5 Days - The land of Orgin - Danakil Depression
One of the most important features of this region of Africa resulted from faulting and cracking on its eastern side. This has caused the Great Rift Valley, which extends from the Middle East to Mozambique, passing in a north-south direction right through Ethiopia. This shearing of the earth's surface occurred at the same time that the Arabian Peninsula, geologically a part of Africa, was sundered from the rest of the continent. Volcanic activity, which has continued until today, finds expression in volcanoes in Ethiopia's Danakil Depression, as well as in the hot springs in many parts of the country.
Earth tremors are often felt, and exposed cones of old volcanic plugs are seen throughout the plateau. After the Rift opened, much of this area was flooded by the inrushing waters of the red Sea, a flood that was subsequently stemmed by fresh volcanic activity that raised barriers of basaltic lava. Behind these barriers the trapped inland sea that had formed began to evaporate under the fierce heat of the tropical sun - a process that is almost complete today. Only a few scattered, highly saline lakes - Gamarri, Affambo, Bario, and Abbe remain. Elsewhere, there are huge beds of natural salt - which, at points, are calculated to be several thousands of metres thick.
Day 1: fly to Mekele - Hamed Ila
You will be met in Mekele by your drivers and will 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 2: Drive to Erta Ale
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 3: Erta Ale to Afdera
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 lava before descending from the volcano. After breakfast, proceed driving to Lake Afdera, another salt lake. Here you will witness the more modern form of salt mining. There is a nearby mineral spring where you can take a bath. Overnight camping in Afdera.
Day 4: Drive to Hamed Ila
Today will be a full day driving back to Hamed Ila through the arid desert land of the Afar people. Overnight camping at Hamed Ila.
Day 5: Hamed Ila - Dallol - Mekele - fly back to Addis
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. After the visit, proceed back to Mekele, with your last views of this desert and the camel caravans dotting the horizon. Overnight in Mekele (hotel).
END OF TOUR