14 days expedition to Erta Ale volcano and Dallol hydrothermal field (Danakil desert, Ethiopia)
See the dramatic change of environment when the jeep expedition starts in Addis Ababa (at 2355 m), and gradually descents into the Danakil depression, passing through Awash National Park before reaching the banks of Afrera salt lake (at - 100 m). The journey continues as we climb Erta Ale shield volcano and spend 3 full days and nights exploring the volcano´s caldera. We then set up camp at the Afar village of Hamed Ela and have 2 full days to discover the hydrothermal area of Dallol and Assale salt lake, including the centuries-old ritual of salt cutting. Finally explore the UNESCO world heritage site of the rock hewn churches of Lalibela.
We have been organising tours to the Danakil since early 2007 and hence have expertise in arranging such expeditions. Our highly competent Ethiopian main guide and volcanologist Enku and his friendly team will safely take you through the desert in 4x4 jeeps. The sometimes Spartan character of living conditions in the Danakil are partially compensated by the large variety of meals freshly prepared by our cook!
- Spectacular, varied scenery of forested highlands, upland grassland, steppe, desert, shield volcano and salt lake deposits
- Short morning safari in Awash National Park
- Afrera salt lake camping with hot springs bath under the stars
- 3 full days/nights on the summit of Erta Ale active volcano
- 2 visits to the colourful and fascinating hydrothermal activity at Dallol
- Century-old salt mining and camel caravans at Lake Assale
- Full day for Lalibela rock hewn churches (UNESCO world heritage site)
- 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
- No rushing from place to place - plenty photographic opportunities
- Interaction with local people, introduction into local customs
14 days itinerary
Arrival at the airport of Addis Ababa, transfer to the hotel and welcome dinner
Morning start of our jeep expedition: driving into the Rift Valley and arrive in Awash by the evening. Besides lunch, there are a few stops planned along the way to take in the changing landscape and get an introduction into its geological formation.
Morning safari in Awash National Park and continuing our drive through the Rift Valley to the small town of Logiya.
Continue driving along the main road from Logiya to Serdo, then turn northward through a volcanic desert landscape into the Danakil depression - campsite at the shore of Afdera salt lake.
Morning option to further explore the salt works and mining town before we drive onward to the Erta Ale´s base camp, the final hours being a proper off-road 4x4 drive through the Afar desert.
Early morning ascend to Erta Ale´s summit (ca. 3 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.
Hiking expedition to the site on the volcano's flank where since January 2017 a new eruption is going on.
Full day and night on Erta Ale to observe the volcanic activity at both the eruption sites
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.
This day focuses on discovering the colourful alien landscape of the hydrothermal system at Dallol. We organise two visits - around sunrise and sunset - to optimise light conditions for photography whilst also minimising exposure to the mid-day sun and heat.
This day is reserved for the glistening plane of Assale salt lake, traditional salt cutting and camel loading, and 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.
Full day (about 400 km) drive from Mekele (Tigray region) southwards to Lalibela (Amhara region) which is one of the most historic towns in Ethiopia due to its world famous, UNESCO world heritage, rock hewn churches.
Full day visit of the UNESCO world heritage site of the rock hewn churches of Lalibela.
A morning flight takes us back to Addis Ababa, free afternoon prior to international flight
The expedition starts and ends in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia´s capital. International flights to and from Ethiopia are not included as default, but feel free to contact us if you would like any assistance with finding the best flight connections for you.
Group size: 4-11
Duration: 14 days / 13 nights
Dates:13-26 Nov 2021
Price (per person): $ 4530 €£¥
- 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 from day 4 to 10
- Professional Ethiopian guide who is an English-speaking geologist
- Private transport in 4WD vehicles
- Guaranteed window seat in 4WD jeeps
- 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 and in Dallol
- All fees for transits, entries etc.
- Tips for local staff (porters, camel drivers, guards, local guides, ...)
- Internal flight from Mekele back to Addis Ababa