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7 Days - The land of Orgin - Danakil Depression

Erta Ale volcano is a large basaltic shield volcano in the Erta Ale volcanic range in the central northern Danakil depression (NE Ethiopia).

It is famed for its persistent lava lake which has been active during most of the past decades since it was first discovered in the 1960s.

Erta Ale is only 613 m high, but as typical for a shield volcano has a very gentle slopes and a large 40 km diameter base. The summit is truncated by a complex, elongated 1700 x 600 m wide caldera which contains vast lava flows and several larger and smaller pit craters, most notably the active north and south crater, which contains the lava lake at present.

Erta Ale is one of the main attractions of the Danakil, and had became a popular tour destination in recent years. Unfortunately, the deadly attack on 4 January 2012 against tourists and scientists camped on the crater rim, in which several were killed, illustrates that the area is politically unstable and can be subject to terrorist attacks. Anyone visiting the volcano should be aware of this


Day 1: Morning drive to Awash National Park
Depart early morning from Addis Ababa to Awash National Park. In the afternoon you will take a game drive to visit the wonderful birdlife and wildlife, such as oryx, baboons, greater and lesser kudu, warthogs, gazelles, colubus monkeys. Additionally, you’d be very lucky to see leopards, lions, and other cats. The landscapes in the park are beautiful, looking over the Awash Gorge. Overnight in Awash National Park (lodge or camping).

Day 2: Drive to Afdera
Today we drive from Awash National Park to Afdera. Lake Afdera is a wonderfully bright green lake situated with black basalt mountains behind. It’s a stunning location. Here you can see modern 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. Overnight at Afdera (camping).

Day 3: Depart for Erta Ale via Kursuwad
From Afdera, 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 4: Drive to Hamed Ila
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 Hamed Ila for overnight (camping).

Day 5: Hamed Ila - Dallol - Mekele
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).

Day 6: Mekele - Kombolcha
Today drive to Kombolcha via Woldia. On the way you will stop for a rest in Hayk where you can enjoy the views of this stunning lake, visit the local monastery (open for men only) and enjoy the birdlife. Overnight in Kombolcha (hotel).

Day 7: Drive to Addis Ababa
Return driving to Addis via Debre Birhan. On the way you pass the Mezezo Escarpment, with a good chance to see the endemic gelada baboons. If today is a Sunday, you can stop in the town of Senbete to visit the lively market including the interesting camel market.

END OF TOUR

Things to Do

  • iconBeautiful scenes over the Amhara land
  • icon116m below sea level is the lowest point on the African continent
  • iconWildlife, Bird Watching and Waterfall
  • iconSalt lake from which the Afar nomads extract salt
  • iconSof Omar caves
  • iconActive Volcano
  • icona wonderfully bright green lake
  • iconHiking
  • iconShopping
  • iconCoffee Tasting
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