Duration: 11 Nights / 12 Days
Accommodation: Standard Hotel Accommodations and camping
Tour Starts: Addis Ababa
Tour Ends: Addis Ababa
12-Days Awash – Danakil Depression – Lalibela Tour Highlights
- Addis Ababa city sightseeing\
- Visit the Awash National park
- Explore the salt lake of Afdera.
- Experience the culture and traditions of the Afar tribes.
- Enjoy the beauty of the active volcano explosions at Earita Ale.
- Visit the camel caravans and the traditional salt production process
- Admire the beauty of King Lalibela‘s – Rock-Hewn Churches.
12-Days Awash – Danakil Depression – Lalibela Tour Summary
This package is the real expedition to one of the hottest places on Earth!! If you are one of the travelers who would like to have the real adventures in the Denakil Depression to see the active volcanoes, the cultural value of the Afar tribes, watching one of the most challenging activists of traditional salt cutting workers in the field, enjoy with the beautiful camel’s caravans and the colorful grounds of the Dallol area, you are here in your perfect custom-designed tour packages that suit your interest. This package tour also incorporates a visit to Awash National Park and a sightseeing tour to the impressive Rock- churches of Lalibela.
12-Days Awash – Danakil Depression – Lalibela Tour Itinerary
DAY 1: ADDIS ABABA ARRIVAL AND CITY TOUR
On arrival in Addis Ababa, you will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. Addis was founded in 1886 by Menelik II and is situated at an elevation of around 2438m which makes it the third-highest capital city in the world. Addis Ababa enjoys an excellent climate all year round, with an average temperature of 25°C. we will start our site-seeing at the National Museum which houses some of the country’s historic treasures. The collection of fossils and bones of early hominids discovered in Ethiopia includes the 3.5 million-year-old remains of ‘Lucy’, the oldest hominid ever found. Proceed to visit the two major highlights of the city, the Ethnographic Museum and the church of the Holy Trinity, Ethiopia’s main cathedral and home to the remains of the last emperor, Haile Selassie.
DAY 2: ADDIS ABABA TO AWASH NATIONAL PARK
On this day, we will drive to the Awash National Park through the small town of Mila. In the afternoon arrive in the park The scenic Awash National Park is located in the dry acacia savanna of the Rift Valley. The skyline of the park is dominated by the jagged edges of Mount Fantelle, a dormant volcano whose crater towers above the surrounding bush. This afternoon we will have an opportunity to visit its splendid waterfall spilling into a 150m gorge. We may also have the opportunity to spot some of the park’s wildlife. The most visible large mammals are the Beisa Oryx, Soemmering’s gazelle, and the Slat’s dik-dik.
DAY 3: AWASH NATIONAL PARK TO LOGIA
Today, you continue to drive through the Rift Valley into the Afar triangle, slowly losing elevation. The landscape changes from savannah to steppe and half-desert, interrupted by oases from the Awash River. We will also have an opportunity to see the Kereyou tribes on the way.
DAY 4: DRIVE INTO LAKE AFDERA – THE SALT LAKE
We leave the main road and continue on an unpaved 4×4 road northwards into the Danakil. The trip leads through rugged moon-landscapes, characterized by volcanic rifts and faults, young black lava flows, and gravel desert. As a result, we will be slowly losing altitude and by the time we reach Lake Africa, we will be 100m below sea level. As we will reach there is a good time, we will have a chance to visit the interesting salines, where pure salt is being produced.
DAY 5: AFDERA DRIVE TO DODOM VILLAGE (BASE OF ERTA ALE).
This day morning we will see the salt workers in the morning and watch the interesting technique to gain salt from the lake and then we leave the tarmac and head out over the sand towards Erta Ale Volcano. After several hours we reach Kuswarad, an Afar village where we have lunch and pick up our local Afar guides. We then continue through the desert where we reach the basalt rock formed by old lava flows. A slow and bumpy drive brings us to the base of Erta Ale Volcano. After loading up the camels we will start our trek to the rim of the volcano at around sunset, to avoid walking during the heat of the day. The trek will take about 4 – 5 hours, with the latter part of the walk taking part in the dark. The gently climbing hike itself follows interesting lava formations. The path is not that steep, but it is important everyone has a torch and sticks together. We camp on the crater rim, a safe distance away from the lava, and enjoy watching the Erta Ale, which is an active volcano and it has a spectacular sight.
DAY 6: ERTA ALE – AHMED ELA
This morning we leave camp and descend to the bottom of the mountain and then drive to Ahamd Ala. The driving is all off-road, through the desert. In the late afternoon, we will arrive at Ahmed Ala, a small settlement where the salt caravans meet before their long walk to Mekele. In the afternoon and evening, we can watch the endless camel caravans coming and going: arriving empty they are met by the ones leaving packed full of precious salt blocks.
DAY 7: EXCURSION TO DALLOL
On this day, we will visit the salt workers and the merchant around Lake Asela. Here, we will learn and observe how the locals do salt cutting, shaping, and then loading to the endless Camel Caravans. Keep driving to Dallol and along the way enjoy views of the small hills and colorful hot springs in several places. These hot springs are composed of different minerals along with sulfurs and potash and create spectacular colors. Dallol is renowned for being the hottest inhabited place on earth; between 1960 and 1966 an average annual temperature of 34°C (94°F) was recorded. Drive back to our campsite in the late afternoon.
DAY 8: AHMED ELA TO MEKELLE
In the morning, we will watch thousands of camels leaving for the salt-cutting area by forming a long line. Then, we drive to Mekelle. At a small, clear waterfall, we stop for lunch, to bathe, and to clean the cars from the salt. In the late afternoon, we should already be back on the highland plateau where we stay the night in the town of Mekelle.
DAY 9: DRIVE TO LALIBELA
We have a full day’s drive through the stunning countryside that takes us due south, between the mountains to the west and the stark landscape of the Danakil Depression to the east to arrive at the remarkable archaeological site of Lalibela.
DAY 10: LALIBELA (UNESCO – WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
We will start the day by visiting the first cluster of Lalibela’s rock-hewn churches. Lalibela, the ‘New Jerusalem’, is thought to have been constructed some 800 years ago by King Lalibela. Although churches carved in rock are found in other parts of the world, those found in Ethiopia are particularly interesting. Generally, they were excavated on all sides of a rectangle, leaving a large block of granite isolated in the center. This rock was then shaped and formed both inside and out and the carvings show extremely skillful workmanship they have been classified as one of the wonders of the world. Each church has a unique architectural style and all are superbly carved. There are 11 rock-cut churches of which the most impressive is Bet Giorgis. It is carved in the form of a Greek cross and It is exceptionally well preserved.
DAY 11: EXPLORING LALIBELA
Today we will visit the church of Yimrhane Kristos. This exquisite church, a masterpiece of Axumite wood and stone construction is renowned for its interior decoration, its beautiful wooden coffer ceiling inlaid with hexagons and medallions with both figurative and geometric motifs. Drive back to Lalibela. In the afternoon, we will visit the remaining rock-hewn churches of Lalibela that including the churches of Bete Gabriel and Rafael, Merkorous, Emanuel, and Abba Libanos. Bete Emanuel is the best in this group and is exceptionally carved with unique Axumite building features, such as the indentations on the walls, symbols of the multi-story building taken from the stelae of Axum, monkey heads, and false windows.
DAY 12: FLY BACK TO ADDIS ABABA AND DEPARTURE TO HOME
This day we will fly back to Addis. This afternoon is free for last minutes shopping and exploring the city. In the evening we will have a fare well dinner in one of the Ethiopian restaurants for traditional dinner and live stage dances from the different ethnic groups. Then transfer to the airport for your departure home or to your next destination. 12-Days Awash – Danakil Depression – Lalibela Tour End!