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Ethiopia's ancient salt trails

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Sulphur and mineral salt formations are seen near Dallol in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is one of the hottest and harshest environments on earth, with an average annual temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 Celsius). For centuries, merchants have travelled there with caravans of camels to collect salt from the surface of the vast desert basin. The mineral is...more

Sulphur and mineral salt formations are seen near Dallol in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. The Danakil Depression in Ethiopia is one of the hottest and harshest environments on earth, with an average annual temperature of 94 degrees Fahrenheit (34.4 Celsius). For centuries, merchants have travelled there with caravans of camels to collect salt from the surface of the vast desert basin. The mineral is extracted and shaped into slabs, then loaded onto the animals before being transported back across the desert so that it can be sold around the country. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A man walks on sulphur and mineral salt formations near Dallol in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A man walks on sulphur and mineral salt formations near Dallol in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A general view shows the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A general view shows the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 23, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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Salt merchants, and their pack animals, rest for the night in a canyon, during their journey to extract salt from the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Salt merchants, and their pack animals, rest for the night in a canyon, during their journey to extract salt from the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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Salt merchants pose for a photograph as they rest for the night in a canyon, during their journey to extract salt from the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Salt merchants pose for a photograph as they rest for the night in a canyon, during their journey to extract salt from the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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Residents of Hamad-Ile pump water from a well in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 21, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Residents of Hamad-Ile pump water from a well in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 21, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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At dawn, a camel caravan starts its journey to the Danakil Depression in northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

At dawn, a camel caravan starts its journey to the Danakil Depression in northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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Men walk with their camels through the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Men walk with their camels through the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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An armed Afar man crosses a river near the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

An armed Afar man crosses a river near the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A man walks with his camels through the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A man walks with his camels through the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A worker extracts salt from the desert in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A worker extracts salt from the desert in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A worker extracts salt from the desert in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A worker extracts salt from the desert in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A worker extracts salt from the desert in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A worker extracts salt from the desert in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A worker ties together slabs of salt extracted from the Danakil Depression in northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A worker ties together slabs of salt extracted from the Danakil Depression in northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A camel herder and salt merchant holds rope in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A camel herder and salt merchant holds rope in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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Camels eat dried grass in northern Ethiopia April 21, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Camels eat dried grass in northern Ethiopia April 21, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A worker loads a camel with slabs of salt in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A worker loads a camel with slabs of salt in the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A camel caravan carrying slabs of salt travels away from the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A camel caravan carrying slabs of salt travels away from the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A camel caravan carrying slabs of salt travels away from the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A camel caravan carrying slabs of salt travels away from the Danakil Depression, northern Ethiopia April 22, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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Abdu Ibrahim Mohammed, a retired salt merchant, poses for a photograph close to his home in the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Abdu Ibrahim Mohammed, a retired salt merchant, poses for a photograph close to his home in the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 20, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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Workers unload slabs of salt from camels in the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Workers unload slabs of salt from camels in the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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Workers unload slabs of salt from camels in the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Workers unload slabs of salt from camels in the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A man lifts slabs of salt onto a truck in the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A man lifts slabs of salt onto a truck in the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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Members of the Berahile Salt Association pay a merchant after purchasing salt in the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Members of the Berahile Salt Association pay a merchant after purchasing salt in the town of Berahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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Slabs of salt are seen stacked in the Berahile Salt Association warehouse in the town of Barahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Slabs of salt are seen stacked in the Berahile Salt Association warehouse in the town of Barahile in Afar, northern Ethiopia April 19, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A man prepares bars of salt to be sold in the main market of the city of Mekele, northern Ethiopia April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A man prepares bars of salt to be sold in the main market of the city of Mekele, northern Ethiopia April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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Men prepare bars of salt to be sold in a shop in the main market of the city of Mekele, northern Ethiopia April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

Men prepare bars of salt to be sold in a shop in the main market of the city of Mekele, northern Ethiopia April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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A man prepares a bar of salt to be sold in a shop in the main market of the city of Mekele, northern Ethiopia April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

A man prepares a bar of salt to be sold in a shop in the main market of the city of Mekele, northern Ethiopia April 24, 2013. REUTERS/Siegfried Modola

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