Danakil Depression is one of the most inhospitable regions of the world, but is nonetheless spectacular and full of eye-catching colors like the sulphur springs. It is a desert adventure not to be missed!
Day 1 Mekele – Hamad Ela
Start in Mekele, drive to Hamad Ela via Berhale. The Danakil Depression is be said to “begin” here. Despite being one of the most inhospitable regions of the world, the sulphur springs fill the area with beautiful colours. The desert has several points lying more than 100 meters (328 ft) below sea level. You will pass through a small town of Berhale where the camel caravans stop before they proceed to the northern highlands. En route, you will see many long caravans going to the salt mines and others coming out of the Danakil with their salt-loaded camels. Camp at Hamedela (3-4 hr drive).
Day 2 Hamd Ela – Dodom – Erta Ale
We will start early, shortly after a 6:30 breakfast and drive to Dodom, at the base of Erta Ale. This may be one of the worst roads in the world. The 80 km distance may take about 6 hrs, passing through changing landscapes of solidified lava, rock, sand and the occasional palm lined oasis. You will pass several small hamlets scattered here and there in this desert land before reaching Dodom. You will trek from Dodom to Erta Ale, which takes about 3 hrs. Enjoy an early dinner around 17:00 and trek up to Ert Ale at 20:00. Camels transport all the camping materials and some food, sleeping materials, mattresses and water to the rim of the volcano, where we will spend the night watching the dramatic action of the boiling lava. Erta Ale ranks one of the most alluring and physically challenging natural attractions anywhere in Ethiopia. It is a shield volcano with a base diameter of 30 km and a 1 km² caldera at its summit. Erta Ale contains the world’s only permanent lava lake. You will spend an unforgettable night on the top of the mountain.
Day 3 Erta Ale – Dodom – Hamad Ela
In the early morning, you will rise with the sun and walk around pits and craters. The main pit-crater, 200m deep and 350m across, is sub-circular and three storied. The smaller southern pit is 65 m wide and about 100 m deep. You will leave around 7:00 am to head back to Dodom for breakfast. You will reach the camp by 10:30 am at the latest. After some time to relax, you will drive on to Hamad Ela, a village with a population of about 500 people. Overnight camping at Hamed Ela.
Day 4 Ragad – Dallol – Mekele
Embark on a morning driving tour to Ragad (Asebo), the place of the salt mines. Observe the breaking of the salt from the ground, being cut into rectangular pieces and loaded on camels. Drive ahead to Dallol and visit the different landscapes formed by volcanic activity. Embark on an excursion to Dallol (116 meters below sea level, one of the lowest places in the world), see the colorful salt mines, visit Lake Assal, follow camel caravans and walk with the Afar people. Drive back to Hamedela and proceed to Mekele.