Starting: If coming from Addis Ababa, fly or drive to Mekelle
Day 1: Addis Ababa – Mekele – Hamedela
Fly from Addis to Mekelle early in the morning. Then directly drive to Hamedela via Berhale.The Danakil Depression can be said to ‘begin’ here. It is one of the most inhospitable regions of the world, but is nonetheless spectacular, full of eye-catching colors, as in the Sulphur springs. The desert has several points lying more than 100 meters (328 ft) below sea level. You pass through a small town of Berhale where the camel caravans stop before they proceed to the northern highlands. En route you see many long caravans going to the salt mines and others coming out of the Danakil with their salt loaded camels. (3-4hrs drive) Camp at Hamedela.
Day 2: Hamdela – Dodom
We start early, shortly after a 06:30 breakfast, and drive to Dodom at the base of Erta Ale. The 80 km distance may take about 6 hrs passing through changing landscape of solidified lava, rock, sand and the occasional palm lined oasis. You 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. 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 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 1km square caldera at its summit. Erta Ale contains the world’s only permanent lava lake and you will spend an unforgettable night on the top of the mountain.
Day 3: Early morning you will rise with the sun with time to walk around pits and craters. The main pit-crater, 200 m deep and 350 m 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 to head back to Dodom for breakfast. You will reach latest at 10:30 am at the camp and after some time to relax you will drive on to Hamad Ela, a village with a total population about 500 people. Over night camping at Hamed Ela.
Day 4: Morning driving tour to Ragad (Asebo), the place where the salts are mined. Observe the breaking of the salt from the ground, cutting into rectangular pieces and loading on camels. You drive ahead to Dallol and visit the difference landscape formed by volcanic activity, Dallol + Lake Assal + camel caravans. Excursion to Dallol (116 meter below sea level, one of the lowest places in the world) colorful salts mining, visit Lake Assal, follow up camel caravans and walk with the Afar people. Drive back to Hamedela and proceed to Mekele. Take direct flight to Addis Ababa late evening.