Prior to our Ethiopia and Somaliland tour, we will be running an optional add on to the hottest place on earth: the Danakil depression. It is one of the most inhospitable but beautiful regions in the world.
As well as seeing the otherworldly colourful landscapes we will visit the worlds only permanent lava lake at Erta Ale, meet the Afar tribes and witness the incredible sight of the salt caravans.
At 18:00 we will take a flight from Addis Ababa to Mekele in Northern Ethiopia. Transfer to Debre Amo hotel.
After breakfast we will begin our journey to Hamed Ela and into the Danakil Depression. We descend to points of the desert up to 328 ft below sea level. En route we pass through the small town of Berhale where the camel caravans stop before proceeding to the northern highlands. Along this route we will see the camel caravans travelling to the salt mines whilst others are heading out of the Danakil with their salt loaded camels. Camp overnight at Hamed Ela.
After an early rise we drive to Dodom at the base of Erta Ale volcano. We drive 80km along one of the worst roads in the world. The journey takes around 6 hrs, passing through landscapes of solidified lava, rock, sand and the occasional palm lined oases. We pass through several small villages throughout the desert, before reaching Dodom. After dinner we will make a 3 hour trek to Erta Ale. Camels will transport our camping equipment, food and water to the rim of the volcano, where we spend an unforgettable night watching inside the spectacular sight of the boiling lava lake.
An early morning wakeup at sunrise to walk around pits and craters of the volcano before departing at 7:00 to trek back to Dodom. Arrival back around 10:30 where we will have breakfast and time to relax before driving on to Hamed Ela, a village of 500 people. We will camp here overnight.
In the morning we will drive to Ragad, the place where the salts are mined. Witness the salt being broken from the ground and cut into rectangular pieces before being loaded onto camels. We then drive onwards to Dallol and visit the various landscapes formed by volcanic activity. We visit Dallol which at 380 feet below sea level is one of the lowest places in the world. We also see colourful salts mines, Lake Karum and more camel caravans before going walking with the Afar people. Afterwards we drive back to Mekele via Hamed Ela . We return to Mekele at 17:00 and transfer directly to the airport ready for the 19:50 departure to Addis. Here your tour ends unless you are taking our Ethiopia/Somaliland tour which will continue as per itinerary.
Land tour cost: 895EUR
Addis-Mekele return flights: $170* or $360
*the cheaper flight options are available to those who are flying into Addis with Ethiopian Air as they offer subsidised domestic tickets to international customers. If you are taking our Somaliland tour afterwards, then you can also use your Hargeisa to Addis flight with Ethiopian airlines to secure the cheaper airfare.
The tour cost price includes:
- airport transfers
- 1 night 3 star hotel accommodation in Mekele (twin room - £25 surcharge for single)
- transport in new a/c Toyota Landcruisers
- all entry fees and permits
- experienced English speaking guide
- all meals, drinks and bottled water during tour (not in Mekele on 9th)
- cooking equipment
- sleeping mat
- Accompanied by police and scout
- local Afar guide in parts
- camel transport
- experienced cook
- back up vehicle
Tour itinerary is subject to change!
Some of the roads on this tour are in terrible condition and can make for an uncomfortable ride in parts.
Throughout the tour you will be camping on mats. There will be no access to running water, toilets or washing facilities. This is a very primitive part of the world. We will however be well stocked up with bottled water and food provisions.
In the event of extreme weather condition, this can also lead to roads being inaccessible and the itinerary being changed at the last minute.
The most important aspect to note is that this tour ventures very close to the Eritrean border. The UK FCO advises against all travel here due to a serious incident with tourists in 2012. Most other governments issue the same advice.
Since 2012, the Ethiopian military have increased their presence in the region and tourists have visited daily without incident. We will also be accompanied by armed guards. Nevertheless, we advise you to research the area yourself before booking. If you are unsure then we recommend you stay away.