- expedition to Erta Ale volcano and the Danakil depression (Ethiopia) -
On this expedition, we cross the Afar area from South to North, climb active Erta Ale volcano and stay full 3 days and nights on the volcano, as well as 2 full days at Dallol and the Great Salt Lake. 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".
We have thorough experience with this expedition as we have been organising it since early 2007. This is reflected in an excellent preparation , highly competent professional and friendly staff, close interactions with local people and delicious food prepared by our cook - which will more than compensate for the sometimes spartan character of living conditions we'll find ourselves in.
- 3 full days/nights at the active lava lake of Erta Ale
- Fascinating rock and salt formations at Dallol volcano
- Spectacular and varied landscapes of highlands, volcanoes and deserts
- Century-old salt mining at Lake Assale
- Professionally outfitted expedition and thorough preparation
- Comfortable 4x4 transfers: maximum 3 clients per car, 2 in each seat row
- No "rushing" from place to place
- Interaction with local people - ecotourism principle
- Small group sizes
- Experienced professional staff
Itinerary (13 days)
In the late morning, transfer from Addis Ababa to Awash Natl Park, already in the Rift Valley. Game drive into the savannah and visit of the Awash river canyon and waterfall.
Drive through the Rift Valley to the small town of Logia
Drive to Afrera, visit the salt lake and the salines.
Morning excursion to the working area at the salines. 4x4 drive through the Afar desert to the base of Erta Ale volcano.
Easy hike up to the volcano (ca. 3 hrs), accompanied by a camel caravan to carry equipment.
There has been a lava lake at Erta Ale since its discovery in 1906, making it not only one of the very few present-day constant lava lakes as well as the by far longest existing lava lake. Yet the remoteness of the Afar area and difficult access to the volcano made that this wonder of nature was largely unknown up to the 1960s. Since then, there has been a gradual increase of adventurous tourists visiting this lava lake - a particular tourism that experienced a sudden increase due to improved accessibility in more recent years. Our small group will therefore not be the only one on Erta Ale´s caldera rim, but our extended stay there will maximise the opportunities to explore, observe and photograph the volcanic activity both during day and night.
After a last sunrise at the spectacular lava lake, we break down our camp and using the camels again, we return to the point of departure where the jeeps are waiting.
After lunch, we continue for 1-2 hours back into the desert, where we will set camp near a typical temporary Afar village. Refreshing showers will be available from simple wells in a river bed. For those interested, we can also visit the Afar village and get an impression of the nomadic culture of the Afar.
Drive to Ahmedela along unmarked sandy tracks. Lunch on the way at a palm oasis.
Full day to visit Dallol volcano and its ghost town in the salt lake.
Watch camels leaving, visit the salt cutting and shaping area where. Return to the highlands along a 4x4 road through a river canyon. Lunch stop at a waterfall.
Spare day. If not needed, short side-trip into the spectacular highlands to hike to an old church on top of a sand-stone mountain.
Short transfer to Mekele. Dinner in a stylish restaurant.
If you don't opt for an individual extension, the tour ends with a domestic flight back to Addis Ababa. If you leave on an international flight in the evening, we provide you with a day-room and suitable airport transfer in Addis.
Duration: 13 days / 12 nights
Dates:15-27 Nov 2015
20 Dec 15 - 1 Jan 2016
7-19 Feb 2016
28 Feb - 11 Mar 2016
Price (p.p.): $ 4700 ?
- Accommodation in double rooms / tents
- Full board from lunch on 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
- All fees for transits, entries etc.
- Internal flight from Mekele back to Addis Ababa
- Tips for local staff (porters, camel drivers, guards, local guides, ...)
The expedition starts and ends in Addis Ababa, but the international flight to Ethiopia is not included as default.
For European departure airports, we can included a flight ticket for you at additional cost (ca. 900 EUR) if you let us know in advance.
Mixed standards: in the towns, we use hotels of good local standards, but you should not expect any luxury. In the villages, the best options will be basic hotels or using the mattresses / tents. In the desert and on the volcano, we sleep usually under the stars or (if it's not too hot) in tents or under a cover.