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  • Danakil Depression

9 Days - Unique of the World - 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 Kombolcha
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: Kombolcha - Mekele
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: Mekele - Hamed Ila
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: depart for Dallol
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: Hamed Ila - 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 6: depart for Lake Afrera
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: Drive to Semera
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: Semera - Awash Naitional Park
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: Awash National park - Addis Aabab
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.


The program can be customized upon request.

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