Strong nighttime glow of the active lava lake as seen from the caldera rim (bluish lights to the right are observers at Erta Ale camp site) (Dec 2010; image: Tom Pfeiffer)
Photographing the abundant green acid ponds amidst the white-yellow-orange salt deposits (Dec 2010; image: Tom Pfeiffer)
Aerial view of the north and south active craters in Erta Ale's summit caldera (Jan 2018; image: Stefan Tommasini)
A large lava bubble explodes at the surface of the full lava lake (Dec 2010; image: Tom Pfeiffer)
The Dallol salt dome with a foreground of dark green acid ponds with yellow ´salt cakes´ (Dec 2010; image: Tom Pfeiffer)
Long camel caravans transporting the salt from lake Assale pass through the village of Hamed Elah around sunset (Dec 2010; image: Tom Pfeiffer)
Bubbling yellow water in a hydrothermal acid pond near Dallol (Jan 2018; image: Stefan Tommasini)
Nighttime impression of lava flow and spattering from the overflowing lava lake (Dec 2010; image: Tom Pfeiffer)
Bizarre miniature geysers or salt springs at Dallol (dec 2010; image: Tom Pfeiffer)
The thin crust of the lava lake at the new fissure eruption site is being overflown and consumed by red hot liquid lava (Jan 2018; image: Stefan Tommasini)
Dallol´s hydrothermal system creates an ever changeing alien landscape of colourful salt deposits, acid ponds and miniatyre geysirs (dec 2010; image: Tom Pfeiffer)
8 days expedition, starting and ending in Addis Ababa, going straight to the heart of the Danakil desert to explore the ongoing volcanic activity of Erta Ale shield volcano and Dallol hydrothermal fields! After climbing to the volcanoes summit in the middle of the night you get a first view of the lava's glow on the summit, followed by 2 full days and nights exploring both the volcanic acitivity both at the summit caldera and the new fissure eruption site on the volcano's flank. After descending the volcano you travel onwards to the area near Dallol where you spend about 2 days exploring the colourful hydrothermal deposits, acid lakes, salt formations and camel caravans.
- 2 full nights/ days on the summit of Erta Ale active volcano
- 2 days to explore Dallol, Assale salt lake and camel caravans
- Experienced Ethiopian volcanologist as main guide
- Small international group
- Dedicated supply vehicle with excellent camping cook
- Competent and friendly team and drivers
- Interaction with Afar people, introduction into local customs
8 days itinerary
8 days expedition to the heart of the Danakil desert to explore the ongoing volcanic activity of Erta Ale and the fascinating alien landscape of the hydrothermal deposits at Dallol, Assale salt lake and the camel caravans
Day 1: Arrival in Addis Ababa
Arrival at the airport of Addis Ababa, transfer to the hotel and welcome dinner
Acc.: very nice hotel in downtown Addis-Abeba (D)
Day 2: Addis Ababa - Mekele - Erta Ale
Morning flight from Addis Ababa to Mekele, jeep safari to Erta Ale basecamp and midnight ascend of the volcano's summit
Acc.: camping in Erta Ale basecamp (B, L, D)
Day 3: First full day to explore Erta Ale's activity
Hiking expedition to the site on the volcano's flank where since January 2017 a new eruption is going on.
Acc.: camping on the rim of Erta Ale's caldera (B, L, D)
Day 4: Second full day/night to explore Erta Ale's activity
Full day and night on Erta Ale to observe the volcanic activity and phenomena in the summit caldera
Acc.: as before (camping on the rim of Erta Ale's caldera) (B, L, D)
Day 5: Descend from Erta Ale to basecamp, drive to Hamed Ela
Early morning descend from Erta Ale back down to basecamp, breakfast, 4X4 drive to return to the main road and continue our journey to the Afar village of Hamed Ela.
Acc.: camping in the Afar village of Hamed Ela (B, L, D)
Day 6: Full day to explore Dallol and surroundings
From our base in Hamed Ela we undertake a number of morning and afternoon expeditions to explore the colourful hydrothermal system of Dallol, the vast salt deposits and saline Lake Assale, the traditional way of salt cutting and transport by camel caravans.
Acc.: as before (camping in the Afar village of Hamed Ela) (B, L, D)
Day 7: Salt deposits and acid ponds near Dallol - Mekele
This day is reserved for the irregularly formed salt deposits and colourful acid ponds south of Dallol. In the afternoon we leave the Dallol area and drive up to the highlands and spend the night in Mekele.
Acc.: comfortable hotel in Mekele (B, L, D)
Day 8: Morning flight Mekele - Addis Ababa
Our service ends with your transfer to the airport of Mekele from where you fly back to Addis Ababa.
Acc.: none (B)
It is also possible to shorten this program to 6 days by joining in on the morning of Day 2 in Mekele and going your own way on the evening of Day 7 in Mekele
This volcano expedition starts and ends in Addis Ababa, the capital of Ethiopia. Your international flights to and from Ethiopia are not included as default since we have participants from all over the world. However, please do feel free to contact us if you would like any assistance with finding the best flight connections for you!
To allow for maximum flexibility for individual participants' travel plans, this volcano expedition can also be joined from Mekele, which is the capital city of the Tigray region of Ethiopia. The airline company that service this airport (MQX, Alula Aba Nega Airport) is Ethiopian Airlines. One can easily book this domestic flight from and to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia´s capital, as there are 5-6 daily connections.
Volcano expedition: active volcanoes - photography - adventure
6 - 8 days
Custom and group dates24 Jun - 1 Jul 2018 1-8 Dec 2018 23 Feb - 2 Mar 2019
Price (p.p.): $ 3360
- Accommodation in double rooms / tents
- Full board from dinner on the first day until breakfast after last hotel night
- Drinking water, up to 8 liters per person per day
- Professional Ethiopian guide who is an English-speaking geologist
- Private transport in 4WD vehicles
- Experienced 4WD drivers and cook
- Full camping equipment
- Camels, camel drivers and porters to and from Erta Ale´s summit
- Armed Afar guards and guides on Erta Ale
- Flights to and from Mekele airport (MQX)
- Tips for local staff (camel drivers, guards, local guides, ...)
Enku is the main guide on all our Danakil volcano expeditions. After obtaining a Diploma in Travel Organising and completing his BSc in Geology at the University of Addis Ababa, he spend 10 years
traveling through Ethiopia whilst working both as free-lance travel guide and a contracted mining geologist
for different oil and gold mining companies. Since 2006
in geological travel
guidance for the Danakil depression
and hence has lots of experience and competence
in organizing expeditions to Erta Ale and Dallol
. He likes to share his vast knowledge on the geology of the Danakil but will also gladly answer any questions you might have regarding Ethiopia´s fauna and flora, culture, history, food or traditions!
Our excellent Ethiopian main guide and geologist Enku!