Hot Springs and Volcanoes

Take the road less travelled and explore the arid east and volcanic north of Ethiopia. As the journey continues, the landscape morphs from lush forests, valleys and waterfalls, to vast deserts dotted with expansive salt flats, lava lakes, and volcanoes.
11 Days

Hot Springs and Volcanoes - 11 - $3,467

Trip Summary and Itinerary Map

  • Explore Addis Ababa, the historic and vibrant capital city.
  • Visit Awash National Park, a beautiful park filled with hot springs, waterfalls and over 400 species of native bird.
  • Discover the eccentric, colourful towns of Dire Dawa and Semera.
  • Journey to another planet: visit the alien landscape of the Danakil Depression.
  • Climb the bellowing Erta Ale volcano and marvel at the luminous, multi-coloured sulphur springs of the Dallol.
  • Finish your adventure by exploring the stunning landscapes and historical sites of Tigray

Start from Addis Ababa and end at Addis Ababa

Landmarks potentially visited on Hot Springs and Volcanoes


Day 1 -  Let the adventure begin!

Fly to Addis Ababa where you will be welcomed at the airport by your friendly and experienced tour leader. You’ll be provided with transfers to your hotel, where you can freshen up before taking your first steps in the city. Your guide will show you the beautiful Italian architecture in the Piazza, and help you navigate the busy markets in the adjacent streets. This city of excitement and contrasts is the perfect introduction to your Ethiopian adventure.

In the evening, get to know the team over a delicious welcome dinner in a local restaurant. Your tour leader will dine with you and give you a briefing on your upcoming adventure.

Overnight: Capital Hotel & Spa or similar

Day 2 - Harar

Catch a flight from Addis to Dire Dawa. Drive for around 1.5 hours from Dire Dawa to Harar. En route, visit the Dire Dawa Railway Station, Kafira spice market and the Awaday Khat market.

Overnight: Grand Gato Hotel or similar 

Day 3 - Harar

The walled city of Harar is a favourite among travellers, and unique among cities in northern Ethiopia. Hundreds of alleyways meander past colourful houses and the locals are famously friendly. It's easy to get lost in the labyrinth but our Brilliant local guides can guide you through the city, recommend places to go, and talk you through the history of the town. 

Spend the evening feeding curious hyenas with the famous Hyena Man outside the town. 

Overnight: Grand Gato Hotel or similar 

Day 4 - Awash National Park

Drive from Harar to Awash National Park (approximately 6 hours). You’ll be taken Awash Falls Lodge, which sits overlooking to the dramatic Awash Falls. Along the southern flank of the park lies the dormant Fantale volcano, famous for a 4km long fissure which, in 1820, cascaded lava over the eastern side of the volcano and scarred it. You’ll see this, and evidence of 16th century settlements are still dotted on the volcano.

Heading north, you’ll stop to take a relaxing dip in the hot springs which can reach 36⁰C. In the evening, you’ll be taken on a game drive to discover some of the park’s animal inhabitants. These include Soemmerring gazelles, Beisa oryx, and baboons. Lions and leopards have also been spotted here, so keep an eye out!

Overnight: Awash Falls Lodge

Day 5 - Awash National Park

Spend the day exploring the incredible Awash National Park.

Overnight: Awash Falls Lodge

Day 6: Semera

In the morning, take a game drive through the Awash National Park. In the afternoon, drive to Semera, the capital city of the Afar region. This emerging city is striking, with modern apartment blocks and commercial buildings contrasting dramatically with the desert terrain. A short drive away lies Alal Obbad, where you can visit a number of colourful hot springs and geysers before returning to Semera for the afternoon.

Overnight: Adga Hotel

Day 7 - Afdera

Today starts with a drive to Afdera (approximately 2 hours). On the way you will visit some of the nomadic villages of the Afar region, recognisable by their traditional grass-built houses. After this head to the extraordinary landscape of Danakil Depression, the hottest inhabited place on earth. Visit Lake Afrera.

The Danakil Depression is an absolute highlight of this tour. At 125 metres below sea level, it only gets 100-200ml of rainfall a year, and has the hottest average temperature of anywhere on the planet. It seems inhospitable but the Afar people live there. Stare into lava lakes, marvel at the stunning and alien hydrothermal fields and, throughout everything, try and convince yourself that you’re still on earth.

Overnight: basic camping 

Day 8: Dodum

In the morning you’ll drive from Afdera to Dodum, your gateway to the humbling Erta Ale volcano. This volcano remains active and is home to one of just six lava lakes in the world. The trek up Erta Ale begins in the evening, when the temperature is cooler. After a testing four-hour trek up the volcano, you're rewarded by the incredible view of the bellowing caldera. It’s known as a ‘window into Earth’s core’. The crater of Erta Ale is lit up by the glowing pool of lava. From just below the surface, luminous streaks of orange rock shoot around. Spend the rest of the night here, sleeping at a basic camp a 20-minute walk away from crater. 

Overnight: basic camping

Day 9 - Dodum

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. Have breakfast and relax at Dodom before heading on towards Hamed Ela.

Overnight: basic camping

Day 10: Dallol

Drive from Hamed Ela to Dallol. En route, you’ll have the option to stop off at Lake Karum (also known as Lake Asale) a salt lake used to provide salt for the country.

Dallol, one of the most isolated places on Earth, is home to the impressive Dallol Volcano. A stark contrast to Erta Ale, miniature geysers and hot springs freckle the hydrothermal fields of Dallol. The fantastic greens, reds, yellows, pinks, whites and blacks of the salt deposits are kaleidoscopic sights amidst the searing heat of this remote, alien landscape.

Escape the heat of the Danakil and head to the fantastic Gheralta Lodge. Back-dropped by the Gheralta Mountains, Gheralta Lodge is a great base for some R&R after your Danakil expedition.  

Overnight: Gheralta Lodge

Day 11 - Tigray

Today is your last day on the tour which you can spend exploring the historical sites of Tigray. In the later afternoon, drive for 2 hours to Mekele to catch a flight back to Addis Ababa to connect with your international flight home, or to spend the night before returning home the following day. 

Brilliant says: it is easy to adjust the start/end of your adventure to line up with your international flights. 

Prices, Departures and Inclusions

Prices are per person based on 2 people travelling together. Price is guideline only. Price will depend on your final itinerary, group size, accommodation choices, and time of year.


  • Domestic flights.
  • Airport transfers and road transport around Addis Ababa and Harar by private minibus, including fuel, driver allowances and accommodation.
  • Road transport from day 4 until day 12 by standard 4WD with English-speaking driver/ guide, including fuel, driver allowances and accommodation.
  • Support vehicle from day 7 until day 10.
  • Accommodation based on double/ twin room sharing.
  • Meal plan bed and breakfast. Full board (including mineral water) in Danakil.
  • Full camping equipment including tents, mattresses and sleeping bags for camping and trekking. We recommend bringing your own sleeping bag.
  • Fees for entrances, local guides, compulsory scouts/ security personnel and boats for activities mentioned in the itinerary.
  • All government taxes for the services included in the tour price.


  • International flights and visa fees.
  • Lunches and dinners, unless stated as included above.
  • Activities not mentioned or stated as optional in the itinerary.
  • Other personal expenses, souvenirs, tips and gratuities, etc.
  • Fees for photos and video.

Questions about this Trip?