Visiting the Danakil Depression is a real expedition. The sometimes very rough roads lead to hot and dusty areas. Camping is most of the time the only option to spend the night. To transport everything (including a lot of water) we will travel with a minimum of two 4-wheel drive vehicles. You will be rewarded with a once in a lifetime experience in one of the most beautiful places on this planet. Extraordinary scenery, amazing nights under the stars and the brave Afar people are waiting for you!
Day 1 – Addis Ababa
We will meet at the airport and take you to your hotel for check-in. The first day will be 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 in Africa) or the Entoto Hills just outside Addis Ababa.
Day 2 – Addis Ababa – Awash NP, 200 km/ ~4 hr
After breakfast we will pick you up from your hotel for the half day journey to Awash National Park. At arrival we check-in in the 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.
Day 3 Awash NP – Logiya, 375 km/ ~6 hr
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 their homeland we will be traveling the coming week. If you are lucky, you might see some game while traversing the Yangudi Rassa NP which holds the last population of the African Wild Donkey.
Day 4 Logiya – Afrera, 230 km
Today we enter 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.
Day 5 Afrera – Dodom, 75 km
We continue our journey through the Danakil towards Dodom, a small settlement and base for approaching the Erta Ale volcano.
Day 6 Dodom – Erta Ale
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 500m of altitude. A camel caravan will accompany 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)
Day 7 Erta Ale – Dodom
After observing sunset over the spectacular, fire spitting, crater lake we return to our base camp in Dodom. Depending on time and conditions, we will spend the night here or continue some hours towards Ahmed Ale.
Day 8 Dodom – Ahmed Ela, 92 km
A sometimes very rough track leads us north 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, we will explore the surrounding area.
Day 9 Ahmed Ela (Lake Asale)
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 will have ample time to follow the caravans on foot.
Day 10 Ahmed Ela (Dallol)
Be 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 will spend most of our day. Some say it is the most colorful place on the planet.
Day 11 Ahmed Ela – Mekele, 162 km
It is time to leave the heat and dust behind and go for a decent bath. Today we travel back into civilization and reach Mekele, the capital of Tigray.
Day 12 Mekele – Kombolcha, 496 km
Many options are available to continue our tour along the ‘Historic Route’, for instance we can visit the nearby rock-hewn churches of Tigray or the more famous rock-hewn churches of Lalibela. We then head back to Addis Ababa, we will 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 spend one extra day in Kombolcha)
Day 13 Kombolcha – Addis Ababa, 376 km/ ~8 hr
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 along with traditional music and dance from all over the fascinating country. After diner we will take you to the airport for your flight back home.
(it is possible to fly from Mekele to Addis Ababa on day 12)