If you go to Danakil seeking adventures, you will not be able to go beyond your own shallowness. Which will appear unbearable even to you. The white-hot sun, the indifference of the Afars, the monotony of a desert devoid of colors will make you feel naked and helpless. And your balance, both mental and physical, will be in danger of going into pieces. You have to be able to defend yourself in the Danakil. You have to show, especially to yourself, to have a soul of a poet. The ones who venture to go to the Danakil do it to change their point of view.
— From the book “Dancalia” by A.Semplici

My career as a photographer has actually begun in Africa and there is a place in the African continent where I always wanted to go: a place that is the cradle of humanity and yet seems to be also the origin of each and all of the colors and shapes that fill our eyes.
Endless stretches of salt, lakes with psychedelic colors and active volcanoes: this land, which is constantly changing, is heaven and hell together - an ancestral place where you can still watch the phenomena that gave rise to the world: the Danakil. (The remains of Lucy, the most famous hominid fossil ever discovered, dating to 3.2 million years ago, were found right in the Danakil Depression during the 70's).

Located in the northern part of the Afar’s Triangle, which takes its name from the nomadic people who live there, the vast Danakil depression is the place where the constantly expanding of three tectonic plates join together, close to the border area among Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti.

This land made of fire, salt and lava close to the Rift Valley - the long breach that bisects the continent - is the cradle of a “New Ocean”, intended to form as a result of the strong thinning of the earth's crust and of a new possible flooding of the Red Sea.
It is from the retreat of the sea, evaporated twenty thousand years ago, that the Danakil has gained its peculiarity: to be a spread of evaporitic rocks that gives rise to the Great Plain of Salt - a desert which stretches for about 600 kilometers.

This is one of the most vulnerable places of our world: the fire is just below our feet, five kilometers away. There is a crust that is subjected to stresses of all kinds, a part of the planet where you feel the throbbing heart of the Earth.
In this vast plain, the Afars’ huts built with mud and twigs appear like a mirage. These nomads, who are mainly devoted to sheep farming and to the extraction of minerals, live in one of the most inhospitable places on earth, with very little vegetation and temperatures that can reach 45 degrees.

I have tried to explore this area by following the journey of the nomadic Afars, in a caravan, along the Salt Route.
The Danakil has always held a special place in my imagination. One of the outermost places of Africa, where lights and colors are difficult to tame. A test bed, a challenge that so far I could only have imagined.

click to view the complete set of images in the archive