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Last updated: 03/30/2009
The Danakil Depression with its other-worldly landscapes, active volcanoes and Afar nomads leading their camel caravans across this arid land, offers a rewarding experience for true adventure seekers.
Drive to Dessie via Kombolcha. After passing Debre Birhan, we will come to the Mezezo escarpment, with very beautiful scenes over the Amhara land. With luck, you will catch a glimpse of the endemic gelada baboons. Overnight in Dessie.
Continue driving to Mekele, via Woldia. In the morning, we will stop by the village of Hayk to visit the lake and watch the fishermen in their boats. Overnight in Mekele at Abreha Castle Hotel, which is a 19th-century mansion overlooking the city.
Drive from Mekele to Hamed Ila via Berehale, where you will pick up police scouts, road guides and permits for the Afar region. From Berehale, proceed driving to Hamed Ila. We will see the camel caravans along the way, carrying salt from the salt lake to Mekele for sale. Overnight camping in Hamed Ila.
After breakfast, take a day trip to Dallol, which at 116m below sea level is the lowest point on the African continent. Here the landscape is beautiful, the ground many shades of red and yellow from the hot water, acids and minerals spurting up from the ground. You will also visit Lake Asale, which is the salt lake from which the Afar nomads extract salt. You will witness (and even try) their laborious task of removing salt from the ground as hundreds of camels relax before the long trek back to Mekele. At the end of the day we return to Hamed Ila for overnight camping.
From Hamed Ila, continue to Erta Ale via Kusawad. The Erta Ale volcano has been in a constant state of eruption for over 40 years. You will camp in the village of El Dom, where it will be an early-to-bed night.
Today is an early-to-rise start at 2am to start your hike to the crater rim of the Erta Ale volcano. At the top, you will peer down at the permanent lava lake (the only one in the world!) while the sun rises over the horizon. Definitely the highlight of the trip! After the hike back to camp and a bit of breakfast, you'll continue driving to Lake Afrera for overnight camping or in local hotel.
Lake Afrera is a wonderfully bright green lake situated with black basalt mountains behind. It's a stunning location. Here you can see more salt extraction from the lake, where the Afar nomads continue the same activities the have for centuries. The salt extraction here is the main supply of salt to Addis Ababa. From Afdera, proceed driving to Semera via Logia. Overnight in Semera in hotel.
Today we drive through Yangudi-Rassa National Park (home to the endangered African wild ass), and then to Awash for overnight.
In the morning, go for a game drive in Awash National Park, which is one of Ethiopia's most popular national parks. Here you will enjoy wonderful birdlife and many mammals, such as gazelles, kudus, waterbuck, warthogs, baboons, and colobus monkeys. It might also be possible to see lions, leopards and other cats, if you're lucky! After the drive, continue driving to Sodere for overnight, where you can go for a refreshing swim in the pool or a shower in the hot spring water. Overnight in Sodere.
After a morning swim, we continue on our way back to Addis, stopping in Debre Zeit for a lunch by one of the beautiful lakes in the area.
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