Where is the World’s Saltiest Lake? Lake Assal Djibouti (Not the Dead Sea of Israel-Jordan)

Where is the World’s Saltiest Lake? Lake Assal Djibouti (Not the Dead Sea of Israel-Jordan)

When tourists float in the curative waters of the Dead Sea, they likely believe they are relaxing in the world’s saltiest body of water. This is understandable, because just about every travel guide book makes this claim, erroneously.

Are you determined to soak in the world’s saltiest lake? If so you should skip the Dead Sea and head to Lake Assal in the tiny east African country of Djibouti. Lake Assal salinity measures 400 grams per liter, more than the Dead Sea’s 340 grams per liter.

Why is like Assal so salty? Salt lakes form in locations where water cannot flow away to the sea and is lost only through evaporation. Lake Assal was formed somewhere between 1 million and 4 million years ago, likely the result of volcanic activity and the resulting shift of Earth’s surface. A crater lake 500 ft below sea level, Assal is fed only by underwater springs and is depleted only by evaporation. Consequently, the mineral salts have nowhere to go. Saline levels are so high that crusts of salt up to 13 in thick accumulate at the lake’s edge and are strong enough to withstand the weight of a car. There is no plant or animal life in the lake, nor on the land surrounding it.

Lake Assal is not only extraordinarily salty but has the added distinction of being one of the least hospitable places on the planet. While the Dead Sea’s buoyant, mineral rich waters attract thousands of visitors annually, it is unlikely that Lake Assal will ever be a tourist destination. The temperatures there are said to be unbearable and the glare from the salt blinding, and the lake itself emits a sulfurous stench. If you still want to take a plunge, do so with your shoes on, because the salt crystal crust can rip bare feet to shreds. What’s more, you’ll come out of the water coated in a thick, salty film. Lake Assal is surrounded by a salt pan that is mined, and the salt is exported by caravan to Ethiopia.

Saltiest Lake in the World

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