The order of our Afar guide and the soldiers who escorted us was very clear when we approached this area, called Black Water. “Move only in single file and don’t walk anywhere but on this path”. With wobbly knees we followed suit. The surface made crunching noises and we wondered how deep we would fall if it broke. All the way down to the center of this planet?
Well, we did not and eventually got to a small pond with pitch black water that was bubbling quietly. The soldiers held up dead birds, light as a feather. These poor creatures had drunk from the Potassium Lake and died. In this climate they simply dehydrated, without rotting away. The dark color of the pond creates a strong contrast to the bright red soil surrounding it, the backdrop of all this is a rock formation of light gray to white color.
We also visited another nearby place with lots of noisily bubbling pools, big and small. By then it was late in the morning and the rising temperature reminded us that we where at the hottest place on earth. The area holds further superlatives: it is the lowest point not covered by water in Africa and the geologically most active.