Lake Chew Bet

Southern Ethiopia

This bizarre crater lake is about 800m across and 600m below the crater rim – it is so dark in colour that it looks like an oil slick amid the ruddy rocks. Valuable and muddy, black salt has been extracted from the lake for centuries, carried up on the backs of donkeys. It’s a half-hour, knee-trembling walk down and a full-hour, thigh-burning slog back up. It’s best to visit during the morning’s cooler temperatures when the salt gatherers are actually working.

Don’t expect to learn much about this fascinating endeavour from the guides; their English is very limited.

The lake sits beside the village of El Sod (‘Chew Bet’ in Amharic), 35km south of Dublock. Many buses and even more minibuses plying the Yabelo and Moyale road can drop you off at the turn-off for El Sod, from where you’ll need to hitch the 14km to the village.