The vibrant mineral salt formations in Dallol make one of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. Standing at the crater rim of the Erta Ale active volcano as we peer into the lava lake below makes an absolute highlight of this trip.
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Upon arrival at the airport in Addis Ababa, we meet a representative of Kibo Slopes Safaris. After a brief introduction we drive to Debre Zeit for lunch and a detailed briefing. After lunch we continue our drive to Awash National Park. With game drives en-route and around the lodge, we spot a good number of wildlife including Gerenuks, Gazelles, Oryx and Kudus. Dinner and overnight stay will be at the Awash Falls Lodge.
Today we have an early breakfast and prepare for a long drive on the Addisâ€“Djibouti Highway (400km) to Semera. The landscape is characterized by an extensive savannah. The route leads through the Yangudi Rassa National Park. In the early afternoon, we arrive in Semera where we clear the necessary paperwork to enter the Danakil depression. Dinner and overnight stay will be at the Ertale Motel.
We begin our descent into the Danakil depression. A tiresome 240km drive, through the desolate landscape with coned shaped volcanoâ€™s here and there takes us to the shores of Lake Afdera. Driving north from Semera past vast lava flows, volcanoes and dramatic faulted landscape, we drop to 100m below sea level. Lake Afdera is a wonderful bright green lake in the backdrop of black basalt mountains. Here Afar nomads extract salt from the lake as they have been doing for centuries. The salt extraction here is the main source of salt for Ethiopia and the neighbouring region. We pitch our tents under the palm trees on the lake shore, and visit the salt extractors in the late afternoon. Dinner and overnight stay will be in tents at our fly camp.
After breakfast, we drive to Erta ale via Kusurawde (60km from Afdera). The drive through the barren land and hostile climate to Dodom takes us to a nearby settlement in Erta ale. Here we take a rest while the camels and the crew prepare to take us to the crater rim of the active volcano after dinner. The hike takes about 3.5 hours. At the top, we peer down at the permanent lava lake and take a rest for the night.
In the early morning hours, we descend back to Dodom for a breakfast stop and drive to Hamed Ela for lunch, dinner and overnight at a fly camp. In the late afternoon, we take a walk to see camel caravans carrying salt bars from the depression to the Highlands.
After an early breakfast, we take a day trip to Dallol, a volcano hidden beneath a kilometer-thick deposit of salt. The volcano marks its presence by the upcoming of the salt and hundreds of fumaroles and hot springs in an array of colors. The area, which is 116m below sea level, is the hottest inhabited place on earth with average temperatures ranging above 35 degree Celsius. The landscape here is spectacular as well as colorful with different shades of red and yellow appearing from acids and minerals spurting out of the ground. We also visit Lake Asale, the salt lake from which the Afar nomads extract salt. In the late afternoon, we drive back to Hamed Ella for dinner and overnight camping.
Today we leave the incredibly beautiful yet hostile area. The drive takes us to the Highlands of the Gera-Alta chained mountains. Here, we find the oldest rock-hewn churches dating back to between the 4th and 15th century. We visit Mikael Imba Selassie Gundufuru church dating back to the 11th century near the village of Hayaki Mesahal. In the late afternoon, we arrive in Mekelle for dinner and overnight stay at the Axum Hotel.
After breakfast, we transfer to the airport for our morning flight to Addis. We are picked up at the airport and transferred to the Friendship Hotel. We can opt to have lunch before proceeding on to Addis for a sightseeing tour which includes a visit to the Orthodox Church and Entoto Mountains which was the original place of the Kings Palace. We also use the opportunity to shop for some souvenirs. In the evening, we attend an Ethiopian traditional dinner with Ethiopian song and dance. Overnight stay will be at the Friendship Hotel.
Depending on the timing of our flight we will be transferred to Bole in good time for the security check and check in.