The Afar Triangle Expedition


If you are looking for a holiday somewhere where few people have ever set foot on, or if you are seeking the most demanding yet enjoyable adventurous trekking or camel hiking holiday somewhere in one of the deepest points on earth, or if you are seriously in need of solitude to the point of desolation in the geologically marvelous sites of wide open spaces and a breath-taking scenery, you perfect choice is nothing but the famous Danakil Depression of the Afar Triangle in the north eastern frontier of Ethiopia. As you enter this unique world of unparallel natural beauty in the upper Ethiopian Great Rift Valley, you will find yourself crossing and viewing salt covered wide plains, hills, lava lakes, salt mining areas, active volcanoes, desert flora and fauna as well as the scattered temporary villages of the gorgeous nomadic Afar people.

The Afar Triangle Expedition offers a lifetime experience that allows you to conquer an inhospitable volcanic marvelous landscape together with the World Heritage Site of the Awash Valley for many precious fossil hominid discoveries such as Ardi, (Ardipithecus ramidus); the Gona (Gawis cranium), site of the world's oldest stone tools; and Hadar, site of Lucy, the fossilized specimen of Australopithecus afarensis.

Not many adventurous souls have gone to this beautiful place before; the first great British explorer Wilfred Thesiger who visited the Danakil Depression and described his trip as the most dangerous exploration he had ever undertaken, as written in the ‘Danakil Diary’ that he published. Click here to read more about the Afar Triangle.

Duration: 8 Days / 7 Nights (By Air and Car)
Destinations: Addis Ababa–Awash-Logia-Afdera (Danakil- Afrera salt lake) Dodom Village (base of Erta Ale)-Ahmed Ela- DALLOL Volcano-Mekele-Addis Ababa

Day 1: Early morning drive from Addis Ababa to Awash National Park, once we are there a game drive into the savannah of the relatively unknown park (many species of birds and mammals to observe) and a stop at a viewpoint on the deep gorge of the Awash River and its powerful waterfalls. Awash Falls Lodge

Day 2: Today, we continue to drive through the Rift Valley into the Afar triangle, slowly loosing elevation. The landscape changes from savannah to steppe and half-desert, interrupted by oases from the Awash River. Camping

Day 3:We leave the main road and continue on an unpaved 4x4 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. After about four hours driving, we reach the flat, salt-covered Danakil depression at the salty lake Afrera by afternoon. There will be time to visit the interesting salt lines, where pure salt is being produced. Camping

Day 4: With an Afar policemen and an Afar guide, we drive though the flat salt and lava desert to the Afar village of Dodom and set camp at the base of Erta Ale volcano. We will start the relatively easy ascend along the flat flank of Erta Ale's shield volcano, while the camel caravan carries our luggage and the equipment. The gently climbing hike itself follows interesting lava formations (Pahoehoe lava fields, lava tubes, hornitos, sand deposits and rare vegetation) until we stand on the rim of the caldera. An easy descend brings us to the floor of the caldera and after 10 minutes, we stand on the active pit crater containing the boiling Lava lake. Camping

Day 5: Today we drive through the desert northwards to the large, mostly dry salt lake near Ahmed Ela. 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 with precious salt blocks. After nightfall, we can assist the procedure of assigning Walt cutters (the focolo) to the camel owners(the Arho), for the next day in the salt mine at the lake. Camping

Day 6: A full day will be available to explore the fascinating volcano of DALLOL- a volcano hidden under kilometer-thick deposit of salt. The volcano marks its presence by the up doming of the salt and hundreds of fumaroles and hot springs in all colors. We can visit the remains of a ghost town, almost entirely built in salt, at DALLOL, where miners lived in the 1930s to extract potash from the DALLOL area. The town is the hottest inhabited place on earth. Camping

Day 7: In the morning, we watch thousands of camels leaving for the salt cutting area. We then drive to the lake and watch the salt cutters and salt shapers at work, following a century-old established order. By the time we leave in the late morning, the first camels are being loaded and the cycle is repeated. For us, it's time to leave the desert. Our way out follows along a spectacular canyon into the highlands. At a small, clear waterfall, we stop for lunch, to bath and 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 Mekele town! Hotel

Day 8: We fly back to Addis Ababa. After some sightseeing and Shopping, you will have a walking tour of Addis Ababa city around selected areas. After lunch (on your own), the afternoon is free until we have a farewell dinner at a traditional restaurant, followed by folkloric music and dances. After the cultural evening, we will transfer you to the airport to connect with the recommended flight home. Day rooms are held for you at hotel