The essential quick-stop option, for people who are short on time but still want to visit this amazing location. You have two choices:
Drive to Hamed Ela via Berhale . The Danakil Depression can be said to ‘begin’ here. We’ll pass through the 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.
Overnight camp at Hamedela .
You’ll want your camera with you today. We’ll rise for breakfast and a morning
driving tour to Ragad (Asebo) , the place where the salts are mined. We’ll get to see the breaking, cutting and loading of the salt from the ground to camels.
Next, we’ll drive to Dallol and Lake Assal and visit a striking varied otherworldly landscape formed by volcanic activity in this region. We’ll stand on one of the lowest places in the world (116m below sea level), visit the colour sulphuric salt, follow the camel caravans and walk with the Afar people.
Finally, we’ll drive back to Hamed Ela and proceed to Mek’ele .
We start early, shortly after a 6.30am breakfast, and drive to Dodom at the base of Erta Ale , ‘The Smoking Mountain’. The 80km drive may take about 6 hours because we’ll be passing through a changing landscape of solidified lava, rock, sand and the occasional palm lined oasis.
We’ll pass several small hamlets scattered here and there in this desert land, before reaching Dodom . We’ll have an early dinner at Dodom before our night-trek to Erta Ale. Camels will transport our camping materials and supplies to the rim of the volcano, where we will 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 30km and a 1km ‘ 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, under the red glow of the volcano.
Overnight camp at Erta Ale .
We’ll rise with the sun in time to explore the pits and craters of Erta Ale . The main pit-crater is about 200m deep and 350m across, sub-circular and three storied.
We’ll then trek back down to Dodom for breakfast and some time to relax before driving on to Hamad Ela , a village with a total population of about 500 people.
Drive to Erbiti and proceed to Mek’ele .