9 Days - Danakil Depression and Erta Ale

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Day 1

Drive to Kombolcha. After passing Debre Birhan, you will come to the Mezezo escarpment, with very beautiful scenes over the Amhara land. With luck, you will catch a glimpse of the endemic gelada baboons. Overnight in Kombolcha (hotel).

Day 2

Continue driving to Mekele, via Woldia. You will pass through the land of the Tigray people, with their sandstone houses. Overnight in Mekele (hotel).

Day 3

After breakfast, proceed driving to Hamed Ila via Berehale, where you will pick up police scouts, road guides and permits for the Afar region. From Berehale, proceed driving to Hamed Ila. We will see the camel caravans along the way, carrying salt from the salt lake to Mekele for sale. Overnight camping in Hamed Ila.

Day 4

After breakfast, depart for Dallol, which at 116m below sea level is the lowest point on the African continent. Admire the stunning landscape, the ground many shades of red, yellow and orange from the hot water, acids and minerals spurting up from the ground. Continue to Lake Asale, which is the salt lake from which the Afar nomads extract salt. You will witness (and even try) their laborious task of removing salt from the ground as hundreds of camels relax before the long trek back to Mekele. At the end of the day, return to Hamed Ila for overnight camping.

Day 5

From Hamed Ila, continue to Erta Ale via Kursuwad. The Erta Ale volcano has been in a constant state of eruption for over 40 years. As the sun goes down you will start the 3-hour hike up to the crater rim of the Erta Ale volcano. The hike may be done by camel or on foot. At the top you will descend into the caldera and proceed to the crater’s edge. Here you will see the permanent lava lake inside the volcano (the only permanent lava lake in the world). You will camp overnight on the rim of the volcano caldera.

Day 6

Today is an early morning start to witness the sun rise over the horizon. You will have your last look at the volcano’s lake of lave before descending from the volcano. After breakfast, continue driving to Lake Afrera for overnight (camping).

Day 7

Lake Afrera is a wonderfully bright green lake situated with black basalt mountains behind. It’s a stunning location. Here you can see more salt extraction from the lake, where the Afar nomads continue the same activities they have for centuries. The salt extraction here is the main supply of salt to Addis Ababa. There is a hot spring nearby where you may take a bath. From Afdera, proceed driving to Semera via Logia. Overnight in Semera (basic hotel).

Day 8

Depart south from Semera, through the Yangudi-Rassa National Park (home to the endangered African wild ass), and then to Awash National Park for overnight (lodge).

Day 9

In the morning, go for a game drive in Awash National Park, which is one of Ethiopia’s most popular national parks. Here you will enjoy wonderful birdlife and many mammals, such as gazelles, kudus, waterbuck, warthogs, baboons, and colobus monkeys. It might also be possible to see lions, leopards and other cats, if you’re lucky. After the drive, continue driving to Addis Ababa.

End of tour.