How to get to the Danakil Depression
The starting place for most tours to the Danakil Depression is Mekele, a Tigrayan town on the western edge of the Danakil Depression and the capital of the Tigray region. Mekele is easily accessible via domestic flight for those travelling along the popular northern circuit. Ethiopian Airlines run a reliable and well-connected domestic flight network, and Mekele is easily accessible from any of the popular northern towns of Axum, Lalibela, Bahir Dar or Gondar.
If coming from the south, you will need to catch a domestic flight to Addis Ababa, and connect with another domestic flight to Mekele. If you are already in the Tigray region for community trekking or exploring the wonderful churches, Mekele is just a short drive away.
After arriving at Mekele and meeting your tour group, the adventure truly begins. The drive from Mekele into the Danakil Depression is around 3-4 hours, during which the landscape becomes more and more remarkable as you travel further away from the town, and further into this harsh desert environment.
Travelling in the Danakil Depression
Travelling in the Danakil Depression is to set foot into an unforgiving and remote corner of Africa. It is essential to have an experienced Ethiopian guide who is familiar with the area and has a good relationship with the local Afar people, who are very much the gatekeepers of the Danakil Depression.
There are no hotels, restaurants, or facilities of any kind in this remote region. Accommodation in the Danakil is in basic, makeshift campsites and all supplies are brought in from Mekele. It is important to note that whilst visiting the Danakil Depression there will be no showers or electricity available.
Whilst the threat of violence to tourists in recent years is low, incidents in the past have made it compulsory for tours in the Danakil Depression to be accompanied by a military escort to ensure the safety of all travellers.
Visitors can choose to spend one or two nights in the Danakil Depression, depending on how much time they have and what they want to see. After hiking up Erta Ale, swimming in Lake Afrera and/or marvelling at the incredible hot springs of Dallol, you will travel back to Mekele. From here you can either continue your adventure by jumping on an evening flight, or spend the night in Mekele before setting off the following day.
Thanks to considerable improvements to road networks, what was once a largely inaccessible region has now opened up - and the popularity of the Danakil has surged following its appearance in a number of popular documentaries and travel programs. Today the Danakil Depression is one of Ethiopia’s most popular tourist destinations.
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