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 situated at an elevation of around 2438m which makes 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 by National museum which houses some of the country’s historic treasures. The collection of fossils and bones of early hominids discovered in Ethiopia include the 3.5 million year old remains of ‘Lucy’, the oldest hominid every found. Proceed visiting to 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.
ADDIS ABABA TO AWASH NATIONAL PARK
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 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 aftenoon 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 parks wildlife. The most visible large mammals are the Beisa Oryx, Soemmering’s gazelle and the Slat’s dik-dik.
AWASH NATIONAL PARK TO LOGIA
Today, you 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. We will also have an opportunity to see the Kereyou tribes on the way.
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 Afrera we will be 100m below sea level. As we will reach there in a good time, we will have a chance to visit the interesting salines, where pure salt is being produced.
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.
ERTA ALE – AHMED ELA
This morning we leave camp and descend to the bottom of the mountain and then driving 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 with precious salt blocks.
EXCURSION TO DALLOL
This day, we will visit the salt workers and the merchant at around Lake Asela. Here, we will learn and observe how the locals doing 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 colourful hot spring in several places. These hot springs are composed of different minerals along with sulphurs and potash and create spectacular colours. Dallol is renowned as 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 camp site in the late afternoon.
AHMED ELA TO MEKELLE
In the morning, we will watch thousands of camels leaving for the salt cutting area with forming a long line. Then, we drive to Mekelle. 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 the town of Mekelle.
DRIVE TO LALIBELA
We have a full days drive through stunning countryside takes us due south, between the mountains to the west and the start landscape of the Danakil Depression to the east to arrive at the remarkable archaeological site of Laliblea.
LALIBELA (UNSECO – WORLD HERITAGE SITE)
We will start the day by visiting the first cluster of Lalibela’s rock hewn churches. Lalibela, the ‘New Jerusalem’, 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 centre. This rock was then shaped and formed both inside and out and the carvings show extremely skillful workmanship and 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.
Today we will visit the church of Yimrhane Kristos. This exquisite church, a masterpiece of Axumit wood and stone construction is renowned for its interior decoration, it’s 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 include the churches of Bete Gabriel and Rafael, Merkorous, Emanuel and Abba Libanos. Bete Emanuel is the best in this group and exceptionally carved with unique Axumite building features, such as the indentations on the walls, symbols of the multi-storey building taken from the stelae of Axum, monkey heads and false windows.
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 to Home or to your next destination.Tour End!