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Highlights of Ethiopia
16 days expedition and trekking to Erta Ale volcano, Dallol, Lalibela and Semien mountains (Ethiopia)
Erta Ale's lava lake
Erta Ale's lava lake
Exploding lava bubble
Exploding lava bubble

Highlights of Ethiopia

16 days expedition and trekking to Erta Ale volcano, Dallol, Lalibela and Semien mountains (Ethiopia)
Tour type
Expedition: active volcanoes - photography - adventure
Group size: 4-10
Custom and group dates
Price per person
$ 3980 €£¥
A tour which combines 2 different natural phenomena: Danakil Depression (the lowest place - 125 m below the sea level) and Semien Mountains («the roof of Africa” with the highest elevation of 4620m, Mount Ras Dashen). Both of them are the parts of Great Rift Valley with the same geological process: the result of Plate Tectonic process which dates back to 30 million years.
During the trip we spend 4 days in Danakil Depression (which is the result of the triple plate margins in the Northeastern part of Ethiopia and yet is still active) visiting active volcano Erta Ale (with the possibility to see some activity inside the crater), Dallol volcano with its fascinating fumaroles, amazing rock formations, crystal and mineral deposits. At the miners'town of Ahmed Ela near Lake Assale we'll watch the centuries-old ritual of salt cutting, the shaping of salt blocks and the endless caravans arriving and leaving loaded with the precious "white gold".
In the Semien Mountains (which is the result of the destruction of shield volcanoes into numerous peaks and now the UNESCO world heritage site) we also spend 4 days enjoying the most spectacular mountain scenery, climbing the second high mountain Mount Bahwit (4,430m), meeting animals like the Gelada, the Ethiopian wolf, the Walia ibex, the giant Lammergeir) .
On the way we visit ancient towns such as Gondar, Bahir Dar and of cause Lalibela with its famous rock hewn churches.
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  • 4 days in Danakil Depression (Erta Ale, Dallol, Lake Assale, salt mining)
  • 4 days in the Semien Mountains (climb Mount Bahwit (4,430m)
  • Spectacular and varied landscapes of highlands, mountains, volcanoes and deserts
  • Watch Endemic wildlife (the gelada, the Ethiopian wolf, the Walia ibex, the giant Lammergeir)
  • Small international groups
  • Experience - we organise Danakil adventures since 2007
  • Professionally outfitted expedition and thorough preparation
  • Excellent Ethiopian volcanologist as main guide
  • Comfortable travel in 4x4 jeeps (window seat guaranteed)
  • Dedicated supply vehicle and experienced cook
  • Competent and friendly local team and drivers
  • Interaction with local people, introduction into local customs

16 Days expedition

Day 1: Arrival to Semera (Capital city of Afar Region)
Arrival to Semera, pick up at the Airport, transfer to the Hotel. After check in to your Hotel, we drive about 40Km as an excursion short sightseeing Tour and acclimatization of Afar Region Desert , with active Geothermal and volcanic ranges of Alelo Bad hot springs pools and hydrothermal deposits south of Manda Harraro. Overnight at Semera
Day 2: Semera – Erta Ale (300 km)
After breakfast at the Hotel, we meet with Enku (your organizer and Guide) at your Hotel about 07:00 Am and proceed to Erta Ale Volcanic Field through the Old Danakil sea . Today you have a chance to see a glance of the fresh lava flow and tectonically affected mountain ranges. Both recent basalts of spreading Axes, recent sediments and Highland rock sequences dominate the road Geology of the area where you are driving through. Paper work Processing with Erta Ale area chief and administrators for further continue of Erta Ale active volcano and get a permission for the visit. More to see the fresh lava flows. Overnight at the Base camp of Erta Ale
Day 3: Ascent to Erta Ale's summit
Early morning ascend to Erta Ale´s summit (ca. 1,5-2 h, 10 km, 500 m height), breakfast on the rim and morning group tour around Erta Ale´s caldera. After lunch, free to relax and explore the summit caldera.
Day 4: 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.
Day 5: Dallol – Abala (200 km)
Full day visit of the Salt plain ,surrounding the Erta Ale Volcanic Range and trasnsfer to Abala.
Day 6: Abala – Logia (300 km)
Drive to Logia visiting on the way Afdera Salt Lake. Overnight at Logia Local Hotel with Basic facilities
Day 7: Logia – Woldyia (250 km)
Drive through the whole range of Tertiary / Quaternary volcanoes with lots of Quaternary alluvial Sediments and Paleosoil. Arrive at Woldia, a town surrounded by old Tertiary Basaltic high mountains. Overnight at Local Hotel.
Day 8: Woldyia – Lalibela (270 km)
Drive from Woldia to Lalibela through the stunning view of Sekota Mountains. Arrival to Lalibela. Free time. Overnight Hotel at Lalibela Roha Hotel.
Day 9: Lalibela rock hewn churches
Full day visit of the UNESCO world heritage site of the rock hewn churches of Lalibela.
Day 10: Lalibela – Gondar (300 km)
Drive to Gondar through Checheho Tertiary volcanic mountain and Awra Amba community with their unique living style. Overnight at Gondar Goha Hotel.
Day 11: Debark – Sanka Ber Camp (50 km by car)
Morning Drive to Semien Mountain National Park, Bauit – Ras (3,000m), 25 Km from Debark town. Walk 1h30m to the camp Sankaber (3250 m), acclimatization.
Day 12: Trek Sanka Ber – Geech (18 km, 5 – 6 h)
Trek to Geech camp (3580 m) will take about 5 – 6 hours.
The walk will start by following the escarpment to Gean Bar Falls and Gean Bar River where we have a picnic Lunch. You have the chance to see many birds like Vultures, European Griffin, Lammergeyers and etc. At the end we reach the small village of Geech where the second camping is. The camp site offers great views of the mountains and is characterized by giant Lobelia plants. It is situated at an altitude of 3600m. Night at camping at Geech
Day 13: Trek Geech – Intye - Chenke (23 km, 6 – 7 h)
Trek to Chenke, along the whole escarpment to up to 3620m, which is bounded by a semi-circular ring of cliffs. It takes about 6 -7 hours of walking, with some steeps up and down and passing the Intye Mountain (4070m), where we have a lunch. Intye mountain is the highest in the area with an amazing landscape. Camping at Chenke, which is located in a beautiful valley at the foot of Bwahit peak, at the altitude of 3680m.
Day 14: Chenke – Bahwit – Chenke (14 km, 3-4 h). Return to – Gondar
Today we climb Mount Bahwit (4,430m). It takes about 3-4 Hours. After we admire the beauty of the surroundings, we star the descend. When we return to the camp, we take the things and walk back to the main road to meet with our vehicle and transfer to Gondar. Overnight at Gondar.
Day 15: Gondar - Bahir Dar
Half day visit of Gondar. After Lunch drive to Bahir Dar where Lake Tana is Located, the Origin of Blue Nile River. Overnight at Hotel, Bahir Dar (The Capital City of Amhara Region).
Day 16: Blue Nile falls and fly back home
Early morning drive to the Blue Nile falls (30 Km one way) and in the afternoon transfer to the airport for your flight back Addis and home.
Dates and details
Booking inquiry

Arrival info:

The expedition starts in Semera and ends in Bahir Dar. Please note it while the tickets reservations.

Tour guide

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 he specialised 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!

Additional info

Physical requirements

The walks on this tour are not particularly difficult, but you should have experience with hiking on uneven and rugged terrain. Although it is about the coolest time of the year, temperatures near Ahmed Ela and in the desert are usually around 35-40 deg (95-105 deg F), but could soar up to 45-50 deg C (120-130 deg F) in the hottest hours near Dallol.
Sanitary conditions during most part of this expedition will be very basic and you should be in excellent overall health. We ask you to consult a medical doctor about going to the Danakil prior to joining the expedition.
As for Semien Mountains hikes, the hikes there demand the efforts as it is mountain hikes and you should be prepared for it.

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