Lac Assal is found in one of Africa’s forgotten countries, Djibouti. Lac Assal is Africa’s lowest point on land and it offers a great holiday experience for those who make time to visit one of Africa’s smallest and hidden countries.
Djibouti is found in North Eastern Africa and it is bordered by Ethiopia, Eritrea and the Indian Ocean. Though it’s one of the smallest countries on the African continent, its strategic position which makes it an outlet to both the entrance to the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden has made Djibouti a popular destination for Ethiopians and Eritreans but not so much for other nationals either from Africa or around the world. 125km from Djibouti’s capital city, Djibouti City lies the impressively majestic Lac Assal, the lowest point on land in Africa.
Lac Assal is a natural salt lake found on top of the Great Rift Valley in a dormant volcanoes’ crater. Lying 155m below sea level, Lac Assal is not only Africa’s lowest point but it is also the 3rd lowest point on earth! It is 3rd only to the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee both of which are found in the Middle East. Lac Assal also proudly holds the record of being the biggest salt reserve in the world.
Unlike any other water reservoir in the world, Lac Assal’s water is pretty much ‘colourful’. Depending on time of the day you take a trip down to ‘hell’ (another name for Lac Assal) the water takes different colours. The water maybe blue, green, white, black and brown. The reason behind this phenomena is not really known, however, your tour guide will explain the top three theories which have been forwarded by geologists in trying to explain why this is so.
The ‘Lac’ itself is divided into two, on one side there is the water body itself while on the other side there is the dry lake bed.
The dry lake bed is the dry part of Lac Assal where the salt reserves are found. This dry part came about as a result of extreme high temperatures which caused evaporation of water in the lake leaving White Plains behind. Massive salt explorations are located in this part of Lac Assal. The dry lake bed has an area of 64km2and a depth of more than 60m. Lac Assal’s dry lake bed has an estimated 300 million tonnes salt reserve.
The water body is a large and shallow highly saline dam. It is in this part that the water takes different colours depending on time of the day. Lac Assal’s water body is the 2nd most saline water body on earth, second only to Don Juan Pond. Due to its high salinity levels, there are no fish species found in Lac Assal. Geothermal springs provide the main water supply to Lac Assal, there are also intermittent flash floods during the summer season. Lac Assal measures 52km2. The water body’s mean depth is 7m while the deepest point measures 40m.
Before traveling to Lac Assal, it is very important to check weather forecasts as the temperatures can reach extremes making the trip unbearable. During the summer season in Djibouti (May to September), Lac Assal temperatures may rise as high as 52oc thus it is advisable to travel early in the morning before the sun rises. In winter, temperatures will still be high averaging around 34oc thus you need to be well hydrated before touring Africa’s lowest point.
Scattered thorny bushes and shrubs is the only vegetation you will find in this part of the world.
Though Lac Assal does not support any type of aqua fauna, there are many neighboring water bodies that support life. A few miles from Lac Assal is the Moucha Island which has some spectacular coral reefs where one can go fishing, snorkeling and diving. The Gulf of Tadjioura supports a large variety of fish species while the Khor Armando Beach which is to the east of Lac Assal has some nice sightseeing plains and pristine beaches perfect for picnicking.