Technicolor spectacle of sulphur springs and pools in an otherwise grey desert environment.
Nothing prepares you for the sulphur springs of Dallol.
For several days we have traveled through the Danakil Depression, an area without colour (or it must be the glowing lava of the Erta Ela volcano at night). Everything here is bleak, black, grey, sandy coloured.
The huts we have seen are light brown, blending in well, and in any case, the little colour that may have existed has long ago been covered in dust, from passing cars, or from the ferocious wind that all too often blows across the desert.
Not so in Dallol. After having crossed the totally flat, dry salt lake, one reaches the hills, which turn out to be mostly brownish and grayish salt, eroded in the most bizarre forms. But once you come to the top of the slope, the other side turns out to be a screaming explosion of colour, a landscape of sulphur springs, white mounds, yellow, orange and reddish deposits, with small blue and green ponds in between. Astonishing, really, one cannot imagine a bigger contrast.
Walking around here, initially a little uneasy, on the darker parts of the surface, which somehow seem stronger, is a whole new experience. Everywhere are little, sometimes larger, fountains splashing hot water; when we come closer we can hear the water boiling underneath the surface; steam is coming off the more violent springs. Many of the vents that have formed on the surface have a white cone of fibrous sulphur around them. It is almost a crime to walk here, and to destroy this delicate process of creation. I could spend the whole day here, in awe – but it is actually pretty hot from the combined forces of earth and sun.