Salt of the Earth: A Look Inside the Ancient Mines of Mali (Video)
The salt mines of Mali have been in operation for centuries and offer a glimpse into a way of life that has remained largely unchanged for over a thousand years. The miners work tirelessly in the hand-dug pits, enduring abrasive sand that slowly wears away at their bodies. The salt tablets are then loaded onto camels for the arduous journey to Timbuktu, a trek that takes about 14 days through the unforgiving Sahara Desert.
The guides rely on the stars for direction and the orientation of the sand dunes and wind patterns to ensure they stay on course. Despite the challenges of the journey, the miners and their caravan guides have learned to adapt to the desert landscape using the knowledge gained from their ancestors over the centuries.
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Top image: Salt mine (representational image). Source: Paweł Mielko / Adobe Stock.