The Danakil Depression in the Afar region is one of the world’s hottest and most inhospitable places, but also one of the most spectacular.
This desert area lying more than a 100m below sea level has a lot of volcanic activity and remarkable geological features.
- Here, you can climb Erta Ale, an active volcano, and peer into its bubbling lava lake;
- you can wander around the fantastically colored Dallol hot springs;
- and see camel caravans transport salt like they have done for thousands of years.
- Add to that magical sunsets over Karum salt lake,
- strangely sculpted salt mountains and racing through a sand desert with ostriches, and it’s a place you simply cannot miss.
It’s your first day in Ethiopia and the first long driving from Addis Abeba to Combolcha. On the way you will see peaceful landscapes and breathtaking mountain views.
Today you will visit Dima Teklehymanot monastery and short photo pause at the Hashenge Lake, then continue your way to Mekelle.
Driving to the Danakil Depression. This is one of the lowest places on earth, at least 100 m below sea level. Arrive in Ahmed Ala and continue driving to Karum, where the Afar and Tigre people extract salt and transport it to the highlands with thousands of caravans of camels.
Overnight Camping in Amedela.
Early after breakfast you will visit Dallol – that is unoccupied, except for its salt industry. Geologically, the area is one of the very active areas of Ethiopia, with underground minerals that are pushed out due by high pressure and crystallized when coming in contact with atmospheric oxygen. The result is mineral hills of different shapes and colors, as well as shooting spring waters and geysers.
After breakfast you have a short walking to Abala waterfall and then -driving to Erta Ale – a volcano whose name means “smoking mountain” . There it’s takes 3.5 hours to trek up to the top of the mount where you can clearly observe the crater filled with a lava. This is one of the only 5 volcanoes in the world a permanent lava lake.
Overnight camping Erta Ale.
Early at morning after the sunrise you will walk to the camp and continue your trip to Afdera, a salty water lake found in the town named after the lake. Here salt is extracted in a more modern way. The water is pumped in to ponds, where it is left to evaporate under the baking sun of Afdera. When the water has all evaporated, salt remains.
Overnight camping in Afdera
At the morning leave behind desert roads and hit the asphalt for a 260 km journey to Semera, where you will spend the night in a simple way.
Overnight local hotel or Camping in Semera
After getting a permission, you will visit Allalobed geysers and hot springs – surprisingly little known is the beautiful geothermal area south from Tendaho and Dubti. This area is named Allalobad – “the waters of Allah”, but often is named at the nearby villages names – Tendaho or Dubti.
Full day driving to Awash
Full day visiting Awash NP, waterfall and Filwoha hot springs.
Today again a full day driving to Harar – a fiercely religious, old-walled city with 99 mosques including the 16th century Grand Mosque. Harar is considered to be the fourth holiest site in Islam after Mecca, Medina and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. Until 1887, access to the city was forbidden to visitors until Menelik was restored to central rule. With 368 labyrinth alleyways and a waft of coffee throughout,it is easy to feel that you are in a different era. The city is famed for its silversmiths that are able to create beautiful necklaces, bracelets andchains which can be found for sale in the markets. There are two main markets in the town, one Christian and the other Muslim both within the 1sq/km walled area.
Today is a full day discovering the treasures hidden in the narrow alleyways of the walled city of Harar, with its colorful markets, countless mosques and shrines and unique Harari people and homes.
At the night you will visit the hyena man, who feeds the hyenas every night just outside the walls of the city. This tradition was started long ago to prevent these wild hyenas from hunting for food in the town. Guests are welcome, and encouraged, to feed the hyenas themselves.
After breakfast, take a tour to see the colorful Islamic market and their selection of local spices and clothes. After visiting the market, drive 25km south of Harar to see the Babile elephant sanctuary – is a protected area in located 25km south of Harar. The Sanctuary was created to for the conservation of the native elephant sub-species, and is also home to around 400 elephants.
Full day driving to Adama