Visiting the Danakil Depression is a real expedition. The sometimes very rough roads are leading into hot and dusty area. Camping is most of the time the only option to spent the night. To transport everything we need (including a lot of water) and for the necessary backup, we travel with a minimum of two fourwheeldrive vehicles. But you are going to be rewarded with a once in a lifetime experience in one of the most beautiful places on our planet. Extraordinary scenery, amazing nights under the stars and the brave Afar people are waiting for you.
We will meet you at the airport and take you to your hotel for check-in. The first day we spent in the fascinating capital of the country: Addis Ababa. Depending on your time of arrival we take you on a half day or full day city tour visiting some sites of your choice like the Ethnographic Museum, National Museum, Trinity Cathedral, Mercato (the largest market of Africa) or the Entoto Hills just outside Addis Ababa
After breakfast we will pick you from your hotel for the half day journey to Awash National Park. At arrival we check-in in our hotel and enjoy lunch. In the afternoon we go out to explore Awash National Park. Game drives and walks are available to encounter the wildlife and enjoy the scenery. You are likely to see beisa oryx, kudu, defassa waterbuck, Soemmering's gazelle, warthog and baboon. The park is also a great place for birdwatchers.
The long drive of today through the Rift Valley leads us into the Afar region and we are going to meet the first of the brave Afar people in which homeland we will be traveling the coming week. When you are lucky you might see some game while traversing the Yangudi Rassa NP which holds the last population of the African wild ass.
Today we entering the Danakil but before we do so we have to finalize our entry permits (which have been applied for well before departure from Addis Ababa) in Semera, the regional capital. The destination for today is the salt lake of Afrera where we see the salt extraction from the lake.
We continue our journey through the Danakil towards Dodom, a small settlement and the base for approaching the Erta Ale volcano.
Very early in the morning, taking advantage of the 'cooler' hours of the day, we start our ascent to the rim of the caldera of Erta Ale. It takes about 3 hours to cover the distance of 10 km and 500 m in altitude. A camel caravan is accompanying us with our luggage and equipment. The rest of the day we explore the fascinating features of the volcano.
(it is possible to add an extra day at Erta Ale, exploring more of this extraordinary place)
After observing sunset over the spectacular, fire spitting, crater lake we return to our base camp in Dodom. Depending on time and conditions we spent the night here or we continue some hours towards Ahmed Ale.
A sometimes very rough track leads us northwards to the settlement of Ahmed Ela, base for the salt caravans transporting the precious salt from the nearby Lake Asale to the market in Mekele. It is a place with lots of activity connected to the arrival and departure of the endless caravans. Ahmed Ale is our base for the coming days to explore the surrounding area.
Today we follow the camel caravans to Lake Asale to observe the harvesting of the salt. It is a centuries old handcraft of cutting and shaping the salt blocks. Sometimes thousands of camels are present to take the load and transport it to Mekele. We have ample time to follow the caravans on foot.
Dalol volcano in the Danakil DepressionBe prepared to visit the place recorded as the hottest inhabited place on our planet. The ghost town of Dallol is an abandoned miners town and mostly constructed out of salt. Nearby lies the fantastic and extraordinary beautiful Dalol volcano where we spent most of our day. Some say it is the most colorful place on the planet.
It is time to leave the heat and dust behind on go for a decent bath. Today we travel back into civilization and reach Mekele, the capital of Tigray.
Many options are available to continue our tour along the 'Historic Route' for example the nearby rock-hewn churches of Tigray or the most famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. When our journey is heading back to Addis Ababa we follow the tar road to the south through beautiful mountainous area.
(when you arrive in Kombolcha on a Sunday it is recommended to add one day to you tour to visit the Bati market on Monday and spent one extra day in Kombolcha)
The last day of your unforgettable visit to Ethiopia brings us back to Addis Ababa. A hotel room for day-use is available. We say goodbye to dear friends with a visit to a cultural restaurant, enjoying the great Ethiopian food together with traditional music and dance from all over this fascinating country. After diner we take you to the airport for your flight back home.
(it is possible to fly from Mekele to Addis Ababa on day 12)