Inside the 'cruelest place on Earth'

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Alien landscapeThe depression is home to some of the most spectacular geological features in the world. The landscape is dotted with volcanoes, brightly-colored acid pools, molten rock and mighty salt pans.

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Life on Mars?Hot springs in the depression are studied by scientists to see how microorganisms can live in such extreme conditions, which might offer clues about the possibility of life on other planets.

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Sulphur lakeTemperatures average 34.5 degrees centigrade but have risen to over 50 degrees.

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Privileged accessThere are reportedly 750 miners officially registered to work on the site. They must pay a salt-collectors tax for access to the area.

Miners of the Danakil Depression

No respiteThe dried out landscape typically receives less than 200 millimeters of rainfall each year.

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Working the land A salt miner works in the heat as he digs out salt blocks by hand. Miners use hoes and axes to carve out the “white gold.”

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Racking upThe salt is shaped into uniform blocks and stacked for transport. Each block can earn around 20 cents for the miner.

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Keeping watchAn Ethiopian soldier monitors the miners from a hilltop.

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Sleeping on siteA man decorates a newly-built bed frame in the depression, which will allow him to stay close to the site.

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Heavy load A camel is loaded with salt blocks ahead of a grueling journey up and out of the depression. The hardy beasts are expected to carry dozens of blocks at a time.

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Miners of the Danakil Depression

The long marchTo lighten the load and create more space for salt, this miner leads his camel by hand.

Miners of the Danakil Depression

New coatSalt deposits build up around everything they touch in this salt lake, coating dry branches.

Miners of the Danakil Depression

Thrill seekers A tourist takes photos of the landscape. Despite the brutal conditions, Danakil is becoming an increasingly popular holiday destination.

loading...