oldest salt caravan begins in Djibouti, on Lake Assal, located in the heart of the Danakil desert, next to the Dallol depression. With an altitude of 155 meters below sea level, Lake Assal is the lowest point on the African continent. Its salinity is ten times higher than sea water and even exceeds that of the Dead Sea. It is considered the saltiest lake in the world.


The camel drivers transport the salt harvested by hand on the ground, according to a 2500 year old process. The camels can carry up to 120 kg on their backs and travel across the country, and sometimes as far as Ethiopia, through the arid and mountainous landscapes of Wadi Kalou where temperatures easily exceed 45 degrees in summer.

Panorama of Lake Assal from where the oldest salt caravan in the world leaves.
A man crosses Lake Assal at low tide.
View of the salt covering the ground of Lake Assal.
Close-up view of the salt covering the ground of Lake Assal.
Panorama of Lake Assal from where the oldest salt caravan in the world leaves.
Panorama of Lake Assal from where the oldest salt caravan in the world leaves.
Men collecting salt in bags on Lake Assal. The bags will then be loaded onto camels and transported across the country and even to Ethiopia.
DjibouMen collecting salt in bags on Lake Assal. The bags will then be loaded onto camels and transported across the country and even to Ethiopia.
Panorama of Oued Kalou. The salt caravan crosses the arid landscapes from Lake Assal to as far as Ethiopia
A caravan of camels descends the Oued Kalou to Lake Assal. Photograph by Alexander BEE / Hans Lucas.
A caravan of camels descends the Oued Kalou to Lake Assal. Photograph by Alexander BEE / Hans Lucas.
The camel caravan on its way to Lake Assal will stop for the night in Oued Kalou. The camel drivers unload the camels.
A camel driver collects wood for an evening fire while the camel caravan stops for the night in Oued Kalou.
A caravan of camels descends the Oued Kalou to Lake Assal.
A caravan of camels walks on Lake Assal.
A caravan of camels descends the Oued Kalou to Lake Assal.
A caravan of camels walks on Lake Assal.
A caravan of camels walks on Lake Assal.
A caravan of camels descends the Oued Kalou to Lake Assal.
A caravan of camels walks on Lake Assal.
Portrait of the camel driver descending the caravan to Lake Assal.
A caravan of camels walks on Lake Assal.
Panorama of Lake Assal from where the oldest salt caravan in the world leaves.
Camels are looking to one another on Lake Assal.