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Over geological time, the northern part of the Great Rift Valley has formed a triangular basin between the Danakil Desert and the Afar Plain that today holds some of the most astounding terrain in the Horn of Africa.
In the Danakil Depression, the topography sinks as low as 125m (410ft) below sea level. And within this inverted world of rock and heat, rise volcanic peaks to as high as 2500m (6200ft). While temperatures can reach 50o C, the Danakil Depression is not exactly a breezy tour, but an inhospitable environment for all living creatures, including human beings. Nonetheless the Afar region is home to the Afar people, who have survived centuries by adopting a nomadic existence and local economy based on salt trading in the highlands to endure the extremes.
Perhaps the most famous site in the great depression is the active volcano Erta Ale, rising to 613m (2011ft) with one or sometimes two active lava lakes boiling in its caldera. Erta Ale is credited as being the longest-existing lava lake, known about since 1906. On tour, travelers begin the three hour hike at dusk to reach the crater, hiking in the night and early morning is the only way to avoid the mid-day heat.
The other major attraction in the Danakil Depression is Dallol, where a volcanic explosion has created a crater some 100km northwest of Erta Ale. The crater was formed during a paratactic eruption in 1926. All around the crater are pools of volcanic minerals translating to vivid oranges, yellows and reds, which makes for an unforgettable visit.
Day 1 Arrive in Addis Ababa.
Day 2 Drive to Awash National Park to see large game and various birds.
Day 3 Drive to Semera and explore the Afar village and its culture.
Day 4 Drive to Lake Afera.
Day 5 Drive to Dodom and start trek to Erta Ale.
Day 6 Drive to Waydodo.
Day 7 Drive to Ahmed Ela.
Day 8 Drive to Lake Asele and to Dallol and back to Ahmed Ela.
Day 9 Drive to Mekele through the town of Berhile.
Day 10 Drive to Kombolcha, en route you visit Hayeke Stiphanose monastery.
Day 11 Drive to Addis Ababa (time permitting visit Senbete market).
Day 12 Full day city tour of Addis Ababa, in evening, farewell dinner party and departure.
*Lodges can replace camping upon request.
*Camping gear can be provided upon request.