Dallol Desert and Erta Ale Lava Lake Expedition — 6 Days
- Tour Type: Adventure and Nature Tour
- Limited To: 4–8 Guests
- Duration: 6 Days
- Price: on request
Ethiopia is home to one of the hottest, lowest, and least-livable places on Earth, as well as one of the eeriest.
The Danakil Depression, straddling Ethiopia and Eritrea, is a place where three tectonic plates converge in a land of volcanoes, salt lakes, and otherworldly rock formations. The few inhabitants who live in the region rely on salt mining to get by. The unwelcoming landscape is one of the most captivating you’ll ever see.
If you’re interested in visiting, don’t travel here alone; escorts or tour groups familiar with the territory are highly recommended.
You can book this tour on any date as an individual journey. A minimum of four people are required for this tour to run.
- Meet your ancestor Lucy at the National Museum.
- Visit different less-visited sites and meet with the local people.
- Test varied Ethiopian food and attend an Ethiopian coffee ceremony.
- Visit one of the few permanent lava lakes in the world — Erta Ale.
- Enjoy the colourful mineral fields in the Dallol area.
- See the ancient form of salt mining in the Danakil Depression.
- Watch the camel caravans.
Two nights in a 4-star hotel in Addis Ababa and 3 nights camping in the Dallol-Danakil area. Bring a light sleeping bag.
This tour will be lead by an English-speaking, experienced, A-rated, friendly cultural and nature local tour guide.
Our drivers are well trained and well travelled in the area. They know all the terrain and valleys you'll be traveling in. They always make sure you are comfortable and safe and have been rated excellent by many travelers who have been on the road with them for long periods of time.
On this adventure tour, you will experience one of the most arid areas of the world traveling by modern 4x4 vehicles with AC. Due to security reasons, an extra support vehicle for cook and scouts will accompany the tour.
Note: On this trip, there will be a domestic flight to and from Addis Ababa to Mekele. The domestic flight must be arranged separately.
Day 1: Addis Ababa Arrival
Arrive in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Upon arrival, you will be welcomed by your tour guide and transferred to your hotel. In the afternoon, you will take a city tour in Addis Ababa to the National Museum (to visit Lucy), the Mercato, and St. George Cathedral, and you will enjoy a view from Mount Entoto.
Overnight: Jupiter Bole
Day 2: Addis Ababa, Mekele, Hamedella (B, L, D)
Early in the morning, transfer to Addis Ababa airport for the flight to Mekele. Upon arrival at Mekele airport, you will be picked up by your driver and the local tour guide for the drive to Berhale. After pickup and permission at Berhale, we will continue driving northeast to Hamedella where you will be staying two nights.
The Danakil Depression is the northern part of the Afar Triangle or Afar Depression, a geological depression that has resulted from the presence of three tectonic plates in the Horn of Africa. This is a photographic adventure to one of the lowest, hottest, and least-hospitable place on earth, nonetheless it is a place of otherworldly, colorful mineral fields and amazing, eye-catching landscapes.
Late in the afternoon, we will drive to the Depression where you can see and photograph in the late afternoon light the swirling sulphur and mineral salt formations in the Danakil Depression, one of the hottest and harshest environments on earth.
Here you will also see the centuries-old tradition of salt extraction in the big slat flats. The salt bars are loaded onto hundreds of camels in a caravan that will start their journey from the depression and end in the highlands after a long journey of several days.
Overnight: Camping at Hamedella
Day 3: Explore Dallol (B, L, D)
Early in the morning, we will drive to the Dallol Depression crossing the Denakil Dessert from north to south. Lying at 130 meters below sea level, on the Ass-Ale Salt Lake, the Dallol Depression is one of the hottest and lowest points on earth. This morning, we will also discover one of the most exciting places in Dallol, the water springs in the desert with multi-colored minerals gushing to the surface from the Earth's interior.
Late in the afternoon, we will have another photo shoot opportunity at the Dallol Depression with the late afternoon light and the salt flats and camel caravans.
Overnight: Camping at Hamedella
Day 4: Hamedella, Dodom, Erta Ale (B, L, D)
Early in the morning, cross the salt flats and the Denakil sand desert in a 4x4 enroute stopping at different sites for morning shots of this amazing place as we cross the desert south to north.
As we get off at Dodom, the base of the Erta Ale crater, we will rest in the shade of our tents and prepare for the Erta Ale lava trek. We will load our equipment on the camels when it starts to cool down. We trek on dead lava for up to 15 km to the top of the Erta Ale crater.
Once we get to the top of the crater, we will rest in our camp and have dinner here. After a rest, we will walk downhill to the lava lake for a night shoot. This is one of the most permanent and active lava lakes in the world.
After taking some night shots, we will return to our base camp for the night.
Overnight: Camping at Erta Ale
Day 5: Erta Ale, Mekele, Addis Ababa (B, L)
Early in the morning, we will walk back to the lava lake to take some morning shots with the morning light and then trek back to base camp at Dodom for breakfast. Then we will drive back to Mekele for the evening flight to Addis Ababa.
Overnight: Jupiter Bole
Day 6: Addis Ababa, Departure (B)
In the morning, you will have another tour of the city with the Ethnographic Museum, Haile Selassie Cathedral, and Piazza. Transfer to the airport. End of tour.
B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner
Rates on request
Group size: 4–12
- Transport in 4x4 with AC
- All necessary transfers
- Two nights in a 4-star hotel with double rooms
- Three nights camping
- All meals as stated in the program
- Five litres of water daily during camping
- All entrance fees, permits and scoutfees
- English-speaking, qualified national tour guide
- Visa fees
- Meals not stated in the program
- All expenses of a personal nature (drinks, laundry, phone calls, etc.)
- Domestic flights
The tour duration shown above begins and ends in Addis Ababa. Tour may be longer with flights to and from Addis Ababa.