Danakil Depression and Gheralta Mountains

Journey north and discover the alien landscapes of Dallol, the bubbling lava lakes of Erta Ale, and watch the sun go down over Lake Afrera. Combine this with a visit to the rock churches of Gheralta.

8 Days

$1,553

Danakil Depression and Gheralta Mountains - 8 - $1,553

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • Explore the capital city of Addis Ababa
  • Discover the rock-hewn churches in the Gheralta Mountains.  
  • Take a dip in Lake Afrera and spend the evening watching the sun go down over the desert landscape. 
  • Camp under the starts atop Erta Ale
  • Experience the kaleidoscopic landscape of Dallol.

Start from Addis Ababa and end at Addis Ababa

Landmarks visited on Danakil Depression and Gheralta Mountains

Itinerary

Day 1 - The adventure begins

Fly to Addis Ababa where you’ll be picked up and transferred to your hotel. Spend the day exploring Addis. The Italian-built Piazza sits next to famous markets and bustling streets. Nearby the Grand Anwar Mosque and the Ragual Church are worth a visit. Get lost in Mercato, the largest open air market in Africa. If you’ve time, visit Lucy, the 3.2 million-year-old fossilised skeleton in the National Museum. Her discovery re-wrote the story of human evolution. See the Holy Trinity Cathedral, famed for its copper dome and neo-baroque architecture. It houses the tombs of the former Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassi, and the British suffragette Sylvia Pankhurst. 

In the evening head to one of the capital's amazing cultural restaurants for an introduction into Ethiopian cuisine, and to get to know your tour leaders. 

Overnight: Capital Hotel or similar


Day 2 - Tigray

Catch a morning flight from Addis to Mekele before driving to the Gheralta Mountains (~2 hours). In the afternoon, visit the incredible rock-hewn churches of Gheralta, including Mariam Korkor, Daniel Korkor, and Abuna Yemata Guh. Spend the night at the stunning Gheralta Lodge

Overnight: Gheralta Lodge


Day 3 - Lake Afrera

Drive for around two hours from Gheralta to Mekele, the capital of the Tigray region and the springboard in to the Danakil Depression. Here, we’ll collect an additional 4x4 for the camping and cooking gear, as well as our (fantastic) cook. After lunch, drive to Lake Afrera via the small village of Eribt. Swim in the lake and hot springs of Afrera as you spend the evening in this small pocket of paradise in one of the most remote places on the planet.

Overnight: basic camping


 Day 4 - Erta Ale

In the morning, drive from Abala to Dodom (~4 hours), the base camp for trekking up Erta Ale. Have an early dinner around 5PM before starting the ascent at 8PM. Camels will transport all the camping materials and food to the top. Spend the night atop the volcano.

Overnight: basic camping


Day 5 - Hamed Ela

Enjoy the morning sunrise from atop Erta Ale and visit the north crater. Descend from Erta Ale at around 7AM to reach the base at Dodom for ~9AM. After breakfast, head to Hamed Ela, stopping en-route for a picnic lunch in the cool shade of palm trees. Reach Hamed Ela at 4:30PM. 

Overnight: basic camping


Day 6 - Dallol

In the morning, drive to Dallol, undoubtedly a highlight of any adventure in the Danakil Depression. Bubbling up amid miniature geysers and steaming conical vents, the Dallol sulphur springs add a kaleidoscope of colour to an otherwise Martian desert landscape. The acid springs are known to host extremophile microbes, attracting scientists the world over to study how life is able to survive in such extreme conditions. 

After visiting Dallol, explore some of the salt mounds in the region before heading to Lake Asale for a dip in the lake and the adjacent hot spring. Sunset at Lake Asale. 

Overnight: basic camping


Day 7 - Mekele

In the morning, visit Ragad (Asebo) where locals mine salt. Head back to Hamed Ela where camp is packed up before proceeding to Mekele. Overnight in Mekele.

Overnight: Planet Hotel or similar


Day 8 - Explore Mekele and return to Addis

Enjoy a relaxing breakfast at your hotel. In the late morning, visit a memorial, historical museum and open air market where the salt from the Danakil is brought in via camel caravans and sold. In the afternoon, transfer to the airport to fly back to Addis to connect with your international flight home, or to continue your onward journey. 

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Prices are per person based on 4 people travelling together. Price is guideline only. Price will depend on your final itinerary, group size, accommodation choices, and time of year.

Includes

  • All entrance fees and licenses.
  • Accommodation and all meals throughout the tour.
  • Bottles of water.
  • Surface transport expenses (four-wheel drive Land-cruiser including fuel and driver's allowances).
  • Local guide service for the Afar region as per the program.
  • Cooking and camping equipment.
  • Scout and police service in Afar Region as per the program.
  • Camel and camel tires in Afar Region as per the program. 

Excludes

  • International flights, visas, gratuities and any expenditure of a personal nature. 
  • Domestic flights.
  • Anything not listed as included. 

Questions about this Trip?