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Danakil Depression (4 days)

About this Tour:

3-day adventure expedition into the Danakil Depression with flight back and forth between Addis Ababa and Mekelle. From Mekelle we drive to Erta Ale volcano, which we will climb at night and camp at the rim of the crater. On the next day, we admire the traditional salt mining at lake Afrera before we proceed to Hamed Ela for the second night. On the second day, we explore the surreal landscapes around Dallol and meet the huge camel caravans transporting the salt blocks to the Highlands. After we leave the desert, we have the option for a half-day spectacular trekking in the rocky Gheralta Mountains of Tigray to discover some of the famous rock-hewn churches with breath-taking views.

Highlights of this Tour:

  • Expedition into the Danakil depression with ascent of Erta Ale volcano and overnight camping at the rim of the crater
  • Salt mining and hot springs at lake Afrera
  • Surreal landscapes of Dallol
  • Rock-hewn churches of Tigray with spectacular landscape and breath-taking views

Short Info:

  • Tour code: WET- DD-4
  • Time: October – April
  • Overnight: 1x in Lodge / 2x Camping
  • Number of domestic flights: 2
  • Required Fitness level: reasonably fit and good heat tolerability

Day 1:  Addis Abeba – Mekelle (flight) –  Erta Ale Volcano (320 km)

Morning: Addis Abeba – Mekelle– Erta Ale Volcano
We take an early flight from Addis Ababa to Mekelle, where we will be picked up at the airport by our local crew. We then drive to the Afar village of Dodoma, approx. 17 km away from Erta Ale volcano. Dodoma will be the starting point of our trekking to Erta Ale.

Afternoon:
We will have an early dinner and will start trekking up to Erta Ale after sunset. The trekking will take us 3-4 hours. Camels will transport our camping materials and food to the rim of the volcano, where we will spend the night watching the dramatic action of the boiling lava. Erta Ale is 613 meters high and ranks as one of the most alluring and physically challenging natural attractions in Ethiopia. It is a shield volcano with a base diameter of 30 km and a 1km square caldera at the summit containing the world’s only permanent lava lake.

 Overnight: Camping at the rim of the crater of Erta Ale volcano

Day 2: Erta Ale Volcano – Lake Afrera – Hamed Ela

Morning:
After a spectacular sunrise over the lava lake we start our descent down to the vehicles from where we will continue to lake Afrera. Here we can not only admire the traditional way of the local salt mining but also freshen up and recover from the trekking in natural hot springs.

Afternoon:
We continue to Hamed Ela, where we will spend the night.

 Overnight: Camping under the stars, Hamed Ela

Day 3: Hamed Ela – Dallol – Wukro (120 km)

Morning:
We start early in the morning to explore the unbelievable landscapes around Dallol and Lake Assal. Dallol lies 116 meters under sea level turning it into one of the lowest and hottest places on earth. The Dallol volcano is covered by a thick layer of salt, however, it still shows its presence through bizarre salt formations, hundreds of fumaroles (escapes of gas) as well as acid lakes in all colours.

Afternoon:
It is slowly time for us to leave the desert. We start our drive back and in the late afternoon reach the highlands around Wukro. We will spend the night in the newly built Wukro lodge located in a superb area.

Overnight: Wukro Lodge, Wukro (www.wukrolodge.com)

Day 4: Wukro – (Hawzen) – Mekele – Addis Ababa (flight)

Morning:
Depending on your flight time from Mekelle to Addis Ababa, we have the option to visit some of the famous rock-hewn churches of Tigray. If we have a late afternoon flight, we may undertake a spectacular half day trekking in the Gheralta Mountains around Hawzen to explore the churches of Maryam and Daniel Korkor. The views from the cliff top over the plains are breath-taking.

Afternoon / Evening:
You will be picked up at Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa. In the evening, you will be invited to a memorable farewell dinner in one of Addis Ababa’s traditional restaurants with cultural songs, dances and traditional food and drinks. You will then be transferred to either Bole International Airport or, if you continue your stay in Ethiopia, to your reserved hotel.

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