Disappointing salt lake and nondescript truckers village, with little to attract the tourist.
If Assaita is the end of the world, what must we call Dichioto? Seldom have I seen a more desolate town, consisting of two rows of corrugated-iron buildings – walls and roof, and almost no other building materials used – lining the main Addis Ababa to Djibouti road. In fact, most of the buildings, a selection of sleazy bars and restaurants, and the occasional very basic hotel, are hardly visible, because truck after truck is parked, on both sides. Yet, some people have taken the trouble to paint their sheds in bright colours, or with flowers, to make it look a little more attractive. They failed, but I do appreciate the effort.
Past Dichioto is the so-called Eli Dar Salt Lake, a flat expanse in between stacks of black lava flows. Well, salt lake it isn’t, in fact there are salt works as far as the eye can see. Water is being pumped from 10 meter deep canals, which seem to refill overnight from surface seepage, into shallow square basins, of perhaps 50×50 meters. This is then being evaporated – no lack of natural heat here! – to leave a flat of loose salt, which is scooped into colourful bags for transport. The potential, in this hottest of hot regions, is enormous, and there are indeed hundreds, if not thousands, of basins, but most are empty, not being used. Overall, not much to see; not worth the D-tour.