PLACE: Lake Assal
LOCATION: Djibouti, East Africa
NOTORIOUS: Salty Lake
NEAREST AIRPORT: JIB, Djibouti-Ambouli International Airport (1. 5 hour drive)
COORDINATES: 11.6000° N, 42.4000° E
CURRENCY: Djiboutian Franc
Lake Assal is Africa’s lowest point (512 ft below sea level) and the saltiest lake outside of Antarctica. The nearby volcano, Ardoukoba, last erupted in 1978 making up the ground that most of these salt pans rest. This area is plagued by intense heat and strong winds so come prepared.
You’ll need to rent a car or ask someone to drive to get you here. Apparently the ride is pretty rough because the roads are fucked by the truck traffic from shipping between Djibouti and Ethiopia. Salt from this lake can be found all over Ethiopia in many different forms. The blogs keep saying, expect to be ‘awe-struck’ <– that sounds like my kind of trip.
Have you seen it? I wanna hear about it. Let me know below:
PLACE: Avenue of the Baobabs (Baobab Alley)
NOTORIOUS: Alien Forest
NEAREST AIRPORT: TNR, Ivato International Airport (8 hour drive – woah)
COORDINATES: 20.2508° S, 44.4183° E
CURRENCY: Malagasy Ariary
So – Madagascar is bigger than Texas? It’s an 8 hour drive directly from the airport which I find insane. This fact smashed all preconceived notions I had about Madagascar being a small island off the coast of East Africa. Basically the best way to get here is to take a small airplane from Antananarivo to Morondava, a coastal town on the west side. It’s less crowded out here and apparently it’s cheaper. This area is also a very dry and dusty place so if you are bringing a big DSLR make sure to protect it.
If you stay in Morondava you can also check out Tsingy de Bemaraha, a place so mesmerizing I’m going to write about it next. The baobab trees in the alley are up to 800 years old and towering 30 plus meters. My boyfriend mentioned they made an appearance in Planet Earth but I must have missed it. I might have to re-watch that episode. Since the dry season is the best time to visit (while the coastal waters are still warm and the roads safe), I’d suggest going in June because April/May the roads will still be recovering and July/August are ‘peak season’ for visitors.
PLACE: Lake Retba
LOCATION: Senegal, Africa
NOTORIOUS: Pink Lake
NEAREST AIRPORT: DKR, Dakar (30 minute drive)
COORDINATES: 14.8333° N, 17.2333° W
CURRENCY: West African CFA Franc
Yup, that’s a pink lake. No, it’s not a pepto bismol ad (not yet anyway). I couldn’t believe it the first time I saw it either. It made the Huffington Post and stormed through the Pinterest feeds as the world’s largest strawberry bacteria milkshake. Reminds me of Carrie Bradshaw, only those who are true SATC fans know why. Anyway, this lake is obviously higher in salt content than the Dead Sea (yes, you will float if you get in it!), housing some of the world’s most unbelievably pink, salt-loving bacteria (who have also found home in Western Australia).
The lake apparently changes color throughout the day from mauve to bright pink – I’d love to pitch a beach chair and watch it from dawn until dusk. It’s located right on the African Atlantic coast of Senegal and is about a 30 minute drive north from Dakar, the capital of the Wolof/French-speaking, Islamic country. Senegal is relatively stable, despite some intense floods last year, but petty theft is common – so travel with only what you need.
Seen the pink salty waters before? Any tips? Share with us below…