Danakil depression and wildlife tour
- 11 days
11 Days 10 Nights
This fascinating journey uncovers some of Ethiopia’s wildest and most extreme landscapes. Exploring one of Africa’s most diverse countries, begin in the historically-rich region of Tigray where you will discover rock-hewn churches and dramatic escarpments. From here travel east to the unforgiving Danakil Depression, one of the lowest and hottest places on earth. Discover the alien salt landscapes of Dallol and take on a memorable trek to the top of the active volcano Erta Ale, where you will camp on the rim of the volcano. From the arid north-east landscapes, you then head south to the lush plains of Alledeghi Wildlife Reserve and Awash National Park, areas brimming with wildlife and refreshing lakes. Your final stop then takes you to the medieval walled city of Harar, a staunchly Muslim city which was once barred to all Christians, where hyenas are still fed by hand in the streets and mosques assail you at every turn.
On arrival in Mekele you will be met by a Wild Frontiers representative who will transfer you to your hotel. Enjoy the rest of the day at leisure to acclimatise.
MEKELE – AHMED ELA
This morning you will get the chance to discover some of the region’s wonderful rock-hewn churches. Visit Wukro Cherkos, a crooked cruciform sandstone church, which is semi-monolithic and believed to have been created during the 4th century. Continue on to the rock hewn church of Abreha Atsbeha, considered among the country`s earliest churches and architecturally one of its finest. Enjoy the dramatic scenery of the Northern Tigray region as you then enjoy some lunch before setting off for Ahmed Ela. Arrive late afternoon and settle into your camp for the evening.
AHMED ELA – DALLOL – ABALA
This morning you will visit Dallol, the lowest part of the Danakil Depression at 120metres below sea level, and the hottest inhabited area on earth. The acidic hot springs of sulphur, salt, iron oxide, and other minerals facilitate small gas geysers and pools of acid creating an unearthly, desolate and colourful landscape. Continuing on you can visit the salt mining area of Lake Asale. This precious stone salt or Amole was once used as a currency in Ethiopia. Today, hundreds of camel caravans can be found on the road daily transporting salt to the north western highlands of Ethiopia. Return to camp for some lunch before setting off for Abala.
ABALA – ERTA ALE
Today is a long drive on to Kursuad where you will be issued permits and can arrange for support camels with the Afar village leader. Drive on to the basecamp via Dodom, enjoying a packed lunch along the way. As evening sets in, you will then begin your adventure up Erta Ale volcano. Set off on foot for a two-hour walk from basecamp up to the rim of the volcano. Enjoy dinner here and camp out in the small concrete shelters which have been constructed by the locals.
ERTA ALE - SEMERA
Rise early in the morning to catch another sight of the volcano before walking back down to basecamp. Here you will meet your vehicle again and set off on a long drive to Semera.
SEMERA – ALLEDEGHI WILDLIFE RESERVE
This morning sees another long drive as you make your way to the less-visited Alledeghi Wildlife Reserve. This unique area is home to a diverse wildlife, including Grevy’s zebra, spotted hyena, wild ass, Somali ostrich, gerenuk, among many others, as well as an abundance of birdlife
ALLEDEGHI WILDLIFE RESERVE – AWASH NATIONAL PARK
Wake early this morning to make the most of your time here and spend a few hours exploring this beautiful area. The lodge is known for its wonderful natural hot springs so treat yourself to a soak before driving on to Awash National Park this afternoon, where you can enjoy a late afternoon game drive.
AWASH NATIONAL PARK
You’ll spend today exploring the park in the company of your driver-guide. Awash National Park encompasses a fascinating array of volcanic landscapes that has become a haven for a range of birdlife. See if you can spot colobus monkeys, golden jackals and spotted hyenas today. Lions and leopards are around but are rare sightings these days. There is also the option of visiting Awash River Falls on your safari.
AWASH NATIONAL PARK - HARAR
Today you’ll continue east towards the historic walled city of Harar, taking approximately 7 hours. Situated on a high escarpment on the southern edge of the Chercher Mountains, the town commands views across the deep gorges, deserts and savannah of the staunchly Christian Highlands. One of Ethiopia’s most fascinating towns, it has recently been ascribed onto the UNESCO World Heritage list. This evening you can enjoy the ancient tradition of feeding the hyenas, a spectacle which still regularly draws the crowds.
HARAR – DIRE DAWA
Situated on a high escarpment with views over deep gorges, desert and savannah, the historic city of Harar has recently been listed in UNESCO World heritage lists. There are 82 mosques and 102 shrines to explore which all contribute to giving the city the title of fourth holiest city of Islam. Harar’s old walled town, or Jugal as it is known locally, dates back to the 1560s when the original wall was built and is one of the town’s most fascinating features. Spend the day exploring before driving an hour to Dire Dawa.
DIRE DAWA – DEPART ADDIS ABABA
You’ll have some time this morning to discover what Dire Dawa has to offer, including a walk around the interesting local market and also a visit to the old train station. In the afternoon you will then fly back to Addis in time to connect with your onward flight.
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